Memorial Day amid COVID-19

Memorial Day is supposed to be about honoring those who died in wartime service, but this year it’s hard not to focus on the unprecedented (for our lifetimes) carnage of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Sunday New York Times front page on May 24 had no photos, just six columns of text with a few words about each of 1,000 people who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s approximately 1 percent of the official U.S. fatalities, which are almost certainly underestimating the real death toll. As the headline conveyed, the scale of loss is incalculable.

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Celebrating Easter, Passover in a pandemic

Most Christians (aside from those in the Orthodox Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses) are celebrating Easter today, and Jews all over the world are in the middle of the Passover festival. But the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted holiday celebrations along with almost every other aspect of normal life.

Many Iowa houses of worship have adapted by live-streaming services or broadcasting them on radio frequencies congregants can hear from cars parked outside the building.

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Kim Reynolds' job title is governor. Not Christian faith leader

Governor Kim Reynolds has urged Iowans to “unite in prayer” today in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a proclamation presenting elements of Christian theology as fact, Reynolds declared April 9 to be a “Day of Prayer” statewide. An accompanying news release invited the public to participate in the Iowa Prayer Breakfast, which was held virtually this morning. The annual event features Christian faith leaders.

Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg appeared in their official capacity at the breakfast, via separate video links. Speaking from the state emergency operations center with the state flag and seal of Iowa visible behind her, Reynolds hailed the effort to keep “glorifying Jesus Christ through the public affirmation of His sovereignty over our state and our nation.” From the Capitol building, Gregg observed that “Christ’s love for us” will never change, even in challenging times.

A public health emergency is no excuse for elected officials to promote religion, especially not a specific faith tradition.

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Weekend open thread: Thanksgiving leftovers

All best wishes to the Bleeding Heartland community for a happy and restful Thanksgiving weekend!

If you cooked at home today, you may have some food to use up. Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee for president, is famous for making soup from the turkey carcass. Here’s his mother’s soup recipe. I’ve posted some of my favorite ways to use leftovers below.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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As labor unions decline, income inequality grows

Labor Day should be about celebrating the many successes of the labor movement. The Economic Policy Institute has found, “On average, a worker covered by a union contract earns 13.2 percent more in wages than a peer with similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector.20 This pay boost was even greater in earlier decades when more American workers were unionized.”

The percentage of U.S. workers represented by a labor union is lower now than at any point since World War II. That trend is among the factors contributing to income inequality not seen in this country since the 1920s.

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Tanks in Washington and other July 4 links

President Donald Trump has ordered a military parade and flyover in Washington, DC to celebrate Independence Day. He’s been wanting to stage this kind of display since his first year in office.

The production will cost millions of additional dollars and shut down air traffic to and from Reagan National Airport for hours. Republican donors and VIPs will get special passes to watch the festivities in a restricted area. Traditionally, all July 4 events in the nation’s capital have been free and open to the public.

The National Park Service is diverting $2.5 million “primarily intended to improve parks across the country” to cover a “fraction of the extra costs,” the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, and Dan Lamothe reported on July 2. The “entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million,” a former Park Service deputy director told the newspaper. Costs could escalate if the heavy military equipment damages streets.

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