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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday service with the Archbishop of Canterbury (from his kitchen)

I'm an atheist, but what the hell, it is history.

April 12, 2020

App to ease direct deposit of stimulus checks will launch next week, US officials say

Two U.S. government agencies are collaborating to launch a web app next week that will help Americans access payments from the country's economic stimulus measures.


According to a news release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the treasury department and the IRS will launch the free "Get My Payment" app at IRS.gov next week. The app will allow taxpayers who have filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 without providing bank information to submit information for direct deposit and receive the economic impact payments sooner, rather than waiting for a check to arrive in the mail.

App users will also be able to track the status of their economic stimulus payment by providing basic information, including Social Security number, date of birth and mailing address. Taxpayers who want to add bank account information to speed receipt of payment will be prompted to provide their adjusted gross income from the most recent tax return submitted in either 2018 or 2019 and the refund or amount owed from their latest tax return. App users will also be asked to provide their bank account type, account and routing numbers.

The app, which can operate on any desktop, phone or tablet, does not need to be downloaded from an app store. Treasury and IRS officials are encouraging those who plan to use the app to collect the required information ahead of time. Taxpayers who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 can use "“Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” to submit basic personal information to quickly and securely receive their payments.

Americans who filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns with direct deposit information or receive Social Security do not need to take action. They will automatically receive payment in their bank accounts, according to Treasury officials. To help protect against potential fraud, the "Get My Payment" app does not allow people to change bank account information already on file with the IRS.


April 12, 2020

BREAKING:FL Gov DeSantis, seeking to hide Covid infections & deaths, pressures Miami Herald law firm

to squelch records suit


Herald drafted a suit seeking ALF records. DeSantis aide pressured law firm not to file it


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ general counsel called a representative of the Miami Herald’s law firm seeking to quash a public records lawsuit that would force the state to divulge the names of all elder-care facilities that have had a positive test for the coronavirus. The back-door pressure — through an attorney that had no involvement in the case — paid off.

The law firm, Holland & Knight, told Sanford Bohrer, a senior partner with decades of representing the Miami Herald, to stand down and abandon the lawsuit. The suit will still be filed, but by another law firm, said Miami Herald publisher and executive editor Aminda Marqués González.

“We are disappointed that the governor’s office would go so far as to apply pressure on our legal counsel to prevent the release of public records that are critical to the health and safety of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens,” Marques said. “We shouldn’t have had to resort to legal action in the first place. Anyone with a relative in an elder care facility has a right to know if their loved ones are at risk so they can make an informed decision about their care.” The lawsuit did not seek the names of residents or staffers who tested positive.

For people with parents and grandparents in group homes, the frustration of not knowing which facilities are affected has been compounded by a ban on visitation put in place early in the coronavirus pandemic. The state has yet to provide a legal justification for its refusal to provide records. Under Florida’s public records law, records are considered public unless the custodian can provide a legal basis for withholding them.

April 12, 2020

Medical databases show 1 in 10 hospitalized middle-aged coronavirus patients in U.S. do not survive


The coronavirus is killing about 1 in 10 hospitalized middle-aged patients and 4 in 10 older than 85 in the United States, and is particularly lethal to men even when taking into account common chronic diseases that exacerbate risk, according to previously unpublished data from a company that aggregates real-time patient data from 1,000 hospitals and 180,000 health-care providers.

Allscripts, through its subsidiary CarePort Health, released the data collected from multiple electronic health record companies across the nation. It does not identify patients by name.

Allscripts said it was repurposing the data to help hospitals better understand the nature of covid-19 and the needs of patients who are discharged but will need follow-up care. “Never in the history of the world has there been something that operated at this scale, and never have we had the ability to track it electronically the way we can today,” Allscripts CEO Paul Black said Saturday. “We couldn’t have done this five years ago,” he said.

The new data do not cover everyone infected by the virus, only patients who have been hospitalized. The CarePort data come from facilities in 43 states. The high death rates in the data reflect the fact that hospitals typically admit only patients with severe symptoms, CarePort CEO Lissy Hu said.

April 12, 2020

Labor Sec Eugene Scalia faces blowback as he curtails scope of worker relief in unemployment crisis

Labor Department comes under fire over handling of worker protection, unemployment program


The Labor Department is facing growing criticism over its response to the coronavirus pandemic as the agency plays a central role in ensuring that the tens of millions of workers affected by the crisis get assistance. The criticism ranges from direct actions that the agency has taken to limit the scope of worker assistance programs to concerns that it has not been aggressive enough about protecting workers from health risks or supporting states scrambling to deliver billions in new aid.

