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The presidential race gets all the attention, but state races make all the difference

PITTSBURGH — The elections for which party will control the state House and state Senate in the Keystone State this cycle will likely have a more profound impact on Pennsylvanians’ daily lives, their futures, and the futures of their children and grandchildren than the presidential contest.

Rich Fitzgerald, the chief executive of Allegheny County and a Democrat, said state legislators are the ones making long-lasting impacts as they work with offices such as his to rebuild communities and make them better places to live with funding for infrastructure, education, state parks, and conservation projects. “Political party differences are left out of the discussion when working on these projects because these individuals are the ones who craft significant impacts like economic development and transportation in your community,” Fitzgerald said.

Compromise is often found with those in the halls of the state Capitol, unlike those who work in the U.S. Capitol, who can run to cable TV to cause a ruckus. At the state level, grandstanding is mostly limited.

Every four years, we are told emphatically by presidential candidates, strategists who orchestrate their every move, and the intellectuals who support them that this is the “most important presidential election in our lifetime” or to brace ourselves because the election is a “battle for the soul of our country.” We are warned on cable news, tweets, ads in our Facebook feeds, YouTube clips, and on the radio. It is inferred in almost every corporate ad, sporting event, and by every Hollywood movie and TV show.

Unless you go off the grid for a year before the election, you literally can’t escape them.

Of course, the presidential election is indeed important — whoever wins is the most powerful person on the planet. But when it comes to things that affect our daily lives, it is the policies crafted on the state and local level that really make a difference.

Come Nov. 3, all 203 seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will be up for election. Republicans hold the majority now, one that was watered down significantly after the 2018 midterm elections when Democrats here and across the country had a wave in their favor.

In the state Senate, where the Republicans have controlled the majority since 1994, 25 of the 50 districts are up for election. Democrats made gains here, too, in 2018, but still have not breached the majority in either chamber. The question is, will that change? And if so, how will it affect Pennsylvanians’ daily lives?

“I think the first thing you look at in this state is how dramatically party allegiance has shifted in the past 10 years,” said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster County. “The Republican suburbs have shifted towards the Democrats, particularly in the southeastern part of the state in West Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, and up in the Lehigh Valley. And in the rest of the state outside of those Philadelphia collar counties have gone in the other direction.”

Madonna said the question is how local races are affected by the presidential election. Will people be so disgusted by either party that they vote straight-ticket? “[That’s] something Pennsylvania voters don’t often do. They have historically been ticket-splitters.”

He’s not wrong. Between 1992 and 2012, Democrats won the presidential contest in this state every four years — at the same time, the state became redder down-ballot in state legislature races. But why split the ticket? Because when voters are voting about roads, bridges, taxes, and budgets, items that affect their daily lives, they tend to vote for their pocketbook, not for party or an ideology.

Plus, your state senator or state representative tends to be the one person in government who you might see walking the neighborhood, at the grocery store, coaching your child’s little league team, or in a church pew. They also aren’t vying for airtime on cable news. They are vying to make or keep their communities safe, prosperous, and affordable.

The race for the majority in the state House and state Senate here also has long-lasting implications because (in theory) the legislature will redraw the state’s congressional and state-level districts for the next decade — if the Democrat majority on the state Supreme Court doesn’t interfere again and change it to favor Democrats, an unprecedented move made in 2018.

Madonna wondered, because of what the Democrat-controlled court did, if Republicans keep majorities in both the state House and state Senate but still have a Democratic governor to work with on drawing lines, will both sides be more willing to compromise? “With the threat of one of them taking it to court, I think they might all be more willing to compromise than not.”

Outside groups, such as Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun political action committee, have pledged to spend $1 million to give Democrats a majority in both chambers. He’s not the only one: A handful of grassroots organizing groups pushing liberal issues such as a higher minimum wage and climate change legislation are also joining in the push to make the state legislature’s majorities blue.

These groups are banking on a Biden win, and they are bullish based on recent polling that gave the former vice president a significant lead in a state that went for Donald Trump in 2016. But before they measure the curtains in the state Capitol, they must remember that Pennsylvanian voters tend to split their tickets.

