Wednesday News Executive Summary

Jordan Candler  Above the Fold

Senate passes $484 billion relief package; $310 billion will go toward the Paycheck Protection Program (The Hill)

Runaway spending: Mitch McConnell slams brakes on fifth round of coronavirus aid (Politico)

Trump’s 60-day immigration pause, which exempts temporary foreign workers, falls well short of full ban, but the White House’s goal is to allow more jobs to be filled by U.S. citizens (Politico)

The Latest on Coronavirus

U.S. deaths top 45,000, doubling in a little over a week (Reuters)

The first stateside death was in California on February 6 — weeks earlier than initially believed (NBC News)

CDC chief warns second wave may be worse, arriving with flu season (Reuters)

Hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit, more deaths in VA virus study (Fox News)

NIH panel recommends against combining the drugs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (NPR)

“An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction”: Missouri becomes first state to sue China over coronavirus (The Washington Free Beacon)

Government & Politics

Trump says he will ask Harvard, which boasts a $40 billion endowment, and big businesses to return relief funds (The Hill) 

For the record: Filthy-rich Harvard isn’t the only university taxpayers shouldn’t bail out (The Federalist)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer awards (then rescinds after being busted) coronavirus contract to Democrat consulting firm (The Washington Free Beacon)

National Security

Iran saber-rattling in the Persian Gulf despite coronavirus woes (Washington Examiner)

Trump instructs Navy to “destroy” any Iranian gunboats harassing U.S. ships (Fox News)

Navy deploys two ships to South China Sea amid tensions (The Hill)

Closing Arguments

Policy: The world’s bad actors see coronavirus as an opportunity (Bloomberg Opinion)

Policy: How public transit makes the nation more vulnerable to disasters (The Federalist)

Humor: Gov. Whitmer changes name to “Karen,” wants to speak to the manager of coronavirus about rude protesters (Genesius Times)  ~The Patriot Post  

Why US oil prices fell below zero and what it means

by Josh Siegel{ } ~ Benchmark U.S. crude oil traded at a negative price for the first time ever Monday, a historic moment explained by a technical oddity and uncertainty about the recovery of oil demand amid the coronavirus pandemic… The West Texas Intermediate crude oil price, the main U.S. benchmark, tumbled to the lowest level since trading started nearly four decades ago, settling at minus $37.63 a barrel. But the fall was for front-month May contracts, which expire Tuesday, meaning they won’t be actively traded and thus are not the best reflection of the market. It dropped so much because with WTI, traders “must take physical delivery of a paper contract held at the end of the month,” said Joe McMonigle, a former chief of staff in the Energy Department of the George W. Bush administration. With no buyers as economies are shut down and concerns about U.S. storage capacity maxing out meaning there is nowhere to put the unwanted oil)\, the price fell into negative territory. Negative pricing is when the cost of selling oil is below the cost of producing and transporting it, setting up the prospect of producers essentially paying traders to take the oil. “The paper market contracts are expiring, and the physical market is running out of places to put the crude oil oversupply, while demand remains on lockdown and could deteriorate further as recovery remains elusive,” said Frank Verrastro, senior vice president of the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The combination is crushing oil prices.” But the contracts for June and July are trading higher, in the low $20s, and are the real signal for how the oil market will look in the coming months and whether demand can recover after dropping 30% due to the coronavirus. “You could see a similar path downward as we get into the month,” said McMonigle, who is now president of the Abraham Group, an international strategic consulting firm. “It will be much more sensitive to plans to reopen the economy that may stimulate more demand, but we are still dealing with a lack of storage.” The differential between the May price and future months reflects a market condition called contango, in which prices for a commodity’s futures contract are higher than the commodity is currently valued, and reflects expectations that economic activity may resume soon. Antoine Halff, a senior research scholar with the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said market participants with access to storage are buying oil while it’s cheap with the intention of keeping it until they can sell it in future months at a profit. “What we are seeing is the severity of the downturn, the reality of the storage and logistical constraints, and the willingness of some to take advantage of the market,” Halff said…  