In recent days, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who has expressed concerns about unemployment insurance being too generous, has used his department’s authority over new laws enacted by Congress to limit who qualifies for joblessness assistance and to make it easier for small businesses not to pay family leave benefits. The new rules make it more difficult for gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers to get benefits, while making it easier for some companies to avoid paying their workers coronavirus-related sick and family leave.

“The Labor Department chose the narrowest possible definition of who qualifies for pandemic unemployment assistance,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has spent two decades working on unemployment programs. At the same time, frustrations have built among career staff at the Labor Department that the agency hasn’t ordered employers to follow safeguards, including the wearing of masks, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect workers. Two draft guidance documents written by officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the Labor Department, to strengthen protections for health-care workers have also not been advanced, according to two people with knowledge of the regulations granted anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations.

Scalia, a longtime corporate lawyer who is the son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, has emerged as a critical player in the government’s economic response to the pandemic. Nearly 17 million Americans have applied for unemployment insurance since President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, and states are struggling to get their systems working to deliver $260 billion in new aid approved by Congress.

April 11, 2020

With Each Briefing, Trump Is Making Us Worse People

He is draining the last reserves of decency among us at a time when we need it most.


There has never been an American president as spiritually impoverished as Donald Trump. And his spiritual poverty, like an overdrawn checking account that keeps imposing new penalties on a customer already in difficult straits, is draining the last reserves of decency among us at a time when we need it most.

I do not mean that Trump is the least religious among our presidents, though I have no doubt that he is; as the scholar Stephen Knott pointed out, Trump has shown “a complete lack of religious sensibility” unique among American presidents. (Just recently he wished Americans a “Happy Good Friday,” which suggests that he is unaware of the meaning of that day.) Nor do I mean that Trump is the least-moral president we’ve ever had, although again, I am certain that he is. John F. Kennedy was, in theory, a practicing Catholic, but he swam in a pool of barely concealed adultery in the White House. Richard Nixon was a Quaker, but one who attempted to subvert the Constitution. Andrew Johnson showed up pig-drunk to his inauguration. Trump’s manifest and immense moral failures—and the shameless pride he takes in them—make these men seem like amateurs by comparison.

And finally, I do not mean that Trump is the most unstable person ever to occupy the Oval Office, although he is almost certain to win that honor as well. As Peter Wehner has eloquently put it, Trump has an utterly disordered personality. Psychiatrists can’t help but diagnose Trump, even if it’s in defiance of the old Goldwater Rule against such practices. I know mental-health professionals who agree with George Conway and others that Trump is a malignant narcissist. What I mean instead is that Trump is a spiritual black hole. He has no ability to transcend himself by so much as an emotional nanometer. Even narcissists, we are told by psychologists, have the occasional dark night of the soul. They can recognize how they are perceived by others, and they will at least pretend to seek forgiveness and show contrition as a way of gaining the affection they need. They are capable of infrequent moments of reflection, even if only to adjust strategies for survival.

Trump’s spiritual poverty is beyond all this. He represents the ultimate triumph of a materialist mindset. He has no ability to understand anything that is not an immediate tactile or visual experience, no sense of continuity with other human beings, and no imperatives more important than soothing the barrage of signals emanating from his constantly panicked and confused autonomic system. The humorist Alexandra Petri once likened Trump to a goldfish, a purely reactive animal lost in a “pastless, futureless, contextless void.” This is an apt comparison, with one major flaw: Goldfish are not malevolent, and do not corrode the will and decency of those who gaze on them.

April 11, 2020

The Pandemic Will Cleave America in Two

Some will emerge from this crisis disrupted and shaken, but ultimately stable. Others will come out of it with much more lasting scars.


Viruses aren’t picky. They tear through neighborhoods and nations, infecting whomever they can, and the new coronavirus is no exception: The pain of the present pandemic will be felt—is already being felt—by just about everyone in the United States and all over the world, in one way or another. After the pandemic has run its course, no one will be wholly untouched. At the same time, there will be stark disparities in how certain segments of the American population experience this crisis. Some of these disparities will be the result of luck or coincidence—a matter of where someone happened to travel, what line of work they chose, or what city they live in. But in a country that was highly unequal in so many ways well before it had a confirmed case of COVID-19, other disparities will be sadly predictable, falling along racial and class lines, as well as other fateful divides.

