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Bernie Sanders is wrong on democratic socialism in Sweden, and everywhere else

By Daniel Schatz, visiting scholar at New York University’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies

Bernie Sanders has placed ”democratic socialism” at the center of his presidential campaign and his vision for a better America. For proof, he points to Scandinavian countries like Sweden.

But as a Scandinavian political scientist who has studied Nordic politics, economy and history in depth, I do not feel the Bern. The Vermont senator has embraced an urban legend; his love affair with Scandinavian socialism gets it all wrong.

Contrary to the prevailing narrative, the success of Nordic countries like Sweden — as measured by relatively high living standards accompanied by low poverty, with government-funded education through university, universal health coverage, generous parental-leave policies and long life spans — precedes the contemporary welfare state.

The Nordic country needed healthy companies and skilled workers, so top tax rates were rolled backwhile government welfare programs were redesigned. These reforms laid the ground for today’s competitive market-oriented economy based on international openness and the promotion of global free trade.


Woman says children who came into contact with Rudy Gobert being denied coronavirus testing

A woman says she and a group of children who met NBA player Rudy Gobert at Monday night's game in Salt Lake City are being denied the coronavirus test despite his positive result for the virus.

The woman, Samantha Eldridge, said in a lengthy Facebook post on Friday that she and members of a Native American girls group from the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake attended the Utah Jazz game Monday night as guests of Gobert and his nonprofit, Rudy's Kids Foundation.

"After the game, we were invited to meet Rudy on the court where he spoke with the girls and took photos," Eldridge wrote in the post that was shared more than 1,000 times by Saturday morning. "Some of the girls gave high fives."

Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive, leading the league to suspend the season. Eldridge alleges that two of the girls took a photo and included that image in her post.


WaPo: On the 2008 bailout, Biden is right and Sanders is wrong

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) has decided to keep running for the Democratic presidential nomination, at least through Sunday’s one-on-one debate with former vice president Joe Biden. That means we can probably expect to hear more from Mr. Sanders about how wrong it was of Mr. Biden to vote, as a senator, for the 2008 bill establishing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) — a.k.a., the Wall Street bailout. “Joe bailed out the crooks on Wall Street that nearly destroyed our economy 12 years ago,” Sanders said in a recent Fox News town hall. “These guys, after destroying the economy, they came to Congress . . . and said ‘bail us out.’ ” The democratic socialist launched similar attacks on his 2016 rival for the nomination, Hillary Clinton.

As they say in Brooklyn — enough, already. The truth is that support for TARP should be considered a basic demonstration of political maturity and pragmatism, not some sort of betrayal of the working class. The TARP vote reflects well on Mr. Biden, and poorly on Mr. Sanders, who joined with 24 other senators from the left wing of the Democratic Party and the far right of the Republican Party in opposition.

Some relevant historical context: The outgoing Bush administration and the Democrats who controlled both houses of Congress had few good options for dealing with a once-in-a-century global financial collapse. As experts from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department told the politicians, however, one sure way to turn the worst recession since the Great Depression into, well, another Great Depression, would have been to let the banking sector collapse and take millions of American households down with it. No doubt Wall Street irresponsibility played a big part in creating the crisis, as Mr. Sanders says, but the appropriate way to deal with that was to fix regulations — not to make a punitive point at the expense of Main Street.

The Obama administration inherited TARP and wisely administered it so that both banking and the auto industry were able to come back. Both of these economic pillars are much better positioned financially to withstand a major shock than they were in 2008, which is why, amid much discussion about the possible need to rescue various industries from the impact of the coronavirus, no one has yet mentioned Wall Street or Detroit. TARPended up using $426.4 billion of its available $700 billion to take equity in banks, a major insurer and two of the Big Three automakers, as well as to extend various loans. By the end of 2014, it had recovered $441.7 billion — a small profit which, even if not adjusted for inflation or uncompensated credit risks, still looks like a pretty good deal for taxpayers, compared to the costs of doing nothing.

