Thursday, April 30, 2020

Michael Flynn's lawyers seize on note showing how FBI official approached key interview in White House

Within hours of its release, the note sent the President and his supporters into a furor on Twitter, while criminal defense lawyers and FBI alumni said they were making too much of the agency's preparation for the Flynn interview, in which the national security adviser lied to the FBI, a crime he later admitted to in court multiple times.

In short, the snapshot of blunt wording from Priestap allowed Trump and Flynn's lawyers to revive their claims that the FBI set Flynn up. Some of Flynn's supporters called it a smoking gun. But to others familiar with the case and law enforcement, it was a Rorschach test.

But previously, the President has said he had to fire Flynn because he had also lied to Vice President Mike Pence, prompting Pence to share the lie in a TV interview.

President Trump’s testing claims fact-checked

President Trump says the US has carried out more tests than every other country in the world combined.
The latest data shows that a total of 6,026,170 tests have been carried out in the US.
This is more than any other single country.
However, it's nowhere near as many as the rest of the world combined.

British Doctors Say Ventilators Purchased From China Could Kill Coronavirus Patients

Senior British doctors and medical managers have raised concerns over 250 ventilators the United Kingdom purchased from China.
If these ventilators are used in hospital, the group warns "significant patient harm, including death," according to a letter seen by NBC News.

Why 2020 Could Be Another False Equivalence Election

President Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to project his own weaknesses onto his opponent: He’s rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off him and sticks to you. It’s a strategy that worked remarkably well against Hillary Clinton. He nicknamed her “Crooked Hillary” while his campaign was under federal investigation for ties to Russia. He reignited the debate over her husband’s sexual misconduct after multiple women came forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault, which he denies. He even accused Clinton of fomenting the ‘birther’ conspiracy theory about Barack Obama. Reminder: it was Trump who did that.

That doesn’t worry Republicans much. “Whether it’s a false equivalence is by nature kind of moot,” says Brown. “The way people consume information, it kind of nullifies whether it’s false or not. It becomes less a values question and more of a volume question.”

These are not exactly complicated campaign maneuvers. Trump is skilled at the age-old political trick of blowing enough smoke at his opponents so that voters assume there’s a fire there, even when he’s being consumed in his own conflagration. One Republican strategist called it “the ultimate whataboutism.” It also reflects the political rule that the best defense is a good offense. “It’s a tendency of most people in politics when they take fire to freeze and bunker,” says Brad Todd, Republican strategist and author of The Great Revolt. “President Trump understands that when you take fire you fire through it.”

Biden backers say he may be less vulnerable than Clinton was to the fog of false equivalence coming his way. Biden is a known quantity with consistently high favorability ratings since he left the Vice Presidency. Clinton had been tarred with right-wing vitriol for decades, which softened the ground for many of the attacks against her. “It cemented in voters minds a skepticism and an undercurrent and dislike towards her that Joe Biden just doesn’t have,” says Sams. “That allowed Trump’s attacks to catch on with voters in a way that I don’t think they will with Biden.”

After One Tweet To President Trump, This Man Got $69 Million From New York For Ventilators

On March 27, as emergency rooms in New York and across the country began filling with coronavirus patients struggling to breathe, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter to urge Ford and General Motors to “START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!”
One of the thousands of replies that the tweet attracted struck an equally urgent tone: “We can supply ICU Ventilators, invasive and noninvasive. Have someone call me URGENT.”
Its author was Yaron Oren-Pines, an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley. A specialist in mobile phone technology, he currently has just 75 followers on Twitter and no apparent experience in government contracting or medical devices.
 But three days later, New York state paid Oren-Pines $69.1 million. The payment was for 1,450 ventilators — at an astonishing $47,656 per ventilator, at least triple the standard retail price of high-end models.
Not a single ventilator ever arrived.

Gov. Cuomo hits back at McConnell's bailout rhetoric

Fox's firing of Diamond & Silk isn't the problem. Fox's hiring of them is.

Remember that Fox News -- and Fox Nation -- are, at root, news services. They provide news -- often, yes, tinged (or more) with opinion. But news is at the heart of what Fox does.
That is not what Diamond and Silk do -- or ever have done. What they do is entertain -- and they make money off it, with a helping hand from the President. As The New York Times noted in a profile of the two women in 2018: "They also sell Trump merchandise on their website and have embarked on a speaking tour that offers fans the chance to see them live for $50 a ticket (or $150 if you would like to take a picture with them and eat hors d'oeuvres)."

NYC mayor sorry for Jewish funeral criticism

In response to reports of the mass gathering of mourners, Mr de Blasio warned "the Jewish community" that police would make arrests.
The city leader was accused of anti-Semitism for his comments.
The Hasidic Jews were mourning a late rabbi at the service in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighbourhood.
"If in my passion and in my emotion I said something that was hurtful, I'm sorry about that," Mr de Blasio said.
"I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we're going to deal with it very, very aggressively."
Images shared online by journalists show a large gathering of people attending the funeral on Tuesday night.