Congress Stuns As They Near Agreement On Massive New Bill

by ~ President Trump announced on Sunday that Republicans were having “very good negotiations” with Democrats on expanding funding under the Paycheck Protection Program [PPP]… suggesting that an agreement could come as soon as Monday. Earlier in the day, Trump spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. A source familiar with the call told Fox News that Mnuchin said the open items were limited to the testing portion of the aid package. At the beginning of the call, McConnell and Mnuchin touted the additional funding for PPP and reiterated the additional state and local government funding and demands from Democrats regarding funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], also known as food stamps, will not be in the final package. Secretary Mnuchin also said separately on Sunday in an interview with CNN that a bi-partisan deal is inching closer to replenish the fund. Mnuchin told CNN that he hopes that the $450 billion package will be voted on in the Senate on Monday, and pass the House on Tuesday. Mnuchin said the new bill in addition to replenishing the fund would also free up $100 billion for testing and hospitals. Democrats have been the key component in stalling the addition of funds to a depleted $350 billion small business relief fund. House Speaker liar-Nancy Pelosi justified that delay on Sunday by saying she wanted more funding for testing and hospitals – something Republicans never opposed. In fact, President Trump also said on Sunday, “We’re looking to help hospitals, rural hospitals as part of the package.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Republicans and Democrats clashed on some key points about the new deal, but both sides have agreed to compromise. “We’ve made very good progress,” Sen. Chuck scumbag-Schumer, the Senate minority leader, told CNN…  

Which Safe Fish to Eat and Which Fish to Avoid

by ~ According to the FDA, we should all be eating more fish, even recommending women of childbearing age consume 8-12 ounces of fish per week… Fish are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but what kind should we really be eating? It’s important to choose wisely. The health benefits of eating fish can be tremendous, but the  consequences of eating the wrong ones can be devastating.  The best fish to include in our diets are ones that don’t live long enough to accumulate high levels of mercury in their tissue. For example, a six-ounce serving of salmon has about 4 micrograms — compared to the 170 micrograms found in a grown swordfish. Other excellent choices include: Anchovies, Atlantic mackerel, Catfish, Clams,  Cod, Crab, Crawfish, Flounder, Haddock, Herring, Lobster, Oysters, Pollock, Sardines, Scallops, Shrimp, Sole, Squid, Tilapia and Skipjack tuna. The FDA recommends we try to eat 2-3 servings of these fish per week. Some fish aren’t flooded in mercury, but they aren’t as clean as anchovies or salmon. Canned albacore tuna contains about 60 micrograms of methylmercury per serving — which is about the weekly limit. This means we can eat these mid-range fish about once per week without getting sick. Others in this group include: Bluefish, Carp, Halibut, Mahi mahi, Snapper and Spanish mackerel.  

What You Need to Know About Antibody Tests for COVID-19

by Kevin Pham{ } ~ Returning to a semblance of normalcy in this country will require the ability to gauge a person’s immunity status to the COVID-19 virus using serology tests—that is, blood tests that detect antibody levels… People who were infected by the virus and recovered generated a durable immune response by developing antibodies to antigens specific to the virus. That is to say, the body’s immune system creates molecules called antibodies that are designed to target and attack certain unique features of the virus called antigens.People who have developed the antibodies to the virus are able to fight it off if the virus enters their bodies again, so those with the antibody are unlikely to be reinfected with the virus and unlikely to be able to transmit the virus to anyone else. In this way, knowing the immune status of the population will be important to assessing the risk of the community returning to work. Furthermore, being able to detect an individual’s immune status will also help public health researchers and officials determine the virus’ penetrance, the extent to which it has infected the population. This is possible because certain antibodies persist in the blood long after the infection, even if an individual never showed any symptoms from the virus. The ability to detect previous asymptomatic infections will be important because recent evidence suggests that a potentially large proportion of infected people never show symptoms. Universal COVID-19 screening on hospital labor and delivery wards in New York City found that, of the women who tested positive for the virus, 29 out of 33 were asymptomatic at diagnosis. Of those 29 women, 26 of them remained asymptomatic, while only three developed fevers. For each woman who tested positive for COVID-19 and showed symptoms, there were more than seven other women who tested positive, but did not show symptoms. All 33 of them, even after they have recovered, will be positive for antibodies if tested…   

liar-Nancy Gets Grilled For Downplaying Coronavirus — She Responds With Ludicrous Lie

by Bonchie{ } ~ liar-Nancy Pelosi, after nearly two months of the media ignoring it, was finally asked this morning about her promotion of tourism in late February… even as the Wuhan virus had clearly escalated into a serious situation for the country. This came during a trip to Chinatown in which she told people everything was safe and that they should come visit.  The reason this is so relevant is because liar-Pelosi has relentlessly attacked Trump as not taking the virus seriously enough in January, even accusing him of having killed people as a result. Given that, the fact that she’s on video telling people to go to Chinatown and enjoy the food a month later makes her a massive hypocrite. Anyway, here’s her insufferable answer as to why she did it. You see, she was just trying to fight discrimination or something. That makes sense because discrimination is defeated by encouraging people to gather in densely packed areas to spread a deadly disease. Wait, what? One of the more ridiculous things Democratic politicians have learned to do in the last decade is to spin every flub into a topic on racism. They apparently see that as a shield whereby they can’t be criticized as long as they are flexing their social justice muscles. The reality is that liar-Pelosi told people to come to Chinatown in late February because she didn’t know any better. And because she didn’t know any better, she has no business going after others for their response to the virus. She wants to have it both ways though. Her words must be hand waved away, but she can basically accuse Trump of murder for actions he took before anyone believed this disease would be much of an issue in the United States. These recriminations have become absolutely ludicrous at this point. There was no world where Trump could have taken tougher actions in January, nor even into late February. It wasn’t until early March that the magnitude of the situation was apparent enough that the public was willing to buy-in. liar-Pelosi has disingenuously attempted to act as if she were ahead of the curve long before the administration was. That’s simply false and her past statements show it to be false. No amount of hiding behind ridiculous charges of racism will change that.  