In 2016, Pennsylvanian voters gave statewide victories not only to both Republicans Trump and Sen. Pat Toomey, but also Democrats Eugene DePasquale and Josh Shapiro, who were on the same ballot running for state auditor general and state attorney general.

Who wins the majorities in the state legislature won’t just shape state policy or draw the congressional map. It shapes the political bench for the future of both parties. These races are more about the future than we often consider.

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The Year Gun Control Died –

For fans of legal restrictions on self-defense rights, 2020 is a disaster. It provides continuing evidence that to push gun control proposals is to advocate that the likes of Derek Chauvin—the Minneapolis cop who killed George Floyd—should be armed, while the communities they terrorize should be helpless. It is also to insist that when police fail at their supposedly core task of protecting the public, people should be deprived of the means for defending themselves. As many Americans lose faith in law enforcement and do what’s necessary to shield lives and property, it’s unlikely that they’ll be an enthusiastic audience for future disarmament schemes that would make those of us who don’t work for government even more vulnerable to those who do.

Back in January, prominent gun control advocate and then-presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg responded to reports that an armed church security guard stopped a would-be mass murderer by sniffing that such behavior is inappropriate.

“It may be true—I wasn’t there and don’t know the facts—that somebody in the congregation had his own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place,” he said.

That comment hasn’t aged well in a world dominated by names of victims of police violence such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and uniformed perpetrators like former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Before he was charged with murder for the killing of Floyd, Chauvin had 18 prior complaints filed against him. Of the three other officers fired and charged over Floyd’s death, Tou Thao also had a record of complaints—six in total, including one that resulted in a $25,000 settlement for the use of excessive force.

Chauvin and Thao are part of a larger problem. Five years after a U.S. Justice Department report called for changes in how the Minneapolis Police Department handles officer misconduct, “law enforcement agencies have lacked either the authority or the will to discipline and remove bad officers from patrol. They have also failed to set clear criteria on the use of force and de-escalation,” according to The Marshall Project.

That’s the back story leading up to George Floyd’s death, which resulted in protests and riots across the United States.

In response to the disorder, the FBI asked the public to submit “information and digital media depicting individuals inciting violence.” Americans promptly responded—with evidence of cops behaving badly from coast to coast.

“Many on Twitter quickly began sharing video clips and photos of police cracking down violently on protesters,” noted Newsweek. “In some, an officer or officers attack a group of protesters, seemingly unprovoked. Other clips showed police spraying tear gas in protesters’ faces or shoving them violently to the ground.”

In Washington, D.C., law enforcement forcibly and very publicly ejected mostly peaceful protesters from the area in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church so the president could stage a photo op.

How convincing can Bloomberg’s “only cops should have guns” sentiment now be to Americans who have seen and shared fresh examples of unjustified and brutal police conduct?

Of course, police aren’t the only ones terrorizing the public. Rioters and looters also put lives and property at risk, and in many areas law enforcement agencies have failed to do much about it.

Just days ago, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo complained about the performance of New York City cops. “The police in NYC were not effective at doing their job last night,” he said. “Have you stopped looting in the past? Have you stopped rioting in the past? Do that again.”

Residents of Chicago, Long Beach, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and other communities voiced similar concerns as store windows were smashed, businesses burned, and people injured.

“We always assume when we need the police they’ll be there for us,” the disappointed manager of a looted Philadelphia ShopRite supermarket told the Wall Street Journal.

A good many Americans who weren’t already enraged by examples of gratuitous police brutality were disgusted by evidence of law enforcement’s ineffectiveness at a core responsibility. So, they took responsibility for their own safety—including people who fully support protests against police misconduct, but see no reason to allow themselves to be victimized by hotheads and opportunists.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, black residents stood armed guard against looters outside local businesses. Business owners in Kirkland, Washington, did the same.

“U.S. retailers are stepping up patrols by armed security guards and transferring merchandise to secure locations as widespread civil unrest sets back the economic recovery from the coronavirus shutdown,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Video captured a Bellevue, Washington, cigar shop owner chasing-off looters at gun point. In South Philadelphia, looters discovered why breaking into a gun shop is a high-risk proposition, with one of their number dead at the scene at the hands of the owner.