Why so many US nurses are out of work

And even as some parts of the US are talking of desperate shortages in nursing staff, elsewhere in the country many nurses are being told to stay at home without pay.
That is because American healthcare companies are looking to cut costs as they struggle to generate revenue during the coronavirus crisis.
"Nurses are being called heroes," Mariya Buxton says, clearly upset. "But I just really don't feel like a hero right now because I'm not doing my part."
Ms Buxton is a paediatric nurse in St Paul, Minnesota, but has been asked to stay at home.
At the unit at which Ms Buxton worked, and at hospitals across most of the country, medical procedures that are not deemed to be urgent have been stopped. That has meant a massive loss of income.

Trump says he won’t extend social distancing guidelines, plans to restart travel

Kushner hails US efforts to contain pandemic as ‘a great success story,’ predicts that by July country will be ‘really rocking again;’ death toll nears 60,000

Redacted FBI document hints at Israeli efforts to help Trump in 2016 campaign

Affidavit quotes Trump confidant Roger Stone being told by a Jerusalem contact: ‘He is going to be defeated unless we intervene. We have critical intell. The key is in your hands!’

Trump Says U.S. Will Run 5 Million Daily Virus Tests 'Very Soon.' His Testing Chief Says That's Impossible

President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the U.S. will be able to carry out five million coronavirus tests per day, but the top official overseeing testing strategy told TIME earlier in the day that goal wasn’t feasible given current technology.
Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health who is in charge of the government’s testing response, said during an interview on Tuesday morning that “there is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day.”
Since the beginning of the year, the Administration has conducted 5.7 million tests in total, he said. And while the government has made strides in increasing the number of tests being performed in recent months, the White House’s new “blueprint” for testing, rolled out on Monday, currently plans to double current COVID-19 testing. Giroir plans to hit 8 million per month by next month.

Trump erupted at campaign manager over sliding poll numbers, sources say

Fauci announces good news about coronavirus drug

Trump: I didn’t say it. (He did, and here is the tape.)

Susan Rice: Kushner's comment would be laughable if it weren't deadly serious

Evidence Suggests Coronavirus Death Toll Much Higher Than Official Count | All In | MSNBC

CNN reporter on Jared Kushner's victory lap: I don't know what he's talking about

Israel sees spike in COVID-19 cases since Passover holiday

Haredi cities and neighborhoods have the highest increase of new cases of coronavirus while cities that observe health ministry directives reported a much lower number of confirmed patients

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Navy to widen carrier probe, delaying decision on commander

WASHINGTON -- The Navy will conduct a wider investigation of circumstances surrounding the spread of the coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a move that effectively delays a decision on whether to reinstate the ship's captain, who was fired after pleading for more urgent protection of his crew.

Howard Stern stands behind comments suggesting Trump supporters take disinfectants

Long-time radio personality Howard Stern doubled down on his comments on Tuesday that suggested President Trump's followers should take a form of disinfectant and "see if his theory works."
Stern argued that comments or sarcasm on his controversial radio show isn't the same as what Trump riffed during a briefing last week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“By the way, at a press conference in front of the country, is not the time to spitball ideas -- medical ideas -- when you’re a not doctor,” Stern said, according to the paper.

Trump still seems to not understand how bad the coronavirus crisis is

 Any normal President who made a prediction that a miracle would sweep a pandemic away, only to see it infect a million Americans over a couple of months, would be politically shattered. President George W. Bush's failures over Hurricane Katrina look trivial by comparison. Yet Trump is protected in his bubble of unknowingness by a conservative media machine that attacks anyone who contradicts his comments.

Anti-vaxxer groups sow doubt about coronavirus vaccine before one even exists

 Activists peddle conspiracy theories, then alter them as scope of pandemic changes; Bill Gates falsely accused of wanting to inject microchips into people

‘I love Diamond & Silk’: Trump backs Fox News personalities who spread coronavirus conspiracies

President Donald Trump on Tuesday voiced his support for conservative video-bloggers Diamond and Silk, the pro-Trump duo who have promoted coronavirus conspiracy theories and been absent from their usual Fox News appearances.

Diamond and Silk, who have spoken at Trump rallies and are regulars on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” morning show, have propagated various baseless coronavirus claims over the past month as the outbreak ravaged the United States. A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment on their status with the company.

Although Fox News retains a stable of pro-Trump commentators, the president has grown increasingly frustrated with the network, despite its opinion hosts’ almost unflinchingly positive coverage of his administration.

New Report Raises The Question Of Whether Trump Didn’t Believe His Intel, Or He Lied To The People

Pentagon pulls money from overseas projects to pay for border wall

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is restoring more than half a billion dollars in funding for military construction projects in the U.S. that were put on hold to help fund President Donald Trump's border wall, and instead will take money from projects that are primarily overseas.
The move, which is laid out in a memo dated Monday and obtained by POLITICO, drew an angry response from Democrats, who say the administration is "trampling" on Congress' power of the purse.

