Communicable diseases might not, after all, be protected by the First Amendment

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 5, 10:04 pm.
  2. May 6, 5:34 am:
    • I see some of my phrasing was unclear and inadequate. I have attempted to rectify it.
    • I can’t say if William Gumede is right or if he is wrong. He warns of a serious economic depression. He warns of authoritarianism, nationalism, and xenophobia. He does not present an argument I recognize from premises and evidence but mostly only conclusions. That said, there’s a lot going wrong in this situation and there is cause for grave concern, including that which he states, some of which is indeed already under way. His point would be that all this is getting worse.[1] And I still see absolutely no reason for optimism.

Pandemic

It appears that communicable diseases might not, after all, be protected by the First Amendment.[2] Meanwhile,

As President Trump presses states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in coronavirus infections and deaths over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1 — nearly double the current level.[3]

Aggressive moves to reopen the economy fail to account for that new strain of the novel coronavirus that may be more contagious and may be capable of infecting people who’ve already suffered the earlier strain.[4] And, in the absence of a vaccine or cure, they rely on “herd immunity,” which 1) might not exist, and 2) if it exists, may diminish over time or only be partial.[5] But hey, capitalist god, human sacrifice, all that.[6]

That said, I’m continuing to see an increase in traffic in Pittsburgh. The lockdown simply isn’t holding and I very strongly doubt it’s all poor people going back to work.

William Gumede, “The impact of coronavirus could compare to the Great Depression,” Al Jazeera, May 3, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/impact-coronavirus-compare-great-depression-200420070542882.html

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan, “As Trump Pushes to Reopen, Government Sees Virus Toll Nearly Doubling,” New York Times, May 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-death-toll.html

Sam Stanton, “Judge rejects Lodi church’s bid to resume in-person services, says California order legal,” Sacramento Bee, May 5, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article242512621.html


Gig economy

Courts are capricious, but given an existing California State Supreme Court decision,[7] I honestly don’t see how California loses its lawsuit to force Uber and Lyft to classify drivers as employees[8] under a law meant to enshrine that decision.[9]

Tim Higgins, “California Sues Uber, Lyft Saying They Misclassified Drivers as Independent Contractors,” Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-to-sue-uber-lyft-saying-they-misclassified-drivers-as-independent-contractors-11588700626


  1. [1]William Gumede, “The impact of coronavirus could compare to the Great Depression,” Al Jazeera, May 3, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/impact-coronavirus-compare-great-depression-200420070542882.html
  2. [2]Sam Stanton, “Judge rejects Lodi church’s bid to resume in-person services, says California order legal,” Sacramento Bee, May 5, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article242512621.html
  3. [3]Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan, “As Trump Pushes to Reopen, Government Sees Virus Toll Nearly Doubling,” New York Times, May 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-death-toll.html
  4. [4]Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original
  5. [5]Christie Aschwanden, “Sorry, Immunity to Covid-19 Won’t Be Like a Superpower,” Wired, April 16, 2020, https://www.wired.com/story/sorry-immunity-to-covid-19-wont-be-like-a-superpower/; David Benfell, “Don’t bet on ‘herd immunity,’” Not Housebroken, April 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/18/dont-bet-on-herd-immunity/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/; David Benfell, “I fear for our world,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/09/i-fear-for-our-world/; David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/; David Benfell, “When confusion starts killing people, it is long past time to recognize it for what it is,” Not Housebroken, April 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/21/when-confusion-starts-killing-people-it-is-long-past-time-to-recognize-it-for-what-it-is/; Joe Lowndes, “The Morbid Ideology Behind the Drive to Reopen America,” New Republic, April 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157505/morbid-ideology-behind-drive-reopen-america
  7. [7]University of California, Hastings College of the Law, “UC Hastings Professor, Academic Leaders Call for Support of AB5,” August 26, 2019, https://www.uchastings.edu/2019/08/26/uc-hastings-professor-academic-leaders-call-for-support-of-ab5/
  8. [8]Tim Higgins, “California Sues Uber, Lyft Saying They Misclassified Drivers as Independent Contractors,” Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-to-sue-uber-lyft-saying-they-misclassified-drivers-as-independent-contractors-11588700626
  9. [9]Alexia Fernández Campbell, “California is cracking down on the gig economy,” Vox, May 30, 2019, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors; Nathan Heller, “A New California Law Takes Aim at Uber and Lyft,” New Yorker, September 12, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/a-new-california-law-takes-aim-at-uber-and-lyft

Twelve years vegan

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 5, 10:50 am.
  2. May 6, 10:02 pm:
    • I should have emphasized that a study led by Los Alamos scientists identifying a potentially more contagious mutation of the novel coronavirus has not yet been peer-reviewed.[1]

Twelve years ago today, I drove up to a vegan sandwich shop in Oakland, California, ordered a sandwich made with fake meat, decided I could go vegan, and did. That shop is long gone as are, I’m sorry to say, a number of vegan restaurants that had been open as of about that time. But I remain vegan.


Pandemic

95656638_10157427907521094_8293443615053578240_o
Fig. 1. Meme from Truthout, posted on Facebook on May 3, 2020, fair use.

Yet again, classified evidence. It was manipulated with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist[2] and therefore undermined assertions that the Russians had interfered with the U.S. election in 2016.[3] Now the Trump administration is flogging[4] a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab.[5] Relying on classified evidence.[6]

Of course, no one serious will believe them. But Donald Trump’s base will. And those are the only people Trump thinks he needs to persuade.

Whatever the origin of the novel coronavirus,[7] there is, apparently, a new, more contagious mutation now in the wild. “In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, [a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory] warned.” Further, it is possible that people who have been infected with the earlier version may be susceptible to the mutated version.[8] Yay, team.
95567354_10157219184608027_5486718380159270912_n
Fig. 2. Cartoon by Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer, posted to Facebook by the Union of Concerned Scientists on May 1, 2020, fair use.

Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us

Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html

Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original


Academia

Emma Whitford, “Public Higher Ed Funding Still Has Not Recovered From 2008 Recession,” Inside Higher Ed, May 5, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/05/public-higher-education-worse-spot-ever-heading-recession


  1. [1]Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html; Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original
  2. [2]Greg Palast, “The Downing Street Memos, Manipulation of Prewar Intelligence, and Knowingly Withholding Vital Information from a Grand Jury Investigation,” in Impeach the President, eds. Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 131-142; Nancy Snow, “Propaganda, Lies, and Patriotic Jingoism,” in Impeach the President, eds. Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 143-160.
  3. [3]David A. Graham, “What Mueller’s Indictment Reveals,” Atlantic, February 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/mueller-roadmap/553604/
  4. [4]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us
  5. [5]Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  6. [6]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us
  7. [7]Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  8. [8]Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original