Iowa Approach To Covid-19 Ignores What Works

Dr Louis Katz the “Fauci of Iowa,” epidemiologist in Scott County says Iowa is getting it all wrong.

https://qctimes.com/opinion/columnists/column-we-are-adrift-and-unmasked/article

“To those of you who shout that effective measures used all over the rest of the world infringe on your constitutional rights, I can only recommend you read the Constitution (note I did not say “reread”). You have no right to endanger others — period. You do not know if you are infected or who you are going to infect and possibly kill. If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t, but stay away from the rest of us.”

“Iowa is a red zone per the White House coronavirus task force. From four cases per day in Scott County during early June, we have surged as high as 76 in mid-July and average 20-30 daily now. Each reported case represents 5-10 uncounted infections.

“Now we know COVID can be transmitted from patients with no symptoms — so it cannot be controlled “just” by asking sick folks to stay home. Worse, children, adolescents and young adults… are less likely to avoid public spaces where they transmit the virus. They have driven our local July surge, and their infections are now spilling into older adults.

“Premature state reopenings demanded by the administration and its enablers ignore global experience. Early on, China, the European Union and others showed us the route to success while waiting for vaccines, combined enforced social distancing and masking that bought time to expand test and tracing capacity, permitted staged reopening, including schools, with maintenance of acceptable case rates, health system capacity and mortality. The U.S. and Iowa disregarded their experience.

“Can we turn it around?”

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August 9th, 1945: Nagasaki

Video: 1. minute 13 seconds

Have been using this space to talk about candidates for the statehouse. However, I read a short but very thought provoking article by Helen Caldicott, world renowned activist against nuclear weapons, on the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan at the end of WWII. She then assesses our current state of nuclear armament. Realizing what date it is, I thought this would be a much better use of the blog today.

Paul Deaton has posted a couple of very fine articles on the atom bombing of Japan here and here. They are definitely worth a couple of minutes to read.    

After a short description of some of the destruction that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Caldicott discusses the current situation, which is scary:   

The United States and the Soviet Union decided to outdo each other by conducting a nuclear arms race, building tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Between 1945 and 1998, the United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests, producing cancer in tens of thousands of people. It has built more than 70,000 atomic and hydrogen bombs; the Soviets and later the Russian Federation had tried to keep up, building at least 55,000 of their own.

Arms control agreements over the years have managed to reduce stockpiles to about 14,000 nuclear weapons today, in the possession of nine nations: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. The United States and Russia still lead the pack, each with more than 6,000 total weapons, including about 1,600 each that are actively deployed.

A nuclear “exchange” between these two superpowers would take little over one hour to complete. A twenty-megaton bomb (the equivalent of twenty million tons of TNT) would excavate a hole three-quarters of a mile wide and 800 feet deep, converting all buildings and people into radioactive fallout that would be shot up in the mushroom cloud. Within six miles in all directions every living thing would be vaporized. Twenty miles from the epicenter, huge fires would erupt, as winds of up to 500 miles per hour would suck people out of buildings and turn them into missiles traveling at 100 miles per hour. The fires would coalesce, incinerating much of the United States and causing most nuclear power plants to melt down, greatly exacerbating radioactive fallout.

Potentially billions of people would die hideously from acute radiation sickness, vomiting, and bleeding to death. As thick black radioactive smoke engulfed the stratosphere, the Earth would, over time, be plunged into another ice age—a “nuclear winter,” annihilating almost all living organisms.

Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission. Our planet is in the intensive care unit, approaching several terminal events.

Caldicott concludes her article by referencing the current situation by postulating that no one ever factored in the possibility that one day the finger on the nuclear trigger might belong to an immature petulant man-baby. What is truly scary is that Trump is a person to whom revenge is a driving force. 

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Sunday Funday: Low Grade Depression Edition

30 seconds: Rita Hart for Congress

During the week Former First Lady Michelle Obama said she was in a kind of low depression. Hit home immediately with me and I am betting most Iowans and Americans. We are now in at least the 6th month of a pandemic which the current president refuses to deal with and lies about daily. As if that wasn’t bad enough, our governor is in the same boat. She claims she is doing a great job while people are getting ill at a high rate with many dying.

