Saturday, February 15, 2020

Slow Saturday Special: The Mask Is On

It's the first thing you want to do:

"Amid coronavirus fears, our relationship with masks remains complicated" by Beth Teitell Globe Staff, February 14, 2020

Jeannie Ding, a Boston University junior with an It girl vibe, was on the B Line, she said, when a Chinese-American man began yelling at her in Chinese, screaming that she shouldn’t wear a mask because it would spread the ugly stereotype of Asian people spreading disease. “He said I was bringing shame to all the Chinese people,” Ding said.

Now the more frivolous side, which explains why her mask was not currently covering her nose and mouth. “I feel like it’s not polite when I’m wearing my mask and talking to people,” she said. And: “If I put on makeup but no one can see my face it doesn’t make sense.” Her lipstick was covet-worthy MAC.

Yeah, you don't want to cover the cosmetics.

More than a month into the coronavirus scare, our relationship with masks is complicated. Unsure if they actually work at keeping us safe, we’re nonetheless hoarding them and at the same time suspicious of anyone who actually wears one. Not so many people are wearing masks that it’s common, but at the same time, enough people are wearing them that it’s become a thing around Boston.

Not really, when you think about it. People reacting to pre$$ propaganda and fear. Happens every 5 years or so.

When a mask appears, in a packed T car — or even just passing by on the sidewalk — you can almost hear the unasked questions: Are you sick? Or trying not to get sick?

The masks and fear of the coronavirus are fueling anti-Chinese racism, and also increasing suspicion of people with compromised immune systems whose mask use predates the outbreak.

They gin up the fear then criticize you for being fearful!

They then talk to a Nicki Kattouf, a colon cancer survivor, and Molly Kruko, an administrative assistant at MIT who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

A face mask just made the red carpet at the Grammy Awards when the teenage singing star Billie Eilish rocked a sheer black Gucci number, but it’s safe to say that craze-wise, in this country, masks will not be the next athleisure.

That’s in contrast to countries such as China, according to a medical anthropologist, where masks are much more than simply a way to protect yourself from infection. 

Oh, yeah?

“In the West, the image of Asian people with masks is sometimes wielded, deliberately or not, as a signifier of otherness,” Christos Lynteris, a senior lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, wrote in The New York Times. “But in East Asia, the act of wearing a mask is a gesture that communicates solidarity during an epidemic — a time when a community is vulnerable to being divided by fear, between the healthy and the sick.”

You mean, like, concern for the other person's health and well-being?


The Centers for Disease Control is not recommending that the general public in the United States wear masks to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, but with the director of the World Health Organization calling the coronavirus a “very grave threat to the world,” people nonetheless are on heightened germ alert.....

I gotta be honest with you guys. Between all the enemies who want to kill us because they hate our freedoms, the climate scare (strange how the record floods in the South are nearly absent from my printed pre$$), the threat of a president who is the greatest danger ever to our national security, and the myriad of other things promoted by a fear-threat pre$$, I'm plum tuckered out on the old eggshell walk. Sorry.


Coming soon to a community near you?

"Beijing sets stringent new quarantine rules for coronavirus" New York Times February 14, 2020

Chinese state-run television announced on its website Friday evening that everyone returning to Beijing would be required to isolate themselves for 14 days.

Anyone who does not comply “shall be held accountable according to law,” according to a text of the order released by state television. The order was issued by a Communist Party “leading group” at the municipal level, not the national Communist Party.

It was the latest sign that China’s leaders were still struggling to set the right balance between restarting the economy and continuing to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Yeah, you wouldn't want it to affect touri$m or anything.

Even before Beijing issued its new rules, neighborhood committees had been playing an increasingly assertive role across the country, including in Shanghai.....

Ever get the feeling that China's government is more responsive than our own? 

Local grassroots efforts and citizens exerting control over their health care


From what I have read in the alternative media, China's response has been with textbook-like efficiency. That's probably why it hasn't received much notice in my pre$$.

As of now, China has United and Southwest extend halted all flights out of the country so Chinatown is safe.

"A second wave of flu is hitting the United States. The number of child deaths and the hospitalization rate for youngsters are the highest seen at this point in any season since the severe flu outbreak of 2009-10, health officials said Friday, and the wave is expected to keep going for weeks. This flu season got off to its earliest start in 15 years, with surges in parts of the South in October. Overall, the CDC estimated that 26 million Americans have gotten sick with flu this past fall and winter, with about 250,000 flu-related hospitalizations and around 14,000 deaths....."

Influenza kills more people than all the other scares of the last two decades combined, but the vaccine doesn't work (or does it? What is in that tube anyway?) so it is undercover and accepted as a fact-of-life.