London Orthodox school redacted books to hide monarchs’ immodest behavior

A haredi Orthodox girls high school in London redacted history books to cover up what it considers the immodest behavior of British monarchs.

Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray get roasted for park stroll during coronavirus

Mayor Bill de Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray didn’t let coronavirus stop them from traveling 11 miles from Manhattan to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for a leisurely stroll — eliciting outrage from New Yorkers, online video shows.

De Blasio Breaks Up Rabbi’s Funeral and Lashes Out Over Virus Distancing

In a series of tweets, Mr. de Blasio denounced the gathering, which was broken up by the police, and warned that any violation of the social-distancing guidelines in place to stop the virus’s spread could result in a summons or an arrest.
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” the mayor said in one post. “When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”

 Chaim Deutsch, a City Council member who represents a section of Brooklyn with a large Orthodox Jewish population, reacted with anger and disbelief on Twitter, writing, “This has to be a joke.”
Mr. Deutsch wrote: “Did the Mayor of NYC really just single out one specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing hate crimes in HIS city) as being noncompliant?? Has he been to a park lately? (What am I saying - of course he has!)”

“But singling out one community is ridiculous,” he added in another post. “Every neighborhood has people who are being non-compliant. To speak to an entire ethnic group as though we are all flagrantly violating precautions is offensive, it’s stereotyping, and it’s inviting antisemitism. I’m truly stunned.”

Others pointed to the crowds that gathered across the region earlier in the day to watch a military flyover by pilots from the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds that was meant to honor essential workers.

Coronavirus antibody tests have "really terrible" accuracy, researcher says

Of the 12 antibody tests that were studied by the COVID-19 Testing Project, one of the tests gave false positives more than 15% of the time, or in about one out of seven samples. Three other tests gave false positives more than 10% of the time.
She said while it's unrealistic to think all tests will be 100% accurate all the time, their false positive rates should be 5% or lower, or ideally 2% or lower. 
Bern said one of the reasons for the high false-positive rates is relaxed requirements from the US Food and Drug Administration.
In mid-March, when it became clear that Covid-19 was starting to whirl out of control, the FDA loosened its approval standards in order to get more antibody tests out on the market quickly.
The agency started to allow companies to sell tests without first providing evidence that they worked. Some 175 test developers have taken advantage of these new rules and can legally market their antibody tests without first having their validation data evaluated by the FDA.

‘Life Has to Go On’: How Sweden Has Faced the Virus Without a Lockdown

The Swedish Public Health Authority has admitted that the country’s seniors have been hit hard, with the virus spreading through 75 percent of the 101 care homes in Stockholm. Employees of the homes complain of shortages of personal protective equipment.
When responses are assessed after the crisis, Mr. Tegnell acknowledges, Sweden will have to face its broad failing with people over the age of 70, who have accounted for a staggering 86 percent of the country’s 2,194 fatalities to date.
That percentage is roughly on par with most other countries, but some critics here say the mortality rate among seniors could have been far lower with adequate preparation. In a letter to one of Sweden’s most prominent newspapers, Dagens Nyheter, 22 scientists accused the Public Health Authority of negligence.

“They tell people, stay home, but they also keep the restaurants open,” said Lena Einhorn, a virologist and one of the signatories of the letter. “They are advising people working in elderly homes only to wear masks when a patient is sick. Their policies are both ambiguous and rigid.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Approval for Trump's Handling of Coronavirus Outbreak Sinks to Record Low

President Donald Trump has received his lowest marks yet for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, with net approval of his leadership on combating the pandemic down 22 points, according to a new Morning Consult poll.
Of 1,984 registered voters surveyed between April 24 and 26, 51 percent said they did not approve of Trump's handling of the outbreak, compared with 43 percent who said they did approve.
As a result, the net approval for Trump's performance, which is determined by deducting the share of those who disapprove from the share who do approve, sat 8 percentage points "underwater," Morning Consult said in a breakdown of its findings.

Republicans, Who Do You Think Is Bailing Out Your State?

As negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package heat up, a key point of contention — perhaps the key point — is whether Congress will provide meaningful aid to struggling state and local governments.

Boiling down the politics: Democratic lawmakers favor the move. Many Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, do not. Some in the Trump administration have suggested that withholding aid is a great way to pressure states to reopen sooner rather than later. This is both cynical and destructive. Denying states a financial lifeline, even as Washington is showering trillions of dollars on the private sector, will only exacerbate the economic devastation that Congress is trying to mitigate.
 The idea of thrifty, self-sufficient red states propping up blue states has long been a Republican canard. In 2017, Paul Ryan, who was the House speaker, trotted out this line while pushing to repeal the exemption for state and local taxes as part of the tax package. (Ultimately, the deduction was merely capped.) “States that got their act together are paying for states that didn’t,” he claimed, and promised that his desired repeal would put an end to the rest of the country “propping up profligate, big-government states.”
 This claim was wrong then, and it is wrong now. To the contrary, a 2017 Associated Press analysis noted that “High-tax, traditionally Democratic states (blue), subsidize low-tax, traditionally Republican states (red) — in a big way.”

