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« April 2020 | Main | June 2020 »

May 30, 2020

I've Had It

I couldn't care less whether there's a 2020 baseball season.

There, I've said it.

This despite the fact that I love going to a ballgame. I accept the sappy descriptions about the smell of cut grass of the rich verdant greensward, the awakening of my taste buds from a sizzling red hot smothered in mustard and onions, the beauty of a shortstop going into the hole and throwing a perfect strike to nab the runner by a half-step, and the late-inning home run that puts the home team ahead.

However, with all the other truly horrible and unthinkable events that currently grip our existence, the idea that the baseball lords and their employees can't come together, support one another, and make arrangements to play a simple baseball game if and when it is safe to do so, is beyond my patience.

Millions of people have lost their jobs. Anyone with even a speck of decency has been sickened by the sight of the breath and pulse of an African-American man, George Floyd, being snuffed out on a Minneapolis street by a law enforcement officer. The most dangerous health threat in 100 years has claimed more than 100,000 lives, and the count continues to grow. The vitriol emanating from the highest office in the land would have been unimaginable at any time except for the present.

And you tell me that major league baseball can't manufacture an agreement on how to share the loss of as much as half of the season? Why should we care? Because as White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone recently tweeted, "Our country needs baseball."

Not quite. What we need is compassion, reason, understanding, love, empathy, and a host of other values. Baseball is far down the list.

Would the game be a diversion from our dilemma? Would it provide a respite, a slice of entertainment, a chance to put aside the anxiety of job losses, food shortages, and disease? Only for those among us who are not suffering the worst possible situations.
I find myself personally in that category. I'm going to be alright providing I am free of COVID-19. But losing focus of my fellow citizens whose lives are in turmoil is impossible. I have family and friends who have battled the coronavirus. I read and hear about outstanding people whose lives have been cut short. I see the long lines of families waiting for food to stave off hunger.

Amid these gut-wrenching experiences, the athletes and their bosses continue to quibble over who gets what and how much despite there being an obvious solution. You play half a season, you receive half your salary. The players thought they had that assurance from the owners in late March, but Reinsdorf, Ricketts, and the boys said, "Wait a minute. We can't do that if there aren't fans in the seats."

If you didn't think these guys were creeps before, you might want to reconsider.

How about the hourly wage-earner, the bartenders, restaurant servers, laborers, and millions of others whose income depends solely on how many hours they work? If the 40-hour week is the standard, an individual brings in only half of his or her paycheck for 20 hours. Even the densest owner or ballplayer can understand that math.

Yet they don't seem to be able to digest how their squabbling appears to the exact same people who are scrambling to make ends meet as well as other empathetic folks who are appalled by today's world.

Take a guy like Sox infielder Danny Mendick, a 22nd round draft pick out of UMass-Lowell. The kid is just 26-years-old; he played five minor league seasons and hit .259, just good enough to get a September call-up last season. Mendick made the most of his opportunity, hitting .308 in 39 at bats while playing solid defense. Going into spring training he had a shot at making the Opening Day roster. Even if he began the season at Charlotte, because of injuries or trades, Mendick figured to spend time with the big club this season.

All of which earned the hustling kid a $563,500 contract, the MLB minimum, for 2020. Once again, the math: if the season begins in early July as reported, and the schedule calls for 82 games, Mendick would still collect $281,750. Tell that to my friends, the beer vendors at United Center, Wrigley Field, and Comiskey, I mean, Guaranteed Rate Field who have been idled since March.

The Sox highest paid player, newly-acquired catcher Yasmani Grandal has an $18,250,000 contract, so he'd have to settle for a bit more than $9 million. If you had run those numbers past either Mendick or Grandal, say, five years ago, I'd surmise that each would have been thrilled.

Meanwhile, the whining owners are proposing some kind of deal analogous to a graduated income tax whereby the wealthiest players cough up more than half of their paycheck to subsidize players like Mendick. If that's not a WTF moment, I don't know what is.

Most sources like Forbes state that approximately 30 percent of team revenue comes from ticket sales. Sox revenue last season was $285 million of which $85.5 million was tickets sold.

Tom Ricketts in a phone call to Cub season ticket-holders last week claimed that the Cubs get 70 percent of revenue from game day sales which include more than tickets only. After all, the North Siders own 11 rooftop spaces along with other sources that raise cash 81 games a season. But 70 percent?

If the Ricketts family becomes overly strapped for cash, please keep in mind that their asset is priced at $3.2 billion, about five times what they paid for the Cubs in 2009.

Across town, Reinsdorf's initial $20 million purchase of the White Sox today is priced about half as much as his crosstown compadres, or 80 times what he and his consortium paid for the franchise. What's the over/under on how many sad faces you'd find in the Chicago area if either team was put on the block in these troubled times? Oh, maybe, two or three.

James Earl Jones in his role as Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams said, "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again."

Right now there's little good about it.

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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 3:03 PM | Permalink

At Least 11 Local TV Stations Aired The Same Amazon-Scripted Segment

"The package - you can view the script Amazon provided to news stations here - was produced by Amazon spokesperson Todd Walker.

"Only one station, Toledo ABC affiliate WTVG, acknowledged that Walker was an Amazon employee, not a news reporter, and noted that Amazon had supplied the video."


Other stations that ran the Amazon-provided content as a news package include:

* WTVJ-NBC, Miami, FL

* WKRN-ABC, Nashville, TN

* WLEX-NBC, Lexington, KY (ran twice)

* WVVA-NBC, Bluefield, WV

* WTVM-ABC, Columbus, GA (ran twice)

* KMIR-NBC, Palm Springs, CA (ran three times)

* WBTW-CBS, Myrtle Beach, SC

* WOAY-ABC, Bluefield, WV (ran twice)

-

More.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

Nursing Homes Fought Federal Emergency Plan Requirements for Years. Now, They're Coronavirus Hot Spots.

On Dec. 15, 2016, the nation's largest nursing home lobby wrote a letter to Donald Trump, congratulating the president-elect and urging him to roll back new regulations on the long-term care industry.

One item on the wish list was a recently issued emergency preparedness rule. It required nursing homes to draw up plans for hazards such as an outbreak of a new infectious disease.

Trump's election, the American Health Care Association, or AHCA, wrote, had demonstrated that voters opposed "extremely burdensome" rules that endangered the industry's thin profit margins.

"Part of the public's message was asking for less Washington influence, less regulation, and more empowerment to the free market that has made our country the greatest in the world," AHCA wrote. "We embrace that message and look forward to working with you to improve the lives of the residents in our facilities."

The letter was another salvo in the industry's fight against regulations designed to stop diseases like COVID-19 from devastating elderly residents of the nation's nursing homes, according to a review of documents and data by New Mexico In Depth; The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina; and ProPublica.

The lack of pandemic plans helps explain why nursing homes have been caught unprepared for the new coronavirus, patient advocates and industry observers said.

Across the country, more than one in four nursing homes have registered an outbreak, according to media reports.

More than 16,000 nursing home residents and workers have died, accounting for 17% of COVID-19 deaths nationwide, according to an AARP tally on May 18. That figure is likely an understatement of the true scope of the harm.

Ongoing questions about the regulations may also have played a role. The 2016 rules mandated planning for all kinds of hazards, citing Ebola as an example. In 2019, the Trump administration clarified that nursing homes needed to include a specific plan for outbreaks of unfamiliar and contagious diseases - such as the coronavirus.

The plans must address how facilities will respond in an emergency - specifying how nursing homes will decide to shelter in place or evacuate and how they will provide residents with food, water, medicine and power. Nursing homes have to train their staff on these plans and practice them at least twice a year, if possible by participating in a drill with local agencies.

Some nursing homes were slow to comply, according to an analysis of inspection data, watchdog reports and interviews with ombudsmen and advocates. Inspectors have found more than 24,000 deficiencies with nursing homes' emergency plans between November 2017, when the so-called "all hazards rule" took effect, and March 2020, according to public data reviewed by the news organizations. The violations occurred in 6,599 facilities, equal to about 43% of the country's nursing homes.

Because of how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tracks the data, it's not possible to say exactly how many of the emergency planning violations related specifically to a failure to plan for an infectious disease outbreak. Failures to meet routine infection control standards were excluded from the analysis. But nursing home advocates say that more detailed plans accounting for expected staff and equipment shortages would have likely resulted in fewer deaths and illnesses at nursing homes stricken by the coronavirus. The current rule requires nursing homes to make contingency staffing preparations, but it doesn't require stockpiles of personal protective equipment, or PPE.

"It's just a river of grief, and it could have been prevented," said Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

Emergency plans help facilities train their staff ahead of time and guide tough decisions during a crisis, said Ted Goins, the president and CEO of Lutheran Services Carolinas, a nonprofit based in Salisbury, North Carolina, that runs several highly rated elder-care facilities.

"COVID-19 is a perfect example of why we have emergency plans in our facilities, and I'm sure that's why it's a requirement," Goins said.

The AHCA declined to make any executives available for an interview. In a statement, the group said the pandemic shows that nursing homes should be a bigger priority for resources but not for regulation.

"As we assess the COVID-19 pandemic and how to prepare our healthcare system for future outbreaks, more regulation is not necessarily always the answer," AHCA said in the statement. "There will be time to look back and determine what we can do better for future pandemics or crises."

One place to start: a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with five deaths and 42 infections tied to a COVID-19 outbreak and no plan for dealing with a pandemic, according to its employees and New Mexico public records.

"Pandemic response? I mean, I don't think anybody was really prepared for a pandemic of this level or this quickly," said Edwardo Rivera, the facility's administrator. "We did have some things in place, but nothing could have prepared us for what COVID-19 was."

An Emergency Call

Robert Potts, 91, once flew America's leaders around the globe. A retired Air Force colonel who flew combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, Potts returned to the United States to serve as pilot for Air Force One and Air Force Two in the 1960s, according to service records and a family member. He spoke of flying President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

After he fell at home and hit his head in March, Potts wound up at Advanced Health Care of Albuquerque, part of a nationwide network of 22 post-hospitalization rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities.

The Albuquerque facility is a top-rated rehabilitation center with personal bedrooms and wine glasses in the dining hall. It takes care of patients needing physical, occupational or speech therapy after hospitalization.

In early April, AHC of Albuquerque staff and residents began testing positive for the coronavirus. Concerned about her father's health, Potts' daughter Susan wanted to bring him home. Somebody from the facility - Susan could not remember exactly who - assured the family that Potts had tested negative for COVID-19.

When the AHC of Albuquerque van arrived at the Potts residence in the city's affluent Northeast Heights on the afternoon of April 10, the Potts family's caretaker was there to greet him. Rosemary Ortiz, 57, recalled that the driver reassured her that Potts was negative for COVID-19.

Ortiz, however, noticed that Potts had symptoms that corresponded with the disease: a runny nose and a dry cough. The next day, Saturday, those symptoms worsened. By Sunday morning, he complained of shortness of breath and chest pain. He was dizzy, Ortiz recalled.

Ortiz drove him first to an urgent care facility, where he registered a temperature of 100 degrees. At a nurse's recommendation, Ortiz drove Potts to Presbyterian Hospital in downtown Albuquerque.

"Wouldn't it be something if I had the COVID and I gave it to you guys, to the family," she recalled him telling her.

"Don't say that, we don't want that!" Ortiz responded.

At Presbyterian, Potts tested positive for COVID-19. He was admitted to the fourth-floor ICU.

Ortiz returned to her home that evening, a two-room casita in Albuquerque's South Valley that she shares with a roommate. She worried that Potts was dying.

'Something Pretty Basic'

The drive to ensure that nursing homes were better prepared for emergencies began amid disaster and disease. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that nursing homes were unprepared for emergencies despite complying with existing federal standards.

The watchdog recommended strengthening the federal requirements to be more specific about the elements that must be in a disaster plan and encourage more coordination with state and local emergency management officials.

In 2009, the Government Accountability Office examined preparedness for a flu pandemic and recommended that the federal government do more to advise health care providers on emergency plans and monitor their performance. The shortcomings were underscored by an outbreak of swine flu that year, which sickened nursing home residents nationwide.

In 2013, the concerns over infectious outbreaks began to take concrete form. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, proposed updating the emergency preparedness requirements for all health care providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid, including nursing homes.

"This was really something pretty basic," said Richard Mollot, the executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, which advocates for nursing home residents and their families.

But nursing home operators didn't see it that way. They objected to the new requirements, arguing they would be costly and burdensome. Over the next three years, they repeatedly voiced their concerns as CMS finalized the new rule.

"We are concerned that CMS has underestimated the amount of time, training and resources necessary to implement many of these requirements," Catholic Health Initiatives, which operates 40 long-term care, assisted-living and residential-living facilities, said in a formal response to the CMS proposal.

The Continuing Care Leadership Coalition, which represents nonprofit and public post-acute and long-term care providers in the New York metropolitan area, told CMS that the additional personnel and equipment - such as backup generators - needed to comply with the new regulations risked the economic stability of some of its members.

"We view the proposed changes as considerable from a financial standpoint, in excess of appropriate minimum standards to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and we expect they would necessitate significant staffing and operational enhancements," the organization said.

CMS rejected the appeals, issuing its final rules in September 2016. Nursing homes and other facilities had one year to implement the changes.

A few months later, the AHCA sent its letter to Trump. The group followed up by asking Tom Price, Trump's first HHS secretary, to stop implementing the new requirements and write a new rule.

"We are happy to work with your team and CMS staff to provide more specific suggestions," the industry group said.

The following year, the Trump administration proposed fulfilling some of the AHCA's wishes. The organization had warned that creating and updating the plans risked taking time away from patients. Advocates for nursing home residents objected that CMS was contradicting its own conclusions. Public health officials said a rollback would undo potentially life-saving improvements.

CMS ultimately decided to remove the mandate for nursing homes to document coordination with local authorities. But the agency remained insistent on the need to plan for pandemics and other outbreaks of new diseases: "CMS determined it was critical for facilities to include planning for infectious diseases within their emergency preparedness program," it said in a memorandum issued in February 2019.

A Confused Response

On March 10, just a day before authorities announced New Mexico's first positive COVID-19 case, Kate Brennan was listening to sports radio on her way to work at AHC of Albuquerque, located in a neighborhood of industrial and business parks. The most senior physical therapist at the facility, she listened with alarm to news about the spread of the coronavirus.

She pulled into the parking lot at the same time as Edwardo Rivera, the top administrator. What were they going to do to protect patients and staff from a COVID-19 outbreak, she asked.

"Katie, it's nothing more than the flu. It's not a big deal," she said he told her.

Rivera said he could not recall making such a statement. But on March 13, CMS issued new COVID-19 measures for nursing homes nationwide. The agency recommended the screening of residents and staff for fever and respiratory symptoms, restricting "all visitors, effective immediately," except for end-of-life visits, and canceling all group activities and communal dining. The measures appeared to catch Rivera and his management team by surprise. Their response over the next several weeks was confused and uncertain, employees and patients' family members said.

By March 15, AHC of Albuquerque announced a halt to family visits. Staff and contractors were checked at the facility door for fever. But group therapy in the gym did not immediately stop, according to former employees who were there at the time. Patients were given the option of eating meals in their own rooms, according to an employee's cellphone text, but meals in the facility's dining room continued.

Brennan grew increasingly worried that AHC was not adequately preparing. Despite the CMS regulations, Brennan and several others said they had never received any kind of training on how to handle an epidemic.

"We never talked about COVID-19 training, I know that. Never. Never," Brennan said.

Nurse Carole J. Welch agreed, as did two other AHC of Albuquerque employees interviewed on the condition that they remain anonymous. Fire drills were the only disaster planning and exercises about which Welch and Brennan were aware, they said.

"There was never anything mentioned about COVID-19," Welch said. "At all-staff meetings, everybody signs a sign-in sheet. If state inspectors ever ask them for documentation for in-service training or sign-in sheets for COVID-19 trainings, unless they've made them up, there aren't any."

Nor did the facility participate in any community drills or exercises in recent years other than fire drills, Welch and Brennan agreed.

Rivera said several COVID-19 training sessions had been held since early January. Asked if AHC of Albuquerque had conducted staff training to prepare for the pandemic - explaining how the coronavirus can be transmitted and what precautions are needed to avoid its spread - Rivera said they'd been doing such training "for a while now," a claim vociferously denied by staff.

In March, the New Mexico Department of Health rushed inspectors to AHC of Albuquerque as part of a statewide effort to review facilities' emergency response plans in anticipation of the coronavirus pandemic. No deficiencies were noted in either planning or training. Health Department officials did not respond to questions about whether inspectors specifically examined the pandemic response portion of the facility's emergency plan.

But Rivera acknowledged that AHC had no pandemic response plan, as federal rules require, just a more general disaster response plan. He noted he had not coordinated with local health officials to plan or drill for an epidemic to identify potential problems.

"We did not coordinate much when it comes to an epidemic of this fashion with the [state] Department of Health," Rivera said. "They did review all of our policy procedures and emergency preparedness plan and everything was checked off and OK'd. But there was never any official training with the Department of Health."

When asked directly whether AHC of Albuquerque had a generic emergency plan rather than one specific to the needs of a pandemic (such as infection control and PPE supplies), Rivera said: "Correct."

To Brennan, Rivera's attitude was too lax for the situation facing the facility's patients and residents. She believed the lack of guidance was putting her and her patients at risk.

Brennan said she would not work with patients without appropriate PPE and announced she was taking personal leave on March 16. She was fired.

Welch asked to be changed from full time to an on-call nurse on April 5 because of similar concerns as Brennan's. She later learned she, too, had been fired.

"I think in 2 weeks we will see a lot occur . . . and perhaps our standards will rise . . . or won't need to," Brennan texted to a supervisor. "But in the meantime, I felt we should do more, be more."

Rivera declined to comment on personnel matters.

"The Cost Is Human Lives"

AHC of Albuquerque's failure to create a pandemic plan is not unique among nursing homes. A 2018 report by Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee concluded that nursing homes are still unprepared even for more common emergencies like hurricanes.

While some homes have devoted a lot of energy to protecting their residents from disasters, many facilities are doing the bare minimum, according to David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.

"I don't think it's ever been a major area of focus," Grabowski said, "somewhat because CMS hasn't forced this and really held their feet to the fire."

The inspectors who verify whether a nursing home meets emergency preparedness standards are supposed to read the plan to make sure it's updated and "encompasses potential hazards." They should also confirm that the nursing home has been training its employees on the emergency plan and ensure that the facility has made preparations for communicating and delegating authority in a crisis.

The most commonly cited problem for nursing homes' emergency preparedness is failing to rehearse their plans in a community drill, usually organized by local emergency management or a hospital-led health care coalition.

Since inspectors are tasked with identifying immediate hazards, they may be less focused on scrutinizing emergency plans, said Eric Carlson, directing attorney of Justice in Aging, which advocates for impoverished seniors.

In 2019 and 2020, the HHS inspector general found that inspectors in at least five states - California, New York, Florida, Texas and Missouri - were not thoroughly policing the new emergency preparedness rule. CMS has said it will expand its oversight of states' enforcement.

Another indication of underenforcement is how much violations vary across the country. Advocates and experts say the variation more likely reflects different states' inspection priorities rather than how much facilities are actually doing.

California has one of the highest citation rates, with inspectors finding more than three emergency-preparedness violations per facility since November 2017, according to the analysis. At least 56 facilities have been cited for failing to plan for potential pandemics.

New Mexico cited nursing homes for emergency-preparedness deficiencies at about the same rate, but it's not possible to say how many of those deficiencies related specifically to failing to plan for confronting a new infectious disease. Today, nursing homes account for 31% of all COVID-19 deaths in New Mexico.

The citation rate in New York, where more than 5,800 nursing home residents died with confirmed or presumed infections, was much lower, roughly one deficiency per nursing home.

North Carolina registered few deficiencies. Although the state has more than 400 nursing homes, its inspectors issued just 44 emergency-preparedness citations to 40 facilities, none related to a nursing home's failure to prepare for an epidemic.

Despite this apparently clean record, North Carolina's nursing homes have been ravaged by COVID-19. Nursing home residents make up more than half of the state's deaths. About 20% of facilities have had outbreaks, and some have been unable to stop the virus's spread before virtually every resident was infected.

At Louisburg Healthcare and Rehabilitation, all but five of the facility's 61 residents caught the virus and 19 died. Despite the federal directive to coordinate with local emergency managers, the nursing home didn't submit its plan for review.

Jeff Bright, the emergency manager of Franklin County, where the nursing home is located, said the first time he talked to the facility's administrator was after the outbreak began. "The initial conversation was, 'Oh good gracious, we're overwhelmed,'" he said.

In a statement, the nursing home's management company, Liberty Healthcare, acknowledged that local emergency officials had not reviewed the facility's emergency plan.

But the company said its plan contained a section on pandemic influenza response that proved helpful. State inspectors have reviewed the nursing home's emergency plan three times since the new rule took effect, the company noted, and each time the facility was found in compliance.

Regulators should do more to make sure that nursing homes and local emergency officials work together, advocates said.

"Facilities should have been better prepared for this," Melanie McNeil, Georgia's long-term care ombudsman, said. "The cost is human lives. That's the cost of not being prepared. We know that people in long-term care are vulnerable."

The Outbreak Begins

Brennan's concerns proved prescient on April 3 - the 13th day at AHC of Albuquerque for an elderly Navajo patient in Room 222.

That day, the man had coughing fits in the dining room and therapy gym, according to current and former employees. The next day, on Saturday, he was still coughing and had a fever, so staff quarantined him in his room and administered a nasal swab to test for COVID-19.

Word of his positive test result came the following day, April 5 - Palm Sunday. He was the first person known to have become infected at the facility.

That morning, the facility's nursing director told staff to assign only one certified nursing assistant, or CNA, to enter the patient's room, Welch said. But the CNA working in Room 222 was not told to avoid contact with other patients to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to Welch. Several people who the CNA attended were later diagnosed with COVID-19.

Rivera said the CNA took necessary precautions, including the use of personal protective equipment. But employees present at the facility on April 5 said the CNA was wearing a surgical mask, not one of the more protective N95 masks.

Rivera acknowledged that staff likely played a role in spreading the virus by mid-April.

"I would say it was indirect" spread between residents by staff, Rivera said. "At that time, we had all of our patients, remember, in isolation at that time, in their rooms."

Between April 5 and May 8, 42 people - 18 patients and 24 staff - at AHC of Albuquerque would test positive for the disease, according to the state Health Department. Patients were sent home or to other nearby facilities like The Watermark assisted living center and the Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center, but only after testing negative twice, Rivera said.

Five residents died, including two men and two women in their 70s and 80s, and Roslyn K. Pulitzer, 90, a distant relative of the newspaper family who created the Pulitzer Prize, the nation's highest journalistic honor.

Pulitzer, a psychotherapist and fine arts photographer, drew her final breath holding the ungloved hand of Kay Lockridge, her partner of 36 years, at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, April 30, at the University of New Mexico Hospital's intensive care unit.

"If we had known they had a case, Roz wouldn't have gone there," said Lockridge, a journalist. "I wish we'd known."

Outbreaks, Staff Cuts And A Disengaged Doctor

AHC of Albuquerque had a history of problems with containing infectious outbreaks, according to employees and a review of state Health Department inspection reports dated 2009 to 2020.

There have been recurring infections involving Clostridium difficile, commonly called C. diff, according to current and former AHC of Albuquerque employees and state inspection reports. C. diff is a drug-resistant bacterium that causes diarrhea and potentially lethal gut inflammation. Rivera said the facility has had no C. diff cases in 2020. He did not return calls regarding previous outbreaks.

Repeated problems with C. diff are a red flag for infection control problems, said Dusti Harvey, an Albuquerque attorney who previously worked for Sun Healthcare Group, a long-term nursing and post-hospitalization rehabilitation company.

Federal regulations for nursing homes, including those for infection control, have been in place since 1989, Harvey noted.

"This is something that nursing homes should have been doing for the last 30 years," Harvey said. "Nursing homes should have been set up for COVID-19 way before it happened."

AHC of Albuquerque was also short-staffed, according to employees. Changes in billing for physical therapy had led to layoffs in September 2019. The facility had also begun to accept older, more fragile patients.

The situation was a "perfect storm for things to go awry with the introduction of COVID-19 into the facility," Brennan said. "Less staff, less cohesion, less communication, less direction. They brought in more patients that were inappropriate for effective group therapy due to their numerous medical issues."

Rivera insisted the changes to Medicare payments did not affect patient demographics and that staffing was not a problem.

A final concern for some employees was Dr. Ralph S. Hansen, the facility's medical director and one of its two designated infection control specialists. Neither Hansen nor the other designated specialist, a nurse, have a current credential in infectious disease management, according to records from the American Board of Medical Specialties and the New Mexico Board of Nursing.

"Dr. Hansen has an infectious disease background," Rivera said. But Hansen had not conducted any staff training, he acknowledged.

Current and former workers described Hansen as "disengaged" and "disconnected." Patients' missed doses of antibiotics and delayed lab results went unpursued.

Hansen was fired by a medical group in California and subsequently surrendered his California medical license after he allegedly stole other physicians' prescription pads and self-prescribed Ritalin under his own and fictitious names 326 times between 2004 and 2007, California Medical Board records show. He was charged in 2007 with 15 felony counts of burglary, forgery and obtaining controlled substances by fraud, the records show. In a November 2007 plea bargain, he admitted only to obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

But the following year, he moved to New Mexico, where he was issued a conditional medical license in March 2009 requiring monitored drug-abuse treatment and quarterly self-reports on his compliance with treatment, board records show. He went to work for the state prison in Los Lunas and the state Health Department. In 2014, the New Mexico Medical Board granted Hansen an unrestricted medical license, records show. He stopped working for the state in October 2015.

Hansen did not return repeated calls and messages.

By May 7, the COVID-19 outbreak at AHC of Albuquerque had peaked and largely resolved, Rivera said. As of Monday, May 11, the facility had only five patients who tested positive.

Rivera did not return recent phone calls seeking updated figures.

Uncounted Victims

At least two other people might be uncounted victims of the outbreak at AHC of Albuquerque.

After Rosemary Ortiz dropped off Robert Potts at the hospital, she drove back to her own home, the two-room casita where she has lived since childhood.

The following week, Ortiz developed a cough and shortness of breath. She soon became dizzy and feverish, with terrible headaches. Despite the small size of her home, she had trouble walking to the front door.

Ortiz tested positive for the coronavirus.

"I was so sick I thought I was not going to see my kids or my mother ever again," she said. "I thought I was going to die."

At home, Ortiz had kept her distance from her roommate, fearful of infecting her. But then she heard the woman coughing. The roommate, too, tested positive for the coronavirus.

Reached by phone, Ortiz stopped to catch her breath and announced that she had been weeding her yard, back on her feet. As of Tuesday, May 26, she had still tested positive for the coronavirus, even though she felt better. Inside, Ortiz's roommate was still sick and coughing. "But I think she's doing better," Ortiz said.

Ortiz had learned that Potts had been transferred to the Canyon Transitional facility for hospice care after several weeks at Presbyterian hospital. Ortiz said Potts' health has improved and he may be released to go home in a few weeks.

Ortiz paused.

"I miss him. I miss Mr. Potts very much," she said.

Bryant Furlow is a reporter for New Mexico In Depth. Carli Brosseau is a reporter for The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina. Isaac Arnsdorf is a reporter for ProPublica.

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See also:
* Sun-Times: Nursing Homes Account For More Than Half Of Coronavirus Deaths In Illinois, New Data Shows.

* Wired: Some Nursing Homes Escaped COVID-19. Here's What They Did Right.

* Tribune: Illinois Tried To Test For COVID-19 In Every Nursing Home. Now It's Ordering Nursing Homes To Do It Themselves.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

Black Emancipation Activism In The Civil War Midwest

"Organizing Freedom is a riveting and significant social history of black emancipation activism in Indiana and Illinois during the Civil War era," SIU Press says.

"By enlarging the definition of emancipation to include black activism, author Jennifer R. Harbour details the aggressive, tenacious defiance through which Midwestern African Americans - particularly black women - made freedom tangible for themselves.

9780809337699.jpg

"Despite banning slavery, Illinois and Indiana share an antebellum history of severely restricting rights for free black people while protecting the rights of slaveholders.

"Nevertheless, as Harbour shows, black Americans settled there, and in a liminal space between legal slavery and true freedom, they focused on their main goals: creating institutions like churches, schools, and police watches; establishing citizenship rights; arguing against oppressive laws in public and in print; and, later, supporting their communities throughout the Civil War."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced six streets in different neighborhoods throughout the city that will be shut down to allow restaurants to set up tables for expanded outdoor dining," the Tribune reports.

This strikes me as a good idea.

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"The six streets included in the upcoming pilot program are: 75th Street, from Calumet Avenue to Indiana Avenue; Broadway, from Belmont Avenue to Diversey Parkway; 26th Street from Central Park to Harding Avenue; Rush Street from Oak Street to Cedar Street; Taylor Street from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue and Randolph Street from the expressway no further than Elizabeth Street."

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"Lightfoot also said the 9 p.m. liquor sale curfew she imposed during the coronavirus pandemic will stay in place after Wednesday for package liquor stores, but not for restaurants that will be reopening with liquor licenses."

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Oh, and also:

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Nursing Homes Fought Federal Emergency Plan Requirements for Years. Now, They're Coronavirus Hot Spots.
Trump's election, nursing home lobbyists argued, demonstrated that voters opposed "extremely burdensome" rules that endangered the industry's thin profit margins.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #306: Baseball Is Blowing It
Billionaire owners cry poor, as usual. Plus: Our Hearts Ache For Minneapolis; Illinois Provides Week's Top Sports Story; Last Dance Remnants; The Blackhawks Just Undeservedly Made The Playoffs; Kaner & The Breadman; Reopening Sports; Remembering Biff Pocaroba!; Thibs Lives!; Biggs's Bag; and Chicago-Based Wilson Gets Back The NBA's Official Game Ball.

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Black Emancipation Activism In The Civil War Midwest
"Despite banning slavery, Illinois and Indiana share an antebellum history of severely restricting rights for free black people while protecting the rights of slaveholders."

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Amazon Now Scripting Local TV News
Watch.

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Check Out The Weird Shit Field Museum Employees Keep At Home
Including a fluorescent scorpion, a taxidermied squirrel, a "unique" pinned wasp and a miniature replica of a living room, for some reason.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

The nation's "unrest" is not just about George Floyd; it's an explosion of anger about this president and his administration, finally boiling over at an entirely new level.

Reports of protesters breaching Trump Tower just now from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

#hotdog #chicago

A post shared by Dame Grant (@dame_grant_) on

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Weekend ChicagoTube

GEMS World Academy Chicago 2020 Drive-By Art Show!

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

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Ground and pound.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

Check Out The Weird Shit Field Museum Employees Keep At Home

"In this episode of 'Show & Tell,' Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras and staff writer Jessica Leigh Hester speak with six employees of the Field Museum in Chicago about their personal collections.

"Among them are a fluorescent scorpion, a taxidermied squirrel, a miniature replica of a living room, and a unique pinned wasp! Isolated and unable to interact with the museum's natural history exhibits, these Field Museum employees still have access to wonder."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

May 29, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #306: Baseball Is Blowing It

Billionaire owners cry poor, as usual. Plus: Our Hearts Ache For Minneapolis; Illinois Provides Week's Top Sports Story; Last Dance Remnants; The Blackhawks Just Undeservedly Made The Playoffs; Kaner & The Breadman; Reopening Sports; Remembering Biff Pocaroba!; Thibs Lives!; Biggs's Bag; and Chicago-Based Wilson Gets Back The NBA's Official Game Ball.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #306: Baseball Is Blowing It

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SHOW NOTES

* 306.

* Rod Carew's career batting average is .328.

* ABC News: A Look Inside South Korean Baseball's Elaborate 'Cheer Culture.'

3:34: Our Hearts Ache For Minneapolis

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12:03: Illinois Provides This Week's Top Sports Story.

16:32: Last Dance Afterparty.

* Coffman: Be Like Jerry.

* Jordan's rules:

* Lance Armstrong: Also a psychopath!

23:35: The Blackhawks Just Undeservedly Made The Playoffs.

* Bruins, Lightning Still Betting Favorites To Win The Stanley Cup. Blackhawks Quite Not.

31:55: Kaner & The Breadman.

Last month, Kane made waves by saying skating on the same line with Panarin was the "funnest hockey" he's ever played.

How could that be when he'd won three Cups with other teams and linemates, but he never even won as much as a single playoff series alongside the Breadman?

"After I said that I thought about it a little bit and I didn't want that to-- I don't know if that came across the right way," Kane said. "Those years from 2009-2015 for me, that was so fun . . . playing on winning, Stanley Cup champion teams, that's as fun as it's going to get.

"When I was playing with Panarin I felt like, for me personally, that was like 'this is how hockey should be played.' This was just two players combining their talents and having the chemistry... it wasn't like anything was planned or set in stone. We just figured it out on the go. Then after 10 or 15 games you figure out the spots you want to go to.

"It became pretty natural playing with him. It was really, really fun hockey playing with him for those two years. For me personally, that was the most chemistry I've probably had with someone, just natural, instinctive chemistry to play that hockey with someone.

"I'm glad I got to do that with him."

36:35: Reopening Sports.

* KFVS-TV: Patron-Free Horse Racing Returning To Illinois.

* Tribune: Chicago Red Stars, NWSL To Return June 27.

* ESPN: Premier League Clubs And Players React To June 17 Restart.

* UPDATE since recording this show: Serie A Gets Green Light To Return June 20.

* Hot Time in Old Town: MLS Getting Closer: Chicago Fire Return To Training.

* The NBA: Make it Madness!

45:38: Baseball Is Blowing It.

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52:23: Remembering Biff Pocaroba!

* Sports Illustrated: "Pocoroba was a fan favorite because of his name and his baseball cards also drew attention. Many who grew up in that era (like the writer of this article) had some of Pocoroba's cards. As a matter of fact, the first ever baseball card I ever got was Pocoroba's 1978 Topps card.

"Here is a funny story from the San Diego Union-Tribune that mentioned the one time Ted Turner tried to trade Pocoroba to the Padres for the San Diego Chicken."

53:07: Thibs Lives!

55:52: Biggs's Bag.

1:02:20: Chicago-Based Wilson Now The Official Game Ball Of The NBA.

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STOPPAGE: 5:28

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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 1:06 PM | Permalink

May 28, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"George Floyd's horrifying death Monday - after repeatedly saying 'I can't breathe' while a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck - highlights ongoing issues with the Chicago Police Department's use-of-force policy as the department begins operating under a consent decree," Curtis Black writes for the Chicago Reporter.

Chicago is ahead of Minneapolis in at least one regard: in Chicago, under a new policy implemented in February, "carotid artery restraints" and "other maneuvers for applying direct pressure on a windpipe or airway" are considered deadly force options, while in Minneapolis they aren't. In both cities, chokeholds are ranked as deadly force - only to be used to prevent an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.

But chokeholds have been increasingly controversial, especially since the death of Eric Garner by New York police in 2014, and some have called on CPD to ban the technique entirely. One who did so was Lori Lightfoot, back when she was running for mayor.

"Chokeholds are dangerous," Lightfoot said at the time. "They should be prohibited pure and simple."

Black also has some thoughts regarding new police chief David Brown's inaugural Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. Curtis is always worth a read, so go do that now; I'll wait.

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Welcome back!

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COVID County Judges
"The coronavirus pandemic has reached the bench in Cook County for the first time," AP reports.

"In a news release on Thursday morning, the office of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced that two judges in the courthouse in suburban Bridgeview tested positive for COVID-19. The release did not provide any details about the judges or their conditions."

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Also:

"According to the release, an employee of the adult probation department also tested positive, bringing to 39 the number of county court employees who have tested positive. The release also said that another resident of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center has also tested positive, bringing the number of residents to test positive to 15."

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The report also stated: "At the Chicago Police Department, 521 sworn officers and 30 civilian employees have tested positive for the virus, and three officers who tested positive have died, according to the most recent department statistics."

In Wednesday's column (see the item CPD COVID-19), I wondered whether police officers were catching the 'Rona from the public or from inside their own police stations or police cars. (It could be both!) It's also possible they're getting it from home, but an overwhelming number of cases are originating from group living situations (nursing homes, prisons), workplaces (meatpacking plants) or other spaces holding large gatherings (churches).

Perhaps data from the CPD could answer the question (and again, if this has already been reported and I've missed it, please forgive me and send me the link/s) and also tell us which districts, stations and/or units have been particularly hard hit.

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Tootsie Roll Factory Deaths
"COVID-19 has claimed the lives of two long-time employees at the Tootsie Roll plant on Chicago's Southwest Side," WGN-TV reports.

"Angel Butron, 75, passed away Saturday. He had worked at the plant for 50 years.

"Cosme Tenorio, 62, died on Tuesday. He had worked at Tootsie Roll for 43 years and planned to retire this year. One of Tenorio's last duties was posting signs and marking spots on the floor to encourage social distancing." (Emphasis mine to make sure you saw it.)

"The two men were among 18 employees at the plant who contracted the virus."

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Union Essentials
"Concerned about their safety on the job as the coronavirus pandemic continues, workers at Chicago-area grocery stores, marijuana dispensaries and other essential businesses are increasingly pushing to unionize," the Tribune reports.

"Workers at Sunnyside dispensary in the Lakeview neighborhood have cast ballots, and Instacart employees at a nearby Jewel-Osco are also in the process of voting by mail on whether or not to unionize. Workers at the Dill Pickle Co-Op in Logan Square staged a demonstration asking the co-op to recognize their 13-member union, which has been certified by the National Labor Relations Board.

"The coronavirus outbreak has unleashed a flurry of unionization efforts in the Chicago area by workers who argue the pay increases and safety measures some employers have put in place don't go far enough."

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I wonder - again - if Tribune reporters are more sympathetic to unions now that they are in one and at tremendous odds with their private equity overlords. Assignment/Thesis Desk, activate!

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Illinois' Shocking Data Hole
"As Illinois' economy inches open, public health officials across the state are anxiously monitoring the continued spread of COVID-19, hoping there isn't a resurgence in cases as people start to venture out for a haircut or a meal on a restaurant patio," WBEZ reports.

"But they're strategizing somewhat in the dark. In Chicago, health and government officials do not know the types of jobs those with COVID-19 have in about 90% of the cases the state has tracked. Across Illinois, it's unknown in almost 80% of cases, according to data WBEZ obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health."

What?

"Experts say tracking where people who've gotten COVID-19 live and work - and presumably where they may have come into contact with the virus - is vital to preventing and identifying potential future outbreaks.

"Health officials know outbreaks have already happened in places where workers are shoulder-to-shoulder in factories, and in so-called congregate settings such as nursing homes, where aides commonly work in multiple buildings, carrying the virus with them. There have been outbreaks in prisons and homeless shelters and, predictably, in hospitals, where doctors and nurses are treating patients in the throes of a pandemic.

"But the problem is, this data is woefully incomplete."

Click through to find out just how woefully incomplete, and why. For some reason I thought officials had this type of information. Shit.

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Universal Unemployment Umbrage
"Republican state lawmakers sharply criticized the Evers administration on Wednesday for hundreds of thousands of unpaid unemployment claims in Wisconsin, while Democrats argued GOP policies and spending choices are to blame for delays. The state has seen an unprecedented number of jobless claims brought on by fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic," Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

It's tough all over - and it's bad faith for politicians and malpractice for journalists not to acknowledge that. And I'm still one frustrated, pissed-off unemployment applicant. I'm also an adult, or at least a reasonable facsimile of one.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

A Plan To Pay Musicians
Blanket licensing.

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The Tale Of Dominic Cummings
"He's a human being, presumably."

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The Lessons Of Typhoid Mary
'The questions raised through an examination of the media, the legal system and public health officials' reactions to a woman charged with being a Menace to the Community remain to this day.'

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Bruins, Lightning Still Stanley Cup Betting Favorites
Blackhawks second-longest longshot.

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ChicagoReddit

Illinois Man Arrested After Grabbing And Yelling At Reporter Live On-Air from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Vince Martinez KOs Chuck Davey In Chicago On May 26, 1954.

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BeachBook

This Artist Is Painting Beautiful Flowers On All Of Her Walls While Stuck In Quarantine.

Isn't this article quarantine-shaming, though? Most of us don't have anything close to these skills.

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

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Establishit.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

The Tale Of Dominic Cummings

"He's a human being, presumably."


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See also, Jonathan Pie's Lockdown:
* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 1: 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.

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

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 6: Question Time.

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Previously in Jonathan 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 6:29 AM | Permalink

Bruins, Lightning Still Betting Favorites To Win The Stanley Cup

The NHL betting lines changed after NFL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday the league's return plan for the 2019-20 season, but the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning remain the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The updated betting lines reflect a modified playoff format, according to TheLines.com, which tracks odds in the U.S. regulated sports betting markets.

The date to begin play is not yet certain, but when the NHL does resume the new format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs will include 24 teams, starting with a round of eight play-in series', and first-round byes for the top four seeds in each conference.

Boston reopened after Tuesday's announcement at +650 on DraftKings - paying $650 profit for every $100 bet - and +600 on FanDuel.

The Bruins were +550 on DraftKings and +650 on FanDuel when the season was postponed in March.

DraftKings moved Tampa Bay to +700 from +750, and FanDuel's line moved to +600 from +700.

The odds for teams in markets where sports betting is legal saw significant moves, too. The Colorado Avalanche reopened Tuesday at +900 (DraftKings) and +750 (FanDuel), changing from +1000 and +850, respectively. DraftKings moved the Vegas Golden Knights to +800 from +1000, and FanDuel moved the line to +850 from +900.

"With first-round byes, the new format gives a distinct advantage to the top four seeds in both conferences and the updated lines reflect that," said Brett Collson, betting analyst at TheLines.com. "With so much pent-up demand for sports betting, we expect relatively heavy betting in regulated sports betting markets across the U.S. So the betting lines should continue to move before the first puck is dropped."

Odds on other teams in legal U.S. betting markets and expected to participate in the playoffs include:

* Pittsburgh Penguins (+1700 DraftKings and +2000 FanDuel, from +1200 DraftKings and +1300 FanDuel)

* Philadelphia Flyers (+1000 DraftKings and +1100 FanDuel, from +1400 DraftKings and +1300 FanDuel)

* New York Islanders (+3500 DraftKings and +4200 FanDuel, from +3500 DraftKings and +2900 FanDuel)

* New York Rangers (+4000 DraftKings and +4000 FanDuel, from +4000 DraftKings and +4500 FanDuel)

* Chicago Blackhawks (+7500 DraftKings and +10000 FanDuel, from +12500 DraftKings and +25000 FanDuel)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:17 AM | Permalink

The Lessons Of Typhoid Mary

Many people have heard of Typhoid Mary, but far fewer know the name Mary Mallon. For those familiar with the story of the actual person who would become known as an infamous spreader of disease, though, the name Judith Walzer Leavitt might also ring a bell.

Leavitt's 1995 book, Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public Health, tells the story of Mallon, an Irish immigrant cook in New York and asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever who was involuntarily quarantined and spent years in isolation during the early 20th century. The questions raised through Leavitt's examination of the media, the legal system and public health officials' reactions to a woman charged with being a "Menace to the Community" remain to this day.

An illustration and article published in the June 20, 1909 edition of The New York American labels Mary Mallon as "Typhoid Mary" and discusses her forced quarantine/New York American, Public Domain
history-health-publichealth-mallon-illustration.jpg(ENLARGE)

For some historical perspective on public health responses to disease outbreaks, WisContext spoke with Leavitt, a medical historian and Rupple Bascom and Ruth Bleier Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She talked about the practice of public health throughout American history and how differing experiences between communities plays a role in these efforts. The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

What do you make of what's happening now with COVID-19?

I'm a historian, so I can't really add anything beyond what the news tells me about the current situation. I mean, what can I tell you? It's terrible.

As a historian then, what lessons from the past seem especially relevant today?

Well, we certainly learned from the past that it's very important that public health infrastructure be up and running all the time so that it's ready when something like this happens.

The 19th century, for example, was a time when health departments - really starting mid-century and going into the 20th century - built up their ability to fight contagious diseases, epidemic disasters, sanitary environment issues, et cetera.

The Wisconsin State Board of Health and the Milwaukee city Board of Health both gained in power and authority and budget and hiring over the course of the second half of the 20th century. It was very important to have that kind of infrastructure to address health issues when they arose.

People who work in public health still think that inoculation and isolation are the two mainstays along with contact tracing for epidemic and contagious diseases. I don't think that's gone away. I think what's gone away is their ability to do it - to have enough money and staff and support.

Your research has documented many times when public health was delivered inequitably. You and your husband wrote an opinion for The Progressive magazine published just as the crisis was ramping up warning this may happen again. What motivated you then and what have you seen since?

Public health, even at its best in the 19th and 20th century, has only sometimes been equitable. That is, very often the policies are leveled at different populations with different degrees of strength.

That kind of response has been fairly typical in public health. So poor communities, immigrant communities and, later on, African-American communities found very much that the government response came to them unequally. And the reason we wrote the Op-Ed about today is we were warning that that has been the case historically, and we should be aware of it in the present situation.

We certainly see that the African-American community today are very hard hit with the coronavirus and are dying at a much greater rate than the white population. And, of course, that just doesn't have to do with the way policies are being applied. That has to be part of it. But it's also because of the history of the health problems the African-American community brings to the current situation, which haven't already been alleviated by public health measures. So they end up getting the brunt of this attack unfairly.

Yet the most visible protests about COVID-19 issues have been against "Safer at Home" orders. Can you also make a case that small businesses that have had to close and layoff workers are also affected unfairly?

The business community has always been pretty split on public health. Usually it is the bigger companies that support public health because they can afford the new regulations. The smaller businesses can't and therefore oppose it. I think that inequality has existed for a long time and we still see it today.

That is the rhetoric around the congressional action to support small businesses. They understand that big businesses can clean up things, put up plastic barriers, have people wear masks, disinfect everything and not completely go out of business with expenses. Small businesses really find it difficult to do that. That's been a perennial problem for public health.

Again, it's another reason why government needs to understand these issues and how they play out. Not just with big and small businesses, but in different cultural niches in the country to understand what languages they need to use, what kind of support they need in the community.

Where has understanding a cultural niche led to successful public health outcomes?

In the early 20th century, when Milwaukee had a big infant health push, the first people they contacted were the churches in the community - the places where they were trying to get prenatal care and infant feeding programs going - to get them on board.