How Trump Blew The Coronavirus Response

Seated at his desk in the Oval Office for a prime-time address on Wednesday, President Donald Trump faced a pivotal moment. The global coronavirus pandemic had claimed thousands of lives and reached U.S. shores as global markets took historic plunges. In a normal world, Trump would look presidential, stick to the teleprompter, and assure Americans that his administration understood the threat facing the country and would take dramatic action to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

That didn’t happen. Trump bungled key facts about the administration’s response — three assertions had to be immediately walked back by White House staff — congratulated himself on his supposedly excellent work so far, and blamed other countries for letting the disease spread.

As Trump spoke, global stocks and U.S. futures tumbled further. At almost the same moment, police were shutting down a basketball arena in Oklahoma City after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus — which immediately sparked a suspension of the entire NBA season. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had contracted the virus. By Thursday morning, major sports leagues had suspended operations, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Broadway theaters shut down, and the Democratic presidential debate was relocated from Arizona to a studio in Washington, D.C.

By the morning after Trump’s speech, administration officials were grumbling anonymously to reporters about having to clean up the president’s mess. It was emblematic of his administration’s entire bumbling, self-serving approach to the pandemic. Trump has shown that his ultimate priority is to evade blame. The president has shown he has no qualms about peddling false information to make himself look good, even when downplaying the threat discourages Americans from taking steps to contain the virus. And when the threat could no longer be ignored, Trump fell back on a familiar strategy: exploit the country’s legitimate fears to justify a racist, nativist response. Meanwhile, his administration’s failures to effectively test for the coronavirus and contain its spread was costing lives.


But her emails...


For those not on Twitter, Neera Tanden tweeted:
On Earth 2, Pres Hillary Clinton has finished her Oval Office Address delineating how because of mass testing organized early by the gov't, universal paid leave she passed early in her Admin and her expansion of health care to all Americans, incidents of coronavirus are declining

The Covid-19 Stimulus should give workers checks like farmers got, not cripple Social Security!

Why would Democrats ever agree with this Republican bullshit proposal to cut the payroll tax? The payroll tax funds Social Security. It is the ultimate in cynicism to "help" workers by defunding Social Security. Plus, it would only apply to full time workers, not the unemployed or part-timers. We agreed to that bullshit during the Great Recession in order to get the rest of the Stimulus passed, but there is no reason to agree to it now.

To make up for lost sales due to his trade war, Trump gave the farmers $14.5 billion in direct payments last year. This is on top of $12 billion in aid that the Trump administration distributed to farmers in 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/07/25/745280710/economists-say-trump-administration-is-over-paying-farmers-for-trade-losses

Why not guve targeted checks to workers who have no/insufficient sick leave and those suffering wage loss due to business slowdown? And why not extend unemployment checks to 99 weeks like we did during the Great Recession? This is what Congressional Dems are proposing, but Trump refuses to sit down with Pelosi.

Better yet, how about spending money for ready available commercial Covid-19 tests (like those by this Utah company selling to the EU, http://codiagnostics.com/products/diagnostic-solutions/logix-smart-covid19/ ) so every doctor can test for it in their offices, like they do step throat or UTI? I just went for a checkup here in southern California and my doctor, part of a large medical group, she said she and all GP doctors have no Covid-19 tests. They must refer suspected Covid-19 patients to one of the few local hospitals that have the tests. But the hospital will only see you if you are seriously ill. I told her that was insane. She agreed.

If we could get tested as negative at our family doctor, we wouldn't need to enter economically devastating 14-day self-quarantines for what turns out to be a common cold or flu.

Sanders voters helped Trump win the White House. Could they do it again?

Joe Biden isn't the only presidential candidate whose allies believe the votes of Bernie Sanders' most dedicated supporters could hold the key to his November success. President Donald Trump and his supporters believe the same.

In 2016, about 216,000 Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin voters backed the Vermont senator in the spring and Trump in the fall, according to an analysis of exit polling — well over twice the president's total margin of victory in those states, which were critical to his electoral vote win in the face of a decisive popular vote loss.

If Sanders ultimately falls short again this time around, Trump's allies hope history repeats itself with the senator's most disaffected supporters — but they won't be leaving that prospect to chance, with a targeted effort underway by groups who support Trump’s re-election to identify and target those voters.

