Many high achievers are also workaholics. Jason Kander was on track to be a major force in American politics. But for him, working – and succeeding – was a way to escape the pain of PTSD and depression, after his military service in Afghanistan. Kander had to step away from his career to focus on therapy and healing.
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The politics of fiscal relief is failing Americans – Financial Times
In one of its worst-ever years in peacetime, the US has been able to nurse a consolation. As badly as it handled the Covid-19 pandemic, it was quick to soften the economic effects. Fiscal relief for a shuttered economy achieved bipartisan support in March. The $2tn Cares Act — worth roughly a tenth of national output — raised unemployment benefit, offered credit to companies and shored up state governments. Given the initial defeat of the 2008 bank bailout in Congress, none of this was inevitable.
Even this solace, it seems, is shortlived. Another round of fiscal intervention is clearly necessary. Continuing hardship, a surge in infections and the re-closing of many businesses that had opened put that beyond doubt. This time, however, the politics is failing.
Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on the size or duration of another bill. Among the unseen victims in this tiff are the recipients of the extra $600 in weekly unemployment aid that passed in March. It ran out on July 31. Democrats want to extend it until the end of the year, while Republicans cite the moral hazard of disincentivising work. Democrats propose $3.4tn in total stimulus. Republicans balk at that cost.
It is not frivolous to worry about intervention on this scale. It can have distorting effects and lead to waste. A return to some semblance of normality will involve unpicking this tapestry of fiscal transfers and lines of credit. Such is the nature of the crisis, however, that politicians must for now err on the side of action. Congress debates at leisure: the human cost in lay-offs and home-evictions mounts at pace. In haggling over aid, to the unemployed for instance, the bias of lawmakers should be towards generosity, and towards speed.
Ideally, it would be enough to appeal to conscience. If this is not enough, then lawmakers should remember that the jobless rolls include many of their own voters (they are simply too large not to) and that an election is less than three months off.
As well as the domestic suffering, Congress should also heed the implications for a world economy that America helps to drive. The first bill was an international event. If it transpires, this one will be, too. Jay Powell, chosen to chair the Federal Reserve by President Donald Trump and hardly a notorious socialist, urges against premature withdrawal of government support.
It would help matters if Mr Trump took a lead. He is less of an ideological free marketeer than many of his partisan colleagues, including Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser. Tellingly, the president made sure to associate himself with the original stimulus in the Cares Act. With the presidential election in the offing, he has an interest in what is proving to be popular intervention in the economy.
Of late, though, Mr Trump’s contribution has been to suggest a cut in payroll taxes. (“What payroll?” those without jobs will ask). He also repeated insinuations on Wednesday that Democrats want to bail out states they run. The first notion is one his own side say they will not support. The second just sours the cross-partisan mood that is needed for a deal.
In the end, this unprecedented intervention will have to be paid for through some blend of tax, borrowing and cuts to spending. Politicians who dread the growth of government, or of the deficit, should certainly set out a path to a more “normal” state of fiscal affairs. In the meantime, however, a devastated economy needs their help. An often traduced Washington salvaged some of its reputation in the spring. It is close to forfeiting it all over again.
Timeline: Thailand's turbulent politics since 2014 military coup – Reuters Canada
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai protesters, led by student groups, are returning to the streets calling for the ousting of the government less than two years after a general election was held. One group has openly criticised the monarchy, in a rare show of defiance.
FILE PHOTO: Thai students protest against a court’s decision that dissolved the country’s second largest opposition Future Forward party, less than a year after an election to end direct military rule, at Mahidol University, outside Bangkok, Thailand February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File photo
Here are the major events that have led up to these protests:
May 22, 2014 – Military stages a coup, ousting an elected government for the second time in a decade, citing the need to restore order in the face of street demonstrations against a populist government linked to telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, who himself was ousted in a coup in 2006.
Oct. 13, 2016 – Constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies after a 70-year reign. His son becomes King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
April 6, 2017 – A military-backed constitution is ratified after being approved in a referendum, with changes requested by King Vajiralongkorn that increased his powers, paving the way for an election.
Feb. 7, 2019 – The king rebukes his sister, Princess Ubolratana, over a Thaksin-linked party’s nomination of her as its candidate for prime minister. The party is later dissolved by a court before the election.
March 24, 2019 – General elections held amid complaints of cheating and vote-buying. Former army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup and was then prime minister of a military government, heads a pro-army party that wins the most votes.
Nov. 20, 2019 – Court disqualifies rising opposition figure Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, from parliament prompting thousands to rally in Bangkok.
Jan. 12, 2020 – More than 12,000 people join an anti-government “Run Against Dictatorship” in the biggest show of dissent since the 2014 coup. A rival group holds a run in support of Prayuth.
Feb. 21 – Future Forward Party is banned for illegally taking a loan from its billionaire leader, Thanathorn, prompting small student protests on university campuses.
March 22 – Given restrictions to stop the novel coronavirus, student protests peter out but online criticism of government continues, with some also directing criticism at the king. The hashtag “#whydoweneedaking?” is posted more than 1 million times.
June 8 – Small protests held to call for an investigation into the disappearance of an exiled government critic in Cambodia.
June 15 – Prayuth warns political activists not to criticise the monarchy.
June 24 – Protesters gather to mark the anniversary of the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.
July 18 – About 2,500 protesters gather at Democracy Monument, one of the largest demonstrations since the coup, calling for the dissolution of parliament and new elections.
Aug. 4 – Speakers call for the monarchy’s power to be curbed at a rally attended by hundreds in Bangkok.
Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Robert Birsel
Exclusive: Fauci says regulators promise politics will not guide vaccine timing – Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. regulators have assured scientists that political pressure will not determine when a coronavirus vaccine is approved even as the White House hopes to have one ready ahead of the November presidential election, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday.
“We have assurances, and I’ve discussed this with the regulatory authorities, that they promise that they are not going to let political considerations interfere with a regulatory decision,” Dr. Fauci told Reuters in an interview.
“We’ve spoken explicitly about that, because the subject obviously comes up, and the people in charge of the regulatory process assure us that safety and efficacy is going to be the prime consideration,” he said.
President Donald Trump, a Republican, is behind Democrat Joe Biden in public opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Trump has lost ground in part due to voter concerns over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
A vaccine announcement in October could help Trump’s chances in the nationwide vote.
“I’m certain of what the White House would like to see, but I haven’t seen any indication of pressure at this point to do anything different than what we’re doing,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I mean obviously they’ve expressed: ‘Gee, it would be nice, the sooner the better.’”
Trump has suggested publicly that a vaccine could be ready long before the end of the year. In the interview Fauci offered a more conservative view, suggesting drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines in the early part of next year.
Fauci and other doctors on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including its coordinator Deborah Birx, have come under criticism from the president for portraying the pandemic in less rosy terms than he has sought to emphasize.
Trump said in a recent interview with Axios that the virus was “under control.”
Asked if he shared that assessment, Fauci said some parts of the country were more under control than others.
“We’re a big country. You can pick out some parts of the country that are looking good and you could say is under control; you could pick some parts of the country that are on fire, in the sense, I mean you’re having outbreaks that you know you don’t get 70,000 cases a day when nothing’s going on.”
More than 157,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19 and more than 4.7 million cases have been reported in the country and its territories, according to Reuters tallies.
Earlier this week the president criticized Dr. Birx for giving a sobering description of the state of the pandemic.
Fauci said the doctors try to focus on the science rather than political distractions.
“What we try to do, you know maybe some could do it better than others, is to focus like a laser on what we’re supposed to be doing: getting this epidemic under control,” he said.
Fauci said differences in the seriousness with which people had taken the virus in the United States had hampered the response to the pandemic in comparison to other countries.
“We have somewhat of a disjointed approach to things,” he said. “If we had a uniformity of it, and everybody rode together in the same boat, we probably would do much better.”
Fauci and other medical professionals have urged Americans to wear masks and maintain a social distance to prevent the spread of the virus. He lamented the fact that mask-wearing had become political earlier in the pandemic.
Trump declined to wear a mask in public for months and Vice President Mike Pence faced criticism for not wearing one when he visited the Mayo Clinic in April.
“Thank goodness that’s changed,” Fauci said. “I’m very pleased now that we’re seeing the vice president consistently wearing a mask, the president tweeting that you should be wearing masks. That’s a good thing. That’s a step in the right direction.”
Video: Reuters interview with Anthony Fauci here
Reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington and Michael Erman in New Jersey; Editing by Howard Goller
Media Beat: August 06, 2020 | FYIMusicNews – FYI Music News
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