Debunking Trump’s China Nonsense

The coronavirus pandemic offers a playground for conspiracy theorists: they say infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and billionaire Bill Gates advance dystopian agendas and 5G caused COVID-19.

But some of the most egregious falsehoods don’t only come from right-wing talk shows. They come from Donald Trump’s China foreign policy.

Fair Observer debunks Trump’s baseless accusations and scapegoating. No evidence suggests, for example, that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab. And while China could have better responded to the outbreak, it’s unlikely that it intentionally misrepresented the virus’ severity.

US Blocks UN Ceasefire Resolution Over WHO Mention

On Friday night, the U.S. blocked a United Nations resolution to call for a global ceasefire during the coronavirus pandemic because it made mention of the World Health Organization, reports Common Dreams.

Offering no evidence, Donald Trump has claimed the WHO withheld coronavirus information from world governments, including that the virus began in a Wuhan lab.

Trump also cut funding to the WHO, citing its “mistakes.” New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, and Denmark have dramatically reduced COVID-19 cases with rapid response, whereas U.S. COVID-19-related deaths are projected to rise to 3,000 per day by June 1 under Trump’s leadership.

The Green New Deal Can End Forever Wars

With the oil industry floundering amid the coronavirus pandemic, progressives see an opportunity for global economic renewal. Truthout asks if this could reshape the U.S. military endeavor.

Oil is the leading cause for interstate wars, and the Pentagon is the world’s leading institutional user of petroleum. As the climate crisis threatens the entire world, it calls for global cooperation—troubling, given the Trump administration’s adversarial track record.

The Green New Deal will require extensive resources—the kind that have been perpetuating U.S. wars for nearly two decades. Converting the U.S. energy grid to 100% renewable sources would cost only $4.5 trillion, compared to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars’ $6.4 trillion.

The NRA Is Driving Coronavirus Gun Sales

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System recorded 3.7 million firearm background checks in March, which is 12% higher than the previous all-time record from December 2015.

Mother Jones reports that, while data can’t pinpoint who’s buying guns or for what reasons, gun lobbyists, the NRA, and Donald Trump have fought to keep gun stores open during the pandemic.

Gun control advocacy groups worry that a variety of factors in conjunction with more gun owners will result in an increase in gun violence: women quarantined with their abusers, isolation-related suicide, accidental shootings, and increased alcohol use.

The NRA pounced on the coronavirus crisis to stoke fear and suspicion, suggesting that societal breakdown is inevitable and only gun purchases can save families.

Investigating Tara Reade’s Claims Doesn’t Violate Due Process

Democrats must establish a formal, unbiased investigation into Tara Reade’s allegations against presumptive nominee Joe Biden to uphold sexual assault survivors’ rights. The Nation points out their failure to do so.

When asked about Reade’s allegations, Nancy Pelosi said “There is also due process and the fact that Joe Biden is Joe Biden,” invoking two arguments to avoid accountability. (Harvey Weinstein also erroneously called upon due process to avoid public criticism.)

But the right to due process arises when the state threatens to take away a right to which the accused person is normally entitled. The possibility of investigations subjecting Biden to public shame does not implicate his due process rights.

Banks Enact Symbolic Restrictions on Arctic Oil Development

Over the past several months, the biggest U.S. banks announced they will not finance new oil and gas development in the Arctic.

Common Dreams reports these policies are the first by American banks to restrict oil industry lending, following years of environmental groups’ campaigning. But not a single loan of the past few years’ trillions of dollars in energy industry financing would have been prohibited under these new policies.

While these restrictions may be largely symbolic, they represent an important step in a campaign to end Arctic drilling.

Failing Uranium Company Received Small Business Loan

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued loans to companies with longstanding financial problems unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic, reports the Center for Public Integrity.

Ur-Energy, one such company, lost money over the last decade on its Wyoming operations, which supply uranium to U.S. power plants.

But the SBA disbursed a $893,300 loan to Ur-Energy through the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to help companies hit hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The Animal Fact Checker

Lately, people are eager for good news. So stories of animals reclaiming territory amid humanity’s isolation have proliferated. The only problem is that, as National Geographic reporter Natasha Daly points out in conversation with Columbia Journalism Review, these stories are often fake.

Roman ducks, Chinese elephants, Indian peacocks, and other animals purportedly flourishing since lockdown orders show little out of the ordinary, and their viral stories often use old or geographically inaccurate footage, as Daly’s reports cover.

Daly understands that people want good news. But the mindset that humanity simply needs to do nothing to help recover ecosystems undermines the work and messages of conservationists.

Glenn Greenwald with the tweet of the week:
The TSA Hoarded N95 Masks Despite Empty Airports

The Transportation Security Agency stockpiled over 1.3 million N95 respirator masks instead of donating them to hospitals, ignoring Department of Homeland Security guidance and internal pushback from two agency officials, reports ProPublica.

As the number of COVID-19 cases spiked in early April, and with it, the need for protective equipment, the TSA instructed many employees to stay home but retained the mask stockpile even as airport traffic had dropped 95%.

TSA attorney Charles Kielkopf filed a whistleblower complaint Monday speaking to the agency’s substantial public health endangerment of keeping the N95s. “We don’t need them. People who are in an infectious environment need them. Nobody is flying.”

The Headlines

1. 80 per cent of New Yorkers stopped by police for social distancing violations are people of colour (The Independent)

2. There’s One Big Reason the U.S. Economy Can’t Reopen (The Atlantic)

3. U.S. Turned Down Offer To Manufacture Millions Of N95 Masks As Coronavirus Spread (HuffPost)

4. Coronavirus: The health advice that is misleading or worse (BBC)

5. ‘Every stone will be uncovered’: how Georgia officials failed the Ahmaud Arbery case (The Guardian)