We are seeing families being torn apart across the state and country with hardly anything being done to stop it. In Iowa, Reynolds refuses to issue a masking mandate and takes actions against those who do. Does she want us to get sick and die? That is what she would do if she did. 

Now she is threatening legal action against school districts who do the sensible thing and keep their students away from crowds. Does she want them to get sick and die? This is what she would do if she did. Dead children are a bad legacy, Governor. The only reason that anybody seems to know that is driving the push to reopen schools is so it will help Donald Trump’s reelection. All for one man’s perverted ego.

Ugh!

  1. Another incredible milestone in coronavirus as cases in the US passed what number this week?
  1. As a contrast, how many Americans died of ebola when Barack Obama was president?
  1. First Bunker Boy was going to ban this computer application. Now he is giving Microsoft a chance to purchase what company?
  1. ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence): “Kremlin agents are using a range of measures to denigrate” what US candidate?
  1. Economic analysis from the U of Illinois predicts that per acre revenue for corn will be about how much less per acre than 2019 revenue?
  1. Bunker Boy took a trip to Ohio, but was not joined by what local big time politician who tested positive for coronavirus?
  1. As of this writing, Bunker Boy is threatening to sign an executive order to cut payroll taxes. Such an order could greatly hurt the long term health of what major governmental program?
  1. Tomorrow is the 146th birthday anniversary of what first president born west of the Mississippi?
  1. What small town that holds an annual convocation of motorcycle riders has gone ahead with their annual get together this year despite the coronavirus?
  1. It is beginning to look like Bunker boy’s attempt to get what major professional golf tournament moved to one of his golf courses may blow up into a big international scandal?
  1. In a bit of a minor surprise, Iowa’s governor Reynolds signed an order giving what group of people the right to vote without paying our costs and fees?
  1. What material being stored in a Beirut warehousing district caused a massive blast decrying property and killing people for miles around?
  1. Bunker Boy continued his assault on mail-in voting, but did make an exception for what state?
  1. When does the Democratic National Convention start?
  1. Bunker Boy floated the idea of using what setting to give his acceptance speech for the Trumpublican Party?
  1. What highly placed GOP senator is flat out tied in his re-election campaign in South Carolina?
  1. Players for the Atlanta Dream WNBA basketball team wore T-shirts with a message for voters to vote against what co-owner of their team?
  1. Another one bites the dust! What chain of luxury department stores filed for bankruptcy last Sunday?
  1. Students taking pictures of crowded halls in Georgia schools that are reopening during the pandemic were dealt with by their schools doing what to them?
  1. In a speech, Bunker Boy claimed who “hurts God”?

Answers:

  1. 5 million. We only passed 4 million a couple of weeks ago.
  1. 2
  1. TikTok
  1. Joe Biden
  1. $15 an acre less
  1. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
  1. Social Security
  1. Herbert Hoover born just off Interstate 80 in West Branch
  1. Sturgis, South Dakota – started Friday and goes through next Sunday – no masks required.
  1. The British Open that he tried to get moved to his Turnberry golf course.
  1. Ex felons. Iowa was the last state to give ex-felons the vote.
  1. Ammonium nitrate, commonly used as a fertilizer
  1. Florida
  1. Next Monday, August 17th
  1. The White House. This would certainly unethical and possibly illegal – neither of which has ever stopped Trump
  1. Lyndsey Graham
  1. Current US Senator from Georgia Kelly Loeffler
  1. Lord and Taylor’s
  1. Suspending them
  1. Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden. Seriously, Trump speaks for God?
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Walk A Mile In His Moccasins

A TED talk on empathy – 12 minutes

The title is supposedly an old Native American saying. Research points to it as the title of an 1895 poem by Mary Lathrap. Whatever the source, the sentiment expressed in that saying is a very basic lesson in humanity. That lesson is that no one should judge another person until they have had a chance to understand the background of the person being judged.

In this country the prejudging of a person based on skin color goes back to the very founding of this country. As our ancestors came here from across the ocean, early on slavery was established. In order to justify the slavery our ancestors created myths about those they enslaved. Making slaves seem less than human has always been a major ingredient of slavery.

Besides dehumanizing slaves, our ancestors also dehumanized the Natives who were already here to justify the taking of their lands. 

Unfortunately the lies and myths used to dehumanize whole groups of humans have been passed down from generation to generation. As Donald Trump has proven, such lies and myths have a great deal of currency in today’s America.

In a post at medium.com Aaron Mays Ragas relates his story “Sometimes My Black Life Matters”of what it is like to have black skin in a white society:

My black life mattered the day I was helping my sister-in-law move her furniture from her apartment to a moving van when several police officers aimed their guns at me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. Carrying a microwave to a moving van provided no clue.

My black life mattered the day I was looking through storefront windows and police detained me and questioned me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. It mattered further when I reached into my pocket for my wallet and they pulled their guns on me. My black life almost became matter on the pavement.

<<snip>>

Or maybe just maybe my skin is the sin and no accomplishment vaccine can inoculate me.

Sometimes I wish I could try on white skin. Not to keep; just to test drive for a few days. But moreso, I wish my white friends who condemn the black lives matter mantra could wear my skin. They’d probably cut the test drive short. They’d know what it feels like to be routinely viewed as a suspect instead of a person. They’d learn that black lives do indeed matter.

A little something to consider as we go through our day. 

Walk a mile in his moccasins and you will have a much different view on things.

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Stuart Stevens: It Was All A Lie

Republican strategist Stuart Stevens has written a new book  “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.” In the following interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Stuart discusses what the Republican Party has become under Trump. 8 minutes:

We have witnessed Republicans at all levels cowardly refuse to stand up against the out of control president for fear that Trump would tweet bad things against him. Perhaps one of the saddest cases has been Lyndsey Graham of South Carolina. Whereas Graham once acted as if he might buck Trump, a couple of tweets and Graham is a lapdog for Trump. As Graham runs for re-election, he looks like a most pathetic shell of a person running a ridiculous show trial in the senate to make Trump happy.  

While Stevens speaks at a national level, right here in Iowa we have Republicans who kiss the Trump ring rather than stand up to Trump’s illegality and immorality. Joni Ernst is the biggest example. She has made herself into a most pathetic public figure who is much more concerned about a bad tweet from Trump than what is good for her state. 

We have noticed that (from my observation) that the current crop of Republican congressional candidates in Iowa have been reluctant to invoke the name of “Trump.” While they may be trying to fool us that they do not support Trump you can bet they endorse the same old losing ideas such as privatized health care, reversing environmental rules and voter suppression. These are all ideas that are mainstream in the Trumpublican Party of today.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2020 election campaign, Blog for Iowa, Joni Ernst, Trump | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

WOW! List of NY AG Charges Against NRA

Image (1) RICK-PERRY-NRA-INTRO-VIDEO-facebook-300x168.jpg for post 24204

The corruption of the NRA is almost unbelievable. When you stop and think that they have considered themselves to be kingmakers in the political arena for a couple of decades now, maybe their attitude toward silly things like laws is not all that unexpected.

One thing that keeps rolling through my brain is how they bought and paid for Joni Ernst in the 2014 election to the tune of $3 million in support. 

Don’t forget that the NRA has also been accused of laundering Russian money that made it into our elections.

Here is the list posted on Twitter by Igor Volsky. The whole thread can be seen here.  

14 hours ago, 52 tweets, 49 min read

Bookmark Save as PDF My Authors

1/ I just finished reading @NewYorkStateAG’s 169 page lawsuit against @NRA and I’m shocked beyond belief at the level of corruption, lawlessness, and self-dealing. 

What follows is a THREAD that highlights the very worst abuses alleged by @TishJames. 

Buckle in.

2/ To sum it up, LaPierre & his lieutenants spent millions of dollars in membership dues paid by @NRA members who were told their #2A rights were at risk… on lavish trips & vacations, kickbacks and sweetheart deals… all in violation of NRA rules & IRS requirements

3/ According to the lawsuit, LaPierre spent *at least* $1.3 million chartering private flights between 2016 and 2018 for himself and his family members. 

Turns out, he wasn’t even present on many of those flights!

4/ From May 2015 to April 2019, @NRA incurred over 1 million dollars in expenses for private flights when LaPierre was not a passenger.

5/ In October 2016, LaPierre authorized a private flight for his wife to fly alone from Madison, WI, to Kearney, NE. 

Asked why she did not use a commercial airline, LaPierre testified “I think it was probably easier to fly private, more convenient.” 

Cost of flight: $8,800.

6/ LaPierre and his family visited the Bahamas by private air charter on at least 8 occasions, at a cost of $500,000+ to @NRA. 

On many of those trips, LaPierre and his family were gifted the use of a 107-foot yacht owned by @NRA vendor.

7/ @NRA rails against “Hollywood elite” & celebrities, but LaPierre testified he visits the Bahamas in December to attend a “celebrity retreat” organized by an individual who also happens to be a principal stakeholder in businesses that have business relationships with NRA!

8/ When LaPierre attends these retreats, which are normally held annually in the Bahamas in December, he stays at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.

9/ But don’t worry, LaPierre often visits the Bahamas in the summer as well! During these trips, he stays on a 108-foot yacht named Illusions. 

It has 4 staterooms, a 16-foot jet boat, and 2 jet skis. 

LaPierre described Illusions as “a big, big yacht” w/ a crew & a chef

10/ LaPierre has never disclosed his use of the yacht on @NRA Financial Disclosure Questionnaires that he, as an officer and ex officio director of the NRA, must submit to the NRA Secretary annually. 

Oops?

11/ LaPierre testified he has never received a gift of value in excess of $250 from an @NRA contractor or employee of an NRA contractor. 

But of course LaPierre’s use of the yacht constituted a gift from an NRA contractor in excess of $250 requiring disclosure under NRA policy.

12/ LaPierre also testified that he has stayed on Illusions during two European trips for the purpose of recruiting ~celebrities~ for @NRA.

13/ @NRA uses a dedicated travel agency. But they’re not good enough for LaPierre. 

@NewYorkStateAG‘s lawsuit reveals LaPierre uses his own travel consultant — and pays them exorbitant fees (with @NRA membership dues of course).

14/ In 2014, the fixed fee for LaPierre’s travel agent’s services was $15,000 a month. 

In May 2015, LaPierre’s Travel Consultant’s monthly fee increased to $19,000.

15/ From August 2014 to January 2020, @NRA paid LaPierre’s Travel Consultant more than **$13.5 million** 

In 2018, the NRA paid LaPierre’s Travel Consultant $2,630,531.71 

In the first six months of 2019 alone, the NRA paid LaPierre’s Travel Consultant $1,007,597.80

I mean…

16/ If that wasn’t enough, @NRA also reimburses LaPierre for exorbitant personal expenses.

Between 2013 and 2017, LaPierre was reimbursed for more than $1.2 million in expenses, including…

17/ Some of LaPierre’s personal expenses reimbursed by @NRA:

– $65,000 for Christmas gifts for his staff, donors, friends. 

– $648.55 in gifts from Neiman Marcus to that highly paid travel consultant 

– $1,590 in Christmas gifts to the co-founder of Ackerman

18/ Each of these gifts was substantially in excess of the $25 limit permitted by the IRS for business gifts. To say the least.

19/ Fancy hotel rooms for family members were also paid for by @NRA: 

– $12,332.75 for his niece’s 8-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dallas, TX. 

– In 2016 and 2017, LaPierre was reimbursed over $38,000 in expenses for his niece’s airfare & lodging

20/ Between 2009 and 2017, LaPierre expensed over $100,000 in membership fees for a golf club located in the Washington D.C. area.

21/ LaPierre has a separate budget to pay consultants. 

It won’t surprise you that a lot of these consultant contracts were processed & paid for without any written contracts in place…

22/ Oh and how well those “consultants” made out! 

@NRA treasurer Woody Phillips entered into an independent consulting agreement to continue to be paid by the NRA following his retirement. 

NRA paid Phillips $30,000 per month for 5 years for “consulting services”

23/ Spoiler: Phillips provided no actual consulting services to the NRA under this agreement. 

The lawsuit concludes, “Payments made to Phillips under this agreement are ex gratia payments and a waste of charitable assets.”

24/ Josh Powell, @NRA’s former Chief of Staff and the Executive Vice President of Operations, convinced an @NRA contractor to hire his wife…and then passed through her entire monthly fee of $30,000 — yes, per month — to @NRA!

25/ You won’t be surprised to learn that Powell not only disregarded his disclosure obligations under @NRA’s conflict-of interest policy, but took affirmative steps to hide the conflict from the NRA officer he was supposed to disclose it to.

26/ In 2017, Powell asked another @NRA vendor to add his father, a photographer, to its photographer rotation for NRA events. 

The vendor complied with Powell’s request and proceeded to pass through at least $93,000 in expenses for his father’s services to the NRA.

27/ Powell is a piece of work. In 2018, @NRA settled a sexual discrimination claim made against Powell’s for $89K 

A couple months later, Powell was accused of sexual harassment

LaPierre didn’t launch an investigation or take any disciplinary action regarding Powell’s behavior.

28/ LaPierre’s Senior Assistant joined @NRA with a criminal record of embezzling from a non-profit where she had worked in the 1980s.

29/ At some point in the 2000s, LaPierre’s assistant was accused of diverting money from @NRA to use for personal expenses. 

Her corporate card was taken away, BUT she continued to have access to and use of other NRA employees’ corporate credit cards! 

(What could go wrong?)

30/ In 2012, LaPierre’s Senior Assistant had @NRA pay for $18,000 in expenses incurred in connection with her son’s wedding in Minnesota. 

These wedding expenses never were reimbursed by LaPierre’s Senior Assistant to @NRA

31/ LaPierre’s Senior Assistant also loves black cars. 

On a single day, she incurred over $1,100 in black car bills for her husband’s trips to and from airports. 

On another occasion, she $1,300 in black car bills to transport him from New York to Washington D.C.

32/ @NRA’s biggest vendor was Ackerman McQueen. NRA reported paying Ackerman $20,324,364, in 2017, and $31,994,168, in 2018 for “public relations and advertising” services. 

Over this period, Ackerman did not transmit receipts or other docs supporting its expenses

33/ @NRA agreed to an arrangement w/ Ackerman McQueen whereby it paid invoices with minimal detail and little supporting documentation

34/ Ackerman also paid for a variety of unrelated out of pocket expenses and passed those expenses through to @NRA. 

The NRA used this arrangement to conceal expenditures by NRA executives—including LaPierre —many of which were personal or lacked documentation required by IRS

35/ Ackerman billed @NRA for out of pocket expenses by submitting non particularized invoices that aggregated the expenses into a lump sum amount and provided no details on the nature or purpose of the expenses

36/ The effect of the pass-through expense arrangement with Ackerman McQueen was that these expenses would be paid for by @NRA without written approvals, receipts, or supporting business purpose documentation

37/ With respect to LaPierre, the false reporting exposed @NRA to tax and penalty liability and permitted him to file false personal tax returns with the IRS.

38/ Some examples of these pass-throughs:

– Pay for meals for NRA executives at an upscale Italian restaurant 

@NRA directed Ackerman to purchase memberships to a members-only cigar bar

– Ackerman paid, and @NRA reimbursed, more than $250,000 to LaPierre’s Travel Consultant

39/ At @NRA conventions, Ackerman paid for LaPierre’s family to stay at a luxury private hotel, apart from the host hotel at which NRA employees & board members were staying. 

These costs were billed to the NRA as pass-through expenses

40/ LaPierre directed Ackerman McQueen to pay for expenses related to NASCAR events, country music events, and even medical visits, and bill those through to @NRA.

41/ The Executive Director of Advancement also took part in the corruption, frequently staying at luxury hotels like the Four Seasons, the St. Regis, the Ritz Carlton, and the Beverly Hills Hotel. 

He routinely stayed in suites costing over $1,500 a night.

42/ LaPierre’s wife would incur thousands of dollars of expenses for hair & makeup, which were billed through Ackerman McQueen as out of pocket expenses. 

May 2016 and May 2017: @NRA paid one artist $16,359 for 3 events for LaPierre’s wife.

43/ LaPierre regularly directed @NRA to pay officers, directors, and former employees millions of dollars in “consulting” agreements without Board approval

44/ In late 2016, @NRA’s then Executive Director of General Operations was terminated

NRA security escorted him out 

After, LaPierre directed @NRA to enter into an agreement under which the NRA agreed to pay the former Executive Director $60,000 a month over a 2-year period

45/ LaPierre testified that he was under the impression that it was a severance agreement, and that he authorized it out of concern that the former Executive Director might disparage the @NRA.

46/ @NRA paid a former NRA employee $30,000 a month as a fundraising consultant. 

The former employee admitted that he did not keep accurate records of fundraising he conducted. He agreed that his position was not subject to outcomes or any form of metrics

47/ @NRA entered into a post-employment agreement with its Managing Director of Affinity and Licensing

The individual retired from @NRA in January 2016 but was still paid a full year’s salary, $630,000, AND paid by @NRA after his retirement:

$713,000 in 2017

$535,000 in 2018

48/ LaPierre also has his own post-retirement contract. 

It provides for payments in excess of $1 million per year after LaPierre’s tenure as EVP ends due to retirement or losing a re-election bid.

49/ LaPierre testified that he did not know whether his post-employment contract was disclosed to @NRA the NRA Board

50/ @NRA was obligated to continue to pay LaPierre for years after he lost reelection or retired and *at a higher rate than his compensation as Executive Vice President*

51/ LaPierre effectively dominates and controls @NRA Board as a whole through his control of business, patronage and special payment opportunities for board members. 

He paid at least 5 board members for services that were (likely) never rendered

52/ LaPierre effectively ousted former @NRA President Oliver North after he began to review @NRA’s expenses and business operations. 

Board members who publicly expressed concern about @NRA’s actions were denied the committee assignments they requested and some resigned 

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Reflections On The Recreational Aspects Of Marijuana

by Ralph Scharnau

Marijuana or cannabis is illegal under federal law. A significant number of arrests in the United States occur on charges of possession, sale, or manufacture of marijuana. Despite stringent drug policies and punitive laws, marijuana use is common in the U.S.

A growing number of states have legalized the drug for recreational or medical use in recent years. The changing legal landscape has coincided with a dramatic increase in public support for legalization, which is favored by a majority of Americans

According to a September 2019 Pew Research Center poll, two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization. This reflects a steady increase in public support over the last ten years. Roughly thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana.

In January of this year, Illinois began allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have now legalized small amounts of cannabis for adult recreational use. About 60% of the Pew poll respondents supported legal marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes.

The federal prohibition on marijuana has had disastrous effects. Government statistics compiled in 2017 reveal a staggering litany of the failures. More people were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery combined. These arrests amount to one every minute. The costs associated with enforcement, like court costs, reach several billion dollars a year.

Then there is the issue of mass incarceration. The United States ranks as the world’s leading developed nation in jailing people for possessing or using marijuana. Prohibition hurts the economy in terms of lost wages, and the difficulties of those with criminal records finding jobs, their old ones, or training for new ones.

Further complicating the drug ban is the strict sentencing guidelines that often are unnecessarily cruel and not enforced equally, either. Too often the story of marijuana and race has focused on crime and punishment. Today, black and brown people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses and serve longer sentences than white people, despite similar use rates.

Finally, taxing and regulating marijuana boosts the economy and creates jobs. By simply levying a tax on marijuana like we do cigarettes and alcohol, state and local governments could raise more than $6 billion a year. States like Colorado and Washington that tax and regulate marijuana have already generated millions of dollars for health care, education, infrastructure, and other public investments.

Given the failures of prohibition and the public support for legalization, America needs measures to control the marijuana industry and protect public health. We need to create and fund an independent national task force or commission to research the impact of the federal ban on peoples’ lives. The group should include physicians and front-line medical providers, national experts on infectious diseases, wage earners coping with the pandemic, lawmakers at all levels of government, and law enforcement officials.

Measures to control the marijuana industry and protect public health are needed. The government should oversee all cannabis production, testing, distribution, labeling and sales. Money should be invested in research, education, and substance abuse treatment as well. We can advance public health and protect our children through effective evidence-based regulation of marijuana in the United States.

The federal ban on marijuana seems unnecessarily cruel, costs billions of dollars, and exudes racism. We need policies that pursue administrative remedies, pardon minor offenders, and prioritize science and research. The marijuana prohibition is both an economic issue and a matter of racial justice and equality.

Ralph Scharnau

July 30, 2020

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75 Years After Hiroshima

Chia Fen Preserve, Aug. 3, 2020

President Harry Truman did not need to drop the atomic bomb to end World War II.

The first test explosion of an atomic bomb, called Trinity, was conducted by the U.S. Army July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project on what is now part of White Sands Missile Range.

The day after Trinity, U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson flew to Potsdam, Germany where President Truman was meeting with Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Joseph Stalin to determine the fate of Germany which had surrendered unconditionally on May 8.

Truman wrote about this meeting with Stimson in his memoir:

We were not ready to make use of this weapon against the Japanese, although we did not know as yet what effect the new weapon might have, physically or psychologically, when used against the enemy. For that reason the military advised that we go ahead with the existing military plans for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.

A committee had been established to evaluate use of the atomic bomb once testing was successful. On June 1, 1945 the committee of government officials and scientists made their recommendation, which Truman recounts:

It was their recommendation that the bomb be used against the enemy as soon as it could be done. They recommended further that it should be used without specific warning and against a target that would clearly show its devastating strength.

Ultimately Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and on Aug. 6 the U.S. Air Force delivered it. On Aug. 9 the Air Force bombed Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered Aug. 10.

Historian Gar Alperovitz, in his book The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, asked two well-known questions about Truman’s decision.

To what degree did (the president) understand that a clarification of the officially stated demand for ‘unconditional surrender’ specifying that Japan could keep its Emperor would be likely to end the war?

To what degree did (the president) understand that the force of a Russian declaration of war might itself bring about an early end to the fighting?

The book based on his research is 847 pages.

The idea that dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved tens of thousands of allied forces lives by ending the war early is a myth perpetuated by those who would absolve our country from a decision to kill tens of thousands of Japanese children and as many or more other non-combatants. Historian Howard Zinn asked, “Would we have sacrificed as many U.S. children to end the war early?” Obviously we wouldn’t.

A friend, the late Samuel Becker, was in Guam in August 1945 preparing for the invasion of Japan. I recently asked him about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The reaction in Guam was positive he said. U.S. military personnel were in favor of it because they felt it would bring a quick end to what could have been a prolonged, bloody conclusion to World War II. Before he died, Becker changed his mind. With time and reflection he found the notion that the atomic bombings saved many lives was a myth. The Japanese were already in a position to surrender.

Alperovitz said in a recent webinar that, to a person, contemporary military leaders went on the record to say there was no need to use the atomic bombs to end the war early. The war had already been won.

Truth matters and one truth is the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary. Their effects would fuel the Cold War and the idea of mutually assured destruction should they be used. This is crazy talk. Nuclear weapons must be eliminated and the only way to do that, to pierce the wall of our federal government, is citizen action demanding it.

On the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima it’s past time we took action.

~ Written for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and published Aug. 9, 2020. Used with permission of the author.

Posted in Nuclear Abolition, Nuclear Disarmament | Tagged , | 1 Comment

300 Iowa Doctors Sign Letter To Reynolds Urging Statewide Face Covering Mandate

Complete statement and list of signatures: https://aprescriptionforiowa.org/

Dear Governor Reynolds,

In light of emerging evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of face covering use by the general public in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, we strongly urge you to enforce a statewide face covering mandate. We remain deeply concerned that a surge of COVID-19 cases in Iowa is imminent as currently witnessed in numerous other states. Increased economic and social activity conducted without sufficient physical distancing and face coverings has been cited as a major contributor to the resurgence of this disease. We believe more can be done through state public health policy to help prevent Iowa from suffering the same fate.

Multiple scientific studies have now found evidence that the use of face coverings in public settings reduces community spread of COVID-19. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) This holds true for widely-available cloth masks as well as face shields. Accordingly, since April 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised all individuals to wear cloth masks in public areas where physical distancing is not possible. This guidance was issued as new evidence emerged of the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals infected with the virus. (6) (7) Mask use appears to be more effective preventing disease transmission when worn by infected individuals compared to when worn by healthy individuals. For this reason, given the considerably-high prevalence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, sound public health policy now relies on universal adoption of face coverings when in public.

Unfortunately, only 54% of Iowa respondents reported that they wear masks almost all or most of the time when in indoor public spaces. (8) Government recommendations and public education on use of face coverings therefore appear to be insufficient to compel widespread adoption of this important public health measure.

Early evidence, including that reported in a recent study conducted at the University of Iowa, suggests that state government mandates for face mask use in public are associated with a significant decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate. (9) States that have imposed mask mandates are estimated to have prevented many thousand COVID-19 cases and likely numerous deaths. The benefits to public health are joined by favorable economic implications as well. A recent analysis by economists at Goldman Sachs projects that a government mask mandate would provide considerable economic benefit when used as an alternative to lockdown measures such as business closures and stay-at-home orders. (10)

For these reasons, we now believe there is sound scientific basis to mandate that the general public wear a cloth mask or face shield in public settings, especially where physical distancing of more than six feet cannot be consistently maintained. At a minimum this mandate should apply to adults and older children who can medically tolerate a face covering while inside indoor or enclosed public spaces.

We acknowledge that such a mandate will not be welcomed by some of your constituents. Wearing masks for hours on end as we tend to our patients, we personally attest that they can at times be uncomfortable. But as we directly witness the death and devastation waged by this virus, we gladly don the mask as the more comfortable alternative. We also acknowledge concerns that a face covering mandate might appear to be in opposition to the personal freedoms enjoyed by Iowans. We contend, however, that due to the unfortunate prevalence of asymptomatic viral transmission, individuals who choose not to wear a face covering infringe on the personal freedoms of others as they imperil the life and liberty of those around them.

Governor Reynolds, we applaud your conviction to use data to guide your policy decisions during this unprecedented crisis. We can confidently attest that the scientific evidence now indicates that a statewide mandate to use face coverings in public is urgently needed to help mitigate community spread of COVID-19. Your immediate action will be instrumental in uniting Iowans to cooperatively persevere through this trying moment in history.

Respectfully,

Physicians of Iowa


References

  1. Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Derek K Chu, Elie A Akl, Stephanie Duda, Karla Solo, Sally Yaacoub, Holger J Schünemann, on behalf of the COVID-19 Systematic Urgent Review. Lancet, 2020.
  2. Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic. Feng S, Shen C, Xia N, Song W, Fan M, Cowling BJ. Lancet Respir Med, 2020.
  3. Face masks for the public during the covid-19 crisis. Greenhalgh T, Schmid MB, Czypionka T, Bassler D, Gruer L. BMJ, 2020.
  4. Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19. Renyi Zhang, Yixin Li, Annie Zhang, Yuan Wang, Mario Molina. PNAS, 2020.
  5.  Moving Personal Protective Equipment Into the Community. Face Shields and Containment of COVID-19. Eli N. Perencevich, Daniel J. Diekema, Michael B. Edmond. JAMA, 2020.
  6. Evidence Supporting Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 While Presymptomatic or Asymptomatic. Furukawa NW, Brooks JT, Sobel J. Emerg Infect Dis, 2020.
  7. Contact Tracing Assessment of COVID-19 Transmission Dynamics in Taiwan and Risk at Different Exposure Periods Before and After Symptom Onset. Chen, Hao-Yuan, Jian, Shu-Wan and Liu, Ding-Ping. JAMA Intern Med, 2020.
  8. Selzer & Co. The Iowa Poll. Des Moines Register and Mediacom, June 7-10, 2020.
  9. Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Wei Lyu, George L. Wehby. Health Affairs, 2020.
  10. Jan Hatzius, Daan Struyven, Isabella Rosenberg. Face Masks and GDP. Goldman Sachs Research. https://www.goldmansachs.com/insights/pages/face-masks-and-gdp.html.
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Petition To Kim Reynolds: Return Local Control To School Districts

Click on the image to sign the petition to Governor Reynolds

Click on the image or follow the link to sign the petition.

https://www.change.org/p/governor-kim-reynolds-demand-that-governor-reynolds-return-autonomy-to-the-districts-for-return-to-learn

Governor Kim Reynolds must rescind her July 17th proclamation which took autonomy away from the districts and mandated that all Iowa school children return to in-person learning for 50% or more of the time. Return to learn decisions must be given back to the districts who spent thousands of hours drafting their own return to learn plans this summer to ensure the health and safety of their individual students, staff, and communities.

If you live in the Dubuque school district:

https://www.change.org/p/dubuque-community-school-board-dcsd-reopening-challenge

The mandates issued by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to reopen Iowa schools during a national pandemic put students’ teachers’, and staff’s lives at risk.

Dubuque teachers, staff, parents, and community members petition the Dubuque Community School Board members and Superintendent Stan Rheingans to follow the lead of Des Moines Public School District’s Superintendent in 1) delaying the start of the school year until after Labor Day, 2) starting the school year 100% virtually until Covid19 cases have significantly declined in our community, and 3) openly challenging the dangerous mandates from Governor Reynolds that put lives at risk.

 

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