That was a really important understanding that you can't just go out and say, "You need to feed your baby this formula," and not do this or that with your baby, without knowing how people there are going to see that kind of action in government authority. And of course, in immigrant communities, government authority was to be feared. A lot of them had come to America because of too strict government authority where they had come from.

So I think that there are so many issues that have to be thought of when you're doing public health work and the actual magic bullet or the vaccine is only one part of what needs to be on the agenda, if you're going to be successful.

What about the cultural niche inhabited by those protesting public health policies? Can you reach them?

They have a point about personal liberty and they certainly have a right to protest. But if the public health people could break their shell and help them understand what is happening to everybody - that we have obligations to one another, especially in times of crisis, then they would be more effective.

But I think they think this is not possible. First of all, in the last few years, our country has brought out into the open some of the divisions that probably were there before, but now people don't need to hold back in saying what they think. That's a big issue.

We also have a perception that we are different, and the difference can be hierarchical in many respects in many people's minds. There are ways the outrage is urged on by people who don't like policies of public health restrictions.

One of our [state] Supreme Court justices said, well, the meatpacking industries are hard hit in Green Bay, in Brown County more generally. And, well, they're just, they're not us, they're not the general population.

Of course they're us. But that's the thinking. They are so far removed from who that person is, that she can say that, without thinking there's anything wrong with saying it. It's just appalling. But that is the kind of thing that people find easy to do. If somebody who is not like them is affected, that it's not as bad as it would be if people like them were affected.

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One important but mostly forgotten moment in the history of public health in Wisconsin was in 1894, when an outbreak of smallpox in Milwaukee was met with a zealous response by the city's health commissioner and was in turn met with a reaction that started with rioting and ended with an impeachment.

Walzer Leavitt explored this episode and its implications for public health efforts in Milwaukee in her 1982 book The Healthiest City.

She spoke about the riots and their legacy in a May 13, 2020 interview on Wisconsin Public Radio's Central Time.

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With national attention during the COVID-19 crisis focused intensely on many aspects of how Americans have confronted disease outbreaks in the past, particularly the tension between civil liberties and public health, the scholarship by Leavitt is receiving renewed attention, with multiple books she has written being featured on pandemic reading lists.

Her works include Brought to Bed, which recounts the history of childbearing in America from the late colonial era through the mid-20th century, and Make Room for Daddy, which explores the social changes that led to increased inclusion of fathers in labor and birth.

Her biography of Mary Mallon inspired the PBS NOVA documentary The Most Dangerous Woman in America.

This post was originally published on WisContext, which produced the article in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

A Plan To Pay Musicians

As Congress gets ready for yet another hearing on copyright and music, we'd like to suggest that rather than more "fact-finding," where the facts are inevitably skewed toward the views of the finder, our legislators start focusing on a concrete solution that builds on and learns from decades of copyright policy: blanket licensing.

musiccopyright_0.jpg

It will need an update to make it work for the Internet age, but as complicated as that will be, it has the profound benefit of adhering to copyright's real purpose: spurring creativity and innovation. And it's far better than the status quo, where audiences and musicians alike are collateral damage in an endless war between giant tech companies and giant entertainment companies.

We all have lots of experience with blanket licensing, though we may not realize it. Nightclubs, restaurants, cafes and radio stations all have their own soundtracks: the music that helps define the experience of any venue or business.

Whether they favor jazz, rock, classical or heavy metal, venues choose music that reflects what they want to convey to people about the character of the business.

And they can make those choices because no music publisher can dictate what they play - Jazz Club B can play the same tracks as Jazz Club A. A publisher can't do a deal with a chain of restaurants or radio stations giving them the sole right to play their top hits.

This has been vital to the progress of music. It prevents the dominant music venues from becoming gatekeepers by insisting on exclusive access in exchange for playing publishers' leading tracks. If that happened, competitors without exclusive deals wither away, or would never launch.

But when the Internet came along, and Congress gave record labels a right to collect performance royalties, we lost sight of that principle of universal access. The only statutory licenses for recordings that cover Internet services are narrow, and full of limitations. The result is a toxic dynamic in which a handful of companies dominate online music services.

A few online giants - like Spotify - are standalone music companies, but most of the major music channels, like YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon Prime, are divisions of large, monopolistic conglomerates with very deep pockets. Apple, Google, and Amazon have leveraged their dominant positions in search and e-commerce to become even more dominant. If you only sell to high bidders, then eventually all the low bidders will disappear and the high bidders have all the sellers over a barrel.

The online giants desperately need competition to discipline them. That's the usual pattern: successful businesses breed competitors who try to offer something that's better (for customers, or suppliers, or workers, or all three). Getting audience-facing music service competitors into the mix will liberate musicians and music companies from operating at the sufferance and mercy of Big Tech.

And we know how to do it: create a system of universal licenses for recorded music that make playing music over the Internet more like playing music over the radio or in a club.

Let companies pay a per-user license fee that gives them access to the same catalog that Amazon, Apple and Google claim, without having to cut deals with every label and musician.

The Music Modernization Act, passed in 2018, was a step in the right direction. It created a new blanket license for musical compositions, covering downloads and interactive streaming. Let's build on that momentum and create a complimentary license for sound recordings.

A Blanket License For The Internet

In broad strokes, here's how a robust Internet license for sound recordings would work. If you want to offer music to the public - if you want to start a streaming site, or let users exchange music, or share videos with music clips in them like TikTok users do - all you need to do is set up an account with a rights clearinghouse, called a "collecting society."

You pay the collecting society a monthly license fee that goes up with the number of users you have. If you have one user and Facebook has 2.5 billion users, then your license fee is 1/2,500,000,000 of Facebook's fee.

You also allow the collecting society to audit the use of music on your platform. They'll use statistically rigorous sampling methods to assemble an accurate picture of which music is in use on your platform, and how popular each track is.

The collecting society will then pay rightsholders for your use of the music. That's it, more or less. It's not complicated, but it will be a challenge. There are a lot of details we have to get right. Let's get into some of them.

Collecting Societies

Collecting societies get a bad rap, and not without reason. Independent labels and musicians have long accused the societies of undercounting their music and handing money that is rightfully theirs to big music corporations and the musicians who've signed up with them.

Collecting society executives have been mired in corruption and embezzlement scandals, and other misdeeds that have put the whole sector in bad odor.

At the same time, public interest groups have locked horns with collecting societies for years over proposals to make it easier to censor the Internet, and the societies have never stopped trying to expand the scope of who needs a music license - from nightclubs to restaurants to cafes to market stalls to school plays to classrooms.

But a better collecting society is possible. Indeed, the problems with societies over the years have demonstrated the pitfalls that a new collecting society must avoid.

Some requirements for a new collecting society:

* It must be transparent. From the methodology for sampling online music usage, to the raw data it analyzes, to the conclusions it reaches, to the payments it makes, the entire business should be open and subject to public scrutiny.

* It must be fair. Statistical analysis is an incredibly powerful tool, but it's also hard to do well. The statistical method used to sample and extrapolate online music usage must be visible to all.

* It must be limited. From executive salaries to the scope of its activities, the collecting society must be limited to act as a utility player in the online music ecosystem, whose sole purpose is fairly apportioning music from online services to music creators.

Fairness

Under the current system, the recorded music industry is concentrated in the hands of three major labels, each of which has a long history of artist-unfriendly business practices that saw successful musicians who made millions for corporations go broke and die in poverty.

The power imbalance between the concentrated industry and the vast number of musicians who'd like to enter the industry favors one-sided, unfair contracts. That's one reason copyright systems around the world include some form of reversion right through which creators can unilaterally cancel their contracts with their publishers, labels or studios and get the rights back.

Reversion points to another way to make online music usage fairer for artists. Blanket licenses for online music could and should also establish a minimum fraction of blanket licenses that go directly to artists, irrespective of their contracts with their labels. The current statutory license for "non-interactive" internet streaming gives 50% of royalties to artists. We think that's fair.

Artists have long railed against online music distributors like Spotify and Pandora, saying that they receive inadequate compensation for the use of their work. The streaming companies counter by opening their books and showing that they've paid billions in license fees. Can both sides be right?

Indeed, they can. If almost all of the streaming money is hoarded by the labels who get to arm-twist musicians into one-sided contracts, it's entirely possible for Spotify and Pandora to spend billions to license music while the musicians get next to nothing.

The online music industry is currently generating more revenues than the music industry at any time since the CD bubble, and yet, musicians are going hungry. The labels' market concentration has made the deals on offer to musicians progressively worse, as the probability that musicians can take their music to a rival label dwindles every time the big music companies merge with one another.

Statutorily guaranteeing that, at minimum, half of all license payments go directly to artists, irrespective of their label contracts, is a way to ensure that online music listeners and online music-makers are on the same side and the more people love a musician's art, the more money the musician makes.

Competition

Artists and users are the biggest losers in the current ecosystem, thanks to the lack of competition. If you want to listen to a favorite song, there's an (approximately) one in three chance that you're going to get it from one of the Big Three labels. When it comes to home internet service, most people in the U.S. have only one or two equally expensive carriers. You'll search with Google, socialize with Facebook, and distribute your videos on YouTube.

Blanket licenses pay artists while promoting competition. If you want to start a TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Apple Music, or Amazon Prime competitor, you'll be free to make the very best service you can, and you will have access to the exact same catalog that the established services offer.

As you add users, your license payments go up as a function of your popularity. If you're an overnight sensation, great, your windfall needs to be divvied up with the creators whose music helped you succeed. If you're a slow burner and take years to ignite, then you pay very little to cover the usage of your small but loyal user base. If you want to start a specialty service to fill a specific niche, you don't have to hire a business-development team and an army of lawyers to do deals with the labels.

For artists, this is almost a license to print money. Every time a new service pops up online with a great idea for music, it represents a way for you to get paid. If a service interests new fans in your music, or gets existing fans to congregate around it, you get paid right away - their success is based on their ability to excite your listeners, not their ability to convince your label's corporate lawyers to do a deal with them.

Free Expression

Best of all, blanket licenses enable the kind of creativity that we've all come to know and love in the digital era.

Rather than putting musicians on the wrong side of the speech debate, insisting that others' creations be censored off the Internet, blanket licensing aligns the interests of musicians with the interests of audiences, and puts them on the side of free expression. Every artist should be on the side of free expression, always.

This is how things worked in the pre-Internet world. The blanket licenses that clubs and radio stations rely on - and the mechanical licenses that let anyone record their own cover of an existing song - meant that artists had the right to get paid for the use of their music, but not the right to tell a DJ they didn't like that she couldn't spin their album, nor the right to force another musician to destroy their cover of a song they wrote.

Details: Who, What, How

This plan has some pretty gnarly details that need to be worked out through collaboration with all the important stakeholders, especially creators. But we want to make sure we signpost those so you know what they are and can get to thinking about them:

* The license should cover both digital performance and distribution rights in sound recordings, so that all kinds of music services can participate.

* The license should cover "synch" rights for making things like YouTube and TikTok videos, but it should not cover movie studios or advertisers that want to include musicians' work in their products - a blanket license should add to musicians' income streams, not destroy them.

* The collecting society needs a rigorous statistical sampling and analysis system.

* We need a way to divide up money among musicians who collaborate on a song.

* We need a way to divide up money among musicians who mash up, sample, or remix someone else's song under this license.

* We need a way to verify the claims of musicians who represent themselves as rightsholders over a given recording or composition.

These are hard problems and they'll take real work. But solving these problems is much easier than making things fair for creators and audiences while continuing on our current, monopolistic path, with Big Tech and Big Content fighting one another for the right to profit from the rest of us.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers


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Today In Herr Trump

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Politico Playbook:

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Oh, and just over here on the right rail as an afterthought on the Trib's website (at least they have it; nowhere on S-T site):

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CPD COVID-19
"Chicago police announced Tuesday 10 more cases of COVID-19 within the department, bringing the total number of cases to 548," the Sun-Times reports.

"Of the confirmed cases, 519 are officers and 29 are civilian employees, police said. One officer who tested positive for the coronavirus is awaiting confirmation through the department's medical section. The department announced the death of a third officer from complications of the coronavirus on April 17."

Perhaps this has been reported and I've missed it, but are police officers catching the COVID from the public or from themselves? Assignment Desk, activate!

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Another Nursing Home Death Trap

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News from/about Elvia Malagón, the reporter on that story:

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Trivia: Elvia is an alum of the Lakeland, Florida Ledger, as am I, though I've never met her and she came way after me.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Be Like Jerry
"He became the best example in all of sports of how a coach should comport himself - displaying class and dignity every day but also flashing an ultra-deadpan sense of humor."

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ChicagoReddit

Did we decide Coronavirus isn't a thing after Memorial Day? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Ford Reopened Its Chicago Plant Too Soon.

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BeachBook

The Fucked-Up Reason Oranges Are Sold In Red Mesh Bags.

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Jeweler Uses 7,500 Pennies To Decorate Her Floor With A Dazzling Mosaic Design.

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

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Tip a canoe.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Be Like Jerry

On the day after the generally acknowledged toughest guys in sports, hockey players, announced a plan for ending their season with a tournament (the near-the-bottom Blackhawks somehow qualify to play), I find my thoughts turning to Jerry Sloan one more time. The Southern Illinois native who became the first Bull to have his number retired at the end of his stellar, 10-year playing career that included 10 years on the West Side, died last week at age 78.

Sloan went on to put together a Hall of Fame coaching career mostly at the helm of the Utah Jazz. And in so doing he became the best example in all of sports of how a coach should comport himself - displaying class and dignity every day but also flashing an ultra-deadpan sense of humor.

But the main thing I wanted to zero in on was that calling Sloan tough was almost insulting. He was ultimate tough, i.e., he refused to turn away from any worthy adversary in any situation. Even when he was in his 60s coaching still-successful Jazz teams, he would not back down from any real threat. Ever.

On occasion he would walk away from a conflict, but that would only be because he knew the other guy was a pretender. If another ultimate tough guy like Kenyon Martin challenged Sloan's team, Sloan would Not. Back. Down.

Now it must be said that a decent number of guys like this meet their demise early in life and in team sports. The problem in life is that even ultimate toughness is no match for easy force, i.e., weaponry. And on a team, too frequently the other guys don't match the tough guy's fire and determination.

Fortunately for Sloan, he found competitive soulmates in John Stockton and Karl Malone. The coach and the two stars of so many of his great teams in Utah found themselves on the same page without even having to talk about it. Everything was sacrificed for the team.

The nature of basketball is that it is the ultimate team game but that sometimes a great, great individual player can tilt the playing floor more than he can in other team sports.

On the other hand, no one inspires more loyalty among players who are in the game for the right reasons than the guy who will have your back no matter what. And you can feel that sentiment in the many tributes Sloan has received since the announcement of his death last week.

Part of it was his upbringing but only a small part of it. Sloan was the 10th of 10 children and his dad died when he was four. He was the classic country kid who was up well before the sun to do his morning chores before walking to school for morning basketball practice. He grew up in a little region that isn't on maps - Gobbler's Knob - and went to school in McLeansboro, deep in Southern Illinois farm country.

And of course the last, key thing about ultimate toughness is never talking about it. Others have to do that for you. Hopefully we have done a good enough job here.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

May 26, 2020

Digital Rights During The Pandemic

As part of EFF's response to the COVID-19 crisis, we've edited and compiled our critical thoughts on digital rights and the pandemic into an e-book: EFF's Guide to Digital Rights and the Pandemic.

To get the e-book, you can make an optional contribution to support EFF's work, or you can download it at no cost. We released the e-book under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits sharing among users.

No matter who you are, this collection will likely be relevant to your understanding of the pandemic and society's response to it.

covid-cover-2.jpg

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every area of our daily life, requiring hundreds of millions to take steps that would be unthinkable in normal times. It has also had a profound impact on how we use technology, and what we expect from it.

In the first few weeks of the United States' COVID-19 shut-down, our team of lawyers, technologists, activists, and experts wrote dozens of articles on the interactions between COVID-19 and technology. Despite that swiftness, these conclusions were built on years of preparative work. In those weeks, we wrote multiple blog posts a day, not just to be timely, but to assemble our own thoughts on the changing situation, and to inject dependable, timeless concerns where they most need to be heard.

The book is arranged into five sections: Surveillance, Free Speech, Government Transparency, Innovation, and Living More Online. While the articles in each section were written to speak to policymakers and citizens at the moment that they were first reacting to the new realities of the virus, they are not "hot takes."

They cover a wide range of topics, including how to protect your privacy while offering support to your community during the pandemic, a framework for considering surveillance measures that might aid in protecting individuals from COVID-19, and the crucial need for increased government transparency during the crisis (and beyond). They were all written based on our decades of experience tangling with rapid societal and technological change.

As a result of COVID-19, we now rely more than ever before on the Internet and digital tools to work, learn, and share information and advice. And beyond that, we're using it to create art, listen to our favorite musicians perform "live," organize aid for one another, and just to deal with the loss of in-person contact that comes with quarantining.

But governments and companies are also considering dangerous uses of technology, like ubiquitous location tracking and facial recognition technology. As always, EFF is standing strong to make sure that we take advantage of how technology can help us now, and emerge from this time with our freedom and democracy as strong, if not stronger, than when we went in.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 PM | Permalink

A 360° Great Train Story

"Ride the rails with a track-level, 360° view aboard a model train in The Great Train Story exhibit. Exhibit designer John Llewellyn is your guide for the sights along the way in a scale-model round-trip between Seattle and Chicago."


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Previously in The Great Train Story:

* "The Great Train Story," January 23, 2009:

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* Our ChicagoGram of March 5, 2020:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 PM | Permalink

Armchair Vacation: Chicago!

"Hosted by Jack Douglas, America! traveled the United States to cities and places, expertly narrated by Jack Douglas. A fabulous look at Chicago, Illinois. Too much to mention, including a boat ride, State Street, Maxwell Street, The Chicago Fire Academy, Kungsholm Restaurant and it's miniature puppet opera, Rush Street, Buckingham Fountain, Midwest Buddhist Church festival, Chicago's Riverview Amusement Park, Chicago Zoological Park, The Art Institute, The Chicago Historical Society, and more. Riverview fans will enjoy the colorful Riverview footage!"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Kennedy Center Couch Concert: Jon Langford & The Dill Costa Quartet From The Hideout

"For this Monday National Spotlight, the Kennedy Center join[ed] forces with Chicago's The Hideout + Old Town School of Folk Music to present Jon Langford, founding member of legendary British punk rock band the Mekons, and the Dill Costa Quartet, who merge Brazilian popular music with jazz."


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"Presented as part of #KCCouchConcerts, a new live performance series by Millennium Stage streaming every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. ➡ http://bit.ly/KCCouchConcerts."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

Chicago-Based Wilson Now The Official Game Ball Of The NBA

The National Basketball Association and Wilson Sporting Goods Co. announced a multiyear global partnership today that will make Wilson the official game ball of the NBA, Women's National Basketball Association, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and Basketball Africa League.

The partnership will tip off at different times by league. The NBA Wilson game ball will first be used during the league's 75th anniversary season in 2021-22. The other debuts will be during the 2022 WNBA season, 2021-22 NBA G League season, 2021 NBA 2K League season and the inaugural BAL season.

"This partnership with Wilson returns us to our roots as we plan for the future," said Salvatore LaRocca, NBA President, Global Partnerships. "We were partners for 37 seasons dating back to when Wilson manufactured the first official NBA basketballs in 1946, and we look forward to growing the game of basketball together."

Wilson will manufacture the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League game balls using the same materials, eight-panel configuration and performance specifications as current game balls and will also source the same leather currently used in the NBA. The NBA and its players will work jointly with Wilson to develop and approve the new game ball.

About Wilson

Chicago, USA-based Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a subsidiary of Amer Sports Corporation, is the world's leading manufacturer of high performance sports equipment, apparel, and accessories.

Wilson is the provider of the Global Game Basketball of FIBA 3×3, the official Game Basketball of the National Basketball League of Australia, the official Game Basketball of the National Collegiate Athletic Association®, and the official Game Basketball of the Basketball Champions League in Europe.

The Company brings more than a century of innovation in basketball to every level of play. It uses player insights to develop products that push equipment innovation into new territories and empower athletes at every level to perform at their best.

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The current official game ball is apparently made by Spalding.

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See also: NBA Learns From The Past As It Moves To Wilson For Future Basketballs.

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And:

From Wikipedia:

The company traces its roots to the "Schwarzschild & Sulzberger" meatpacking company (later changed to "Sulzberger & Son's") based in New York, that operated meat packing slaughterhouses.

Sulzberger & Son's founded the "Ashland Manufacturing Company" in 1913 to use animal by-products from its slaughterhouses. It started out in 1914, making tennis racket strings, violin strings, and surgical sutures, but soon expanded into baseball shoes and tennis racquets.

In 1915, Thomas E. Wilson, former president of meatpacker Morris & Company, was appointed president by the controlling banks and renamed the company "Thomas E. Wilson Company."

The company acquired the Hetzinger Knitting Mills to produce athletic uniforms and a caddie bag company which produced golf balls but soon expanded into footballs and basketballs.

In 1918, Wilson left to concentrate on the beef-packing business, changing the Sulzberger company to Wilson & Co. (which would ultimately become Iowa Beef Packers and then be taken over by Tyson Foods). The packing company continued to have control in the company until 1967 when it was sold to Ling-Temco-Vought.

Under new president Lawrence Blaine Icely, it acquired the "Chicago Sporting Goods Company" and struck a deal to supply the Chicago Cubs. It also hired Arch Turner, a leather designer who would design the leather football.

In 1922, it introduced the Ray Schalk catcher's mitt which later became the standard. It worked with Knute Rockne to introduce the double-lined leather football and first valve football and the first waist-line football pants with pads.

In 1925, it was renamed "Wilson-Western Sporting Goods" following a distribution agreement with "Western Sporting Goods."

After Rockne's death, the company focused on golf, introducing the R-90, a sand wedge golf club inspired by Gene Sarazen's victory in the 1932 British Open.

In 1931, it renamed itself Wilson Sporting Goods Company. During World War II it introduced the Wilson Duke football, featuring high-quality leather, ends that were hand-sewn, lock-stitch seams, and triple lining, which was adopted as the official ball of the National Football League.

Horween Leather Company has supplied Wilson with pebbled cowhide since 1941 for use in the manufacture of footballs and basketballs. Wilson is Horween Leather Company's largest customer.

Wilson American football signed by the Green Bay Packers in 1975. Wilson became official supplier of the NFL in 1941

In 1941, Wilson became official provider of game balls for the National Football League (American football), a partnership that continues to this day.

In 1964, it acquired Wonder Products Company, which made toys and custom-molded items. It transformed the custom-mold section to make protective equipment in football and baseball, such as face masks for football helmets and leg guards for baseball catchers.

In 1967, the company was acquired by Ling-Temco-Vought. Only three years later, PepsiCo became new Wilson's owner. In those days, the company manufactured and commercialized the official balls of the National Basketball Association and National Football League, and provided most of the uniforms of teams in Major League Baseball and the United States Summer Olympics teams.

In 1985, Wilson was acquired by Westray Capital Corporation through subsidiary WSGC Holdings. In 1989, WSGC merged with Bogey Acquisitions Company, which is affiliated with the Finnish group Amer Sports.

Bored by the quarantine? Map out Wilson's ownership history.

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Wilson's HQ:

1 Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 600

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

'Here We Go Again' | Richest Hospitals Sitting On Billions In Cash Got Golden Bailouts Compared To Those Serving The Poor

While critics have noted in recent weeks the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has "laid bare some of the dysfunctions and inequalities in the American healthcare system," new reporting Monday reveals how some of the wealthiest hospital groups in the United States have received huge infusions of federal rescue funds even as they sat on billions of dollars in cash reserves and poorer hospitals and clinics struggle to maintain bare-minimum levels of service.

According to the New York Times, a disproportionate amount of the $72 billion approved by Congress to bolster hospitals amid the coronavirus outbreak is flowing "to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison."

The reporting, some of it based on an analysis by the watchdog group Good Jobs First, notes that many of the wealthy hospital groups that received an outsize share of the funds - including well-healed outfits like the Cleveland Clinic, Ascension Health, and the Providence Health System - "are set up as nonprofits, which generally don't have to pay federal taxes on their billions of dollars of income. By contrast, hospitals that serve low-income patients often have only enough cash on hand to finance a few weeks of their operations."

The large tax reserves of these wealthy hospital groups "come from a mix of sources," the Times reports: "no-strings-attached private donations, income from investments with hedge funds and private equity firms, and any profits from treating patients. Some chains, like Providence, also run their own venture-capital firms to invest their cash in cutting-edge start-ups. The investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients."

The findings were not surprising to critics of the corporate nature of the U.S. hospital system and the deep inequities it creates.

The Financial Times last month detailed how COVID-19 was both exposing and exacerbating pre-existing inequities and inefficiencies that are fundamental to the for-profit healthcare system in the U.S.:

Even though the US spends trillions of dollars on healthcare, much of that is wasted. The funding gets used up by bureaucrats that have to code and bill every action a doctor takes, by doctors and hospital administrators paid far more than their European counterparts and by the soaring cost of drugs. A study last year in The Journal of the American Medical Association found at least $760 billion was wasted in unnecessary health spending - more than the US spends on primary and secondary education.

Poorer hospitals that cater to low-income urban communities, or rural areas where population is declining, are dependent on government insurance. They say the payments from Medicaid do not cover their costs as the price of staff, equipment and drugs rises.

The new reporting on the distribution of funds suggests concerns over poorer hospitals succumbing to the financial pressures of the pandemic were justified - a concern that also shines a spotlight on the manner in which the Trump administration managed the funds.

From the Times:

After the CARES Act was passed in March, hospital industry lobbyists reached out to senior Health and Human Services officials to discuss how the money would be distributed.

Representatives of the American Hospital Association (AHA), a lobbying group for the country's largest hospitals, communicated with Alex M. Azar II, the department secretary, and Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary overseeing the funds, said Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the group. Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals, said he, too, had frequent discussions with the agency.

The department then devised formulas to quickly dispense tens of billions of dollars to thousands of hospitals - and those formulas favored large, wealthy institutions.

While some Democrats on Capitol Hill have raised issued about the funding disparities, it's not clear if the Trump administration will pay any political cost.

In response to the reported figures, advocates for Medicare for All pointed to the hospital industry lobby groups - which leverage massive profits to repeatedly steer Congress away from a single-payer solution to the nation's healthcare dysfunctions - to ask if they would support reapportioning those billions towards hospitals and clinics more in need.

Niall Brennan, president of the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute and a former senior Medicare official, put it this way to the Times: "If you ever hear a hospital complaining they don't have enough money, see if they have a venture fund. If you've got play money, you're fine."

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

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IDES Editorial
"If you're one of the more than a million Illinoisans out of work during the pandemic, you know all about the pall of uncertainty. How long will this last? What shape will the job market take once the economy gins up? In the meantime, how am I going to get by?" the Tribune editorializes today.

"The angst of being unemployed is bad enough. What's making it worse for so many Illinoisans is a series of mistakes at the agency responsible for processing unemployment claims. Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered the shutdown of entire swaths of the Illinois economy. Making sure those now-unemployed workers can access unemployment benefits should have been a top priority. Instead, claims have been so mishandled, and one lawmaker is threatening to launch a recall of the governor."

Look, I've been as hard as anyone on the governor (see the item Illinois' Amazingly Awesome Unemployment Office) when it comes to his unemployment agency - and his laughable claims about how well everything is going with it. But the Tribune's sudden (and opportunistic) empathy for those out of work is a little hard to take. (Start with your own shop, for example.)

And the edit board can't help but slide disingenuous attack lines into its piece. For example, the private sector shut down entire swaths of the economy before Pritzker did. And a lawmaker threatening a recall campaign based on the unemployment office's poor performance? That would be the not-exactly widely-respected Allen Skillicorn. And his threat is nine days old and, well, ridiculous. It's not gonna happen, nor should it.

But what bothers me even more than those failures to practice respectable journalism is the failure to acknowledge that virtually every state unemployment office in these United States is having the same difficulties.

I'm as frustrated as anyone trying to get a claim processed, but my bigger frustration is with a governor repeatedly claiming there is no backlog and everything is going swimmingly. Clearly, it's not. I can otherwise understand why shit is so fucked up - though the Trib is right about one thing: It's not clear at all that fixing the mess is a top priority of Pritzker's. Or not top enough.

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P.S.: I hate calling that office by its official name: the Illinois Department of Employment Security. It's the unemployment office. We all know it. Changing its name - I assume a governor did that at some point, though I didn't find it in a cursory search before posting this - isn't going to make people think about unemployment differently.

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P.P.S.: An old newspaper saying: There are no new stories, only new reporters.

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Brown Blunder
"Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said cabin fever stemming from the state's stay-at-home order contributed to the most violent Memorial Day weekend Chicago has experienced since 2015," the Sun-Times reports.

How does he know? Did the police interview the shooters to find out why they came out shooting this weekend?

"A total of 49 people were shot, 10 of whom died."

I hate to say it, but that sounds like Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, stay-at-home order or not. Especially given the nice weather.

But maybe Brown is trying to deflect from his own apparent strategic blunder.

"Brown acknowledged the department did not, as has been the case in years past, send out 1,000 extra officers to patrol the streets over the weekend."

Now, I don't necessarily believe more police on the street prevents crime. The research doesn't really show that. But . . .

"He noted more officers will be on the streets over summer weekends, including in prominent spots like on the CTA and along the lakefront."

Was this not a summer weekend?

"Chief of Operations Fred Waller said police are implementing a 'corridor strategy' that will place cops at highly visible locations on main streets around city this summer."

But fewer cops. By, like, a thousand.

"The idea is that would-be offenders will see marked CPD vehicles as they enter a residential area and think twice," Waller said. "If offenders go through with a criminal act, our officers will be there waiting for them as they attempt to flee."

Well, it didn't work!

It also doesn't make much sense. A corridor strategy, like a hotspot strategy, tends to just push crime elsewhere. Also, again, if police visibility prevents crime, you'd think we'd have seen that thousand officers on the streets. Or at least a thousand police cars parked near entrances to residential areas.

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Also, what the hell?:

Someone oughta pull the traffic records at those intersections. Assignment Desk, activate!

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

'Here We Go Again' | Richest Hospitals Sitting On Billions In Cash Got Golden Bailouts Compared To Those Serving The Poor
"If you ever hear a hospital complaining they don't have enough money, see if they have a venture fund."

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Kennedy Center Couch Concert: Jon Langford & The Dill Costa Quartet From The Hideout
Watch!

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Armchair Vacation: Chicago!
Including the Kungsholm Restaurant and it's miniature puppet opera.

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Chicago-Based Wilson Now The Official Game Ball Of The NBA
Sucks to be Spalding.

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Digital Rights During The Pandemic
"No matter who you are, this collection will likely be relevant to your understanding of the pandemic and society's response to it."

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A 360° Great Train Story
A cool way to take a scale-model round-trip between Chicago and Seattle.

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ChicagoReddit

Wholesome Neighbor Giving Away Masks in Bucktown from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Memorial Day Chicago 2020 In 4K Drone Footage

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

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The Beachwood Tipping Point Line: Redlines, deadlines.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:54 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

"The city's beaches, houses of worship, businesses and even some aspects of City Hall are reopening, starting this Memorial Day weekend, according to a Friday update from Mayor Jerome Prince," the Northwest Indiana Times reported last week.

"Prince said he worries Gary's beaches will have exceptionally large crowds due to the anticipation that residents in neighboring Illinois will venture to Indiana this holiday weekend.

"Many outdoor activities in Illinois remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions as cases continue to rise.

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Though I can't say if any of these folks were from Illinois, Gary's mayor was right to be concerned. CBS2 Chicago reported Sunday that Indiana beaches were pretty full.

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See also:

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Yikes, that came out small. Here's the text:

So we're up in Lake Geneva visiting [a family member]. She lives in a little town on the other end of the lake from Geneva called Fontana. Big boating spot. Wisconsin is completely open (or functionally so anyway) and there are people everywhere.

No masks.

No distancing.

We are lunching on her patio with masks and distancing and such so there's no real reason to be too anxious but I find myself having a panic attack.

This is awful, the world is screwed.

We're doomed.

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Oh, and:

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Illinois Unemployment Office Not Working
"An [Illinois Department of Employment Security] spokesperson says they have processed about 75,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims in a week, but they do not know how many have been approved or paid out," CBS2 Chicago reports.

And that's really the most important part of processing claims. I mean, anyone can take claims . . .

+

"The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Friday it will notify 32,483 claimants whose personal information might have been viewed because of a 'glitch' in the newly-launched Pandemic Unemployment Assistance portal," Capitol News Illinois reports.

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Hot Dogs Are Hot - And Leveraged
"In normal times, Memorial Day weekend might be the first time you'd consider buying hot dogs since last summer. But of course, these are not normal times, and there's a good chance you've tasted snappy, meaty (possibly microwaved) frankfurter flesh more recently than that," Entrepreneur reports.

"We're going into our bigger months of June and July now," says Joe Quinn, co-founder of Brooklyn hot dog company Feltman's of Coney Island. "But since March, it's been like July every month."

"Market research from Chicago-based data-analytics firm IRI shows that in mid-March, at the height of panic-buying, hot dog sales were up 127 percent from the same time last year. And people are buying in bulk, too: eight-packs, 10-packs, 24-packs have all been flying off the shelves. That's probably because hot dogs are an obvious quarantine choice: long shelf life, protein-dense, easy to prepare and kid-friendly."

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On the flip side . . .

"The future of a $700 billion market for risky corporate debt rests on companies like Portillo's Hot Dogs, Chicago's famous fast-food chain," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Portillo's owed about $550 million in loans when it stopped serving inside its 62 restaurants in March. It was suddenly at risk of going bust and credit-ratings firms quickly slashed grades on its borrowings.

"The company's loans sit on the books of dozens of collateralized debt obligations , which buy up risky corporate debt and package it into securities. With sales way down, many of those companies have gone from just being risky to teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Retailers like Neiman Marcus and J.Crew Group Inc. have already tipped over the edge."

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Why Science Denialism Persists
Galileo, GMOs and COVID-19.

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Related: 'Muddled And Misleading' | How Textbooks Discuss Climate Change.

"In an analysis of dozens of middle school and high school textbooks, we found that descriptions of climate change were superficial and contained errors; some did not discuss the topic at all."

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Also related: These Are The Fake Experts Pushing Pseudoscience And Conspiracy Theories About The Coronavirus Pandemic.

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ChicagoReddit

No A/C in my apartment from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Vocal Coach Reacts To Tom Waits ("Chicago")

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BeachBook

Hockey Is Not For Everyone.

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This Family's Repeated Strep Throat Infections Frustrated Their Doctors.

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

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The Beachwood Rib Tip Line: Chewy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 AM | Permalink

Why Science Denialism Persists

To hear some experts tell it, science denial is mostly a contemporary phenomenon, with climate change deniers and vaccine skeptics at the vanguard. Yet the story of Galileo Galilei reveals just how far back denial's lineage stretches.

Years of astronomical sightings and calculations had convinced Galileo that the Earth, rather than sitting at the center of things, revolved around a larger body, the sun. But when he laid out his findings in widely shared texts, as astrophysicist Mario Livio writes in Galileo and the Science Deniers, the ossified Catholic Church leadership - heavily invested in older Earth-centric theories - aimed its ire in his direction.

Rather than revise their own maps of reality to include his discoveries, clerics labeled him a heretic and banned his writings. He spent the last years of his life under house arrest, hemmed in by his own insistence on the expansiveness of the cosmos.

Nearly 400 years later, the legacy of denial remains intact in some respects. Scientists who publish research about climate change or the safety of genetically modified crops still encounter the same kind of pushback from deniers that Galileo did.

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Yet denialism has also sprouted some distinctly modern features: As Alan Levinovitz points out in Natural: How Faith in Nature's Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science, sometimes we ourselves can become unwitting purveyors of denial, falling prey to flawed or false beliefs we may not realize we're holding.

Levinovitz passionately protests the common assumption that natural things are inherently better than unnatural ones. Not only do people automatically tend to conclude organic foods are healthier, many choose "natural" or "alternative" methods of cancer treatment over proven chemotherapy regimens. Medication-free childbirth, meanwhile, is now considered the gold standard in many societies, despite mixed evidence of its health benefits for mothers and babies.

"What someone calls 'natural' may be good," writes Levinovitz, a religion professor at James Madison University, "but the association is by no means necessary, or even likely."

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Weaving real-life examples with vivid retellings of ancient myths about nature's power, he demonstrates that our pro-natural bias is so pervasive that we often lose the ability to see it - or to admit the legitimacy of science that contradicts it.

From this perspective, science denial starts to look like a stunted outgrowth of what we typically consider common sense. In Galileo's time, people thought it perfectly sensible that the planet they inhabited was at the center of everything. Today, it might seem equally sensible that it's always better to choose natural products over artificial ones, or that a plant burger ingredient called "soy leghemoglobin" is suspect because it's genetically engineered and can't be sourced in the wild. Yet in these cases, what we think of as common sense turns out to be humbug.

In exploring the past and present of anti-science bias, Livio and Levinovitz show how deniers' basic toolbox has not changed much through the centuries. Practitioners marshal arguments that appeal to our tendency to think in dichotomies: wrong or right, saved or damned, pure or tainted. Food is either nourishing manna from the earth or processed, artificial junk. The Catholic Church touted its own supreme authority while casting Galileo as an unregenerate apostate.

In the realm of denialism, Levinovitz writes, "simplicity and homogeneity take precedence over diversity, complexity, and change. Righteous laws and rituals are universal. Disobedience is sacrilege."

The very language of pro-nature, anti-science arguments, Levinovitz argues, is structured to play up this us-versus-them credo. Monikers like Frankenfood - often used to describe genetically-modified (GM) crops - frame the entire GM food industry as monstrous, a deviation from the supposed order of things. And in some circles, he writes, the word "unnatural" has come to be almost a synonym for "moral deficiency." Not only is such black-and-white rhetoric seductive, it can give deniers the heady sense that they occupy the moral high ground.

Both pro-natural bias and the Church's crusade against Galileo reflect the human penchant to fit new information into an existing framework. Rather than scrapping or changing that framework, we try to jerry-rig it to make it function. Some of the jerry-rigging examples the authors describe are more toxic than others: Opting for so-called natural foods despite dubious science on their benefits, for instance, is less harmful than denying evidence of a human-caused climate crisis.

What's more, many people actually tend to cling harder to their beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence. Studies confirm that facts and reality aren't likely to sway most people's pre-existing views. This is as true now as it was at the close of the Renaissance, as shown by some extremists' stubborn denial that the COVID-19 virus is dangerous.

In one of his book's most compelling chapters, Livio takes us inside a panel of theologians that convened in 1616 to rule on whether the sun was at the center of things. None of Galileo's incisive arguments swayed their thinking one iota.

"This proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy," the theologians wrote, "and formally heretical, since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture."

Cardinal Bellarmino warned Galileo that if he did not renounce his heliocentric views, he could be thrown into prison.

Galileo's discoveries threatened to topple a superstructure that the Church had spent hundreds of years buttressing.

In making their case against him, his critics liked to cite a passage from Psalm 93: "The world also is established that it cannot be moved."

Galileo refused to cave. In his 1632 book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, he did give the views of Pope Urban VIII an airing: He repeated Urban's statement that no human could ever hope to decode the workings of the universe.

But Livio slyly points out that Galileo put these words in the mouth of a ridiculous character named Simplicio. It was a slight Urban would not forgive.

"May God forgive Signor Galilei," he intoned, "for having meddled with these subjects."

At the close of his 1633 Inquisition trial, Galileo was forced to declare that he abandoned any belief that the Earth revolved around the sun. "I abjure, curse, and detest the above-mentioned errors and heresies." He swore that he would never again say "anything which might cause a similar suspicion about me." Yet as he left the courtroom, legend goes, he muttered to himself "E pur si muove" (And yet it moves).

In the face of science denial, Livio observes, people have taken up "And yet it moves" as a rallying cry: a reminder that no matter how strong our prejudices or presuppositions, the facts always remain the same. But in today's "post-truth era," as political theorist John Keane calls it, with little agreement on what defines a reliable source, even the idea of an inescapable what is seems to have receded from view.

Levinovitz's own evolution in writing Natural reveals how hard it can be to elevate facts above all, even for avowed anti-deniers.

When he began his research, he picked off instances of pro-natural bias as if they were clay pigeons, confident in the rigor of his approach.

"Confronted with a false faith, I had resolved that it was wholly evil," he reflects.

Yet he later concedes that a favoritism toward nature is logical in domains like sports, which celebrate the potential of the human body in its unaltered form.

He also accepts one expert's point that it makes sense to buy organic if the pesticides used are less dangerous to farm workers than conventional ones.

By the end of the book, he finds himself in a more nuanced place: "The art of celebrating humanity and nature," he concludes, depends on "having the courage to embrace paradox."

His quest to puncture the myth of the natural turns out to have been dogmatic in its own way.

In acknowledging this, Levinovitz hits on something important. When deniers take up arms, it's tempting to follow their lead: to use science to build an open-and-shut case that strikes with the finality of a courtroom witness pointing out a killer.

But as Galileo knew - and as Levinovitz ultimately concedes - science, in its endlessly unspooling grandeur, tends to resist any conclusion that smacks of the absolute.

"What only science can promise," Livio writes, "is a continuous, midcourse self-correction, as additional experimental and observational evidence accumulates, and new theoretical ideas emerge."

In their skepticism of pat answers, these books bolster the case that science's strength is in its flexibility - its willingness to leave room for iteration, for correction, for innovation.

Science is an imperfect vehicle, as any truth-seeking discipline must be. And yet, as Galileo would have noted, it moves.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Previously:
* 5 Ways Trump And His Supporters Use The Same Strategies As Science Deniers.

* Manufacturing Doubt: The Corporate Manipulation Of Science.

* Paying The Price Of Science Denialism - Again.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2020

The Weekend Desk Report

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New from the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

So Long, Jerry
"I never mourn when athletic superstars fail as human beings, because I never thought of them as heroes," our very own David Rutter writes. "They had skill. Do not commingle the two. But I gave myself one exception to that cool, intellectualized appreciation. Just one."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #305: The Last Dance Has Been Danced
Bad pizza, Cheap Trick and Luc Longley. Plus: Remembering Jerry Sloan & Michael McCaskey; Matt Nagy Admits What Media Toadies Won't; The Bundesliga, NASCAR, Golf And The Pseudo-Triple Crown Are (Sorta) Back; and Steve's New iPhone And The Saga Surrounding It.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

Is it me or is there an abnormal amount of dead birds on the streets now? from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

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Weekend ChicagoTube

Flipper (with David Yow) at Reggies last June.

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Weekend BeachBook

Mountain Dew Doritos Tested In Australia.

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

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Too real like too country.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:27 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2020

So Long, Jerry

When I wrote this four years ago, Jerry Sloan was celebrating his 74th birthday with a party to announce that he foresaw the end of his life, and wanted to say goodbye before it was too late. His many neurological illnesses took his life Friday.

He seemed a man among children. Quiet, confident, never self-focused. He acted like you always thought men were supposed to act. He was Lou Gehrig and Atticus Finch.

He wore John Deere caps when no one looked. He was shy.

He never sought to seem what he wasn't.

If you admire grand souls, you would have liked him.

So, even now, I never mourn when athletic superstars fail as human beings, because I never thought of them as heroes. They had skill. Do not commingle the two.

But I gave myself one exception to that cool, intellectualized appreciation. Just one.

Jerry Sloan.

Now Sloan faces the last steps of his life, and last week he told us all goodbye while he still could, because a moment awaits just up ahead when that will be denied him.

He is dying.

Admirers gave him a surprise 74th birthday party last week in his rural Salt Lake home. He has good days. They said he seemed himself, just as always. Warm, gentle, funny. He was always the guy who would be your best friend if you were lucky enough.

How long remains for him, no one can say.

He suffers advancing Parkinson's disease, but he also contracted "Lewy body" dementia, the second most common form after Alzheimer's. It drove Robin Williams to suicide.

Lewy dementia steals the mind and installs hallucinogenic terrors. About 1.4 million Americans have it.

These two evils will kill Jerry Sloan sooner or later. He wants friends to remember only who he was as a man, not who he might become in his last hours.

Even when I first encountered Sloan, I knew he was different. He was a basketball star at the University of Evansville, and I was a hometown high school kid trying to figure out life and my tenuous place in it.

The writers who became colleagues in another five years had already nicknamed Sloan. They called him "The McLeansboro Fox" after his Illinois hometown's sports teams, and for his wily survival skills.

In truth, he was born and raised in Gobblers Knob, 15 miles south of McLeansboro, but writers couldn't figure out how to safely use "Gobblers Knob" in a nickname.

He was the youngest of 10 raised by a single mom after his dad died when Jerry was 4. He did farm chores at 4:30 a.m., and then hoofed almost two miles to school for 7 a.m. basketball practice. He was a tough farm kid with a gentle heart. Not perfect, but real.

He led - willed, actually - the Evansville Aces to an undefeated national title in 1965, forever sealing his legend there. Then he introduced himself to Chicago as a 10-year Bulls star and then to the Utah Jazz as a spectacular coach. His Jazz won 1,221 games and made the playoffs 20 times before he quit in 2011.

But that's just sports stuff. Admire it, or not. Those milestones merely gave him a place to work while he lived an admirable, humble life.

After watching him - knowing him briefly as he passed by - I learned the Essential Sloan. He was a quiet man, inside and out. He let others triumph. He stood quietly at their side and, when they suffered, they never faced the pain and fear alone. He was always there.

He was revered as a person.

He was devoted to his three children and when he finally lost beloved wife Bobbye to cancer in 2004, I feared it might crush him.

They had been twin forces of nature. She had almost physically forced him out of the shadows after he quit the University of Illinois in his freshman year. She made him come to Evansville and leave the farm, at least until he proved to himself he was not running away out of fear.

Then he made himself a permanent, unequivocal superstar.

Her death did not crush him, though her decade of fighting multiple cancers had tortured them both. He became more somber.

He survived with his children and became the luckiest man ever. He and Tammy Jessop found each other, and they wed in 2006.

She saved him as Bobbye had done decades earlier.

In the course of his 55 public years, no one doubted his honesty, compassion or integrity. He never demanded more than he gave. He was dignified and courageous.

He mostly lived the way we all would, if we were better people.

He soon will go from us as he has lived. Quietly.

A significant soul will be gone.