Sanders voters in 2020 have indicated they are less likely than other voters to back the Democratic nominee should their candidate not win the nomination. In an NBC News exit poll taken on Super Tuesday, 15 percent of Sanders voters said they weren't committed to voting for the Democratic nominee, regardless of who it was, compared to 10 percent of Biden voters who said the same.

Testing for the coronavirus might have stopped it. Now it's too late.


William Hanage 
William Hanage is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The battle to keep covid-19 from becoming established in the United States is probably over without a single shot being fired. We were not outwitted, outpaced or outflanked. We knew what was coming. We just twiddled our thumbs as the coronavirus waltzed in.

The first thing officials need when responding to an infectious disease is a way to test for it — a way to tell who has it and who is at risk. Dozens of such test procedures have been produced in the scant weeks since covid-19 announced itself to the world by shutting down Wuhan, China, a city the size of New York. Public health agencies around the globe have generated huge amounts of data on how well these tests work and have rolled them out on a massive scale. South Korea alone has tested more than 100,000 of its citizens.

But the United States has lagged far behind the rest of the world in testing for the new coronavirus. As a result, outbreaks here are likely to be more numerous and more difficult to control than they would have been otherwise. I research infectious disease and how to fight it, so I know how important it is to detect outbreaks early. The covid-19 outbreak is the largest acute infectious-disease emergency most of us have experienced. And we may have let it go undetected here for too long.
Understanding this, in early February, Singapore authorities tested cases of respiratory disease that were negative for other viral pathogens, which meant they might have been the result of covid-19 transmission chains that had escaped detection. This aggressive testing almost immediately found four infections with no known contacts with other cases. Diligent contact tracing has managed to keep a lid on the outbreak, and, despite reporting its first case on Jan. 23, Singapore’s total as of Friday was only 130 cases, with no deaths (although seven people were in serious condition). This is a remarkable achievement.


How to Stop Touching Your Face

Keep tissues handy. When you feel the urge to scratch an itch, rub your nose or adjust your glasses, grab a tissue and use that instead of your fingers.

Using scented soap or lotion could also help, said Zach Sikora, a clinical psychologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. When you bring your hands close to your face, that smell could make you more aware of your actions.

Keeping your hands occupied with a stress ball or other object can reduce instances of touching your face and minimize triggers, doctors said. Of course, don’t forget to regularly clean and sanitize that object. If you don’t have a stress ball to squeeze, mail to sort or laundry to fold, you could lace your hands together in your lap or find another way to actively engage them so you are not bringing them to your face as much.

Dr. Justin Ko, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford Health, said he tells patients who wear contact lenses to consider wearing glasses instead to discourage them from rubbing their eyes. “Similarly,” he said, “while masks are not very effective for preventing virus transmission, they can be quite helpful for providing a physical barrier against touching the nose or mouth.” He said he worried about the effects of using ritualistic behaviors, like snapping a rubber band on your wrist each time you touch your face. It is more effective, he said, to try to be in the present moment, practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises and focusing on your breathing.


Saudis are allegedly threatening 9/11 witnesses

A federal judge has ordered lawyers for 9/11 families suing Saudi Arabia to detail threats allegedly made against witnesses they may depose as part of their effort to prove the kingdom was involved in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The victims' attorneys have argued they need to protect for now the identities of potential witnesses, pointing to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as an example of the kind of danger faced by those who speak out against Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi, a contributing Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of the Saudi crown prince, had been interviewed by an investigator for the plaintiffs in 2017.

Lawyers for those suing Saudi Arabia — including survivors of the attacks and victims’ relatives — said at an emergency court hearing Wednesday that the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has heightened their concern for four potential witnesses. Those people, the lawyers said, have been in talks with the families about providing information on Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said she was “troubled by the allegations” that witnesses were threatened and asked for a submission from the plaintiffs’ lawyers “documenting in greater detail the information that you have” by March 18. Netburn gave the attorneys permission to redact the names of the witnesses. The submission will initially be filed under seal and will not be available to the Saudi government’s legal team, the judge ruled.

Another witness said they believed they were stalked by “Saudi agents” after their name appeared in a court document and that the person feared they could be made to “disappear,” the attorney wrote.

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