Many police departments conceded the limits of their abilities. In Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd advised Polk County residents to shoot looters. High-profile psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, a gun control supporter, marveled on Twitter that, when he called Santa Monica police over a protest-related confrontation, they told him, “Sir, the city is under attack. Do what you have to do.” (He also observed officers “throwing tear gas at really peaceful people.”)

For those who have been advising Americans for years that we should lay down our own weapons and trust armed government employees to protect us and treat us with respect, 2020 has been a massive reality check. The year so far has demonstrated (once again) that the police can’t be relied upon to defend our lives and property, and often themselves pose threats against which we need to guard.

“It’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot,” Bloomberg and other gun control advocates insist.

No, thanks. If we were to follow the advice of those who would disarm us, we’d be even more at the mercy of Derek Chauvin and his buddies, and of anybody else with ill intent.

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Longtime supporters dismayed at de Blasio’s shift from police reformer to defender

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. | Richard Drew/AP Photo

NEW YORK — During three days of unrest in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has sided with the NYPD over protesters — a move many, including longtime supporters, see as cementing the mayor’s transformation from police reformer to police defender.

Faced with a series of videotaped incidents of aggressive police behavior toward protesters who have flooded New York City to decry the police killing of George Floyd, de Blasio has maintained the NYPD “acted appropriately.” He first blamed the chaos on out-of-towners intent on inciting violence. Then he said some of the aggression was coming from New Yorkers operating from an “anarchist” playbook, and he questioned their commitment to the cause of racial justice.


In doing so, his own commitment was called into question by left-leaning politicians, police reform advocates and many of his former aides and allies. It is the latest controversy to highlight the tension for a mayor who won office on a platform of police reform — vowing to end the era of stop and frisk and combat racial disparities in the justice system — and has since grappled with dissent toward him within the NYPD.

“I think he’s living in an alternative universe at this moment in history,” said City Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Public Safety Committee.

“It’s disheartening, because there are a lot of folks who believed in his message,” he added. “They see these statements and they just say, ‘What the hell?’”

De Blasio delivered a defense of the NYPD after three nights of chaotic protests across the five boroughs, where some in the crowd set fire to police vehicles, broke windows and threw objects at officers, and a woman allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into an occupied police van. Police officers were seen on video driving a vehicle into a throng of protesters, forcefully shoving a young woman to the ground and removing a man’s mask to pepper spray him.

“I’m not going to blame officers who were trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation,” de Blasio said of the cops who plowed SUVs through a barricade and into a crowd of protesters, some of whom were throwing objects at the vehicles.

The mayor softened his stance a bit Sunday morning, saying “I didn’t like what I saw one bit” and promising an investigation of the SUV incident, though he continued to emphasize the culpability of the crowd. Overall, he said police acted with “tremendous restraint.”

But many of his own former staffers and allies were dumbfounded by his position.

“These protests are about America’s failure to honor the lives of Black people. If the law means anything, if our lives mean anything, then driving a police car into a crowd of protesters is a crime. Isn’t that obvious?” de Blasio’s former deputy mayor Richard Buery said in a tweet.

Actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, a key supporter of de Blasio’s 2013 campaign who later ran unsuccessfully for governor, said she “cannot begin to understand why our ‘progressive’ Mayor selected this man for commissioner” after Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he is “extremely proud” of how police officers have responded.

Jonathan Rosen, a longtime adviser to the mayor, reacted to de Blasio’s statements with: “What the fucking fuck?”

“It is sad, baffling and cuts against our values for so many of us who have worked for him and stuck it out with him,” said one current city official, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity. “The overwhelming emotion of the colleagues who I’ve spoken to in the past 24 hours is sad.”

De Blasio won his seat in 2013 on a platform that repudiated the aggressive policing tactics of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, most notably the widespread use of stop and frisk. He settled a federal lawsuit challenging the practice and reduced its use.

De Blasio also settled a longstanding suit brought by the wrongfully convicted members of the Central Park Five, cut marijuana arrests sharply, equipped officers with body cameras and instituted a neighborhood policing program.

After the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police in 2014, and a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer involved, the mayor delivered an emotional speech invoking his own biracial son Dante, saying he had to train the young man to be extra careful around police.

To some observers, that speech marked the beginning of the end of de Blasio’s time as a committed police reformer. It infuriated police unions, who accused the mayor of having “blood on [his] hands” after two officers were shot to death later the same month. At the hospital that evening, and again at their funerals, officers turned their backs on de Blasio en masse.

The drama engulfed his young mayoralty in its first major crisis.

“It’s clear to me that the post-traumatic stress from 2014 has impaired the mayor’s perception of reality,” said City Council Member Ritchie Torres. “It clearly was the decisive turning point. Since then, he governs in fear of his own police department.”

Several former aides and advisers who worked for de Blasio during that time said it shattered his confidence in tackling perceived problems within the NYPD.

“Cops turning their back on him at funerals in late 2014 and the aggressive, yet seemingly successful, tactics of [police union president Pat] Lynch and the Police Benevolent Association, unequivocally impacted his strategic approach to these issues and arguably the fate of his mayoralty and how history will view it,” said political consultant Neal Kwatra, who has advised and supported de Blasio throughout his career.

That, coupled with his longstanding fear of a crime spike destroying his mayoralty — as the Crown Heights riots harmed his political mentor, former Mayor David Dinkins — have left him all but paralyzed to embrace more aggressive criminal justice reforms, according to three former aides.

“He fundamentally is caught in a tension between the movement progressive brand he ran on and an inherent cautiousness, an inherent conservatism and a deep deep-rooted fear of a perception that the city could descend into chaos like he saw during the Crown Heights riots under Dinkins,” said one former consultant who advised his 2013 campaign and no longer works for de Blasio.

Rachel Noerdlinger, a former City Hall aide, said de Blasio’s handling of the current protests is a sharp departure from the way he regarded crowds that flooded the streets in the months after Garner’s death. She was tasked with community outreach to quell violence during those demonstrations, which were largely peaceful.

“The mayor’s messaging was more empathetic, and there was a strategic plan in place to guide the community and people that were in pain,” she said. “That is not what has been happening here.”

De Blasio argues the perception that he has moved away from a pro-reform stance is unfair.

On Sunday, he said critics should look at “the history of six-and-a-half years of police reform, nonstop police reform.”

“It is a fundamentally different department in a variety of ways. Neighborhood policing has changed everything. We have a lot more to do but I just am not going to accept the people who seem to forget that we got rid of an unconstitutional broken policy of stop and frisk, that we retrained the entire police force in de-escalation, that we put body cameras on every officer on patrol, that we stopped arresting for marijuana,” de Blasio said. “There is a countless list of reforms. Don’t take away that history.”

But de Blasio has opposed legislation to put tighter regulations on the NYPD, including making it a crime for a police officer to use a chokehold, the maneuver prohibited by NYPD policy that caused Garner’s death.

He deferred to the NYPD on discipline for Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed the Staten Island man, despite widespread pressure during his short-lived presidential campaign this year. The NYPD finally fired Pantaleo last summer, five years after the fatal incident.

The mayor has also clashed with police reform advocates on issues including bail reform and the policing of minor offenses like subway turnstile jumping.

Despite de Blasio’s efforts to walk a careful line and avoid criticizing the NYPD too harshly, he has never won over police unions that remain among his harshest critics. After attacks on police in February, the head of the sergeants union wrote that members of the NYPD “are declaring war” on the mayor.

Eugene O’Donnell, a former police officer who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the mayor was right to defend the policing of the protests, but the shift came too late.

“He’s had to grow up and mature and get a grip and act like a mayor, and it took him six and a half years,” he said. “Ironically, now he’s going to be hated by everybody. He’s going to be hated by the lunatic fringe.”

The mayor said he’s not concerned.