And when that day comes, I will be as sad as I have ever been.

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Recently by 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.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

* A Return To Abnormalcy.

* I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.

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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. This post originally appeared at his Theeditor50's blog.He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #305: The Last Dance Has Been Danced

Bad pizza, Cheap Trick and Luc Longley. Plus: Remembering Jerry Sloan & Michael McCaskey; Matt Nagy Admits What Media Toadies Won't; The Bundesliga, NASCAR, Golf And The Pseudo-Triple Crown Are (Sorta) Back; and Steve's New iPhone And The Saga Surrounding It.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #305: The Last Dance Has Been Danced

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SHOW NOTES

* 305.

:13: Steve's New Phone And The Saga Surrounding It.

* Chen, New York Times: Apple iPhone SE Review: A Superb Smartphone For A Humble Price.

Rhodes Note: We live in a world where $400 is a humble price, but so be it. Should be $99, though.

* Maybe this isn't new, but it is to me: You can now buy "certified pre-owned" phones.

* FYI: Phones stores are "essential." My Verizon store rep told me they're serving a lot first responders who need to keep their phones working - or simply need a working phone.

* Damn you, White Sox!

* Rhodes: "Mundanity is being heightened."

12:20: Remembering Jerry Sloan.

* NBA: Hall Of Fame Coach Jerry Sloan Passes Away At 78.

* Sun-Times: Jerry Sloan Remembered As "The Original Bull."

* Sam Smith:

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* Coffman Note: "Hey, in the aftermath of me saying Jerry Sloan didn't win championships, it turns out (and it occurs to me now of course that you probably read this in David Rutter's column ('So Long, Jerry') as well) that Evansville played Division II men's basketball in the '60s into the early '70s and that Sloan led them to Division II national titles in '64 and '65. in fact the '65 championship capped off an undefeated, 29-0 season."

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24:49: The Last Dance Has Been Danced.

* Coffman: They Weren't Coming Back.

* Rhodes: When They Broke Up The Bulls.

* Luc Longley!

* Scottie Pippen is the Cheap Trick of the NBA.

* Greenberg, Sun-Times: Scottie Pippen Was The Ultimate Wingman, But The No. 2 Player In The '90s? That's A Stretch.

* Coffman: "18 Fouls To Give."

* The Bad Pizza Game:

* CBS Sports: Former Jazz Forward Anotoine Carr Says Bulls Had Playboy Models Deliver Cake To Hotel Rooms During NBA Finals.

* What Michael Jordan Was Really Listening To.

* CBS Sports: VICE TV Releasing One Man And His Shoes Documentary, On The Story Behind Michael Jordan's Nike Sneakers.

48:45: Remembering Michael McCaskey.

* Coffman: "It was what it was."

52:53: Matt Nagy Admits What Media Toadies Won't.

* September 2019: Matt Nagy Defends Not Playing His Starters In Preseason.

* May 15, 2020: Matt Nagy Confirms Bears Starters Will Play In 2020 Preseason Games.

* Plus . . . Barnwell: Ranking 2020 Offseasons For All 32 NFL Teams.

1:00:35: The Bundesliga Is Back! As Is NASCAR, Golf And The Pseudo-Triple Crown.

* Inadvertently all mic'd up!

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STOPPAGE: 9:22

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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 1:56 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"The city has not disconnected water service to any households since Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a moratorium on water shutoffs last year. But the city has not created a plan to restore water services to the estimated thousands of households that had their water shut off before the moratorium," WBEZ's María Inés Zamudio reports.

Those are folks, apparently, who fell behind on their bills. But isn't it now a public health issue that everyone be able to, you know, wash their hands?

Besides the fact that maybe having access to water is a right, not a consumer choice.

"City officials told activists that they can't identify which customers are currently without water."

Really? That doesn't sound right. And if true, it sounds eminently solvable.

"It was shocking, it was surprising, it was disconcerting and it was disappointing," said Naomi Davis, founder of the environmental organization Blacks in Green. "The power of this pandemic is providing for us an opportunity to really see, first hand, what doesn't work."

What America needs now - or when this pandemic is over - is a Great Restructuring.

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One might say, Make America Great.

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"[N]ow the community organizations say they can't wait any longer for the city to reconnect water services to these families.

"Davis teamed up with Freshwater Future, a regional water rights organization, to identify those customers by launching a postcard campaign.

"The organizations reached out to WBEZ to obtain shutoff data from an investigation last year. The organizations used the data to mail out postcards in the ZIP codes hardest hit with water shutoffs over the last decade.

"Several community groups are also donating bottled water to any resident who might need it on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Blacks in Green office, 6431 S. Cottage Grove Ave."

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"It is unclear how many Chicagoans are living without water during the COVID-19 pandemic. But a WBEZ investigation last year, found that since 2007, the city issued nearly 150,000 water shutoff notices - with nearly 40% of them concentrated in just five of the city's poorest ZIP codes on the South and West sides. That data also shows that during the 10 months prior to the moratorium, the city issued at least 2,700 shut-offs to households in areas where water has not since been restored.

"WBEZ filed a Freedom of Information Act request last month asking the water department for the number of water reconnections after Lightfoot was inaugurated, and the department denied that request stating that 'there have been no residential restores since May 20, 2019.'

"The Department of Water Management did not go back and restore water to customers whose water had previously been shut off. However, any resident who was previously disconnected due to nonpayment is encouraged to contact the Department of Finance and enter into a payment plan and have their service restored," wrote water department spokeswoman Megan Vidis, in a statement.

This is not the time to ask folks to enter into payment plans for essential needs.

I know you're "only doing your job," Megan Vidis, but you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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All In This Together
"A Tribune investigation found that residents at subsidized housing across Chicago have been told little, if anything, about COVID-19 cases where they live, even though they are generally older and in poorer health and therefore at higher risk," the paper reports.

"So far, 89 people in low-income housing in the city have died from complications linked to the novel coronavirus . . . They include seniors in at least 19 buildings managed by the Chicago Housing Authority, and residents in 51 buildings where apartments are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the city of Chicago. About 70% of the people who died were black."

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Illinois' Amazingly Awesome Unemployment Office
"With the release Thursday of weekly jobless claims from the U.S. Department of Labor, Illinois hit a milestone: Since mid-March, when the state's stay-at-home order took effect, closing nonessential businesses and sending people home, more than 1 million residents of the state have applied for unemployment insurance benefits," the Tribune reports.

"The state office that processes those applications says it has doubled the number of workers in call centers that assist those seeking jobless benefits."

Why would they need to do that if there's no backlog?

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Church Bulletin
"Following through with Mayor Lori Lightfoot's promise to take action against churches that violate social distancing rules, the Chicago Police Department issued $500 fines to three separate houses of worship that held services over the weekend, city officials said," the Tribune reports.

That's more slap on the wrist than rap on the knuckles.

"Gospel singer and businessman Willie Wilson, meanwhile, released a statement saying he would pay the fines."

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N'Digo's Hermene Hartman:

"His base, that he hoodwinks mostly white politicians with, are small storefront churches that he can control and he propagandas that with representing the Black church, the Black minister, and the Black community at large. But this is not true. He attempts to leverage his political candidate support for political power from his church base in the pretense of Black leadership.

"The white media falls for the gimmick, because they represent the Black community as a monolithic group, with a narrowly defined leadership. Some of Willie's ministers are reputable, all are not. Some are just more dependent on Willie than they are true Willie devotees. Willie has no church of his own. He speaks for the ministers with the 'Willie' voice.

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Also:

"The question of the churches not being essential is a thoughtful one. The liquor store is considered essential. Why? Cannabis stores are considered essential. What is missing from the argument is the economics of the church. The Black church in the Black community is its largest business. The smaller churches receive weekly offerings that are their economics. The churches, all of them, need money to operate.

"This is a just argument. However, as the Mayor and Governor view churches, it is not the economics under consideration; it is the 'gathering' of people that puts the minister and his flock in danger mode of contracting and transmitting COVID-19."

Emphasis mine, because this is such an obvious point that it's hard to tell if those arguing otherwise not that bright or acting in bad faith.

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I would add that it's not the spirituality either; it's not an anti-religion stance, it's a "we don't want you to die and/or kill the rest of us" stance. You are free to pray wherever you like, just not in a gathering of more than 10 people. Trust me, God understands.

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Also from Hartman's piece, which I recommend reading in full:

"Whites won't write this, neither will mainstream media. They simply laugh and try to figure out the total Black experience. They fear being called racist or insensitive or something."

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Me, on the late, great Beachwood Radio Hour, Feb. 15, 2015:

"The flip side of race: White media afraid to call out Willie Wilson as the clown that he is."

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Medicaid Providers At The End Of The Line For Federal COVID Funding
"State Medicaid directors say that without immediate funding, many of the health facilities that serve Medicaid patients could close permanently."

At a time when more people become eligible for Medicaid due to the plummeting economy. Perfect!

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Seinfeld's Tired Take On Women And Marriage
"Maybe Seinfeld should try couples counseling instead of standup."

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NASA Telescope Named For 'Mother of Hubble' Nancy Grace Roman
She left the University of Chicago after six years because they weren't about to give tenure to a woman.

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Honoring Four Of Harlem's Historic Voices
Thank you, United States Postal Service.

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The Origin Of MLB Trade Rumors
Another "what might have been (and still could)" story for legacy media.

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Global Music Recording Industry Trajectory & Analytics 2020-2025
A lot of compound growth.

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ChicagoReddit

Each year, Chicago Park District staff and contractors grow flowers to plant in gardens throughout the city. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unable to hire the seasonal staff. You can buy and support the Garfield Park Conservatory, contactless pick up. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Albuquerque Nurse Travels To Chicago To Help COVID-19 Patients.

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

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Michigan seems to be the microcosm for America in many ways these days.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Pure Michigan.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:46 AM | Permalink

Global Music Recording Industry Trajectory & Analytics 2020-2025

The "Music Recording Industry - Global Market Trajectory & Analytics" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering.

The Music Recording Industry market worldwide is projected to grow by US$37.1 Billion, driven by a compounded growth of 7.5%.

Music Recording Industry, one of the segments analyzed and sized in this study, displays the potential to grow at over 7.5%. The shifting dynamics supporting this growth makes it critical for businesses in this space to keep abreast of the changing pulse of the market.

Poised to reach over US$93.1 Billion by the year 2025, Music Recording Industry will bring in healthy gains adding significant momentum to global growth.

Representing the developed world, the United States will maintain a 6.4% growth momentum. Within Europe, which continues to remain an important element in the world economy, Germany will add over US$1.3 Billion to the region's size and clout in the next 5 to 6 years. Over US$1.1 Billion worth of projected demand in the region will come from Rest of Europe markets.

In Japan, Music Recording Industry will reach a market size of US$5.2 Billion by the close of the analysis period. As the world's second largest economy and the new game changer in global markets, China exhibits the potential to grow at 11.2% over the next couple of years and add approximately US$10.3 Billion in terms of addressable opportunity for the picking by aspiring businesses and their astute leaders.

Presented in visually rich graphics are these and many more need-to-know quantitative data important in ensuring quality of strategy decisions, be it entry into new markets or allocation of resources within a portfolio. Several macroeconomic factors and internal market forces will shape growth and development of demand patterns in emerging countries in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East.

All research viewpoints presented are based on validated engagements from influencers in the market, whose opinions supersede all other research methodologies.

Key Topics Covered

I. INTRODUCTION, METHODOLOGY & REPORT SCOPE

II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. MARKET OVERVIEW

* Global Competitor Market Shares

* Music Recording Industry Competitor Market Share Scenario Worldwide (in %): 2019 & 2028

* Impact of COVID-19 and a Looming Global Recession

2. FOCUS ON SELECT PLAYERS

3. MARKET TRENDS & DRIVERS

4. GLOBAL MARKET PERSPECTIVE

III. MARKET ANALYSIS

IV. COMPETITION (Total Companies Profiled: 235)

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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.

* Early Impacts Of COVID-19 On The Pet Food Packaging Market.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Honoring Four Of Harlem's Historic Voices

With a nod to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, the U.S. Postal Service today is issuing new postage stamps honoring the lives and legacies of four of the movement's greatest voices: novelist Nella Larsen; writer, philosopher, educator and arts advocate Alain Locke; bibliophile and historian Arturo Alfonso Schomburg; and poet Anne Spencer. These stamps will be available for sale at Post Offices nationwide and online.

Screen Shot 2020-05-21 at 10.23.56 AM.png(ENLARGE)

The stamps feature stylized pastel portraits of the four honorees, based on historic photographs. Each stamp incorporates African-inspired motifs as background elements. The design elements reflect the increased interest in African culture, history and aesthetics shown by the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The artist for these stamps was Gary Kelley, and art director Greg Breeding designed them.

Voices Of The Harlem Renaissance

After World War I, many highly creative African Americans flocked to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, where the northward migration of African Americans looking for work, immigration from the Caribbean and the presence of important activist organizations had all helped to establish Harlem as a bustling center of black life.

Caught up in a whirl of friendships and rivalries, a legendary social scene and an inspiring air of creative exchange, a dynamic community of African Americans brought forth an exceptional flourishing of literature, music and the visual arts.

By no means restricted to New York City, the creative energy that found its strongest expression in Harlem during the 1920s was also evident in Chicago; Washington, DC; and other communities where African Americans sought to articulate their experiences and give shape to their dreams.

New generations of African-American artists and writers created work that reflected the changing times. Fostering some of the great American literary voices of the early 20th century, the Harlem Renaissance firmly established African Americans as a vital force in literature and the arts.

In two novels, Nella Larsen (1891-1964) explored the complex experiences of mixed-race people and questions of identity and belonging. Now considered one of the most important novelists of the Harlem Renaissance, Larsen challenged conventional thinking, and her work continues to invite interpretations from previously neglected points of view.

Writer, philosopher, educator and arts advocate Alain Locke (1885-1954) was a vital intellectual figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke wrote and edited some of the most significant publications of the movement, and he played a leading role in supporting and promoting writers and artists.

An ardent bibliophile and self-taught historian, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938) demonstrated the worldwide contributions of people of African descent. By tirelessly collecting books, documents, artwork and other materials, Schomburg rescued black history from obscurity and preserved priceless cultural knowledge for future generations.

Known for unconventional imagery that evokes nature, gardening, religion and myth, poet Anne Spencer (1882-1975) provided a haven for African American writers and intellectuals in her Virginia garden and home, a reminder that the artistic and cultural life of the Harlem Renaissance extended far beyond New York City.

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The Postal Service has canceled the first-day-of-issue ceremony for the Voices of the Harlem Renaissance stamps due to social distancing guidance. News of the stamps is being shared using the hashtags #HarlemRenaissanceStamps and #HarlemRenaissance.

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Customers may purchase Voices of the Harlem Renaissance stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), by mail through USA Philatelic catalog or at Post Office locations nationwide. The stamps are being issued as Forever stamps and will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

"The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations."

The Postal Service should receive tax dollars, c'mon! Make the Postal Service great again.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

NASA Telescope Named For 'Mother of Hubble' Nancy Grace Roman

NASA is naming its next-generation space telescope currently under development, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, NASA's first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

The newly named Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope - or Roman Space Telescope, for short - is set to launch in the mid-2020s. It will investigate long-standing astronomical mysteries, such as the force behind the universe's expansion, and search for distant planets beyond our solar system.

Considered the "mother" of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which launched 30 years ago, Roman tirelessly advocated for new tools that would allow scientists to study the broader universe from space. She left behind a tremendous legacy in the scientific community when she died in 2018.

"It is because of Nancy Grace Roman's leadership and vision that NASA became a pioneer in astrophysics and launched Hubble, the world's most powerful and productive space telescope," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "I can think of no better name for WFIRST, which will be the successor to NASA's Hubble and Webb Telescopes."

Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who worked with NASA on the Hubble and WFIRST space telescopes, said, "It is fitting that as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, NASA has announced the name of their new WFIRST telescope in honor of Dr. Nancy Roman, the Mother of Hubble - well deserved. It recognizes the incredible achievements of women in science and moves us even closer to no more hidden figures and no more hidden galaxies."

Who Was Nancy Grace Roman?

Born on May 16, 1925, in Nashville, Tennessee, Roman consistently persevered in the face of challenges that plagued many women of her generation interested in science.

By seventh grade, she knew she wanted to be an astronomer. Despite being discouraged about going into science - the head of Swarthmore College's physics department told her he usually dissuaded girls from majoring in physics, but that she "might make it" - Roman earned a bachelor's degree in astronomy from Swarthmore in 1946 and a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1949.

She remained at Chicago for six years and made discoveries about the compositions of stars that had implications for the evolution of our Milky Way galaxy. Knowing that her chances of achieving tenure at a university as a woman were slim at that time, she took a position at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and made strides in researching cosmic questions through radio waves.

Roman came to NASA in 1959, just six months after the agency had been established. At that time, she served as the chief of astronomy and relativity in the Office of Space Science, managing astronomy-related programs and grants.

"I knew that taking on this responsibility would mean that I could no longer do research, but the challenge of formulating a program from scratch that I believed would influence astronomy for decades to come was too great to resist," she said in a NASA interview.

This was a difficult era for women who wanted to advance in scientific research. While Roman said that men generally treated her equally at NASA, she also revealed in one interview that she had to use the prefix "Dr." with her name because "otherwise, I could not get past the secretaries."

But she persisted in her vision to establish new ways to probe the secrets of the universe. When she arrived at NASA, astronomers could obtain data from balloons, sounding rockets and airplanes, but they could not measure all the wavelengths of light. Earth's atmosphere blocks out much of the radiation that comes from the distant universe. What's more, only a telescope in space has the luxury of perpetual nighttime and doesn't have to shut down during the day. Roman knew that to see the universe through more powerful, unblinking eyes, NASA would have to send telescopes to space.

Through Roman's leadership, NASA launched four Orbiting Astronomical Observatories between 1966 and 1972. While only two of the four were successful, they demonstrated the value of space-based astrophysics and represented the precursors to Hubble.

She also championed the International Ultraviolet Explorer, which was built in the 1970s as a joint project between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the United Kingdom, as well as the Cosmic Background Explorer, which measured the leftover radiation from the Big Bang and led to two of its leading scientists receiving the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Above all, Roman is credited with making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality. In the mid-1960s, she set up a committee of astronomers and engineers to envision a telescope that could accomplish important scientific goals. She convinced NASA and Congress that it was a priority to launch the most powerful space telescope the world had ever seen.

Hubble turned out to be the most scientifically revolutionary space telescope of all time. Ed Weiler, Hubble's chief scientist until 1998, called Roman "the mother of the Hubble Space Telescope."

"Nancy Grace Roman was a leader and advocate whose dedication contributed to NASA seriously pursuing the field of astrophysics and taking it to new heights," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science. "Her name deserves a place in the heavens she studied and opened for so many."

What Is The Roman Space Telescope?

The Roman Space Telescope will be a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets and infrared astrophysics. The telescope has a primary mirror that is 2.4 meters (7.9 feet) in diameter and is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope's primary mirror. The Roman Space Telescope is designed to have two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument and a technology demonstration Coronagraph Instrument. The Wide Field Instrument will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument, allowing it to capture more of the sky with less observing time. The Coronagraph Instrument will perform high contrast imaging and spectroscopy of individual nearby exoplanets.

The WFIRST project passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone in February, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing. With the passage of this latest key milestone, the team will begin finalizing the mission design by building engineering test units and models to ensure the design will hold up under the extreme conditions during launch and while in space.

NASA's Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act funds the WFIRST program through September 2020. It is not included in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request, as the administration wants to focus on completing the James Webb Space Telescope.

Family Statement From Nancy Grace Roman's Cousins

"For many years, Nancy Grace worked in relative obscurity, known only to a few scientists, but this never deterred her. She firmly believed that space observation would offer years of good science, and this has proven to be the case.

"Nancy Grace was a modest person but very determined when she believed in something. We are very proud that she stood up for herself in the early years when everyone told her that women could not be astronomers. She ignored people who told her it was not appropriate or that women didn't have the ability to work in the physical sciences and forged ahead with her studies. If she had not persisted, then we wouldn't have the benefit of her scientific contributions, and NASA wouldn't be naming a telescope after her!

"Her own early experiences led her to a lifelong commitment to promoting opportunities for women in science. After her retirement from NASA, she devoted her time and efforts to advancing opportunities for women and encouraging young people to go into careers in science.

"Although the professional recognition of having a telescope named after her would certainly be gratifying to Nancy Grace, we think the possibility of inspiring other girls to reach for their own stars would give her the greatest satisfaction."

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NASA's First Chief Astronomer, The Mother Of Hubble

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The Chicago Years, via Wikipedia:

"After college, she started graduate school at the University of Chicago in March 1946.

"Finding the classes easier than at Swarthmore, she approached three professors, Otto Struve, George van Biesbroeck, and William Wilson Morgan, asking each for an observational astronomy project to work on.

"The first gave her a theory project, the second a data analysis project, and Morgan provided an observational project using a 12-inch telescope, most likely the refractor from the Kenwood Astrophysical Observatory.

"Although Morgan was initially dismissive of Roman, at one point not speaking to her for six months, he did continue to support her research.

"She went on to receive her Ph.D. in astronomy in 1949, writing a paper on the Ursa Major Moving Group for her thesis.

"After a two-month break at the Warner and Swasey Observatory, she returned to Yerkes Observatory to work as a research associate with Morgan at his request.

"She stayed at the university for six more years working at Yerkes, often traveling to the McDonald Observatory in Texas, which at the time was managed by the University of Chicago, and once to the David Dunlap Observatory in Toronto, supported by the Office of Naval Research.

"The research position was not permanent, so Roman became an instructor and later, an assistant professor.

"While at Yerkes, her research focused on stellar spectroscopy, emphasizing F and G type stars and high velocity stars. Her work produced some of the most highly cited papers at that time, including, in 1950, three top-100 papers in a year with over 3,000 publications.

"She was offered research positions at Wayne State University and the University of Southern California, but turned them down as she felt the institutions lacked sufficient astronomical instrumentation, an issue of great importance to her.

"She traveled to Argonne National Laboratory to use their new astrometry machine for measuring photographic plates, but was unable to convince Yerkes to acquire one; she also advocated for the purchase of a then-novel digital computer for data analysis in 1954, but was turned down by department chair Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar as he saw computers as not being useful for this purpose.

"Roman eventually left her job at the university because of the paucity of tenured research positions available to women at the time; they had never had a woman on the academic staff.

"Gerard Kuiper had recommended to her a position at the Naval Research Laboratory in the new field of radio astronomy."

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See also:
* Forbes: The $3.2 Billion Space Telescope That Trump Tried To Kill Named For The 'Mother Of Hubble.'

* Tribune, 2019: Nancy Grace Roman, 'Mother of Hubble' Telescope, Dies At 93.

* Janesville Gazette: Yerkes Observatory Has A Dark Side.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

Medicaid Providers At The End Of The Line For Federal COVID Funding

Casa de Salud, a nonprofit clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides primary medical care, opioid addiction services and non-Western therapies, including acupuncture and reiki, to a largely low-income population.

And, like so many other health care providers that serve as a safety net, its revenue - and its future - are threatened by the COVID-19 epidemic.

"I've been working for the past six weeks to figure out how to keep the doors open," said the clinic's executive director, Dr. Anjali Taneja. "We've seen probably an 80% drop in patient care, which has completely impacted our bottom line."

In March, Congress authorized $100 billion for health care providers, both to compensate them for the extra costs associated with caring for patients with COVID-19 and for the revenue that's not coming in from regular care. They have been required to stop providing most nonemergency services, and many patients are afraid to visit health care facilities.

But more than half that money has been allocated by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the majority of it so far has gone to hospitals, doctors and other facilities that serve Medicare patients. Officials said at the time that was an efficient way to get the money beginning to move to many providers. That, however, leaves out a large swath of the health system infrastructure that serves the low-income Medicaid population and children.

Casa de Salud, for example, accepts Medicaid but not Medicare.

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 8.59.46 PM.pngCasa de Salud clinicians, staff and health apprentices stand outside their clinic, socially distanced/Courtesy of Elizabeth Boyce, Casa de Salud

State Medicaid directors say that without immediate funding, many of the health facilities that serve Medicaid patients could close permanently.

More than a month ago, bipartisan Medicaid chiefs wrote the federal government asking for immediate authority to make "retainer" payments - not related to specific care for patients - to keep their health providers in business.

"If we wait, core components of the Medicaid delivery system could fail during, or soon after, this pandemic," wrote the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

So far, the Trump administration has not responded, although in early April it said it was "working rapidly on additional targeted distributions" for other providers, including those who predominately serve Medicaid patients.

In an e-mail, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said officials there will "continue to work with states as they seek to ensure continued access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries through and beyond the public health emergency."

CMS noted that states have several ways of boosting payments for Medicaid providers, but did not directly answer the question about the retainer payments that states are seeking the authority to make. Nor did it say when the funds would start to flow to Medicaid providers who do not also get funding from Medicare. The delay is frustrating Medicaid advocates.

"This needs to be addressed urgently," said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families in Washington, D.C. "We are concerned about the infrastructure and how quickly it could evaporate."

In the administration's explanation of how it is distributing the relief funds, Medicaid providers are included in a catch-all category at the very bottom of the list, under the heading "additional allocations."

"To not see anything substantive coming from the federal level just adds insult to injury," said Todd Goodwin, who runs the John F. Murphy Homes in Auburn, Maine, which provides residential and day services to hundreds of children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Goodwin said his organization - which has already furloughed almost 300 workers and spent more than $200,000 on COVID-related expenses including purchases of essential equipment such as masks and protective equipment that will not be reimbursable - has not been eligible for any of the various aid programs passed by Congress. It gets most of its funding from Medicaid and public school systems.

The organization has tapped a line of credit to stay afloat.

"But if we're not here providing these services, there's no Plan B," he said.

Even providers who largely serve privately insured patients are facing financial distress. Dr. Sandy Chung is CEO of Trusted Doctors, which has about 50 physicians in 13 offices in the Northern Virginia suburbs around Washington, D.C. She said about 15% of its funding comes from Medicaid, but the drop-off in private and Medicaid patients has left the group "really struggling."

"We've had to furlough staff, had to curtail hours, and we may have to close some locations," she said.

Of special concern are children because Medicaid covers nearly 40% of them across the county.

Chung, who also heads the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that vaccination rates are off 30% for infants and 75% for adolescents, putting them and others at risk for preventable illnesses.

The biggest rub, she added, is that with the economy in free-fall, more people will qualify for Medicaid coverage in the coming weeks and months.

"But if you don't have providers around anymore, then you will have a significant mismatch," she said.

Back in Albuquerque, Taneja is working to find whatever sources of funding she can to keep the clinic open. She secured a federal loan to help cover her payroll for a couple of months, but worries what will happen after that.

"It would kill me if we've survived 15 years in this health care system, just to not make it through COVID," she said.

KHN senior correspondent Phil Galewitz contributed to this story.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

Seinfeld's Tired Take On Women And Marriage

If you want to see some mild misogyny disguised as jokes, I recommend Jerry Seinfeld's new standup special on Netflix, 23 Hours to Kill.

In addition to giving us an observational Seinfeldian take on smartphones, he shares his point of view on heterosexual marriage. His point of view is that women are irrational, overly emotional, nagging shrews, and the men who marry them are unfairly henpecked.

Maybe Seinfeld's speaking about his own marriage, but he universalizes it to a theoretical straight, male audience by addressing the men as "you" and talking about "women." Not just one woman, or specific women, but all of us. He sarcastically makes fun of feminism ("girl power!").

Frankly, as standup comedy, this take on the subject matter is old news. Comic Kermit Apio has already joked about his wife getting mad at him for something he did in her dream. Andy Woodhull also tells jokes about his wife being frustratingly irrational.

I think Apio and Woodhull are hilarious, and I loved Seinfeld's show in the '90s. But Seinfeld's take on women is old - and damaging.

Here's another way to think of it.

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild found that in heterosexual couples with young children where both parents work outside the home, the majority of "the second shift" (cooking, cleaning, and childcare) falls on women.

What's more, women tend to do jobs that are time-sensitive like cooking dinner, whereas men are more likely to do jobs that can be scheduled for a convenient day and time, like mowing the lawn. When men contribute to household labor, their work is often framed as "helping out" their wives.

Sociologist Allison Daminger found women were more likely than men to constantly monitor the household's needs - when the kids are due for teeth cleanings, how much milk is left in the fridge - and identify needs and research solutions to them. Men's contributions tend to be in the area of decision-making, which the couple often does together.

Because the woman is constantly identifying what needs to be done and ensuring that it is done, she takes on the role of a manager of the household. Men often do tasks when their wives ask them to, but it's up to the woman to keep tabs on everything and delegate the work.

Additionally, straight women expect men to be emotionally stunted, and they accept it when they are - but it still harms straight relationships. Men are told from a young age that it's not "manly" to have emotions other than anger or to have close male friends. Then women have to do most of the emotional labor in the relationship.

When women express frustration with their husband's inability or refusal to be equal partners in the household and the relationship, men can easily dismiss what their wives say by saying "women are so irrational."

Which is what Seinfeld does in his new special.

Comparing marriage to a game show, he says, "The husband, of course, never has a clue. 'I'm sorry, sir, you did not win the weekend sex package or the guilt-free televised sporting event. Thank you for playing. Are you even listening to me? And don't forget to take that big bag of garbage on your way out of the studio.'"

Hochschild pointed out decades ago that second wave feminism stalled because women advanced in the workplace, but men refused to advance gender equality by meeting women halfway at home.

Dismissing and ridiculing your wife as irrational adds to a toxic household dynamic instead of resolving it. Maybe Seinfeld should try couples counseling instead of standup. And we should raise boys to feel all of their feelings and to expect to perform household labor as men.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

The Origin Of MLB Trade Rumors

As a huge Cubs fan, there was always more hope in the offseason than the regular season, site founder (and University of Illinois grad) Tim Dierkes explains, leading to his fascination with the Hot Stove League and transactions.


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See also:
* Crain's, 2013: How Tim Dierkes Cashes In On MLB Gossip.

* Reddit, January: I Am Tim Dierkes, Owner Of The Website MLB Trade Rumors. AMA!

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

MLB Trade Rumors is an example of a site that newspapers should have thought up themselves - particularly newspapers that, as part of chains, have or had reporters in a variety of cities across the country, giving them a leg up on having an established, on-the-ground intelligence network.

It's also an example of a site that a newspaper company could have acquired or replicated. (Same for the Bleacher Reports and SBNation's of the Internet.) Now Dierkes has expanded his company to include sites covering transactions in other major sports including football, hockey and basketball.

And when people continue to say there is no business model for digital journalism? Well, this is just one of many sites that proves that noxious notion wrong. (Hint: The business model is an editorial model.)

And here Dierkes has been in our backyard all along. Shame, Chicago.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

"A day after resuming operations at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant on the city's Southeast Side, the U.S. automaker temporarily closed its facility Tuesday for disinfection because two employees tested positive for COVID-19," the Tribune reports.

Oy. Welcome to the World of Reopening.

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And now it has re-reopened:

"The Torrence Avenue plant, which makes the new 2020 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Police Interceptor SUVs, is open again with two shifts, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said Wednesday."

Felker didn't say when she and her corporate colleagues would take a shift on the line to show their confidence in the safety of their workplace.

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"Some of those employees, of course, are thrilled to be back working and earning a paycheck, but they are asking at what cost to their own health and safety?" CBS2 Chicago reports.

"I'm worried right now," said employee Timothy Shy. "This is the second day, and we are already hearing about this.

Production was temporarily halted at part of the facility and the main plant.

"Social distancing doesn't really work," said employee Billy Cowart.

There are changes, from the social distancing reminders outside to temperature checks and re-configured work stations inside. Ford provided a video highlighting some of the updated health changes COVID has brought along to their plants

"All these people are crowded and on top of each other," said Michael Hopper while wearing his Ford issued face mask.

"I lost a brother to coronavirus May 6," Hopper said.

Hopper along with others describes an experience inside the plant that doesn't sound or look like the polished video.

"I cleaned my own workstation myself," said Hopper. "How our jobs are set-up, if one person gets in the hole that would affect the person behind him."

At least this isn't the Ford plant the maskless president is visiting Thursday.

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More Public Service COVID Cases
"The Chicago Transit Authority has reported that a fifth employee has passed away due to coronavirus complications," NBC5 Chicago reports.

"Family members identified the employee as Pedro Gafare. According to CTA officials, Gafare a bus operator who had joined the agency in 2012."

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"Chicago police announced Tuesday nine more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the department to 529," the Sun-Times reports.

"Of the confirmed cases, 503 are officers and 26 are civilian employees, police said. All of the cases have been confirmed by the department's medical section.

"The department announced the death of a third officer from complications of the coronavirus on April 17."

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Is McDonald's Safe?
"Five Chicago McDonald's workers filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status Tuesday alleging the restaurant chain's 'inadequate' COVID-19 protective measures endangered employees and customers," the Tribune reports.

"The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges McDonald's failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment, allow for proper social distancing or notify employees when co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 at four restaurants across Chicago during the pandemic."

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Inbox:

On Eve of McDonald's Shareholder Meeting, Cooks, Cashiers in 20 Cities Strike Over Company's Failed Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Workers walk out to protest inadequate PPE, lack of paid sick days, dangerous response to positive tests; demand $15X2 pandemic pay, halt to dividend to fund increased economic, safety measures

Leading public health, worker safety experts to CEO: 'deeply disturbed by McDonald's failure' to protect workers, consumers; Sens. Warren, Gillibrand to join striking workers online

NATIONWIDE -- McDonald's cooks and cashiers in 20 cities, including Chicago, went on strike Wednesday morning, a day before the company's annual shareholder meeting, to protest against the burger giant's failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As the pandemic took hold, McDonald's dished out nearly $1 billion in dividends to line shareholders' pockets, but we had to go on strike to get masks," said San Jose McDonald's worker Maria Chavez, who led a wildcat walkout at her store in March. "The company has failed in every way to protect us - it has failed to provide adequate PPE, failed to enforce social distancing, failed to protect employees when workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and failed to provide paid sick leave to all who wear the company's uniform. We don't want to die, so we are going on strike, to let McDonald's know our lives are essential."

20-CITY NATIONAL DIGITAL STRIKE

WHO: McDonald's workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union

WHAT: McDonald's workers in 20 cities nationwide to strike over the fast-food company's failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic

WHEN: Wednesday, May 20 -- 12PM CDT

WHERE: ZOOM STRIKE, watch the livestream at facebook.com/fightfor15/live

CHICAGO RALLY, PROTEST

WHO: McDonald's workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union

WHAT: McDonald's workers walk off the job, rally and protest outside Chicago restaurant.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 20 - 11AM CDT

WHERE: McDonald's, 3867 S. Archer Street, Chicago, IL 60632

CHICAGO ART INSTALLATION

WHO: Fight for $15 and a Union
Art Build Workers

WHAT: Protest art installation representing workers' demands outside of McDonald's headquarters

WHEN: Wednesday, May 20 - 11AM CDT

WHERE: Outside McDonald's Corporate Headquarters, 1045 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL 60607

Wednesday's strike is the first coordinated across the nation by McDonald's workers since the onset of the pandemic. Cooks and cashiers at Chavez's San Jose McDonald's walked off the job in late March, protesting a lack of masks, soap and hand sanitizer, sparking a wave of strikes by McDonald's and other fast-food workers that has included statewide walkouts in Florida and California.

The walkouts on the eve of the company's shareholder meeting highlight McDonald's continued failed response to the pandemic, even as it moves to reopen dining room across the country, including the following recent examples:

* In Houston, after a McDonald's worker tested positive for COVID-19, 12 other workers were forced to self quarantine for two weeks - without pay.

* In Chicago, the company failed to notify workers in at least two stores after employees tested positive and failed to close the stores for a deep cleaning. Additional workers got sick and tested positive.

* In San Francisco, workers filed a complaint with the city's Health Department alleging managers told them 'not to worry' about a lack of masks in the store, suggesting they use coffee filters instead. At another McDonald's in San Francisco, the company did not inform workers when a colleague tested positive, according to a separate Health Department complaint. Workers heard about the positive result and when one crew member who has diabetes asked for paid time off, she was denied. That worker soon tested positive and, again, the company did not reach out to coworkers who had been in contact with her to get them to quarantine. A worker at that store who pressed managers for masks and gloves had her hours cut in retaliation.

* In Ontario, Calif., a worker who tested positive filed a complaint with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health alleging her co-workers were not informed of her infection. The worker worked closely with at least seven others, and they never received instructions about sanitizing high-touch surfaces, or shared equipment, which is not done in the restaurant. Crew members were given a single mask and have to wash it.

* In Detroit, workers at a McDonald's were issued a single mask and told to clean it with hand sanitizer.

McDonald's workers are on strike Wednesday in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose in California; Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri; Detroit and Flint in Michigan; Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida; Charleston; Chicago; Durham; Houston; Little Rock; Memphis and Milwaukee. Inspired by the McDonald's workers, cooks and cashiers from other fast-food restaurants, including Domino's, Burger King and Wendy's are expected to join the walkouts in some cities.

"McDonald's is failing to keep workers and its customers safe," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who will join striking workers online Wednesday afternoon to show her support. "I stand with McDonald's workers as they fight for protections on the job like PPE, universal paid sick leave, premium pay, clear protocols for when a store employee tests positive for coronavirus, and more. Don't cross the picket line."

'A PATTERN OF SEVERE SHORTCOMINGS'

As workers strike, more than a dozen leading public health and worker safety experts, including former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels and former New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, wrote to McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinksi that they are "deeply disturbed by McDonald's failure to adequately protect the safety of employees and consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic."

In the letter, the experts point to "a pattern of severe shortcomings by McDonald's," including failure to provide adequate PPE and to inform workers when they are exposed and provide paid quarantine, among other issues.

"As the unmistakably largest and most profitable fast-food company in the world and as the second largest private-sector employer in the United States, McDonald's is the standard setter in the industry," the experts write. "What you choose to do matters."

Two-thirds of McDonald's workers believe the company isn't doing enough to protect them during the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly one-quarter say they've gone to work sick during the crisis, according to a recent survey by the Service Employees International Union. According to another recent survey, 78 percent of McDonald's workers reported having no access to paid sick leave. McDonald's lobbied the Trump administration and Congress to carve the majority of its restaurant workers out of the sick leave requirements of the CARES Act.

TAKING MCDONALD'S TO TASK FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE

The strikes come a day after McDonald's workers in Chicago - home to the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the nation - filed a class action suit alleging McDonald's "plainly inadequate" response to the pandemic has endangered its workers, their family members and the public.

The suit, brought by five Chicago McDonald's workers and four of their family members, alleges McDonald's failure to provide adequate PPE and training, allow for proper social distancing, and notify employees when coworkers have tested positive, run counter to government and expert recommendations and expose workers and the public to an increased risk of infection.

It also follows the filing of three administrative actions by McDonald's workers in California after CAL/OSHA failed to act on complaints that McDonald's handling of COVID-19 issues in stores across the state put workers in "imminent danger."

The new actions, filed with the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency and CAL/OSHA and served on McDonald's, give the company 33 days to cure its violations. If the company fails to adequately cure, the State or the workers could sue McDonald's in court for civil penalties for each violation committed against each McDonald's worker.

The legal notices, filed under the state's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), detail a pattern of failure on the part of McDonald's to protect its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers in Chicago and Los Angeles will hold protest caravans Wednesday in their cities to call out McDonald's failures as detailed in Tuesday's legal actions.

ACLU PUSHES FOR PAID SICK, FAMILY LEAVE

To best adhere to safety guidelines during the pandemic, strikers from across the country will hold a digital strike line at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, instead of participating in traditional in-person strike lines. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, and the Rev. Dr. William Barber, leader of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will join to show support. Leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union, which launched a campaign demanding the burger giant guarantee paid sick and family leave to all workers who wear its uniform, will also join.

As part of the campaign, the ACLU, along with 12 coalition partners, sent a public letter to McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski Tuesday requesting a meeting with the company to discuss a paid leave policy that will protect all of its employees. The ACLU and partners have collected more than 100,000 signatures to date in support. The ACLU also launched Tuesday paid media efforts to raise awareness on these issues, including a mobile billboard truck that will run from May 19 - May 21 in Chicago, digital ads gathering additional petition signatures, and a homepage takeover in the Chicago Tribune on May 21st.

"McDonald's is endangering the lives of its workforce and our communities by refusing to give all employees paid sick days and family and medical leave," said Nicole Regalado, a deputy director in the ACLU's National Political Advocacy Department. "McDonald's employees - a majority of whom are women and people of color who are more at risk from COVID-19 due to gender and racial disparities in access to healthcare among other factors - are still showing up to work everyday, even when they're feeling sick. No one should be forced to choose between their health and their job. We won't stop fighting until McDonald's gives all of its employees - in corporate and franchised restaurants - paid leave."

Throughout the day, strikers are demanding McDonald's immediately halt dividends and use that money for increased safety and economic protections for workers, including pandemic pay of $15X2, sufficient PPE and paid sick leave for all who wear the McDonald's uniform. Workers are also demanding a new procedure across the McDonald's system for how the company must respond when workers become infected with the virus. The procedure includes immediate store closure for a full deep cleaning; swift contact tracing of coworkers; and self quarantine of all employees for two weeks, with full pay. The full demands are here.

The strike comes as McDonald's rushes to reopen dining rooms around the country, with workers arguing the company should not rush to reopen when it has not shown it can keep its workers safe with limited service.

"It's premature to talk about opening when workers still have to go on strike and file health complaints to get PPE or have social distancing enforced and when the company's response to positive tests remains haphazard," said Chicago McDonald's worker Adriana Alvarez. "The company has failed in its response to the COVID-19 crisis and should not be talking about reopening dining rooms until it proves it can provide workers with the basic and essential safety protections we need to keep ourselves and our customers safe."

AN EPIDEMIC OF HARASSMENT

As its shareholder meeting approaches, McDonald's is not just under fire for its failed COVID-19 response. McDonald's shareholder, CtW Investment Group is urging investors to oust the fast-food giant's chairman of the board, Enrique Hernandez Jr, and compensation committee chair, Richard Lenny, because of the board's massive $44 million severance payout for terminated CEO Steve Easterbrook, who was let go in November for having a sexual relationship with a subordinate. The shareholder campaign has gained support from Glass Lewis, a proxy advisory firm, and some large pension funds including CalSTRS have gone public with their intention to oppose the board members as well.

Earlier this week, a coalition of global unions representing more than 20 million workers filed a first-of-its-kind complaint with the government of the Netherlands alleging systemic sexual harassment at McDonald's restaurants around the globe.

The complaint, delivered to the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) responsible for observance of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, details failures by McDonald's global management to address rampant sexual harassment and gender-based violence at its restaurants in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, among other countries.

The complaint also cites two major investment banks with $1.7 billion in holdings in McDonald's - APG Asset Management in the Netherlands and Norges Bank in Norway, the latter the eighth-largest investor in the burger giant.

Last month, Florida McDonald's workers filed a $500 million class action lawsuit alleging systemic sexual harassment in corporate-owned-and-operated stores across the state.

Whew.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The World's Worst Jailers Of Writers
Spoiler alert: China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey.

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The TSA Hoarded 1.3 Million N95 Masks Even Though Airports Are Empty And It Doesn't Need Them
"Meanwhile, other federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs' vast network of hospitals, scrounged for the personal protective equipment that doctors and nurses are dying without."

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Created: The Timuel Black Jr. Grant Fund
"[T]o support planning and capital projects that work to preserve and promote the history, culture and architecture of Chicago's South Side, which Black has called home for the majority of his life."

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They Weren't Coming Back
The Last Dance was danced, as it should have been.

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ChicagoReddit

Imo, for Chicago to realisticly reopen, mask/face covering for public transportation must be enforced. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chic-A-Go-Go 642:PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE's SECRET HISTORY OF CHICAGO MUSIC w/DA & JIMMY DAWKINS(10/20/09) (PREMIERING THIS MORNING!)

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BeachBook

New Analysis: Unlike Bush and Obama, the Trump Administration Is Muzzling CDC Scientists During Pandemic.

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Scientists Discover That Visitors To Oslo's Munch Museum Are Destroying 'The Scream' By Breathing On It Way Too Much.

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Yes, Those Were Sex Dolls Cheering On A Korean Soccer Team.

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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: Candlesticks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

They Weren't Coming Back

You don't have to go home. But you can't stay here.

The Last Dance has been danced, and then some. And some prominent backlash began on Tuesday when Horace Grant lashed out at Michael Jordan for misrepresenting Grant's role in the making of Sam Smith's The Jordan Rules.

Hell hath no fury like a snitch scorned. And we still haven't heard from Mr. Scottie Pippen since the The Last Dance began airing last month. That interview should be a doozy.

The absolute end for me in episode 10 was when Phil Jackson told the camera that when Jerry Reinsdorf went around Jerry Krause and offered Jackson a contract for the 1998-99 season, the coach kept it simple. He said no. There were no conditions, no "well if this happens," or "if that happens." There was just "No."

In other words, this wasn't second-hand info from an owner who has been known, on occasion, to perhaps shade the truth, just a bit. It was the coach himself telling the camera he didn't want to come back for one more season.

As for Reinsdorf, one of his latest offenses against the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was when he insinuated in episode eight that it was other owners who drove the idea of using replacement baseball players, i.e., scabs, in 1995 as an MLB strike dragged into a second year. Anyone who believes Reinsdorf didn't play a role in that strategy, well, I have some real estate for you. And I'm so sorry but the transaction will have to be site unseen of course.

If nothing else comes out of this mega-series, hopefully there is a little more understanding now that it wasn't just Krause (and by extension Reinsdorf) who broke up the team. Just like it isn't players alone who win championships. I'm not saying Krause wasn't a contemptible schlub sometimes, especially when he reacted to his final break-up with Jackson before the 1997-98 by making sure he was seen palling around with new love Tim Floyd.

To tell the truth, from my spot in the crowd, I remember not being terribly unhappy about the break-up. The most important thing other than Krause's pique and Jackson's reluctance was the reality that there was no freaking way Scottie Pippen was re-signing with the Bulls. And The Last Dance reinforces that assessment despite Jordan's belief that if everyone else was coming back, Scottie would have miraculously come around.

It is also impossible to believe the Bulls would have had Dennis Rodman back for another year. It was a miracle he made it through three seasons in Chicago without completely breaking - or melting - down.

