Monday, August 10, 2020

Last Call For California Goes Viral

It's not just red states who are showing massive incompetence at handling COVID-19. The difference is when the blue state public health officials screw up, they resign.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s director of the California Department of Public Health resigned on Sunday, an abrupt departure of a key advisor in the state’s coronavirus battle just days after the discovery of a computer system failure that resulted in the undercounting of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Sonia Angell, who held the position for less than a year, announced her resignation in an email sent to department staff that was released by the California Health and Human Services Agency.

“Since January, when we got word of repatriation flights arriving from Wuhan, China, our department has been front and center in what has become an all-of-government response of unprecedented proportions to COVID-19,” Angell wrote in the email to public health staff members. “In the final calculation, all of our work, in aggregate, makes the difference.”

Angell’s decision to step aside comes at a crucial moment in California’s battle against the spread of the virus. More than 10,000 Californians have died from the disease, and 38 of the state’s 58 counties are on a watchlist that has required the closure of businesses that had briefly reopened in the early summer and K-12 schools as the academic year begins. Angell, who frequently has appeared alongside Newsom in his public briefings on the state’s efforts to combat the pandemic, was considered a key player in the coordination with local public health departments across the state.

“I want to thank Dr. Angell for her service to the state and her work to help steer our public health system during this global pandemic, while never losing sight of the importance of health equity,” the governor said in a written statement Sunday night.

Dr. Angell had to go.

Last week, state officials confirmed that as many as 300,000 records had not been processed by the computer clearinghouse system relied upon to provide to local officials the COVID-19 test results reported by labs on a daily basis. Two separate errors were identified — one related to a computer server outage, the other to the expiration of an electronic certificate for data to be transferred from Quest Laboratories.
Administration officials insisted they did not know the extent of the problem until after Newsom’s public event on Aug. 3 in which he expressed optimism that current case numbers — lower than some had expected — meant some progress in the state’s efforts. But some local officials were sent communications the week before from the state Department of Public Health acknowledging a problem with the CalREDIE computer system.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said on Friday that a full investigation was underway to determine what happened. And although he said that he had become aware of the “magnitude” of the problem only after Newsom’s public statements, some state officials had information on the problem earlier.

“We are aware that individuals there were knowledgeable of some of these challenges,” Ghaly said in discussing both the state Public Health Department and his agency, which oversees those operations.

A spokeswoman for the state health agency would not comment Sunday on whether Angell’s sudden resignation was related to, or prompted by, the database errors.

In other words, the 21% drop in California cases announced by Newsom on Monday was complete garbage. A head had to roll, and it was Dr. Angell's head.

California definitely screwed up, with tens of thousands of unreported cases now being added to the count. But as I said, the difference between California and say, Texas, Florida, or Georgia is that health officials in California get canned for making mistakes.

Health officials in red states get fired for being honest about the numbers.

Hong Kong Crackdown, Con't

China's new national security law making Hong Kong and its citizens subject to Chinese Communist Party draconian diktats has captured its first major global player: Hong Kong pro-democracy media magnate Jimmy Lai and his family.

Police on Monday arrested the media tycoon and activist Jimmy Lai, his sons and several executives of his publishing group for allegedly colluding with foreign forces, a crime punishable by life imprisonment under a sweeping national security law that China recently imposed on Hong Kong.

Officers arrived at the home of Lai and his sons, Mark Simon, a close aide and senior executive at Lai’s media group Next Digital, said in a tweet. Police were executing search warrants, Simon added. He said the alleged crime was colluding with foreign powers. Next Digital is the parent company of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy news outlet critical of Beijing that Lai founded in 1995.

Shortly afterward, more than 200 police entered Next Digital’s offices, according to the company’s Facebook page and a live-stream of the raid, and searched the Apple Daily newsroom. They rifled through reporters’ desks and papers, told employees to show their identification cards, and warned journalists to stop filming and photographing the raid as it unfolded.

The dramatic events were the most drastic use of the security law since it took effect last month, and highlighted the growing threat to the safety of pro-democracy activists and journalists in Hong Kong, where press freedom is supposed to enjoy constitutional protection.

