Monday, July 5, 2021

Last Call For America Is Still Going Viral, Con't

Republican governors are realizing that their states are full of unvaccinated folks increasingly vulnerable to the delta variant of COVID-19 (not to mention possibly even worse future variants) and that they're now 100% responsible for convincing the GOP holdouts to get the jab, or there may not be anyone left to vote for them in 2022 or 2024. The most vocal is GOP Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, who may be facing the toughest road.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said people hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are “not thinking right” and warned they are playing a “death lottery.”

“They really are in a lottery with themselves,” Justice told Martha Raddatz on Sunday’s broadcast of ABC News’ “This Week.”

“You know, we have a lottery that basically says, if you’re vaccinated we’re going to give you stuff,” he said, referencing prizes that can be won in exchange for getting a shot in the state. “Well, you’ve got another lottery going on, and it’s the death lottery.”

Vaccination rates in West Virginia have significantly slowed in recent weeks, even though public health officials and scientists deem vaccines a safe way to fight the pandemic.

“Red states probably have a lot of people that, you know, are very, very conservative in their thinking and they think, ‘Well, I don’t have to do that,’ but they’re not thinking right,” Justice said.

Raddatz asked Justice what he thought would encourage those who haven’t received the vaccine to do so.

“I hate to say this, but what would put them over the edge is an awful lot of people dying,” he replied. “The only way that’s going to happen is a catastrophe that none of us want. And so we just got to keep trying.
No, it's going to take millions of Delta variant cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths, all among vaccine holdout Republicans, before the needle on needles moves. This is why I'm not worried about Kristi Noem, or Ron DeSantis, or Greg Abbott in 2024, because they're going to have catastrophes on their hands well before they ever get to consider a run for the White House, one that will destroy their careers, and unfortunately, kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in the years ahead.

Automatic For The People, Con't

In the grand tradition of American labor history, workers with the advantage as demand rebounds from the Trump COVID depression are finding that businesses and corporations are no longer considering raising wages to attract workers, they're instead turning to automation and computers to get rid of minimum wage jobs completely.
When Kroger customers in Cincinnati shop online these days, their groceries may be picked out not by a worker in their local supermarket but by a robot in a nearby warehouse.

Gamers at Dave & Buster’s in Dallas who want pretzel dogs can order and pay from their phones — no need to flag down a waiter.

And in the drive-through lane at Checkers near Atlanta, requests for Big Buford burgers and Mother Cruncher chicken sandwiches may be fielded not by a cashier in a headset, but by a voice-recognition algorithm.

An increase in automation, especially in service industries, may prove to be an economic legacy of the pandemic. Businesses from factories to fast-food outlets to hotels turned to technology last year to keep operations running amid social distancing requirements and contagion fears. Now the outbreak is ebbing in the United States, but the difficulty in hiring workers — at least at the wages that employers are used to paying — is providing new momentum for automation.

Technological investments that were made in response to the crisis may contribute to a post-pandemic productivity boom, allowing for higher wages and faster growth. But some economists say the latest wave of automation could eliminate jobs and erode bargaining power, particularly for the lowest-paid workers, in a lasting way.

“Once a job is automated, it’s pretty hard to turn back,” said Casey Warman, an economist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia who has studied automation in the pandemic.

The trend toward automation predates the pandemic, but it has accelerated at what is proving to be a critical moment. The rapid reopening of the economy has led to a surge in demand for waiters, hotel maids, retail sales clerks and other workers in service industries that had cut their staffs. At the same time, government benefits have allowed many people to be selective in the jobs they take. Together, those forces have given low-wage workers a rare moment of leverage, leading to higher pay, more generous benefits and other perks.

Automation threatens to tip the advantage back toward employers, potentially eroding those gains. A working paper published by the International Monetary Fund this year predicted that pandemic-induced automation would increase inequality in coming years, not just in the United States but around the world.

“Six months ago, all these workers were essential,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union representing grocery workers. “Everyone was calling them heroes. Now, they’re trying to figure out how to get rid of them.”  
Checkers, like many fast-food restaurants, experienced a jump in sales when the pandemic shut down most in-person dining. But finding workers to meet that demand proved difficult — so much so that Shana Gonzales, a Checkers franchisee in the Atlanta area, found herself back behind the cash register three decades after she started working part time at Taco Bell while in high school.

“We really felt like there has to be another solution,” she said. 

So Ms. Gonzales contacted Valyant AI, a Colorado-based start-up that makes voice recognition systems for restaurants. In December, after weeks of setup and testing, Valyant’s technology began taking orders at one of Ms. Gonzales’s drive-through lanes. Now customers are greeted by an automated voice designed to understand their orders — including modifications and special requests — suggest add-ons like fries or a shake, and feed the information directly to the kitchen and the cashier.

The rollout has been successful enough that Ms. Gonzales is getting ready to expand the system to her three other restaurants.

“We’ll look back and say why didn’t we do this sooner,” she said.
No, a year from now I figure we'll all be back at the office for good, only you'll see a lot fewer help wanted signs. Restaurants may come back, but fast-food is going to automation even more quickly than anticipated. 

Wait until Amazon starts replacing warehouse workers with robots in a couple of years. Grocery stores, fast food, banks, retail logistics, all of it is going to automation this decade. We're going to have to find a way to deal with that, and increasingly the answer is going to be "an unemployable underclass".

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

White supremacist domestic terrorist Trump cultists continue their open demonstrations of power, marching over the holiday weekend in front of Philadelphia City Hall.

A group of white supremacists marched in front of Philadelphia City Hall Saturday night, drawing jeers from onlookers, as well as small scuffles.

Approximately 200 members of the group Patriot Front wore white face coverings, khakis, blue shirts and tan hats and waved flags with their group insignias.

They were seen approaching from Market Street before walking in front of City Hall around 10:45 p.m. Some could be seen holding shields as watchers-on shouted at them, demanding they leave Philadelphia.

Philadelphia police said the Patriot Front members chanted "Reclaim America," and "The election was stolen," as they marched.

A few people could be seen engaging in minor pushing and shoving with members of the group and police said several physical confrontations took place. An NBC10 photographer had his cellphone taken from him by members of the group, before recovering it.

Police also said members of Patriot Front used what they believed to be smoke bombs to cover their retreat as they fled.

Patriot Front, which is based out of Texas, is described by the Anti-Defamation League as “a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it solely to them.”

They are known to participate in localized flash mobs, the likes of which happened in Philadelphia Saturday night, according to the ADL. The Independent reported that members of the group also marched in Washington, D.C., Saturday.

It was unclear whether Philadelphia police made any arrests in relation to the local march. Police also said there were no reports of any damage or injuries.
Luckily, there aren't any reports of major injuries.
This time. 

With the case against the Trump Organization moving into the indictment phase, who knows how long that peace will hold? Because make no mistake, what these assholes pulled off on Saturday in Philly was straight-up terrorism. When people tell you "But racism just doesn't happen in 2021" you tell them it sure as hell does.

Next time, it could involve firearms and worse. We're having open white supremacist group marching in America's major cities now. It won't be long before others join them.

It's going to be a long summer.


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