Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 28, 2020
Right-Wing Media Stars Amplify Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Campaign Message
July 21, 2020
To his legions of listeners, Rush Limbaugh calls the demonstrators in Portland, Ore., “anarchists” who “hate Americans and America.” He recently made an ominous prediction: “I can see secession coming.”
On Fox News, Sean Hannity describes the scene in Portland as “a literal disaster area — and, yeah, it looks like a war zone.”
On Wednesday, Breitbart News — which features a “Riot Crackdown” page on its website — published an article declaring, “Now would be a real good time to do whatever is necessary to obtain a permit to legally carry a handgun.”
Right-wing outlets and conservative media stars have seized on the weekslong protests in Portland as a rallying cry for law and order, instructing their followers to fear for their safety and blaming Democratic leaders for failing to restore peace.
Their commentary — beamed out daily to millions — has increasingly mirrored the fear-laced messaging of President Trump and his re-election campaign, which has warned that a Joseph R. Biden Jr. presidency would usher in chaos and routine violence in the streets. With the November election looming, Mr. Trump has pledged to send forces to Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and other major cities.
Conservative pundits, typically no fans of an overreaching government, have thrown their full support behind federal agents who have used militarized tactics like firing tear gas at protesters and have pulled some demonstrators into unmarked vans since being deployed to Portland in recent days.
In fact, the scenes broadcast by channels like Fox News and One America News send a misleading portrait of the city, where daily life has been relatively calm outside of a small area downtown. (New York Times)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday June 9, 2020
“Thousands more” Ontario frontline healthcare workers need pandemic pay: union
An Ontario union is calling on the federal government to extend pandemic pay for frontline healthcare workers, who are “risking their lives ad the lives of their families,” tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 29, 2020
“Many frontline health workers risking their lives — and the lives of their families — are not getting pandemic pay,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), said in a statement.
He is calling on the federal government to “step up.”
“Pandemic pay is vital recognition of the sacrifices these workers are making to get us through this pandemic, but there’s a void,” said Thomas. “Why isn’t it being offered to all of the healthcare workers in our hospitals, and other congregate settings?”
According to the union president, the provincial government has indicated that it has run out of funding after offering pandemic pay to 375,000 workers.
On April 29, Premier Doug Ford expanded pandemic pay to more frontline workers which included, staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions, and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals.
However, Thomas says there are “thousands more who are facing exactly the same kinds of risks and hardships.”
Adding, that Ford has said he would “love to extend it to all workers” if only the province had the money.
Which is in Thomas’ opinion, where the federal government needs to come in.
According to the union president, with outbreaks still happening in long-term care homes, manufacturing and meat-processing plants, and amongst migrant workers the burden on health care workers is only becoming greater.
“It’s imperative for the federal government to show its support for all of Ontario’sfrontline health heroes and come to the table with more support,” Thomas said. “The sooner the engine of the national economy emerges from the pandemic, the sooner Canada will be able to recover. Prime minister, Ontario needs your help.”
On May 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government had reached a $4 billion deal with the provinces and territories to top up wages for essential workers.
Who received the wage top up was up to the premiers and provinces, according to the prime minister. (Daily Hive News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday April 25, 2020
Georgia Hairdessers Weigh the Order to Reopen During a Pandemic
On Monday, within hours of Governor Brian Kemp’s announcement that many Georgia businesses could reopen on Friday, Maureen, a sixty-nine-year-old retired schoolteacher, texted her hairdresser, who owns a salon in Atlanta, about an hour from Maureen’s home, in Athens. “The Gov says you can open! 🙂 My appointment is on Friday of this week. What’s your plan?” Maureen, who voted for Kemp, made the appointment eight weeks earlier, before the coronavirus pandemichad shut down much of the country, and she was hoping to keep it. Her hairdresser, a man in his early sixties who asked that I not use his name, did not vote for Kemp. He told her that he would not be reopening until the following Monday—and only in a limited way. Maureen could try one of his other hairdressers, he said, but he wouldn’t be seeing clients himself until May 12th at the earliest. And, the hairdresser told me a few days later, if “Kemp’s science project goes as expected”—by which he meant badly—“then I have no idea when.”
July 23, 2009
Nearly a thousand people in Georgia have died, so far, of complications from the coronavirus, according to the numbers that have been reported. (The actual number may be higher.) Like the Central Georgia health board and many others in the state and around the country, the hairdresser did not think it was time to shift pandemic protocols in order to reopen businesses, even with precautions like masks, gloves, and disinfectant. “I thought it was the most asinine decision any governor could have ever made,” he said, “given the science we’re presented with, what Fauci and the other guys are saying.” The hairdresser checks the daily case counts regularly, he said. “Atlanta has been spiking up and down,” he noted. “I think yesterday we had maybe twelve hundred new cases. Today, maybe seven hundred or so—but it’s not midnight yet, I don’t know.” There are more than twenty thousand confirmed cases in the state. He went on, “It’s pretty damn silly, insisting on a haircut right now. But, you have to understand, my clientele is very privileged. To them, this is a very big sacrifice, to go without a haircut. I’ve had people offer me money to come to their houses—what’s the difference that’s gonna make? I don’t know. It’s a very entitled world.”