In the coming months and years, there will really be two pandemics in America. One will be disruptive and frightening to its victims, but thanks to their existing advantages and lucky near misses with the virus, they will likely emerge from it relatively stable—physically, psychologically, and financially. The other pandemic, though, will devastate those who survive it, leaving lasting scars and altering life courses. Which of these two pandemics any given American will experience will be determined by a morbid mix of a sort of demographic predestination—shaped strongly by inequality—and purely random chance.

When someone dies, there are three ways to think about what caused it, according to Scott Frank, a professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. The first is the straightforward, “medical” cause of death—diagnosable things like heart disease or cancer. The second is the “actual” cause of death—that is, the habits and behaviors that over time contributed to the medical cause of death, such as smoking cigarettes or being physically inactive. The third is what Frank refers to as the “actual actual” cause of death—the bigger, society-wide forces that shaped those habits and behaviors. In one analysis of deaths in the U.S. resulting from “social factors” (Frank’s “actual actual” causes), the top culprits were poverty, low levels of education, and racial segregation. “Each of these has been demonstrated to have independent effects on chronic-disease mortality and morbidity,” Frank said. (Morbidity refers to whether someone has a certain disease.) He expects that the same patterns will hold for COVID-19.

To begin with, the physical effects of COVID-19 are far worse for some people than others. There are two traits that seem to matter most. The first is age. Older people are at greater risk of experiencing the more devastating version of the pandemic, in part because the immune system weakens with age. Early data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that, in the U.S., the risk of dying from the disease begins to climb at around age 55, and is especially acute for those 85 and older. “I think the pattern we’re going to see clearly is an age-related pattern” of mortality, Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine, said. (Younger people aren’t invulnerable to the disease, though; the CDC found in mid-March that 20-to-54-year-olds had accounted for almost 40 percent of hospitalizations known to have been caused by the disease.)

April 10, 2020

Iowa Was Meaningless

We spent a lot of time covering the candidates’ ups and downs in Iowa. Almost none of it mattered.


All that time in Iowa turned out to be a waste.

For 14 months, all of us in the political-media-industrial complex focused our resources and attention on the first-in-the-nation caucus state. We went for all the cattle calls, chicken dinners and the state fair. We covered local polling as if it was breaking news. (It was!) The top 10 candidates spent a collective 621 days in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register’s candidate tracker. I spent 40 nights in the state, according to my hotel receipts. (In Mason City, stay at the Historic Park Inn, the world’s last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel.) The New York Times and other outlets had reporters move to Des Moines for months.

We spent countless hours reporting about how Iowa’s Democratic electorate longed for a younger, fresh-face candidate who could usher in generational change. We found out which campaigns had the strongest ground game. We walked readers through the state’s byzantine caucus process. Our colleagues chronicled local supporters’ lament that there was “no excitement” around Joe Biden’s campaign. All of those things were important because of the belief that a winning performance in Iowa can catapult an underdog candidate to the White House. But that has happened only twice — for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Barack Obama in 2008. Iowa’s power now lies in its nostalgia, while the Democratic electorate has become far more diverse than the caucusgoers candidates encounter in Iowa.

In the end, the race in Iowa this year was a contest to see who could become president of Iowa. Pete Buttigieg narrowly won, but we didn’t find out the results until after the epic fiasco that was the caucus counting process. The things that mattered in Iowa — excitement, organization, money spent on TV ads, crowd sizes for town hall meetings — had next to no bearing on who eventually won the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mr. Biden, with Bernie Sanders dropping out yesterday, will be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee against President Trump this fall. He never had the most money, never had the biggest crowds and never had much buzz. What he had, unlike any of the other 27 candidates who ran, was the strong loyalty and support from black voters in the South, who voted for him in overwhelming numbers. And just as in 2016 and 2008, that was the most important element to winning a Democratic presidential nomination.

April 10, 2020

Cannonball Adderley w/ Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones, & Art Blakey - Autumn Leaves (1958)

Cannonball Adderley ‎– Somethin' Else
Blue Note ‎– BLP 1595, Blue Note ‎– 1595
Vinyl, LP, Album, Mono
May 1958
Bop, Hard Bop

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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
Home country: US/UK/Sweden
Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
Number of posts: 45,281

About Celerity

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