Plus, you talk about an embarrassment of riches overall . . . In my first 25 years (from 1966 to 1990), Chicago teams won one championship. Then the Bulls alone won six in the next eight years. And they did so in remarkably entertaining fashion, featuring the best player of all-time not just providing MVP-caliber production but also high-flying highlights night after night.

And that player was committed to playing every game. He never used the pathetic "load management" excuse to take a break.

I will never include the Spurs' Gregg Popovich on any personal list of greatest basketball coaches of all-time because he is the one who brought "load management" into the NBA. His lasting legacy (OK, OK, there were also five championships) will be the idea that it is fine if superstar basketball players take games off even if they aren't injured.

I have pointed out before and I will point out again that no fan who actually pays for a ticket (as opposed to the corporate types for whom opportunities to attend sporting events are perks) is OK with their team not doing their best to win the game for which that ticket has been purchased.

The folks who are most OK with tanking? It never fails that they aren't the ones paying their own way. It is incredible that it doesn't occur to so many of the people who watch games without buying tickets (i.e., commentators and other non-paying attendees) that the experience for those who purchased a ticket is utterly different than theirs.

In a perfect sports world, teams would know they get one tanked season, maximum. In fact the best rebuild in the sports world in the last 10 years happened in the Bronx, where the Yankees stayed in contention for a wild card right up to the end of a 2016 season in which they traded a number of valuable players at the trade deadline. Sure enough in 2017, they were right back in contention.

And let me just make one final point: GET OFF MY LAWN!

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey Are World's Worst Jailers Of Writers

PEN America on Tuesday released the inaugural PEN America Freedom to Write Index, its first annual global count of writers and public intellectuals unjustly detained or imprisoned worldwide.

Covering calendar year 2019, the inaugural Freedom to Write Index shows that at least 238 writers, academics and public intellectuals were imprisoned or held in detention in 2019, facing often brutal treatment and baseless charges. The Index includes novelists, poets, playwrights, songwriters, biographers, memoirists, essayists, bloggers, and other genre writers. Nearly 60 percent were being held by just three countries: China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

"The Index spotlights governments' nefarious will to suppress truth and control the public mind by silencing writers who dare challenge authority or portray social and political alternatives that rulers reject or fear," said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. "Many of these writers use the imagination to pierce ideological orthodoxies, give voice to suppressed populations, and rally readers to think and act in new ways. This is what makes great writing potent, but also threatening. Rather than treasuring literary icons, too many regimes regard esteemed independent-minded writers as a menace to the brittle state, and seek to prevent words, stories and ideas from chipping away their iron control."

China tops the Freedom to Write Index, having held at least 73 writers and public intellectuals in prison or detention for their writing in 2019.

The new PEN America analysis, drawing on sources including the extensive casework of PEN International, finds that most often, China uses the excuse of national security and "subversion of state power" to imprison writers.

In the first few months of 2020, writers, citizen journalists, and activists in China have been detained by authorities as part of a government campaign to control both the domestic and international narratives on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rounding out the top three, Saudi Arabia held 38 writers and intellectuals in detention or prison last year, and Turkey held 30.

"Speaking out on behalf of individual writers at risk around the world has long been the bedrock of PEN America's advocacy work," said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN America's director of free expression at risk programs. "When writers are in jail, they know that the PEN global network will not let them be forgotten. We hope that this report with names and personal stories will help raise the profile of these writers, mobilizing journalists, legislators, human rights advocates, and political leaders to protest their unjust detention. The numbers in this Index are, of course, far too high, but we also know that advocacy to free those unjustly behind bars does work. In this moment, when truth is vulnerable, and when the world faces a time of reckoning in which a new future waits to be written, it is imperative that we defend the freedom to write, and work to free those who remain behind bars for daring to exercise that power."

The PEN America Freedom to Write Index shows that in 2019, some 34 countries held writers, academics, and public intellectuals. The Index also found:

* Countries in the Asia-Pacific region held 100 writers and intellectuals in detention or prison during 2019 - making up 42 percent of the 2019 Index - while countries in the Middle East and North Africa held 31 percent of the global count. Together, these two regions accounted for almost three-quarters of the cases in the 2019 Index. Countries in Europe and Central Asia held 41 imprisoned/detained writers, or 17 percent of the 2019 Index.

* Of the 238 writers and intellectuals in the 2019 Freedom to Write Index, over half were prosecuted under laws concerned with national security. All of the writers and intellectuals in the Index detained or imprisoned in Turkey face national security charges (30 of 30 ). In China, "national security" violations comprise over half of the 73 cases of writers and intellectuals in detention or prison (40 out of 73, about 55 percent).

* At least 53 writers and intellectuals were held in detention on secret, unknown or undisclosed charges; this amounts to over a fifth of writers and intellectuals in the 2019 Index, and is particularly prevalent in Saudi Arabia.

* Over two-thirds (69 percent) of individuals counted in the 2019 Index remain in state custody at the time of this report's publication. Just under a third are out of state custody but continue to face ongoing legal battles or appeals of convictions; probationary restrictions on work, travel, and local movement; and/or harassment from state and non-state actors.

The report also reveals patterns in terms of what motivates governments to target writers. The drive to suppress ethnic identities and nationalism puts individuals writing in or advocating for ethno-linguistic minority languages under heightened threat, including in the context of crackdowns on Uyghur culture and language in China and Kurdish in Iran and Turkey.

Countries like China and Russia are also attacking writers who seek to expose painful truths about their countries' respective histories, challenging enforced storylines propagated to reinforce ruling regimes.

PEN America also found that while most writers being detained are men, women comprised 16 percent of the cases documented. Many were targeted directly for their writing and advocacy on women's rights, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Alongside the Index, PEN America is launching a new, searchable database of Writers at Risk, containing details of each of the writers in our 2019 Index along with hundreds of other cases of writers, journalists, artists, and intellectuals under threat around the world. This database offers researchers, rights advocates, and the public a wealth of actionable evidence of ongoing global threats to free expression.

Cases highlighted in the 2019 report include:

* The poet and leftist intellectual P. Varavara Rao, writer and artist Arun Ferreira, and writer and scholar Vernon Gonsalves, who were all detained in India in August 2018 alongside a number of other activists in relation to their writing and work on behalf of minority and marginalized groups in India. Other writers have issued pleas for their release, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Iranian writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, first arrested in 2014 and sentenced to six years in prison in 2015 on propaganda charges for an unpublished fictional story concerning the practice of stoning as a criminal punishment. Released in April 2019, when she had served over half her sentence, Iraee was rearrested in November 2019.

* Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan language rights activist who documented his work in a microblog and was detained in 2016 after he appeared in an article and short video feature published by The New York Times. He was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of "separatism" in 2018, and remains behind bars.

* Egyptian poet and songwriter Galal El-Behairy, who is serving a three-year sentence on charges of spreading false news and insulting the military, in relation to both his lyrics to the song "Balaha," which criticized the state of the Egyptian economy and government corruption, and to his unreleased book of poetry. The filmmaker who worked on the videos for Balaha, Shady Habash, died in prison on May 2 at age 24.

* Poet and blogger Ahmed Mansoor, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence in the United Arab Emirates for criticizing the government on social media. The official charges against him include insulting the "status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols" and seeking to damage the UAE's relationship with neighboring countries by publishing false reports and information on social media.

* Yury Dmitriev, a Russian historian and head of the Karelia branch of the Russian human rights center, who has worked to uncover and document mass graves from the era of Stalinist purges.

* Chimengül Awut, a Uyghur poet and editor at Kashgar Publishing House, was arrested in 2018, reportedly for editing the novel Golden Shoes by Uyghur writer Halide Isra'il. Authorities have since confirmed her editing as the reason for her detention, but explicit legal charges are undisclosed.

By highlighting the threats experienced by a broad range of writers, the Freedom to Write Index and database complement existing datasets that focus on journalists or scholars, helping paint a more holistic picture of attacks on freedom of expression globally, and shining a light on the impact when individual creative voices are silenced.

PEN America is deeply grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for its generous support of the Freedom to Write Index and Writers at Risk Database.

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See also, from MediaPost: Trump Wants Appeals Court To Intervene In First Amendment Fight With PEN America.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

The TSA Hoarded 1.3 Million N95 Masks Even Though Airports Are Empty And It Doesn't Need Them

The Transportation Security Administration ignored guidance from the Department of Homeland Security and internal pushback from two agency officials when it stockpiled more than 1.3 million N95 respirator masks instead of donating them to hospitals, internal records and interviews show.

Internal concerns were raised in early April, when COVID-19 cases were growing by the thousands and hospitals in some parts of the country were overrun and desperate for supplies. The agency held on to the cache of life-saving masks even as the number of people coming through U.S. airports dropped by 95% and the TSA instructed many employees to stay home to avoid being infected.

Meanwhile, other federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs' vast network of hospitals, scrounged for the personal protective equipment that doctors and nurses are dying without.

"We don't need them. People who are in an infectious environment need them. Nobody is flying," Charles Kielkopf, a TSA attorney based in Columbus, Ohio, told ProPublica. "You don't take things for yourself. It's the wrong thing to do."

Kielkopf shared a copy of an official whistleblower complaint he filed. In it, he alleges the agency had engaged in gross mismanagement that represented a "substantial and specific danger to public health."

TSA has not required its screeners to wear N95s, which require fitting and training to use properly, and internal memos show most are using surgical masks, which are more widely available but are less effective and lack the same filtering ability.

Kielkopf raised a red flag last month about the TSA's plan to store N95 respirators it had been given by Customs and Border Protection, which found more than a million old but usable masks in an Indiana warehouse. Both agencies are overseen by DHS. That shipment added to 116,000 N95s the TSA had left over from the swine flu pandemic of 2009, a TSA memo shows.

While both stockpiles were older than the manufacturer's recommended shelf life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that expired masks remain effective against spreading the virus.

Kielkopf and another TSA official in Minnesota suggested that the agency send its N95 masks to hospitals in early April, records show. Instead, TSA quietly stored many of them in its warehouse near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and dispersed the rest to empty airports across the nation.

"We need to reserve medical masks for health care workers," Kielkopf said, "not TSA workers who are behind an X-ray machine."

The Number Of Travelers Passing TSA Checkpoints Has Dropped To Historic Lows
tsa-numbers.pngSource: Transportation Security Administration

The TSA didn't provide answers to several detailed questions sent by ProPublica, but spokesperson Mark Howell wrote in an e-mail that the agency's "highest priority is to ensure the health, safety and security of our workforce and the American people."

"With the support of CBP and DHS, in April, TSA was able to ensure a sufficient supply of N95 masks would be available for any officer who chose to wear one and completed the requisite training," his statement read.

"We are continuing to acquire additional personal protective equipment for our employees to ensure both their and the traveling public's health and safety based on our current staffing needs, and as supplies become available," TSA said.

A review of federal contracting data shows the agency has mostly made modest purchases such as a $231,000 purchase for gallons of disinfectant, but has not reported any new purchases of N95s.

An internal TSA memo last month said the surplus of N95s was expected to last the agency about 30 days, but the same memo noted that estimate did not account for the drastic decline in security officers working at airports. ProPublica asked how long the masks were actually going to last, accounting for the decreased staffing levels.

"While we cannot provide details on staffing, passenger throughput and corresponding operations have certainly decreased," the TSA statement said.

The trade journal Government Executive reported that internal TSA records showed most employee schedules have been "sharply abbreviated," while an additional 8,000 security screeners are on paid leave over concerns that they could be exposed to the virus.

More than 500 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the agency reported, and five have died.

The CDC has not recommended the use of N95s by TSA staff, records show, but that doesn't mean workers who have or want to wear them can't.

In one April 7 e-mail, DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Management Randolph D. Alles sent guidance to TSA officials urging them to wear homemade cloth face coverings and maintain social distancing. But the N95s, which block 95% of particles that can transmit the virus, were in notoriously short supply and should be "reserved" for health care workers.

"The CDC has given us very good information about how to make masks that are suitable, so that we can continue to reserve medical masks and PPE for healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic," Alles wrote.

But two days later, on April 9, Cliff Van Leuven, TSA's federal security director in Minnesota, followed up and asked why he had been sent thousands of masks despite that guidance.

"I just received 9,000 N-95 masks that I have very little to no need for," he said in the e-mail, which was first reported by Government Executive. "We've made N95s available to our staff and, of the officers who wear masks, they overwhelmingly prefer the surgical masks we just received after a couple months on back order."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had publicly asked that anyone who had PPE donate their surplus to the state's Department of Health, Van Leuven said in the e-mail to senior TSA staff.

"I'd like to donate the bulk of our current stock of N-95s in support of that need and keep a small supply on hand," he wrote, adding the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had screened fewer than 1,500 people the previous day, about a third of which were airport staff.

Van Leuven declined to comment, referring questions to a TSA spokesperson.

Later that day, Kielkopf forwarded the concerns to TSA attorneys in other field offices, trying to get some attention to the stockpile he felt would be better used at hospitals.

"I am sharing with you some issues we are having with n95 masks in Minnesota," he wrote. "And the tension between our increasing supply of n95 masks at our TSA airport locations and the dire need for them in the medical community."

Weeks went by, and finally, on May 1, Kielkopf wrote: "I have been very disappointed in our position to keep tens of thousands of n95 masks while healthcare workers who have a medical requirement for the masks - because of their contact with infected people - still go without."

DHS did not respond to ProPublica's questions about why it transferred N95 masks to TSA despite a top official saying they should be reserved for healthcare workers.

"So now the TSA position is that we desperately need these masks for the protection of our people," Kielkopf said. "At the same time, most of our people aren't even working. It's a complete 180 that doesn't make any sense."

Do you have access to information about federal contracts that should be public? Email david.mcswane@propublica.org. Here's how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

Created: The Timuel Black Jr. Grant Fund

Landmarks Illinois has created a new grant fund in celebration of the life and work of acclaimed civil rights leader, educator, historian, author and WWII veteran Timuel D. Black, Jr.

The Landmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago's South Side will provide small grants to support planning and capital projects that work to preserve and promote the history, culture and architecture of Chicago's South Side, which Black has called home for the majority of his life.

Black's family was part of the first Great Migration of African Americans from the Deep South, settling in Chicago in 1919. He has lived in the same South Side neighborhood ever since and has devoted his life to promoting African-American history. Black leads tours to young people in Bronzeville and speaks to students about the importance of understanding one's own history and heritage. His recent memoir, Sacred Ground, focuses heavily on his beloved South Side hometown, as well.

"The South Side has had a profound impact on Mr. Black, and even at age 101, he remains a tireless advocate for the historic places that have distinguished its neighborhoods and shaped generations of Chicagoans," said Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois president & CEO.

Nonprofits, community organizations as well as faith-based and educational institutions are eligible to apply for funding through the Landmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago's South Side. Grants will provide financial support to significant structures or sites located on Chicago's South Side that are under threat of demolition, imminent deterioration or are of such architectural importance that their preservation will benefit the public and community. Structures or sites on the South Side named to Landmarks Illinois' recent Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois are also eligible for funding.

Grants through the Landmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago's South Side will range from $500 - $2,500 each, depending on need, and will require a one-to-one match. Applications will be accepted four times a year on a quarterly basis. The first grant deadline is July 15. Visit www.Landmarks.org/grants to view complete grant guidelines and to submit a grant application.

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Landmarks Illinois honored Black at its 2020 Legendary Landmarks Celebration held March 5, 2020, in Chicago.

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See also:
* Sun-Times: I Was Born In The Year Of The Spanish Flu, And I'm Not Ready To Leave In The Year Of COVID-19.

* Tribune: 100 Years Of History: Timuel Black Takes Readers Through Chicago Streets In Sacred Ground.

* UChicago: A Lifetime Championing Civil Rights.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 AM | Permalink

May 19, 2020

'Last Responders' Seek To Expand Postmortem COVID Testing In Unexplained Deaths

Examining dead bodies and probing for a cause of death is rarely seen as a heroic or glamorous job. Rather, as the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, all eyes have been on the medical workers and public health disease detectives fighting on the front lines - and sometimes giving their lives - to bring the novel coronavirus under control.

But as the crusade to test for the coronavirus and trace cases continues, medical examiners and coroners play a vital - if often unsung - role. These "last responders" are typically called on to investigate and determine the cause of deaths that are unexpected or unnatural, including deaths that occur at home.

In the early days of the outbreak, a scarcity of tests often hampered their efforts. Now, as that equipment gradually becomes more widely available, these professionals may be able to fill in answers about how people died and if those deaths were related to the coronavirus.

Those changes won't happen at once or uniformly across the country, experts predict. In addition, an increase in postmortem testing is likely to put coroners and medical examiners in the middle of a debate heating up about the true number of COVID-19 casualties.

Determining how many people the virus has killed is an ongoing bone of contention. Some defenders of the Trump administration's response charge that death estimates are inflated, often because they include people who were presumed to have died of the disease but not tested for it. Administration critics counter that the chaotic rollout of testing and treatment led to thousands of needless deaths that aren't represented in the official death toll.

Even now, months after the emergence of COVID-19 in the United States, the availability of test kits and testing materials, such as nasal swabs, remains inadequate in many places. Public health experts agree that broad-based testing is critical for people to safely emerge from lockdown and for businesses and other institutions to safely reopen.

"Some localities are prioritizing testing sick people over dead people, and that's probably a good decision if they have limited testing available," said Dr. Sally Aiken, the medical examiner for Spokane County, Washington, who is also president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.

As availability increases, however, stepping up postmortem COVID-19 testing could uncover important clues about the spread of the virus, experts say.

During the pandemic, many sick people have stayed at home and died there rather than seeking help at hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

In April in New York City, for example, a reported 200 residents died at home each day, compared with 20 such deaths before the pandemic, a spokesperson for the city's medical examiner told WNYC, the local public radio station.

Tests were not possible in many of those instances. But with more tests, such cases are now getting attention.

"Most of the ones we test are the individuals who die at home," said Gary Watts, the coroner in Richland County, South Carolina, who is president of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners.

If family or friends say the person had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the coroner's office will typically do a nasal swab to test for the virus, he said. If the test is positive and the office can determine the cause of death without an autopsy, one will generally not be performed.

(Coroners and medical examiners have similar responsibilities but their backgrounds are often different. Coroners are typically elected officials who may or may not have a medical degree. Medical examiners are typically medical doctors and may have a specialty in forensic pathology.)

Like Watts, Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the coroner for Montgomery County, Ohio, which includes the city of Dayton, said his office now has enough tests to determine if COVID-19 was involved in suspect deaths, unlike during the pandemic's early days.

With more postmortem testing, "you can do better contact tracing," he said.

[Harshbarger holds both a medical degree and a law degree from SIU.]

A few medical examiners and coroners are now stepping up testing significantly, performing tests on all the bodies that are brought in, said Aiken.

"They're surprised at some of the people who are positive," including suicides and car accidents, she said.

One reason for increasing testing is to protect the staff who are handling the bodies, said Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in the San Francisco area and CEO of PathologyExpert.

If a body at the morgue is positive for COVID-19, "you want to avoid doing an autopsy unless it's absolutely necessary," Melinek said, because of the risk of becoming exposed to the virus through aerosolized particles or blood. Plus, she noted, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends against performing autopsies in COVID-19 deaths.

Even if coroners and medical examiners aren't doing extensive nasal-swab testing on the recently deceased, they can provide vital information later on, some note.

It's standard practice to take blood samples from patients who are sent to the morgue, and coroners and medical examiners typically keep blood samples on hand for up to a year. Testing those blood samples for antibodies to the coronavirus, which would indicate a prior infection, could give public health experts a clearer sense of when the virus arrived in the United States and the extent of its spread.

It won't identify every undiagnosed infection, since antibodies don't show up until one to three weeks after infection occurs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People may die before then. Still, postmortem antibody testing could provide useful information, experts say.

"If we can figure out when [the virus] arrived in the U.S., we can figure out a lot more about how this virus came through and was undetected," Melinek said.

Going forward, as public health experts and politicians contemplate decisions about reopening the country for business and the possibility of a resurgence of the virus, the more concrete information available the better, experts say.

"Postmortem testing is helpful and important when it is balanced by the logistical feasibility of doing it," said Lorna Thorpe, a professor of epidemiology at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine. "When politics enters this space, it's nice to have confirmed cases so that it can't be critiqued."

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Also:

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*

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And:
* Scientific American: How COVID-19 Deaths Are Counted.

* AP: Cook County Morgue Tries To Cope With Surge In Deaths During Pandemic.

While ER and hospital admittances for other ailments have dropped dramatically.

* Sun-Times: Cook County Searching For Overlooked COVID-19 Deaths As Far Back As November Just 'To Cover Our Bases.'

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Fang Fang's Wuhan Diary

Starting on January 25, novelist and poet Fang Fang has posted 60 daily diary entries about life and death in her hometown of Wuhan to WeChat, China's most popular social media platform.

Born in 1955, Fang has a long and respected career as a writer of poems, novels and novellas. She won the prestigious Lu Xun Literary Prize in 2010, and was elected president of the government-funded Writers Association of Hubei Province in 2007. But her work has rarely been translated into English.

Her diaries were read widely in China but their reception was mixed. Some readers celebrated Fang for voicing people's struggles in lockdown, others criticized her viewpoints. In her diary, Fang wrote* about her persistence: "I'm never too old to lose the strength of criticizing."

News of publication of her translated diaries in English and German only the inflamed debate in China. But in any language, Fang Fang's unfolding recording of the pandemic will be valuable for the globe's understanding of our shared memories of this time.

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Heartbreaking Snapshots

Before becoming a writer, Fang worked as a dockworker at the Port of Wuhan, on the Yangtze and Hanjiang rivers. Her stories mostly depict struggling social underdogs in Wuhan.

Fang's diaries (which I read in the original Mandarin) chronicle the situation in Wuhan throughout the lockdown.

She describes her daily life in quarantine: food shopping, online communication with families and friends, and responding to readers.

She touches on sensitive topics: the investigation of China's belated reporting on coronavirus, overcrowded hospitals, and those dying at home unattended.

There are heartbreaking snapshots: scattered, unclaimed cell phones at a mortuary; sweet moments when volunteers help with the old and the weak. She reflects on the dilemma of media workers in a public crisis, emergency policies enacted by local administrations, and misinformation capturing the interest of Chinese netizens.

In Fang's diaries, we see a personal account of public memory and national trauma.

Fang's diaries attracted a large following during the outbreak in China. One reader commented under her post: "These diaries are the respiratory valve for us in gloom."

Fang's tone is colloquial, poignant and accessible. Her words resonate with people isolated and frightened in her appeals for help, and her grieving over the beloved.

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A Critical Reception

By the end of Fang's diarising on March 25, criticism had swelled, with Chinese citizens targeting the writer's credibility and integrity. This torrent of criticism peaked when Harper Collins announced it would be publishing the diaries in English translation, under the title Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City.

Fang was denounced by her opponents as selling Wuhanese suffering to Westerners and defaming China's effort in fighting the virus. Opponents have said this book will "hand over the knife" to anti-Chinese sentiment, and provide legitimacy to conspiracy theories and unjustified blame on China. One post about her on Weibo said: "You're giving Western countries ammunition to target China."

There is also some contention about the legitimacy of Fang's dairies as the testimony of Wuhan. Her writing presents anxiety and anger in quarantine, but some challenge her viewpoints as partial and information unattested. She is accused of exposing too many negative emotions, losing authenticity and objectivity.

Sharing Testimonies

"Global memory" is a phrase I use to describe recording experiences and the transposition and reconstruction of local memories across borders and barriers. It considers both the potential for mutual understanding, and the difficulty in communicating experiences across languages and cultures.

As the world goes through the trauma of COVID-19 and its eventual aftermath, psychological effects are emerging. The publication of diaries and other texts will become important in how memories are handled individually and collectively.

In her dairies*, Fang sighs:

People in Wuhan are all traumatized. We're not lucky; we are only survivors.

Fang's writing can help identify patterns, solutions and mindsets to deal with pandemics. She reminds us cooperation is required between people and nations, and this cooperation is too often frustrated because of racial bias, political agendas and economic competition.

She writes about the medical assistance teams from across China aiding Wuhan, and asks why the Wuhanese outside Wuhan - suspected as infected - are refused entry to cities, towns and villages. This story of alienation and repulsion is now recurring in a global context with stories of fear and racism across the world. These narratives shape, and repeat in, human history of pandemics, wars and trade.

Global memory entails a humanitarian thinking about how we relate ourselves to "others."

Fang's dairies capture Wuhan's memory and will help people in and outside China understand and empathize with other humans whose lives are all drastically changed by the pandemic.

In sharing universal human emotions, these dairies will empower those currently feeling confusion and desperation. In remembering the pandemic - even as it continues to unfold - readers will rethink their present, and their uncertain future.

* Translated from Mandarin by Meng Xia.

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Meng Xia, is a doctoral candidate in literature, memory and trauma at UNSW. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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See also:
* Garner, The New York Times: Wuhan Diary Offers An Angry And Eerie View From Inside Quarantine.

* BBC: Fang Fang: The Wuhan Writer Whose Virus Diary Angered China.

* Hong Kong Free Press: Fang Fang Faces Backlash And Death Threats For Wuhan Diary.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:00 AM | Permalink

When They Broke Up The Bulls

The two Jerrys fucked it up, plain and simple.

Even if some players were on the decline - a questionable argument - they had only declined to the point where they were still the best team in the league.

And it was up to Jerry Krause to start filtering young players - through the draft or other types of acquisition - onto the roster. A teardown of a championship team (of the ages) is unconscionable. (That doesn't mean Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen, in particular, were eager to return for another year, though it was the Jerrys who chased them both off. And who really knows what Michael Jordan would have done at that point; the whole thing had become an incredible grind. But in any case, it shouldn't have gone down the way it did.)

Let's take a look at how it happened - in two videos.

1. Tim Floyd On The Bulls' Post-Jordan Strategy, Jerry Krause's Goals.


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And since we're on Tim Floyd . . .


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2. How The Bulls Self-Destructed After Michael Jordan And Phil Jackson Left.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Today got away from me. I don't know how, I don't know why. It's just . . . gone.

Still . . .

New on the Beachwood today . . .

'Last Responders' Seek To Expand Postmortem COVID Testing In Unexplained Deaths
The nation's morgues are filled with uncounted virus deaths.

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Fang Fang's Wuhan Diary
A personal account of public memory and national trauma.

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When They Broke Up The Bulls
The two Jerrys fucked it up - and we're still rebuilding!

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ChicagoReddit

Rainfall Trends in NE Illinois, Illinois State Climatologist Office from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

India's Repatriation Flight From Delhi To Chicago.

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BeachBook

No Prairie Home Companion At Sea, And No Refund Either.

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UIC Examines Environmental Impact Of Reversing Chicago River.

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

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I like orange juice but it's one the biggest frauds of our time!

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Hydroxish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

"University of Iowa researchers provide empirical data and analysis showing that stay-at-home orders may reduce the rate of coronavirus," the South Dakota Free Press reports.

"Wei Lyu and Dr. George Wehby studied COVID-19 spread in the Mississippi River border counties of Illinois and Iowa. In mid-March, Illinois's western border counties had a cumulative coronavirus cases rate of 0.026 per 10,000 people; Iowa's eastern border counties had a case rate of 0.024 per 10,000. Illinois implemented a stay-at-home order on March 21; Iowa issued a variety of business and school closure orders from March 17 through April 6 but never a stay-at-home order. What happened to coronavirus rates?"

You'll have to click through to find out, but I think you already know the answer. (And yes, I know the methodology may not necessarily be lock-solid; I do not know how they controlled for variables, though if I have time to read the actual study instead of the report about the study, I may find out.)

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Meanwhile . . .

"[U]p north, Illinois residents drove across the border [over the weekend] to restriction-less Wisconsin for beer and burgers at Brat Stop," Shia Kapos reports for her Politico Illinois Playbook.

"I know this coronavirus is serious, but I have to believe it's up to the individual person. If you want to come to a bar or restaurant have a burger and a beer, you should be able to," Bill Glembocki, who runs the Brat Stop in Kenosha with his family, told Playbook.

That would be true if you were only endangering your own health, but the coronavirus is highly infectious, which seems to be the part these blockheads still aren't getting.

"At lunchtime Saturday, more than 50 cars among the 100 or so in the parking lot had Illinois license plates. And though the restaurant side practiced social distancing, with tables at least six feet apart, the Brat Stop's bar was crowded and only one server was seen wearing a mask."

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And then there's these folks . . .

"Met by protesters and defying the stay-at-home order, Michael Valentine went to church Sunday at Metro Praise International Church in the Cragin neighborhood in Chicago, an area that has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus," the Tribune reports.

"There is something great about praising the Lord when you're with other brothers and sisters," the 24-year-old said. "It's powerful, and it strengthens your faith and encourages you, especially during times like these."

"Valentine joined at least 100 other members of the congregation who also decided to attend the in-person services, according to the Rev. Joseph Wyrostek, one of the religious leaders advocating for local and state governments to allow all churches to open as soon as possible."

There's nothing quite like the spiritually selfish, whose fascist zealousness eliminates all others from life's equations.

*

Finally, from pundit corner . . .

"No matter the depth of your faith, it should never called 'non-essential,'" Laura Washington writes for the Sun-Times. "It's a cold, clinical adjective that comes from medicine and science. Worship comes from our hearts as a salve for our souls."

We all know that public officials aren't calling religion non-essential. It's the dangerous gatherings - dangerous to those beyond the congregations - that are non-essential. You can worship to your heart's delight to salve your soul from the comfort of your own home - or with others via Zoom, or outside in God's Great Outdoors.

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"Those who go to worship in a community - to connect to their spiritual advisers, to celebrate baptisms, bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals - their communal experiences are spiritual lifelines that keep them connected to the human need to hold hands in prayer, shake hands in peace, lock arms in song. You cannot do that online."

You know what else you can't do online? Hug a dying loved one as they take their last breath - and then attend their funeral.

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"The term 'non-essential' denies our existential need to gather for worship. It sends the message, intended or not, that God is on hold. That worship is expendable."

Again: It's the gathering that is non-essential - and life-threatening to all of us. Nobody said worship is expendable.

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"Willie Wilson has called on Pritzker to amend his stay-at-home order to recognize the places of worship as an 'essential business.'

"The church is the foundation of our soul, people need hope in these challenging times, and the church offers that hope," the prominent Chicago businessman and philanthropist said last week.

"If big box stores and grocery stores such as Pete's, Target, Home Depot and Jewel have the right to welcome more than 10 customers, so do churches, as they, too, are 'essential' for our spiritual well-being."

Again: You can't conjure food out of nowhere from inside your home - not even by praying to God for it. So grocery stores and those selling other life supplies are allowed to remain open as long as they meet requirements to keep their customers and employees safe and healthy.

"And liquor stores," Washington complains. "We can make runs for beer and booze all day long. We can stir ourselves an icy martini and sip a pink cosmo. Yet for Roman Catholics like me, a sip of sacred wine from a Communion chalice is off limits."

Are you really arguing for the right to share a chalice with tens or hundreds of others? This is the sort of thinking that continues to make this a longer slog than it has to be. You are free to believe that the wine is the blood of Christ - and He can find you at your home and get into your wine bottles there if you pray hard enough - but you should not be free to have the blood of others on your hands.

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ADDING: "A judge has denied the request for a temporary restraining order allowing two Illinois churches to reopen in defiance of Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order, a week after another church lawsuit was tossed by a different judge," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"Judge Robert Gettleman ruled on the lawsuit from Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago and Logos Baptist Ministries in Niles Wednesday. The plaintiffs sued, saying that by restricting religious gatherings to 10 people or less, Governor Pritzker violated their federal constitutional rights, including the right to free exercise of religion, the right to peaceably assemble, and their right to 'be free from government hostility and disparate treatment under the Establishment Clause' of the First Amendment . . .

"The harm to plaintiffs if the Order is enforced pales in comparison to the dangers to society if it is not," Judge Gettleman wrote. "The record clearly reveals how virulent and dangerous COVID-19 is, and how many people have died and continue to die from it."

"Plaintiffs' request for an injunction, and their blatant refusal to follow the mandates of the Order, are both ill-founded and selfish," Gettleman continued. "An injunction would risk the lives of the plaintiffs' congregants, as well as the lives of their family members, friends, co-workers and other members of their community with whom they come in contact. Their interest in communal services cannot and does not outweighs the health and safety of the public."

Amen.

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See also:

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MORE:

I posted too soon. Here's some more, from the Trib, which reports that the city will issue fines today to churches who violated stay-at-home rules, including the size of allowable gatherings:

"Metro Praise International Church in Belmont Cragin opened and had 100 members show up, according to the pastor.

"Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Albany Park's pastor said that nearly 115 people attended the church's morning service and the same number was expected for the evening service."

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Shutdown's Costs Are Overestimated
And the benefits underestimated.

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The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles VII: Bursting Bubble Leagues
Plans to bring sports back "all degrees of bad."

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ChicagoReddit

Just want to take a moment to shout out the Foster Ave. diversion tunnel in Albany Park for keeping floodwaters out of thousands of people's homes. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The Night The River Turned Around.

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See also: Fire Crews Rescue People Who Are Homeless From Flooded Lower Wacker Drive.

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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: Stop and shop.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

The Costs Of The Shutdown Are Overestimated

As Australia begins to relax its COVID-19 restrictions there is understandable debate about how quickly that should proceed, and whether lockdowns even made sense in Australia in the first place.

The skeptics arguing for more rapid relaxation of containment measures point to the economic costs of lockdowns and appeal to the cold calculus of cost-benefit analysis to conclude that the lives saved by lockdowns don't justify the economic costs incurred to do so.

Their numbers don't stack up.

To be able to weigh the value of a life against the economic costs of forgone output from lost jobs and business closures, requires placing a dollar value on one person's life. This number is called the value of a statistical life.

In Australia, the government generally uses a value of A$4.9 million. The United States uses a value of US$10 million.

What are the benefits of the shutdown? This is the value of lives saved plus any indirect economic or health benefits. Lives saved are those excess lives that would be lost if government relied on a strategy that allowed enough people to get infected to result in so-called herd immunity.

How many extra lives would be lost under this second strategy?

To answer this, we need assumptions about the virus.

The Lives Lost If We Let It Rip

The initial reproduction rate of the virus, R0, was thought to be about 2.5. This means that every 2 people infected were likely to infect another 5; producing an average infection rate per person of 2.5.

Herd immunity for COVID-19 is estimated to require roughly 60% of the population be infected before the curve begins to flatten and the peak infections fall.

This happens when the reproduction rate, R0, falls below one. Because of subsequent new infections, the total number infected over the course of the pandemic is closer to 90%.

Given a population of 25 million people and assuming a fatality rate of 1%, this would produce 225,000 deaths.

An assumption of a 1% fatality rate is low from the perspective of those making decisions at the onset of the pandemic, at a time when crucial and reliable data were missing.

Those Lives Are Valued At $1.1 trillion

Converting those fatalities to dollars using the Australian value of a statistical life of A$4.9 million per life yields a cost of A$1.1 trillion.

In rough terms, that's the amount we have gained by shutting down the economy, provided deaths do not skyrocket when lockdown measures are relaxed and borders re-open.

It is about three-fifths of one year's gross domestic product, which is about A$1.9 trillion.

What are the costs of the shutdown?

These are the direct economic costs from reduced economic activity plus the indirect social, medical, and economic costs, all measured in terms of national income.

A starting point is to take the lost income that occurs from the recession that has probably already begun.

What Will The Shutdown Cost?

Let's assume that the downturn results in a 10% drop in gross domestic product over 2020 and 2021 - about $180 billion - consistent with IMF forecasts of a fall in GDP of 6.7% in 2020 and a sharp rebound of 6.1% growth in 2021, and comparable to the Reserve Bank of Australia's forecasts in the latest Statement on Monetary Policy.

Comparing this cost from shutting down - about $180 billion - to the benefit of $1,103 billion makes the case for shutdown clear.

But this calculation grossly overestimates the costs of the shutdown.

The recession is a consequence of both the shutdown and the pandemic.

We need to attribute costs to each.

Most of the economic costs of the recession are likely to be due to the pandemic itself rather the shutdown.

Many Costs Would Have Been Borne Anyway

Even before the shutdown, economic activity was in decline.

Both in Australia and internationally air travel, restaurant bookings and a range of other activities had fallen sharply.

They were the result of a "private shutdown" that commenced before the mandated government shutdown.

Even in a country such as Sweden, where a shutdown has not been mandatory, there has been a more than 75% reduction in movement in central Stockholm and a more than 90% reduction in travel to some domestic holiday destinations.

To be generous, let's assume the costs attributable to the government-mandated part of the shutdown are half of the total costs, making their cost A$90 billion.

In reality, they are likely to be less, one important study suggests much less.

It is hard to imagine a much bigger private shutdown not taking place had the government decided to simply let the disease rip until its spread was slowed by herd immunity.

Support Is Not A Cost

It is also important to note that the government's spending of A$214 billion to support the economy during the shutdown is a transfer of resources from one part of society to another rather than a cost.

It creates neither direct costs nor benefits for society as a whole, other than the economic distortions coming from raising the revenue to service the spending.

With long-term government bond rates near 1% (less than inflation), the total cost of distortions is likely to be tiny.

Of course, this discussion simplifies what are incredibly complex social, health and economic questions. There are clearly further costs, from both relaxing restrictions and keeping them in place.

Other Costs Are Not That Big

These costs are worthy of serious study and should rightly be part of a comprehensive public policy discussion. But looked at through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis these combined effects are likely to be small relative to the value of preventing mass death.

Among them are the incidence of mental health problems and domestic violence under lockdowns. They are important concerns that should be addressed by targeted and well-designed programs.

Weighing against that is evidence that economic crises are associated withdeclines in overall mortality rates.

While suicides rise, total mortality, including deaths from heart attacks and workplace and traffic accidents, falls.

In the specific case of this pandemic there is survey evidence based on respondents from 58 countries suggesting that strong government responses to the pandemic have been reducing worry and depression.

Also, we have to acknowledge that recessions and educational disruption have health and economic costs that are unequally spread.

The shutdown disproportionately impacts more-disadvantaged people including short-term casual workers, migrant workers, those with disabilities and the homeless.

The Most-Disadvantaged Suffer, Either Way

This skewing will also be present in the herd immunity option. As New York City makes clear, a rapid spread of the disease also disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities. One can only speculate about the disease burden should some of our remote indigenous communities get exposed.

To this we should add further achievements of the shutdown:

  • elimination of mental trauma and grief from losing our loved ones
  • avoiding the costs of possible longer-term implications of the disease, which we still know little about
  • avoiding a collapse in the capacity of the health system to deal with other emergencies through the sheer numbers of COVID-19 infected combined with staff shortages due to illness

Those advocating cost-benefit analysis of this kind have to apply the principle systematically. It is difficult to see how the total of these sorts of considerations on each side of the ledger could compare to the benefit of lives saved. They will be an order of magnitude, if not two, smaller.

$90 billion Versus $1.1 Trillion

In the cold calculus of cost-benefit analysis, a highly pessimistic view of the economic costs of Australia's shutdown comes to around $90 billion.

It is a small price to pay compared to the statistical value of lives the shutdown should save, around A$1.1 trillion.

It produces a simple message: The shutdown wins.

The question we now face is how quickly to relax restrictions. Here, too, there are costs and benefits, and we need to be mindful of the economic cost of a second-wave outbreak, plus mortality costs of disease spread before effective treatments or vaccine become available.

And in all of this bean counting, we should remember that putting a price tag on human life is sometimes unavoidable - such as when a doctor with access to only one ventilator has to choose between two patients.

But we shouldn't mistake necessity for desirability. We should seek to avoid needing to make such wrenching choices whenever possible.

Dr. Jen Schaefer of the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne assisted with the preparation of this piece.

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Richard Holden is an economics professor at UNSW. Bruce Preston is an economics professor at the University of Melbourne. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles VII: Bursting Bubble Leagues

Plans to bring sports back "all degrees of bad."

But no worries: The sports event of the summer has arrived.


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Previously:
* The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Parts I - III.

* The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Parts IV and V.

* The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Part VI: Testing ALF.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2020

I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.

VIRUS TESTING: Here's a note to the Prez about how testing works. You'd think someone who went to Wharton - and aren't they just so proud? - would grasp this. If you flunk the SAT or ACT, it was not the test that made you stupid. You brought your own stupid to the party. You were stupid before the test, and the test just showed it. There are not fewer people infected with COVID-19 because you failed to test them. Ignorance predates the untaken test, and remains in effect even after the untaken test. Even at Wharton.

HARRY AND MEGHAN: Didn't care before, don't care now, won't care at anytime in the foreseeable future of this space-time continuum. However, Harry's current sadsack mewling from LA about lack of focus in his life does suggest one thing: Spending your life being trained to be a royal prince does not actually prepare you to be anything.

DUMB: We always knew the Constitution invested citizens with the right to be stupid, but when did stupid become a necessary noble virtue? A life goal? People can inflict their stupid on you now apparently because they carry guns and threaten violence.
You can't say stupid people are stupid now. It's rude. I loved the good old days when stupid people were required to shut up and wear their sheets.

CONGRESS AND SCIENCE: The more members of Congress quiz scientists under oath about the current viral mess, the more sure I am that many scientists are smart, and we have elected many really dumb people to Congress. Were they always this dumb, or did we inadvertently empower them to reveal their pre-existing learning disabilities?

GREAT AND AWFUL: The recent 100-part, neverending cable series on the sainthood of Michael Jordan - The Young Pope? - only validates confusion about basic humanity. A person can be supremely talented in one, narrow aspect of life, but otherwise a total, despicable failure as a human being.

We have a special fondness for despicable people.

Jordan: an awful person then, an awful person now, and eventually will be an awful old person.

LIke Pete Rose and Pablo Picasso.

CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN: Let's go over this one more time. The pro sports team you love is comprised of many people who do not care about you and would leave you tomorrow if someone offered them more money. You love them; they think you're a useless schmuck.

Pro athletes are interchangeable parts wearing different costumes. They are hookers with really great hand-eye coordination. In fact, one subtle pro skill is mastering how to pretend you care about the fans when you don't.

Devotion? Johns always think hookers love them. It's called ACT-TEENG.

PESTS: I am rooting for the Murder Hornets.

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Recently by 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.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

* A Return To Abnormalcy.

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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 1:10 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #304: The Literary Themes Of The Last Dance

Greed, ego, pride, backstabbing, rivalry, treachery, betrayal - everything but the sex. Plus: If This Is What The Post-Lockdown Sports World Will Look Like, Let's Keep It Locked Down; The Bundesliga Is Back!; Biggs Time Is Back!; and Baseball Is Not (Quite) Back!


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SHOW NOTES

* 304.

* Tribune: Rainfall Sets Daily Record At O'Hare.

* Coffman Quarantine Check-In: "Four of the members of the family have not been terribly efficient the last 60 days or so."

* The DePaulia: DePaul Students Sue University For Partial Tuition Refund After COVID-19 Shutdown.

* Grocery stores and bodegas.

9:40: The Bundesliga Is Back!

* And under the microscope.

* Dortmund vs. Schalke!

15:22: If This Is What The Post-Lockdown Sports World Will Look Like, Let's Keep It Locked Down.

* Rhodes: "It's like the methadone of poker."

22:06: The Literary Themes Of The Last Dance.

* Coffman: Michael Jordan's Regrets(?)

* Wallenstein: How Jordan Led?

* Souhan: Michael Jordan Making The Majors Would Have Been A Minor Miracle.

* In His First Game Back After Baseball, Michael Jordan Wore His Shorts Backwards:

* The 1.8 Seconds Chicago Will Never Forget.

* CBS2 Chicago: Heir Jordans: Michael Jordan's Kids Reflect On The Last Dance, Growing Up With A Legend

1:03:27: Biggs Time Is Back!

* Rhodes: Bears still don't have a running back.

1:10:19: Baseball Is Not (Quite) Back!

* Owners Approve Proposal For July Start.

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STOPPAGE: 19:00

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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 1:08 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood . . .

I'm Having A Down Day Emotionally. Here's Why.
Stupid, lazy despicable people who don't care about you. Go Hornets!

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'Reopening' Will Kill (A Particular Set Of) People
"As other countries have shown with far more grace, the alternative isn't shutting down forever - it's investing in testing and social safety nets."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #304: The Literary Themes Of The Last Dance
Greed, ego, pride, backstabbing, rivalry, treachery, betrayal - everything but the sex. Plus: If This Is What The Post-Lockdown Sports World Will Look Like, Let's Keep It Locked Down; The Bundesliga Is Back!; Biggs Time Is Back!; and Baseball Is Not (Quite) Back!

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Beach Report
"In areas like Chicago, Illinois, where industrial discharges are polluting important recreational areas in Lake Michigan, and Florida, where toxic algae blooms are devastating the coasts, Surfrider's work to protect clean water is more critical than ever."

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Embracing Open Science Publishing In A Crisis
Thankfully, major commercial publishers such as Elsevier and Springer have already announced that they will drop their paywalls on coronavirus research for the duration of the crisis. Now let's get everyone else onboard.

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Nicki Bluhm's Quarantine Covers Of TV Theme Songs
Your dreams were your ticket out.

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ChicagoReddit

Has anyone bought a new car during quarantine? What was the process like to test drive, negotiate, and purchase? I'm considering buying a car to avoid CTA. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago Tears" / BlackDiddyRed

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BeachBook

This Is How Hard It Is To Invest In Black Neighborhoods.

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The Heir To The Bic Pen Fortune Is Suing His Estranged Baroness Wife To Get Back A Trove Of Giacomettis And Other Blue Chip Art.

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Pandemic Marriage, Menage & Me.

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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: Really dead.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2020

Embracing Open Science Publishing In A Crisis

Responding to the threat of COVID-19, science advisers from 12 countries have signed on to an open letter urging scientific publishers to make all COVID-19 research freely available to the public through PubMed Central or the World Health Organization's COVID Database.

This is an emergency call for open science, the movement to make tools, data, and publications resulting from publicly funded research available to the public. Among the signers of this open letter was the director of the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy, Kelvin Droegemeier, who is reportedly shaping an executive order to require similar availability for all federally funded research starting on the first day of publication.

Thankfully, major commercial publishers such as Elsevier and Springer have already announced that they will drop their paywalls on coronavirus research for the duration of the crisis. In doing so, a growing number of publishers are helping scientists work together to combat COVID-19 by embracing open access, the idea that research publications should be freely available for anyone to read.

That's a great start. Open access ensures scientists are operating transparently and have access to the most current information available. This allows research efforts to move more quickly and eliminates barriers among researchers across the globe. The current crisis demonstrates how open access is a human rights issue. Potentially life-saving medical knowledge should not be restricted to those connected to institutions that can afford expensive journal subscriptions.

In the last month, researchers have embraced libre and open source research tools such as Nextstrain and open data platforms like Gisaid. The combined efforts of scientific researchers and free software programmers have accelerated research on coronavirus to unprecedented speeds. Medical professionals are even working together to share information about how to repair vital equipment while others build open hardware alternatives to proprietary devices. Readers should keep in mind when interpreting the findings of these efforts, that they can often be shared before undergoing peer-review.

In the past decade we've come a long way in bringing scientific research to the public, but we're still far from realizing its full potential. Between a 2013 executive order and a 2018 California law, publishers are generally only required to make research freely available after a one-year embargo, and even then only if they receive federal or California state funding. While both are steps in the right direction, the current moment highlights why we need to go further. For fast-moving health research, a one-year embargo period severely reduces the value of an open access law for the public. A growing list of foundations have made that point clearly by requiring the research they fund to be open access on the day it's published.

In Europe, today's emergency support of open science is poised to become the status quo next year when the Plan S policy will require open access on the first day of publication. This means researchers will be in a better position to respond to future crises, and even more important discoveries will be made available through open access.

Researchers and publishers have made heroic strides this month, and we cannot forget the impact we are seeing in improving public access to knowledge. It will become increasingly important to push for the full benefit of research by changing more state and federal laws to make open science the default, and go beyond reading access to grant greater re-use freedoms. Let's work together to help make the public better prepared for future crises.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:57 PM | Permalink

'Reopening' Will Kill (A Particular Set Of) People

Every morning for the last two months, I've checked the news in my home state of Florida with growing concern.

First came the photos of unemployed people lining up to file for benefits in person, denied access to an overburdened system. Then came the news that only a tiny percentage of unemployment claims were paid out by late April.

Now, barber shops and nail salons are reopening, even as the state saw its deadliest week yet. Altogether, the news paints a horrifying picture of a government cruelly uninterested in protecting human life.

The overwhelming majority of Americans continue to support social distancing and stay-at-home orders. But right-wing forces across the country are demanding an end to life-saving lockdowns, cheered on by a White House well aware of how devastating the loss of life could be.

The government estimates a death count as high as 3,000 people a day. Despite those horrifying numbers, some states are encouraging employers to report workers who are afraid that returning to their jobs could amount to a death sentence, kicking them off unemployment.

As other countries have shown with far more grace, the alternative isn't shutting down forever - it's investing in testing and social safety nets.

Senegal, which has 50 ventilators for its population of 16 million, is building more through 3D printing, all while it trials a $1 testing kit. The world took note of South Korea's quick and vigorous testing system. Countries across Europe have relied on existing social safety nets to prevent the mass layoffs we've seen here in the U.S.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo provided necessary perspective: "We know how to bring the economy back to life," he said. "What we do not know is how to bring people back to life."

By contrast, the Trump administration's callousness has become more evident than ever.

Experts have been sidelined in favor of fumbling volunteers from private equity and venture capital firms, who botched the procurement of medical supplies. And when Trump finally invoked the Defense Production Act, it was to force meatpacking workers - who are mostly Latinx and Black - to work through unsafe conditions at the very plants that have emerged as outbreak hotspots.

Indeed, those demographics may help explain the government's willingness to risk lives.

It seems like no coincidence that the far-right pushback became stronger as evidence mounted showing the virus disproportionately killing already marginalized people of color, especially black Americans. And it was hard to miss the Nazi slogan prominently displayed at a "re-open" protest in Illinois, or the Confederate flags featured as far north as Wisconsin.

Government disregard for vulnerable lives is hardly new. Who can forget the New Orleans residents stranded on their rooftops after Hurricane Katrina? Or the disabled New Yorkers left stranded for days after Hurricane Sandy?

Every level of the U.S. government has shown, time and again, that the default setting is to leave the vulnerable behind. But Americans themselves are challenging that approach.

Workers at General Electric protested to switch production to ventilators, a move that could save jobs and lives. Teachers have promised more strikes if schools open against medical advice.

Nurses, in addition to treating the sick, have faced "re-open" protesters head on. And they've stood outside the White House, reading the names of their colleagues killed by government inaction and demanding more protections.

Add these actions to the wave of strikes and sickouts from essential workers across the country, and a clear picture emerges: The wealthy may be fine with sacrificing the vulnerable. But workers understand the sanctity of human life, and will fight for it.

Negin Owliaei is a researcher and co-editor of Inequality.org at the Institute for Policy Studies. This post was distributed by OtherWords and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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See also:

* LaborNotes: Reopening The Economy Will Send Us To Hell.

* Capitol Fax: "How Many People Dying Are We Willing To Accept To Open The Economy?"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:06 PM | Permalink

Surfrider Reports Back On The Nation's Beaches

The Surfrider Foundation released its annual Clean Water Report to protect public health and clean water Wednesday, as beaches across the nation start to reopen during the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report features case studies and the collective results from Surfrider's Blue Water Task Force, the largest volunteer-run beach water testing program in the country. It also highlights outcomes from Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Gardens program, which provides landscaping solutions to protect clean water and support resilient coasts.

"In areas like Chicago, Illinois, where industrial discharges are polluting important recreational areas in Lake Michigan, and Florida, where toxic algae blooms are devastating the coasts, Surfrider's work to protect clean water is more critical than ever," said Surfrider's Water Quality Manager, Mara Dias. "Our chapters tackle regional water quality issues by testing for pollution, building ocean-friendly solutions, and informing the public of where it's safe to surf, swim and play in the ocean. We look forward to continuing our water testing programs as soon as health officials deem it safe to resume these efforts."

Due to the ongoing pandemic, many beaches across the U.S. have been closed in recent weeks and are slowly beginning to reopen with new guidelines in place. While Surfrider has temporarily suspended its Blue Water Task Force operations to protect the health of volunteers and the public, these closures have highlighted the important intersection between beachgoing and public health. In fact, more than 20,000 health advisories are issued annually in the U.S. to protect beachgoers from exposure to bacteria and other illness-causing pathogens in the water.

Each year, an estimated 180 million people visit beaches across the U.S. to enjoy some of the nation's most outstanding public areas. Surfrider's goal is to ensure that coastal waters are safe for recreation and that beachgoers have the necessary information to protect their health. To achieve that goal, more than 50 Blue Water Task Force labs across the country monitor water quality year-round so the public can find out where it's safe to surf, swim or play in the water. Last year, the Surfrider network processed 7,707 water samples collected from 484 sampling sites.

Surfrider's Clean Water Report also highlights case studies of regional efforts to solve water pollution issues in Chicago, Illinois; Isla Vista, California; and Miami and St. Petersburg, Florida. These studies provide valuable examples of how communities can drive solutions to pollution problems and protect public health. They also show how local action can support the ocean recreation and tourism sector, which contributes $126 billion annually to our nation's GDP and provides 2.4 million jobs.

The Surfrider network is not only testing the water, but it's also leading the Ocean Friendly Gardens program across the nation. This program provides easy ways to transform yards and public spaces into idyllic gardens that protect water quality. With many Americans under some form of stay-at-home order because of COVID-19, it also offers a safe way for individuals to take positive action in their own yards. Last year, more than 75 Ocean Friendly Gardens were installed in coastal communities by the Surfrider network to reduce urban runoff pollution and protect clean water.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:48 PM | Permalink

Nicki Bluhm's Quarantine Covers Of TV Theme Songs

A curated discography (meaning, I left out Friends).

1. Laverne & Shirley.


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2. Cheers.

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3. Family Ties.

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4. Welcome Back, Kotter.

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5. The Andy Griffith Show.

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6. Saved by the Bell.

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7. The Addams Family.

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8. The Facts of Life.

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9. Scooby-Doo.

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10. The Golden Girls.

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Previously in Nicki Bluhm:
* At Lincoln Hall with the Gramblers in April 2013 (No. 7).

* Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers kick WGN-TV's Robin Baumgarten out of the van, April 2013 (No. 8).

* At City Winery and Taste of Randolph with the Gramblers, June 2014 (No. 2).

* On location in Chicago with the Gramblers, July 2014 (No. 6).

* At Schubas with the Gramblers, April 2015 (No. 3).

* At Park West with the Infamous Stringdusters, March 2016 (No. 13).

* At the Vic with The Wood Brothers, April 2018 (No. 7).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Weeks of clear skies over Los Angeles, New Delhi, Wuhan and other smoggy, soot-choked cities are signs of how the coronavirus lockdown improved air quality around the planet," the Tribune reports.

"Animated satellite maps and daily reports from monitoring networks back what people see with their own eyes. In city after city, levels of lung-damaging, life-shortening pollution dropped abruptly as COVID-19 restricted daily commuting and grounded national economies to a halt.

"But for reasons that have yet to be fully explained, people in Chicago and its suburbs aren't breathing dramatically cleaner air during the pandemic."

Wow. That's weird and sad and disappointing. I'd ask why - what is wrong with us? - but the Trib just told me that the reasons have yet to be fully explained. Theories?

"Likely culprits include buildings, factories and diesel engines that burn coal, oil or natural gas. Diesel emissions in particular remain a chronic problem in Chicago, a racially segregated freight hub where rail yards, warehouses and intermodal facilities are concentrated in low-income, predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods.

"Fewer gasoline-fueled cars might be on expressways and streets these days, but diesel truck and train traffic appears to have remained fairly constant. Modular containers are still exchanged daily between rail cars and semitrailers at more than a dozen intermodal facilities in the city and suburbs."

There's lots more; go read the rest.

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The IDES Of May
The governor has not conveyed that he understands how big the problem with his unemployment office is. This is so disappointing.

From his coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, via Capitol Fax:

Screen Shot 2020-05-14 at 6.09.42 AM.png(ENLARGE)

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Meanwhile . . .

"Kathleen Budwitis got through, but the weekly benefit of $198 was far lower than she was owed," CBS2 Chicago reports.

This is the number that was spit out at me, too, so I wonder if that's the number everyone is getting, because the odds of me and Kathleen Budwitis having the identical financial profile are pretty long.

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Willie Wilson Is Not A Doctor
First, this:

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Second, this:

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Third, this, from Pritzker's coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, via Capitol Fax:

Screen Shot 2020-05-14 at 6.13.27 AM.png(ENLARGE)

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Pritzker Bats Clean-Up
"Last thing before I take questions," he also said at the briefing. "I want to address something that I said yesterday regarding baseball and baseball players. I want to apologize for leaving the impression that baseball players shouldn't have the right to bargain, or protect their health and safety. I absolutely support that right. I should have made that more clear to you.

Background:

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ChicagoReddit

Where are you riding your bicycle? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

表参道沿いの古着店「シカゴ表参道店」。 1983年から37年間に渡り営業してきた老舗古着店です。 「神宮前六丁目市街地再開発事業」に伴う「オリンピアアネックス」ビルの解体のため、3月24日をもって閉店しました。 #シカゴ #古着 #ファッション #表参道 #原宿 #老舗 #閉店 #再開発 #解体 #工事中 #オリンピアアネックス #chicago #used #fashion #usedclothing #usedfashion #harajuku #omotesando #tokyo

A post shared by Idea Complex Inc. (@harajuku_archives) on

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago rapper and activist Common and his criminal justice reform organization Imagine Justice has launched a campaign calling attention to the threat that the coronavirus pandemic poses on millions of men, women and youths who are incarcerated in the U.S."

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See also, from the Chicago Community Bond Fund on Wednesday:

New Court Filings Reveal That Conditions In Cook County Jail Remain Dire

More than 15 declarations filed in federal court on behalf of people incarcerated in the jail describe unsanitary conditions, a lack of hygiene products, and difficulty social distancing

One day after Sheriff Tom Dart claimed that there was no need for a 2-week-old preliminary injunction ensuring sanitation, testing, social distancing, and the distribution of personal protective equipment at Cook County Jail, attorneys representing people incarcerated in the jail have filed declarations revealing that the Sheriff's Office is still failing to protect the health of the people in his custody.

Because of their deep-seated concerns with the Sheriff's handling of COVID-19, last week Plaintiffs filed a request for limited discovery into the Sheriff's compliance with the injunction. Instead of complying, the Sheriff has opposed Plaintiffs' at every turn, including declaring his plan to appeal the injunction yesterday.

Plaintiffs requested leave from the court to file a reply on May 12. Attached to that reply were even more detainee declarations decrying the conditions in the jail. Those documents make clear that Plaintiffs are entitled to evidence from the Sheriff about what he is doing to comply with the injunction.

"Since the pandemic began, volunteers with Chicago Community Bond Fund have talked to hundreds of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail about the conditions inside. While this lawsuit has led to some improvements inside the jail, the statements filed on behalf of people incarcerated in the jail today make clear that the Sheriff's Office is still failing to protect the health of people incarcerated in his jail as required by the court. If the Sheriff were to be left to his own devices without court oversight, as he wishes, it is clear that even more lives will be unnecessarily lost," said Sharlyn Grace, Executive Director of Chicago Community Bond Fund.

The declarations filed demonstrate clear patterns inside Cook County Jail:

* People are not being tested after coming into contact with other individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. In some cases, people who are being tested are not quarantined while awaiting their results.

* Protective gloves are unavailable to people incarcerated in the jail and masks are inconsistently distributed.

* Social distancing remains impossible at dining tables, in showers, in day rooms, while using the phone, and in dormitory settings where people continue to sleep less than three feet apart from each other. Nelson Pacheo, who is incarcerated in Division 2 with 89 other people, said that social distancing was "not remotely possible."

* Commonly used surfaces, such as tables, phones, microwaves, and television remotes are rarely cleaned.

* Cleaning supplies are inadequate and not readily available. Darrion Hawkins described waiting five days to be given a rag to clean with.

* Two small bars of soap are distributed once every one to two weeks. Detainees are forced to use these small bars for hand washing, showering, cleaning their cells, and in some cases, cleaning their clothes. One person mentioned not having received a change of clothes in more than a week.

* Guards are regularly not wearing protective gear, including while distributing masks, meals, and commissary items to detainees.

* Detainees have repeatedly filed grievance slips that have not been responded to. In many cases, guards refused to even accept grievances.

Dominik Baster is currently hospitalized in Division 8 due to cirrhosis of the liver and high blood pressure. He is only in the jail because he cannot afford to pay a $5,000 bond. He is among the more than 700 people currently incarcerated in Cook County Jail because they cannot pay a bond of $10,000 or less. Mr. Baster has not been able to see a doctor for two months despite his severe condition. He is being housed with 39 other people whose beds are less than four feet apart from each other. Multiple people in Mr. Baster's dorm have died from COVID-19, including William Sobczyk, who passed away last week. Prior to Mr.Sobcyzk's death, Mr. Baster watched him be denied medical attention multiple times even while he was repeatedly vomiting and falling out of his bed.

On April 29th, Renaldo Almond's bond was paid, allowing him to be released onto Sheriff's electronic monitoring. After he changed into his street clothes to be discharged, Mr. Almond was informed that he was going back to Division 2 because the Sheriff's Office had run out of electronic monitoring equipment. Today, Mr. Almond's life remains at risk. He is still incarcerated in Division 2 along with approximately 100 other people. In the dorm in Division 2, the beds are a mere two feet apart and three showers and five toilets are shared between 100 people. Mr. Almond reports having gone a week and a half without receiving soap. The deck is a "revolving door," with people being taken back and forth from Cermak Health Services.

Antonio White has a compromised immune system caused by an HIV infection. He has not been able to receive medication nor has he been able to have his blood tested to monitor his condition because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. White also suffers from asthma. He is among many medically vulnerable people being incarcerated in these dangerous conditions. Mr. White described not having been given soap or access to hand sanitizer and only occasionally receiving PPE. Multiple people have been removed from his dorm due to COVID-19 and yet Mr. White has not been tested, even after multiple requests. He remains incarcerated in Cook County Jail only because he can't afford to pay a money bond.

"The declarations that have been filed in this lawsuit about the conditions inside the Cook County jail should alarm every person of conscience. We will continue to press forward in court and in every other forum available to us to protect the lives of those who remain inside the health hazard that is the Cook County Jail," said Alec Karakatsanis, Founder and Executive Director of Civil Rights Corps.

"In the Sheriff's most recent filing, he asserted that this lawsuit was 'stoking further anxiety, frustration, and unrest in the jail, which has manifested in detainee misconduct.' This is a shocking claim. It is not the litigation but the life-threatening virus that keeps incarcerated people on edge and in fear for their lives. Further court oversight is required to protect the people incarcerated in Cook County Jail," said Alexa Van Brunt, Director of the MacArthur Justice Center Clinic at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.

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Plus, from the Sun-Times: COVID-19 Outbreak Among Inmates At MCC In Chicago Among Largest Across The System.

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BeachBook

He Was A Science Star. Then He Promoted A Questionable Cure For COVID-19.

More than questionable; a fake cure with fake data behind it. And a star? Not for a long time. Brilliant? Yes, at one time. A dangerous charlatan? Also yes.

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Praying Mantises: More Deadly Than We Knew.

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

"Reopening" is delusional. People will die. We're not ready for it.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Tested.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2020

The Bailout Is Working - For The Rich, As Usual

Ten weeks into the worst crisis in 90 years, the government's effort to save the economy has been both a spectacular success and a catastrophic failure.

The clearest illustration of that came on Friday, when the government reported that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April. It marked a period of unfathomable pain across the country not seen since the Great Depression. Also on Friday, the stock market rallied.

The S&P 500 is now up 30% from its lows in mid-March and back to where it was last October, when the outlook for 2020 corporate earnings looked sunshiny. Companies have sold record amounts of debt in recent weeks for investment-grade companies. Junk bonds, historically dodgy during an economic swoon, have roared back.

If you're looking for investors' verdict on who has won the bailout, consider these returns: Shares of Apollo Group, the giant private equity firm, have soared 80% from their lows. The stock of Blackstone, another private equity behemoth, has risen 50%.

The reason: Asset holders like Apollo and Blackstone - disproportionately the wealthiest and most influential - have been insured by the world's most powerful central bank. This largesse is boundless and without conditions.

"Even if a second wave of outbreaks were to occur," JPMorgan economists wrote in a celebratory note on Friday, "the Fed has explicitly indicated that there is no dollar limit and no danger of running out of ammunition."

Many aspects of the coronavirus bailout that assist individuals or small businesses, meanwhile, are short-term or contingent. Aid to small businesses comes with conditions on what they can do with the money. The sums allocated by the CARES Act for stimulus and expanded unemployment insurance are vast by historical standards. But the relief they provide didn't prevent tens of millions from losing their jobs. The assistance runs out in weeks, and the jobless live at the mercy of a divided Congress, which will decide whether that help gets extended and, if so, for how long. It's a bailout of capital.

"If the theory is: Let's make sure companies are solvent and the workers will be okay, that theory could work. But it's a trickle-down theory," said Lev Menand, a former New York Fed economist who now teaches at Columbia Law School.

We do know one thing, he said: "It worked for asset-holders."

The Fed's efforts, universally praised for their boldness and speed, have come in two stages. First, in February and March, the central bank shored up capital market "liquidity," which marks how willing investors are to buy and sell. The central bank role is to be a "lender of last resort," working through banks so they can get money to companies and people.

That expanded in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. The Federal Reserve, historically viewed as reserved Brahmins who controlled the money supply, stepped into a new job: "the dealer of last resort," in the words of economist Perry Mehrling. The Fed bought assets and it bailed out the shadow banking system.

"Shadow banking" takes many forms and can mean many things, but generally it describes activities that look like classic banking - taking in deposits and lending out that money - that are undertaken by, for example, a private-equity fund or another institution outside the traditional system of federally insured deposits.

The beneficiaries of this Federal Reserve help in 2008 were money market funds, and short-term lending markets for corporations and financial institutions such as the commercial paper and repurchase agreement markets - all of which had seized up and stopped functioning.

Then this year, the Fed came to the rescue of these markets again, doing "such a great job with this that everyone has forgotten this has happened," Menand said.

Those Fed moves were necessary. But they should not be consigned to the memory hole. Everyone learned in 2008 that those corners of the markets were vulnerable, but the lessons didn't stick, apparently. The government tried to install new rules governing different pockets of these markets in piecemeal fashion; financial interests bitterly opposed much of that new regulation. And now, just a short 12 years later, the Fed had to step in to protect these markets and interests once again.

The second stage of the Fed's extraordinary rescue goes beyond liquidity. It has said it will buy assets it has never bought before. For almost 100 years, the Fed purchased only government bonds. Now it has announced a wide variety of programs to buy various forms of corporate and other debt, either by direct lending, by buying bonds, or buying loans.

The mere announcement that the Fed would do this had an immediate effect, spurring the boom in corporate borrowing.

And the Fed didn't stop with the most solid, safest corporate stalwarts. In early April, it also announced something unprecedented. The central bank said it would buy junk bonds, debt issued by fragile companies, many of which already have crushing debt loads. Sure enough, junk bonds roared back, and their cousins, leveraged loans, revived.

In doing so, the Fed backstopped the riskiest markets in the world. The most dangerous investments in the world, it should go without saying, are not owned by middle- and working-class Americans, to whom every politician pledges fealty. No, they are owned by the most risk-seeking investors in the world, the ones that need the highest returns: private equity firms and hedge funds.

But wait, there's more. The riskiest markets only got more so during the long boom era of the last decade. In the past several years, regulators - especially the former chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen - repeatedly worried that companies had too much debt.

They were concerned how lenders had raced to ease conditions, or covenants, on their loans to elbow out their competitors to fork over money, just as they had in the run-up to 2008. At a moment of record profits, the ratio of corporate debt to earnings steadily rose, while corporate stock buybacks hit records. Those cautions were treated like a parental exhortation to their kids to get off TikTok and brush their teeth. Yet after all that worry, the Fed then stepped in to save the wealthiest speculators.

The mere word that the Fed will make some purchases in this market has swelled these investors' net worth. Meanwhile, images of mile-long food lines have become common.

In some ways, it's unfair to blame the Fed. The speed of its actions and its ability to deploy groundbreaking new approaches mask the paucity of its tools. It must work through the capital markets. And only through credit, at that. The Fed has no ability to help regular people directly.

"It's really ill-suited to get money to where it's most needed and on terms that are the most appropriate," said Kate Judge, a Columbia law professor and expert in the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. House and Senate have much greater powers - the powers of the purse and of legislation. Congress could have passed laws that directed help in different ways. Europe has essentially nationalized payrolls, a much more direct form of aid to people who have lost the ability to work. But Congress has been reluctant to use sufficient fiscal measures going back to the 2008 rescue.

What happens if the economy doesn't come back soon? The Fed's saddle-ʼem-with-more-debt approach is premised on a sharp and rapid recovery. The virus burns itself out, people go back to work, they buy and sell, and everything snaps back. Companies pay back their loans, and all is forgiven and forgotten.

If the health crisis does not pass quickly, or if the economy does not roar back, the Fed's actions might prove inadequate. But investors shouldn't be too worried. They have been taught they can count on the government.

Do you have access to information about corporate, financial or governmental malfeasance during the pandemic? E-mail jesse.eisinger@propublica.org or reach him on Signal at 718-496-5233. Here's how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:37 AM | Permalink

Michael Jordan's Regrets(?)

I will readily acknowledge that I was a competitive moron when I was young. And then, when I got into my teens, I was less so. I have some theories as to why things played out that way for me and how it factored into being a fan.

I picked up that moniker at camp and it definitely fit, for a while. It wasn't just that I was goofily competitive, it was that I got way too upset when my team lost games that simply did not qualify as important in any way, shape or form.

We've discussed the sort of "water polo" we played at Camp Echo in Fremont, Michigan, before. There was a goal at either end of the shallowest portion of the swimming area and teams of five or six would compete to score the most in a given time period with pretty much no holds barred.

So when I overdid it at times and my team wasn't winning and the staff member who was overseeing a given game instructed me to take a break, I would sit there on the beach (the camp trucked in a whole lotta sand to transform what was otherwise a standard freshwater lakeshore) crying my eyes out.

One part of the Last Dance that I wish was longer (probably the only part - it is kind of incredible how long this mega-series is, even in these extraordinary times. I wouldn't want to be a part of adding more than a minute or two to it) is the early examination of the sibling relationships in Michael Jordan's childhood home.

That dynamic, as it does in so many such origin stories of hyper-competitive people, contributed a ton to the future basketball star's unquenchable desire to win at everything.

In the portions of interviews that did air, Jordan's brothers made it clear that the third son of James and Deloris Jordan didn't have it easy growing up in Wilmington, N.C. When older brother Larry competed with Michael in whatever (especially basketball of course) he never took it easy on him. That meant the little brother suffered loss after loss for a long time.

And when Michael went to his dad to complain about it, James Jordan wasn't sympathetic. When he had heard enough from his youngest son after he complained again about Larry, James Jordan said he would advise Michael to either get over it or to take his case to his mother. It may have been borderline sexist but James Jordan was obviously implying that Jordan's complaints were weak and therefore only a mom would be willing to listen to them.

There has been some backlash this week to the idea that Michael Jordan had the success that he had primarily because of his relentless drive for excellence. A variety of sources have argued that Jordan was as good as he was primarily because of athleticism and talent. As someone who quickly turns down the sound when commentators start talking about one professional team wanting a given win more than another - something that isn't actually a factor at least 90 percent of the time - I believe that complaint has some merit.

As usual, the answer lies somewhere in between, i.e., Jordan was able to lift his team to championships six times in eight years because of a combination of his talent and his determination. And with that in mind, you would think that Jordan's inability to lift his team to even consistent competitiveness as an owner would have driven him crazy by now and would have him on the verge of selling the Hornets.

If I could ask Jordan one question in the aftermath of the first eight episodes of The Last Dance, it would be if he would cut Jerry Krause more slack if he had a chance to do everything over again knowing what he knows now. Because surely even Michael Jordan would be humbled at least a bit by the fact that he has been such a failure as an NBA executive. Surely he would be more appreciative of the amazing work that Krause did as general manager of Jordan's championship teams with that sort of hindsight, wouldn't he?

I actually wouldn't bet on it. Saying that sort of thing would be a kind of admitting defeat. And Jordan almost certainly wouldn't do it.

A similar sort of foolish pride on the part of Jordan's primary teammate led to the most pathetic line so far in the entire mega-series. That was when Scottie Pippen almost unbelievably said that if he had it to do over again, he would do the same thing in regards to his infamous decision to quit on his team in the 1994 playoffs.

That was when Pippen became offended that Phil Jackson drew up a play with Toni Kukoc taking the last shot in a conference semifinal game against the Knicks and refused to throw the inbounds pass. In fact, he refused to get up off the bench. That single play is one of the reasons Pippen doesn't get the respect that he at least partially deserves as one of the 30 greatest players in NBA history.

But enough about the championship Bulls, what about me? The main question here is if an athlete is happier when he competes maniacally practically every day. If he is able to do that, he's almost certainly pile up more wins.

When I got to middle school and then more so in high school, I didn't lose it when my soccer, basketball or baseball teams lost. Maybe that was just the standard maturation process but I also think I made an at least partially conscious choice to dial it down. Meanwhile I was still crazy for victories from the professional teams that I rooted for.

Do we think Michael Jordan is as happy as he can be in the aftermath of all of his championships and given the fact that most people still think he is the Basketball GOAT (greatest of all time of course)? Or would he be happier if he had found a way to dial it down at least a little during his playing career?

It is clear that he has some regrets about his competitiveness, and what must be described as his immaturity. Hell, the only time I can remember so far when he decided to abruptly stop one of the interviews he did for the Dance was when he became emotional while trying to justify mistreating teammates. Jordan would never, ever, ever admit it, but you wonder if he had it to do it over again if he would have come back to basketball for the second threepeat.

There's a pretty good chance he would have been happier overall if he'd been able to stick with baseball, getting the 1,000 at-bats that Terry Francona believed he needed to be good enough to hit respectably in the majors.

Not that Jordan would ever admit it.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

New From The Post Office: American Gardens Stamps

The natural beauty of American gardens is being celebrated by the U.S. Postal Service by issuing stamps that feature gardens ranging from botanical to country estate and municipal gardens. All the gardens featured on the 10 stamps are open to the public. The American Gardens Forever stamps are available for purchase nationwide May 13.

The first-day-of-issue ceremony has been canceled due to social distancing guidance. However, on May 14 the American Public Gardens Association will be celebrating the issuance of the stamps as part of National Public Gardens Week with a webinar that includes a virtual reveal of the stamps along with pre-recorded remarks from Pat Mendonca, Postal Service Senior Director, Office of the Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer. There will also be short video vignettes of the gardens featured on the stamps.

Please register for this event on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 1 p.m. ET here.

News of these stamps is being shared with the hashtags #GardenStamps and #FlowerStamps. The stamps can be purchased via usps.com/gardens.

News of National Public Gardens Week is also being shared with the hashtags #NationalPublicGardensWeek and #NPGW2020.

This pane of 20 stamps features 10 different photographs taken between 1996 and 2014. The gardens include: Biltmore Estate Gardens (North Carolina); Brooklyn Botanic Garden (New York); Chicago Botanic Garden (Illinois); Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Maine); Dumbarton Oaks Garden (District of Columbia); The Huntington Botanical Gardens (California); Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Florida); Norfolk Botanical Garden (Virginia); Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Ohio); and Winterthur Garden (Delaware).

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The gardens were photographed by Allen Rokach. Ethel Kessler was the art director and designer.

The love of gardening stretches back to the earliest years of our country, inspiring George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers to plant some of America's most iconic colonial-era gardens. From the 19th century to today, landscape designers have continued that tradition. Conceived for many reasons - for food or pleasure, as places of education and scientific study, as an expression of the owners' artistic sensibilities, as spaces for the public to commune with nature, or simply for the love of gardening - American gardens capture our imagination and satisfy a yearning for beauty and order.

Every year, millions of Americans visit gardens, public and private. Many public gardens are open year-round; in addition to the plants and trees on display, classes, exhibits, and other events encourage visitors to experiment and create their own gardens. During the spring and summer, planned tours and open garden days allow visitors to step into private enclaves and see how homeowners have enhanced and designed their spaces, be they large estates, small suburban yards, or rooftop aeries.

Postal Products
Customers may purchase stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store at usps.com/shopstamps, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), by mail through USA Philatelic, or at Post Office locations nationwide.

Information on ordering first-day-of-issue postmarks and covers is at usps.com/shop.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Please Note: For U.S. Postal Service media resources, including broadcast-quality video and audio and photo stills, visit the USPS Newsroom. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the USPS YouTube channel, like us on Facebook and enjoy our Postal Posts blog. For more information about the Postal Service, visit usps.com and facts.usps.com.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

When posting about new stamps is a political act:


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Boom.

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And:

Has anyone been able to get through to IDES? from r/chicago

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From a friend's Facebook comment responding to Tuesday's column:

I have properly applied for "regular," got the card, activated it, certified twice (total of 4 weeks covered), got rejected and got rejected again by the first set of fields in the new freelance/gig portal, which sends me back to file for "regular" again. The "appeal" process doesn't allow you to attach or upload documents. I faxed . . . and, lo, I wait.

Also, an IDES debit card just arrived in the mail. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure I want it. I thought I signed up for direct deposit. I'm not even really sure what this is. All I know is that it's issued by KeyBank, which is apparently MasterCard.

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Oh, maybe that's the card that my friend is referencing. Look, I'm a reasonably intelligent person and quite experienced journalist well-versed in the ways of government and public policy. I generally know how things work. And I'm befuddled. I'm not even sure I've actually properly applied for unemployment, but who ya gonna call?

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Don't even get me started on the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

But . . .

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Undercounting Everything
"The COVID-19 crisis has sent the US jobs market reeling. As of April 16, more than 22 million workers had filed unemployment claims since the shutdowns began in March," the Chicago Booth Review says.

"But the real unemployment figures are likely higher than reported, suggests research by University of Texas's Olivier Coibion, University of California at Berkeley's Yuriy Gorodnichenko, and Chicago Booth's Michael Weber. Despite catastrophic job losses, an increase in workers dropping out of the labor force altogether may mean the official unemployment rate is misleadingly low, they argue."

Isn't that a given in our economic understanding at this point - even without a pandemic?

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Also, we all understand by now that the coronavirus death toll is understated too, right? And is everybody over Deborah "Baghdad" Birx yet, as I was from day one?

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What if we had a National Honesty Day where everyone was honest for 24 hours? Or a National Honesty Week? Or better yet, forget flouride, let's put truth serum in the drinking water.

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Roseland's Remdesivir
"Chicago's Roseland Community Hospital has been on the front lines of the pandemic, treating many patients who have COVID-19 and testing close to 11,000 people for the virus over the past few months," WTTW-TV reports.

"The safety-net hospital, with a majority of patients on Medicaid, has seen 27 coronavirus-related deaths so far.

"But Roseland wasn't included in Illinois' recent distribution of remdesivir, a move that's angered hospital officials. Remdesivir is the only medicine that's been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on an emergency basis for treating COVID-19.

"We got nothing. Once again, Roseland Hospital is getting shortchanged. Are people in Roseland not as sick as the people in other parts of the city? No. That's BS. They're just as sick and they're dying. They're just as dead," said Tim Egan, the hospital's president and CEO.

"Only 14 Illinois hospitals received a limited supply of the drug from the state this week, enough to treat about 700 patients. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says the state hopes to receive more from the federal government."

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See also: After Reports Of Chaos And Confusion, White House Announces New Plan For Remdesivir Distribution.

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Beer Bummer
"Chicago beer drinkers could see a shortage of popular imported Mexican brands as soon as next week due to an ongoing shutdown of Mexico's beer industry," the Tribune's Josh Noel reports.

"Most immediately at risk are the brands owned by Heineken USA, including Dos Equis Tecate and Bohemia.

"Should the shutdown persist, beers owned by Constellation Brands - which include Modelo Especial, Corona and Pacifico - may also be in shorter supply by summer."

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New from the Beachwood sports desk today . . .

Michael's Mindfuck

* Coffman: Michael Jordan's Regrets(?)

* Wallenstein: How Jordan Led.

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New From The Post Office: American Gardens Stamps
Including the Chicago Botanical Garden - and why posting about new stamps has become a political act.

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And the aforementioned . . .

How The Bailout Is Working - For The Rich
Food lines for some, and this for others:

"The S&P 500 is now up 30% from its lows in mid-March and back to where it was last October, when the outlook for 2020 corporate earnings looked sunshiny. Companies have sold record amounts of debt in recent weeks for investment-grade companies. Junk bonds, historically dodgy during an economic swoon, have roared back.

"If you're looking for investors' verdict on who has won the bailout, consider these returns: Shares of Apollo Group, the giant private equity firm, have soared 80% from their lows. The stock of Blackstone, another private equity behemoth, has risen 50%."

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ChicagoReddit

Has anyone gotten a COVID antibody test? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Goodbye Chicago Waltz" / Dynabrass

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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: Drink the Kool-Aid.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 AM | Permalink

May 12, 2020

How Jordan Led

Leadership 101.

Step 1. Start with the greatest player in the history of the game.

Step 2. Have that player work harder than anyone else. Not only in games, of which he never takes off more than a few minutes let alone an entire contest due to "load management," but, possibly more importantly, during spirited, energetic practice time.

Step 3. Surround that individual with a few talented accomplices along with a bench full of guys who most people wouldn't recognize if they played on other teams.

Step 4. License that star player to cajole, bully, badger, fight, challenge, insult, and intimidate his teammates.

Step 5. Monitor the situation to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

These are the ingredients of the style that Michael Jordan portrayed in the seventh hour of director Jason Hehir's 10-hour marathon The Last Dance. The masterful docuseries reveals so many themes, not only of a team that won six NBA championships in the 1990s, but of human nature, attitudes, marketing, values, and relationships that apply to a world far removed from professional athletics.

But for the time being, let's stick with leadership, a topic that occupies a prominent place in this Pandemic Age.

"People were afraid of him," said Jud Buechler, a member of the Bulls during the second three-peat. "We were his teammates, and we were afraid of him," added Buechler, a perennial NBA sub who started just 29 games during a 12-year career.

However, this aura and notoriety took time to develop. Jordan's first three years with the Bulls, with a few exceptions, were uneventful. The team finished below .500 all three seasons without winning one playoff series.

But things began to change in 1987-88 with the arrival of Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. Jordan played 40 minutes a game, averaging 35 points, resulting in a 50-32 record along with a first-round win over Cleveland before the bad boy Pistons dispatched them in five games.

In earlier segments, Hehir does a marvelous job of weaving the story of the Bulls' struggle to finally overcome the Pistons en route to becoming NBA champions in 1990-91. By that time, Jordan had a strong supporting cast, arguably the greatest coach in league history in Phil Jackson, and the credibility as the greatest player of his time.

And his mentality and makeup erupted as he basically took over the team. If Reggie Jackson thought he was the straw that stirred the drink, Michael Jordan was not only the straw but the Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and any other libation that requires stirring.

If he hurt feelings or demeaned a teammate, so be it.

"My mentality was to go out and win at any cost," said Michael in hour seven. "I'm going to ridicule you until you get on the same level as me."

Of course, no one reached that plateau although at times guys like Pippen had their Michael Jordan moments. While the interviews and comments of the documentary are intriguing and providers of so much depth and honesty, the clips of the Bulls' plays and patterns remind us of what a meticulous machine they became. The uncontested layups, the result of crisp passing and the vaunted triangle offense, occurred at an alarming rate.

As an example, Jordan averaged just 1.7 three-point attempts per game for his career compared to guys like Stephen Curry (8.2) or James Harden (7.7).

The beating Jordan took going to the basket - he also could dish it out - enhanced his legend as he'd rise from the floor to continue wreaking havoc on his opponent after completing yet another three-point play.

"His theory was," said Steve Kerr, "if you can't handle pressure from me, you're not going to be able to handle the pressure from the NBA playoffs."

Kerr was one Bull who stood up to Jordan, culminating in a fist fight between the two during practice. The present-day Golden State coach received Michael's respect after the incident.

Last Sunday's segment highlighted the treatment Jordan gave fringe player Scott Burrell, who played just one season for the Bulls, the last of the six championships.

"He became my guy to keep pushing," revealed Jordan. The consistent bullying and nagging is well-documented in the show. "I tried to get him to fight a couple of times. [But] he's such a nice guy."

Which was something not all of Jordan's teammates thought about Michael.

"Was he a nice guy?" asked B.J. Armstrong rhetorically. "With that kind of mentality, you can't be a nice guy."

Will Perdue put a tag on that comment, saying, "The fear factor of MJ was so, so thick. He was an asshole. He was a jerk. He crossed the line numerous times, but as time goes on, you think back to what he was actually trying to accomplish. He was a helluva teammate."

Pippen's reaction to Michael's treatment of Burrell was, "He took it like a man." Oh? Burrell certainly appeared to keep his composure and even in some scenes joyfully responded to Jordan's taunts. He also played decently that year, logging 13 minutes a game and averaging 5.2 points and 2.5 rebounds.

But how does a man take it? By not breaking into tears? By not losing his temper and taking a swing at Jordan? Would some unmanly guy leave the team like NFL player Jonathan Martin did when he was harassed by Richie Incognito?

Did he take it differently than a woman? Most, if not all, of the women I know wouldn't accept that crap for one minute. Furthermore, most, if not all, men I know wouldn't treat a woman like Jordan treated Burrell. Like I said, Hehir's documentary raised many issues relevant to all kinds of human behavior.

Michael's methods occasionally were checked by Jackson, who talked about keeping team "camaraderie," but clearly the Bulls were led by Jordan's alpha dog approach. However, if he hadn't been able to back up his challenging and contentious behavior, his teammates might have lost their motivation and drive.

It is interesting that as part of ownership and the front office first in Washington and now in Charlotte, neither of those franchises have realized much success. After being retired for three seasons, Jordan, who was president of the Wizards, returned to the roster in 2001-02. However, the team finished 37-45. According to Wikipedia, "younger teammates complained about playing in Jordan's shadow and his unfair expectations of him."

All of which shows that timing is everything. The Bulls of the '90s were unique not only for their talent and the presence of a once-in-a-lifetime athlete in Michael Jordan. Their style of unselfish play, the coaching staff, and the swagger that Jordan initiated resulted not just in championships but also in the drive for perfection. Everything came together at that point in time. We may never see anything like it again.

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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 7:34 PM | Permalink

Michael Jordan Off The Court In The '80s & '90s

He was everywhere - even when he wasn't.

In three videos posted to YouTube in the last week.

(We now know that, no, he really wasn't that nice; he made bank on an image he later self-pityingly loathed.)

1. Michael Jordan In Local Chicago Commercials, '80s - '90s.


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2. The Chicago Bulls In The '90s Without Michael Jordan.

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3. '90s Chicago Bulls Photos EXPLAINED - Behind The Scenes With Photographer Bill Smith.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:31 AM | Permalink

The Patent Office Is "Adjusting" To A Supreme Court Ruling By Ignoring It

In 2014, the Supreme Court decided the landmark Alice v. CLS Bank case. The Court held generic computers, performing generic computer functions, can't make something eligible for patent protection. That shouldn't be controversial, but it took Alice to make this important limitation on patent-eligibility crystal clear.

Last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decided to work around that decision, so that the door to bogus software patents could swing open once again. The office issued new guidance telling its examiners how to avoid applying Alice. In response to that proposal, more than 1,500 of you told the Patent Office to re-consider its guidance to make sure that granted patents are limited to those that are eligible for protection under Alice. Unfortunately, the Patent Office wouldn't do it. The office and its director, Andrei Iancu, refused to adapt its guidance to match the law, even when so many members of the public demanded it.

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Now the Patent Office has issue a report, "Adjusting to Alice," that summarizes the results of its revised guidance on patent eligibility. What do those results show? That examiners are granting more patents and rejecting fewer than they did when they were following Alice.

For example, the Patent Office touted a steep decline in the likelihood that a patent application will receive a first (or preliminary) rejection for lack of patent-eligibility. According to the report, the likelihood of a first rejection on these grounds rose by 31% in the first year-and-a-half after Alice, but has fallen by 25% in the year since the Patent Office issued its revised guidance. The Patent Office is practically back to applying the pre-Alice patent-eligibility standards. In simple terms: they're ignoring Alice.

The Patent Office seems proud of this fact, but lax standards are nothing to brag about. Increased eligibility rejections are a good thing because they mean that patent examiners are filtering out patents that shouldn't be issued. Such rejections also promote improvements in patent quality and clarity, since applicants can amend their application and make it better. The Patent Office should be encouraging examiners to issue rejections like these. They will improve the clarity of granted patents, and the public's ability to understand their scope. That gets us closer to the patent system's intended purpose of promoting innovation.

People who care about promoting innovation should be concerned that the Patent Office's report includes only first rejections. Why isn't the Office measuring the impact of its guidance on final rejections? Because there is none: examiners practically never make final rejections based on Alice. First rejections are important because they are the only mechanism the public has been able to trust examiners to use to prevent ineligible patents from issuing. That makes these results especially troubling: if the Patent Office isn't issuing first rejections based on ineligibility, it isn't issuing any. As a result, the public has no reason to think a granted patent should pass muster under Alice.

In 2016, the Director of the Patent Office promised to "focus on enhancing patent quality" and to "improve patent quality for the benefit of all." Unfortunately, the Patent Office's "Adjusting to Alice" report completely ignores the impact of its new guidance on the clarity or quality of issued patents. Based on the Patent Office's report, all that matters is "certainty" - i.e., the certainty that an application will be granted, and that a patent will be issued. That kind of certainty may be good news for patent applicants and those who make money off granted patents, but it's bad news for everyone who builds, makes and uses products in fields like software that are entangled in patent thickets.

For people who work with technology, the Patent Office's self-congratulatory report is bad news. It means there will be more abstract software patents, and more patent trolls who exploit them.

We hope the Patent Office changes course. Until it does, anyone accused of patent infringement should be aware: there's no certainty that granted patents have passed even the most basic test for eligibility. And courts should know that in many cases, they will have to step up and do what patent examiners should be doing: apply Alice fully and fairly to patents claiming computer-implemented "inventions."

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See also:
* The Feds Can Stop Patent Trolls From Endangering COVID-19 Testing And Treatment.

* Lengthening Patent Terms By 10 Years Is Exactly The Wrong Response To COVID-19.

* Who's A Patent Troll And Who's An Inventor?

* The "Inventor Rights Act" Is An Attack On True Invention.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

The Labor Plays Of Manny Fried

"Barry B. Witham reclaims the work of Manny Fried, an essential American playwright so thoroughly blacklisted after he defied the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1954, and again in 1964, that his work all but completely disappeared from the canon," the SIU Press says.

"Witham details Manny Fried's work inside and outside the theatre and examines his three major labor plays and the political climate that both nurtured and disparaged their productions.

"Drawing on never-before-published interview materials, Witham reveals the details of how the United States government worked to ruin Fried's career."

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"From Red-Baiting to Blacklisting includes the complete text of Fried's major labor plays, all long out of print. In 'Elegy for Stanley Gorski,' Fried depicts one of the many red-baiting campaigns that threatened countless unions in the wake of the Taft-Hartley Act and the collusion of the Catholic Church with these activities. In 'Drop Hammer,' Fried tackles the issues of union dues, misappropriation, and potential criminal activities. In the third play, 'The Dodo Bird,' perhaps his most popular, Fried achieves a remarkable character study of a man outsourced from his job by technology and plant closures."

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From Wikipedia:

"Born in New York City to a working-class background, Fried married into a prominent upper-class Buffalo family. At the onset of World War II, Fried worked for Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. There, Fried became involved in the company's union, and was fired for subversive activities. From 1944-1946, Fried served in the US Army. After the war, Fried again worked as a labor organizer, and was fired after an FBI investigation into Communist ties."

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See also:

"Remembering Manny Fried," from The Buffalo News via The Nation:

"Manny Fried, the actor, union organizer and prolific playwright who stood up to McCarthyism and served as an outspoken champion of the working class, died early Friday morning in a Kenmore nursing home. He was 97.

"Even until this year, he remained a guiding presence in Buffalo's theater, literary and social activist communities and was widely regarded as the most important figure on Buffalo's theater scene."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues defending the state's unemployment system. But the cries for help appear to be getting louder," CBS2 Chicago reports.

I can personally attest to the veracity of this report. (See also the item Illinois' Amazingly Awesome Unemployment Office.)