In a statement, the Hong Kong Police Force said it had arrested seven men between the ages of 39 and 72 on suspicion of breaching the security law, without naming the suspects. Police said the operation was continuing. 
The arrests come after the U.S. Treasury Department last week imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and 10 other officials, including Beijing’s envoy in the city, the police commissioner and his predecessor, for eviscerating political freedoms in Hong Kong. The city’s government said it would support Chinese countermeasures, calling the sanctions “shameless and despicable.”

“I have expected this day would come, but I did not expect it to come at this moment, after the U.S. sanctions,” said a journalist at Apple Daily, speaking on the condition of anonymity over fears for their safety. “These arrests are about revenge. They are targeting us, a media outlet which is the most outspoken against the Hong Kong government and Beijing.”

A senior journalist at Apple Daily, also requesting anonymity to protect their safety, added that arresting Lai was “just the first step.”

“Shutting down Apple Daily and threatening other media organizations is the goal — so that no one dares to speak the truth at the end. It is not excessive to say this is the end of Hong Kong press freedom,” the person said.

As bad as things are in the US, they're much worse in China and Hong Kong. The Trump regime wouldn't hesitate to march Jeff Bezos off to federal prison and shut down the Washington Post given the opportunity to do so, and I'm surprised he hasn't done so already.

I fully expect another round of massive protests in Hong Kong to free Jimmy Lai. We'll see how the world responds to China over this. My guess is other than toothless US sanctions, we won't see much.

It would be good for Joe Biden to come out very forcefully this week against China here. Just saying.

Apple Daily is among Hong Kong’s most-read media outlets, and Next Digital employs thousands of staff in the city. Several Next Digital executives were among those arrested Monday, a person familiar with the situation said.

A Conspiracy Of Dunces, Con't

Georgia's runoff election for the GOP primary is Tuesday, and that means avowed racist and conspiracy nutjob Marjorie Taylor Greene will be on the ballot against against neurosurgeon and founder of Cortex Toys, Dr. John Cowan. Georgia's 14th is an R + 27 district on the Cook PVI, so there's little hope for Democratic candidate Kevin Van Ausdal, but the larger problem is since the GOP is a white supremacist racism-tolerant party, Marjorie Greene is favored to win and is receiving no pushback from the GOP leadership.

House GOP leaders raced to disavow a Republican congressional candidate who made racist Facebook videos and embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory. But less than two months later, the party has done little to block Marjorie Taylor Greene from winning a seat in the House. 
Now, Republicans could be days away from adding their most controversial member yet to the conference in a runoff election in Georgia on Tuesday — a scenario that some lawmakers say should have been entirely avoided. 
Of the top three GOP leaders in the House, only House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) has helped Greene’s opponent, neurosurgeon John Cowan, raise money and contributed to his campaign. Outside groups have not made any significant investments in the primary runoff for the solidly red seat, despite pleas from rank-and-file Republicans. And there hasn’t been a tweet from President Donald Trump that could signal to his supporters that they should oppose her.

POLITICO reported in June that Greene had posted hours of Facebook videos where she made a trove of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments — including an assertion that Black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party,” and that George Soros, a Jewish Democratic megadonor, is a Nazi. 
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in June — through his spokesman, Drew Florio — that he found those comments “appalling,” and he had “no tolerance for them.” But Florio said last week that the California Republican is remaining neutral and letting the primary process play out — a stance that likely does not signal urgency to donors or outside groups. 
“This is the kind of race and kind of situation where you need those groups,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), who is actively supporting Cowan. “So often, they only get involved when they have someone that they are trying to get in. But I think it’s just as important they get involved when there’s someone they’re trying to get out.” 
The lack of intervention from national Republicans — despite their public rebukes of Greene — has frustrated and baffled GOP lawmakers, strategists and donors, who worry Greene’s victory would be a black eye for the party at a time when they are still grappling with a national reckoning over racial inequality. 

The GOP needs the racists in order to win.  In an overwhelmingly Republican district, given a choice of a dozen candidates, they're going to end up with the screaming, black-hating anti-Semite because that who the GOP are.

They're okay with racists, and need them to win.



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