"William Barr moves to take the reins of politically charged cases" by Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman New York Times, February 14, 2020

WASHINGTON — While Attorney General William Barr asserted his independence from the White House this week, he has also been quietly intervening in a series of politically charged cases, including against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, people familiar with the matter said Friday.

Barr installed a phalanx of outside lawyers to re-examine national security cases with the possibility of overruling career prosecutors, a highly unusual move that could prompt more accusations of Justice Department politicization. The case against Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation, is a cause célèbre for Trump and his supporters, who say the retired general was ensnared in a “deep state” plot against the president.

The disclosures came as Trump made clear Friday that he believes he has free rein over the Justice Department and its cases, rejecting Barr’s public demand of a day earlier that the president stop commenting on such cases.

Citing Barr’s assertion in an interview Thursday that Trump had never asked him to act in a criminal case, the president declared on Twitter: “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!”

Hours later, the Justice Department told defense lawyers for Andrew McCabe, the former acting FBI director who Trump has vilified for his role in the Russia case, that McCabe would not be charged in connection with a leak case, ending a nearly two-year criminal investigation.

“We consider the matter closed,” the department wrote to McCabe’s lawyers. 

(Blog editor throws hands up in air)

Together, the developments send conflicting signals at a time when the Justice Department’s independence from political interference by the White House has come under sharp scrutiny. Among the most politically charged is the case against Flynn.

Amid the heightened scrutiny of the Justice Department, the timing of officials’ decision to end their long-running investigation into McCabe without charges was striking.

Not really.

Prosecutors in the Washington office told McCabe’s lawyers of their decision Friday morning, said the lawyers, Michael R. Bromwich and David Schertler. “We said at the outset of the criminal investigation, almost two years ago, that if the facts and the law determined the result, no charges would be brought,” they said. “We are pleased that Andrew McCabe and his family can go on with their lives without this cloud hanging over them.”

Yeah, leaking information to the pre$$ and lying about it is okay as well as leading a subversive coup attempt within the government to overthrow a dually-elected president. That's the message I'm getting.

McCabe’s case centered on whether he made a false statement to the department’s inspector general about a disclosure to reporters regarding an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.....

Also see: Clinton Foundation Cleared

Barr is there to bury things, and I'm honestly tired of the intramural basketball game of politics.


I guess that means the Uranium One investigation has been sealed:

"Trump’s $1.5b uranium bailout triggers rush of mining plans" by Brady McCombs and Ellen Knickmeyer Associated Press, February 14, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — President Trump’s $1.5 billion proposal to prop up the country’s nuclear fuel industry has emboldened at least one company, Canada-based Energy Fuels Inc., to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including outside Grand Canyon National Park.

Not going in the direction I would like.

The Trump administration asked Congress this week for $1.5 billion over 10 years to create a new national stockpile of US-mined uranium, saying that propping up production in the face of cheaper imports is a matter of vital energy security. Approval is far from certain in a highly bipartisan Congress.

Can you make a bomb out of that?

Some Democratic lawmakers, and market analysts across the political spectrum, charge that the Trump administration’s aim is really about helping a few uranium companies that can’t compete in the global market, and their investors.

Oh, then he is just doing his job the way any standard Republican president would.

Energy Fuels Inc. announced it was selling stock and putting the nearly $17 million in proceeds into mining operations in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas, and elsewhere in response to Trump’s plan. Company spokesman Curtis Moore said Friday that could mean opening the mine 15 miles outside the Grand Canyon.

Environmentalists and Democrats have opposed uranium mining outside the national park, mainly over concerns it could contaminate water resources. Republicans say mining could bring much-needed jobs to the region.

First question, is it worth it?

Second question, how can that be in the greatest economy of all times?

Demand for nuclear and coal power sources has fallen against marketplace competition from ever-cheaper natural gas and renewable wind and solar. Trump has been unable to stop a string of coal and nuclear power plant closings.

The US nuclear industry has sought help from the Trump administration, including asking for taxpayer subsidies to promote use of US uranium. US nuclear power plants in 2018 got 90 percent of their uranium from Canada, Kazakhstan, and other foreign suppliers and only 10 percent from US mines.

Our national security is dependent on other countries?



"Mandy Gunasekara, who pressed for President Trump to exit the Paris climate agreement as the Environmental Protection Agency’s top air policy adviser, is poised to return to the agency as its next chief of staff, according to two individuals briefed on the matter. Gunasekara left the EPA a year ago to start what she called a ‘‘pro-Trump nonprofit’’ in her home state of Mississippi. Gunasekara played a key role in working to scale back federal rules aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution....."

Now start up the turbines!