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Also, from NBC5 Chicago:

'This Is Impossible' - The Battle To Register For Illinois Unemployment.

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And, as I noted last week and reported by the Trib on Monday:

"Self-employed workers like piano teachers and web designers started applying for newly available unemployment benefits on Monday through a new state application portal, but there's a catch - first they must apply, and get rejected, for regular unemployment benefits.

"The extra step provided a fresh source of frustration for self-employed workers, who had previously been told they needed to wait to apply for benefits under the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act."

I was able to finally get through and get rejected for regular unemployment, and then apply for self-employed unemployment, but when I did that it generated a new claim number, which strikes me as potentially problematic, but what do I know?

I was also unable to upload the documents I was asked for - a photocopy of my social security card and driver's license - and had to opt for the fax option, which I don't exactly have confidence in. Yup, I faxed my social security number and driver's license information to a machine in some office somewhere hoping no one will do anything dastardly with either and that somehow it will be matched up with my application - the one with the right claim number!

Maybe that's exactly how it works, but how do I know? I guess I can make 80 phone calls today and hope to get through to someone who actually knows.

Also, the questions asked on the self-employed/gig worker form didn't make a whole lot of sense for, um, self-employed and gig worker types, so you're basically left to make the best guesses possible and hope it doesn't come back to bite you in the ass.

Finally - for now - the number that was spit out about what dollar amount of benefits I'm apparently qualified for was pitifully low. But then, I'm not Ruth's Chris or Potbelly!

(Don't even get me started on the Payroll Protection Program, which I have not applied for though I would like to. I did apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but like everyone else I know, I've heard nothing except that the SBA is processing those on a first-come, first-served basis, which almost certainly only applies to those of us least likely to be served.)

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You know what I would prefer out of Pritzker? Something like this:

"Look, I know the situation is a mess. It's gotta be unbelievably frustrating. Unfortunately, like many states, we were left with a screwed-up system and totally unprepared for a disaster of this magnitude. And it certainly isn't just Illinois; states all over the country are having this problem, so it's not a uniquely Illinois screw-up. Nonetheless, it really sucks and all I can say is that we're doing the best we can."

That would've been fine. Instead, we're getting a lot of bullshit about how great the program is going, which plainly isn't true. I don't mind if it's raining, but don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

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The Ghosts Of Governors Past
Bruce Rauner trended on Chicago Twitter on Monday. You can click through to figure out why (he said a bunch of stupid stuff about "the cure being worse than the disease" to a local TV newser who for some reason thought his opinion was worthy.)

It reminded me of what a motley collection of governors we've had. Looking backwards from Pritzker:

Bruce Rauner: Abject failure who basically shut down the state for two years because legislators wouldn't include union-busting in the budget. Also demonstrably a serial liar.

Pat Quinn: The incompetent faux reformer ascended to the job only because in his hunger to assemble as many public offices on his resume as possible he slid into the lieutenant governor's office, and then the governorship when Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed.

Rod Blagojevich: Gawd.

George Ryan: Also a convicted felon.

Jim Edgar: Governor No. The George H.W. Bush of Illinois, totally lacking in "the vision thing."

Jim Thompson: Governor Yes. The embodiment of The Combine.

Dan Walker: Also a convicted felon.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

What History Tells Us About COVID-19's Disastrous Impact On Black Households
Another catastrophe is what.

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Michael Jordan Off The Court In The '80s And '90s
An inescapable marketing machine who really wasn't that nice.

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The Labor Plays Of Manny Fried
From red-baiting to blacklisting.

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The Patent Office Is "Adjusting" To A Supreme Court Ruling By Ignoring It
Which means more patent trolls.

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ChicagoReddit

Wouldn't allowing public drinking make sense during these times as a general measure. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

WGN-TV Chicago Story On The Cold Cubs' Opening Day On April 9, 1982.

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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: We mean it, man.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

What History Tells Us About COVID-19's Disastrous Impact On Black Households

Record unemployment claims are beginning to illustrate the stark economic reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew they were coming, but the numbers are still staggering - and we're nowhere near a sustainable respite from the damage.

Indeed, for some groups, the greatest pain is yet to come. The 2008 economic downturn is a sad, recent example of this: A 2015 report from the ACLU and the Social Science Research Council projected that, by 2031, the decline in black household wealth resulting from the downturn would be almost 10 percentage points worse than the decline of white household wealth. That's worth restating: While overall wealth will be down across all racial groups, the gap will be massively wider for black families 23 years after the start of the crisis.

That's a tragedy in its own right, but the exacerbation certain to come from a global pandemic could be nothing short of catastrophic - all the more so because of racially inequitable health outcomes. We're now about halfway into the 23-year period projected in the ACLU/SSRC report, and a similar 23-year projection from the current crisis puts our outlook into 2043. Assuming optimistically there's not another unforeseen economic shock to go along with a housing crash and a pandemic, we're talking about multiple generations of people who will be paying down this literal and figurative debt for years to come. And for black families, the inequities will be especially compounded.

Why are the ramifications of a massive recession so much more painful for black people? One of the biggest reasons is that black households are more likely to depend on affordable housing, which is in far more limited supply than housing for middle-class or upper-class families. As a result of lack of subsidies for limited housing assistance programs, as well as policies that favor homeowners over renters, black families have historically found their housing outcomes in a more precarious position than their white counterparts.

None of this is an accident. Beginning in the 1950s, black communities saw their neighborhoods literally divided by the federal highway system, which overlapped with redlining policies that made black home ownership challenging at best, and impossible at worst. The 2008 downturn was the result of predatory loans targeted at black and brown communities; the ultimate impact, unsurprisingly, was worse for those who were victimized by the financial institutions responsible. And while people debate the pros and cons of gentrification, its practical fallout has been major displacement for black families.

That matters when you consider the home's central role in familial prosperity. Families with wealth - which are more likely to be white - have almost 70 percent of that wealth tied up in their homes, whereas black families make up a disproportionate amount of the more-than-35 percent of families without residential wealth. And homeowners boast a net worth 36 times that of the average renter, with white households 10 times as wealthy as black households overall.

Furthermore, a perilous job situation is often a precursor to a perilous housing one. Recent research from the Urban Institute identifies neighborhoods where job losses have already occurred, allowing us to anticipate areas that may be ravaged by especially significant housing insecurity.

Because of the slow pace of testing, uncertainty around when we'll see potential treatment, and the resulting lack of clarity around when things will return to "normal," we don't know exactly how bad the oncoming housing crisis will be. But whatever the effect, it'll almost certainly be more painful for black households.

There's been a groundswell of support from parts of the public and private sectors to aid vulnerable communities during this time. Many of these efforts should be as localized as possible, either by earmarking funds to be utilized by local governments or, if feasible, directly delivering aid to communities that are suffering most. There's precedent for this: Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $125 million in disaster relief assistance for undocumented immigrants. This crisis is as global as they come, but in order to protect vulnerable populations, it's important to empower local leaders with the resources to intervene in their own communities.

It's politically untenable - not to mention inefficient and morally dubious - to disproportionately target aid to households solely by race. But we know a few things: Black households have taken the biggest long-term hit over the past 60 years and are likely to do so again this time; a family's economic security is tied to its household security; and available data indicates an oncoming housing crisis. At this point, it's no longer possible to save many black families from the devastation of the pandemic, but by giving local leaders resources to help communities on the brink, we can mitigate some of what they'll have to endure in the generations to come.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

May 11, 2020

Will COVID-19 Take Down College Football?

"Professional and college sports have been shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline joins the Ground Game podcast to talk about when college teams can start gathering, practicing and competing again, as well as what might happen if a student-athlete tests positive for the virus."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:34 PM | Permalink

When Efforts To Halt Smallpox In Milwaukee Provoked Fear And Fury

A highly contagious disease put the population in a panic. The government's response became politicized. Less affluent neighborhoods bore the brunt of the outbreak. The best medical science of the day was doubted. An aggressive protest against public health enforcement broke out. There was even an impeachment.

It was 1894 in Milwaukee, a city divided on ethnic lines. In the north, a well-established German community. In the south, a growing settlement of Polish immigrants.

"There was the temptation always for the older groups to kind of raise their own status by looking down on those who were next to come," historian John Gurda said. "And that was certainly the case in the matter of the Poles and Germans in Milwaukee."

It did not help relations that the majority of Poles originally hailed from regions in Europe long under German control.

Drawn by job opportunities in the city's growing industrial areas, the new immigrants also eagerly bought lots to build homes.

"They had an intense desire to own land as part of the peasant's belief that land is your security. So they settled on the South Side. Just covered block after block and mile after mile with little houses," Gurda said. "The result was a house type called the Polish flat, which is still a really prominent type of house on Milwaukee's South Side."

The Polish flat represented both the thrift and ambition of these immigrants. The initial small single story cottages were like starter homes. But as families saved and built income, instead of moving to a new larger house, often the flats would be jacked up, a half basement excavated and a new floor added below the original.

An Isolated Public Health Doctor

In Milwaukee's Polish flats, in 1894, a contagion was spreading. A single case of smallpox had been diagnosed in the city in January. By May there were six hospitalized as the infection spread.

Outbreaks of smallpox had remained frequent throughout the 19th century, even though a vaccine had been developed nearly a century before and the growing public health movement encouraged its use. But the treatment was met with suspicion, said by some to be a cure worse than the disease. The Milwaukee Anti-Vaccination Society launched in 1891 and had adherents among both the Polish and German communities.

The person responsible for tracking and treating an epidemic in Milwaukee at the time was the newly appointed health commissioner Dr. Walter Kempster. The English-born physician enjoyed a national reputation for having done groundbreaking microscopic studies of the brain. Before taking the Milwaukee position, Kempster had been superintendent of the Northern Hospital for the Insane at Oshkosh, now called the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. His renown was such that he served as an expert witness in the trial of Charles Guiteau, the delusional assassin of President James Garfield.

Dr. Walter Kempster, circa 1870-72/W.C. North, Oshkosh Public Museum

history-health-publichealth-smallpox-milwaukee-1894-kempster.jpg

But Kempster was not a good fit for the city, as recounted by University of Wisconsin-Madison medical historian Judith Walzer Leavitt in her 1982 book The Healthiest City: Milwaukee and the Politics of Health Reform. His English background did not help put him in good stead with either of the city's dominant ethnic groups. Chosen for the position by a mayor seen as a reformer, Kempster still had to contend with an entrenched political establishment. The party proffered many names to add to his staff and he selected none.

The United States was still recovering from an economic depression brought on by the Panic of 1893, and political patronage jobs were plum spots for anxious jobseekers. A humorous aside from the July 2, 1894 edition of the Milwaukee Journal conveys both the vigor with which those jobs were sought and growing awareness of the smallpox problem. A story quotes the commissioner of public works who said he'd figured out how to handle "the obstreperous individuals who are looking for city jobs."

"I have been looking for a man just like you," the commissioner claimed to say to someone badgering him for a position. "We want a man to repair the floor in the Isolation Hospital." The Journal concluded, "The mention of Kempster's smallpox factory as the place of operations suddenly removes the desire for a public job."

"Kempster's smallpox factory" is a good indicator of how the Isolation Hospital, built specifically to quarantine infectious patients during epidemics, was viewed by the public. (While the hospital may have been isolated when first built, the burgeoning South Side quickly filled in around it.)

The facility's proximity was blamed by nearby residents for spreading the disease, and the prospect of being shipped to "the pesthouse" after a diagnosis terrorized many neighborhood residents. As it turned out, some would be brought there by force.

Escalating Hostility

Kempster began his efforts to contain the smallpox outbreak by following an established strategy of widespread vaccinations, quarantine for the sick, and the hospital for the sickest. The mistrusted vaccines could not be mandated, though, and the only leverage public health officials had was barring unvaccinated children from schools. It was not an effective threat as the number of infected started growing as summer began and school surely felt a long way off.

Many bristled at orders to remain home and feared the Isolation Hospital, so some South Siders would not report cases of smallpox to officials. With incomplete data, Kempster underestimated the threat. The press picked up on the unreported numbers and questioned Kempster leading to a hostile relationship.

"I am seriously considering the advisability of posting a notice on the door of this office to the effect that no more information regarding the smallpox will be given to the press," Kempster was quoted as saying in the Journal on July 18. "The impression has gone out from one end of the state to the other that Milwaukee is infested with smallpox."

That impression was rapidly becoming a reality as case numbers grew and grew. Kempster's tactics became more aggressive, at least in the South Side, while more affluent areas were given more leeway.

Efforts to move those infected were resisted and crowds would gather when health officials entered the neighborhood.

"The focus of the crowds' hatred was Kempster," Judith Walzer Leavitt wrote in her account. "[He] symbolized arbitrary governmental authority that subverted immigrant culture and threatened personal liberty."

The protests were far from peaceful. "Calling for his execution, the crowds demanded that 'the people's rights were paramount and should be protected.'''

"Any time in America, you have someone abridging what you think of as your liberties, you're going to get pushback," Gurda said. "They were actually taking people from their own homes. Children, from their homes, and putting them in hospitals. That's on a level that if you tried that today you'd be shot."

An article in the August 8, 1894 edition of the Milwaukee Journal reports on opposition to public health measures taken to stop a smallpox outbreak/NewsBank

history-health-publichealth-smallpox-milwaukee-1894-milwaukejournal-08081894.jpg

Women played an especially significant role in what would become riots, perhaps to the delight of the Journal's headline writers: "Reckless Fury of Women."

"The men were easily subdued, but the women fought like tigers," read one breathless report. The women were described as arming themselves with potato mashers and butcher knives, even salt and pepper.

An illustration by Georgina A. Davis, based on a sketch supplied by Fred Dougherty, depicts Milwaukee residents resisting the transfer of smallpox patients to Isolation Hospital in 1894/Library of Congress

history-health-publichealth-smallpox-milwaukee-1894-illustration-dougherty-davis.jpg

The area's alderman, saloonkeeper Robert Rudolph, was called the "moving spirit" of the demonstrations. At one, a man "shouted for the crowd to procure 'barrels of oil and burn the hospital.' About 40 men started toward the hospital, but a minister, who has a great deal of influence, headed them off, and succeeded in turning them back," the Journal reported.

Rudolph took his fight from the street to the corridors of power. According to Leavitt, "he introduced resolution after resolution, ordinance after ordinance, each one concerned with limiting the power of the health department and Walter Kempster."

Ultimately, the efforts against Kempster led to his impeachment by the Milwaukee Common Council just as the epidemic was peaking in October. Physicians' disagreements over proper treatment were aired publicly during impeachment testimony, with Kempster personally cross-examining and questioning the knowledge of fellow doctors. He may have made his medical case, but it was his attitude and aggression in fighting the outbreak that doomed him.

"But, however acceptable the public found Kempster's stand theoretically, his insensitivity and inflexible behavior as revealed in the daily testimony became harder and harder to defend," Leavitt wrote. After months of the proceedings, which led the council president to question "whether we are at a circus or a session of the Common Council," Kempster was voted out of his position by a 22-14 vote.

An Important Public Health Lesson

The Milwaukee epidemic ended in 1895 after 244 deaths. Smallpox would never seriously threaten the city again.

Its legacy in the field of public health is as a cautionary tale, due in no small part to Judith Walzer Leavitt's extensive research to tell the story. The now-emeritus University of Wisconsin professor of medical history compares Milwaukee's experience to a much more successful response to a smallpox outbreak in New York City in 1947.

"They just epitomize where the same policy can have very different effects depending on how it operates. In 1894, it was very discriminatory against the poorer parts of the city," Leavitt said in an interview.

New York took a more inclusive, equitable, and ultimately successful approach.

"They did it by mobilizing the community organizations around the city, PTAs, Red Cross, church groups, synagogue groups. They did it by advertising vaccination multilingually in newspapers and radio stations." Leavitt said. "And they did it in a way that was perceived as fair as opposed to Milwaukee, which was perceived as completely unfair . . . It's a big success story and it really did teach the 20th century how to do it."

Smallpox infections were finally eradicated globally in 1980.

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

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Previously in Wisconsin:
* Song of the Moment: On, Wisconsin!

* Tribute: The Mars Cheese Castle.

* Wisconsin Cheese Production Continues To Grow.

* Wisconsin's Specialty Cheesemakers May Be Better Off Than Other States.

* Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin.

* Amid A Boom, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Look To Future Markets.

* The Top 10 Wisconsin Insect Trends Of 2016.

* Wisconsin's Penokees Are A Geologic Gem.

* Wisconsin Researchers Aim To Make Cows Happier.

* Wisconsin And The Extinction Of The Passenger Pigeon.

* The Life Of Land After Frac Sand.

* Blueberry Maggot Fly Poised To Expand In Wisconsin.

* Efforts To Boost Marten Numbers In Wisconsin Meet Ongoing Failure.

* How To Raise A Pizza.

* RECALL! Wisconsin Pork Sausage Patties.

* Making The Most Of Wisconsin's Autumn Garden Harvest.

* Who Is Stealing Wisconsin's Birch?

* How To Harvest And Process Wisconsin's Edible Tree Nuts.

* Lakes, Cheese And You.

* When Oshkosh Was Sin City.

* Wisconsin Workers, Chicago Commuters And The Cost Of Living.

* Chicago vs. Wisconsin.

* Before Dairy Ruled, Wheat Reigned In Wisconsin.

* The Allure Of Destination Breweries As Rural Economic Engines.

* Green Bay Packers Fans Love That Their Team Doesn't Have An Owner. Just Don't Call It 'Communism.'

* When UW Arboretum Restoration Research Fired Up An Oscar-Winning Disney Doc.

* The National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame Has Opened In Milwaukee.

* Melted Cheese Tops Wisconsin Championship.

* Wisconsin's Big Marketing Cheese.

* Washed Away: Northwest Wisconsin Copes With The Costs Of A Changing Climate.

* Wisconsin Is America's Goatland.

* Lake Mendota's Muck.

* The Great Migration & Beloit's African-American Heritage.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:07 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 6: Question Time

"Prime Minister, congratulations on successfully spoffering your inbred genetics to create a future hedge fund manager, how's your team of nannies putting up with the sleepless nights?"


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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.

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

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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 9:32 AM | Permalink

Little Richard In The Beachwood

"Wild and outrageous don't begin to describe Little Richard. He hit American pop like a fireball in the mid-1950s, a hopped-up emissary from cultures that mainstream America barely knew, drawing on the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the carnal. He had deep experience in the sanctified church and in the chitlin' circuit of African-American clubs and theaters, along with drag shows, strip joints and, even in the 20th century, minstrel shows," Jon Pareles writes for the New York Times.

"He had a voice that could match the grit of any soul shouter ever, along with an androgynous, exultant falsetto scream that pushed it into overdrive. He plowed across the piano with a titanic gospel-and-boogie left hand and a right hand that hammered giant chords and then gleefully splintered them.

"He had the stage savvy of a longtime trouper, built by a decade of performing before he recorded 'Tutti Frutti.' He had a spectacular presence in every public appearance: eye-popping outfits, hip-shaking bawdiness, sly banter and a wild-eyed unpredictability that was fully under his control. He invented a larger-than-life role for himself and inhabited it whenever a camera or audience could see him."

He was, as many have recounted, one of the architects of rock 'n' roll, along with Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.

Little Richard made a handful of appearances in the Beachwood over the last decade - none of them performing per se, and sometimes in sideways references, but those appearances demonstrate his wide and deep influence. Let's take a look.

In Little Steven's Garage/Playlist

August 8, 2006

Title: "Brown Sugar"
Artist: Little Richard
From: The King of Rock and Roll (Reprise, 1971)
Comment: The Stones hit played with a lush all-girl chorus and James Brown-style horns.

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Minor League Report 2006

September 19, 2006

"Little Richard, Boyz II Men, and Tone Loc appear at Silver Cross Field on July 1. Little Richard remains a pioneer of Rock. Boyz II Men remains a pioneer in ending words with 'z.' Tone Loc remains a pioneer of songs about roofies."

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Songs That Did Or Did Not Change The World/Playlist

April 24, 2007

3. Chuck Berry, "Maybelline." If white folks were showing some soul by accepting Ray Charles, why not a black rock 'n' roller, too? Um, well, sorry Chuck Berry, that honor would go to the much less threatening (and talented) Little Richard. Chuck's personal life was too dangerous for all the little Nelsons and Johnsons out there in suburbia. I think where he really changed the world was by his influence on white musicians, especially in England, especially in Liverpool.

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Reunion Blues

June 9, 2007

"One of Vee-Jays biggest hitmakers was Jerry Butler. His songs included in the box set are 'For Your Precious Love' (with the Impressions), 'He Will Break Your Heart,' 'Make It Easy On Yourself' and 'Let It Be Me' (with Betty Everett). But that only scratches the surface of what looks to be a fascinating journey through one of the great eras of Chicago soul, blues and R&B music. Among the plethora of artists Vee-Jay recorded in the '50s and '60s were Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, the Staple Singers, Little Richard, Billy Preston, Gene Chandler, Rosco Gordon, J.B. Lenoir, Joe Simon, the El Dorados, the Dells, Jimmy Hughes, the Spaniels and many more."

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Pat Boone: Moody River/Bin Dive

December 12, 2007

"'Moody River' prolonged his role in the pop spotlight for a couple more years until he was mercifully rolled over by the British Invasion. Unlike his blatant ripping off of such great black artists as Fats Domino and Little Richard, this song wasn't so much stolen from a victim of Jim Crow prejudice as it was a legitimate effort to give a great, overlooked song the exposure it deserved . . . And then there was that heavy metal thing. Thank Jesus he wasn't able to do to Black Sabbath what he did to Little Richard."

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McCain Radio/Playlist

October 28, 2008

10. Long Tall Sally/Little Richard. She's built for speed.

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The [Wednesday] Papers

March 23, 2011

6. "The first time hipster was published in the Tribune was in 1946, in reference to the fascinating character who claims to have coined the word: Harry 'The Hipster' Gibson, aka Harry Raab, a Jewish kid from the Bronx who cut his teeth in playing pianos in Harlem speakeasies, eventually working as Fats Waller's fill-in . . . and, his proponents claim, pioneered the style associated with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard years before anyone had figured out how to rock," Whet Moser writes.

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On The Skiffle Trail: A Rock & Roll Journey From New Orleans To Chicago To Britain And Back

October 9, 2013

Billy Bragg:

"Every salient boy in the UK knew the three chords necessary to play Chuck Berry's entire repertoire. When that happened, they were kind of ready, like a bunch of crazy paratroopers who were just waiting for the red light. When the red light came, they started to buy electric guitars, go to Hamburg . . . Obviously American kids were doing the same thing. Bob Dylan was . . . but something else was going on [in America]. There was a frantic energy to escape, in the Brits, that very easily matches up [to skiffle].

"It's almost as if they were trying to plug into rock and roll, they had an American plug trying to plug into a British [wall]. They've got the American type plug and they punched it into rock and roll.

"I mentioned in the article the way the Kingston trio played 'Tom Dooley' as a funeral song, whereas Donegan plays it [claps his hands in rapid succession, singing] 'Lay down your head Tom Dooley.' He's already . . . it's got velocity. It's not far from that to Hamburg. It's not a long way to go. I think for American kids, culture in the '60s, you'd not turn up to your local church fair and play Muddy Waters or Little Richard. It wasn't conceivable. It just wasn't done. Whereas, in the church fairs where Lennon and McCartney went, they were playing Leadbelly, they were playing Little Richard, and it's totally acceptable. That ability to consume American culture without [the baggage] . . . it's a strength of the British to take where it came from, even someone yodeling, and make it acceptable."

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See also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Little Richard In The Beachwood
Little Richard made a handful of appearances in the Beachwood over the last decade - none of them performing per se, and sometimes in sideways references, but those appearances demonstrate his wide and deep influence.

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When Efforts To Halt Smallpox In Milwaukee Provoked Fear And Fury
Anti-vaxxers and stay-at-home protestors just made things worse.

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The Sham Of Corporate Social Responsibility
Remember that Business Roundtable pledge? Neither do they.

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Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 6: Question Time
'What's with all this bullshit' is technically a question.

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Will COVID-19 Cancel College Football?
Maybe!

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ChicagoReddit

O'Hare Parking Lot E permanently closing. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Wherever this door is going to, I'm totally in. As I wandered around Chicago today looking for interesting things to take pictures of, I saw this door and it struck me. Almost symbolic. Do I open the door and walk through, chasing passion, prioritizing self, growing, learning and moving forward? Or do I make the same mistakes, give the same half-ass effort, and continue to associate with those who aren't rooting for me? I think we know the answer to that question. 📷 . . . . . . . #door #city #subwaytile #streetphotography #chicagophotography #photography #tile #chicago #instagood #photooftheday #chicagophotographer #art #travel #chicagogram #design #cityphotography #streetart #instagram #picoftheday #doors #streetstyle #chicity_shots #artofchi #doorsofinstagram #likechicago #insta_chicago #doorway #chi_shooters #chicagolife #chicagoart

A post shared by TJ (@chicagocaferacer) on

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ChicagoTube

"The shortcut to Chicago" / Jet America, 1982

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BeachBook

What We Don't Know About Coronavirus Origins Might Kill Us.

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

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Just think what it's gonna be like if Trump loses . . .

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Tippecanoe.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

The Sham Of Corporate Social Responsibility

Last August, the Business Roundtable - an association of CEOs of America's biggest corporations - announced with great fanfare a "fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders" and not just their shareholders.

They said "investing in employees, delivering value to customers, and supporting outside communities" is now at the forefront of their business goals - not maximizing profits.

Baloney. Corporate social responsibility is a sham.

One Business Roundtable director is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Just weeks after making the Roundtable commitment, and despite GM's hefty profits and large tax breaks, Barra rejected workers' demands that GM raise their wages and stop outsourcing their jobs. Earlier in the year GM shut its giant assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Nearly 50,000 GM workers then staged the longest auto strike in 50 years. They won a few wage gains but didn't save any jobs. Barra was paid $22 million last year. How's that for corporate social responsibility?

Another prominent CEO who made the phony Business Roundtable commitment was AT&T's Randall Stephenson, who promised to use the billions in savings from the Trump tax cut to invest in the company's broadband network and create at least 7,000 new jobs.

Instead, even before the coronavirus pandemic, AT&T cut more than 23,000 jobs and demanded that employees train lower-wage foreign workers to replace them.

Let's not forget Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and its Whole Foods subsidiary. Just weeks after Bezos made the Business Roundtable commitment, Whole Foods announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.

The annual savings to Amazon from this cost-cutting move is roughly what Bezos - whose net worth is $117 billion - makes in a few hours. Bezos's wealth grows so quickly, this number has gone up since you started reading this.

GE's CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. So much for investing in employees.

Dennis Muilenburg, the former CEO of Boeing, also committed to the phony Business Roundtable pledge. Shortly after making the commitment to "deliver value to customers," Muilenburg was fired for failing to act to address the safety problems that caused the 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people. After the crashes, he didn't issue a meaningful apology or even express remorse to the victims' families and downplayed the severity of the fallout to investors, regulators, airlines, and the public. He was rewarded with a $62 million farewell gift from Boeing on his way out.

Oh, and the chairman of the Business Roundtable is Jamie Dimon, CEO of Wall Street's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase. Dimon lobbied Congress personally and intensively for the biggest corporate tax cut in history, and got the Business Roundtable to join him. JPMorgan raked in $3.7 billion from the tax cut. Dimon alone made $31 million in 2018.

That tax cut increased the federal debt by almost $2 trillion. This was before Congress spent almost $3 trillion fighting the pandemic - and delivering a hefty portion as bailouts to the biggest corporations, many of whom signed the Business Roundtable pledge.

As usual, almost nothing has trickled down to America's working class and poor.

The truth is, American corporations are sacrificing workers and communities as never before in order to further boost runaway profits and unprecedented CEO pay. And not even a tragic pandemic is changing that.

Americans know this. A record 76 percent of U.S. adults believe major corporations have too much power.

The only way to make corporations socially responsible is through laws requiring them to be - for example, giving workers a bigger voice in corporate decision-making, requiring that corporations pay severance to communities they abandon, raising corporate taxes, busting up monopolies, and preventing dangerous products (including faulty airplanes) from ever reaching the light of day.

If the CEOs of the Business Roundtable and other corporations were truly socially responsible, they'd support such laws, not make phony promises they clearly have no intention of keeping. Don't hold your breath.

The only way to get such laws enacted is by reducing corporate power and getting big money out of our politics.

The first step is to see corporate social responsibility for the sham it is. The next step is to emerge from this pandemic and economic crisis more resolved than ever to rein in corporate power, and make the economy work for all.

Robert Reich, a public policy professor at the University of California-Berkeley, served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration. This post was originally published on Reich's blog and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2020

The Weekend Desk Report

"Chicago could increase its stock of affordable housing and invigorate its neighborhoods by lifting its longtime ban on coach houses and similar dwelling units, a group of real estate experts and urban planners said in a report to be released Thursday," the Sun-Times reports.

Chicago has a ban on coach houses?

I feel like I know people who have lived in them! I think I've looked at a couple over the years when looking for a place to live!

"The report by Urban Land Institute Chicago called on city officials to streamline the permitting process and take other steps to encourage construction of the units, which can be freestanding or additions to a property's main building. The units are often called carriage houses, granny flats or in-law apartments.

"To policymakers, the formal name is accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she supports allowing ADUs where they are wanted. Her administration plans to introduce an ordinance lifting the ban on ADUs while providing controls on their design."

Maybe some granny flats were grandfathered in?

(That was a very satisfying sentence to write.)

"ADUs have been banned in Chicago since a 1957 rewrite of its zoning code. Many such units exist and were either added illegally or were grandfathered as legal in the 1957 code. The report cited data published on the Chicago Cityscape blog that used building footprints to estimate Chicago has 2,400 coach houses."

Aha. Maybe that explains my surprise, then, that the units are actually banned in Chicago, because they seem alive and well. But more, yes.

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Machete Man
"The Chicago Police Department is investigating officers who responded to multiple 911 calls, but then refused to arrest a machete-wielding man. Instead, the officers allegedly advised a resident on how he could legally shoot his neighbor," WBEZ reports.

Well, the federal consent decree does say that . . . wait, what?

"The investigation into the Humboldt Park disturbance follows reporting by WBEZ.

"A man WBEZ is identifying as William described being terrorized by his next door neighbor, who William said broke a fence and came onto his property with a machete and later tried to light the grass on fire . . . William said police refused to arrest the man, citing concerns about spreading the coronavirus, and instead gave the neighbor a ticket. The officers also told William he would be within his rights to shoot the neighbor if he came on his property with a weapon."

Perhaps a better solution would have been for the police to send a Crisis Intervention Team to meet with the neighbor, who perhaps is in need of some psychological attention. Or wait for a tragedy to occur, either way.

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John Kass's Bravery With Other People's Lives
From his secluded lair someplace in suburbia, where he fled to lessen the risks of the city and raise his children, John Kass thinks America has become a bunch of pussies . . .

Here's a proposition: If Kass gets a job at a meatpacking plant, or in a nursing home, I'll get one too and work alongside him.

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From our very own David Rutter:

I tend to ignore festering pestilence, but John Kass? Has he gone off his ever-loving rocker?

He argues today in the Tribune that we should seek out risk to prove our American credentials, and be ashamed of being too risk-averse. He creates fake, hysterical strawmen to make his point.

What world is he in, and what human flaw does he wish to correct? It's fatuous, cynical journalistic malpractice.

He acts as though my Irish great, great grandfather gathered his 10 closest relatives to a trans-Atlantic sailing ship and came to America to prove he was manly. As if he would not have picked a 747 Coach Class ride for them if he'd had the choice.

The risk of history's timing was thrust upon him.

People take risks because they must for a higher cause or because they have no choice. No sane person seeks out risk to prove a point. Evel Knievel is dead. One too many pointless risks for the audience's approval. At least he did it for money.

What Kass proposes is not only wrong, it's a shameful, murderous proposition. He is proposing a course of conduct that could get credulous admirers killed if they took his advice.

That's the moral question of deadly risk. You might take it upon yourself in self-defense or to protect others. But you can't require others to accept deadly risk in order to prove worthiness to their neighbors. That is even a less subtle version of Fox pedaling that "COVID-19 is a hoax."

In Kass's view, sure it's deadly; you're bored; so take a chance on infecting yourself or others; we all die eventually.

There are 80,000 dead Americans this morning who might have wished they had a chance for a better choice.

Amen.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

How Climate Change Is Contributing To Skyrocketing Rates Of Infectious Disease
'Scientists have been studying the coronaviruses of southern China for years and warning that swift climate and environmental change there - in both loss of biodiversity and encroachment by civilization - was going to help new viruses jump to people.'

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A Return To Abnormalcy
"For this drive-in movie theater, a chance to return to normalcy," proclaimed one outlet, neglecting to mention that recent "normal" for drive-ins is a sign that reads "out of business."

From our very own David Rutter.

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The Loss Of Normality
'If this is the rehearsal of how we'll be cooperating on climate change, then it will go badly.'

Yeah, it already has. Still, an interesting interview with Paulo Giardano, the author of How Contagion Works.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #303: The Neverending Last Dance
The Jordan fools. Plus: Kristin Cavallari Finally Meets Jay Cutler (Or Jay Cutler's Last Dance); Ryan Pace Claims He Still Believes In Mitch Trubisky Even After Declining His 5th-Year Option And Signing Nick Foles, Which Is A Good Way To Show How Much Confidence He Has In The Guy He (Badly) Maneuvered For So He Could Pick Him To Second Overall In The NFL Draft; The KBO On ESPN!; and The Ex-Cub Factor.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

Completely random dude pulled up out front and start playing live blues out of the back of his pickup truck. from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Happy Mother's Day 🥰🥰

A post shared by Limitless Balloon Design (@limitlessballoons) on

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Weekend ChicagoTube

The History of Jazz: Chicago

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Weekend BeachBook

A Lost "Little Africa" - How China, Too, Blames Foreigners For The Virus.

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How Pandemics End.

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The Real Lord of the Flies.

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How Offensive Lineman Eat.

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

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Everything is a lie.

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I wish I wasn't still surprised at how bad the New York Times can be.

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And one-way aisles! C'mon, people!

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: One way or another.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

May 8, 2020

How Climate Change Is Contributing To Skyrocketing Rates Of Infectious Disease

The scientists who study how diseases emerge in a changing environment knew this moment was coming. Climate change is making outbreaks of disease more common and more dangerous.

Over the past few decades, the number of emerging infectious diseases that spread to people - especially coronaviruses and other respiratory illnesses believed to have come from bats and birds - has skyrocketed. A new emerging disease surfaces five times a year. One study estimates that more than 3,200 strains of coronaviruses already exist among bats, awaiting an opportunity to jump to people.

The diseases may have always been there, buried deep in wild and remote places out of reach of people. But until now, the planet's natural defense systems were better at fighting them off.

Today, climate warming is demolishing those defense systems, driving a catastrophic loss in biodiversity that, when coupled with reckless deforestation and aggressive conversion of wildland for economic development, pushes farms and people closer to the wild and opens the gates for the spread of disease.

Aaron Bernstein, the interim director for the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that ignoring how climate and rapid land development were putting disease-carrying animals in a squeeze was akin to playing Russian roulette.

"Nature is trying to tell us something," Bernstein said.

Scientists have not suggested that climate played any direct role in causing the current COVID-19 outbreak. Though the virus is believed to have originated with the horseshoe bat, part of a genus that's been roaming the forests of the planet for 40 million years and thrives in the remote jungles of south China, even that remains uncertain.

The horseshoe bat/Lylambda, CC BY-SA 3.0
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Scientists have, however, been studying the coronaviruses of southern China for years and warning that swift climate and environmental change there - in both loss of biodiversity and encroachment by civilization - was going to help new viruses jump to people.

There are three ways climate influences emerging diseases. Roughly 60% of new pathogens come from animals - including those pressured by diversity loss - and roughly one-third of those can be directly attributed to changes in human land use, meaning deforestation, the introduction of farming, development or resource extraction in otherwise natural settings.

Vector-borne diseases - those carried by insects like mosquitoes and ticks and transferred in the blood of infected people - are also on the rise as warming weather and erratic precipitation vastly expand the geographic regions vulnerable to contagion.

Climate is even bringing old viruses back from the dead, thawing zombie contagions like the anthrax released from a frozen reindeer in 2016, which can come down from the arctic and haunt us from the past.

Thus the COVID-19 pandemic, even as it unfolds in the form of an urgent crisis, is offering a larger lesson. It is demonstrating in real time the enormous and undeniable power that nature has over civilization and even over its politics. That alone may make the pandemic prologue for more far-reaching and disruptive changes to come. But it also makes clear that climate policy today is indivisible from efforts to prevent new infectious outbreaks, or, as Bernstein put it, the notion that climate and health and environmental policy might not be related is "a ​dangerous delusion."

A Relentless Push Into Forests

The warming of the climate is one of the principal drivers of the greatest - and fastest - loss of species diversity in the history of the planet, as shifting climate patterns force species to change habitats, push them into new regions or threaten their food and water supplies. What's known as biodiversity is critical because the natural variety of plants and animals lends each species greater resiliency against threat and together offers a delicately balanced safety net for natural systems. As diversity wanes, the balance is upset, and remaining species are both more vulnerable to human influences and, according to a landmark 2010 study in the journal Nature, more likely to pass along powerful pathogens.

The casualties are amplified by civilization's relentless push into forests and wild areas on the hunt for timber, cropland and other natural resources. Epidemiologists tracking the root of disease in South Asia have learned that even incremental and seemingly manageable injuries to local environments - say, the construction of a livestock farm adjacent to stressed natural forest - can add up to outsized consequences.

Around the world, according to the World Resources Institute, only 15% of the planet's forests remain intact. The rest have been cut down, degraded or fragmented to the point that they disrupt the natural ecosystems that depend on them.

As the forests die, and grasslands and wetlands are also destroyed, biodiversity sharply decreases further.

The United Nations warns that the number of species on the planet has already dropped by 20% and that more than a million animal and plant species now face extinction.

Losing species has, in certain cases, translated directly to a rise in infectious disease. Americans have been experiencing this phenomenon directly in recent years as migratory birds have become less diverse and the threat posed by West Nile encephalitis has spread. It turns out that the birds that host the disease happen to also be the tough ones that prevail amid a thinned population. Those survivors have supported higher infection rates in mosquitoes and more spread to people.

Similarly, a study published last month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that as larger mammals suffer declines at the hands of hunters or loggers or shifting climate patterns, smaller species, including bats, rats and other rodents, are thriving, either because they are more resilient to the degraded environment or they are able to live better among people.

It is these small animals, the ones that manage to find food in garbage cans or build nests in the eaves of buildings, that are proving most adaptable to human interference and also happen to spread disease. Rodents alone accounted for more than 60% of all the diseases transmitted from animals to people, the researchers found.

Warmer temperatures and higher rainfall associated with climate change - coupled with the loss of predators - are bound to make the rodent problem worse, with calamitous implications.

In 1999, for example, parts of Panama saw three times as much rainfall as usual. The rat population exploded, researchers found. And so did the viruses rats carry, along with the chances those viruses would jump to people.

That same year, a fatal lung disease transmitted through the saliva, feces and urine of rats and mice called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome emerged in Panama for the first time, according to a report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

As much as weather changes can drive changes in species, so does altering the landscape for new farms and new cities. In fact, researchers attribute a full 30% of emerging contagion to what they call "land use change." And nothing drives land-use shifts more than conversion for farmland and feedstock - a result of the push to feed the planet's 7.8 billion people.

As the global population surges to 10 billion over the next 35 years, and the capacity to farm food is stressed further again by the warming climate, the demand for land will only get more intense. Already, more than one-third of the planet's land surface, and three-quarters of all of its fresh water, go toward the cultivation of crops and raising of livestock. These are the places where infectious diseases spread most often.

Take, for example, the 1999 Nipah outbreak in Malaysia - the true-life subject matter adapted for the film Contagion. Rapid clearcutting of the forests there to make way for palm plantations drove fruit bats to the edge of the trees. (Separate research also suggests that climate changes are shifting fruit bats' food supply.) They found places to roost, as it happens, alongside a hog farm. As the bats gorged themselves on fruit, they dropped pieces of food from the branches, along with their urine, into the pigsties, where at least one pig is believed to have eaten some. When the pig was slaughtered and brought to market, an outbreak is believed to have been spread by the man who handled the meat. More than 100 people died.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully three-quarters of all new viruses have emerged from animals. Even the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is believed to have begun when a boy dug into a tree stump that happened to be the roost of bats carrying the virus.

As Christine Johnson, the associate director of the One Health Institute, an interdisciplinary epidemiological program at the University of California-Davis, puts it, global health policymakers have a responsibility to understand how climate, habitat and land-use changes lead to disease.

Almost every major epidemic we know of over the past couple of decades - SARS, COVID-19, Ebola and Nipah virus - jumped to people from wildlife enduring extreme climate and habitat strain, and still, "we're naive to them," she said. "That puts us in a dangerous place."

Global Warming, Mosquitoes & Ticks

Once new diseases are let loose in our environment, changing temperatures and precipitation are also changing how those diseases spread - and not for the better.

Warming climates increase the range within which a disease can find a home, especially those transmitted by "vectors," mosquitoes and ticks that carry a pathogen from its primary host to its new victim.

A 2008 study in Nature found nearly one-third of emerging infectious diseases over the past 10 years were vector-borne, and that the jumps matched unusual changes in the climate.

Especially in cases where insects like infection-bearing mosquitoes are chasing warmer temperatures, the study said, "climate change may drive the emergence of diseases."

Ticks and mosquitoes now thrive in places they'd never ventured before. As tropical species move northward, they are bringing dangerous pathogens with them. The Zika virus or Chikungunya, a mosquito-spread virus that manifests in intense joint pain, were once unseen in the United States, but both were transmitted locally, not brought home by travelers, in southern Texas and Florida in recent years.

CDC
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Soon, they'll be spreading further northward. According to a 2019 study in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, by 2050, disease-carrying mosquitoes will ultimately reach 500 million more people than they do today, including some 55 million more Americans.

In 2013, dengue fever - an affliction affecting nearly 400 million people a year, but normally associated with the poorest regions of Africa - was transmitted locally in New York for the first time.

"The long-term risk from dengue may be much higher than COVID," said Scott Weaver, the director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. "It's a disease of poor countries, so it doesn't get the attention it deserves."

The chain of events that ultimately leads to a pandemic can be long and subtle, steered by shifts in the ecosystem. The 1999 West Nile outbreak in the U.S., for example, came after climate-driven droughts dried up streams and rivers, leaving pools of stagnant water where mosquitoes bred unhindered. It turns out the loss of water also killed off their predators - dragonflies and frogs that depend on large watering holes were gone.

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 aren't likely to be carried by insects - they don't leave enough infected virus cells in the blood. But one in five other viruses transmitted from animals to people are vector-borne, said U.C. Davis's Johnson, meaning it's only a matter of time before other exotic animal-driven pathogens are driven from the forests of the global tropics to the United States or Canada or Europe because of the warming climate.

"Climate is going to shift vulnerability to that," Johnson said, "and I think some of these regions are not prepared."

The changing climate won't just affect how the diseases move about the planet; it will also shape how easily we get sick. According to a 2013 study in the journal PLOS Currents Influenza, warm winters were predictors of the most severe flu seasons in the following year. The brief respite in year one, it turns out, relaxed people's natural defenses and reduced "herd immunity," setting conditions for the virus to rage back with a vengeance.

Even harsh swings from hot to cold, or sudden storms - exactly the kinds of climate-induced patterns we're already seeing - make people more likely to get sick. A study in the journal Environmental Research Letters linked the brutal 2017-18 flu season - which killed 79,000 people - to erratic temperature swings and extreme weather that winter, the same period in which a spate of floods and hurricanes devastated much of the country.

If the climate crisis continues on its current trajectory, the authors wrote, respiratory infections like the flu will sharply increase. The chance of a flu epidemic in America's most populated cities will increase by as much as 50% this century, and flu-related deaths in Europe could also jump by 50%.

"We're on a very dangerous path right now," said the University of Texas's Weaver. Slow action on climate has made dramatic warming and large-scale environmental changes inevitable, he said, "and I think that increases in disease are going to come along with it."

Trump's Deadly Blind Eye

Twelve months before the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed, a group of epidemiologists working with a U.S. Agency for International Development project called PREDICT, or Pandemic Influenza and other Emerging Threats, was deep in the remote leafy jungle of southern China's Yunnan province hunting for what it believed to be one of the greatest dangers to civilization: a wellspring of emerging viruses.

A decade of study there had identified a pattern of obscure illnesses affecting remote villagers who used bat guano as fertilizer and sometimes for medicine. Scientists traced dozens of unnamed, emerging viruses to caves inhabited by horseshoe bats. Any one of them might have triggered a global pandemic killing a million people. But luck - and mostly luck alone - had so far kept the viruses from leaping out of those remote communities and into the mainstream population.

The luck is likely to run out, as Yunnan is undergoing enormous change. Quaint subsistence farm plots were overtaken by hastily erected apartment towers and high-speed rail lines, as the province endured dizzying development fueled by decades of Chinese economic expansion. Cities' footprints swelled, pushing back the forests. More people moved into rural places and the wildlife trade, common to such frontier regions, thrived.

With every new person and every felled tree, the bats' habitat shrank, putting the viruses they carried on a collision course with humanity. By late 2018, epidemiologists there were bracing for what they call "spillover," or the failure to keep a virus locally contained as it jumped from the bats and villages of Yunnan into the wider world.

In late 2018, the Trump administration, as part of a sweeping effort to bring U.S. programs in China to a halt, abruptly shut down the research - and its efforts to intercept the spread of a new novel coronavirus along with it.

"We got a cease and desist," said Dennis Carroll, who founded the PREDICT program and has been instrumental in global work to address the risks from emerging viruses.

By late 2019, USAID had cut the program's global funding.

USAID did not respond to a detailed list of questions from ProPublica.

The loss is immense. The researchers believed they were on the cusp of a breakthrough, racing to sequence the genes of the coronaviruses they'd extracted from the horseshoe bat and to begin work on vaccines.

They'd campaigned for years for policymakers to fully consider what they'd learned about how land development and climate changes were driving the spread of disease, and they thought their research could literally provide governments a map to the hot spots most likely to spawn the next pandemic.

