It’s All Just Beginning ~ The Point Magazine

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Though mild, I have what I am fairly sure are the symptoms of coronavirus. Three weeks ago I was in extended and close contact with someone who has since tested positive. When I learned this, I spent some time trying to figure out how to get tested myself, but now the last thing I want to do is to go stand in a line in front of a Brooklyn hospital along with others who also have symptoms. My wife and I have not been outside our apartment since March 10th. We have opened the door just three times since then, to receive groceries that had been left for us by an unseen deliveryman, as per our instructions, on the other side. We read of others going on walks, but that seems like a selfish extravagance when you have a dry cough and a sore throat. This is the smallest apartment I’ve ever lived in. I am noticing features of it, and of the trees, the sky and the light outside our windows, that escaped my attention—shamefully, it now seems—over the first several months since we arrived here in August. I know when we finally get out I will be like the protagonist of Halldór Laxness’s stunning novel, World Light, who, after years of bedridden illness, weeps when he bids farewell to all the knots and grooves in the wood beams of his attic ceiling.

I am not at all certain that my university in Paris will be open for business when it comes time to reinstitute my salary in June, which I had voluntarily suspended in order to take a year-long fellowship in New York. I am not at all sure that a few months from now the world is going to be the sort of place where a citizen of one country can expect to resume his public function in another country’s education system. I am not at all sure universities are going to be the sort of place where one can, again, get together with others in a room and deign to speak with them of what is beautiful and true. Meanwhile, my mother is in cancer treatment in California, and I fear I may never see her again. Until a few days ago my sister, a glacial marine geoscientist, was stuck in unexpectedly thick ice, on an icebreaker too small to break it, in the ocean somewhere off the coast of Antarctica; now her international crew is floating again, uncertain how they will get back to the Northern Hemisphere in a world of quarantines, closed borders and canceled flights, but still just happy to be back on the open sea. My wife is here with me on a tourist visa that will soon expire. We do not know what things will be like in New York when that happens, or whether there might be an exemption for foreigners who overstay their visas only because they are unable to leave what might by then be a fully locked-down city. She has an elderly grandmother in Europe. Should she leave now to be with her, while she still can and while her papers are still valid? What would become of me, if she were to go?

These are some of the questions we find ourselves asking right now. They are not exceptional, among the billions of small tragedies this pandemic has churned up. But they are mine. I have often wondered what life would be like for the survivors of a nuclear war, and in these fleeting recollections of the old world—there used to be Starbucks and barber shops, there used to be a subway I’d get on to go to the library, there used to be embrassades—I feel like I am gaining a small glimpse of that.

I find that I am generally at peace, and that the balance between happiness and sadness on any given day is little different from what it always has been for me. I find that there is liberation in this suspension of more or less everything. In spite of it all, we are free now. Any fashion, sensibility, ideology, set of priorities, worldview or hobby that you acquired prior to March 2020, and that may have by then started to seem to you cumbersome, dull, inauthentic, a drag: you are no longer beholden to it. You can cast it off entirely and no one will care; likely, no one will notice. Were you doing something out of mere habit, conceiving your life in a way that seemed false to you? You can stop doing that now. We have little idea what the world is going to look like when we get through to the other side of this, but it is already perfectly clear that the “discourses” of our society, such as they had developed up to about March 8 or 9, 2020, in all their frivolity and distractiousness, have been decisively curtailed, like the CO2 emissions from the closed factories and the vacated highways.

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‘My Friends Can’t Get Their Nails Done,’ Fox News Host Laments ~ “the hardships of the rich/entitled and unaware” rŌbert

“All my friends are saying — this is not a priority, people are dying, and I realize that — but they can’t get their nails done,” Fox and Friends host Ainsley Earhardt said

Fox News Host Says Friends Can’t Get Their Nails Done During Coronavirus

Fox News

On the day the federal government reported that a record-breaking 3.3 million Americans had filed for unemployment and as the number of confirmed coronaviruscases grew to the tens of thousands, Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt bravely gave voice to the real victims of this crisis: consumers who can no longer access salon services.

On Thursday, Earhardt began by saying that America is moving in the right direction in dealing with the spread of COVID-19, but quickly qualified the unsubstantiated statement by adding “hopefully.”

“Every day, we’re talking about different topics, because we’re moving in, hopefully, the direction of getting where China is now, or South Korea is now, and just getting some improvement,” Earhardt said.

The host spoke about some of the inconveniences she’s faced while deciding not to return to her home in New York City, which has become the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, like retrieving mail and “bills stacking up at my apartment, we gotta think about those things.” Earhardt continued, “If you bought clothing before all this happened if you want to return it, are stores gonna waive that 30-day period where you can get your money back?”

“This is not a priority, but women have to get their hair done. I saw someone tweet out, ‘You’re going to see what color our real hair is, because our roots are going to grow in.’ All my friends are saying — this is not a priority, people are dying, and I realize that — but they can’t get their nails done,” she said.

Earhardt decided to champion a cause that is real. But instead of focusing on those who are being hit with job losses and businesses having to close in the salon industry, she voiced her concerns about the services “all of her friends” are missing out o

The activities Earhardt discussed — along with others luxuries like going to a gym — have obvious mental and physical benefits during this difficult time. But the frame through which Earhardt and her co-hosts view the shutdown is telling about whom the Fox & Friends hosts count as their friends. At a time when U.S. unemployment claims are shattering the all-time record, the hosts focused on people for whom the health of the economy is a question of access to convenience and luxury, not of paying rent or keeping food on the table. That may help explain why the program’s hosts and guests are so consistently oblivious to the reality of living in poverty in the United States.

Discussing convenience and luxury is all the more absurd when you broaden your view past economics to the health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours before Earhardt shared her hair-and-nail thoughts, the New York Times released a harrowing video of a doctor inside an emergency room in Elmhurst, Queens, in New York City. Dr. Colleen Smith told the Times that she hears “from leaders of various offices from the president [Trump] to the head of [NYC’s] Health and Hospitals saying things like, ‘We’re going to be fine. Everything is fine.’” Smith continued, “And from our perspective, everything is not fine. I don’t have the support that I need. And even just the materials, that I need physically to take care of my patients.”

“And it’s America. And we’re supposed to be a first-world country,” Smith added.

If Fox News weren’t constantly cheerleading for President Trump, a quote like Smith’s might lead every program on the flag-waving network. But instead, viewers get to hear about the small inconveniences caused by a pandemic that is affecting the hosts and their friends.

TRUMP CABINET BIBLE TEACHER BLAMES CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC ON GOD’S WRATH — SOMEHOW IT INVOLVES CHINA, GAY PEOPLE, AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS ~ The Intercept

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 6.08.14 PM.pngI just found this website and know nothing about it.. Read at your own risk and make up your mind..  rŌbert

RALPH DROLLINGER, a minister who leads a weekly Bible study group for President Donald Trump’s cabinet, released a new interpretation of the coronavirus pandemic this week, arguing that the crisis represents an act of God’s judgment.

The coronavirus, Drollinger argues in two blog posts and a rambling Bible study guide published in the past few days, is a form of God’s wrath upon nations, but not one as severe as the floods described in the Old Testament or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Relative to the coronavirus pandemic crisis, this is not God’s abandonment wrath nor His cataclysmic wrath, rather it is sowing and reaping wrath,” wrote Drollinger. “A biblically astute evaluation of the situation strongly suggests that America and other countries of the world are reaping what China has sown due to their leaders’ recklessness and lack of candor and transparency.”

Neither does he miss a chance to condemn those who worship the “religion of environmentalism” and express a “proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.” These individuals, Drollinger argues in “Is God Judging America Today?”, one of the minister’s posts about coronavirus pandemic, have infiltrated “high positions in our government, our educational system, our media and our entertainment industry” and “are largely responsible for God’s consequential wrath on our nation.”

In the Bible study, Drollinger meanders through scripture, explaining the ways in which God may have caused the coronavirus. In a footnote, he hedges on his previous argument that the virus represents a mild form of God’s wrath, noting that, “We’ll soon see a human cure for the coronavirus.”

Drollinger’s evangelical lessons are carefully catered to conservative ideology, with a focus on interpreting current events through a partisan lens.

Drollinger, reached by phone, referred questions to his foundation’s press line. Capitol Ministries, the nonprofit founded by Drollinger that hosts his Bible study, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Drollinger-led Bible study meets every Wednesday morning with members of Trump’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Health Secretary Alex Azar. Carson and Azar, notably, are members of the coronavirus task force guiding the federal government response to the pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence, a member of the task force and a listed host of Capitol Ministries, is also tied to the Bible study. Emails obtained by Gizmodo show administration officials coordinating with Drollinger’s group to schedule a session of the Bible study, including the possibility of hosting the weekly event in Pence’s West Wing office.

At least 52 GOP lawmakers also participate in a Capitol Hill version of Drollinger’s Bible study, which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sponsors of the event include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the second-ranking GOP lawmaker in the Senate.

The evangelical lessons are carefully catered to conservative ideology, with a focus on interpreting current events through a partisan lens. Drollinger’s study guides have provided biblical justification for the Trump administration’s undocumented immigrant child separation policies and arguments in favor of lower taxes on the wealthy.

Bible study guides from Capitol Ministries distributed to politicians also claim that “Islam and its Koran are nothing more than a plagiarism of OT truths,” a reference to the Old Testament and, in all caps, declare: “NOT EVERY MUSLIM IS A TERRORIST BUT EVERY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST IN RECENT HISTORY HAS BEEN A MUSLIM.”

A former college basketball player, Drollinger has spent much of the last 24 years involved in fusing politics with religion. Danielle Drollinger, the minister’s spouse, once ran a political action committee designed to elect conservative Christians to office in California. Drollinger eventually formed a Christian ministry focused on cultivating political leaders in Sacramento.

For many years, Drollinger operated on the fringes. In 2004, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that many California Republicans resented the presence of Drollinger’s group, which preached that the Bible opposed women working outside the home. “It’s the world’s largest false religion,” said Drollinger, describing his view of Catholicism, in an interview with the paper.

In recent years, Capitol Ministries has since experienced dramatic growth, having been largely embraced by mainstream members of the Republican Party. In 2010, Drollinger launched his Washington, D.C., chapter, which quickly gained a following among right-wing lawmakers such as then-Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. The organization, focused on conservative Christian outreach to political leadership, has expanded to 20 state legislatures and now capitals in Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, and Ecuador, among other international affiliations.

In his book “Rebuilding America: The Biblical Blueprint,” Drollinger laid out his vision to “reach all the capitals of the world for Christ.” “We have a goal of 200 ministries in 200 federal capitals around the world,” Brian Hanson, an official at Capitol Ministries, told the New York Times.

The organization’s latest annual report touts endorsement quotes from a series of prominent GOP lawmakers.

“I do absolutely believe in the advancement of this ministry worldwide,” wrote Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst offered even more effusive praise.

“Getting together with my Senate colleagues for Bible study is a highlight of my week,” wrote the Iowa senator. “It’s a time where we can shut out all the partisan noise and focus on what matters most, our faith. Without the work of Capitol Ministries®, this wouldn’t be possible.”

 

Soldiers around the world get a new mission: Enforcing coronavirus lockdowns ~ The Washington Post

Pakistani soldiers in masks stand guard Monday on a deserted street in Sindh province, where authorities ordered the closing of markets and public spaces and banned large gatherings.
Pakistani soldiers in masks stand guard Monday on a deserted street in Sindh province, where authorities ordered the closing of markets and public spaces and banned large gatherings. (Rizwan Tabassum/Afp Via Getty Images)

A troublemaker with a gavel ~ The Washington Post

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MARCH 25, 2020

A few dozen people gathered one early March evening at the National Museum of American History to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition marking the centennial of women’s suffrage.

Collected in the glass cases are the artifacts of a long, arduous road to political empowerment:

A red silk shawl worn by Susan B. Anthony as she plied the hallways of the Capitol arguing for the right to vote.

A palm-sized campaign card from the 1916 campaign of Montana’s Jeannette Rankin, who became the first woman elected to Congress.

The brown felt hat that Bella Abzug wore at the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, where some 2,000 delegates declared: “We demand as a human right a full voice and role for women in determining the destiny of our world, our national, our families and our individual lives.”

Another item on display: the gavel used to call the U.S. House to order on Jan. 4, 2007.

The speaker who wielded that gavel on that day was, for the first time, a woman. Though Nancy Pelosi does not lack for self-confidence, she rarely indulges in public self-reflection. On that night at the Smithsonian, however, she gave a nod to those who had paved the way for her.

“The women who did all of this — oh my gosh — we revere them. We hold them up as icons. But what we hear people say is, ‘Yes, they were icons. You are troublemakers.’ They were considered troublemakers in their time, so maybe there is a future for all of us,” Pelosi said with a laugh. “But I can just tell you, a troublemaker with a gavel — that’s the real difference.”

A few days after Trump’s inauguration, his combative chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon took the measure of the then-House minority leader at a meeting in the White House dining room. Trump had begun the session by repeating his fantastical claim that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 had it not been for millions of fraudulent ballots cast on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.

“There’s no evidence to support what you just said,” Pelosi said sharply.“And if we’re going to work together, we have to stipulate to a certain set of facts.”

“She’s going to get us,” Bannon whispered to colleagues. “Total assassin. She’s a total assassin.”

A woman about to enter her ninth decade has become a warrior-heroine to the social-media generation. It seems that her every gesture toward Trump conveys a message of contempt. When he gave his 2019 State of the Union address, she offered stiff-armed, mocking applause. Right after he delivered it this year, she gracelessly ripped up her copy of what she called “a manifesto of mistruths.”

At times, even Pelosi seems taken aback by the frenzy she can trigger. After she got the better of the president during a meeting in late 2018, the Internet was ignited by an image of her striding triumphantly from the White House in a fire-colored coat. It created such a sensation that fashion house Max Mara scrambled to put the design from its 2012 collection back on the market again for $2,990. “You know, it’s a funny thing because none of it was planned or intentional. I only wore that orange coat because it was clean,” Pelosi recalled. “Now, I can barely wear it because it’s a meme.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) leave the West Wing of the White House in December 2018. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

 

 

She understands the significance that such moments convey, especially for many women. “When I was speaker before, I rarely paid attention to the accoutrements of power. I was just busy being a legislator. This time, people seem to know more about what the speaker is — well, for whatever reason — and maybe social media has made that clear to people,” she said. “But as I say to the women, nobody ever gives away power. If you want to achieve that, you go for it. But when you get it, you must use it.”

In nearly every major negotiation between the executive and the legislative branches, Pelosi remains the lone female at the table where the biggest decisions are made. Still, the gains that she has seen women make over the course of her political career have been enormous. When Pelosi arrived in the House in 1987, a freshman at the age of 47, there were barely two dozen women among its 435 members. Now, in part thanks to her efforts, there are more than 100.

But even as these victories are celebrated, they remind us that no woman has yet to climb to the top. “My disappointment is that every time I’m introduced as the most powerful woman in American history, it breaks my heart because I think we should have a president,” she said. “We could have had a female president, and we should and we will.”

It is therefore instructive to recall that Pelosi’s own rise was not one that anyone — starting with the speaker herself — would have foreseen. Life has a way of making a joke of the plans that we devise for ourselves. Only in the rear-view mirror can we see how choices and chances pave a road we could never have imagined.

 

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The nation comes together — without Trump ~ The Washington Post

President Trump, Vice President Pence and Anthony S. Fauci at the White House on Tuesday.
President Trump, Vice President Pence and Anthony S. Fauci at the White House on Tuesday. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Locals only” closures of Colorado public land may not be legal. Mountain communities say it’s needed for safety ~ Colorado Sun

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Colorado’s mountain towns say it’s not about banning outsiders. But “if you have yet to realize we are in unprecedented times, then you are either not paying attention or are a denier,” San Juan County’s sheriff says.

A Different Kind of Storm: N.O.L.A.

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 8.17.14 AM.pngA deserted Bourbon Street in New Orleans, which has had more coronavirus cases than all but 15 states.Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

 

 

By Katy Reckdahl, Campbell Robertson and

NEW ORLEANS — Yanti Turang, an emergency room nurse at a New Orleans hospital, walked out into the parking lot in full protective gear early this month to meet a woman with flulike symptoms who had just returned home after a layover in South Korea. The woman was immediately taken to an isolation room.

Around the same time, a man who had never left the country and had been in New Orleans throughout the just-concluded Mardi Gras season, showed up at the E.R. with a high fever and a dry cough. He was placed in a neighboring room, and cared for by hospital workers without any special gear.

To everyone’s relief, the woman who had traveled through Asia tested positive for the standard flu. The man, however, did not, Ms. Turang said. His symptoms improving but his diagnosis unclear, he was told to take Tylenol and get some rest. And he was sent back out into the city.

Ms. Turang does not know what became of that man, but he was on her mind two days later, when the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus was announced in Louisiana — another person, at another hospital. Coronavirus had been in the city all along. Since then, the outbreak here has become one of the most explosive in the country.

According to one study, Louisiana, with nearly 1,800 cases as of Thursday morning, is experiencing the fastest growth in new cases in the world; Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Tuesday that the current trajectory of case growth in Louisiana was similar to those in Spain and Italy. This week, President Trump approved the governor’s request for a major disaster declaration, which unlocks additional federal funding to combat the outbreak.

The situation in and around New Orleans is particularly acute, with the city reporting 827 confirmed cases as of Wednesday night, more than the total number of cases in all but 15 states. Hospitals are overwhelmed and critical safety gear is running low.

Orleans Parish, which shares its borders with the city of New Orleans, has suffered the highest number of deaths per capita of any county in the nation. Of the parish’s 37 deaths — nearly three times the death toll of in Los Angeles County — 11 are from a single retirement home, where dozens more residents are infected.

In a grim irony, there is a rising suspicion among medical experts that the crisis may have been accelerated by Mardi Gras, the weekslong citywide celebration that unfolds in crowded living rooms, ballrooms and city streets, which this year culminated on Feb. 25.

It is the city’s trademark expression of joy — and an epidemiologist’s nightmare.

“I think it all boils down to Mardi Gras,” said Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr., a former health director of New Orleans and a specialist in infectious disease. “The greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator at the perfect time.”

Mardi Gras revelers on Bourbon Street on Feb. 22, weeks before Louisiana’s first confirmed coronavirus case.
Credit…William Widmer

The feeling is at once familiar and distinct for a city whose history is punctuated with epic disasters, including the deadly yellow fever outbreaks of 1853 and 1905, and Hurricane Katrina a century later in 2005. Once again, New Orleanians are afraid they could be neglected by national leaders, only this time because the coronavirus is a worldwide calamity.

“This hurricane’s coming for everybody,” said Broderick Bagert, an organizer with the community organizing group Together Louisiana.

Mr. Edwards, who, like most other Louisiana governors, has extensive experience dealing with hurricanes, said the state was struggling to confront this new kind of disaster. “We don’t really have a playbook on this one,” he said.

“If you have a flood or a hurricane it’s only a small part of the country that’s affected, so you can get the full attention of the federal government and you can get a lot of help from sister states,” he said. “That’s not possible right now because this is in every state in our country.”

As a kind of ghostliness settles over a locked-down nation, the effect of social distancing feels particularly jarring in New Orleans, a city that runs on intimacy — from the deep webs of kinship and geography that connect families and neighborhoods to the fleeting threads that bind strangers and regulars in storied restaurants and packed, sweaty clubs.

Now the grand restaurants are offering takeout, if they are open at all. The clubs are silent. Bourbon Street is just another lonely street, its only crowds the hordes of rats that have become increasingly brazen in their hunt for food.

 

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Fear and anger during a pandemic

Samuel Jackson, 61, waits to receive a breakfast and lunch package offered to residents affected by the new coronavirus outbreak in a partnership between the Overtown Youth Center and DeliverLean on March 25 in Miami.
Samuel Jackson, 61, waits to receive a breakfast and lunch package offered to residents affected by the new coronavirus outbreak in a partnership between the Overtown Youth Center and DeliverLean on March 25 in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
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