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Irish Times
April 25, 2020
By Fintan O'Toole


Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.
However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world's best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world's leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicentre of the pandemic.

As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, "The United States reacted … like Pakistan or Belarus - like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering."

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time - wilfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurrinPost too long. Click here to view the full text.

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Social distancing

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>Shocking moment New Jersey teacher tells teenagers to ‘die a long, painful death’ from coronavirus after they ignored stay-at-home orders to play football outside
>Math teacher told teenagers to 'die a long, painful death' from coronavirus last week
>The Trentonian identified her as Nicole Griggs, a staffer at Steinert High School in Hamilton, New Jersey
>Griggs reportedly became upset that a group of teenagers were playing football despite stay-at-home orders
>Footage showed Griggs yelling at the teenagers behind a fence
>'I’m just trying to save your a** and save your life. But die, OK. I hope both of you get the coronavirus,' she told the teenagers
>New Jersey is under stay-at-home orders until further notice


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Food supply breaking

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If the US healthcare system is so great and the best in the world then home come a country with a population of 320 million has over 1/4 of global coronavirus deaths in a world with a population of nearly 8 billion people?

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The madness has to stop

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Special Report: Former Labradoodle breeder was tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force

Before joining the Trump Administration in January 2018, Harrison's official HHS biography says, he "ran a small business in Texas." The biography does not disclose the name or nature of that business, but his personal financial disclosure forms show that from 2012 until 2018 he ran a company called Dallas Labradoodles.

The company sells Australian Labradoodles, a breed that is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. He sold it in April 2018, his financial disclosure form said. HHS emailed Reuters that the sale price was $225,000.

At HHS, Harrison was initially deputy chief of staff before being promoted, in the summer of 2019, to replace Azar's first chief of staff, Peter Urbanowicz, an experienced hospital executive with decades of experience in public health.

This January, Harrison became a key manager of the HHS virus response. "Everyone had to report up through him," said one HHS official.


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Dear protesters

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GOP sounds alarm bell over coronavirus-fueled debt

Republicans are growing increasingly anxious about the meteoric rise in the country's debt amid unprecedented levels of federal spending aimed at softening the economic impact of the coronavirus.


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Testicles may make men more vulnerable to coronavirus: study

The coronavirus could linger in the testicles, making men prone to longer, more severe cases of the illness, according to a new study.


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