 In other words, Mr. McConnell’s state is effectively subsidized by blue states like New York and New Jersey. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York reminded Mr. McConnell of this during his Thursday news briefing. “Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here?” the governor demanded. “It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate.”

World can’t agree on how to count COVID-19 deaths, muddying toll

Some countries list only those who die in hospitals, others include victims suspected of carrying the virus who were never tested


In the United States, which has the highest death toll in the world at more than 50,000, the counting method varies from one state to another: while New York counts deaths in care homes, California does not.
In the United States, there are an increasing number of complaints from people whose relatives have died, officially of pneumonia, before COVID-19 tests became available.



Hasidim clash with police in quarantined Beit Shemesh neighborhood

A large crowd of Hasidim clashed with police in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday, three days into a government-mandated closure of two of the city’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
Dozens of black-clad men screamed “Nazis” as law enforcement officers attempted to shut down Ateret Yehoshua Talmud Torah, an Orthodox elementary school in the Hasidic enclave of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, which had remained open in violation of Health Ministry directives intended to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sweden says its coronavirus approach has worked. The numbers suggest a different story

Younger children have continued to go to school, although universities and schools for older students have switched to distance learning. Businesses -- from hair salons to restaurants -- have remained open, although people have been advised to work from home where possible.
On April 7, the government introduced a bill allowing it to act quickly and take decisions on temporary measures where needed. Care home visits were banned from April 1 and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs asked people to refrain from non-essential travel, adding: "Keep your distance and take personal responsibility."
Among Nordic countries -- which share similar cultural, geographical and sociological attributes -- the contrast with Sweden is great. Finland declared a state of emergency, closed schools and banned gatherings of more than 10 people on March 16, restricted travel to and from its Uusimaa region on March 28 and closed restaurants, cafes and bars on April 1.

Jan Albert, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institutet, told CNN: "It's clear that Sweden had more deaths [than many other European countries] up until now, and that's probably at least in part because we haven't had as strict a lockdown and not a lockdown enforced by law."
But he said he believed the majority of scientists in Sweden had been "relatively quiet" about the herd immunity plan because they thought it could work.
Asked whether the death toll would have been lower if Sweden had followed the same path as other European countries in introducing strict restrictions, Tegnell replied: "That's a very difficult question to answer at this stage. At least 50% of our death toll is within the elderly homes and we have a hard time understanding how a lockdown would stop the introduction of the disease into the elderly homes."
Whether Sweden's Covid-19 strategy has succeeded or failed may not be clear for months to come, but as countries across the globe count their dead and wonder whether they could have done more to halt the spread of the virus, the world will be watching.

Join - Jews come together to recite Psalms in memory of Israel's fallen

In the framework of the project, participants can choose among the 24,000 soldiers who lost their life for Israel, learn about who they were and recite Psalms for them.


 Thousands of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Israelis are marking Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day) by lighting a virtual candle and reciting Psalms to honor the memory of fallen soldiers.

The project “One People – Loving and Remembering” features a special website where participants can sign up to read chapters of Psalms with the goal of completing the full book 24,000 times, as many as those who lost their lives fighting for Israel. In order to complete the task, everyone is invited to join (in order to join click here.)

Can COVID-19 cause heart inflammation in children?

'Multi-system inflammatory state' noted in children who have coronavirus or may have suffered in the recent past, medical experts say.

The shuttered neighborhood next door: Touring one of Israel’s virus hotspots

As life returns to something like normal for many Beit Shemesh residents like me, some of the town’s Hasidic residents find themselves under a government lockdown


Bnei Brak mayor thanks soldiers for their help during virus lockdown

“This is the place to express on our behalf, and on behalf of all the residents of our city, thanks, appreciation and esteem for the hundreds of IDF soldiers and their commanders from diverse and excellent units, for the high quality and welcome actions for the welfare of 210,000 residents during the difficult days of the coronavirus epidemic,” said Rubinstein, who initially opposed the quarantine restrictions.

Fact check: Trump repeats false claims and Pence misleads on previous testing comments

 President Donald Trump's Monday coronavirus news conference in the White House Rose Garden was shorter than usual and at least somewhat less acrimonious than many of the briefings he's held over the past month.
But Trump still made false and misleading claims, most of them repeats from past briefings. And Vice President Mike Pence accused a reporter of a misunderstanding about testing that Pence's own words had created weeks earlier.
Here are some fact checks from the briefing:

Trump returns to the stage with underwhelming testing promises

Trump still thinks the best way to navigate out of the worst domestic crisis since World War II for which his administration has been exposed as unprepared and behind the curve is more Trump. But his routines of misrepresentation and overly optimistic assessments of the fight against the virus are doing little to build a convincing impression the President can find an exit strategy, or even is capable of keeping the nation heading in the same direction while one -- probably based on an elusive Covid-19 vaccine that is months away -- is found.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The President Walks Back Disinfectant Suggestion | Morning Joe | MSNBC

End all restrictions, they were unnecessary, Hebrew University researchers say

Israel should end all coronavirus restrictions and reopen the country to international travel, according to a Hebrew University research team that includes a prominent epidemiologist and two finance professors.
They crunched statistics from around the world and concluded in a newly published study that while lockdowns were necessary in London, New York and various other places, Israel didn’t need to confine people to houses or impose other strict rules.

Rabbis Edelstein and Kanievsky postpone beginning of yeshiva semester

On Sunday, a letter written by Edelstein and signed by Kanievsky stated that the semester should now begin with pupils remaining at home and conducting study partnerships and listening to lessons via the telephone.
The rabbis in their letter also requested that the teachers, educators, and rabbis of the various schools and yeshivas should speak with their pupils at least once a week to ensure that they have a study partner and are able to study. The rabbis also appealed to mothers and called on them to dedicate a room in the home so that their sons could study appropriately.


Exclusive: She's been falsely accused of starting the coronavirus. Her life has been turned upside down

Maatje Benassi, a US Army reservist and mother of two, has become the target of conspiracy theorists who falsely place her at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, saying she brought the disease to China.
The false claims are spreading across YouTube every day, so far racking up hundreds of thousands of apparent views, and have been embraced by Chinese Communist Party media. Despite never having tested positive for the coronavirus or experienced symptoms, Benassi and her husband are now subjects of discussion on Chinese social media about the outbreak, including among accounts that are known drivers of large-scale coordinated activities by their followers.
The claims have turned their lives upside down. The couple say their home address has been posted online and that, before they shut down their accounts, their social media inboxes were overrun with messages from believers of the conspiracy.

Trump, In His Own Twisted Way, Finally Owns Up to a Mistake

The Orange One’s humble shuffling off the stage Friday night without taking questions showed that even he reaches a point where he knows he blew it.


FDA issues warnings on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine after deaths and poisonings reported

 The agency also said it became aware of reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with the virus who were treated with the malaria drugs.
  • It said patients taking the drugs for approved reasons, including malaria or to treat autoimmune conditions like lupus, should continue taking their medicine as prescribed.

Ingraham: The truth about hydroxychloroquine

Ignorance Among Our Nation’s Leaders Is Not A Lonely Condition | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Trump offered a confusing coronavirus theory. Conservative pundits explained it for him.

The evolution of Trump’s idea that light might be used inside patients shows the symbiotic relationship between the president and his boosters.

Why Sweden rejected a coronavirus lockdown - BBC Newsnight

Trump’s Disinfectant Remark Raises a Question About the ‘Very Stable Genius’


Trump’s Comment on Disinfectant Prompts Experts to Warn Against Inhaling Bleach to Kill Coronavirus

“Inhaling chlorine bleach would be absolutely the worst thing for the lungs,” said John Balmes, a pulmonologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco. “The airway and lungs are not made to be exposed to even an aerosol of disinfectant.”

Trump then launched into the comments that drew the harsh backlash, including one Washington Post headline that read, "Trump asked if disinfectants could be injected to kill coronavirus inside the body. Doctors answered: ‘People will die.’"

Sunday, April 26, 2020

London police shut down backyard Jewish wedding that violated distancing rules

Police had first spoken to the homeowner in the Golders Green neighborhood, London’s Jewish hub, as the celebration was being set up and were told that only 10 people would attend — all people who live in the house, according to a report . But when they returned Wednesday evening they discovered a “lavish banquet” laid out on long tables and were offered a beer by guests, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Why Some Doctors Are Now Moving Away From Ventilator Treatments for Coronavirus Patients

As health officials around the world push to get more ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, some doctors are moving away from using the breathing machines when they can. The reason: Some hospitals have reported unusually high death rates for coronavirus patients on ventilators, and some doctors worry that the machines could be harming certain patients.

Special Report: As virus advances, doctors rethink rush to ventilate

Reuters interviewed 30 doctors and medical professionals in countries including China, Italy, Spain, Germany and the United States, who have experience of dealing with COVID-19 patients. Nearly all agreed that ventilators are vitally important and have helped save lives. At the same time, many highlighted the risks from using the most invasive types of them - mechanical ventilators - too early or too frequently, or from non-specialists using them without proper training in overwhelmed hospitals.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Has Sweden got its science right?

There is no lockdown here. Photos have been shared around the world of bars with crammed outdoor seating and long queues for waterfront ice cream kiosks, and yet it is a myth that life here goes on "as normal".
On the face of it little has shut down. But data suggests the vast majority of the population have taken to voluntary social distancing, which is the crux of Sweden's strategy to slow the spread of the virus.
Usage of public transport has dropped significantly, large numbers are working from home, and most refrained from travelling over the Easter weekend. The government has also banned gatherings of more than 50 people and visits to elderly care homes.
Around 9 in 10 Swedes say they keep at least a metre away from people at least some of the time, up from seven in 10 a month ago, according to a major survey by polling firm Novus.

Florida’s No-Rules Vibe Gets a Coronavirus Reality Check

Florida’s governor is desperate to get the state back to work. But the tourism industry is moving much more cautiously.

Trump grapples with a surprise threat: Too much Trump

Donald Trump’s top aides are fiercely debating a question their boss rarely confronted during his decades of jousting with tabloid newspapers, starring on reality TV shows and running a media-soaked presidential campaign: whether there’s such a thing as too much Donald Trump.

US to suspend visa of Israeli with coronavirus who flew to Tel Aviv

A security official confirms to The Times of Israel that the man is a Mashgiach Kashrut supervisor from the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit.

The Israeli man had been tested for the virus last week and flew to the US anyways. While there, he was notified that his results had come back positive. He could not get treatment in the US due to a lack of health insurance and decided to return to Israel, according to the Channel 12 report.

Tzaras disease or spiritual warning

אמת ליעקב ויקרא פרק יג פסוק מו
(מו) בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה מושבו.
הנה זה ודאי שא"א לומר שהנגעים הם חולי ומכ"ש חולי המתדבקת ולפיכך צותה התורה בדד ישב, דהא פסקינן להלכה שהדבר תלוי בכהן וכל זמן שלא טמאו הכהן או שלא נזקק לו כמו בחתן או ברגל אינו טמא, ואי ס"ד דחולי המתדבקת הוא וכי בשביל זה לא תדבק בו המחלה? גם זהו לכאורה דבר מתמיה, שטמאו הכתוב ומסר בידו שיוכל להטהר שבאם יתלוש השער הלבן הוא יוכל ליטהר, והגע בעצמך שה"ז כמו שמספרים בדיחותא שתפסו אסיר א' וקשרו חבל בבית וקצה הב' מסרו לידו ונתנו בין שיניו והזהירוהו שלא יוציא מבין שיניו את החבל, והרי גם כאן שמסרו לידו את בחירת הטומאה או הטהרה ויוכל ע"י רצונו לבטל את עונש הבדידות שנגזר עליו. אלא ודאי דכל עיקר עונש הנגעים הוא רק בשביל שיגלו מן השמים שהוא נזוף, והיא פשוטה כנבואה, ותיקונו הוא שיהיה רחוק מבני אדם והתבודדותו היא היא שתביאו לידי תשובה, ובאם אינו מקבל עליו להיות מתנהג כשורה אזי הוא ביכלתו, אלא שלטובתו הוא שלא תקלקלו החברה והצוותא, והיינו שהוא ניזוק ע"י הצוותא והחברה, והרי הוא כמו מזיק וניזק שצריך שמירה מצד עצמו.

Coronavirus Drug Chloroquine Should Not Be Used for COVID-19 Because 'Lethality' Is 'Primary Outcome,' Study Shows

A randomized clinical trial of whether a malaria drug could be used as a Covid-19 cure was shut down because its "primary outcome" was death, a study published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed.
Researchers in Brazil looked at 81 patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, from March 23 to April 5 to see whether the drug chloroquine could be an effective treatment for the highly contagious disease. Forty patients were given a low-dose of the drug; 41 others, a high dose. They were also given the antibiotic azithromycin.
The researchers found that 13 people in the low-dose group died, as did 16 in the high-dose group. Another 11 developed heart abnormalities.


Friday, April 24, 2020

After apparent spat, top ultra-Orthodox rabbis announce yeshivas not reopening

Chaim Kanievsky and Gershon Edelstein, who reportedly previously disagreed on matter, tell their Lithuanian sect studies to be held as normally as possible from home


Save Our Daughters from IDF Draft During Corona

מידע חיוני ונחוץ לבת ישראל!!!
תצהיר דת? זימון ללשכת הגיוס? צו התייצבות?
גם בצל הקורונה זכויותייך לא נמחקו...
אם קיבלת זימון מאת הצבא, בטלפון או בדואר או בכל אמצעי אחר – דעי שיש דרך לכל בת דתיה, גם בימים אלה, לקבל 'תצהיר דת' ו'פטור' מהצבא.
כלל ראשון – אין להגיע פיזית ללשכת הגיוס בשום אופן גם אם הצבא דורש זאת. לפי החוק בת דתיה פטורה מהתייצבות בלשכה. הדרך היעילה והחכמה ביותר: להנפיק ב'רבנות-הראשית' מסמך 'הצהרת דת' ולשלחו בדואר רשום ללשכת הגיוס.
שימי לב: כדי שהמסמך שלך יגיע לצבא בלי עיכובים ובעיות, עליך לשולחו דווקא עם סוג דואר שנקרא 'דואר רשום עם אישור מסירה' בצורה זו המסמך שלך נשלח תחת אבטחה וברגע שהצבא קיבל זאת, את תקבלי הביתה קבלה חתומה.
שמרי את אישור המסירה היטב עד לקבלת הפטור (זו ההוכחה החוקית שלך שאכן התקבל התצהיר)
בת שמוסרת את התצהיר על ידי כניסה ללשכה לא מקבלת שום אישור שמוכיח שהיא אכן הביאה תצהיר ורבות הבנות שהסתבכו עקב כך .
הרבנות הראשית פועלת כעת במתכונת מצומצמת ועל כן כאשר צריך להנפיק 'הצהרת דת' בדחיפות, ניתן ליצור קשר עמם במספר 5889 * שלוחה 2 ולקבל זימון למרות הקורונה.

לכל שאלה, סיבוך, בקשת עזרה בנושא הפטור,
תוכלי ליצור קשר עם ארגון המסייע לבנות דתיות ללא תשלום 035456770  

For more details in English:

URGENT CORONAVIRUS ALERT for all draft age Israeli girls, including those w/ DUAL citizenship:

Trump, ever the salesman, is peddling dangerous cures for coronavirus
Roll up for Donald Trump's old West traveling medicine show.
He's marketed steaks and real estate, board games and vodka, but nothing the incorrigible salesman has tried to hawk measures up to his latest routine as he speculated on a possible new cure for Covid-19.
For most of his life as a pitchman, Trump has only had his own reputation on the line. But now, in the middle of a generational health crisis, lives are at stake.
In an eye-popping moment, Trump doubled down on his claim that sunlight and the festering humidity of high summer could purge the virus in his latest grab for a game-changer therapy.
Then, he asked aides on camera whether zapping patients with light or injecting disinfectant into the lungs to clean sick patients from inside could cure them of the disease.

Ongoing IDF Antireligious Hate Under Corona


When There's No Justice Below - It Rains Down from On High

30 Nissan, 5780 °°° April 24, '20 °°° Par. Tazria-Metzorah [ver. 1a]

[The initial post of this article - - was circulated in this week's email of the Coalition for Jewish Values.]

By Binyomin Feinberg,



Firstly, we share an important notice for all Israeli draft-age girls and women, including those holding dual-citizenship:


Secondly, here's the update link for the month of Iyyar, to check in case we post something during the week between our regular Wednesday/ Thursday posts:


B. The Religious Persecution of Olga S.

Let's start with a brief review of one exemplary, ongoing travesty of overt religious persecution by the Israeli Army - traversing the span of over a year and a half: the case of a Ba'alas Teshuvah ("Observant-by-Choice") girl, Olga Shamilov:

The procedure for religious and traditional girls to secure their legal entitlement to a Religious Exemption from Israeli Army service is to present a Tatzhir Dat (certification of religiosity) to the Draft Offices. Olga obtained her  tatzhir via a Bais Din (Rabbinical Court), and properly submitted it to the Tel HaShomer Draft Office. She was subsequently summoned to a Rayon Dat (a "religiosity interview").  On Nov.19, '18, almost 1-1/2 years ago, she  met the Army draft officers (apparently being totally uninformed of the halachic and practical objections to submitting to these religiosity interrogations), and she answered the questions properly.  Nevertheless, the draft offices refused to grant her the religious exemption from Army service, to which she is legally entitled.

They then summoned her to another interview. She made the trip down again, only to hear the (ostensibly religious) female Army officer inform her that the Army is rejecting her petition for a religious exemption. The officer provided no reason for the rejection.

Of course, enlisting women altogether is prohibited by Torah law, even if done fully willingly. However, in this case, lacking basis for rejecting her petition, the Israeli Army is breaking Israeli law as well, by denying Olga her entitlement to a religious exemption (as her attorney informed the Army in a formal complaint filed this January).

Additionally, the Army officer tried convincing Olga to enlist - DESPITE clearly being a Ba'alas Teshuvah. Some readers unfamiliar with the Orthodox milieu may not fully realize the degree of sheer antireligious Israeli chutzpah on full display here.  To even venture to suggest that a Ba'alas Teshuvah enlist at the beginning of her process of strengthening herself in her newly-found religious heritage is the height of temerity. And that's even coming from a liberal secular perspective. Far worse: the officer did so AS a religious woman. 

B"H, Olga remained resolute. She elaborated, stating that she's seeking to become something better than what she currently is. (That's a statement all of us ought consider.) The "religious" officer was unmoved by Olga's steadfast devotion, and even ended with a genteel but clear threat to Olga: "being a deserter ("Arikah") isn't pleasant." Readers of our columns will recognize how politely that euphamizes the sum total of the female Israeli Refusenik experience.

Olga was hit with a draft date in October - this past October. That's about six MONTHS of being absent from the Army.  Imagine the ongoing psychological pressure that imposes on a young person, and a Ba'alas Teshuvah in particular. There is NO excuse for tolerating such persecution of a religious girl, or of any girl. We will be judged (and very possibly are being judged, at this juncture) for not raising a storm of protest over the ongoing abuse of Olga, and hundreds and hundreds of girls and women like her. They suffer in silence because we wallow in silence over their plight.


C.  A few Torah sources on how tribulations prompt us to introspection, and a second look at the antireligious persecution of Olga S.

1.  The Gemara (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Brachos 5a) elaborates on "yisurin," tribulations. At the risk of the appearance of oversimplification, the general principle is that we deserve what we get. The outstanding question is specifically WHICH things we did can be identified as serving as causative factors in a particular tribulation that we're suffering. Rashi there, s.v. "pishpaish;" explains that we are to utilize the yisurin we're experiencing to identify the types of sins we've committed that match those yisur.

2. Similarly, according to Rav Chaim of Volozhin OB"M (in his commentary "Ru'ach Chaim" on Pirkei Avos (4:14), as well as in his "Nefesh HaChayim"), a central function of the Divine principle (Hanhogah) of "Mida Keneged Mida" is to serve the purpose of aiding us in identifying which iniquity precipitated the given punishment. Thereby, we can identify which particular sin G-d is beckoning us to repent from, via those tribulations. See also the Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hil. Ta'anis, 1:1-3.

3. The Maharsh"a at the end of Gittin 58a states that the Churban HaBayis (second) was triggered by an individual act of wickedness (detailed there) which was not (properly) protested by the Jewish community. That failure to protest evoked the Heavenly Wrath that finalized the decree to destroy the Second Jewish Commonwealth.

4. That incident, described in Gittin, pales in comparison with what commonly occurs nowadays, in a multitude of areas. That would also include the ongoing travesties covered in these posts, in regards to innocent Jewish girls being forced to serve in the notoriously promiscuous, exploitative Israeli Army. (Again, females serving in the Army is prohibited according to all leading Torah authorities, regardless of religious observance, ethnicity, etc.).

5. That fact should give us ample cause to consider the role of  systemic corruption in allowing this crime wave against Bnos Yisroel to be perpetuated, and even facilitated by frum parties. And, above all, we ought consider what we could do about it, and what we are not doing. Of course, then we ought consider possible consequences of those failures, that appear to be hitting us between the eyes in recent weeks.

6. In our Jewish Press Dispatch column of Nov. 15, '19 (p. 17), we reported on the case of the aforementioned Ba'alas Teshuva, Olga Shamilov, about 19 y/o, who was (illegally) denied her religious exemption from Israeli Army military service, without even the pretext of a justification.

7. Generally,  Israeli law requires the Army to provide a girl an automatic religious exemption once the Army receives her religious verification documentation, unless they can show a substantial reason to dispute it. 

8.  In Olga's case, the Israeli Army spectacularly failed to present any objections to her religiosity, and, in the second interview, stunningly acknowledged her Ba'alas Teshuva profile.  What is even more revealing of unbridled arrogance is the fact that the Army didn't  even bother trying to provide her with a semblance of a rationale. Adding insult to injury, the Army had her schlep down to an interview just to inform her of what they could have easily told her by mail and phone: they're denying her request for her legal entitlement to a service exemption. Apparently, they  planned to use the pretext of the meeting to prevail on this Ba'alas Teshuva to forgoe her newly rediscovered religious heritage (one the antireligious establishment made sure to keep at bay) - in order to make her "contribution" to the country (or, somewhat more precisely, to the hormonal needs of some of the men who are purportedly so dedicated to protecting the Jewish People).

9. That interview, her second, was interesting for other reasons as well.  She was interviewed by a female Army officer who tried trafficking her into the Army on the basis of Army service not proving disruptive of her own religious lifestyle. The Army officer described herself in line with the Dati Le'umi (national religious) community. 

10.  Well, how Dati (religious) she is in her personal life, I really don't know. But "Le'umi," certainly not. What type of "Jewish nationhood" will be left over if even the religious women start enlisting in droves, as is a declared Israeli Army goal? Just talk to candid Mizrachi /national-religious oriented people in the post-Army milieu to hear about what goes on, what women are subjected to, and how emotionally and psychologically unfit many post-Army women unfortunately are for a Torah-marriage and raising a family. (Time spent speaking with anti-Zionist types, or most Chareidi people, about this particular topic is usually not well spent. Most of them have precious little idea of how bad it is on the ground, because it's so far removed from their milieu.)

11.  We hope not to need to revisit this case, but if we do, some religious politicians will have a lot of explaining to do.