Ryan: Diamond Joe Biden's gaffe


Joe Biden strolled into the cramped room and everybody got quiet, even the beer-bellied man in the T-shirt that said, "my DOG is smarter than the PRESIDENT." An interesting apparel choice given the setting, a local Plumbers and Steamfitters Union that doubled as a training center.

Around the corner, Gray's Lake and Jasper Winery. Biden's Thursday night town hall was organized by the Iowa Asian and Latino Coalition (IALC). Open only to members, but anyone could pay a fee, $25 or so, and join the union for admittance.
A group of six 20-somethings in rolled-up jeans and woke-slogan T-shirts shuddered at the price of entry and backed out of the room with their eyebrows cocked.

Also, there was an actual dog in the room, a French bulldog. Which did not appear to belong to the "DOG" T-shirt man, but there was no telling with that crowd.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Some of them were more Biden than Biden himself. Like the guy in an oversized button-up with embroidered parrots along the shoulder. The way he nibbled on the same croissant for at least 15 minutes. Did he eat everything like that? Like he'd been instructed how to chew by NPR?

Or the middle-aged woman in the lion-themed blouse with psychedelic designs. She yipped whenever she felt the urge, sang out with answers or praise any time she liked what Biden had said. Several times, she crabbed out of the room, shoving and groaning. Then when she returned all you could smell was booze. And the drunker she got, the more impressed she was with her observations. At one point, this lady was within arm's length of Joe Biden, which was as dumbfounding as it was cool or horrific.
"Folks, this is wrong," Biden would say. It was a phrase he used as punctuation.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The room was about half the size of a basketball court. Maybe smaller. It felt like a sweat lodge. The lights and cameras and laptops and people made it 15 degrees warmer.

The media swarmed at the back of the room, encroaching into the crowd of serious people in gray folding chairs. A row of video cameras like robotic creatures, all spindle and wire. Behind the videographers, journalists with laptops perched at a long wooden table, the measured clack clack clack clack slump clack of furious typing. Paper plates with finger foods stacked wherever there was space.

Photo by Sean Ryan

The photographers had the most freedom. They could wander around snapping photos like it was their birthday and this was their party. Which is not how they acted. The opposite. They climbed around the room with the intensity and skill of a Navy SEAL in a swamp. They got as close as they could before someone, usually a bodyguard or a secret service agent, told them to back off.

Nearly half of the audience were media. There wasn't an empty seat in the room, but it still felt odd, as if the media had taken up space that could've been used by, say, a group of 20-somethings without enough cash to see the former vice president of the United States of America speaking to a room full of local politicians and plumbers, as CNN and ABC and Fox News filmed it all.

Photo by Sean Ryan

In reality, the media were there partly as stand-ins for the hundreds of millions of Americans, of people throughout the world, who couldn't make it to the union hall in Iowa, as Joe Biden writhed into another cringy mistake.

*

Biden's campaign had spent money on perfecting optics. At every speech, he spoke into a brand-new PA system, facing spotlights like you'd see in a theater. All of the candidates knew how to plaster any given room with their campaign signs. Biden and Kamala Harris understood the deeper game. The optics. Bernie Sanders likely did as well, but chose not to play it. Which is to say that Biden looked great, better than he looks in the 22-second clip of the event, the clip that went viral, the 10-second hiccup of his two-hour talk. The gaffe. Quite possibly a deadly moment in his campaign.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"The other thing we should do is we should challenge these students," he said, firm and smooth. "We should challenge students in these schools to have advanced placement programs in these schools. We have this notion that, somehow if you're poor, you cannot do it."

He paused for a moment, then concluded: "Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids."
A chatter of applause, because everybody knew what he meant, that this was Uncle Joe fumbling his words again. And that was pretty much the end of it. The New Yorker framed the scene with a touch of the dramatic: "There were groans in the room, and a smattering of hesitant applause."
Biden definitely botched the landing, but he followed up quickly, "Wealthy people," he said. "Black kids. Asian kids."

Photo by Sean Ryan

The next day, the media leapt on Biden. Naturally, President Donald Trump took the opportunity to throw some shade. He told reporters that "Joe Biden is not playing with a full deck. This is not somebody you can have as your president." In a bizarre moment of unity, the media and President Trump agreed, though for much different reasons.

Biden may never outlive it: "Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids."

At the Presidential Gun Forum a few days later, Biden will say, "Look, I misspoke. I meant to say 'wealthy.' I've said it 15 [times]. On the spot, I explained it. At that very second, I explained it. And so, the fact of the matter is that I don't think anybody thinks that I meant anything other than what I said I meant."

For the past three years, President Trump has been the media's focus. Unrelenting. He's the giant prize at the arcade and they're pre-teens with leftover money, desperate to own that giant orange panda. When's the last time you heard a positive remark about President Trump from any mainstream media besides Fox News?

Now, President Trump doesn't seem to mind, not publicly at least. Because he has always played the media. During the 2016 election, the media lavished him with free advertising. He didn't even have a campaign website. Why bother, when the New York Times does the broadcasting and recruitment for you?

Maybe Biden lacked this acuity. This bull energy. And that's why he never recovered as well as he messed up. Or maybe Biden played the course as it was meant to be played. It wasn't time to activate the boosters. Too early. Just maintain a steady pace, hone the routine, and show your face to Americans. Because that's where Biden excelled.

All the same, there's hypocrisy to Biden's constant attack of President Trump. If you're going to paint someone as a lying, soulless, brainless, misogynistic racist, you better make sure that your room is clean, that your life, your language, and your presentation are spic-and-span. Otherwise, you lose. And, at the moment, Biden was losing.

*

He would be 77 in two months. He had lost a son to brain cancer. And when he was 30, his wife and daughter died in a car wreck. He's had private dinners and intimate conversations with the most powerful people on earth. Correction … He is one of the most powerful people on earth.

When then-President Barack Obama draped the Medal of Freedom around Biden's neck, he cried.
But, always, the gaffes. Even as vice president, he was the butt of many jokes, however, well-meaning. Like the Onion's satirical take on Biden, "Diamond Joe."

For the first half of 2019, the country mocked him. Depicted him as a creep. Turned him into a meme. All because he was old-school with his body language and affection. You can find the montage online.

For years, Biden used physical touch to break through the barriers and restraints of conversation on an impossible schedule. How do you make a meaningful connection with a stranger, or a roomful of strangers, when you have very little time?
And he had been affable Joe Biden for decades without a single issue. The times had changed. The latest generation was touchy about personal space, according to the focus groups and surveys.

Despite the outrage, Biden didn't apologize. But he acknowledged the issue.

"I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future," he said in a video. "That's my responsibility and I will meet it."

Photo by Sean Ryan

I think most people believed him. Agreed that he's not a predator. Maybe he's the guy who constantly tries to give everyone neck massages because he thinks he's good at it. But really he's just knotting people up and violating their space. Sometimes a person just needs to be told when they've become intrusive, or else they might never realize.

Or maybe Biden is neither, not a creep or a doofus, but a man who wants to connect. A man who wants the Oval Office, for real this time.

As Biden's campaign built steam, the "Creepy Joe" story slowly vanished. In its place, articles about Biden's gaffes became more prominent, and now 20 of his fellow Democrats were hoping for his downfall.

He was christened "Sleepy Joe" by President Trump, who scoffed that Biden was too old for the job, tongue-in-cheek referring to himself as a "young vibrant man." From the start, everyone attacked Biden because he was in the lead. Because he was, probably, the most qualified. So he had to just take it. With dignity, if possible.

Did he ever get tired of all the commotion?

*

His obsessive word that night was "solitary." As in, "every single solitary child." Earlier that day, it had rained. Poured down onto people at the Iowa State Fair. It must have soaked every single solitary person.

Photo by Sean Ryan

To add to it all, Biden has struggled in Iowa before. When he ran for president in 1987, he ended his campaign after plagiarizing a Neil Kinnock speech at a Democratic debate at the Iowa State Fair. As is usually the case with Biden, the whole thing seems to have been a misunderstanding. Around that time he fibbed about his law school grades or something like that. Middle Class Joe with his tall tales and lofty aspirations. Isn't that the ultimate Middle Class Joe move?

It's like how Iowa has the highest per capita number of golf courses in the country, and, in 2007, actor Rob Lowe whacked a golf ball and it catapulted up and hit a goldfinch mid-flight. His first round of golf in Iowa, as part of a PGA Pro-Am celebrity tournament, and he killed the state bird. That's an Uncle Joe move.

*

Democracy fails without journalism. Mass media connect us to reality. Journalists hold this incredible power. The power to utterly ruin someone who maybe doesn't deserve ruin, or lionize someone who should be leeching in obscurity.

This ultimatum hung in the air as Biden spoke, clumsy like he hadn't slept well in weeks, maybe longer. Which is probably the reality.

He'd already botched the speech, he knew it, likely with no forgiveness from the media.

Ideally, politicians and journalists are like sharks and pilot fish. The sharks don't devour the pilot fish and, in turn, the pilot fish eat the shark's parasites. Politicians need journalists in order to spread their message, to impact public opinion. And journalists depend on politicians for protection, in a business sense, and for access. People want to watch sharks be shark-like. Pilot fish keep them alive and save their own scales in the process.

I bet you're wondering, "So who are the parasites in this metaphor?"

*

Biden had class, that's for sure. Despite his goofs, he had an air of diplomacy. The presence of someone who, for eight years, had classified material delivered to him like the morning paper. He has seen the innermost workings of the world's governments.

He was one of the dozen-or-so people who watched the live feed of Osama Bin Laden's assassination, an occasion captured by that gripping, now-iconic photo of Biden, Obama, and the national security team in the Situation Room.
By this point, after decades in politics, he looks good as a matter of habit. He wears sharp, deep-blue suits like the rest of us wear a T-shirt and khakis.

In Iowa, he exuded prestige and wisdom. When he spoke, even when he misspoke, people listened. And he looked you in the eye with an avuncular kindness.

Then he fumbled a few words or stumbled into some bad optics and the media went full shark on him. They went shark on him. The shark! Which too often felt contrived.

Most of the time, you could tell what Biden meant to say. Although, yes, if you have a habit of bungling your words, then don't center your speech on the idea that a President's words matter, so, in the 2020 presidential election, vote for me, the habitual word-bungler.

*

All week, flags were at half-mast.

Two shootings within 13 hours of each other. And we, the whole country, all slumped around with a devastation. So I had expected every Democratic candidate to talk about guns. That morning, on the back of the Des Moines Register, a full page in red font was devoted to the Presidential Gun Sense Forum being held in two days at the Iowa Events Center. Where all of the candidates would give a speech at an appointed time. If the Iowa Star Fair had opened during the previous news cycle, the candidates would likely fume about immigration or Israel. And they all hated President Trump, or pretended to, with a ferocity usually reserved for cockroaches and murder.

Just that morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren flagged down a journalist to say, "For the record, Donald Trump is a white supremacist."And the rest of them shouted in accord. They're politicians. Like male frogs, when one of them ribbits loudly and a female frog responds, the other male frogs do their best imitation. It's a real-life game of language poker. Bluff, wince, suppress, speak, listen, react. Do anything and everything to win win win.

Photo by Sean Ryan

So they had to talk about gun control and white supremacy in order to keep playing. They had to reference the primary topics of discussion for August 2019, but in a way that revealed authenticity, without seeming gullible. It's a matter of knowing what to say, always. Which is an insane expectation, for so many reasons.

Because the clarion call is different by the day, certainly by the month, depending how fervidly the media push it. Good news is, research shows that people aren't so gullible. We typically distrust the media. Because public opinion doesn't always line up with the media message. If Americans don't like the narrative being hammered down their throats, they'll shrug and change the channel, move on, stop caring. Like Bill Clinton's impeachment. The media wanted an opera, but most of the country just didn't give a damn what the man did behind closed doors, even if they were the doors to the Oval Office.

"The reason I call him Barack," Biden said, somewhat randomly, "is because I don't want to confuse him with the President." Soft spoken. Gentle voiced. Earlier, he compared Trump to Hitler. Hitler, leader of the Nazis, genocidal maniac, full-blown hellaciously prolific psychopath, an honest-to-God dictator who murdered and tortured millions of Jews. Trump, on the other hand, is the first President to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but just happens to be, well, kind of an ass. Nobody denies that. Many people even happen to admire it. But Hitler?

Hyperbole is fine, but it becomes dangerous when exaggerations mutate into something uglier. It was like the Democrats were trying to psyche themselves up to fight the class bully or, better yet, the most popular kid in school.

Can you blame them for having shaky nerves? The man is a pulverizer. We all saw what he did to the entire stage of Republicans in 2016. He destroyed 16 Ivy League-educated lawyers and seasoned politicians, legacy politicians, American royalty. Poor Jeb Bush probably still has a stammer. Trump ruined careers by giving out nicknames. He went toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton, a woman with a reputation for getting everything she wants no matter the cost, for being an impenetrable force that frightens many people, for having spent eight years in the White House as the first lady, and even she lost.

I'd be shaky if I were them, too. Any of us would.

But, every day, it's a more serious accusation. Yet another barb directed at President Trump. Which, oddly, just becomes further proof of President Trump's ubiquity. Every insult levied at him just bounces off his orange Teflon skin like a jelly bean and next thing you know you've got sugar stains on your forehead.

*

Sculpture on the lawn of the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 33 in Des Moines, IowaPhoto by Sean Ryan

As Biden's speech entered its second lap, the journalists in the back of the room just seemed bored. How long had Biden been talking?

Earlier that day, at the Iowa State Fair, he performed better, although he got a tad weird in the press scrum afterward and shouted it out with a reporter from Breitbart.

The drunk lady in the trippy lion blouse kept chirping along with Biden, adding a weird dominant energy to a room that already had a weird energy of its own, and by then even the kids could tell the woman was wasted. What a time to get hammered. During a town hall? At a plumbers' union? In Iowa? On a Thursday night? In front of all of these people? In front of a man who once had his own customized 757, aka Air Force 2?

The dog-shirt man gawked at Biden as he strolled around the tiny island of space between the tables. The dog-shirt man was a clumsy lad. Several times, his arms windmilled around as he balanced. The room syncopated to his clumsiness, more out of obligation than respect.

Parrot shirt guy had finished his baguette at some point, and moved onto some other task. I do not know what he was doing, with his face and with his presence. I am at a loss of words. "Alien" is the best word I can come up with. He whispered with the lop-sidedness of a sinking boat, far too loudly, somehow.

But in America, we can eat our baguettes as slowly as we please. We can paunch ourselves into corner-store t-shirts then go to a formal event. We can get nice and revved up on wine or vodka or whatever else we please, within reason. Best of all, we can do these things in the presence of a former Vice President.

"I've never been more optimistic about America than I am today," he said.

Then he spiraled into an elaborate story about Chinese President Xi Jinping. How, during one of Biden's visits to China, as the two men ate dinner, Jinping asked Biden to define America. "One word," said Biden. "Possibilities." Now that woke everyone up. How could you not admire a line as good as that line?

Photo by Sean Ryan

The Q&A went as well as a Q&A can. The people with pre-written questions were nervous, like this was an audition. The first question came from an off-duty Sheriff, and he said, "Hi, I'm a Sheriff."

Without a pause, Biden said "Didn't do it!" leaning into the microphone. And it was great. Maybe I enjoyed it more than everybody else. But it just felt so playful and innocent. Then somebody asked about the Democratic debates. "I won't call them debates," he said. "I'll call them one-minute assertions." Another good ad-libbed line. Where was this delivery during his speeches?

Biden has shotguns, he told the Sheriff, then veered into a tangent that journalists have characterized as near-senile. To me, it was charming. It was him saying, "Look, we're spending this time together so how about I open up and let you see who I am." Or at least who he wanted to portray. The moderator quipped that, could Biden be a little more succinct with his answers? A joke. Everyone laughed. Then we all moved on.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Outside, the sun was still as red and orange as usually is, before evening. We were nearing the sanguine moment when day changes hands with night. A cool dampness skipped the air. 78 degrees? In August? And a low of 65? What was this place?

Iowa exudes an American rawness, in manner and spirit. Its State colors are red, white, and blue. Its flower is the wild rose. It's motto is "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain." It is the birthplace of John Wayne. Home to the crimson-painted bridges of a fictional Madison County. It is heart-breaking how American Iowa is. The vintage America. With the worst cellphone reception I've ever encountered, and Amish-run gas stations that don't have credit card slots on the pumps. And everywhere, a slower pace, as if social media never happened.

On the lawn of the Plumber's Union, a statue of two hands clenching pipe wrenches and fastening a socket. In front of it, a plaque titled "Pulling Together," which noted, "This piece of art is not only about unions. It is about the human condition."

The American flag by the entrance had been raised to its peak. Possibly that day. Most other places still had their flags at half-mast. There was something triumphant about returning the flag to its proper height. It was by no means a slight against the recent shootings. If anything, it was a way of redistributing power.

A red SUV waited by the rear door. Next to a white van. My guess was that this was the subtle way that Biden traveled. Endurance. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris had her own fleet with her name in purple and yellow down the side. We've yet to see if hers might have been the better approach.

It was getting late, and Biden was still yammering and we had places to be. As my dad and I tiptoed out, the French bulldog snorted around the room. You could hear him chuff. And he hustled toward the kids slumping against the walls. He jumped away from his leash. When he finally arrived at the children, he licked and licked. Meanwhile Biden was talking about reality. "We choose science over fiction," he said. "We choose truth over lies." People murmured supportively. Then the French bulldog's owner turned to me, smiled, and said, "He really likes little kids."

New installments to this series will come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out this page or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Glenn gives the latest coronavirus numbers, updating YOU on everything needed to know as Americans and officials monitor China's new COVID-19 virus:

Daily Stats as of 5:30 AM CT (from John's Hopkins)

  • Total Confirmed Cases Worldwide: 1,030,324 (up from 950,638 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Deaths Worldwide: 54,226 (up from 48,289 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Recovered Worldwide: 219,896 (up from 202,631 Yesterday)
  • 5% of Active Cases are considered serious (requiring hospitalization) Steady from 5% Yesterday, but down from 19% high back in February
  • Note that 12% of US Confirmed Cases require Hospitalization, roughly on par with Italy at 12% requiring hospitalization and lower than Spain, where 18% of patients require hospitalization.
  • US has 245,380 Confirmed Cases and 6,095 Deaths, up from 215,344 cases and 5,112 deaths yesterday
  • The US currently has 228,874 Active Cases of COVID-19, with about 1% of the US Population tested
  • 15% of Americans who have been tested have been diagnosed with COVID-19
White House to Recommend All Americans Wear Face Masks in Public https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/02/coronavirus-facemasks-policyreversal/
  • The White House is poised to urge Americans to wear cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in a reversal of earlier advice.
  • President Trump said Thursday at a coronavirus task force briefing that "a recommendation is coming out," but "I don't think it will be mandatory. If people want to wear them, they can."
  • Later, however, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to relate internal discussions, said that the guidance being considered is "narrowly targeted to areas with high community transmission" and that the matter remains under discussion.
  • A new Memo from the CDC states: "In light of new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of the virus to those around them."
  • The recommendations represent a major change in CDC guidance that healthy people don't need masks or face coverings.
  • The news comes as Laredo, TX joins more than a dozen American cities or Counties that have mandated the use of face masks for all persons in public spaces such as grocery stores or shopping centers. Violaters without a facemask risk up to a $1000 fine. https://www.foxnews.com/us/texas-city-fine-people-who-dont-cover-faces-outside-coronavirus
  • Similar provisions are being considered for the entire State of California, according to Governor Gavin Newsom's office.
Anti-body Tests Getting Accelerated Availability https://news.yahoo.com/antibody-tests-key-ending-covid-19-lockdowns-162305617.html
  • Unlike Vaccine testing and production which could take months or years, SARS-CoV-2 Antibody tests could be available in the US in a few weeks.
  • Such tests could be key in enabling the partial lifting of lockdown and shelter-in-place orders, as authorities could determine who might already have immunity to the virus and could return to work.
  • "If we can determine someone's already had the virus and now has immunity and is no longer contagious to others, that's what we're looking for here," said Anthony Fauci in Thursday's White House COVID-19 Task Force update.
  • However, it should be noted that researchers have yet to determine if anti-body production renders people permanently or only temporarily immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
  • While some Virus immunities, such as Chicken Pox, are generally permanent immunities, others, such as SARS-1 and Rhinovirus (the common cold) grant only short-term, multi-month immunity...which is why people can get a cold each year.
  • Most known Coronavirus immunities in humans are not permanent, researchers have noted. Influenza, for example, grants only seasonal immunity and can be caught again only a few months later.
Lord Have Mercy...Hospital Ships Sit Empty https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/nyregion/ny-coronavirus-usns-comfort.html
  • The much-touted Navy Hospital Ships in New York and Los Angeles sit 95% empty as of Thursday evening.
  • In New York, The USNS Comfort's 1,000 beds are largely unused, its 1,200-member crew mostly idle. "We're waiting for patients," one nurse was quoted by the New York Times.
  • Only 20 patients had been transferred to the ship, officials said, even as New York hospitals struggled to find space for the thousands infected with the coronavirus.
  • Another Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles, has had a total of 15 patients, officials said.
  • "If I'm blunt about it, it's a joke," said Michael Dowling, the head of Northwell Health, New York's largest hospital system. "Everyone can say, 'Thank you for putting up these wonderful places and opening up these cavernous halls.' But we're in a crisis here, we're in a battlefield."
  • What's the issue? In classic government style: Red Tape.
  • On top of its strict rules preventing people infected with the virus from coming on board, the Navy is also refusing to treat a host of other conditions. Guidelines disseminated to hospitals included a list of 49 medical conditions that would exclude a patient from admittance to the ship.
  • Ambulances cannot take patients directly to the Comfort; they must first deliver patients to a city hospital for a lengthy evaluation — including a test for the virus — and then pick them up again for transport to the ship. With 911 call centers already massively over-capacity, ambulances aren't available to take non-infected persons to each ship.
  • Meanwhile, across New York hospitals are overrun. Patients have died in hallways before they could even be hooked up to one of the few available ventilators in New York. Doctors and nurses, who have had to use the same protective gear, again and again, are getting sick.
  • "So many people are dying that the city is running low on body bags," Dowling said. "The Coroner's office told our administrator to start double-wrapping bodies in sheets for the time being."
In Hopeful Sign, University of Pittsburgh Researchers May Have Found COVID-19 Vaccine https://nypost.com/2020/04/02/scientists-believe-they-found-potential-coronavirus-vaccine/
  • Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe that they've found a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus.
  • The researchers announced their findings Thursday and believe the vaccine could be rolled out quickly enough to "significantly impact the spread of disease," according to their study published in EBioMedicine.
  • The vaccine would be delivered on a small, fingertip-sized patch. When tested on mice, the vaccine produced enough antibodies believed to successfully counteract the virus.
  • The scientists say they were able to act fast because they had already done research on the similar coronaviruses SARS and MERS.
  • The Trump Administration ordered the FDA to fast-track the next phase of Animal trials for the experimental vaccine.
  • Officials did warn that even if successful, human trials and ultimate production could still be as many as 12-18 months away.
  • "It's early, but this is a very positive result," the lead scientist said in an interview. "We're well on our way."
Vermont, Maryland Make Buying Seeds to Grow Food Illegal https://www.eagletimes.com/covid_19/large-retailers-stop-in-person-sales-of-nonessential-items-in-vermont/article_c1d0e43c-7432-11ea-8ca9-a30ed891d9fd.htmlimage.png Canada's Farmers Warn of Food Supply Impact Due to Non-Essential Designation https://ipolitics.ca/2020/04/02/the-sprout-canadian-farmers-worry-for-food-supply/, https://business.financialpost.com/commodities/agriculture/agriculture-sector-scrambling-to-offset-consequences-of-covid-19-crisis
  • Canada's government issues a list of industries and jobs it deemed essential, including food delivery, shipping & logistics, medical care, energy production & delivery.
  • One industry that was glaringly absent: agricultural production.
  • Like the US, Canada's agricultural industry relies on migrant and seasonal workers to plant and harvest foods, especially key fruits and vegetables that must be picked by hand.
  • Industry representatives have begun to petition the government to include Ag production an essential service so travel restrictions can be relaxed to allow workers to travel into Canada and use of public transportation systems to get to where planting activities must occur soon to allow for Fall food harvests.
  • Canada's Federation of Independent Grocers also extended a warning to the Government that it projects food costs in Canada could rise by as much as 90% in the coming months due to COVID-19 related disruptions. https://nationvalleynews.com/2020/04/01/grocers-group-warns-rising-food-costs-come/
Industry Expert Warns Illness Among Agricultural Workers Could Threaten US Food Supplies https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/markets/an-outbreak-among-farm-workers-would-be-catastrophic/ar-BB1257dl
  • Much of the US food supply chain is staffed by low-wage workers, many of them undocumented immigrants with limited ties to health services.
  • The Pew Research Center has estimated that about one-quarter of U.S. farmworkers are undocumented.
  • A 2019 U.S. Department of Labor survey estimated that the share of field workers who are undocumented is closer to half of all farmworkers.
  • The food processing industry also has high numbers of undocumented workers, as do many of the nation's smaller grocers and fast-food restaurants.
  • Immigrant farming communities are often close-knit, with laborers living and working in close proximity, with workers sharing hotel rooms and even make-shift Tents with cots, to save on costs.
  • As the California-based Western Growers Association states, "Social distancing is difficult or perhaps impossible in certain settings such as harvesting, transport (of workers) and housing."
  • One California grower told National Public Radio that if the coronavirus penetrates the agricultural community, "it will spread like wildfire."
  • The news comes as Mexico only recently restricted movements and travel, issuing shelter-in-place orders for 90% of the country.
  • The Trump Administration recently eased restrictions on H-2a Ag Worker visas, but industry experts warned many workers planned to stay in Mexico or other Central American countries due to travel restrictions now in effect in those countries. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-27/state-department-eases-requirements-for-h2a-visa
  • The Western Growers Association currently estimates a 30% reduction in labor force this year, which may be further impacted if COVID-19 spreads among workers who live and work in tight close quarters.
LA Mayor: "Snitches Get Rewards" https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-los-angeles-eric-garcetti-snitches-get-rewards/
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new guidelines for construction sites that continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic while encouraging the community to report businesses that violate the Safer at Home order.
  • Garcetti said that since the stay at home order was put in place, the city has been told about construction sites that have not been following the guidelines set out in that order.
  • "You know the old expression about snitches, well in this case snitches get rewards," Garcetti said. "We want to thank you for turning folks in and making sure we are all safe."
  • As of Tuesday afternoon, Garcetti said "business ambassadors" from the city had visited 540 businesses that had not complied with the Safer at Home order. Of those, 144 were visited by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department to ensure compliance with the order.
  • So far, Four businesses have been referred to the city attorney's office for misdemeanor filings.
  • The story comes as business owners across the US have been cited and even arrested for violating House Arrest orders, many turned in by way of anonymous calls to police departments. https://apnews.com/343ed4a8e95dfc8f8dda87b9e450ca57
In Germany, Hundreds of Citations Handed Out Based on Anonymous Reports and Emails to Police Departments https://news.trust.org/item/20200402160625-8y12u
  • (Headline Bloomberg News) Germans snitch on neighbors flouting virus rules, in an echo of the Stasi past
  • Law-abiding Germans are zealously helping police crackdown on people flouting new social distancing rules aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus by reporting on strangers, neighbors and friends.
  • In a country where denunciation was commonplace under the Communists in East Germany and Hitler's Nazis, police forces across the country are getting tip-offs on anything from "corona parties" to people driving to weekend cottages.
  • Rules introduced in March forcing restaurants, pubs and sports facilities to shut and banning gatherings of people have given police plenty of work. With the number of corona cases and deaths climbing fast, there is no sign of easing enforcement.
  • Since March 14, police in the German capital have ordered 830 pubs, shisha bars and other establishments to shut and recorded 898 crimes.
  • "We are getting tip-offs from the public about open restaurants or large gatherings of people in parks," said a spokeswoman, adding officers were, as always, ready to deal with information from the public.
  • Forces around Germany are in a similar situation. Munich police took up to 150 calls every day last week from citizens reporting alleged breaches of corona rules, according to Spiegel Online.

For weeks now, our political leaders and the media have been repeating the World Health Organization's claim that non-medical-grade face masks don't work when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. So, why are infectious disease experts now reconsidering their guidelines?

According to the New York Times, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, said the guidance on wearing non-medical masks is "being critically re-reviewed, to see if there's potential additional value for individuals that are infected or individuals that may be asymptomatically infected."

In actuality, they didn't trust the American people to do the right thing and prioritize healthcare workers to receive masks first, opined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday. But they do work, and "if we're going to open the country up, we are going to all have to wear face masks," he said.

Listen to the clip to hear more details:

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Face Masks DO Work, US Cases Per Capita, and WHO Lies for Communist China youtu.be

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William "Bill" Kelly is 95-year-old World War II veteran from Oregon. He lived through the Great Depression.
He served in the South Pacific during World War II. And now he has just fought the coronavirus -- and won.

Bill joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to share his experience and a hopeful message about why the younger generations can overcome this crisis.

"I want to tell the people, it wasn't pleasant, but on the other hand, you know, if you do what you're supposed to do, and you have some loved ones around you, and do a lot of praying, why, you'll come through okay. We [American's] have been through a lot. We've been through Pearl Harbor. We've been through the Great Depression, and who knows what else. We're tough. We'll get through it. Hang in there," Bill said.

"You know, it's just -- it's in our American blood," he added. "We're that type of people. We take care of each other, and we are not going to break down. We're going to make it through, every time. Every time."

"There are people that don't think we are those people anymore. That it was the greatest generation -- your generation -- that did it, but now we're not the same people. Do you agree with that? Glenn asked.

"No," asserted Bill. "And the reason I say that is because I remember when I was a young kid, you know, and people, the older people, said 'all those young kids are soft' ... but when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor -- sneak attack, you know -- it's surprising how those so-called goofy kids turned into mighty fine fighting people. And they're very loyal. I have lots of faith in them ... no, I don't have any problems with this new generation. They'll take care of us. We're Americans."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Glenn gives the latest coronavirus numbers, updating YOU on everything needed to know as Americans and officials monitor China's new COVID-19 virus:

Daily Stats as of 5:30 AM CT (from John's Hopkins)

  • Total Confirmed Cases Worldwide: 950,638 (up from 872,891 Yesterday)
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 48,289 (up from 43,271 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Recovered Worldwide: 202,631 (up from 184,588 Yesterday)
  • 5% of Active Cases are considered serious (requiring hospitalization) Steady from 5% Yesterday, but down from 19% high back in February
  • Note that 12% of US Confirmed Cases require Hospitalization, roughly on par with Italy at 12% requiring hospitalization
  • US has 215,344 Confirmed Cases and 5,112 Deaths, up from 188,592 cases and 4,056 deaths yesterday
  • COVID-19 is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, behind Heart Disease and Cancer (based on daily fatalities per 1,000 people)
  • The United States of America now leads the world in total confirmed cases, with 115,000 more cases than Italy (although Italy leads the world in Deaths with 13,155 officially dead)
  • US is 25th in Total Confirmed Cases per 1 Million Population, with 651 cases per 1 Million people. Spain has 2,583 Cases per 1 Million people.
  • US is 23rd in Total Confirmed Dead per 1 Million Population, with 15 Dead per 1 Million citizens. Italy has 218 Dead per 1 Million.
  • US has 5,112 Dead vs 8,878 Recovered and 5,075 in Critical Condition
  • The US currently has 201,354 Active Cases of COVID-19, with still less than 1% of the total US population tested.
  • 17% of Americans who have been tested have been diagnosed with COVID-19
COVID-19 Now Killing Victims Who Don't Have COVID-19 https://nypost.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-nyc-emts-stop-taking-cardiac-arrest-patients-to-hospitals/
  • EMTs in New York have been given a directive not to transport heart-attack victims to hospitals if they cannot be revived at the scene.
  • Prior cardiac arrest victims would have been transported to hospitals for further life-saving procedures, but with hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, heart attack victims are solely in the hands of local EMTs. If EMTs cannot restore a pulse at the scene, victims are to be left there to die.
  • "Artificial ventilation and/or compressions must not be delayed," the memo states, adding that chest "compressions must begin as soon as it is determined the patient does not have a pulse."
  • But the guidelines change if the patient cannot be revived before arriving at a hospital.
  • "In the event a resuscitation is terminated, and the body is in public view, the body can be left in the custody of the NYPD."
China Lied, People Died Trending on Social Media https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-01/china-concealed-extent-of-virus-outbreak-u-s-intelligence-says
  • US Intelligence Services has concluded what the Internet has known since January: The Chinese Communist Party lied about total infected and total deaths due to Coronavirus.
  • Citing a report provided to the White House last week, officials confirmed that US Intelligence concludes 'gross' underreporting of total cases and total deaths, especially from Hubei Province.
  • Many have speculated that numbers coming out of China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and other totalitarian countries have been dramatically underreported, by as much as a factor of 10 according to official British Intelligence reports.
  • The early misrepresentation of data by the CCP may have lead some Western Politicians and epidemiologists to underestimate the seriousness of COVID-19 and delayed response in Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.
  • Though why anybody would have believed anything the Chinese Communist Party had to say remains an open question...
Italy's Death Toll Far Higher Than Reported https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/italys-coronavirus-death-toll-is-far-higher-than-reported/ar-BB122vvc
  • In the town of Coccaglio, an hour's drive east of here, the local nursing home lost over a third of its residents in March. None of the 24 people who died there were tested for the new coronavirus. Nor were the 38 people who died in another nursing home in the nearby town of Lodi.
  • These aren't isolated incidents. Italy's official death toll from the virus stands at 13,155, the most of any country in the world. But that number tells only part of the story because many people who die from the virus don't make it to the hospital and are never tested, therefore they aren't included in official numbers.
  • "They were all sick, they all had flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing," stated a nurse from one of the nursing homes. "We had no ambulance to get them to Milan."
  • In the areas worst hit by the pandemic, Italy is undercounting thousands of deaths caused by the virus, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows, indicating that the pandemic's human toll may end up being much greater, and infections far more widespread, than official data indicate.
  • As stretched and sometimes overwhelmed hospitals fight to save their patients, many other people die unseen and uncounted, including elderly people in out-of-the-way locations.
  • In addition, the health-care crisis can lead to a surge of deaths from other causes that would normally be treatable.
  • "There are many more dead from the virus than are officially declared... People died and they were never tested because time and resources are limited," Eugenio Fossati, deputy mayor of Coccaglio, says of deaths caused by the virus.
More Numbers Hard to Trust as Bodies Left On The Streets in Ecuador https://www.scmp.com/news/world/americas/article/3078077/coronavirus-bodies-are-being-left-streets-ecuador
  • Coronavirus: bodies are being left on the streets in Ecuador.
  • 'They fall in front of hospitals or in back street alleys, or in small villages…no one wants to recover them,' says the mayor of Ecuador's largest city.
  • The army is placing unclaimed bodies in refrigerated cargo containers at the port while authorities pursue plans for a new cemetery.
  • The corpses have been overwhelming Guayaquil, a port city of 2.8 million at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Ecuador.
  • Over the last few days, several were wrapped in plastic and left on the streets. Others have lain unclaimed in hospitals and clinics that have been overwhelmed by infections. The city morgue is full.
  • The majority of the dead are believed to be victims of the virus, but nobody can say for sure how many. There has been little testing.
  • The country has confirmed 2,700 infections and 93 deaths - 60 of them in Guayaquil and its immediate surroundings. But municipal officials there said they have recovered at least 400 bodies in the last 3 days.
  • Mayor Cynthia Viteri, who announced that she has also tested positive for the virus, said the national government should be responsible for collecting the corpses.
  • "They're leaving them in the villages, they are stacked in front of hospitals," she said in a Twitter video message to residents late last week.
  • Many local villages in Ecuador are simply burying the dead in unmarked graves, which will make official counting of COVID-19 victims impossible in the weeks ahead.
50% of Viral Spread Comes from People With No Symptoms https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/01/health/us-coronavirus-updates-wednesday/index.html
  • Researchers in Iceland have confirmed earlier reports from Hong Kong that a significant amount of viral spread is caused by carriers who have no symptoms.
  • In the US, Doctors at the CDC have confirmed asymptomatic spread, but estimate a number of about 25%.
  • If true, then the case for all persons to wear masks, even those who don't have symptoms, becomes much stronger.
  • To prevent further spread, the top infectious disease expert in the US says health officials are reconsidering guidance on face masks.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would "lean towards" recommending that the general public wear face masks "if we do not have the problem of taking away masks from the health care workers who need them. The public can stay home to avoid infection, but health care workers cannot," he said.
  • "We're not there yet, but I think we're close to coming to some determination," Fauci said.
Ship vs Train... Ship Wins https://abc7.com/usns-mercy-coronavirus-train-crash-derailment/6069395/
  • A Locomotive Engineer in Los Angeles has been charged with 1 Count of "Train Wrecking", a Class A Felony under Federal Law, after purposely derailing his freight train while attempting to sink the US Hospital ship Mercy.
  • Eduardo Moreno, 44, intended to hit the ship, saying he thought it was "suspicious" and did not believe "the ship is what they say it's for.'"
  • Moreno admitted to crashing the train intentionally but said he did not plan it out in advance. It is believed that he acted alone.
  • He allegedly made statements to a CHP officer that included "You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don't know what's going on here. Now they will."
  • Officials say video from inside the train's cab shows Moreno holding a lighted flare during the incident.
Biggest Issue With COVID-19 in Malaysia: Nagging Wives https://www.npr.org/2020/04/01/825051317/dont-nag-your-husband-during-lock-down-malaysias-government-advises-women
  • Malaysia has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with more than 2,900 and counting.
  • This week, Malaysia's government also had a serious public relations issue after an ill-conceived plan went online.
  • Malaysia's Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development issued a series of online posters on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19. It advised the nation's women to help with the country's partial lockdown by not nagging their husbands.
  • The ministry also advised women to refrain from being "sarcastic" if they asked for help with household chores.
  • Additionally, the Ministry urged women working from home to dress up and wear makeup.
  • After some negative response on social media, the public service messages have been removed from the Ministry's Facebook page.