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bluewater

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Member since: Fri Jun 7, 2019, 03:43 PM
Number of posts: 4,169

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Retail Chains Abandon Manhattan: 'It's Unsustainable'

For years, Bryant Park Grill & Cafe in Midtown Manhattan has been one of the country’s top-grossing restaurants, the star property in Ark Restaurants’ portfolio of 20 restaurants across the United States.

But what propelled it to the top has vanished.

The tourists are gone, the office towers surrounding it are largely empty and the restaurant’s 1,000-seat dining room is closed. Instead, dinner is cooked and served on its patio, and the scaled-down restaurant brings in about $12,000 a day — an 85 percent plunge in revenue, its chief executive said.

Five months into the pandemic, the drastic turn of events at businesses like Bryant Park Grill & Cafe that are part of national chains shows how the economic damage in New York has in many cases been far worse than elsewhere in the country.

In the heart of Manhattan, national chains including J.C. Penney, Kate Spade, Subway and Le Pain Quotidien have shuttered branches for good. Many other large brands, like Victoria’s Secret and the Gap, have their kept high-profile locations closed in Manhattan, while reopening in other states.

Michael Weinstein, the chief executive of Ark Restaurants, who owns Bryant Park Grill & Cafe and 19 other restaurants, said he will never open another restaurant in New York.

“There’s no reason to do business in New York,” Mr. Weinstein said. “I can do the same volume in Florida in the same square feet as I would have in New York, with my expenses being much less. The idea was that branding and locations were important, but the expense of being in this city has overtaken the marketing group that says you have to be there.”

Even as the city has contained the virus and slowly reopens, there are ominous signs that some national brands are starting to abandon New York. The city is home to many flagship stores, chains and high-profile restaurants that tolerated astronomical rents and other costs because of New York’s global cachet and the reliable onslaught of tourists and commuters.

But New York today looks nothing like it did just a few months ago.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/nyregion/nyc-economy-chain-stores.html


Welcome to the new normal. The pandemic has devastated and reshaped the economy to an almost unimaginable degree. Urban planners have seen increasing density as the future of our cities, now that's open to debate.



I sold Americans a lie about Canadian medicine. Now we're paying the price.

In my prior life as an insurance executive, it was my job to deceive Americans about their health care. I misled people to protect profits. In fact, one of my major objectives, as a corporate propagandist, was to do my part to “enhance shareholder value.” That work contributed directly to a climate in which fewer people are insured, which has shaped our nation’s struggle against the coronavirus, a condition that we can fight only if everyone is willing and able to get medical treatment.

Had spokesmen like me not been paid to obscure important truths about the differences between the U.S. and Canadian health-care systems, tens of thousands of Americans who have died during the pandemic might still be alive.

In 2007, I was working as vice president of corporate communications for Cigna. That summer, Michael Moore was preparing to release his latest documentary, “Sicko,” contrasting American health care with that in other rich countries. (Naturally, we looked terrible.) I spent months meeting secretly with my counterparts at other big insurers to plot our assault on the film, which contained many anecdotes about patients who had been denied coverage for important treatments. One example was 3-year-old Annette Noe. When her parents asked Cigna to pay for two cochlear implants that would allow her to hear, we agreed to cover only one.

Clearly my colleagues and I would need a robust defense. On a task force for the industry’s biggest trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), we talked about how we might make health-care systems in Canada, France, Britain and even Cuba look just as bad as ours. We enlisted APCO Worldwide, a giant PR firm. Agents there worked with AHIP to put together a binder of laminated talking points for company flacks like me to use in news releases and statements to reporters.
...

Most important, no one in Canada is turned away from doctors because of a lack of funds, and Canadians can get tested and treated for the coronavirus without fear of receiving a budget-busting medical bill. That undoubtedly is one of the reasons Canada’s covid-19 death rate is so much lower than ours. In America, exorbitant bills are a defining feature of our health-care system. Despite the assurances from President Trump and members of Congress that covid-19 patients will not be charged for testing or treatment, they are on the hook for big bills, according to numerous reports.

That is not the case in Canada, where there are no co-pays, deductibles or coinsurance for covered benefits. Care is free at the point of service. And those laid off in Canada don’t face the worry of losing their health insurance. In the United States, by contrast, more than 40 million have lost their jobs during this pandemic, and millions of them — along with their families — also lost their coverage.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/08/06/health-insurance-canada-lie/?arc404=true


Trump's Handling of the Coronavirus Could Cost Him Presidency

With the infection rate exploding and the economy in collapse, Donald Trump has failed spectacularly as a crisis manager. It would probably take a massive shock for him to get re-elected, but it appears he’s trying to make that happen, too.

An American president setting off a war somewhere in the world to win an election he thinks is already lost - it’s a script familiar to moviegoers. But an American president who threatens to wage war on American cities to turn an election campaign around? That’s unheard of.

At least it was until now.

Amidst the clouds of tear gas, anonymous federal police in battle gear throw stun grenades into a crowd, arresting protesters in the streets, locking them up without warrants. The videos showing the deployment of militarized troops in the United States look like scenes from the combat video game "Call of Duty.” But they’re real.

Donald Trump has deployed the federal troops from his Department of Homeland Security as a kind of presidential militia in Portland on the West Coast, where they have been using brute force against Black Lives Matter supporters who have been protesting in the city for weeks. The heavily armed security force is usually reserved for things like counter-terrorism operations or going up against drug smugglers. They have no insignias and their vehicles have no license plates.
...

The president, who is lagging far behind challenger Joe Biden of the Democratic Party in virtually all polls, is doing something that none of his predecessors has done: He’s invading American cities. "We’ll do something,” Trump said. New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore, he said, are ruled by "liberal Democrats,” by the "radical left.” He argued that if Biden wins the presidency, the same would happen in the rest of the country. "The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”

https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/trump-s-handling-of-the-coronavirus-could-cost-him-the-presidency-a-341ffd75-5aba-46c9-983a-d063178512dd

The view of America from Der Spiegel in Germany.


"People Are Dying Alone Because of Donald's Failure to Lead"

In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, Mary Trump, the U.S. president's niece, discusses her family's chilling history, her grandfather's ruthlessness and what it would mean if Donald was re-elected.

DER SPIEGEL: Ms. Trump, you write that your uncle is the world's most dangerous man. What do you mean by that?

Trump: The combination of his pathologies and his position is extremely dangerous. In some sense, you could say that any American in his position is potentially the most dangerous person on the planet. But my uncle clearly doesn't have the intellectual capacity or the impulse control to be trusted.

DER SPIEGEL: What went through your mind when he was elected back in 2016?

Trump: I was devastated. In a really weird way, I took it personally. I used to be really proud of my family name because it just sounded cool. It was difficult to hear my name constantly referring to somebody who was doing all of these horrible things. It felt like an assault.
...
DER SPIEGEL: Donald emulated his father?

Trump: The character similarities between him and my grandfather don't run as deep as they might seem. My grandfather was a very competent person. He was a successful businessman. Donald is neither of those things. He's not competent and he's never been good at business. However, my grandfather saw Donald's savvy with the media. He also saw Donald as somebody who was totally willing to do whatever it took to win, whatever that meant in their universe. Get the deal, screw somebody over, lie, cheat, steal.

https://www.spiegel.de/international/mary-trump-people-are-dying-alone-because-of-donald-s-failure-to-lead-a-1c0aac8f-29ef-488f-8b65-cfc41b7f1b17

An interesting German perspective in this interview with Mary Trump on her book.

Elizabeth Warren is proud to endorse Ilhan Omar

Source: Elizabeth Warren @ewarren Twitter

Today I’m endorsing my colleague @IlhanMN in her re-election campaign.

From tackling the climate crisis to putting power in the hands of the people, Ilhan is a partner in the fight for big structural change.

Read more: https://twitter.com/ewarren/status/1292113553445593088



That is a great endorsement for Rep. Omar!

How to interview a serial liar and narcissist who is unfit to be president

President Trump’s peculiar brew of relentless dishonesty and utter shamelessness often acts as a shield against his interviewers. The lies tumble out at such a furious pace, and the display of corrupt motives is so blatant, that pinning Trump down on them is like (and apologies for the cliche, but nothing else is better) nailing jello to a wall.

Axios’s Jonathan Swan conducted a stunning interview with Trump that is gaining praise for getting around this problem. But the full import of how Swan did this, I think, is still eluding attention, and properly accounting for it exposes core truths about this extraordinary moment that we still struggle to find the right language to express.

Again and again, Swan practically pleaded with Trump to demonstrate a shred of basic humanity about the mounting toll under his presidency, and to display a glimmer of recognition of responsibility for it. Again and again, Trump failed this most basic test.

The beseeching quality of those lines of inquiry contrasted jarringly with Trump’s serial inability to rise to this fundamental threshold, or even to perceive what was being asked of him. This, I think, is the source of this interview’s unsettling revelatory power — and it captured a crucial aspect of Trump’s unfitness to serve as president that I suspect a majority of the country has figured out.

Swan noted that experts believe “the wishful thinking and the salesmanship is just not suitable at a time when a pandemic has killed 145,000 Americans,” and added: “For the past five months, it’s been, ‘the virus is totally under control,’ and the cases have been going up and the deaths have been going up.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/04/how-interview-serial-liar-narcissist-who-is-unfit-be-president/?hpid=hp_save-opinions-float-right-4-0_opinion-card-d-right%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ans


Awesome job exposing Trump for what he truly is... a narcissistic sociopath.

Local governments 'overwhelmed' in race to trace U.S. COVID contacts

The soaring number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has far outstripped many local health departments’ ability to trace the contacts of those infected, a step critical in containing the virus’ spread.

With the pandemic claiming about a thousand American lives a day, many city and county departments say they lack the money and staff to expeditiously identify people who have been exposed, according to a Reuters survey of 121 local agencies, as well as interviews with dozens of state and local officials, epidemiologists and tracers.

The United States badly lags other wealthy countries in contact tracing, including South Korea and Germany, which ramped up their programs months ago. Contributing to the faltering U.S. response is the government’s failure to provide accurate and timely diagnostic testing, something other countries were able to roll out much faster and more broadly.

On Alabama’s hard-hit Gulf Coast, health department staffers are stretched so thin they are directing individuals who test positive to notify any contacts themselves, said Rendi Murphree, director of Mobile County’s Bureau of Disease Surveillance and Environmental Services.

“Everything is overwhelmed,” she said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-tracing-specialrep/special-report-local-governments-overwhelmed-in-race-to-trace-u-s-covid-contacts-idUSKCN2501GK


Trump's lack of leadership and self-serving ignorance is killing thousands and thousands of people.

"It is coming, and it's coming like a freight train."

https://twitter.com/bylenasun/status/1289588415189659648

When the Australian journalist interviewing Trump pointed out that the US has the highest number of covid-19 deaths per capita in the world, Trump replied: "You can't do that."

The 3 Worst Moments From Trump’s Newest Axios Interview

It was a sweeping conversation with Axios’ Jonathan Swan that produced a string of jaw-dropping and maddening moments. But even in the long list of appalling remarks from the president, the worst exchanges are likely to be remembered as these.

“You can’t do that.”

In a heated back and forth, Trump and Swan sparred over the best statistics to assess the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump falsely asserted that US deaths from the virus are “lower” than anywhere in the world, rifling through a disorganized stack of printed charts to somehow back the absurd claim. “Lower than the world? In what?” Swan asked.

Glancing at the charts Trump was referencing, Swan said, “You’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of the population.”

“You can’t do that,” an outraged Trump replied.

https://www.motherjones.com/coronavirus-updates/2020/08/the-three-worst-moments-from-trumps-newest-axios-interview/


Trump is a moron.

Trump pronounces Yosemite as "yo-Semites" at White House event.

https://twitter.com/daveweigel/status/1290664055154319362

General Kelly, Trump's former Chief of Staff, was right calling Trump a "moron".



Tuesday, November 3rd cannot come soon enough.

Joe Biden: "Everyone thought I was nuts"

https://twitter.com/mviser/status/1290390071783362560


Great insight, Joe, and thank you for warning us all publicly that Trump will stop at nothing to delay and delegitimize the election.

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