When asked Sunday whether he is worried about angering the NYPD — a possible explanation for his stance on the demonstrations — de Blasio replied, “I do not have fear or I wouldn’t be in this job.”

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Opinion | The Coronavirus Isn’t Worse in Cities Because of Density

The image of cities as caldrons of contagion is a very old one. In the 19th century, rapid urbanization was accompanied by literal squalor and waves of often lethal communicable disease. Life expectancy declined during the Industrial Revolution as cities’ populations surged.

But in recent years, U.S. cities could boast that the so-called urban penalty had been reversed. “If you want to live longer and healthier than the average American, then come to New York City,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared. This advantage continued with his successor, Bill de Blasio.

New York had an average life expectancy roughly 2.5 years longer than the nation’s in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. This is good news, since most of humanity lives in cities, and in the United States, over half of the population lives in cities of one million residents or more.

And then the coronavirus arrived, and New York became a hot spot for Covid-19 cases and deaths. As stay-at-home advisories rolled out, many wealthy city residents fled to country houses, beaches and boats.

Connecting the dots between population density and viral transmission seems simple logic. New York, with a population of 8.6 million, is the only American megacity. It is also the U.S. center of the pandemic.

But everything we know so far about the coronavirus tells us that blaming density for disease is misguided.

New York City Health Department data indicate that Manhattan, the borough with the highest population density, was not the hardest hit. Deaths are concentrated in the less dense, more diverse outer boroughs. Citywide, black and Latino residents are experiencing mortality rates that are twice those of white city dwellers.

Then there is the rest of the world. While the coronavirus first exploded in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, many “hyperdense” cities in Asia have been able to contain their outbreaks. The virus appeared in Singapore (5.6 million residents), Seoul (9.8 million), Hong Kong (7.5 million) and Tokyo (9.3 million), cities close in size to New York, but with much lower recorded deaths.

California and Hawaii, for example, have high population density — but not the highest Covid-19 mortality rates of the states. Albany, Ga., with a population under 80,000, has among the highest case rates in the United States (many related to attending a funeral).

Cities, large and dense by definition, do not inevitably support explosive viral transmission. But factors that do seem to explain clusters of Covid-19 deaths in the United States are household crowding, poverty, racialized economic segregation and participation in the work force. The patterns of Covid-19 by neighborhood in New York City track historical redlining that some 80 years ago established a legacy of racial residential segregation.

Population density is not the same as household overcrowding. The U.S. census defines crowding as more than one person per room, excluding the kitchen and bathroom. That means a one-bedroom apartment occupied by four people is crowded. In 2013, the Bronx had New York City’s highest percentage of crowded households (12.4 percent), followed by Brooklyn (10.3 percent) and Queens (9.3 percent). Manhattan and Staten Island had 5.4 percent and 3.4 percent crowding. (Nationally, 2 percent of people live in crowded households.)

Why are there so many crowded households in New York, including in its less densely populated neighborhoods? The answer is simple: the high cost of housing. High rents are also a principal driver of homelessness, which during this epidemic has proved deadly. Covid-19 has shown how risky crowded settings like homeless shelters, jails, detention centers and nursing homes can be.

It is no surprise that public health and urban planning have common roots and missions, because the quality and availability of housing, public transportation and green spaces are so tied to health. But as we think about the blueprint and design of cities, it is also critically important to consider the lived experience of individuals and how they navigate their urban space.

Imagine a low-wage worker, who holds two jobs to support her family and pay the rent, who has to work during this pandemic because her job is “essential,” who works when sick because she has no sick leave. She travels on a crowded bus, puts off medical care because she lacks insurance, and then returns to an apartment crammed with young children and elderly family members. Maybe she fills in on the night shift as an aide at a nursing home.

This all conspires to make her especially vulnerable to the coronavirus — with the result that her household, her nursing home and her neighbors all are liable to become sick as well. In this scenario, “the city” is not to blame for the explosion in cases of Covid-19.

That disease is devastating cities like New York because of the structure of health care, the housing market and the labor market, not because of their density. The spread of the coronavirus didn’t require cities — we have also seen small towns ravaged. Rather, cities were merely the front door, the first stop.

It’s not that there are too many people in cities. It’s that too many of their residents are poor, and many of them are members of the especially vulnerable black, Latino and Asian populations. That’s what underlies the erroneous idea that, for those who can, it might be best to get far away from those people who endure household crowding and its risks.

It’s wrong for the “haves” to seek remote, isolated housing for at least two reasons. First, Covid-19 will be with us for some time. It has reached all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has reached the White House. It sped to virtually every country in a few short months. It could just as well make inroads in the vacation communities and remote outposts where the wealthy have sought refuge.

Next, when the affluent seek separate communities, it is not good for democracy or, in the long run, society’s stability. The way to ensure both is instead to invest in affordable housing and safer workplaces.

There are lessons from history. In the 19th century, recurring epidemics were tackled with public health measures, improved sanitation, building standards, and the introduction of sidewalks and parks. These investments made possible cities that could be optimal places for living.

The walkability of urban areas builds exercise into everyday life, improving physical and mental health. The large numbers of people means a tax base that can support cultural institutions, world-class medical care, public transport and parks. Denser living is more efficient, less wasteful and kinder to the environment. It makes possible the interactions of all types of people, across the many divides of our society.

Right now, people have to take great care in congregating with other people — because proximity carries risks. But cities can do many things to reduce those risks. They can increase the frequency of buses and trains to reduce crowding. They can create more pedestrian spaces and room for walkers and bikers. Above all, they can build more affordable housing.

Cities will remain a destination for families wanting a better future, young people looking to start a new life and migrants fleeing terror. Cities’ density underlies their wonder — the people, the bustle, the democratic impulse born from the mixing of cultures and identities. They’re also healthy places to live. Don’t give up on them.

Mary T. Bassett (@DrMaryTBassett) directs the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard and was New York City’s health commissioner from 2014 to 2018.

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New York to hire thousands of contact tracers, reduce subway service to clean trains

(Reuters) – New York state will hire thousands of people to trace the contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus and halt early-hour New York City subway service to disinfect the trains every day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.

Cuomo announced the initiatives as the state hardest hit by the outbreak looks to ease restrictions on social life and businesses with a massive public transport system that is clean and safe for riders and transit workers.

Cuomo said New York City’s subway system would be shut between 1 and 5 a.m. ET so that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency that oversees the trains, can conduct an unprecedented cleaning program.

“This is a daunting challenge,” Cuomo told a daily briefing. “The entire public transport system in downstate New York will be disinfected every 24 hours.”

Cuomo also detailed plans to recruit from 6,400 to 17,000 people across the state to handle contact tracing, a process for identifying the contacts of a person who has tested positive for an infectious disease.

Health experts say that contact tracing is critical to isolating potentially contagious people in order to limit further outbreaks.

Cuomo said that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, in coordination with Johns Hopkins University, would oversee the recruitment and training of the contact tracers and make the program available to governments worldwide.

reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller

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Twenty-Five Things that Caught My Eye Today: Hope & Despair in the Time of Coronavirus (April 27, 2020)

1. Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide

2. how Covid 19 is being deployed against the adults with learning disabilities

3. An Obituary for an Extraordinary Ordinary Man

4. ‘Is this another death I’ll have to pronounce?’


6. Two Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s sisters) in New York die of Coronavirus. Another, I understand, is in serious condition.


7. Ohio will cover costs for more than 200 children who age out of foster care over the next 3 months

8. As country begins to open, Italian Bishops argue against continued ban on Masses

9. USDA let millions of pounds of food rot while food-bank demand soared

10. An Arab doctor and an ultra-Orthodox Jew find common ground in a covid ward

11. Doctor balances faith, work in coronavirus hotspot

12. These Prisons Are Doing Mass Testing for COVID19—And Finding Mass Infections

13. At-risk youth keep clean, stay busy to cope with coronavirus

14. Baghdad priests donate salaries to the poor

15. Hope in the Time of Coronavirus

16. After Stillbirth, Families Search for Dignity

17. Immigrants Are on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Fight

18. Military commission report recommends including women in draft


20. Fr. Paul Scalia: Easter Reluctance

21. What Christians Can Learn from Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

22. 10 things you didn’t know about Phyllis Schlafly


24. Overzealous British library cleaner rearranges books by size

25. Six years ago today, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXXIII were canonized saints by Pope Francis

And: If you haven’t seen it yet, you want to join the Sisters of Life Thursday night, if you can. Like many things these days, it doesn’t involve leaving your home. Or phone.