They also hoped the genetic material they'd collected could lead to a vaccine not just for one lethal variation of COVID, but perhaps - like a missile defense shield for the biosphere - to address a whole family of viruses at once. (In fact, the gene work they were able to complete was used to test the efficacy of remdesivir, an experimental drug that early clinical trial data shows can help COVID-19 patients.)

Carroll said knowledge of the virus genomes had the potential "to totally transform how we think about future biomedical interventions before there's an emergence."

His goal was to not just react to a pandemic, but to change the very definition of preparedness.

If PREDICT's efforts in China had the remote potential to fend off the current COVID pandemic, though, it also offered an opportunity to study how climate and land development were driving disease. But there has been little appetite for that inquiry among policymakers.

PREDICT's staff and advisers have pushed the U.S. government to consider how welding public health policy with environmental and climate science could help stem the spread of contagions. Climate change was featured in presentations that PREDICT staff made to Congress, according to U.C. Davis' Johnson, who is now also the director of PREDICT, which received a temporary funding extension this spring.

And until 2016, leadership of New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, the research group working under PREDICT funding in Yunnan, was invited several times to the White House to advise on global health policy.

Since Donald Trump was elected, the group hasn't been invited back.

"It's falling on deaf ears," said Peter Daszak, EcoHealth Alliance's president.

A White House spokesperson did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

What Daszak really wants - in addition to restored funding to continue his work - is the public and leaders to understand that it's human behavior driving the rise in disease, just as it drives the climate crisis.

In China's forests, he looks past the destruction of trees and asks why they are being cut in the first place, and who is paying the cost.

Metals for iPhones and palm oil for processed foods are among the products that come straight out of South Asian and African emerging disease hotspots.

"We turn a blind eye to the fact that our behavior is driving this," he said. "We get cheap goods through Walmart, and then we pay for it forever through the rise in pandemics. It's upside down."

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Previously:

* This Chicago Writer Warned Us Of This Very Thing 25 Years Ago.

* The Revolving Door Of Disease Between Humans And Animals.

* Preventing Pandemics (Item).

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 PM | Permalink

The Loss Of Normality

Aside from the U.S., few countries have been hit as hard by COVID-19 as Italy, where nearly 30,000 people have died since the first cases were reported at the end of January.

As his country went into lockdown in March, Italian physicist and novelist Paolo Giordano began to think about how the pandemic was altering society. His essay "How Contagion Works: Science, Awareness, and Community in Times of Global Crises," composed as the pandemic unfolded day by day, has now been published as an e-book by Bloomsbury.

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Giordano, 37, is the author of four novels, including the international bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, and is the youngest novelist to win Italy's prestigious Strega Prize for fiction. (Previous winners have included Primo Levi and Umberto Eco.)

For this installment of the Undark Interview, I spoke with Giordano about his perspectives on the pandemic, which range from the mathematical to the personal, as we struggle to come to terms with our new reality. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

UNDARK: In your essay, you described the pandemic as a "mathematical emergency." What did you mean by that?

Paolo Giordano: I was writing when the situation was just unfolding in Italy; there was still a lot of confusion. The numbers were increasing, but it was the beginning of the growth of the curve. It really took a leap of the imagination - it took mathematics - to see where that line was leading us, and how quickly.

The situation looked completely out of control; completely crazy and very scary.

If you understand the mathematics, it doesn't make it less dramatic - but it makes it less scary, because you understand that is exactly the behavior that you expect from an epidemic that's freely growing.

It's very easy to [come up with] wrong expectations of what could happen. You might say, "We're past the peak; in a week it will all be over, and we'll be back out again living our lives." But if you learned enough mathematics, you know that this can't happen; that it will be much slower.

UD: The pandemic is keeping us apart from each other, but we need human contact. You write that it feels "as vital to us as breathing."

PG: A couple of days ago, I was looking at the YouTube channel of the band Radiohead - they're releasing footage of their previous concerts. I was watching one [of the videos], and then I had to stop, because I felt so bad, looking at the crowd. It's not just that it's impossible today; it's impossible for the next year, at least. And that made me very sad. That part of being together is part of my culture. It's part of the structure [of our lives] as human beings. When they say that we'll be able to go to a restaurant at tables of up to four people, it will be better but it won't be OK.

Honestly, I get very nervous when I hear people saying that the lockdown is a chance to rediscover - I don't know what! I hate social distancing. The idea is to go back to that concert; to be in that crowd.

UD: And yet we can't have crowds; we can't even be together with our families.

PG: We're told that to protect the people we love, the people we want to be with, we need to take a step back from them. Think of children and grandparents: We always say to the children, "You should visit grandma because it's a nice thing to do," and it's a part of our values in society. And then suddenly we say, "No, you cannot visit grandma because if you visit her, you could put her in danger." So if you love her, you must stay away from her. And that's a paradox in our vision of the world. And the only way out of the paradox, for me, is to assume that it's temporary.

UD: But are we really going "back to normal" when this is over?

PG: Are you asking about my wishful thinking, or about my rational thinking? Both matter, in this situation. We don't have the data, the facts, to know when we will. I think we will, because in one way or another, we're going through this. This is not stopping the world forever; this is not keeping us apart forever.

In a more - or less - dramatic way, we're going back to being together. What we really don't know is when, because it could be in six months' time - but it probably won't; it would take a miracle. It might be in a year's time. Everybody says, "We will have a vaccine." But will we? We can't be sure. Will we reach "herd immunity" before a vaccine is released? We don't know, because we don't know enough about herd immunity in relation to this virus.

In Italy, we don't even know what it will be like one month from now. We're debating what will open, what won't open. Before this started, I had my year planned more or less until September, very precisely - and this wiped it all out.

UD: Understandably, people are angry; we want someone to blame. In your essay, you point out the dangers of talking about where the virus "came from." What can go wrong when we frame questions that way?

PG: Everything can go wrong! I think one of the reasons we named this disease "COVID-19" is that we don't want to associate it too closely with a place, or with a group of people. Usually diseases have the names of their place of origin, but we now realize this is dangerous, because it led to stigmatizing a region or a whole country very easily. So wisely, we took a step back from that.

It would make it easy to have someone to blame for this - someone who's "outside" - rather than taking responsibility for things that didn't work, or simply not understanding things as they were happening. It's much easier to blame someone on the other side of the world.

What worries me is not only stigmatization, but the fact that [blaming] is much simpler - it's too simple. When we say it's "their mistake," it means we're not taking this chance to understand what our shared responsibility in this is - which is related to environment, it's related to globalization, it's related to information. There are so many things that this pandemic is asking us to look at.

UD: Some people are calling this a "dress rehearsal" for climate change. Is that fair?

PG: That makes sense. But I'm not optimistic. Because if this is the rehearsal of how we'll be cooperating, then it will go badly. We're failing to cooperate on the level that's needed. We're seeing scientists cooperate, but we're not really seeing countries cooperate.

I'm not seeing any serious debate about how our cooperation over health, around the world, could be reinforced. We even heard Trump threatening to cut funding for the World Health Organization, when what we need is exactly the opposite.

We need to reinforce, and give money and more power to, the organizations that can take care of health security everywhere. Because what we are realizing is that if there's something wrong very far away - [say] in some city in China - it may concern us very deeply in two months' time. And that's the link that I see with climate change. In a way, climate change is a higher level of difficulty; it is more elusive than this pandemic. It's slower, its effects are more controversial. So it is harder to take it seriously. But if we use this experience to build stronger cooperation, worldwide, then it could really be a leap forward.

UD: You describe the loss of normality - the loss of the "most sacred thing we have." What do you mean by "sacred" in this context?

Actually, "normality" has never been that sacred for me personally; I'm always looking for ways to escape whatever feels like normality. Still, I think in this situation, normality is something very close to freedom. Freedom in the most personal sense. It's a very weird thought, not to know whether next month I'll be able to visit my parents in the north of Italy, or whether I won't be able to.

The "sacred" normality is the part of normality that was so normal that we didn't even see it. It was like air, or like breathing.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Previously on the pandemic from Undark:
* As The New Coronavirus Spreads, Bogus Books Capitalize On Fear.

* Paying The Price Of Science Denialism - Again.

* Immigrants And Epidemics.

* A COVID-19 Data Lag Is Giving Americans False Hope.

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Also from Undark:
* Three New Books On Consciousness To Blow Your Mind.

* For Small Creatures Such As We.

* Could A Rating System Help Weigh Claims Made In Popular Science Books?

* Wikipedia's Gender Problem.

* Goop's Bunk Science, Now On Netflix.

* Manufacturing Doubt: The Corporate Manipulation Of Science.

* The Mind Is The Body.

* Even With DNA Detection, Asian Carp Continue To Evade Scientists.

* A Revolution In Science Publishing Or Business as Usual?

* A Physicist's Grand Tour Of The Universe.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:35 PM | Permalink

A Return To Abnormalcy

Don't panic. Don't you dare panic. We're cool and chill. Both of them. We need normalcy in this glorious spring.

"Here in the nation's capital, there is anxiety and concern, but no outward sign of panic. As a matter of fact, there are signs of normalcy . . . "

Well, actually there's a little sign of panic and very few signs of normlacy.

In fact, lots of panic. Being scared bleepless is biologically appropriate.

When real-life radio newsman H.V. Kaltenborn offered that on-the-air view in 1951's The Day The Earth Stood Still, he was not completely on target.

Cinematic "normalcy" that exact moment involved Klaatu and Gort arriving in a flying saucer in the capital. They suggested upon arrival they might have to blow up the Earth if the Earthers didn't get the house in order.

As for us - both now in real time and then under under Mr. Kaltenborn's guidance in 1951 - announcing how cool and unpanicked you are suggests you are panicking.

Maybe Gort's intervention would help now, too. Everyone knows at least two or three irritating people they secretly wish could be turned into burned-out cinders.

We stop here for a totally extraneous digression about Kaltenborn: It was not the first time the famous Broadcasting Hall of Famer and NBC News guy erred. He was actually the first national media source to declare Thomas Dewey had beaten President Harry Truman, who then delighted in mocking Kaltenborn's excruciatingly precise diction being dead wrong.

So now everyone scared into jibbering conniptions by the COVID-19 virus craves a "return to normalcy." But just as H.V. demonstrated, it ain't necessarily so, just 'cause you say it.

Just as hope is not a plan, there's often nothing normal about this normalcy we seek, and might not be for another year.

By then, we might all wish for a return to Abnormalcy.

What's "normal" now?

On one side is Donald Trump. On the other side of COVID-19. I think the virus is whipping our butts.

But bleating for "normalcy" shows up in commentary almost as frequently as "unprecedented." So it must be real.

Scientists say pounding a word into pointlessness by overuse is called "semantic satiation."

Normalcy is all but dead as a meaningful word. "Unprecedented" is running a close second.

Media of all intensities have become obsessed with the word without offering much evidence that we are headed to that serene state, even if we all agreed what normalcy was.

I once had a great uncle who believed he was normal, but we knew he was not.

In the course of 48 hours this week, newsers both grand and modest proclaimed the desire for the illusive "normalcy" and hinted it might be closer.

"In push for normalcy, industries, nations test the waters," ABC-TV proclaimed.

"Country continues slow move to normalcy," the Associated Press promised.

"Normalcy needed for better Georgia budget, state economist says," the Brunswick, Ga., News noted.

We want it, we need it; we have to have it.

Every news outlet in the country - maybe the world - is digging up stories on normalcy and the necessary return thereto. Mixed martial arts, bars, and brothels all thirst for it.

"For this drive-in movie theater, a chance to return to normalcy," proclaimed one outlet, neglecting to mention that recent "normal" for drive-ins is a sign that reads "out of business."

This rush seems to defy the "flight or flight" instinct which is natural selection at its most intelligent and useful. We are not fleeing peril, but seeming to be urged toward it, as if it's our duty to confront death.

This is not evolved primate behavior.

Exactly what is different in your risk profile today than was true two months ago?

The main difference is that 72,000 Americans are dead (plus 200,000 more around the world) which is more American blood than we spent on Vietnam, once the numerical benchmark for national catastrophe. But the current total now is more than all soldiers combined we lost in Vietnam and every war we've fought since then.

Let's see how the war is going.

Cure? Check's in the mail. Try not to die before 2021.

Slowed rates of infection? Sure, I'll respect you in the rnorning.

Tests? Vampire Walking Dead robot Jared Kushner has got that one solved.

Nursing home safety? Send grandma on down here; we've got plenty of empty beds.

Meatpacking facilities? Currently safer for hogs than employees.

The Coronavirus Task Force? We'll give Voldemort and Skeletor a crack at that. They're cousins of Mike Pence.

Smart ones? Poll by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found only 12 percent of Americans say the stay-at-home measures where they live go too far, while 26 percent say the restrictions don't go far enough and a majority, 61 percent, say the directives from officials are about right.

Dumb ones? When Georgia relaunched its beauty parlors, barber shops and restaurants last week, 550,000 hairy temporary emigres darted across state borders to get cleaned up and eat barbecue. No risk in that live-free-or-die demographic.

The only demographic that demands a headlong return to normalcy turns out to be living in the White House.

The rest of us are willing to define "normalcy" as staying alive. Most Americans apparently are not ignoramuses, which is good news, and somewhat surprising given other evidence.

But look at the unresolved, undiminished and unconquered risks this way: Two months ago every stranger you encountered on the street could have sneezed you into a premature death. That guy is still out there sneezing. He has found his own personal "normalcy."

For the rest of us? Stay home. Stay alive.

As Klaatu told Gort: "Klaatu barada nikto," which is space lingo for "Don't panic. Let's go home."

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Previously by 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.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

* Reopening Books.

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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 4:15 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #303: The Neverending Last Dance

The Jordan fools. Plus: Kristin Cavallari Finally Meets Jay Cutler (Or Jay Cutler's Last Dance); Ryan Pace Claims He Still Believes In Mitch Trubisky Even After Declining His 5th-Year Option And Signing Nick Foles, Which Is A Good Way To Show How Much Confidence He Has In The Guy He (Badly) Maneuvered For So He Could Pick Him To Second Overall In The NFL Draft; The KBO On ESPN!; and The Ex-Cub Factor.


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SHOW NOTES

* 303.

* Wellness check-in.

* Amos Otis.

2:20: Kristin Cavallari Finally Meets Jay Cutler (Or Jay Cutler's Last Dance).

* Jay Cutler Originally Committed To Illinois But Ron Turner Shifted QB Priorities.

16:00: The Neverending Last Dance.

* Colbert: ESPN Extends Last Dance To 142 Episodes:

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* Basketball Forever: What The Last Dance Didn't Tell You About Michael Jordan's Relationship With Shady Golf Hustler Slim Bouler.

* Tribune: Michael Jordan's Acquaintances In A Shadowy World.

* Baltimore Sun: Jordan Hid Allegiance Under Flag Cover-Up.

* Buffalo Trace.

* Insider: The Liquor Michael Jordan Was Drinking During His Last Dance Interviews Is A Tequila Brand He Co-Owns, And Bottles Can Go For As Much As $1,800 Each.

* NBC Sports Chicago: Scottie Pippen Delayed Surgery Because He Didn't Want To 'Fuck-Up' His Summer.

* K.C. Johnson: Jerry Krause's Writings Will Speak For Him As The Last Dance Marches On.

* The Jordan Rules: Bulls Owner Quieted Jordan - Star Player Wanted To Run Team.

* Los Angeles Times: Battle Lines Drawn In Chicago Book War.

* Tribune: Sonics Draft Pippen But Bulls Get Him.

* Krause Drafts Horace Grant.

* Essentially Sports: "He Doesn't Deserve To Eat" - When A Ruthless Michael Jordan Starved His Teammate For Not Playing Well.

* Sam Smith vs. Jay Mariotti:

There was a huge outrage at the time, though mostly from people who didn't read the book. Jay Mariotti from the Sun-Times got hysterical about it at the time and wrote a bunch of columns about how it would ruin the Bulls. He, too, apparently didn't read it for quite as while as he had a bunch of stuff in there that wasn't. It tells you a lot about the media we don't like to admit. Then the Boston Globe, which was a respected, profitable paper, had a columnist pick up from Mariotti's comments about things in the book which weren't and condemned me for writing it. I'm trying to tell everyone the stuff wasn't in there and I never wrote it.

1:04:13: Ryan Pace Claims He Still Believes In Mitch Trubisky Even After Declining His 5th-Year Option And Signing Nick Foles, Which Is A Good Way To Show How Much Confidence He Has In The Guy He (Badly) Maneuvered For So He Could Pick Him To Second Overall In The NFL Draft.

* Also, schedules are out and Don Shula died.

* Coffman still smarting from Dolphins spoiling Bears' perfect record in 1985.

1:12:10: The KBO on ESPN!

* Introducing KBO Stats On FanGraphs!

1:14:45: The Ex-Cub Factor.

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STOPPAGE: 17:55

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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 1:47 PM | Permalink

May 7, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"A pair of New Jersey nursing homes where at least 66 people have died of COVID-19 - one of the country's worst such outbreaks - are connected to a Chicago-area family with a broad reach in the business of long-term care, including ownership ties to more than a dozen Illinois facilities. One of them, in west suburban Willowbrook, had one of the state's earliest serious COVID-19 outbreaks," the Tribune reports.

The homes in Andover, New Jersey, are on property owned by companies managed by William Rothner, whose website states that he "built his family's leased nursing home portfolio" and "directed purchases, in ten states, of nearly fifty facilities totaling over three hundred million dollars." The Andover homes had 236 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday - 85 more than Illinois has reported for the hardest-hit local facility.

In Illinois, Rothner's father, Eric, has a history of ties to troubled nursing homes, including one shut down a decade ago by state authorities after repeated inspections found violence, abuse and mistreatment of residents. Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, which had 58 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths as of Friday, is owned by Evanston-based Rothner Health Ventures, a company managed by Eric Rothner, according to state records.

That's more reported cases than 92% of the 348 Illinois long-term care facilities reporting at least one, and more deaths than 88% of the 223 facilities listing at least one fatality.

There's a lot more, so I encourage you click through and read the rest, if you can stomach it.

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From William Rothner's website:

"Avi (William) Rothner is highly regarded as an authority within the Senior Living Financial markets. He is often asked to speak at industry events like the 2nd Annual Interface Seniors Housing Midwest.

"Mr. Rothner's proven track record managing more than over a half a billion dollars of financing with twenty-plus financial institutions has made him a sought out speaker for Senior Care Investor, Marcus & Millchap, and seniors Housing Business with a focus on Post-Acute transactions and valuation."

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Also: "Rothner was originally lured into the healthcare field by his father over a decade ago. Avi began his career in New York working for investment companies with a focus on analysis and acquisition of value-add and distressed investments."

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Here's his entry at the Nursing Home Database, where you can look up fines, complaints and ratings.

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See also from the Trib's archives:

-> Owners - But Not In Charge.

-> Beleaguered Nursing Home Manages To Expel 2 State Monitors.

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Meanwhile . . .

"Ninety-three cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths had been reported at Meadowbrook Manor nursing home in Bolingbrook as of the first of the month," Mark Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

"They'll need to add Krist Angielen Castro Guzman to the list.

"Guzman was a 35-year-old nurse at the facility and the mother of three young children who cared passionately for her patients and feared greatly for her safety during this pandemic.

"Guzman died Saturday at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in Bolingbrook, where, less than five months earlier, she had given birth to her youngest child.

"Guzman died of respiratory failure caused by the coronavirus just one day after being admitted to the hospital and barely a week after falling ill, according to her family."

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At least this:

"Workers at nursing homes across Illinois who were on the verge of striking have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract, according to the union representing the workers," the Trib reports today.

"The certified nursing assistants had threatened to walk out at more than 40 nursing homes on Friday in 'this time of unprecedented vulnerability and risk,' according to a statement from SEIU Healthcare Illinois spokeswoman Catherine Murrell.

"But overnight, the union announced it had won 'significant contract gains,' including baseline pay of $15 an hour, hazard pay for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and a provision that employees are not required to work without adequate personal protective equipment."

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See also from the New York Times: Push for Profits Left Nursing Homes Struggling to Provide Care.

"Some with private equity owners, focused on making money, were particularly ill-equipped and understaffed to handle COVID-19."

Isn't a push for profits always the problem?

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Trump's EPA Rejects Science, Endangers Public Health, And Ignores The Law. Here's The Latest.
Up to 50,000 unnecessary deaths a year.

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The FCC's $48 Million Fine Against Sinclair Is Far Too Small For Such A Dishonest Broker
'Sinclair constantly breaks the law, violates the FCC's ownership rules, routinely lies to the agency, and fails to meet the public-interest obligations that broadcasters agree to uphold in exchange for their use of the public airwaves.'

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The Ex-Cub Factor
From Manny Ramirez to Mel Rojas.

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ChicagoReddit

MDW TSA Pre-Check Closed from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Soccer Mommy / "Crawling In My Skin"

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BeachBook

I Thought Stage IV Cancer Was Bad Enough.

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

In America, some lives have always been expendable.

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I seem to recall conservatives declaring for years that young black men, Muslims and foreigners didn't have the same reverence for life that their God-fearing, true American selves did.

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A must-read, folks.

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Everything has happened right in front of our eyes. He fired the FBI Director who was investigating him! Right before our eyes, in real-time.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Supply and demand.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 PM | Permalink

Trump's EPA Rejects Science, Endangers Public Health, And Ignores The Law. Here's The Latest.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown have temporarily produced clearer skies across the U.S. Meanwhile, however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been busy finding reasons not to pursue long-lasting air quality gains.

On April 30, the agency published a proposed new rule that retains current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter without any revisions. It took this action after a five-year review process, in which scientific evidence showed unequivocally that these standards are not adequate to protect public health.

I have studied air pollution and air quality for over 30 years, and have been directly involved for a decade with the EPA's reviews of scientific findings on air pollution. This includes serving on the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, or CASAC, and on 10 specialized panels focused on individual pollutants.

As I have written previously, the Trump administration has watered down the role of science in what is supposed to be a science-based process of setting national air quality standards. This new proposal - which I expect will be challenged in court when finalized - is the result.

Recent studies indicate that reducing PM2.5 standards below current levels could avert thousands of premature deaths.

Fine Particle Air Pollution Is Deadly

Fine particles, known as PM2.5 because they measure 2.5 microns or less in diameter, can penetrate deeply into the lungs and bloodstream. EPA staff scientists have reaffirmed that daily and annual exposure to PM2.5 causes premature death and a variety of illnesses.

Scientists have known this for decades, but since the national standard was last revised in 2012, new studies have strengthened these findings. They include an epidemiologic study with the largest ever number of subjects and several that include PM2.5 concentrations well below the current standard.

EPA's scientific staff estimates, based on multiple epidemiologic studies, that currently an average of 13,500 to 51,300 people die prematurely each year from breathing fine particles. Although these numbers are uncertain, the likelihood of thousands of deaths per year would typically spur regulators to tighten existing standards. However, EPA's current political leadership disagrees.

What The Law Requires

The Clean Air Act directs the EPA to set air quality standards based on an accurate and thorough review of the latest science. This function is performed by CASAC, which I chaired from 2012 to 2015.

CASAC has seven members, which isn't enough to provide the breadth, depth and diversity of expertise, experience and perspectives needed for these complex reviews. Recognizing this, for four decades the EPA has augmented the committee by convening expert review panels for each pollutant. They include scientists with extensive knowledge of epidemiology, toxicology, medicine, air quality, exposure, risk, statistics and other fields. I served on the 20-member CASAC PM Review Panel that was appointed in 2015 to help CASAC review the PM2.5 standard.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler disbanded that panel in October 2018. Wheeler also continued a makeover of CASAC started by his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, that removed leading researchers from the committee. Now CASAC has no epidemiologists - a key discipline for assessing PM2.5 health effects.

What Our Expert Panel Recommended

Realizing that the EPA would not otherwise get the science advice it needs, the disbanded PM review panel reconvened itself in October 2019. We found that current fine particle standards are not protective of public health.

The studies published since 2012 demonstrating that exposure to fine particles causes premature death at concentrations below current standards were key to our decision. We advised the EPA that the annual standard should be reduced from its current level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a range of between 10 and 8 micrograms per cubic meter.

For the 24-hour standard, which regulates short-term air quality spikes, we recommended reducing the limit from the current level of 35 micrograms per cubic meter to between 30 and 25 micrograms per cubic meter. These scientific findings were based on multiple epidemiologic studies, augmented with evidence from controlled experiments with animals and humans.

Failing To Protect The Public

Wheeler claims that recent studies since the last time the standards were revised "do not provide a basis for revising the standards." Wheeler acknowledges that studies based on long-term exposures below the current standards show "associations" between air quality and premature death. However, he argues that this research does not show a causal relationship. Yet, based on the overall body of evidence, he acknowledges that "a causal relationship exists between long-term PM2.5 exposure and total mortality." His rationale is illogical and is inconsistent with the evidence.

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 10.46.52 AM.pngBefore joining the EPA under Trump, Andrew Wheeler represented disgraced coal magnate Robert E. Murray and lobbied against the Obama Administration's environmental regulations/J. Scott Applewhite, AP

The Clean Air Act requires regulators to set standards that will provide an "adequate margin of safety." This means that they should be stringent enough to protect sensitive populations, such as older adults, people with preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory diseases and children with asthma.

The EPA proposal acknowledges that these groups exist, but does not specify how it will protect them from PM2.5 in the air. Wheeler is also silent regarding the role of racial and ethnic differences in exposure and risk, even though a federal court called the EPA to task in 2009 for not specifically addressing at-risk groups.

Preliminary evidence suggests that exposure to particles worsens the effects of COVID-19. While this finding needs peer review and additional study, existing evidence of risk for sensitive populations shows the need for a more protective standard.

The EPA currently faces lawsuits for multiple instances in which it has either sought to weaken, or failed to strengthen, air pollution regulations. They include rolling back motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards; failing to implement stringent rules limiting interstate air pollution; and repealing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants. Unless the EPA modifies its position on particle air quality to address the law and the science, I expect that this regulation too will end up in court.

Chris Frey is an environmental engineering professor at North Carolina State. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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See also:

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

The FCC's $48 Million Fine Against Sinclair Is Far Too Small For Such A Dishonest Broker

The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday a $48 million fine against Sinclair Broadcast Group, the conservative broadcast conglomerate that in 2018 failed in its attempt to take ownership of dozens of Tribune Media television stations.

The penalty is part of a consent decree that closes three FCC investigations into the broadcaster, which gave up on its takeover bid after the agency found Sinclair misled it and conducted itself with a "lack of candor" - a violation of FCC rules - in seeking official approval for the deal.

When announcing today's fine, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai suggested that he was defending the First Amendment against "those who, for transparently political reasons, demand that we revoke Sinclair's licenses" - a jab at Free Press and its allies, who forcefully opposed the massive broadcast merger.

Free Press President and Co-CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

"Sinclair's long record of lying to and misleading the Federal Communications Commission has caught up with it yet again. We applaud the FCC for taking action - after years of looking the other way and bending the rules to benefit Sinclair - though the penalty should have been much steeper.

"Let's not forget that these are the public airwaves, and Sinclair has no special right to broadcast on them. Sinclair has abused its control of local TV stations from coast to coast, inserting right-wing propaganda into local newscasts and turning local journalists into puppets for its political agenda.

"While we appreciate the FCC's action today, we can't help but notice that Chairman Pai seems all too eager to turn the page and get back to business as usual. In announcing today's fine, Pai went out of his way to sarcastically reassure all of us that the First Amendment still applies at the FCC and that Sinclair's licenses are safe. The First Amendment part is welcome news, as his agency's constitutional commitments seem to waver depending on the day of the week and who's asking.

"Yet this shouldn't be the end of the discussion about Sinclair's bad behavior. We never demanded that the FCC consider action against Sinclair's licenses for any political reason. Sinclair constantly breaks the law, violates the FCC's ownership rules and fails to meet the public-interest obligations that broadcasters agree to uphold in exchange for their use of the public airwaves. And we did so - as even Chairman Pai concedes - because the company routinely lies to the agency."

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Previously in Sinclair:
* Item: Former Trump Aide Joins Sinclair.

* Trump's FCC Chair Continues To Shaft The Public, Offer Major Handouts To Big Media.

* Trump-Friendly Sinclair's Takeover Of Tribune TV Stations Brought To You By Trump's FCC Chairman.

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

* 'Maybe The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'

* A Pair Of Decades-Old Policies May Change The Way Rural America Gets Local News.

* Tribune's Disastrous Sale To Sinclair.

* Lawmakers Demand Answers About FCC's Favoritism Toward Sinclair.

* Can Anyone Stop Trump's FCC From Approving A Conservative Local News Empire?

* Sinclair's Flippant FCC Ruling.

* FCC Presses Sinclair For Answers On Tribune Merger.

* Trump FCC Eliminates Local Broadcast Main Studio Requirement In A Handout To Sinclair That Will Harm Local Communities.

* Trump's FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Scrap Media Ownership Limits Standing In Way Of Tribune-Sinclair Mega-Merger.

* Lisa Madigan et al. vs. Sinclair-Tribune.

* Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse.

* Trump's Secret Weapon Against A Free Press.

* With Massive Handouts To Sinclair, FCC Clears Path To New Wave Of Media Consolidation.

* Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates.

* FCC Wraps New Gift For Sinclair.

* FCC Inspector General Investigating Sinclair Rulings.

* Behind Sinclair's 'Project Baltimore.'

* Don't Be Fooled By Sinclair's Shell Games.

* Free Press Sues The FCC For Dramatic Reversal Of Media Ownership Limits That Pave Way For Media Mergers.

* Thanks, Tribune Media, All You Did Was Weaken A Country.

* Sinclair-Fox Station Deal Enabled By FCC Is Dangerous For Democracy.

* The Sinclair Sham.

* Debunking The Broadcast Industry's Claims About Sinclair's Tribune Takeover.

* Surprise FCC Move Maims Sinclair-Tribune Merger.

* Sinclair Makes Last Ditch Effort To Salvage Tribune Merger. Will FCC Bite?

* Sinclair-Tribune Deal On Life Support.

* Sinclair-Tribune Deal Is Dead.

* Tribune Media Lawsuit: Belligerent Sinclair Blew A Sure Thing.

* Tribune Executives Will Get Bonuses After Sinclair Deal Collapses.

* FCC Investigating Sinclair's Lies In Failed Attempt To Take Over Tribune Media.

* Sinclair, ABC Light AOC On Fire.

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See also:

* Sinclair Broadcast Group Solicits Its News Directors For Its Political Fundraising Efforts.

* FCC Plans To Fine Sinclair $13.3 million Over Undisclosed Commercials.

* Sinclair's New Media-Bashing Promos Rankle Local Anchors.

* Sinclair's Latest "Must-Run" Segment Defends Tear-Gassing Refugees.

* Nexstar-Tribune Deal Is Bad News For Communities And Local Media.

* Dear FCC: Further Weakening Media-Ownership Limits Isn't The Answer.

* Free Press To FCC: Revoke Sinclair's Licenses If They Lied To You.

* Sinclair Broadcast Group To Acquire 21 Regional Sports Networks From Disney At A Valuation Of $10.6 Billion.

* Sinclair's Cubs Network Names Complicit GM.

* Sinclair Completes Acquisition Of Regional Sports Networks From Disney.

* Sinclair Rampage Continues: Acquires 20% Interest In YES Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

The Ex-Cub Factor

One in an occasional series following the trials and triumphs of former Cubs.

1. Manny Ramirez.

Manny never played for the Cubs, of course, but he did put in some time as an organizational hitting instructor.

Now he's pursuing a comeback with the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan.

2. Hee-Seop Choi.

Briefly the hyped successor to Mark Grace, Choi is now a hitting coach for the Kia Tigers of the South Korean KBO League, which is starting up play again because that country has done a bang-up job on the coronavirus crisis while the U.S. has dawdled and frittered tens of thousands of lives away.

Other former Cubs we can watch in the KBO, via NBC Sports Chicago: Dan Straily, Eric Jokisch and Mel Rojas.

Well, Mel Rojas Jr., so we're kind of cheating here, but still.

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Also: Dixon Machado.

3. Jim Edmonds.

The longtime Cardinal icon spent most of the 2008 season with the Cubs, slashing .256//.369/.568 over 85 games after a May release from the Padres.

He recently recovered from COVID-19.

4. Ron Roenicke.

I could've sworn he was once a Cubs coach, but nope! So not even telling you what's up with him.

5. Matt Keough.

I only learned by chance that the former Oakland A's pitcher appeared in 19 games (two starts) for the Cubs in 1986.

Now he's dead.

6. Salty Saltwell.

Also dead.

7. Daniel Murphy.

"Meanwhile Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy is the latest veteran player to make a sizable financial commitment. He's giving $100K to a 'family assistance fund' to assist minor leaguers who support children or other family members. More on that initiative here."

8. Junichi Tazawa, Chris Volstad.

The Reds released both of 'em.

9. Rafael Dolis.

Released his appendix.

10. Pierce Johnson.

"Pierce Johnson is back stateside [in San Diego] after spending a season in Japan. Statistically speaking, it was a superb season in Japan. In 58 relief appearances for the Hanshin Tigers, the 28-year-old right-hander crafted a 1.38 ERA while surrendering just 34 hits and 13 walks in 58-and-two-thirds innings. He fanned 91.

"Johnson came up through the Chicago Cubs system, earned a one-game cameo in 2017, then went to San Francisco and made 37 appearances for the Giants in 2018."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2020

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The Little Village zip code 60623 currently has the most confirmed cases of any single zip code in the state," CBS2 Chicago reports.

"Forty-seven percent of people in that community who've been tested, have has tested positive," said Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd.)

Of course, it's difficult if not impossible to trust the story the data is telling us because the data is incomplete. Still . . .

"Hispanics make up about 17% of the state. But they also make up about 32% percent of the state's positive COVID-19 tests . . . At last check Little Village had 1,526 positive cases and nearby Pilsen had 873.

"[Rodriguez] attributes the high numbers to aggressive testing and a largely working-class population that has stayed on the job during the pandemic."

As always, we can play that familiar game of "If This Was Happening In Lincoln Park . . . "

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WBEZ begs to differ with Rodriguez's assessment that Little Italy has been the recipient of aggressive testing.

"In Cook County, the ZIP codes most impacted by COVID-19 are not among those receiving the highest rates of testing, according to a WBEZ analysis of data from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Census Bureau. And those ZIP codes are in Latino neighborhoods, which possess the highest and fastest-growing rates of COVID-19 in Cook County," the station reports.

"As of Monday, the 60623 ZIP code ranked first in both the rate of confirmed cases (38.09 per 1,000 residents) and the percentage of confirmed cases of the total tested (46.6%) among Cook County ZIP codes, according to the WBEZ analysis.

"But that same ZIP code lags in COVID-19 testing. The ZIP code ranked 50th in Cook County in the total tested per 1,000 residents, according to the analysis.

"In fact, the five ZIP codes that rank among the county's top 10 for both the rate of confirmed cases per 1,000 residents and the percentage of confirmed cases among the total tested are all mostly Latino areas. Three of those ZIP codes are in Chicago and include the Little Village, Brighton Park, Hermosa and Belmont Cragin communities. The other two are located in west suburban Cicero and Stone Park. But none of these ZIP codes rank in the top 35 for COVID-19 testing per 1,000 residents."

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"The need for more testing in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood was clear last Saturday. The test site opened at 10 a.m. and, within 30 minutes, workers were already turning residents away."

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Not only that, but . . .

"As of April 12, a total of 31 Latinos have died from complications from COVID-19, according to data from the medical examiner's office. But that figure is not accurate. And that's a problem because without reliable data it's harder to identify vulnerable populations, experts say," WBEZ reports separately.

"Some of the information collected by the medical examiner's office is not wrong, it's just delayed, said Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, the county's chief medical examiner. Arunkumar said preliminary demographic information comes from hospital records and first responders."

Of course, the infection and death rates for the entire population are severely undercounted, but this is particularly maddening, to say the least, because the same folks bear the brunt of every crisis, downturn and screw-up this nation, state and city foists upon them.

"It's infuriating, because it doesn't give us a very clear idea of how COVID-19 is impacting our community," Jorge Valdivia told WBEZ. "If this information isn't being categorized, isn't being labeled the way it should be, then how can we rely on any type of data, any type of research articles that will emerge years from now?"

Valdivia's brother died of COVID-19 and was misclassified by the medical examiner's office as white.

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"New research from the University of Chicago examines how COVID-19 outbreaks have disproportionately harmed those who were already struggling before the pandemic," the university says.

It's grim.

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And:

"Many African Americans watching protests calling for easing restrictions meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus see them as one more example of how their health, their safety and their rights just don't seem to matter," AP reports (via CBS2 Chicago).

"To many, it seems that the people protesting - who have been predominantly white - are agitating for reopening because they won't be the ones to suffer the consequences. So far, the facts are proving them right: The consequences of keeping some businesses open have been falling disproportionately on the shoulders of black people and other marginalized groups."

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Illinois' Amazingly Awesome Unemployment Office
Capitol Fax impresario Rich Miller takes issue today with CBS2 Chicago's reporting on an (alleged?) backlog of unemployment claims with the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Because I featured CBS2 Chicago's report on this matter in Tuesday's column, I feel compelled to respond.

Here's what CBS2 Chicago reported:

[O]ur sources said the backlog is real, and getting longer by the day.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday night, Pritzker has said time and time again that improvements are being made to the unemployment system. Folks inside the Illinois Department of Employment Security, including the employee who gave Kozlov a glimpse into the actual backlog, said they're frustrated.

Dozens of people a week have continued to contact us about problems with Illinois state unemployment filings - a month and a half after Gov. Pritzker shut down the state. "They're getting letters after the day that they're supposed to have certified," said Sharon Fitzpatrick.

But people trying to file have reported persistent online and phone nightmares with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Fitzpatrick is among them.

"Today, literally, it took me until 5 o'clock to finally be able to get through and certify, and I started 7:30 this morning," she said.

IDES tells Miller that's just not so, but I don't find a spokesperson responding to an e-mail question via e-mail - in other words, with an unquestioned prepared statement - telling us everything is peachy keen particularly persuasive. In fact, I would be shocked if IDES didn't have a backlog in non-pandemic times. And backlogs at state unemployment offices are the norm these days (even more than in pre-COVID times). If Illinois didn't have a backlog, it would be a miracle and the rest of the country - the world! - would be flocking here to see how we did it.

"[An] employee sent a screenshot of unemployment claims that are yet to be adjudicated - 12,440 to be exact. All are out-of-work people waiting for interviews to find out if they can even get benefits.

"The IDES employee said most were filed back in March and won't even get interviewed until late this month - if then.

"And that's not counting people who still can't file a claim or certify."

Emphasis mine.

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IDES had their chance to respond before CBS2 aired their piece, which included this:

"So the question remains, where is Acting IDES Director Thomas Chan in all of this? [We] requested an interview with Chan last week and was told it would be considered."

Why the hesitation? After all, if there's no backlog he should have plenty of time to answer a reporter's questions!

And then this:

"Kozlov asked Pritzker if he'd ever considered having Chan attend one of the daily coronavirus briefings.

"I haven't, but I've been focused as you know, here, for the most part, on directly addressing the virus.

Okay, that's a pretty snotty response. Pritzker has brought all kinds of people to his briefings, and chosen various themes of the day to shape the media's reporting. What the state is doing for millions of unemployed folk can't be one of them? (In fact, it appears it will be a theme one day this week - so the news on the governor's schedule and spoonfed to the media the way they want it; no freelancing!)

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Having declined the opportunity to make Chan available, IDES spokeperson Rebecca Cisco "later reached out" to CBS2 after the story ran to make the same claim that she made to Miller - that the story was "inaccurate."

It does seem that CBS2 made it appear as if 12,000 people were waiting on claims when instead IDES say they've all gotten their money but they might have to give it back once certification interviews are done. I'm not sure that makes it that much better!

Also from Cisco: "[T]here simply is no backlog of claims currently being processed, nor is there a backlog of claims to be paid."

Really? Again, I have a hard time believing Illinois is that good - even in non-pandemic times. And I've tangled with the Illinois bureaucracy a time or two. (As a sole proprietor who may be eligible for coronavirus-related unemployment relief, I've stared at the IDES website several times over the last few weeks - in part in response to what I've read officials including the governor telling news organizations - trying to decipher what I should do.)

Again, CBS2 from their appended update:

"[We] also asked Cisco for a better word to use if 'backlog' wasn't the correct way to characterize this group, or the hundreds of other people who've reached out to us stating they are still having problems with filing a claim, the website, talking to a human, or getting unemployment money. Cisco has not yet responded."

Perhaps she has a backlog of her own.

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Remember, this is how Pritzker has defined "backlog" in recent days:

"[T]here is not a backlog in the sense of people have filed something in there and it's not officially filed. People go online, they create an account and they fill it out and that is then a filing . . .

"[T]here really isn't a backlog at this point. So people who are having trouble, there's something, there's typically an issue with their claim."

First, my understanding is that it's not so easy to just create an account and be off to the races, but I could be wrong. Second, creating an account - a filing - is just the first step. In and of itself, it doesn't get you anything. Third, people having trouble - be it an IDES issue or an issue with their claim - is part of the process. Failure to reach someone to resolve an issue or get an issue resolved in a timely manner is a . . . backlog. Unless there are truly IDES employees sitting around waiting for their phones to ring because everybody has been helped. I would love for that to be the situation, and to be wrong about this whole thing, fooled by all those complaining posers, but it defies belief, experience, and the most reliable reporting (self and otherwise) I've been able to find.

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See also: People Struggling To Get Access To Illinois Unemployment Benefits Say Things Changed After CBS 2's Reporting.

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UPDATE 2:35 P.M.: LOL, I'm on the IDES site right now and having a problem just getting past the login.

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UPDATE 2:42 P.M.: Yeah, it's not even letting me create an account. I'd say you now have a backlog of at least one, but technically I'm still pre-backlog.

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UPDATE 2:50 P.M: Yeah, it's horked. It won't let me in using my user name and password from a few years ago when I attempted to apply for unemployment and . . . never heard a thing, and it won't let me create a new account because the passwords I've been proposing need to have at least four letters and one number, which they all do, but apparently not the right letters and number!

Should I try to create an account over the phone? LOL, I hardly have the wherewithal today to start that journey. It took me about nine hours to get Verizon to fix my phone on Monday and that's enough customer service frustration for one week. Maybe I'll try again on Friday, one of my assigned days given where my last name falls in the alphabet.

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I'm not even in the backlog yet!

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Reopening Books
"This is a warning to my local library: I am coming. I am coming very soon."

Another great read from our very own David Rutter.

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A Life Of Heat 'Near Unlivable' For More Than 3 Billion People In Just Decades, Climate Report Warns
"[M]ore than one billion people are expected to live in untenably hot climates by 2070 'even in the most optimistic outlook' presented by the study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science."

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The Bears' Last Dance Was Their Only One
And it still sticks in Jim "Coach" Coffman's craw.

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Jimmy McPartland & Art Hodes / "Meet Me in Chicago" (1959)

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

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As you may have heard by now, South Korea and the United States each reported their first case of COVID-19 on the same day. They're playing baseball now.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Masked and anonymous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:42 AM | Permalink

The Bears' Last Dance Was Their Only One

Of course my memories of the loss are the most vivid. The Bears rolled through the playoffs in the winter of 1985-86 and then really unleashed their dominance in Super Bowl XX. But my clearest recollections of that amazing campaign are of that crushing Monday Night loss in Miami at the start of the regular season's final month.

Except it turns out my memories of that amazing team's single setback actually weren't very accurate (the Bears finished with a combined 18-1 record after winning their first 12 before taking on the Dolphins). I thought I remembered details of that game but then I went back and read a delightfully detailed oral history and realized that sometimes even my favorite recollections are warped by time.

And I am not alone . . . not by a long stretch. And of course there are connections between that game and season and the documentary mega-series The Last Dance that continues to mesmerize Chicago with the seventh and eighth episodes (out of a total of 10) set to air on Sunday.

At this point I need to apologize to the editor of the Beachwood and others who I know have officially read and watched their fill and then some of coverage of the only Chicago team that has ever won a Super Bowl. But any story of Chicago sports fandom that includes the '80s has to have a chapter about this team.

I was a sophomore at Haverford (a small liberal arts college just outside of Philadelphia) as the ultimate Bears season played out and I had a party at the apartment where I lived with my fellow freshman orienteer Hugh (at Haverford we called ourselves "Customs people" because we helped the first-years get accustomed to college) on the night in question.

But by the end of the first half it was a party of one. As Miami scored and scored and scored again my ranting became ever more angry. After I came close to throwing something at the TV that would have had the potential to cave in the screen, I think the last of my guests hit the road. If I recall correctly (and that is a big "if") Hugh, who was not just not a Chicago sports fan but not a sports fan in general, stayed away the whole evening.

Of course the Dolphins led 31-0 at the half and of course the Bears' potential second half comeback was derailed by the ultimate fluke play. Before going back and reading the aforementioned history I would have sworn that the play that led to the Dolphins stretching the lead back out to three touchdowns in the third quarter involved a pass either skipping off the helmet of receiver Nat Moore or being caught by him and taken into the end zone.

But I'm going to trust that Dan Hampton knew whereof he was speaking and how when he described Dan Marino's panicky pass skipping off his helmet, over cornerback Mike Richardson, who was in position for an almost certain interception, to the waiting hands of Dolphins' receiver Mark Clayton. Later the Bears would pull back to within two touchdowns but that was as close as it would get. The final was 38-24.

I also knew that Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan had come close to blows in the locker room at halftime regarding Ryan's unwillingness to make adjustments to the fact that the Dolphins were consistently creating mismatches for Moore, a slot receiver with all the speed he needed. But I didn't know that Ditka was definitively right, that Ryan should have made adjustments faster because when the Bears would blitz, Marino's escape valve was almost always Moore, who was almost always lined up against linebacker Wilbur Marshall and had no trouble creating immediate separation.

And finally I didn't know at all that goofy Jim McMahon had entered the game in relief of starter Steve Fuller (McMahon showed before the game that he wasn't quite completely recovered from an injury that had sidelined him for the previous couple of weeks and therefore didn't start) in the fourth quarter. And when he did so, McMahon was more worried about extending Walter Payton's 100-yard rushing game streak from seven to eight than he was about winning the game.

Overall, in case you weren't impressed by the story of the Bulls winning their third consecutive title in 1993, perhaps you are impressed in light of the fact that the best-ever Bears team couldn't even repeat, let alone three-peat, twice.