September 11, 2007
The hairdresser’s employees are contractors, who rent booths from him at the salon. Shortly after the announcement, he sent them the Georgia State Board of Cosmetologists and Barbers’ guidelines on reopening, which he called “the craziest thing—social distancing while giving a haircut is hard.” The board recommends that barbers wear a face shield and gloves, as a start. “You need to be in a smock, too,” the salon owner went on, “and change your smock after every haircut, into another clean, sanitized smock. The client is in sanitized cape and smock and neck wrap. Then you have to sanitize your whole station and chair.” Taking each client’s temperature and having them answer a health questionnaire is also recommended. “If I were getting paid the salary of a surgeon,” the hairdresser said, “it might be worth all the scrubbing.”
Some of the contractors are willing to take risks to pay their bills. “We could wait,” the owner said, referring to reopening. “But I feel like these hairdressers chomping at the bit—if they’re willing to do it and really take it seriously, and I’m there to monitor it—I can’t say no to them. But,” he added, “I’m kind of a wimp.”
Life in a Pandemic
One of these contractors, Brittany, who’s thirty-five, has been at the salon for four years. “If Home Depot can be open and people can shop because they’re bored and want to buy houseplants, and Target can be open for people to buy yoga pants,” she told me, “I don’t see the harm in me—carefully and safely—doing a client.” Brittany said that she is a Republican but did not vote for Kemp. She charges around two hundred dollars per session. “Twelve hundred doesn’t even pay half my booth rent,” she said, referring to the stimulus check she received from the federal government. (The salon owner did not charge booth rent while the store was closed.) “So you don’t want to be unsafe, but you also don’t want to lose clients or income. It’s a rock and a hard place, you know?” (The New Yorker)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 24, 2020
Federal COVID-19 testing program will determine how far coronavirus has really spread
The Trudeau government committed more than $1 billion to COVID-19 research Thursday, including a proposal for widespread testing to better understand the coronavirus that led to the pandemic and to chart a recovery course for the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada needs research to respond to the pandemic in the best way possible.
“The better we understand this virus, its spread and its impact on different people, the better we can fight it and eventually defeat it,” he said.
The funding includes $40 million to do viral sequencing to track the virus and its different strains, $23 million for vaccine research, $600 million for private sector trials of drug treatments and vaccines, $114 million to the Canadian Institutes of Health research for research into measures that could reduce the spread, and a host of smaller initiatives.
The government is also setting up a “immunity task force” that will do widespread blood testing to determine just how far the virus has spread.
Unlike the current testing using nose and throat swabs, this wider testing using blood samples will be able to track people who may have had the virus, but had little or no symptoms and have now recovered.
Dr. David Naylor, a former dean of medicine and president of the University of Toronto, with an extensive background in epidemiology, who also chaired the national advisory committee on SARS, is on the task force.
He said there are likely many people walking around who have fought off the virus without even knowing they had it. Those people are believed to be immune and knowing how many there are can help the government make decisions on easing restrictions following the national lockdown that’s been in effect to fight the pandemic.
“The level of background immunity gives us some sense of how fast we can move on easing some of these restrictions,” he said. “If a lot of people are immune then this will be an easier lockdown to lift. If they aren’t we have to be a lot more careful.”
Widespread blood testing will be required to determine the prevalence of the virus. While it’s expected to take months to get a full picture, early results should give a sense of the scale of the disease, Naylor said.
“I would not be surprised if there is going to be a bit of a range within Canada. We can’t test every Canadian. We can’t test everyone everywhere, but we will test a sample across the country.”
Naylor said even when the immunity testing is completed, there will still be a need to quickly test and trace people who get sick. He said once people are out of social distancing it will be harder to test outbreaks of the virus, which is why Canada has to be prepared to move quickly.
“Immunity testing alone is not the answer, you still have to have the firefighting,” he said. “As soon as we get very active intermingling again then it is going to be much harder to fight the flare-ups and we have to have our ‘A’ game in testing and tracing.”
As of Thursday, Canada had tested 620,000 people for the virus and reported more than 41,500 cases, including 2,141 deaths. (National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday April 23, 2020
How Trump allies have organized and promoted anti-lockdown protests
Republican politicians and individuals affiliated with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign are organizing or promoting anti-lockdown protests across key electoral battleground states, despite the White House’s own cautious guidance on relaxing restrictions, interviews with two dozen people involved show.
April 18 2020
In Michigan, the organizers of last week’s rally against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic are involved in the Republican president’s re-election effort, a Reuters review of their profiles and interviews with them show.
In other swing states, such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, Republican lawmakers, party leaders and Trump allies encouraged their social media followers to join the protests, often organized by conservative activists and pro-gun- rights groups, and attended the events themselves.
Their actions contradict the Trump administration’s recommendations for a slow and phased reopening, as well as warnings from its own medical experts that opening the economy too fast risks a resurgence of the novel coronavirus that has infected almost 810,000 people in the United States and killed over 45,000 – the world’s highest number of cases and deaths.
A bipartisan majority of Americans – 88% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans – also want to continue to shelter in place despite the impact on the economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
Regardless, many Trump supporters saw his criticism of Democratic governors for going too far with economic restrictions, and his recent tweets calling for those states to be “liberated,” as endorsing their cause, protest organizers and Republican officials said.
They said there had been no communication with the Trump administration or his election campaign over the protests.
The Trump campaign declined to answer whether it had been involved with the protests, referring instead to Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings in which he has expressed sympathy for the protesters, saying he understands their frustration.
Several of the main organizers of the Lansing, Michigan, protest that police estimated drew about 4,000 people have ties to the Trump campaign, and are deeply involved in state Republican politics. (Reuters)