The BPD is wearing more than a mask regarding this murder:

"Boston police report on Brigham incident, pursuit mentions 2 shootings" by Danny McDonald and Tonya Alanez Globe Staff, February 14, 2020

A police report outlining the violence at Brigham and Women’s Hospital a week ago and a police pursuit that followed indicates there were two shootings during the law enforcement response, but does not mention if the man who was fatally shot in Brookline after the chase ended had fired gunshots at either location.

Questions persist about the chain of events that led to police’s fatal shooting of Juston Root, a 41-year-old Mattapan resident who had a lengthy history of mental illness, on Feb. 7.

He was a ‘very sensitive boy with a gentle soul.’

The police report says that a 911 call described a suspect, later identified as Root, as being “armed with a gun and threatening people” in the area of the hospital shortly before 9:25 a.m. Responding officers were given a description of Root, his vehicle, and his last known location, according to the report.

After a full week of silence, with no updates or explanations from police, the Globe received the police report Friday evening in response to a public records request.

Once at the scene, officers did encounter a man who fit the description of the suspect. The report says that the man displayed “what appeared to be a firearm and physically attacked said Boston police officers.” The officers are not identified.

The report states that an officer-involved shooting occurred, but does not spell out whether Root was struck by a bullet at the Brigham, nor does it say whether he was injured in another way during the confrontation at the hospital. Root was seen hobbling to a car near the corner of Fenwood Road and Vining Street in a video taken by a witness. In the video, the driver’s door to the car was open and police shouted for him to drop his weapon.

While the report does say that another man suffered a gunshot wound at the scene and was taken to a local hospital, it doesn’t specifically state who fired the gun that injured that man, whom authorities have said was a valet. The valet remained hospitalized as of Friday night, when a hospital spokeswoman said he was in good condition.

There are still questions about that.

Root fled the Brigham area in a car and officers gave chase in cruisers, according to authorities. Root “continuously refused to safely comply with their attempts to stop him,” according to the report.

About four miles away from the hospital, Root’s vehicle came to a halt only after “colliding with multiple, occupied, civilian vehicles at the intersection of Route 9 and Hammond Street, Brookline.”

Root then tried to flee on foot and Boston police officers, along with a state trooper, were able to catch up with him, the report said. Root “once again displayed what appeared to be a firearm,” according to the document.

“The Trooper and Boston Officers issued multiple verbal commands, ordering the suspect to drop his firearm,” the report stated. “A second officer-involved shooting then occurred at this location. The suspect was struck by gunfire and ceased resistance.”

The report makes no mention of Root firing a gun at the Brigham, during the car chase, nor during the foot pursuit in Brookline. How many shots were fired by police at the hospital and in Brookline is unclear.

Root was taken to a Boston hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The incident is under investigation by Boston police’s firearms discharge investigation team, State Police, and the district attorney’s offices for both Suffolk and Norfolk counties, according to the report.

A Boston police spokesman on Friday declined to answer questions about whether Root had a real gun during the incident, whether he was injured during the confrontation at the Brigham, and details about who fired the gun that caused the valet’s injuries, saying the matter is still under investigation.



They don't want to sully their good name:

"Boston detective sues department over shooting investigation; The suit says the investigation unjustly branded him a liar, which he says still hinders his ability to do his job" by Gal Tziperman Lotan Globe Staff, February 14, 2020

A Boston police officer is suing the department over its handing of a nearly 15-year-old shooting, in which one off-duty police officer accidentally injured another.

The officer, Detective Alvin Holder, claimed in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court this week that the investigation unjustly branded him a liar, which he says still hinders his ability to do his job.

Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a department spokesman, declined to comment on the pending litigation. The department’s lawyers have not responded to the allegations in court.

Holder, who has been a Boston police officer since 1998, was in a car with two other off-duty officers and an off-duty firefighter on a residential street in Hyde Park on Oct. 19, 2005.

One of the officers — identified in the complaint as Frank Lee — accidentally fired a weapon, hitting Officer Eric Mencey’s shoulder. Holder drove them to Faulkner Hospital so Mencey could be treated, and told a police lieutenant that an officer had been shot, according to his complaint. Mencey survived the shooting and is still a Boston police officer, records show.

That day, a Boston police superintendent questioned Holder about what happened. Holder said he told the superintendent who was in the car, that he was in the driver’s seat, that Lee was holding the gun, and that the bullet’s trajectory went from the back seat to the front, according to the complaint, but, following the advice of his union representative and a Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association lawyer, Holder did not specifically tell the superintendent that Lee shot Mencey, according to court records.

“He gave them sufficient information to deduce who the players were and just followed his union rep’s instruction,” said Julie Halaby, Holder’s attorney. “It was improper to take this negative action against him.”

Just wondering where the truth is in all that.

Maybe you can find it: