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TBR News April 29, 2020

Apr 29 2020

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April 29, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it. “
Comment for April 29, 2020:” There is a very private wave of shock and horror in the scientific/epidemiological world because careful testing of patients in Europe, and the United States, shows very, very clearly that the coronavirus did not, repeat not, originate in China. True, the Chinese were working on a version of this bat-originating virus for the logical reason that they wished to perfect a vaccine for it but their version of the virus is not the same as the one that has swept through Europe and and the United States. The obvious question is que bono? A disease causing global disturbances sweeps the planet and is stated to be Chinese in origin. If it were not Chinese in origin, where, then did it originate. I rang up a friend who is an epidemiologist and he told me that this was well-known in the professional trade and he had been instructed by his superiors not to discuss it. The reason is obvious.”

The Table of Contents
• Americans losing faith in what Trump says about the coronavirus:
• Reuters/Ipsos poll
• Trump’s Coronavirus Response Approval Rating Drops 10 Points In Poll
• Nervous Republicans see Trump sinking, and taking Senate with him
• President Trump attacked the media in an off-the-rails press conference
• Trump v Fox News: why the president is furious at the conservative network
• Coronavirus: Countries ‘ignored’ early warnings for COVID-19
• The Corporate Right Is Giving Us Two Choices: Go Back to Work, or Starve
• Coronavirus outbreak in France did not come directly from China or Italy, scientists say
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Americans losing faith in what Trump says about the coronavirus:
Reuters/Ipsos poll
April 29, 2020
by Chris Kahn
Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Americans appear to be losing faith in what President Donald Trump says about the coronavirus pandemic, with almost everyone rejecting Trump’s remark that COVID-19 may be treated by injecting infected people with bleach or other disinfectants, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
The April 27-28 public opinion poll found that fewer than half of all adults in the U.S. – 47% – said they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to follow recommendations Trump makes about the virus. That is 15 percentage points lower than the number who said they would follow Trump’s advice in a survey that ran at the end of March.
And 98% of Americans said they would not try to inject themselves with bleach or other disinfectants if they got the coronavirus, including 98% of Democrats and 98% of Republicans. That is a near-unanimous rejection of an idea that Trump floated at a time of widespread anxiety about the virus.
A majority of Americans said they were concerned about how the coronavirus is spreading, according to the poll, as the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 1 million people in the United States this week, killing more than 56,000.
Trump publicly mused about the benefits of “cleaning” COVID-19 patients on the insides with disinfectants or ultraviolet light during a news conference last week, directing health officials in the room to look into it.
Medical experts immediately condemned the president’s suggestion, and the makers of disinfectant products warned the public against ingesting them. Trump later tried to portray his remarks as sarcasm, but given his popularity with some Americans, health officials expressed concern his remarks would persuade some people to poison themselves.
Overall, Trump’s overall popularity has not changed much over the past week. Forty-three percent of Americans said they approve of his overall job performance, and the same number also approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among registered voters, 44% said they would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, while 40% said they would back Trump if the election were held today.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,001 adults, including 416 Democrats and 419 Republicans.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Trump’s Coronavirus Response Approval Rating Drops 10 Points In Poll
April 29, 2020
by Jeffery Martin
Newsweek
Data released Tuesday by Emerson College Polling showed that fewer Americans believe President Donald Trump is doing a good job handling the coronavirus pandemic than they did only a month ago.
In March, 49 percent of those polled approved of the way Trump handled the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak while 41 percent disapproved of his actions.
April’s poll, however, shows that only 38.9 of those polled indicated they approved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a drop of nearly ten points. Trump’s disapproval rate was much higher, resting at 51.3 percent.
Former Vice President Joe Biden maintained a six-point lead over Trump, the same span as was reported in March. While Biden was ahead of Trump in voter support by 53 percent to 47 percent, April saw Biden leading Trump 48 percent to 42 percent.
Even though Trump’s approval ratings concerning how he has handled the country’s response to the coronavirus have dropped, those surveyed still believed he would win a second term as president. While 43.3 percent of participants in the poll believed Biden would win the election, 56.7 percent believed Trump would emerge the victor.
G.D.P. declined in first quarter, with worse economy to come
Although President Donald Trump’s approval rating for his coronavirus response policies dropped 10 points in April, according to data released Tuesday by Emerson Polling, most Americans still believe he will win the 2020 election.
In March, 49 percent of those polled approved of the way Trump handled the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak while 41 percent disapproved of his actions.
April’s poll, however, shows that only 38.9 of those polled indicated they approved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a drop of nearly ten points. Trump’s disapproval rate was much higher, resting at 51.3 percent.
Former Vice President Joe Biden maintained a six-point lead over Trump, the same span as was reported in March. While Biden was ahead of Trump in voter support by 53 percent to 47 percent, April saw Biden leading Trump 48 percent to 42 percent.
Even though Trump’s approval ratings concerning how he has handled the country’s response to the coronavirus have dropped, those surveyed still believed he would win a second term as president. While 43.3 percent of participants in the poll believed Biden would win the election, 56.7 percent believed Trump would emerge the victor.
Voters were nearly split on the issue of Biden’s favorability. Out of those polled, 40.4 percent held a favorable opinion of the former vice president while 40.8 percent held an unfavorable opinion of Biden. More people have a higher opinion of former President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served. Obama garnered a favorable opinion of 56.1 percent from those surveyed with 32.7 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him.
“While Trump is struggling to handle the coronavirus epidemic,” said Director of Emerson College Polling Spencer Kimball, “it appears Biden has his own image issues with voters and may need help from former President Obama on the campaign trail to try and transfer the positive image voters have of Obama to Biden.”
Newsweek reached out to the campaigns of both Biden and President Trump for comment.
Biden was projected to be the winner of Tuesday’s Ohio Democratic primary by the Associated Press. He became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign in April. Sanders remained on the ballot in Ohio and could potentially still win some of the state’s delegates.
With no competition, Trump also was declared the winner of the state’s Republican primary by the Associated Press, gaining a total of 82 delegates.
Voting in the Ohio primary was conducted primarily by mail-in ballots. Originally scheduled for March, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine postponed in-person voting because of the threat of community spread coronavirus. However, disabled persons and those with no mailing addresses were allowed to cast their votes on Tuesday at local offices of the election board.
DeWine initially wanted to push primary elections out until June, but Ohio state law does not provide the governor with that authority. Instead, Ohio’s General Assembly passed legislation that gave a majority of residents until Tuesday to cast vote-in or absentee ballots.
Trump has railed against mail-in voting in the past, endorsing the concept of voting in person and presenting identification to election officials during a coronavirus task force meeting in April.
“You should have a picture for voting,” Trump said. “It should be called Voter ID, they should have that. And it shouldn’t [be] mail-in voting, it should be you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself.”

Nervous Republicans see Trump sinking, and taking Senate with him
His recent remarks about combating the virus with sunlight and disinfectant were a breaking point for a number of senior party officials.
April 26, 2020
by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman,
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.
The scale of the GOP’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.
Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super political action committees plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.
Perhaps most significantly, Trump’s single best advantage as an incumbent — his access to the bully pulpit — has effectively become a platform for self-sabotage.
His daily news briefings on the coronavirus outbreak are inflicting grave damage on his political standing, Republicans believe, and his recent remarks about combating the virus with sunlight and disinfectant were a breaking point for a number of senior party officials.
On Friday evening, Trump conducted only a short briefing and took no questions, a format that a senior administration official said was being discussed as the best option for the president going forward.
Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster, said the landscape for his party had become far grimmer compared with the previrus plan to run almost singularly around the country’s prosperity.
“With the economy in free-fall, Republicans face a very challenging environment, and it’s a total shift from where we were a few months ago,” Bolger said. “Democrats are angry, and now we have the foundation of the campaign yanked out from underneath us.”
Trump’s advisers and allies have often blamed external events for his most self-destructive acts, such as his repeated outbursts during the two-year investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia. Now there is no such explanation — and, so far, there have been exceedingly few successful interventions regarding Trump’s behavior at the podium.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the president had to change his tone and offer more than a campaign of grievance.
“You got to have some hope to sell people,” Cole said. “But Trump usually sells anger, division and ‘we’re the victim.’”
There are still more than six months until the election, and many Republicans are hoping that the dynamics of the race will shift once Biden is thrust back into the campaign spotlight. At that point, they believe, the race will not simply be the up-or-down referendum on the president it is now, and Trump will be able to more effectively sell himself as the person to rebuild the economy.
“We built the greatest economy in the world; I’ll do it a second time,” Trump said earlier this month, road-testing a theme he will deploy in the coming weeks.
Still, a recent wave of polling has fueled Republican anxieties, as Biden leads in virtually every competitive state.
The surveys also showed Republican senators in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine trailing or locked in a dead heat with potential Democratic rivals — in part because their fate is linked to Trump’s job performance. If incumbents in those states lose and Republicans pick up only the Senate seat in Alabama, Democrats would take control of the chamber should Biden win the presidency.
“He’s got to run very close for us to keep the Senate,” Charles Black, a veteran Republican consultant, said of Trump. “I’ve always thought we were favored to, but I can’t say that now with all these cards up in the air.”
Republicans were taken aback this past week by the results of a 17-state survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee. It found the president struggling in the Electoral College battlegrounds and likely to lose without signs of an economic rebound this fall, according to a party strategist outside the RNC who is familiar with the poll’s results.
The Trump campaign’s own surveys have also shown an erosion of support, according to four people familiar with the data, as the coronavirus remains the No. 1 issue worrying voters.
Polling this early is, of course, not determinative: In 2016 Hillary Clinton also enjoyed a wide advantage in many states well before November.
Yet Trump’s best hope to win a state he lost in 2016, Minnesota, also seems increasingly challenging. A Democratic survey taken by Sen. Tina Smith showed the president trailing by 10 percentage points there, according to a Democratic strategist who viewed the poll.
The private data of the two parties is largely mirrored by public surveys. Just last week, three Pennsylvania polls and two Michigan surveys were released showing Trump losing outside the margin of error. And a pair of Florida polls were released that showed Biden enjoying a slim advantage in a state that is all but essential for Republicans to retain the presidency.
To some in the party, this feels all too similar to the last time they held the White House.
In 2006, anger at President George W. Bush and unease with the Iraq War propelled Democrats to reclaim Congress; two years later they captured the presidency thanks to the same anti-incumbent themes and an unexpected crisis that accelerated their advantage: the economic collapse of 2008. The two elections were effectively a single continuous rejection of Republican rule — as some in the GOP fear 2018 and 2020 could become in a worst-case scenario.
“It already feels very similar to the 2008 cycle,” said Billy Piper, a Republican lobbyist and former chief of staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Significant questions remain that could tilt the outcome of this election: whether Americans experience a second wave of the virus in the fall, the condition of the economy and how well Biden performs after he emerges from his Wilmington, Delaware, basement, which many in his party are privately happy to keep him in so long as Trump is fumbling as he governs amid a crisis.
But if Republicans are comforted by the uncertainties that remain, they are alarmed by one element of this election that is already abundantly clear: The small-dollar fundraising energy Democrats enjoyed in the midterms has not abated.
Most of the incumbent House Democrats facing competitive races enjoy a vast financial advantage over Republican challengers, who are struggling to garner attention as the virus overwhelms news coverage.
Still, few officials in either party believed the House was in play this year. There was also similar skepticism about the Senate. Then the virus struck, and fundraising reports covering the first three months of this year were released in mid-April.
Republican senators facing difficult races were not only all outraised by Democrats, they were also overwhelmed.
In Maine, for example, Sen. Susan Collins brought in $2.4 million, while her little-known rival, House speaker Sara Gideon, raised more than $7 million. Even more concerning to Republicans is lesser-known Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Republican officials are especially irritated at Tillis because he has little small-dollar support and raised only $2.1 million, which was more than doubled by his Democratic opponent.
“These Senate first-quarter fundraising numbers are a serious wake-up call for the GOP,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Republican Senate woes come as anger toward Trump is rising from some of the party’s most influential figures on Capitol Hill.
After working closely with Senate Republicans at the start of the year, some of the party’s top congressional strategists say the handful of political advisers Trump retains have communicated little with them since the health crisis began.
In a campaign steered by Trump, whose rallies drove fundraising and data harvesting, the center of gravity has of late shifted to the White House. His campaign headquarters will remain closed for another few weeks, and West Wing officials say the president’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, hasn’t been to the White House since last month, though he is in touch by phone.
Then there is the president’s conduct.
In just the last week, he has undercut the efforts of his campaign and his allies to attack Biden on China; suddenly proposed a halt on immigration; and said governors should not move too soon to reopen their economies — a week after calling on protesters to “liberate” their states. And that was all before his digression into the potential healing powers of disinfectants.
Republican lawmakers have gone from watching his lengthy daily briefings with a tight-lipped grimace to looking upon them with horror.
“Any of us can be onstage too much,” said longtime Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, noting that “there’s a burnout factor no matter who you are; you’ve got to think about that.”
Privately, other party leaders are less restrained about the political damage they believe Trump is doing to himself and Republican candidates. One prominent GOP senator said the nightly sessions were so painful he could not bear watching any longer.
“I would urge the president to focus on the positive, all that has been done and how we are preparing for a possible renewal of the pandemic in the fall,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
Asked about concerns over Trump’s briefings, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said, “Millions and millions of Americans tune in each day to hear directly from President Trump and appreciate his leadership, unprecedented coronavirus response, and confident outlook for America’s future.”
Trump’s thrashing about partly reflects his frustration with the virus and his inability to slow Biden’s rise in the polls. It’s also an illustration of his broader inability to shift the public conversation to another topic, something he has almost always been able to do when confronted with negative storylines ranging from impeachment proceedings to payouts to adult film stars.
Trump is also restless. Administration officials said they were looking to resume his travel in as soon as a week, although campaign rallies remain distant for now.
As they look for ways to regain the advantage, some Republicans believe the party must mount an immediate ad campaign blitzing Biden, identifying him to their advantage and framing the election as a clear choice.
“If Trump is the issue, he probably loses,” said Black, the consultant. “If he makes it about Biden and the economy is getting better, he has a chance.”

President Trump attacked the media in an off-the-rails press conference
April 14, 2020
by Tom Jones
Poynter
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Even by White House press conference standards.
It was supposed to be another White House briefing, meant to update the nation on the latest coronavirus numbers, lay out immediate and long term plans and, most of all, calm the nation during one of the scariest moments in our history.
Instead, President Donald Trump drove off the rails, turning the briefing into, perhaps, the most surreal news conference ever seen in the White House. He argued with the media and, in a jaw-dropping moment, showed a slickly-produced video that not only defended his coronavirus response, but attacked the media.
CNN’s John King said on the air, “That was propaganda. That was not just a campaign video. That was propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room.”
And why did Trump do it? Why did he show the video?
“Because,” Trump told a reporter, “we’re getting fake news and I want to get it corrected.”
That led to a series of combative Q&As with several media members in which Trump continued his “fake news” mantra. Of particular note was a contentious exchange between Trump and CBS’s Paula Reid, who kept peppering Trump with queries about what actions he took during the entire month of February — a line of questioning that led Trump to call Reid “disgraceful.”
As all this was taking place, CNN put the following four banners across the bottom of the screen:
“Angry Trump turns briefing into propaganda session”
“Trump refuses to acknowledge any mistakes”
“Trump uses task force briefing to try and rewrite history on coronavirus response”
“Trump melts down in angry response to reports he ignored virus warnings”
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple tweeted, “Commentators have often used ‘unhinged’ to describe Trump’s behavior. In so doing, they’ve diluted the heft of the word. In today’s coronavirus briefing, he is truly unhinged.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta, a frequent foe of the president, said, “That is the biggest meltdown I have ever seen from a president of the United States in my career. … He sounds like he is out of control.”
At one point, Trump declared, “When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total. ”
In what was the most brilliant question of the day, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins asked Trump, “Who told you that?”
CNN’s King called Trump’s declaration “dangerous.”
Eventually, the news conference calmed down to a more civil tone — well, civil by current standards (although Trump and Reid tangled again) — but the first half-hour continued to linger because it was unlike anything that we’ve ever witnessed.
On MSNBC, former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines said, “I think this is one of the astonishing acts of disinformation we’ve seen from a White House since the Vietnam era and the 5:00 follies of the Lyndon Johnson administration. What we are seeing here, I think, is a kind of imploding presidency. And with an implosion, you have to have a black hole at the center. And I think what we have here is a black hole that consists of two elements: President Trump’s extremely fragile ego, and his distrust of government experts.”
It was stunning. Absolutely stunning.
Among the main themes of Trump’s shocking press conference on Monday was the frequent use of one of his favorite phrases: fake news. It remains a dangerous term, but it is used so often, it has become a cliche.
These days, other dustups between the president and the media draw more attention, such as when he calls a reporter or a question “nasty” or “not nice.” Or like what we saw between him and Reid on Monday. But while those attacks are notable and certainly no fun for the reporters on the receiving end, the phrase “fake news” is meant to do harm.
It brings into question the accuracy of stories. It accuses the reports of being false, made up or intentionally damaging even when there are facts and reliable sources to back them up.
Ultimately, the way Trump and many of his supporters use the term is meant to shift attention away from the story itself. It’s like holding up a shiny object with one hand so that we stop paying attention to what the other hand is doing.
I bring this up again today because Trump has ramped up his use of the phrase in recent days and said it throughout Monday’s news conference.
Fake news — or, more accurately, what it really means — was also the topic of the latest column from Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, written before Monday’s press conference.
“… the history of the Trump administration has shown that the loudest cries of ‘fake news’ accompany the most damning journalism,” Sullivan wrote.
“Coming from him, the phrase now dependably has another meaning: ‘all-too-accurate reporting that damages my reputation.’”
This past weekend there was plenty of damning journalism, from a major piece in The New York Times about how slow Trump’s coronavirus response was to a “60 Minutes” interview with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro in which Navarro challenged the iconic show to produce proof that it talked about a pandemic before Trump was president. Then, of course, the show proved it by airing clips from 2009 and 2005 — which included an interview with a doctor by the name of Anthony Fauci.
In both cases, the stories were based on facts. The Times story — the one that seems to have Trump particularly distressed these days — not only talked to plenty of on-the-record sources, but had written proof in the form of emails. The “60 Minutes” story simply pulled out old clips to prove it had done stories on pandemics during the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations.
Often, the best way to dismiss such a story is to slap a “fake news” label on it, knowing that supporters who already distrust the media need nothing more than that term to be satisfied.
As long as that’s good enough for his supporters, it will be good enough for Trump to keep saying, and the facts of the story, he hopes, will go ignored. So don’t expect that phrase to disappear anytime soon. Or ever, especially after Monday’s free-for-all.
Only C-SPAN showed Monday’s entire press conference, which went well beyond two hours. Fox News showed a little more than two hours before going to Tucker Carlson. CNN and MSNBC showed most of the first 90 minutes before cutting out. The major networks — NBC, ABC, CBS — showed none of it.
And so here we are again: Should networks air these briefings, especially after Monday’s bizarre turn? Or, another question: Should reporters even attend? Even before Monday’s news conference, New York University journalism professor and media observer Jay Rosen asked (and answered), “Why don’t reporters just walk out?”
You could make the argument that Trump’s antics Monday needed to be seen to be fully appreciated by the American people. But there’s no question that Trump’s video felt like a campaign ad, thus lending credence to the idea that Trump is treating these briefings as the rallies that he can’t hold because of coronavirus.
Appearing on MSNBC, “PBS NewsHour” White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said, “I think what we saw today was really a remarkable moment of the president just being openly candid about the fact that he is using these briefings as a way to talk about his own reelection campaign. And a way to push back against people he feels threatened by. He’s clearly threatened by the dogged reporting of The New York Times, of NBC, of other networks, of other newspapers that are showing all of America that he made big mistakes when it came to the coronavirus.”
Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports that ESPN has asked its 100 highest paid commentators to take 15% pay cuts over the next three months to deal with the impact of the coronavirus and the fact that there are virtually no sports right now. (Though it should be mentioned that some of the network’s top earners, such as Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith, continue to work daily.) According to Ourand, top ESPN executives spent much of Monday morning talking to talent and their agents about what is, for now, a voluntary pay cut.
Ourand wrote, “ESPN executives appealed to the commentators and their agents that these cuts would deter further furloughs for ESPN employees who may be in more precarious financial positions than some of the on-air commentators.”
In a statement, ESPN said, “We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction. These are challenging times, and we are all in this together.”
New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand reported that, almost immediately, talent such as Smith, Scott Van Pelt, Dick Vitale, Mark Jackson, Mike Breen and Jay Bilas agreed to take temporary pay reductions.
“CBS Evening News” launched a new weeklong series Monday night called “Racing to a Cure,” which looks at the search for treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus. Besides being shown on the “CBS Evening News,” there is additional reporting on CBS News’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
In a statement, Jay Shaylor, the executive producer of the “CBS Evening News” said, “Medicine is the only way we will ultimately beat this horrible disease. That’s why we are shining a light on the cutting-edge research being done in the United States and around the world.”
Media tidbits
NBC continues with its weekly “NBC News Special Report: Coronavirus Pandemic” tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on NBC, MSNBC and NBC News NOW. Tonight’s special will be hosted by Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.
Kara Swisher’s “Pivot” podcast from Vox Media is joining New York magazine and Swisher will be an editor-at-large for New York magazine, as well. Swisher co-hosts “Pivot” with NYU professor Scott Galloway as they talk about tech, business and politics. By the way, in case you missed it, The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove had a nice recap of the recent feud between Swisher and Fox News’ Sean Hannity that started with a Swisher blaming Fox News for spreading false information about the coronavirus in a column for The New York Times.
Funny line of the day from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when responding to an MSNBC question about not having to face questions about his upbringing or childhood nicknames — you know, the kind of questions he gets from his brother, Chris, on CNN. “This is much nicer than what I go through on some other shows,” Cuomo said. “Trust me.” Last week, New York Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote, “Americans Don’t Trust the Media Anymore. So Why Do They Trust the Cuomos?”
The Alligator — an independent student newspaper at the University of Florida — uncovered a case of alleged plagiarism in one of its music reviews. It was caught before it was published and an internal investigation led to more cases of believed plagiarism. The paper’s editors wrote about it.
It almost feels like “Night of the Living Dead” or “World War Z” or “The Walking Dead.” That is, we foolishly turn those impacted by coronavirus into monsters, or something evil. Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark on never equating illness with evil, or culture with disease.
ProPublica’s Beena Raghavendran and Ryan McCarthy with “How Panic Buying Has Put an Incredible Strain on Food Banks Even as the Need for Them Explodes.”
Writing for Forbes, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox notes that many of the countries with the best coronavirus responses have one thing in common: women leaders.
Finally, and sadly, today, Poynter’s Kristen Hare is keeping tabs of journalists we have lost to the coronavirus.

Trump v Fox News: why the president is furious at the conservative network
The president attacked Fox News and accused it of being ‘fed Democratic talking points’ – possibly over to a string of anti-Trump ads due to run on the network
April 29, 2020
by Adam Gabbatt
The Guardian
Donald Trump’s longtime close relationship with Fox News, like so many other unions in the time of lockdown, is beginning to buckle under pressure, with an increasingly sensitive president furious at the conservative media channel.
Trump has attacked the conservative channel in recent days, accusing the usually uncritical network of being “fed Democratic talking points”, with some observers suggesting his ire may have been caused in part by a string of anti-Trump ads due to run on Fox News this week.
The breakdown between president and news channel was laid bare in a string of tweets from Trump on Sunday evening. Trump has occasionally criticized Fox News in recent months, but this attack went further, as Trump declared he wants “an alternative now”.
“[Fox News] just doesn’t get what’s happening! They are being fed Democrat talking points, and they play them without hesitation or research,” he tweeted.
“They forgot that Fake News @CNN & MSDNC [a term Trump has used for MSNBC] wouldn’t let @FoxNews participate, even a little bit, in the poor ratings Democrat Debates.”
Trump president continued his criticism by attacking prominent Fox News personalities including the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, before concluding: “The people who are watching @FoxNews, in record numbers (thank you President Trump), are angry. They want an alternative now. So do I!”
Trump did not give a specific reason for his upset, but it could be linked to a critical advert a group of anti-Trump Republicans are running on Fox News this week. Republicans for the Rule of Law, a group opposed to the president, paid for an ad spot during Fox & Friends – one of Trump’s favorite shows – which highlights his response to the coronavirus.
“50,000 people have died,” reads capitalized text at the start of the advert.
“This is our president.”
The advert then cuts to Trump musing about the potential ability of “very powerful light” in curing coronavirus. The advert ends with the words “Unfit, unwell, unacceptable” appearing on screen.
Despite Trump’s objections and insults, Fox News has remained largely supportive of his administration and performance during the coronavirus outbreak.
After Trump suggested the possibility of injecting coronavirus patients with disinfectant, Fox News’ website billed the ensuing criticism as a matter of “twisted words”. Hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity have praised Trump’s performance, with the latter suggesting: “New York would be dead without Donald Trump’s help.”
The Trump-Fox fracture comes as the profile of One America News Network (OANN), a news outlet which has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories and is regarded as even more rightwing than Fox News, continues to rise. In early April the then White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, personally invited an OANN reporter to a coronavirus briefing. The same reporter has been called on repeatedly by Trump to ask questions – frequently questions that tee Trump up to praise his own performance – at the briefings.
On Monday it was reported that Fox News had also cut ties with Diamond and Silk, two outspoken Trump supporters who have peddled misinformation about the coronavirus. The booting of the influential pair, whose loyalty has won repeated praise from Trump, is unlikely to have pleased the president.
If the Trump-Fox News rift proves to be permanent, it could have a substantial impact on Trump’s public statements, given he has repeatedly been guided by Fox News on his reactions to crises and policies. As recently as mid-April, Trump tweeted messages of support for anti-stay-at-home protesters just two minutes after Fox News ran a favorable segment on the protests.

Coronavirus: Countries ‘ignored’ early warnings for COVID-19
Though early warning resources are in place, they have not yet worked in real time, a Geran military think tank has claimed. The US was cited as a prime example of political failures to implement existing systems.
Aprill 29, 2020
DW
Many countries did not pay enough attention to early warning signs for the coronavirus outbreak, according to the German Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (GIDS), a military think tank.
“This crisis has shown that various countries, depending on their political cultures, have partially ignored or even denied the early warning signals,” said Christian Haggenmiller, an expert and doctor with GIDS as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).
Many countries did not pay enough attention to early warning signs for the coronavirus outbreak, according to the German Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (GIDS), a military think tank.
Haggenmiller said the “best example” was the United States, which has “very extensive resources for the early detection of health hazards.” Though it “recognized the development around COVID-19 in a timely manner,” the pandemic “was not considered a priority by the current political leadership.”
There were “numerous early warning signs,” he said — “the WHO receives about 7,000 infection warnings a month.” But it’s up to polititical systems to implement measures to combat a pandemic.
He did admit there is sometimes “alarm fatigue,” or “hesitation on the part of decision-makers due to the abundance of alerts.”
COVID-19 cases exceeded 3 million cases worldwide this week, with nearly a third of them in the United States, according to data from John’s Hopkins University in the US.

The Corporate Right Is Giving Us Two Choices: Go Back to Work, or Starve
April 29, 2020
by Jon Schwarz
The Intercept
The GOP and its core constituents — conservative corporations — now face two dangers, one in the short term and one in the longer term. They’re currently using their standard playbook to smother both. Whether they succeed will determine our lives for decades.
The short-term danger is that Americans will resist the push from business to get us back on the job and making money for them. Their plan is simple: Starve us out. They know we can’t survive indefinitely without a continuing government bailout focused on regular people’s needs. So they’re going to stop that bailout from happening.
The longer-term danger they face is that we’ll make the government work for us in the short term — and then we will realize we could make it work for us all the time by removing the threat of starvation from their arsenal. This would totally change the balance of power in society. This is their deepest fear, one that’s consumed them since World War II, the first time in history that everyday people gained consciousness that it was possible for them to use the government to create a world that puts them first, not their bosses.
In the short term, they will just say that America is now, sadly, out of money. At a recent press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., still metaphorically drenched from the firehose of cash he sprayed all over Wall Street and big American business during the past month, looked mournful. Money for state and local governments so they’re not forced to lay off massive numbers of teacher and firefighters? Hazard pay for doctors and nurses? Help for people paying rent? Sorry, no. “Until we can begin to open up the economy,” McConnell said, “we can’t spend enough money to solve the problem.” The same thinking prevails in the Trump administration, particularly about money for state and local governments.
The strategy is already bearing fruit, with states such as Florida, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee easing restrictions on business — all to the approval of various presidential tweets.
To understand the depths of this depravity, watch this local news helicopter footage of hundreds of people in Rockville, Maryland — just outside of Washington, D.C. — close together in line for free food being given out by a Megamart Supermarket. The station’s correspondent said that “in this whole plan, of what we do for people during this pandemic … these are perhaps people who are not seen.”
But this is wrong. America’s corporate right absolutely sees these people. Like any competent group of thieves robbing a bank, they see the vulnerable as hostages.
Anyone who knows the Washington, D.C., area would find the supermarket scene nauseating, shocking, and completely predictable, all at the same time.
Rockville is in Maryland’s Montgomery County, one of the richest counties in the United States, with a median income of about $100,000. Georgetown Prep, the private school attended by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — current day student tuition $38,330 — is a modest stroll from this particular Megamart. The headquarters of Lockheed Martin — which paid its CEO $21.5 million in 2018 and gets 70 percent of its revenue from the federal government — is a 10-minute drive away. Then if you need a new ride, you’re not far from Bethesda Euromotors, where you can pick up a Mercedes SUV for $170,000.
The people who actually make the lives of Montgomery County’s aristocrats run are generally invisible to the aristocrats themselves. But here, many were suddenly in one place: visible and desperate. The county’s princelings and princesses are a big chunk of the elites who truly control the United States. They unquestionably have the power to end the desperation. They just won’t.
Why? It’s easy to conclude they simply don’t care whether workers live or die; certainly President Trump’s demand that meat processing plants stay open even as the people inside them get sick makes that as clear as anything could. But it’s more complex than that, and in fact more dreadful.
There are two paths forward during this pandemic. The U.S. could rationally follow the science about the novel coronavirus, as complicated and incomplete as it is. This would necessitate putting much of the economy in hibernation until we have the capacity to immediately find anyone with Covid-19 and provide them with a safe place to stay in quarantine, while doing our best to keep everyone who has to work safe. For regular people to survive, we would need government action along the lines of that proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.: guaranteeing no one goes hungry, direct emergency cash payments to everyone, Medicare covering all health costs.
Alternately, we can follow the heart’s desire of the corporate right, and shove everyone back to work as soon as possible.
The problem for the corporate right is that the force-everyone-to-risk-death concept is unpopular. Recent polls show overwhelming support for the continuation of shelter-in-place policies until public health officials say it’s safe to lift them.
This could easily change, however, as the Rockville scenes make clear. A $1,200 stimulus check will pay for less than one month of the median U.S. rent for a two-bedroom apartment. GOP governors are already maneuvering to make it difficult for constituents scared that their job might kill them to access the expanded unemployment benefits of the CARES Act.
What we can expect to see on the right is ever-more ostentatious wailing and rending of garments about the suffering of the jobless. Jeanine Pirro has already explained on Fox that “for every percentage of increase in unemployment, there is an increase in deaths from suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence, and a loss, and depression.” USA Today columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote about the “class divide here … between the people in the political/managerial class on the one hand and the people in the working class on the other.”
This weepy concern for the unemployed will be bogus, but the suffering will be absolutely real, because the right will make sure it is.
The corporate right’s hoped-for dynamic recently was explained explicitly by Trevor Burrus of the Cato Institute, a conservative D.C. think tank: “The economic and human devastation is difficult to contemplate, and it’s only getting worse. … Many will hit a point where the trade-off will be between possibly getting COVID-19 and being able to feed their families. The disease doesn’t look so bad then.”
There it is: The choice being given to regular Americans will be to work or die.
In Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations,” probably the most famous book ever written about economics, Smith explains that the “masters of mankind” (rich employers and financiers) always have known this is the choice available for most people. When workers fight back against the masters for more pay or better conditions, their efforts “generally end in nothing, but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.” Much of this is due to “the necessity which the greater part of the workmen are under of submitting for the sake of present subsistence.” That is, working people just can’t withdraw their labor for long, or they’ll go hungry.
The problem, from the corporate right’s perspective, is not just that business would lose its cudgel for the moment if the U.S. government pays people to stay home. (To understand why we can afford it at unusual times like this, read about Modern Monetary Theory, which is often condemned as a radical heresy but is in fact just a straightforward description of reality.) The deeper long-term peril, from the perspective of Wall Street and big business, is that normal Americans will realize they can use the government to eliminate the “necessity” of which Smith wrote — and thereby permanently alter who holds power in U.S. society.
This was famously explained in a 1943 essay by Michal Kalecki, a Polish economist, titled “Political Aspects of Full Employment.” At that moment, World War II was demonstrating for everyone with eyes to see that governments could end depressions and create economic booms via the straightforward method of spending money on basic human needs. There was no technical reason this couldn’t continue after the war, Kalecki wrote. But there was a huge political problem: An economy in which people could live without fear of unemployment would mean employers would no longer hold the whip hand.
As Kalecki put it, in a standard capitalist economy, the level of employment depends on the “confidence” of employers, and hence they must be catered to constantly. However, “once the government learns the trick of increasing employment by its own purchases, this powerful controlling device loses its effectiveness. Hence budget deficits necessary to carry out government intervention must be regarded as perilous.”
Kalecki’s key insight was that big business cares more about power than money. “It is true that profits would be higher under a regime of full employment than they are on average under laissez-faire,” he said, “but ‘discipline in the factories’ and ‘political stability’ are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view.”
This perspective — that governmental power was enormous and could be used for the many rather than the few — was obvious at the time in 1940s. But it was forgotten over the next few decades, because powerful people wanted it forgotten. At various points, it’s been rediscovered, as by the civil rights movement during the 1970s. What we need now is slightly different than what Kalecki described: “full employment” with many people essentially “working” at not getting sick or infecting others. But the principle is the same, as is the terror that this possibility elicits on the right. They will do everything possible to make sure we forgot they just suspended all of their purported rules for as long as it took for them to unlock the U.S. Treasury and help themselves to trillions of dollars.
Now, with that accomplished, Republicans and the corporate right will pretend it never happened, suddenly reimpose the “rules,” and fight to the death against any genuine bailout for regular people. This will be the case even if such a bailout would probably be more profitable for business than a shambolic, disastrous reopening of the economy. From the point of view of the masters of humankind, it’s worth any number of dead Americans to stop us from asking: If we can use the power of the government on a huge scale in a crisis like this, what else can we do?

Coronavirus outbreak in France did not come directly from China or Italy, scientists say
French scientists sequenced coronavirus genomes in the country and found that the outbreak in France was unlikely to have come from people who had recently visited China or Italy.
April 29, 2020
by Stephen Chen
Inkstone News
French scientists sequenced coronavirus genomes in the country and found that the outbreak in France was unlikely to have come from people who had recently visited China or Italy.
The coronavirus outbreak in France was not caused by cases imported from China, according to a new study by scientists at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.
Genetic analysis showed that the dominant types of viral strains in France belonged to a clade – or group with a common ancestor – that did not come from China or Italy, Europe’s earliest epicenter. Instead, the outbreak was caused by a locally circulating strain of unknown origin, the researchers said.
The research was led by virologists Dr Sylvie van der Werf and Etienne Simon-Loriere. It was released on bioRxiv.org last week and has not been peer-reviewed.
The findings highlight the difficulties governments face in tracing the source of coronavirus outbreaks.
The study put France on a growing list of countries where no direct link between China and local outbreaks could be established.
The dominant strains in Russia and Australia, for instance, came from Europe and the United States, respectively, according to some studies.
Another study found the strains devastating New York came from Europe, a finding that challenged the effectiveness of early travel bans on travelers who had recently been to China.
The Covid-19 pandemic has sickened more than 169,000 people in France and killed more than 23,600.
France was the first European country to detect the new coronavirus, formally named Sars-CoV-2. Several patients who had recently traveled to China’s Hubei province tested positive on January 24.
But the virus strains found in those cases were not detected in later cases. This suggests that the quarantine imposed on the recent travelers might have successfully prevented local transmission, the researchers said.
The scientists said they could not identify the source of the later outbreak that was far more devastating.
The Pasteur institute collected samples from more than 90 other patients across France and found that their genetic sequences were not connected with the cases imported from China.
The earliest sample in the French clade was collected on February 19 from a patient who had no history of travel and no known contact with returning travelers.
Several other patients in that same clade had recently traveled to other European countries, the United Arab Emirates, Madagascar and Egypt. But there was no direct evidence that they contracted the disease in these destinations.
A possible explanation, according to the scientists, was that local transmission had been occurring in France for some time without being detected by health authorities.
This hypothesis is “compatible with the large proportion of mild or asymptomatic diseases and observations in other European countries,” the researchers said.
Benjamin Neuman, professor and chair of biological sciences with the Texas A&M University-Texarkana, said the French strains might have come from Belgium, where some sequences most closely related to the original strain from China were clustered.
“Since the earliest European strains of Sars-CoV-2 seem to be associated with Belgium, the idea that the virus spread from Belgium to both Italy and France at around the same time seems plausible, as this paper contends,” he said.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Sandra Ann Taylor

No woo like quantum woo. Now, lots of promoters of woo like to throw around scientific or scientific-sounding terminology, unconcerned with and usually oblivious to what the terms actually mean. The most oblivious and helpless attempts are those – and there are plenty – that invoke “quantum”, a term usually thrown out in connection with other words in a manner that scientists who actually understand quantum physics would probably perceive as more or less random. A good case in point is Sandra Ann Taylor’s book Quantum Success: The Astounding Science of Wealth and Happiness. What the phrase “quantum success” could possibly really mean is hardly the point here, and the book has as little to do with quantum physics as it has to do with science (or astounding), or as it is actually useful for achieving any kind of success whatsoever. Yes, it is simply The Secret fan fiction all over again, and The Secret, as you probably know, is more or less just the New Age variant of the prosperity gospel. Taylor has also written the book Secrets of Success: The Science and Spirit of Real Prosperity, the title of which sort of gives the game away.
Now, according to Taylor fan Laura Lee, “[Taylor]’s formula for abundant living is actually based in the principles of quantum physics, and you can actually tap in to these powerful forces to make your dreams come true.” Taylor’s “formula” is of course not based on quantum physics, but Laura Lee is a New Age talkshow host and knows no more about quantum physics than does Taylor. According to Taylor’s website, the book has been called “the real science of consciousness creation,” though she doesn’t give any references for the claim; apparently it has also “been applauded by scientists, businessmen, and worldwide leaders in the field of consciousness dynamics for being the first book of its kind to connect success and achievement to the science of personal energy patterns.” The claim that “scientists” have applauded the book is made somewhat less impressive by the mention of “the science of personal energy pattern”, which demonstrates that Taylor does not have the faintest idea what the difference between science and making shit up as you go could possibly.
These are not Taylor’s only books about quantum something, however; she has also written Your Quantum Breakthrough Code: The Simple Technique that Brings Everlasting Joy and Success, which sounds a little bit like a spam email title, just dumber, and her website also offers THE QUANTUM ORACLE, a “53-Card Deck and Guidebook” – if you purchase it, you will also “receive exclusive access to a group reading call with ME!”, which at least shows that she taps into parts of quantum physics you won’t learn about in close-minded university courses. And her claimed areas of expertise are not limited to quantum whatever; her books also include The Akashic Records Made Easy (the Akashic records, for those not in the know about New Age mythology, are an alleged compendium of all knowledge, existing in the non-physical plane – yes: a spirit library, and you can access it for a meager fee or through special prayers; various theosophy writers claim to have read it all with interestingly contradictory results), The Hidden Power of Your Past Lives: Revealing Your Encoded Consciousness and 28 Days to a More Magnetic Life (no, “magnetic” probably doesn’t mean magnetic; otherwise its hard to imagine why you would want to achieve what the book promises), as well as Secrets of Attraction – The Universal Laws of Love, Sex, and Romance, The Truth About Attraction: Sorting Out the Lies from the Laws (yes, Badger’s Law and Truth, Triumph and Transformation: Sorting Out the Fact from the Fiction in Universal Law, which promises something that Taylor seems exceptionally poorly positioned to provide. Her website also offers the Act to Attractworkbook and journal. Taylor even has a radio show, Living Your Quantum Success, on Hay House Radio.
Taylor is one of the Starbringer Associates. Her colleague and coauthor of Secrets of Success is Sharon Anne Klingler, author of such books as Advanced Spirit Communication and Public Mediumship, The Magic of Gemstones and Colors, Intuition and Beyond: A Step-by-Step Approach to Discovering Your Inner Voice, Life with Spirit and Power Words: Igniting Your Life with Lightning Force (sounds like a bad idea), as well as the Speaking to Spirit workbook and cds; together, Taylor and Klingler have also produced an Akashic Tarot set of cards.
Diagnosis: Firmly dedicated to dumbing down humanity as much as possible through pastel colors, fluff and magic handwaving. And though it might seem hard to grasp how people could actually fall for this nonsense, Taylor’s books do seem to have been somewhat successful.

Preston Noell III and the TFP

Preston Noell III is the Chicago bureau director the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, Property (TFP) – a Catholic extremist, fundamentalist, pseudo-military, anti-gay group linked to Brazilian neo-fascists; the American branch is one of many autonomous national TFPs that together claim to form “the world’s largest anticommunist and antisocialist network of Catholic inspiration”, a “counter-revolution” to combat “The Protestant ‘Pseudo-Reformation’ and its rejection of religious authority and inequality,” the “‘Enlightenment’” and “its rejection of temporal authority, in particular the King and nobility”, any “rejection of economic inequality”, as well as communism’s attempts “to eradicate the Church and Christian civilization while […] implementing neo-paganism” (they seem to have read Marx somewhat cursorily). The American TFP accordingly campaigns for gun rights, capitalism, war and theocracy, but as a group it is perhaps even better defined by the long list of things they oppose, including “contraception, abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, the social acceptance of homosexual practice, anti-discrimination laws” of the kind “that give homosexuals a privileged status” [i.e. that actually protects them from discrimination], “homosexual adoption; domestic partnerships, civil unions, and same-sex ‘marriage’, transgenderism,” as well as “homosexual films, theater plays [and] events;” moreover “pro-homosexual clubs on Catholic college campuses [apparently a particularly sore point], public blasphemy, nudism, socialist childcare, socialist healthcare, socialist allocation of federal waters,” and anything that smacks of communism according to how they define communism, which seems to be more or less as whatever they don’t fancy at any particular point for whatever reason. Moreover, they are opposed to “progressivism, liberation theology, […] the enactment of State laws forcing clergy to violate the seal of Confession in cases of child abuse [militant Catholics, remember], […] the ecological movement, pacifism, imprudent [any, really] nuclear disarmament and the Occupy Wall Street movement.” You cannot really parody a group like this. And yes, its arguments against gay marriage are the common ones: gay marriage is an attack on Christianity, “an unprecedented assault on the First Amendment” (an Amendment they explicitly don’t support themselves anyways, as spelled out in the above list), is extremely intolerant (therefore homosexuality should be banned), and poisons “the soul of America”. The arguments are light on the hows, beyond theological handwaving and red-baiting.
The TFP is possibly most famous for Noell’s America Needs Fatima campaign, which apparently visits private homes with a four-foot statue of Mary, opposes all the stuff mentioned above, and focuses in particular on protesting movies, shows and art Noell doesn’t like, including (a small sample) The Da Vinci Code, The Crime of Father Amaro, Dogma, Jerry Springer: The Opera and the A Fire in My Belly art show.
Diagnosis: Profoundly silly and rather scary at the same time. A bit like Pennywise. In all manner of respects, really.

Roger D. Nelson

Global consciousness (or “field consciousness”) is the idea that when groups of people focus their minds on the same thing, they can mentally influence physical reality. The idea is often associated with Dean Radin (though there are others working on something similar to the idea independently, too), who thinks that there ismay be (is) a “global mind” arising from the interconnections of individual minds. The idea is silly, and the evidence for it pretty shitty – primarily, proponents of the idea seek to confirm the hypothesis by collecting statistical evidence by comparing predicted random patterns from random event generators with actual measurements – if it were genuinely random, there should be no pattern: yet, say the proponents of the idea, there is. (Some discussion of why this kind of test is utterly nonsensical can be found here.)
Such “evidence” is currently being collected The Global Consciousness Project, an offshoot of PEAR, led by one of Radin’s associates, Roger D. Nelson, one of the grand old men of psi research. So far, Nelson’s studies has eluded publication in serious journals, but at least he got one – “Wishing for Good Weather” – in the somewhat questionable Journal for Scientific Exploration, where he argued that the desires for good weather among alumni, graduates, family and others at Princeton manage to keep bad weather away from their outdoor events. Suffice to say, the paper left some obvious questions unaddressed, such as questions about the poor effects of desperation in drought-affected areas around the world or, more obviously, the chance of false positives in large datasets, the absence of a clear and predefined notion of what actually constitutes an anomaly, and a striking lack of clarity concerning what sort of patterns global consciousness were supposed to cause and why. Another of Nelson’s examples: apparently the broadcasting of Princess Diana’s funeral had an effect on the Project’s random number generator (though they admitted that Mother Teresa’s funeral did not – Nelson predictably explained the difference as a function of a difference in global attention, though there are, shall we say, alternative explanations available).
Apparently, the patterns Nelson and his crew saw in the random event generator output occur in any undefined interval surrounding the significant event, often before the event, which suggests that not only is global consciousness affecting the number generator, but global precognition is affecting it, too. Absolutely marvelous, isn’t it? Falsifiability is for losers.
Prior to taking up the Global Consciousness Project, Nelson was associated with Robert Jahn’s PEAR project. Deepak Chopra is apparently a fan.
Diagnosis: Unlike many pseudoscientists, Nelson has the resources, background and apparent willingness to do real science. But what comes out is not. And due to its veneer of respectability, Nelson’s nonsense has been widely picked up by a range of New Age lunatics, woomeisters and con people as evidence somehow supporting their nonsense. As such, his work and its influence are not wholly benign.

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