Atheist Group Wins $450,000 in Legal Fees after Ending Graduation Prayer

by Michael Foust{ } ~ A federal judge this week awarded an atheist group more than $450,000 in attorney’s fees and expenses after the organization successfully fought against high school graduation prayer as part of a 2013 lawsuit… U.S. District Judge Bruce Hendricks awarded the American Humanist Association $446,466 in attorney’s fees and $9,776 in expenses, less than a year after she ruled against Greenville (S.C.) County Schools in a much-watched prayer case. The school district indicated it may appeal. “Throughout this case, the School District has argued that students, like other citizens, have the right to free speech, including that of a religious nature,” the school district said in a statement. “… The School District will discuss the path forward with the insurance carrier covering the defense of this case, but anticipates appealing both the fee award and the decision upon which it was based to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.” The case dates back to 2013, when the American Humanist Association sued the school on behalf of parents of a student who objected to students leading prayers at a graduation. The organization also objected to the graduations being held in off-site chapels. Hendricks ruled for the group and said in a 2019 decision that “the district shall not include a prayer – whether referred to as a prayer, blessing, invocation, benediction, inspirational reading, or otherwise – as part of the official program for a graduation ceremony.” Students, she ruled, can pray only without the knowledge of school officials. “If school officials review, revise, or edit a student’s remarks in any way prior to the graduation ceremony, then school officials shall ensure that the student’s remarks do not include prayer,” Hendricks ruled. “If school officials do not review, revise, or edit a student’s remarks in any way prior to the graduation ceremony, then a student’s remarks may include prayer, provided that no other persons may be asked to participate or join in the prayer, for example, by being asked to stand or bow one’s head.”…  

IRS Botches Relief Payments

Michael Swartz  

It sounded so simple and straightforward: Middle-class Americans — those hardest hit by the nation’s COVID-19 economic shutdown — were going to receive $1,200 per person and $500 per child in relief money from the federal government. With a sliding scale of reduction phasing payments out to $0 for those on the upper end of what’s considered middle class and priority in timing given to those lower on the scale, about 80 million taxpayers who had filed taxes in the last two years and had bank account information on file were supposed to receive a direct deposit this week. The IRS claimed, “[Our] employees are delivering these payments in record time compared to previous stimulus efforts.”

That may be, but unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the haste of putting together such a program in less than a month’s time made for a lot of waste. The most frequent complaint is from people not getting checks because of mistyped or just plain incorrect bank information. Others have noted a “glitch” that prevents some taxpayers who used preparation software like TurboTax or H&R Block from receiving their payments. At the other extreme, survivors of taxpayers who have passed away since the beginning of 2018 were shocked to receive an additional payment for their departed spouse, leaving these widows and widowers unsure of whether they would need to pay back the money. Add to that the complication of having back child support withheld from certain checks, and the result is a whole lot of confusion.As a side note, the much-ballyhooed claim of delay caused by President Donald Trump’s desire to have his name on paper checks is a media-fed red herring.Sadly, Uncle Sam hasn’t been much help in this case. The website intended to assist taxpayers in determining whether their payment is on its way quickly folded under the strain. “IRS is actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online ‘waiting room’ for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites,” the agency said in a release. Alas, that “brief wait” often ends with a frustrating message: “Payment Status Not Available.” This can be a problem when the funds need to be available for people desperate to keep their financial heads above water.As Ronald Reagan once quipped, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” are indeed terrifying words. Besides the relief-money snafu, Democrat obstructionism allowed the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program to exhaust its initial $350 billion allotment in just two weeks, leaving many businesses high and dry until the two sides can agree on how much more debt to heap onto the backs of our great-great-great-great grandchildren.The real solution would be to open the economy back up regionally, taking prudent “social distancing” and personal precautions — a course of action we’ve advocated  practically from the start of this lockdown. If nationwide  protests are any indication, many Americans are eager to get back on with their lives. Fortunately, President Trump has initiated a plan for that reopening.In the meantime, many other Americans will continue to wait on that $1,200 lifeline. After all, the government is “here to help.”  ~The Patriot Post  


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *