Editorial | Amid Coronavirus, America Needs a More Just Society – The New York Times

“From some of its darkest hours, the United States has emerged stronger and more resilient.

Between May and July 1862, even as Confederate victories in Virginia raised doubts about the future of the Union, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln kept their eyes on the horizon, enacting three landmark laws that shaped the nation’s next chapter: The Homestead Act allowed western settlers to claim 160 acres of public land apiece; the Morrill Act provided land grants for states to fund universities; and the Pacific Railway Act underwrote the transcontinental railroad.

Nearly 75 years later, in the depths of the Great Depression, with jobs in short supply and many Americans reduced to waiting in bread lines, President Franklin Roosevelt proved similarly farsighted. He concluded the best way to revive and sustain prosperity was not merely to pump money into the economy but to rewrite the rules of the marketplace. “Liberty,” Roosevelt said at the Democratic Party’s convention in 1936, “requires opportunity to make a living — a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.” His administration, working with Congress, enshrined the right of workers to bargain collectively, imposed strict rules and regulators on the financial industry, and created Social Security to provide pensions for the elderly and disabled.

 

This article is part of a Times Opinion series exploring how the nation can emerge from this crisis stronger, fairer and more free. Read the editor’s introductory letter.

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare once again the incomplete nature of the American project — the great distance between the realities of life and death in the United States and the values enunciated in its founding documents.”

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren: What Congress Must Do About Coronavirus – The New York Times

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Ms. Warren is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and a former presidential candidate.

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“Congress has passed three coronavirus packages aimed at providing immediate relief to families, workers, hospitals and small businesses, but with more than 12,000 dead and 10 million out of work, the scale of this tragedy demands we do much more — much faster.

Communities across the country are entering a critical stage. Illnesses are mounting and our health system is stretched to the brink. Early data shows people of color are infected and dying at disproportionately high rates. Unemployment is approaching Depression-era levels. No clear end is in sight for social distancing. The next round of policymaking must squarely address these hard realities — not with a few new nibbles, but with the kind of broad, direct action needed to save lives and save our economy.

Containing the health crisis must be our first priority. I have outlined immediate steps to accomplish a federal surge in testing capacity. In addition to using the powers under the recently invoked Defense Production Act, we must act now to have the government manufacture or contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so — to produce tests, personal protective equipment, drugs in shortage and any future vaccines and treatments that our scientists develop — not in the thousands, but in the tens of millions. This will ensure swift production and build a stopgap against shortfalls moving forward. We must also use public programs to provide health care free for all who don’t otherwise have it.

As workers lose their jobs, small businesses close and household incomes plummet, we must extend economic relief beyond cash payments to families and individuals. This includes suspending consumer debt collection, enacting a universal national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, stopping water and utility shut-offs, providing as much broad student loan debt cancellation as possible and finding money to keep child care providers afloat. With older Americans and those with underlying health conditions among the most vulnerable, we must also increase monthly Social Security and disability benefits.”

Opinion | How Will the Coronavirus Affect Workers? Look At Past Plagues For a Hint – By Walter Scheidel – The New York Times

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Mr. Scheidel is a professor of classics and history at Stanford University.

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This article is part of “The America We Need,” a Times Opinion series exploring how the nation can emerge from this crisis stronger, fairer and more free. Read the introductory editorial and the editor’s letter.

“In the fall of 1347, rat fleas carrying bubonic plague entered Italy on a few ships from the Black Sea. Over the next four years, a pandemic tore through Europe and the Middle East. Panic spread, as the lymph nodes in victims’ armpits and groins swelled into buboes, black blisters covered their bodies, fevers soared and organs failed. Perhaps a third of Europe’s people perished.

Giovanni Boccaccio’s “Decameron” offers an eyewitness account: “When all the graves were full, huge trenches were excavated in the churchyards, into which new arrivals were placed in their hundreds, stowed tier upon tier like ships’ cargo.” According to Agnolo di Tura of Siena, “so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.”

And yet this was only the beginning. The plague returned a mere decade later and periodic flare-ups continued for a century and a half, thinning out several generations in a row. Because of this “destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish,” the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote, “the entire inhabited world changed.”

The wealthy found some of these changes alarming. In the words of an anonymous English chronicler, “Such a shortage of laborers ensued that the humble turned up their noses at employment, and could scarcely be persuaded to serve the eminent for triple wages.” Influential employers, such as large landowners, lobbied the English crown to pass the Ordinance of Laborers, which informed workers that they were “obliged to accept the employment offered” for the same measly wages as before.”

Poachers Kill More Rhinos as Coronavirus Halts Tourism to Africa – The New York Times

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“The past few weeks have not been easy for Nico Jacobs, founder of Rhino 911, a nonprofit that provides emergency helicopter transport for rhinoceroses in need of rescue in South Africa. That’s because times are much worse for the rhinos.

Since South Africa announced a national lockdown on March 23 to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, Mr. Jacobs has had to respond to a rhino poaching incident nearly every day. On March 25, he rescued a 2-month-old white rhino calf whose mother had been killed by poachers. The next day he was called to rescue two black rhinos whose horns had been hacked off by poachers. When he finally tracked them down it was too late — both were dead.

“Just as soon as the lockdown hit South Africa, we started having an incursion almost every single day,” Mr. Jacobs said.

At least nine rhinos have been poached in South Africa’s North West province since the lockdown, he said, “and those are just the ones we know about.”

Most New York Coronavirus Cases Came From Europe, Genomes Show – The New York Times

“New research indicates that the coronavirus began to circulate in the New York area by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, and that travelers brought in the virus mainly from Europe, not Asia.

“The majority is clearly European,” said Harm van Bakel, a geneticist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who co-wrote a study awaiting peer review.

A separate team at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine came to strikingly similar conclusions, despite studying a different group of cases. Both teams analyzed genomes from coronaviruses taken from New Yorkers starting in mid-March.

The research revealed a previously hidden spread of the virus that might have been detected if aggressive testing programs had been put in place.

On Jan. 31, President Trump barred foreign nationals from entering the country if they had been in China during the prior two weeks.

It would not be until late February that Italy would begin locking down towns and cities, and March 11 when Mr. Trump said he would block travelers from most European countries. But New Yorkers had already been traveling home with the virus.

“People were just oblivious,” said Adriana Heguy, a member of the N.Y.U. team.

Opinion | What America Needs Next: A Biden National Unity Cabinet – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

“In the last Democratic debate, Joe Biden declared that he would nominate a woman as his vice-presidential running mate. That felt right at the time. But times have changed. Biden needs to go much, much further: At the Democratic convention he needs to name not just his vice president, but his entire cabinet. And it needs to be a totally different kind of cabinet — a national unity cabinet — from Democrats on the Bernie Sanders left to Republicans on the Mitt Romney right. Why?

Because while most people are playing nice right now managing this virus, the wreckage, pain and anger it will leave behind will require megadoses of solidarity and healing from the top.

And even if we get to the other side of this crisis by January, there are going to be a set of wrenching debates around who got bailed out and who didn’t and around how much civil liberty we should sacrifice to track and quarantine Covid-19 carriers until there is a vaccine. If handled on a partisan basis, those issues will rip our country apart.

In short, if this isn’t the time to leave behind the hyperpartisanship that has made it nearly impossible for us to do anything big and hard for two decades, then when?

Considering all the people who have come together in this crisis to tend to neighbors, contribute to hospitals, share scarce resources and learn from one another how to combat Covid-19, would it be asking too much for our political system to mirror the best in us rather than to continue to exacerbate the worst? Americans today deserve the government they need more than ever. It has literally become a matter of life and death.

Biden, because he doesn’t run anything right now, has had a hard time demonstrating leadership. The one giant contrast that he could draw with President Trump, though, is the approach he would take to governing.

Americans are not focused on this now — but they will be. And when they are, Biden needs to show that he isn’t running to be president of the 48 percent (or less), as Trump is; he’s not trying to suppress the vote, as Trump is; he’s not running to squeak by in the Electoral College, as Trump is. He needs to show he’s running to be a majority president, a unity president — but not just unity for unity’s sake, but unity of purpose based on a set of shared values for rebuilding America.

Biden should enlist people ready to embrace these values:

1) They have to believe in science — and not just around the coronavirus but around climate change, which is the next train coming at us.

2) If they were in power during this crisis, they have to have led their city, state or business in a way that took the science of this epidemic seriously from the start and cared for those under them.”

David Lindsay: This not my favorite Friedman piece. Pete Buttigieg was my choice for VP. I think saying the VP has to be female, was Biden’s first really big mistake. He mentions three women, but they are unknowns to most of us. We know that Buttigieg can speak, and think like a president.

The comments are interesting, and here is my favorite so far:

Drew
San Jose, Costa Rica
Times Pick

A good start but a few adjustments are needed. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is far the best person for Ambassador to the UN. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should stay put for now. And perhaps Andrew Yang should be Secretary of Energy over Karsner. But the big flaw in this line-up, there has to be some role for Sen. Sanders. Something important. Some office with real authority. Something worthy of the man. Not sure what it could be but for certain VP Biden must bring in Sanders in a visible way, address his concerns and gain his cooperation. The appearance of exclusion was Secretary Clinton’s biggest mistake.

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Opinion | The Leaders Who Passed the Coronavirus Test – By Farhad Manjoo – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Pool photo by Rich Pedroncelli

“In February and early March, America’s political and business leaders began to face a crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions. Many failed the test.

As the coronavirus crisis emerged, the president dithered and downplayed, promising a magical end to a problem he did not appear to understand. The mayor of New York reveled in unscientific happy talk, assuring his citizens that life would remain normal. And many in the pundit class, including yours truly, got the earliest calls disastrously wrong.

This is the story we know — a story of institutional failure, of chaos and incoordination, a tragedy that has seemed to unmake the most powerful country in the world.

Yet failure is not the entire account of America’s response to the coronavirus. Because while politicians in Washington, D.C., fumbled the federal role, Washington State was closing restaurants and bars. While New York City slow-walked, the San Francisco Bay Area, and then the rest of California, was ordering its residents to “shelter in place.” And as the Republican president offered meaningless bromides, two Republican governors, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Larry Hogan of Maryland, were among those leading the nation’s first statewide school closures.

Opinion | Privacy Cannot Be a Casualty of the Coronavirus – The New York Times

By The Editorial BoardThe editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.April 7, 20207Credit…Illustration by Michael Houtz; photograph by Getty ImagesMillions of Americans, sheltering in their homes from the coronavirus, have turned to communications platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger in order to work or stay connected to friends and family. Free and easy to use, the services are gobbling up record numbers of new users.But there’s a saying in Silicon Valley: If the product is free, you are the product.This is not business as usual, though. Americans aren’t willingly surrendering their online identities during this pandemic — many are being compelled to do so by their schools, family or work. Just as a swath of manufacturers are switching their production lines to ventilator and mask production for the greater good, corporations that normally view every new registered user as a data point to exploit need to take a pause on profiting from online data harvesting.For those fortunate enough to have laptops and reliable broadband internet at home, it is not sufficient to simply update privacy policies or customer agreements. Americans need a guarantee that conversations held over video chat won’t be data collection events.The videoconferencing company Zoom has been a standout brand of the pandemic, in part because its daily user numbers ballooned to 200 million in March from 10 million last year, making it one of the few buoyant stocks amid the recent sell-off.

Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy – SFChronicle.com

Note: This story has been updated with comments from the U.S. Navy and other developments.

“The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

In the four-page letter to senior military officials, Crozier said only a small contingent of infected sailors have been off-boarded. Most of the crew remain aboard the ship, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing is impossible.

“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

He asked for “compliant quarantine rooms” on shore in Guam for his entire crew “as soon as possible.”

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.” “

Source: Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy – SFChronicle.com

Opinion | For Coronavirus, Trump Is Not the Wartime President We Need – The New York Times

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Ms. Rice is a contributing Opinion writer.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“Donald Trump declared himself a “wartime president” just three weeks ago. On Twitter, he proclaimed “WE WILL WIN THIS WAR.” At last, he seemed to grasp the gravity of the Covid-19 crisis facing the world. Bluster aside, Mr. Trump is correct: This is war, the most consequential since World War II, and he is in charge.

Unfortunately, few of his actions display the leadership we need from a wartime commander in chief who is confronting a viral version of World War III.

The United States military develops detailed war plans for combat scenarios and exercises regularly to prepare for contingencies. The Defense Department gathers intelligence, scans the globe for impending threats, pre-positions forces and equipment, stockpiles supplies and trains its forces. Maintaining readiness is the military’s most prized prerequisite for battlefield success.

In the case of coronavirus, the Trump administration shelved the war plan, or pandemic “playbook,” prepared by the Obama administration. It disbanded the National Security Council office established to provide early warning and ensure preparedness, and disregarded the intelligence community’s warnings that a global pandemic was likely.”