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Bloomberg Actually Spent 10x More on Campaign Than Biden Has so Far

As political spending binges go, it was a whopper.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent $176,190,429.50 in the month of March, according to a Federal Election Committee filing, even though he was only in the race for four days last month.

That spending spree brought Bloomberg’s total spending in his 104-day attempt to become president past  $1 billion to $1,051,783,859.43, according to the filing.

For the sake of comparison, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont spent $198,548,002.41 through the end of March on his campaign, according to his filing for March.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who emerged as the party’s nominees, has not released his March spending report, but as of the end of February had spent almost $108,403,971.91, according to the FEC — about 10 times less than Bloomberg.

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Bloomberg, a billionaire who dipped into his own piggy bank to finance his campaign, announced in late November he was running for president. Unlike candidates who spent months traveling early primary states trying to boost name recognition and support, Bloomberg counted on a massive media advertising blitz to get his message across.

Forbes estimated that Bloomberg’s overall worth is $55.2 billion.

The strategy was largely geared toward Super Tuesday in March, but Bloomberg failed to post major victories, winning only the contest in American Samoa, according to The New York Times. Bloomberg dropped out of the race the next day.

Bloomberg has been sued by some campaign staff, according to the New York Post.

Does this prove that politics is about more than spending money?

The former New York City mayor’s campaign had originally lured staffers by promising they would be paid through November regardless of whether he won the Democratic presidential nomination. That later morphed into the hope that some could transition to a well-funded Super PAC Bloomberg said he would create.

Bloomberg later decided to give $18 million to the Democratic National Committee, which meant his campaign staff all lost their jobs.

A Bloomberg campaign spokesperson said the “vast majority” of former staffers can get new jobs with the DNC or parties in various states, “which would not have happened without this campaign’s transfer of funds,” according to Forbes.

“[T]hroughout our campaign, we were proud to pay our staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year. Staff worked 39 days on average, but they were also given several weeks of severance,” the spokesman said.

Since the campaign ended, Bloomberg has been largely flying under the radar.

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That led to him being taken to task by the website The Daily Beast, which published a commentary piece by senior opinion editor Harry Siegel headlined, “Where’s Mike Bloomberg? Billionaire Bails After Vanity Run Ends.”

However, a Bloomberg representative said the billionaire will still be fighting against President Donald Trump’s re-election, according to Newsweek.

“We’re looking at how to best support Democratic victories up and down the ballot in November, just as Mike Bloomberg has done in previous cycles. At the moment Mike has made tackling the COVID-19 crisis a priority by convening local leaders, and providing support for the WHO, Johns Hopkins University, and local relief efforts,” the representative said.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Michael Bloomberg Spent $1.2 Billion on Four-Month Presidential Campaign

Like many people of faith, Virginia governor Ralph Northam spent last weekend bearing witness to his convictions. On Good Friday, he signed the Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA) into law, which, among other things, waived the 24-hour waiting period, pro-adoption counseling, and mandatory ultrasound that …
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Bernie Sanders Gets Dragged By Supporters For Sending Fundraising Email For The DNC

Bernie Sanders has spent the last several years talking about a revolution to topple the establishment.

Now he is sending fundraising emails on behalf of the establishment.

How can anyone blame his supporters for being annoyed?

The Hill reports:

TRENDING: RETALIATION? Michigan’s Democrat Governor Threatens to EXTEND Stay-At-Home Order in Response to #OperationGridlock Protesters

Sanders sends fundraising email for DNC

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) send out a fundraising solicitation Friday on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the latest sign he’s seeking to bring his supporters behind the party’s presumptive nominee, Joe Biden.

Sanders, who suspended his presidential campaign last week and later endorsed the former vice president, said he will do everything in his power to help defeat President Trump in November and touted the DNC’s work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.

“My campaign for president may be over, but our struggle continues. That struggle begins with defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history, but it does not end there. I will also be doing everything in my power to elect strong progressives at every level of government,” Sanders wrote. “That is why I am about to ask you to join me by making a donation to the Democratic Unity Fund today.”

The statement was particularly notable given the bitterness between Sanders and the DNC during the 2016 presidential race, when many Sanders supporters believed the national party was seeking to help Democrat Hillary Clinton win the nomination.

Check out some of the reactions to this:

It looks like that whole ‘unity’ thing isn’t going as planned.

Cross posted from American Lookout.

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NYC Mayor’s pandemic protection history is… not good

More of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s history with keeping his city prepared for disaster has been coming to light recently. Since the current crisis deals with the pandemic that has now killed more people than the 9/11 attacks, some are asking why there weren’t more preparations in place to deal with something like this. As it turns out, there were people in the Big Apple who did see the possibility of a pandemic striking and they had a good idea of what to do about it in advance.

Way back in 2006, when yet another wave of a unique flu virus was sweeping through Asia, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a study of the situation and decided to take action. He launched an initiative to prepare New York for such an epidemic and stock up medical supplies as a bulwark against shortfalls the city’s hospitals were predicted to experience. He requested millions of medical facemasks and a stockpile of “between 2,036 and 9,454 ventilators” in anticipation of a worst-case scenario.

Unfortunately, this was happening just as the economy was beginning to tank and they only managed to acquire roughly 500 of the requested ventilators. After that, budget cuts forced most of the rest of the pandemic preparations to be tabled. But hey… at least they got 500 ventilators. That’s got to at least help a bit, right? Nope. As Pro Publica reports this week, some years later when Bill de Blasio had taken over, most of the ventilators had broken down. So the city got rid of them.

In the end, the alarming predictions failed to spur action. In the months that followed, the city acquired just 500 additional ventilators as the effort to create a larger stockpile fizzled amid budget cuts.

Even those extra ventilators are long gone, the health department said on Sunday. The lifesaving devices broke down over time and were auctioned off by the city at least five years ago because the agency couldn’t afford to maintain them.

Today, 14 years after the pandemic plan was released, the death toll from the novel coronavirus is climbing by the hundreds daily, and the shortage of ventilators threatens to push it higher still. On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city, which entered the crisis with around 3,500 ventilators, would run out of the machines this week.

So there were roughly 500 ventilators in the city stockpile as recently as five years ago, but the city didn’t allocate the necessary funding to repair and maintain them. They were then auctioned off, very likely at a great loss if they were largely nonfunctional. Four years later… boom. The pandemic hits.

This is one of those rare circumstances where I have to demonstrate a bit of sympathy for Bill de Blasio. Every city and state always has limitless demands on limited revenue when trying to manage their budgets. And sadly, as happens in so many cases, spending money on a potential future problem that might happen frequently takes a back seat to dealing with the issues that are actually happening right now.

This is not a problem that’s limited to New York City. Just recently we looked at the federal government’s decision to create a national stockpile of masks and ventilators in 1999. It was a good idea and a noble effort, but the program was only maintained and the stockpiles replenished until roughly 2005. After that, supplies were depleted but George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all failed to refill those supplies until the current pandemic hit us. Hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes.

Perhaps this can be used as yet another lesson we need to be learning. Sooner or later we will recover from this pandemic and life will eventually return back to normal. While there is almost nobody left today who remembers the pandemic of 1918, now the country will be full of people who survived the coronavirus. And those people likely won’t mind prioritizing the maintenance of stockpiles of critical medical equipment and the funding of new research, such as plans to significantly hasten the development, testing, and approval of new vaccines that are currently taking place.

Or perhaps I’m just being delusional (again). I’d like to believe that we still have the ability to learn from history and not repeat it, but once people are feeling safe and secure once again, some of us tend to immediately develop amnesia.