Law and Order

Written by SK Ashby

(Cartoonist - Stuart Carlson)

In other news, another 1.5 million American filed new, initial claims for unemployment last week, indicating the economy is still shedding a lot of jobs even now after reopening.

Meanwhile, two members of the right wing "Boogaloo" movement have been charged by federal and state authorities in Las Vegas for planning to use Black Lives Matter protests as cover for their own plans to kill police and other government agents.

Finally, here's a grim, embarrassing look into the Trump regime's coronavirus contracting process that sees them paying for test tubes and receiving soda bottles instead.

Since May, the Trump administration has paid a fledgling Texas company $7.3 million for test tubes needed in tracking the spread of the coronavirus nationwide. But, instead of the standard vials, Fillakit LLC has supplied plastic tubes made for bottling soda, which state health officials say are unusable.

The state officials say that these “preforms,” which are designed to be expanded with heat and pressure into 2-liter soda bottles, don’t fit the racks used in laboratory analysis of test samples. Even if the bottles were the right size, experts say, the company’s process likely contaminated the tubes and could yield false test results. Fillakit employees, some not wearing masks, gathered the miniature soda bottles with snow shovels and dumped them into plastic bins before squirting saline into them, all in the open air, according to former employees and ProPublica’s observation of the company’s operations.

“It wasn’t even clean, let alone sterile,” said Teresa Green, a retired science teacher who worked at Fillakit’s makeshift warehouse outside of Houston for two weeks before leaving out of frustration.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency signed its first deal with Fillakit on May 7, just six days after the company was formed by an ex-telemarketer repeatedly accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. Fillakit has supplied a total of more than 3 million tubes, which FEMA then approved and sent to all 50 states. If the company fulfills its contractual obligation to provide 4 million tubes, it will receive a total of $10.16 million.

Officials in New York, New Jersey, Texas and New Mexico confirmed they can’t use the Fillakit tubes. Three other states told ProPublica that they received Fillakit supplies and have not distributed them to testing sites. FEMA has asked health officials in several states to find an alternative use for the unfinished soda bottles.

“We are still trying to identify an alternative use,” said Janelle Fleming, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health.

I had a feeling a deja vu reading this because it's exactly like FEMA's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico with contracts going out to these companies that shouldn't even be in business.