Last weekend's episode of The Last Dance was a great reminder of the fact that the Bulls barely, barely, barely won the 1993 championship. But they won it, and it was their third title in a row! Something only the great Bill Russell and a number of his teammates accomplished previously in the NBA.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

A Life Of Heat 'Near Unlivable' For More Than 3 Billion People In Just Decades, Climate Report Warns

In the next five decades, more than three billion people - one third of the world's population - could live in regions with climate conditions considered unlivable, according to a new study reported on by the New York Times and other major media outlets around the globe that may have gotten lost under all the pandemic coverage.

Researchers at Washington State University, Nanjing University in China, and Wageningen University in the Netherlands examined the history of the conditions in which humans have comfortably lived, starting in the mid-Holocene era about 6,000 years ago and up to the present day.

Over that period of time, the study shows, the vast majority of the world's population has lived in areas with a mean annual temperature between 50º and 60º Fahrenheit.

Scientists are pushing world governments to take action to keep the warming of the Earth below 1.5º Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, by drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions. But many fear limiting global warming to this degree won't be possible.

With every 1º Celsius (1.8º Fahrenheit) that the planet's temperature rises, the new study says, one billion people will be forced to either migrate or adapt to new climate conditions which will affect crops and livestock and may make their outdoor environments impossible to work in.

"I think it is fair to say that average temperatures over 29º [84º Fahrenheit] are unlivable," ecology professor Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University told the Guardian. "You'd have to move or adapt. But there are limits to adaptation. If you have enough money and energy, you can use air conditioning and fly in food and then you might be okay. But that is not the case for most people."

About 25 million people today live in the hottest areas of the world, mainly in the Sahara region of Africa where mean annual temperatures top 84º Fahrenheit.

At the rate the planet is expected to warm, a larger share of Africa and parts of India, South America, Southeast Asia, and Australia could become too hot for people to live comfortably - driving many to migrate elsewhere in order to grow crops and obtain sufficient food and water. These areas are now home to about 3.5 billion people.

"It's a bit unfortunate that most population growth happens to be in the place that will be hardest to live in," Scheffer told the Washington Post.

According to the Guardian, more than one billion people are expected to live in untenably hot climates by 2070 "even in the most optimistic outlook" presented by the study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"We were frankly blown away by our own initial results. As our findings were so striking, we took an extra year to carefully check all assumptions and computations," Xu Chi, a researcher at Nanjing University who co-authored the study, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Clearly we will need a global approach to safeguard our children against the potentially enormous social tensions the projected change could invoke."

The study demonstrated how the world could look very different than it does now by 2070, even in parts of the world which aren't expected to face the extreme temperatures the researchers described, with billions of people forced to migrate elsewhere.

"It is likely climatic changes will in effect move large cities and whole countries into temperature niches that present inhabitants would find unimaginable," Neil Adger of the University of Exeter, who reviewed the study, told the Post. "So will cities move? Unlikely. But will they become less attractive destinations for people to move to? Definitely. And ultimately some present cities will stop growing and ossify."

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This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said there is no real backlog on jobless claims in Illinois," CBS2 Chicago reports.

"But on Monday night, our sources said the backlog is real, and getting longer by the day."

This is not a good look for Pritzker, who apparently is using a different definition of the word "backlog" than the rest of us.

Pritzker on Saturday:

"[T]here is not a backlog in the sense of people have filed something in there and it's not officially filed. People go online, they create an account and they fill it out and that is then a filing."

Okay, that's not the "sense" that we're talking about. Sure, we can all sign up to get in line, but that puts us nowhere near to getting our benefits.

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Pritzker on Monday:

"[T]here really isn't a backlog at this point. So people who are having trouble, there's something, there's typically an issue with their claim."

Even if that were true - which it isn't - it still constitutes a backlog when a significant number of people's claims haven't been worked through.

How significant?

"[An Illinois Department of Employment Security] employee sent a screenshot of unemployment claims that are yet to be adjudicated - 12,440 to be exact," CBS2 reports. "All are out-of-work people waiting for interviews to find out if they can even get benefits.

"The IDES employee said most were filed back in March and won't even get interviewed until late this month - if then.

"And that's not counting people who still can't file a claim or certify."

Like me! As a sole proprietor who should qualify under expanded emergency eligibility, I have to wait until at least May 11 to try to file a claim.

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Clarifying? I guess I need to go ahead and get denied first . . . I wonder if there's a backlog for that. (Also, the state previously said gig workers shouldn't apply until the site was ready for them, so . . . )

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Now, to be fair, there probably isn't a state in the union that isn't having this kind of problem. But that doesn't mean Pritzker should deny it exists - or blame filers.

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P.S.: "Pritzker said there will be an overview of the entire unemployment system later this week to give him, and hopefully the public, a better idea of what is really going on with the filings and the system."

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Related:

Asked and answered!

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Also: Most Freelance Workers Still Haven't Gotten Unemployment Or Government Loans.

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Assignment Desk Chicago
Localize.

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That's A Protection Program, Alright
"Faced with the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump quickly rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program, aiming to keep workers on the payroll at small businesses as business dwindled because of the COVID-19 shutdowns," the Sun-Times reports.

Among the Chicago-area companies to benefit, records show, were:

- A railcar manufacturer - which secured the maximum $10 million - that closed a factory in Virginia last year and opened a new one in Mexico while paying its CEO $2.1 million in total compensation.

- A clean-energy company in Cicero that told shareholders when it announced its $9.5 million loan that COVID-19 hadn't harmed its business.

- Two companies that employ thousands of workers - well over the program's usual 500-employee limit, though businesses also can qualify based on net worth or net income.

These are Today's Worst People In The Chicago Area.

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Also:

"The SBA permits some businesses, such as restaurants, to treat each location as a separate entity. That allowed the Gibsons steakhouse chain in Chicago to get a loan.

"We applied for it and were fortunate to get some relief," Gibsons chairman Stephen Lombardo III says, though he would not disclose how much money the company got.

Embarrassed?

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I've changed my mind. Stephen Lombardo III is Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

America's Renters vs. Sam Zell
"While one of his companies, Equity Residential, announced freezes on evictions for April, May and June in response to the coronavirus crisis, they simultaneously increased rents."

You don't have to go, you just have to pay more!

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"Every weekday morning, Zell confers with his managers on a Zoom call from his office overlooking the Chicago River. Recently, he's been briefed on the situation at Equity Residential, his largest publicly traded company," Bloomberg reports (via Crain's).

"Shares of the real estate investment trust, one of the biggest apartment owners in the U.S., are down almost 30% since late February. Rents, however, are holding up well enough that Zell said he doesn't expect any significant changes in monthly collections."

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Black Nonbelievers
"Black Nonbelievers connect with other Black folks and allies who have chosen to live without religion. They serve as a community for those who have been otherwise shunned by family and friends."

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Women's Collegiate Flag Football On The Way
"Football is for everyone."

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ChicagoReddit

Trying to find a song that used to be played at Adler Planetarium's Welcome to the Universe show from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Retrograde (feat.Steve Albini)

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BeachBook

Inside The Heartwarming World Of Hot Wheels Collecting.

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Odd Obsession Closing; Putting 25,000 Films In Storage.

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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: Quirky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Women's Collegiate Flag Football On The Way

Women's flag football is on its way to becoming an official National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) varsity sport by 2021, thanks to a two-year partnership between the NAIA, the National Football League (NFL) and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX).

With support from NFL FLAG and RCX, NAIA will work to develop league infrastructure and operations for the first women's flag football competition governed by a collegiate athletics association.

"Football is for everyone," NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said. "This groundbreaking and historic joint venture provides an opportunity for the values, fun and competitive environment of football to be enjoyed as a varsity sport by female student-athletes attending NAIA institutions across America."

womensflag.jpg

As the official operating partner of NFL FLAG and the NAIA Showcases, RCX will help facilitate women's collegiate flag football across the NAIA and drive participation through women's flag football NAIA Showcases. The NAIA will host its first Showcase open to female football athletes in the late summer or early fall of 2020.

"Increasing female participation in flag football has been a top priority for NFL FLAG," said Izell Reese, RCX President and General Manager. "By teaming up with the NAIA, we're able to create even more opportunities for young women to continue the sport they love, and potentially receive scholarships to continue their education and compete at the next level."

"The NAIA is thrilled to partner with the NFL and RCX in launching women's flag football," said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO. "This is a fantastic opportunity for our members to expand their athletics programming with support from valuable partners like RCX and one of the most relevant and successful professional sports leagues in the world."

The NAIA will begin working with NFL FLAG and RCX immediately to outline competition guidelines and next steps for schools and conferences interested in instituting women's flag. The first competitive season will be held in the spring of 2021.

The NAIA will host an emerging sport or invitational championship in the spring of 2022. An emerging sport in the NAIA is defined as at least 15 participating institutions, while invitational can be defined as at least 25. A sport must have a minimum of 40 participating institutions to be considered for full championship status.

In addition to the women's flag football initiative, the NFL will serve the presenting sponsor of the 2020 NAIA Football National Championship, scheduled for Saturday, December 19 at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium at Grambling University in Grambling, La.

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Some video:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

Black Nonbelievers

"Leighann Lord speaks with Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers. Black Nonbelievers connect with other Black folks and allies who have chosen to live without religion. They serve as a community for those who have been otherwise shunned by family and friends. From the Black Nonbelievers' website: 'Instead of accepting dogma, we seek to determine truth and morality through reason and evidence.'"


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See also: Black Nonbelievers of Chicago.

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And:

Non-Believers of Color: Atheists and Skeptics in the Black Community.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

America's Renters vs. Sam Zell

On April 1st, nearly a third of U.S. apartment renters could not pay their rent. On May 1st, even more people were unable to pay rent. The landscape of landlords is incredibly varied from individuals with a two-flat to multibillion-dollar corporations and everything in between.

Meet our local billionaire Sam Zell, the head of companies that own over 150,000 rental properties - including apartments, manufactured homes and RV parks. Last year, Zell was ranked number 119 on the Forbes 400 list with an estimated $5.5 billion in personal wealth. While one of his companies, Equity Residential, announced freezes on evictions for April, May and June in response to the coronavirus crisis, they simultaneously increased rents.

So, while people navigate whether to spend their meager stimulus check on food or prescription drugs, Zell aims to increase the already bulging wealth of himself and his partners. While the rest of us ration cleaning supplies, minimize grocery trips, teach our children while wondering if we'll be able to feed them that night, Zell sees an opportunity to make a huge profit.

One of the top desires of many laid-off workers is rent forgiveness, a break to allow them to stretch the little they have a bit further without endangering their families in search of work when they should be social distancing. And despite most not having a history of tenants organizing, they're willing to take drastic action to win that relief.

That is why on May 1, Jobs with Justice and many others supported workers who actively refused to pay their rent to Wall Street and corporate landlords like Sam Zell who seek to profit from our collective pain. But there are real risks for tenants that cannot pay and will not pay rent.

While there is an eviction moratorium in Illinois, landlords are still filing the paperwork, waiting for the moratorium to be lifted. An eviction will follow a tenant for years, making it difficult to secure housing for a very long time, even though the fact that people are not working is not their fault but rather due to a global pandemic.

Zell and others have the power to freeze and forgive rent payments for the duration of this crisis. In addition to not evicting anyone who cannot pay, he could forgive all rents for April, May and June. And unlike many smaller landlords who are doing this out of compassion for their tenant neighbors - people like Mario Salerno who canceled rent for tenants in all 18 of his apartment buildings in New York during the coronavirus at great expense - Zell can more than afford it. It wouldn't really cost him anything at all.

The reality is that we need Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to take action immediately. We cannot wait for people like Sam Zell to do the right thing - we will likely be waiting a very long time. Pritzker can and should cancel rent and mortgage payments in Illinois. The Chicago Latino Caucus and many, many others have asked him to take this action. He has the legal ability to do it. He must do it now. If Pritzker can mount a legal challenge to defend his right to extend the stay-at-home order, he can mount a legal challenge to protect Illinoisans who can't pay rent because they, and their employers, are following that order.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

Reopening Books

This is a warning to my local library: I am coming. I am coming very soon.

The timing of this event hinges solely on some moderation of the COVID-19 trauma, which is not only deadly but emotionally draining. We all are tired of it. Tired of worrying about it, thinking of it, working to avoid being infected with it.

One of these days, civilization will return, and libraries will reopen.

It will be about time for all of us, both metaphorically and literally.

Among the few useful effects of the pandemic killer is that we all have gained a keener appreciation of time and how little there is of it.

The virus has shortened the time and shape of our potential experience and made us all aware that milk and eggs are not the only commodities with an expiration date. You and I have one of those, too.

Imagine that children born in 2020 are likely to spend all their life until early adulthood under the COVID-19 cloud. Face masks might well become the official worldwide uniform of the entire decade.

The terrible swiftness of the virus means you could be happily watching Mork and Mindy on some oldies TV channel and be dead within 36 hours. But not only that but dead in lonely solitude except for masked, shrouded, heroic strangers who are trying to keep you alive.

COVID-19 is terrifying not only for its lethality but because it often requires you to die alone.

Faced with that new reality, what should a person do to avoid wasting whatever time remains for each of us? Consider how you might expend time, even if you remain healthy for your personal forever.

This is not only an existential question but also a practical one.

We must stop wasting what we have in such little supply.

For myself, and no one else, I have decided to read again. Until I was 40, it was about all of anything valuable I did for myself, if not for anyone else.

I read as a 7-year-old, and every day through every season of every year thereafter without pause until I was 40.

When I hit two score, I stopped reading what I had loved, and mostly worked with words as a newspaper editor. Many of them were very fine words produced by very fine writers. So there was no loss to my world forced upon me. It was a transaction.

But time is a defined resource that you often spend as an offering to others.

Nonetheless, I missed the words I had loved most and regretted the loss. I had missed Twain, Steinbeck and Faulkner. And Ray Bradbury? Why had I allowed myself to lose Bradbury's poetry - and Vonnegut's wrenching funniness?

A career seemed in the moment like a mature trade for their words. You must make money, and be as successful as life allows. Plus, there were wonderful children to love as their dad, and homes to keep secure; so there was human value and a sense of purpose that flowed from work.

Some men fill up their extra time with events that I could not. I always thought middle-age men could not possibly have thought golf was anything but a hideous, wasteful misallocation of resources. Golf was useless, like competitive dart-throwing in taverns. Or vapidly pointless, like bowling and video games.

Exercise? That's organized sweating. I do not sweat attractively.

But reading great writers was an investment in your soul because they can stay inside your mind for as long as your mind works, and I had somehow traded that away. Reading is your mind's habitual immersion in ideas. I had kicked the habit without intending a cure.

So now I will cure myself of the cure.

There are 100 bookmarks in my life, and I will visit them all again, and allow the cleansing waters of the immersion to wash over me. It will be like baptism and perhaps a rebirth even at this late stage. You are never too late for salvation.

I will visit the apostles again. Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (his best novel), Sam Clemens' Life on the Mississippi (a largely forgotten Twain masterpiece) and 98 other glorious human constructions.

I have no vanity in the best books I have read. After all, I didn't write them; only breathed them in, as if they were air. Besides, you would not recognize them all. They are mine.

Plus, I stumbled into all of them on my own. I was dumbly lucky. They were the happiest accidents of my life.

I ignored children's literature even when I was a child. Imagine being a solo-sailing 11-year-old trying to decipher the narrative social dynamics of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury.

You can't ask your sixth-grade Benedictine Order teaching nun about Faulkner's novel. She'll take you to the parish priest for immediate moral counseling.

There is no academic or social advantage to being the only sixth-grader in Catholic elementary school who knows the word "incest."

Of course, there are other books that fall just outside the One Hundred: Saul Bellow, Stephen Hawking, Salman Rushdie, Aldous Huxley (any of his 50 books that are not Brave New World), and maybe Sophocles if I have the energy.

I am not merely accumulating a roster of old, dead white guys. Rushdie lives. Ursula Le Guin is on my list. Her The Left Hand of Darkness still haunts me some 50 years after I first read it. I wish to be haunted again.

Now that I reconsider my reading past, it inspires me (once this virus trauma has subsided) to camp at the library and reread those 100 books I do not want to forget.

The town where I reside has a library at least three times the size you'd expect in a small village, and it's the hub of a regional system of libraries. So the books are near.

But so is time, and I can feel life's boundaries pressing against me. We all are jittery. So I choose to use the fretfulness to rouse myself. I do not want to waste time only with memories if the reality of the words and characters can be grasped and be loved again. I'd like to again meet Tom Sawyer, Molly Bloom, and Philip Marlowe.

And even Arthur "Boo" Radley, though he didn't talk much. In To Kill a Mockingbird, vacationing friend Jem (thinly disguised Truman Capote who was author Harper Lee's real-life neighbor) describes a Boo he has never seen with this lurid, defamatory and inaccurate portrait: "Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained - if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time."

I liked that Boo much better than the movie's Robert Duvall because I had met the real Boo in Lee's pages. He is still there, waiting to be revealed.

So this is my valedictory to idleness. No time to waste because the virus has taken away the luxury of indolence.

As social commentator and the hardest working man in showbiz James Brown announced in 1976: "Get Up Offa That Thing."

Tell the librarians I am coming, and I mean business.

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Previously by 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.

* Only Science Will Bring Back Sports.

* I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors.

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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 12:00 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

Inbox:

AUTONOMOUS TENANTS UNION ANNOUNCES INDUCTEES TO COVID-19 LANDLORD WALL OF SHAME
Signees of Mayor Lightfoot's "solidarity pledge" and some of the biggest and most well-connected players on the Chicagoland real estate scene among the dishonored

CHICAGO - Nine Chicagoland property management companies, together responsible for at least 94 eviction filings since March 13th, have been selected by Autonomous Tenants Union (ATU) as the inaugural class of the COVID-19 Landlord Wall of Shame:

MICHAEL TOLLIVER/DAVID PEZZOLA of Atlas Asset Management/Icarus Properties; STUART HANDLER of TLC Management; ELZIE HIGGINBOTTOM of East Lake Management; AL BELMONTE of Wesley Realty Group; MARTY MAX of MLC Properties and Management; JEFFREY CAGAN of Cagan Management Group; ELI UNGAR of MAC Properties; and ADRIAN TUDOR of Medallion Property Management.

Today's inductees include industry leaders and prominent members of the Chicago Apartment Association, Chicago Association of Realtors, and Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance. Representatives of these three landlord associations appeared last week with Mayor Lightfoot to tout the signing of a "solidarity pledge" that was purported to represent an "effort to provide relief to beleaguered tenants" affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pledge, which the mayor's office falsely claimed included the participation of tenants groups, was roundly condemned by Chicago's leading tenant organizations and groups like Chicago Teachers Union and Access Living as a PR stunt meant to undermine efforts at producing real relief for renters.

"The Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge is about compassion and flexibility," said Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara at the April 29th press event - but notably, it is not about accountability or enforceability.

The landlord associations' party to the pledge in fact lobbied in concert just days before to kill Ald. Matt Martin's modest tenant relief bill, an ordinance that would have merely codified into law the extended payment window and negotiation process that are supposed principles of the pledge.

Unsurprisingly, its signatories have continued to file evictions with impunity.

On Monday, reporters can also look out for State Rep. Delia Ramirez's emergency housing legislation including rental cancellation, as well as Chicago Democratic Socialists of America and Lift the Ban Coalition's breakdown of the financial ties between city lawmakers and real estate interests.

ATU, in concert with partners in the Lift The Ban and Right to Recovery coalitions, have consistently demanded real tenant relief in the form of rent and mortgage cancellations, a freeze on eviction filings, the housing of houseless Chicagoans, and automatic lease extensions for as long as the COVID-19 crisis endures.

A petition articulating these demands garnered over 17,000 signatures. Gov. J.B. Pritzker acceded to one of these demands on April 23rd, issuing an Executive Order making it illegal to "commence a residential eviction action" against tenants who do not pose an imminent public safety risk. In spite of this, public Cook County Circuit Court records indicate that evictions filings have continued.

However, Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker have consistently cited a state law, the Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997, as limiting their ability to act on rent cancellation. After weeks of denying his legal authority to temporarily lift the ban using his Emergency Executive Powers, Pritzker appeared to backtrack on May 2nd, instead justifying his inaction by claiming "it would be a very temporary thing that would have very little effect."

The reality is that a temporary lifting of the ban would allow for desperately needed rent cancellation for the months in which renters have gone without income due to COVID-19. Under the current executive orders and non-binding pledges, tenants are still explicitly expected to pay back all rent debt they accumulate while out of work responsibly adhering to the stay-at-home order. Because of this lack of political will, once the emergency ends, working class people will be hit with a hammer of piled up rent debt and Chicago will see a flood of displacement as the courts begin to process the eviction backlog that has been created by landlords like those dishonored today in the Wall of Shame.

Whew. Now on to the Inaugural COVID-19 Landlord Wall Of Shame Inductees.

MICHAEL TOLLIVER/DAVID PEZZOLA of Atlas Asset Management/Icarus Properties. 26 evictions filed . . . Tolliver named "#1 producing broker of commercial real estate for multifamily transactions" in 2017 by the Chicago Association of Realtors.

STUART HANDLER of TLC Management. 24 evictions filed . . . Vice President of the Chicago Apartment Association, has twice served as their president, spent time on their Executive Committee, and chaired their Legislative Committee . . . CAA is a major donor to Ald. Brendan Reilly, who killed Ald. Matt Martin's renter relief ordinance.

ELZIE HIGGINBOTTOM of East Lake Management. 9 evictions filed . . . Chicago Association of Realtors Hall of Famer and one of Chicago's most notorious, and notoriously well-connected, slumlords. The Chicago Tribune has described him as "one of the city's biggest and most heavily subsidized landlords . . . an opportunist who grew rich while neglecting his low-income tenants."

MARTY MAX of MLC Properties and Management. 8 evictions filed . . . Vice President of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance, a solidarity pledge signatory.

AL BELMONTE of Wesley Realty Group. 9 evictions filed . . . past chairman and member of the Evanston Plan Commission, member of the Evanston Zoning Commission, the Evanston Historical Society, the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, Evanston Property Owners Association, the Rogers Park Builders Group and Housing Options.

JEFFREY CAGAN of Cagan Management Group. 7 evictions filed . . . member of the board of the National Multifamily Housing Council, a massive real estate industry lobbying and public relations group which in 2020 has 204 incumbent Representatives and 29 Senators evenly spanning both parties, including 13 of 18 from Illinois.

ELI UNGAR of MAC Properties. 6 evictions filed . . . made the news for including non-disclosure agreements as a precondition to negotiation with tenants in need.

ADRIAN TUDOR of Medallion Property Management. 5 evictions filed . . . as owner of Medallion Leasing, once racked up a staggering $4.3 million in fines for running a fleet of illegally salvaged vehicles . . . was once forced to sign a building over to the city as part of a settlement after being sued for a host of code violations.

There you have it, Today's Worst People In Chicago, courtesy of the Autonomous Tenants Union.

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Preventing Pandemics
"SARS, Ebola and now SARS-CoV-2: all three of these highly infectious viruses have caused global panic since 2002 - and all three of them jumped to humans from wild animals that live in dense tropical forests," Scientific American notes.

Huh, that sounds familiar.

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COVID-19 In CPS
"Classes might be canceled for Chicago Public Schools students, yet many people are still working in the buildings," CBS2 Chicago reports. "[M]any of those essential workers are testing positive for COVID-19 too.

"It's not clear where the workers contracted the virus. But since the doors closed at schools statewide, 75 active CPS employees and vendors are positive."

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Inbox:

Cook County Jail & IDOC Refuse To Distribute Hundreds Of Masks Made For Detainees

CHICAGO - Two Chicago abolitionist groups, Love & Protect and Moms United Against Violence & Incarceration (MUAVI), seek to deliver hundreds of masks to Cook County Jail and women's Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities for use by detainees, incarcerated people and staff.

So far, over 1,500 masks have been made and delivered to Cook County Jail, Logan Correctional Center, and Decatur Correctional Center. The groups received permission from these facilities to send in CDC-approved fabric masks.

Now, Love & Protect and MUAVI are hearing from both incarcerated people and administrative staff that their handmade and store-bought masks are not making it into the hands of people incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center, the state's largest women's prison and Cook County Jail.

So far, over 400 detainees at Cook County Jail have contracted the virus, 6 have died and over 150 incarcerated individuals in IDOC have tested positive for COVID-19. The virus is clearly spreading quickly, and the decision to deny people masks is further endangering their lives.

Love & Protect is a volunteer-run prison abolitionist collective that centers the needs of women, trans, and non-binary people of color who are incarcerated for surviving violence through self-defense. MUAVI is also a local prison abolitionist group that organizes mutual support and participatory defense in solidarity with mothers who have suffered criminalization and separation from their kids. The two groups have been working alongside many organizations in the Chicagoland area such as Black & Pink Chicago, Prison + Neighborhood Art Project and others, through a coalition called Free the People Coalition, to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in prisons and the Cook County Jail.

"Prisons and jails are unsafe for humans in any circumstances, but they are especially lethal in the face of a pandemic," said Sangi Ravichandran, an organizer with Love & Protect. "The only safe option for people inside is to be freed so they can follow social distancing and safety guidelines with their families and communities."

Until people are freed, it's essential to keep them as safe as possible. Prisons and jails should be supplying masks to reduce the spread. Instead, even masks supplied by volunteer groups are being blocked from entering prisons.

The state must offer clemency and release to many more people in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, those who remain behind bars should be granted the means to follow basic health and safety guidelines recommended by the CDC.

"We demand that IDOC and CCJ allow people to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the facilities," said Holly Krig, MUAVI's director of organizing. "We also demand release as the best protection for incarcerated people, staff, and the communities to which people will return, and most people do come home again. The demand for PPE and release are inseparable."

See also:

* The Source: Wife Of Dead Cook County Jail Inmate Says 132 Of Her Calls To Warn Officials About Coronavirus Conditions Went Unanswered.

* Chicago Reporter: Inside Division 16, Cook County Jail's COVID-19 Positive Detainees Say They're Waiting To Die.

* Tribune: Frustration Reigns Amid Efforts To Get Youths Out Of Cook County's Juvenile Detention Center Before Virus Hits.

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And:

*

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Plus:

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New on the Beachwood . . .

OSHA To Workers: Drop Dead
"It's a worker safety crisis of monstrous proportions and OSHA is nowhere to be found."

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The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles VI: Testing ALF
"Think of it like this: If our goal were to eat an Italian dinner, we're currently stuck in traffic on our way to an Olive Garden. We're not even halfway to arriving at the worst place that technically qualifies."

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Covering Kent State
Were the good ol' days really all that good?

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.ORG Domain Saved From Private Equity
"The sale would have changed the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the nonprofit operator of .ORG, into an entity bound to serve the interests of its corporate stakeholders, not the nonprofit world."

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ChicagoReddit

Chicago Rabbinical Council forbids synagogues reopening even as the state allows reopening of places of worship from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Tributo Underground / Chicago Music

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BeachBook

The World's Worst Jailers Of Journalists.

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The COVID-19 Riddle: Why Does The Virus Wallop Some Places And Spare Others?

The blood of Jesus?

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

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*

*

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Squeeze it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Covering Kent State

Robert Giles, author of When Truth Mattered, will share profits from his book with the GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization.

Giles' book recounts the shooting of Kent State students during an anti-Vietnam War rally 50 years ago and how his staff at the Akron Beacon Journal covered the tragedy that rocked the nation. Four students died and nine were wounded from bullets fired by soldiers of the Ohio National Guard.

The GroundTruth Project is committed to supporting a new generation of journalists in enterprise reporting projects on issues of social justice. Giles will donate 10 percent of the book's profits to GroundTruth each year.

Bob+Giles+working+cover.jpg

"During a critical time," Giles said, "when citizens are dependent on deeply reported stories by reporters trained to ask hard questions, examine records and rely on experts who know the facts, there is no better contribution my book can make than to help young journalists learn to effectively report in a complex world.

"I admire Charles Sennott, the founder of the GroundTruth Project, and his untiring dedication to finding and preparing young journalists to carry forward the values of truth-telling and the ability to report with authority."

Giles was managing editor of the Beacon Journal on May 4, 1970, when soldiers of the Ohio National Guard were ordered to break up a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Instead of dispersing the demonstrators, the Guardsmen unexpectedly fired 61 bullets at them, an act that shocked the nation.

"The values of truth-telling and building trust with citizens at the heart of our reporting from Kent State 50 are the very ones the journalists in the GroundTruth Project are learning," Giles said.

GroundTruth focuses on narrative storytelling across media platforms, including digital, radio/podcast, television and documentary film. Human rights, freedom of expression, emerging democracies, the environment, religious affairs and global health are among the topics GroundTruth journalists pursue.

GroundTruth launched its flagship program, Report for America, in 2018 and has recently surged its initiative amid the COVID crisis, now supporting 225 reporters in 164 newsrooms to assist newsrooms struggling amid the downturn in the economy.The reporters serve in host newsrooms for up to two years. While most will be helping with COVID coverage at the beginning of their postings, eventually they will turn their focus on beats such as education, the environment, criminal justice and in under-covered corners of the communities where they are based. Think Teach for America or the Peace Corps for journalism.

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See also by the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan: 50 Years Ago, A Local Newspaper Dominated The Story Of The Kent State Tragedy. Could That Still Happen?

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

First, I really resist the narrative so many mainstream journalists continue to purvey that newspapers used to really good at their jobs, which I really get a whiff of here; it's just plainly ahistorical. I can't speak to the Beacon Journal's coverage of Kent State, but it would be an unusual newspaper indeed if it's track record up to that point on such issues as Vietnam and, say, racial issues in their own community was anything near stellar, to put it politely. The history of newspaper journalism, while surely filled with impressive and inspiring high points, is mostly one of failure. (Just read Liebling's The Press, for starters.) In fact, that dismal record continues today; it seems like they bungle every big story that comes down the pike, be it the Iraq War or the novel coronavirus - with a smattering of Richard Jewell's in between. If only newspaper folk had a whit of self-reflection, they'd not only do their jobs better, hewing close to actual reality instead of official and/or invented narratives and massive race, class and gender bias, just to name a couple examples, they'd not only serve their readers and communities and nation and world better, but they'd have enough sense to understand their own economics and stop fighting the last false war against, say, Google and Facebook. Newspapers carried the U.S. government's line on Vietnam for an awful long time. Those who got it right were deemed dissenters and marginalized, as is usually the case. So there's a bit of misplaced righteousness expressed here by Mr. Giles.

To Sullivan's question: Of course a local newspaper can dominate a tragic story today. Haven't they been doing that for decades? Don't they usually win Pulitzers for doing so?

I also continue to be baffled by the fetishization of "local news." What newspapers in the country aren't "local," besides the New York Times and Washington Post, which in fact have local sections and, really, the federal government is at least geographically local to the Post.

Beyond that, as I've written before, most local newspapers - that is to say, most newspapers - suck. And the more local they are - the smaller they are - the more they suck. The more "local" they get, the more scared they get to challenge the powerful and wealthy in their towns, and they more apt they are to bend editorial integrity to the will of advertisers. I thought we all knew this?

This is not to render an opinion on Giles's book; I have not read it and thought it worthy to post news of it and its related charitable giving. I like Report for America, though it's incredibly sad it's necessary.

I just wonder if, in my lifetime, journalism will get a grip on itself.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

OSHA Probing Health Worker Deaths But Urges Inspectors To Spare The Penalties

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has in recent weeks launched investigations into deaths of workers at 34 health care employers across the U.S., federal records show, but former agency officials warn that the agency has already signaled it will only cite and fine the most flagrant violators.

The investigations come as health care workers have aired complaints on social media and to lawmakers about a lack of personal protective equipment, pressure to work while sick, and retaliation for voicing safety concerns as they have cared for more than 826,000 patients stricken by the coronavirus.

Despite those concerns, the nation's top worker safety agency is not viewed as an advocate likely to rush to workers' aid. President Donald Trump tapped a Labor Department leader who has represented corporations railing against the very agency he leads.

"It's a worker safety crisis of monstrous proportions and OSHA is nowhere to be found," said David Michaels, an epidemiologist and George Washington University professor who was assistant secretary of Labor and ran OSHA from 2009 to 2017.

Employers are required to report a work-related death to OSHA or face fines for failing to do so. Yet former OSHA leaders say the agency has not openly reminded hospitals and nursing homes to file such reports in recent weeks.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 9,200 health workers had been infected with the coronavirus, a number the agency concedes is a vast undercount. The estimate was based on a set of lab-generated reports in which only 16% included the patient's profession. The agency said the true number is probably closer to 11% of all known cases.

Federal records show the OSHA fatality investigations - searchable here - involve hospitals, an emergency medical service agency, a jail health department and nursing homes. Its investigations can be prompted by the complaint of a worker, a former worker or even an OSHA official who sees a news report about a workplace death. They can be conducted by phone and fax or involve an on-site inspection.

One fatality investigation launched April 7 focuses on Marion Regional Nursing home in Hamilton, Alabama, where nurse Rose Harrison, 60, worked before she died of COVID-19, her daughter Amanda Williams said.

Williams said her mother was not given a mask when caring for a patient on March 25 - 10 days after the county's first coronavirus case - who later tested positive for the virus. Williams said her mother felt pressured to keep going to work even as she was coughing, fatigued and running a low-grade fever.

"She kept telling me 'Amanda, I have to work, I have to get my house paid off,'" Williams said, noting her mother said she was urged to work unless her temperature reached 100.4.

Harrison2_468sq.jpgRose Harrison/Courtesy of Amanda Williams

Williams said that she drove her mother to the hospital on April 3 and that Harrison was unhappy she'd spent the week working. Harrison went on a ventilator the following day, fully expecting to recover. She died April 6.

"When your mother dies mad, you're pretty much mad," Williams, one of Harrison's three daughters, said. "I think if proper steps were taken from the beginning, this would have been different."

Neither North Mississippi Health Services, which owns the nursing home, nor the home's administrator, replied to calls or e-mails.

An April 13 OSHA memo said the agency would prioritize death investigations involving health care workers and first responders. It said "formal complaints alleging unprotected exposures to COVID-19 . . . may warrant an on-site inspection."

Michaels, the former Labor Department official, said a subsequent OSHA memo suggested that officials are unlikely to penalize all but the most careless employers.

The memo about employers' "good faith" efforts said a citation may be issued "where the employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply."

Michaels said that "any efforts" to comply with work safety rules could amount to making even one phone call to try to buy masks for workers.

Federal OSHA officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Democrats criticized Trump last year when he tapped Eugene Scalia, who spent years of his legal career defending major corporations, to head the Labor Department.

Scalia fought OSHA on behalf of SeaWorld after it was cited over the death of a woman training killer whales, the New York Times reported. Scalia's team argued the work safety agency was not meant to regulate the training of killer whales. He also argued that SeaWorld had adequate safety measures in place, but ultimately lost the case.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, alluding to Scalia's record of defending firms like Chevron and Goldman Sachs, called the appointment "obscene."

Since March 27, the ongoing fatality investigations have been mostly categorized as "partial" investigations, which initially focus on one area of noncompliance. Four are labeled "complete," meaning they cover a wide range of hospital operations.

One of the "complete" investigations is listed at Coral Gables Hospital in South Florida, where respiratory therapist Jorge Mateo, 82, worked before he died of coronavirus complications, his daughter said.

The hospital reported the death, according to a statement from Shelly Weiss Friedberg of Tenet Healthcare, which owns the hospital. She said Mateo was with the hospital for four decades and "the loss of Jorge Mateo is felt throughout our entire community."

A subsequent investigation - also labeled as "complete" - was opened April 10 at Palmetto General Hospital, in South Florida.

There, 33-year-old Danielle Dicenso worked for a staffing agency as an ICU nurse, treating coronavirus patients. Dicenso died after developing COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and a cough, told local news station WSVN she had not been given a protective mask and was "very scared of going to work."

Weiss Friedberg, of Tenet, which also owns Palmetto, said in an e-mail that "nurses are provided appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in compliance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines."

The latest guidelines say staff can wear a face mask if no N95 respirator is available when performing routine care with COVID-19 patients. For higher-risk procedures, such as intubation, workers must receive N95 masks.

OSHA opened an inspection at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, a Long Island hospital, on April 11. Federal officials had learned from a local news story about a patient care assistant dying of COVID-19, hospital leadership confirmed.

The hospital has no record of that employee having any interaction with COVID patients, said James O'Connor, its executive vice president. The hospital tests employees for COVID-19 only if they have had confirmed exposure to someone who tested positive and if they develop symptoms.

O'Connor said all employees who are in contact with suspected COVID-19 patients get the full suite of PPE; they are told to clean their N95 masks after each shift, he said, and to change masks entirely every three shifts.

That can mean workers wear the same equipment for multiple days.

Early research suggests that N95s can be sanitized and reused up to three times. But that paper has not yet undergone peer review. In an affidavit the New York State Nurses Association filed regarding another state hospital, the union argued that it has "yet to be adequately proven that disposable respirators can be effectively decontaminated" without putting the wearer at risk.

As recently as April 16, the local nurses union told Newsday that St. Catherine workers on Long Island are being told to share PPE.

While OSHA does have a "general duty" clause urging employers to keep workers safe, and a standard for respiratory protection, it has no written rule on protecting workers from airborne disease, said Debbie Berkowitz, a former OSHA chief of staff and director of the National Employment Law Project's worker safety and health program.

As OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention downgrade their requirements week by week, workers are left with the choice in some places to wear a bandana in situations that had called for a properly fitted N95 mask, which can filter out particles as small as 0.1 microns.

"OSHA has really completely abandoned their mandate to protect workers," Berkowitz said, "and every worker is on their own."

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Previously:
* Illinois Coronavirus Inbox: Prisoners & Workers Plead For Protection.

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

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles VI: Testing ALF

"Think of it like this: If our goal were to eat an Italian dinner, we're currently stuck in traffic on our way to an Olive Garden. We're not even halfway to arriving at the worst place that technically qualifies."


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Previously:
* The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Parts I - III.

* The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Parts IV and V.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2020

TrackNotes: Virtual Stupidity

I have a very good longtime friend who lives, if I did the right vector Victor, 182 miles straight north of my house.

She's in the middle of town really, but has such a nice yard that a deer or two will visit once in awhile. Not to mention rabbits. But her two cats watch over.

A friend for years before that, we ended up both being big fans of horse racing. I'm not sure how that happened, or the genesis of it, and I might be responsible for it. But where I'm a crusty bread heel, she loves the knockabouts and the class both, finds and sticks to a favorite horse, and then shows me how So And So the colt seems to be running well. "What about this one? He looks good." She's got instinct. Reads the Past Performances.

That's handicapping. It is.

She loves the game and wagers from time to time, sometimes through me, reluctant to open an online account. I give her all credit for that. But she just loves the horses and the game and we have a lot of fun comparing notes.

After a long weekend of racing, I called and asked "Did you see that virtual Kentucky Derby? It was crazy."

She said, "No. And I have no interest in it. It's stupid."

No wiser words were ever said. I asked, "Don't you just want to laugh at it?" "No. It's stupid."

I thought, Yeah. Then I said, "If I'm going to write about it, I have to watch it." "OK," she said: stop.

And that was that. And I thought to myself, "The voice of reason." It was heartwarming. Somebody's got to shovel the snow.

And right. It was really bad.

You too can watch it. It was horrible. Jesus H., did anybody think Secretariat was not going to win? NBC wonks went through the motions. Randy Moss took Secretariat and Jerry Bailey took Citation. The "finish" was Secretariat, Citation and Seattle Slew. Ya think?

NBC pretended one or two or three people in a single household were having Derby parties with one lady's hat and four tablespoons of sugar ruining good bourbon for the two guys.

My friend said, "Yeah, hats."

MARKETING. You think they're going to break little girls' hearts and not have Secretariat win?

Secretariat won by three-quarters of a length.

They didn't even have Secretariat's famous checkered headdress with the side shades he always wore. Which means you couldn't "see" him. His tail was blonde instead of red. Mike Tirico, Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss: You are co-conspirators.

ALL of the horses were ALL OVER the track. Secretariat wasted too much energy going left and right to have won.

As you know, Secretariat had that HUGE stride. The dime horse ride out front at Woolworth's had a longer stride than that video crap!

In the "showdown," the horses looked like me walking on an icy sidewalk.

Whirlaway bam bump hit American Pharoah coming out of the turn, which would have been an inquiry at least.

Too bad. The shell of the NBC program was schmaltz, but they did have some good features. The Pritzker virus briefing pre-empted a big chunk in the middle. Perfect.

As I write this, I SWEAR, channel five Chicago news just reported the cartoon as if it was real.

In the Oaklawn racing and the Arkansas Derby, chalk ruled as Charlatan easily dominated Division I and Nadal took Division II, giving Bob Baffert the sweep.

As for the cartoon race, this is the end of it.

My friend will tell me that we shall never speak of it again. I'll listen.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

.ORG Domain Registry Sale To Ethos Capital Rejected In Stunning Victory For Public Interest Internet

In an important victory for thousands of public interest groups around the world, a proposal to sell the .ORG domain registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital and convert it to a for-profit entity was rejected late Thursday by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which worked hand in hand with Access Now, NTEN, National Council of Nonprofits, Americans for Financial Reform, and many other organizations to oppose the sale, applauds ICANN's well-reasoned decision to stop the $1.1 billion transaction from moving forward. In a statement, ICANN said rejecting the deal was the right thing to do because it lacked a meaningful plan to protect the interests of nonprofits and NGOs that rely on the .ORG registry to exist on the Internet and connect with the people they serve.

The sale would have changed the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the nonprofit operator of .ORG, into an entity bound to serve the interests of its corporate stakeholders, not the nonprofit world. ORG is the third-largest Internet domain name registry, with over 10 million domain names held by a diverse group of charities, public interest organizations, and nonprofits, from the Girl Scouts of America and American Bible Society to Farm Aid and Meals On Wheels.

"We're gratified that ICANN listened to the .ORG community, which was united in its opposition to the sale," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. "Under the deal, .ORG would be converted to a for-profit entity controlled by domain name industry insiders and their secret investors. Nonprofits are vulnerable to the governments and corporations who they often seek to hold accountable. The public interest community rightly questioned whether an owner motivated by profits would stand up to demands for censorship of charities who rely on .ORG so that people can find and rely on their vital services."

"The sale of .ORG was announced, without .ORG community input, not long after price caps on registration fees for domain names were lifted and PIR acquired new powers to allegedly 'protect' the rights of third parties," said EFF Staff Attorney Cara Gagliano. "It was obvious to many that .ORG registrants could face higher operating costs and degradation of service as Ethos sought to increase fees and seek profitable arrangements with businesses keen to silence nonprofits. This concern grew after it was revealed that the transaction required taking on a $360 million debt obligation."

If PIR wishes to press forward, it still must seek approval from courts in the state of Pennsylvania, where PIR is incorporated. As part of that process, the Pennsylvania state Attorney General may weigh in. EFF urges both to follow ICANN's lead and reject the transaction. This will pave the way for a transparent process to select a new operator for .ORG that will act in the interests of the nonprofits that it serves.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2020

The Weekend Desk Report


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As I flagged then, Sun-Times wrote this last month: "Brown got mostly positive reviews from the Dallas media for his time as chief."

It's even worse than I thought - if you talk to the Dallas Morning News reporters who covered him, you'll get a different view.
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New on the Beachwood . . .

I Loathe The Lockdown Protestors
"I'm not saying armed insurrection and criminal terrorist assaults are bad things. It gives them something to do until the local Hooters is allowed to reopen."

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See also:

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New from the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

TrackNotes: Zombie Churchill
"Like the monster's claw arising from the hardpan, Churchill Downs Inc. is now awake, fully poised to wreak its consistent, insidious greed upon Thoroughbred horse racing and sports in general."

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TrackNotes: Celebrating Oaklawn's Hijacking
"When this is over, one of the good memories will be how Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas, rolled with the punches and singularly crafted American Thoroughbred horse racing on a festival level when horseplayers and even other gamblers appreciated it most."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #302: In Which We Actually Defend Ryan Pace
We like the Nick Foles deal just fine, despite the brush fire that broke out this week. Here's why. Plus: Dennis Rodman's Last Dance; Relive Sammy Sosa Next; Danny Wirtz and Michael Reinsdorf Assert Themselves; and Good Riddance, Kentucky Derby.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

Boss doesn't want to enforce the face mask policy from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

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Weekend ChicagoTube

Chicago Owner Operators Are Doing A Slow Roll In Protesting And Support of Owner Operators In DC.

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Weekend BeachBook

U.S. Women's Soccer Team's Equal Pay Demands Are Dismissed By A Judge.

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The Real Reason Apple Made The iPhone SE So Cheap.

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High Waters In The Great Lakes Reveal Two Centuries-Old Shipwrecks.

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14 Animals Who Ran For Office.

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

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The Weekend Desk Q-Tip Line: Tips for your Q.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #302: In Which We Actually Defend Ryan Pace

We like the Nick Foles deal just fine, despite the brush fire that broke out this week. Here's why. Plus: Dennis Rodman's Last Dance; Relive Sammy Sosa Next; Danny Wirtz and Michael Reinsdorf Assert Themselves; and Good Riddance, Kentucky Derby.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #302: In Which We Actually Defend Ryan Pace

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SHOW NOTES

* 302.

3:04: John McDonough Out.

* Danny Wirtz, Interim President, Chicago Blackhawks.

21:46: Marc Eversley In.

* Michael Reinsdorf, President & Chief Operating Officer, Chicago Bulls.

26:35: Dennis Rodman's Last Dance.

* Dennis Rodman Breaks Down The Triangle.

* Coffman: Authentic Bulls Fan.

45:10: Relive Sammy Sosa Next.

58:42: Good Riddance, Kentucky Derby.

* Chambers: Hot Times In Hot Springs.

* Chambers: Zombie Churchill.

* Chambers: Celebrating Oaklawn's Hijacking.

1:00:27: BREAKING: We Defend Ryan Pace.

* We like the Nick Foles deal just fine, despite the brush fire that broke out this week. Here's why.

* He still made a typically ridiculous Ryan Pace move during the draft, though.

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STOPPAGE: 20:33

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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 2:01 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Celebrating Oaklawn's Hijacking

When this is over, one of the good memories will be how Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas, rolled with the punches and singularly crafted American Thoroughbred horse racing on a festival level when horseplayers and even other gamblers appreciated it most.

Sure, cookies crumbled a certain way, including the Kentucky Derby being knocked flat on its ass, but Oaklawn found a way to extend its meet with, by the way, real hors