Aug 312020
 


Bruce Davidson Iran 1964

 

Japanese Wear Face Masks, But The Main Reason Is Just To Fit In (Asahi)
US Floats Idea Of Early Approval For Eventual COVID19 Vaccine (ST)
Moderna Neglected To Disclose Pentagon’s Financial Support (ZH)
On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won (Mish)
Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)
DNI Ratcliffe Declassifying More Russia-Collusion, Media-Leak Documents (ZH)
China’s Mega Banks Lost Billions Of Dollars In Profit As Bad Loans Rise (CNBC)
Erdogan Criticizes Greece As Turkey Marks 1922 Victory (K.)
Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)
Rampant Destruction Of Forests ‘Will Unleash More Pandemics’ (O.)

 

 

US new daily cases look promising, but total cases passed 6 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upward mobility

 

 

Seeing all those people walk outside with masks on, makes me wonder why we can’t inform them better. Wouldn’t that benefit everyone? If they get that wrong, what else don’t they understand?

Japanese Wear Face Masks, But The Main Reason Is Just To Fit In (Asahi)

Japanese people have taken to wearing face masks during the pandemic, but the main reason for doing so has more to do with going along with others than preventing the coronavirus from spreading, a new study says. Peer pressure emerged as the dominant factor for wearing face masks amid the health crisis in Japan, according to the results of a survey administered by academics. A research group headed by Kazuya Nakayachi, a professor at Doshisha University’s Faculty of Psychology, published its findings in the Swiss scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology on Aug. 4. “Wearing masks is recommended to stop the virus from spreading to others, but our research suggests wearers rarely use masks for that purpose,” Nakayachi said.


“Most of them simply want to don masks just because others do.” The researchers surveyed 1,000 Japanese citizens online in March about how often and why they wear face coverings. The survey found that most people wear the protective gear, even though masks offer the wearers themselves limited protection. The results show a majority of respondents, or 51.2 percent, said they “usually” wear masks amid the pandemic, followed by 31.4 percent who said they “sometimes” wear them. Only 17.4 percent said they do “not at all” wear masks.

Read more …

Promises, promises.

US Floats Idea Of Early Approval For Eventual COVID19 Vaccine (ST)

The head of the US Food and Drug Administration raised the possibility in an interview published on Sunday (Aug 30) that a future vaccine against the coronavirus might be given emergency approval before the end of trials designed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. A request for such extraordinary approval would have to come from the vaccine developer, Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three,” which involves large-scale human testing, “we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.” But Hahn insisted he was not acting under pressure from President Donald Trump, who has been pushing hard for a vaccine, saying one might be ready before the Nov 3 elections.


“This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision,” Hahn said. “This is not going to be a political decision.” Three Western drugs makers are well along with their Phase 3 clinical trials, involving tens of thousands of participants. The three are AstraZeneca, which is partnering with Oxford University in England; Moderna, collaborating with the US National Institutes of Health, and the Pfizer/BioNTech alliance. By the nature of the trials it is difficult to predict when reliable results will emerge.

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I think this is what we would call a racket.

Moderna Neglected To Disclose Pentagon’s Financial Support (ZH)

Before the mainstream media transfigures Moderna founder and CEO Stephane Bancel into a corporate savior on par with Bill Gates, we’d like to remind investors (and the public) that Moderna and its insiders have demonstrated an eyebrow-raising affinity for pumping the stock with over-hyped press releases then cashing in shares or warrants (all insider stock sales were pre-scheduled divestitures, the insiders’ lawyers have argued). Despite receiving nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money via “Operation Warp Speed”, the drugmaker is planning to charge as much as $37 for a single dose, or up to $60 for two courses, of its experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. That’s far and away the highest price point disclosed yet.

And while we wait for more detailed data from the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials, patent advocacy group KEI is taking Moderna and its executives to task for neglecting to disclose government funding received by the company during its early stages, before the coronavirus pandemic. Despite receiving $25 million from the Department of Defense’s “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” – or “Darpa” – Moderna has never disclosed this, or any other, government funding in its applications for 126 patents and 154 patent applications. KEI has lodged a request with the DoD and Darpa to remedy this in patents.

As KEI points out, Moderna’s “failure” to disclose its government funding could have serious consequences for Americans hoping to get their hands on an affordable vaccine. The disclosures could affect everything from the US government’s worldwide royalty free license, to the public’s march-in rights, to obligations to make inventions available to the public on reasonable terms. When approached by the FT, Darpa confirmed that Moderna was required in its contracts to disclose the funding in any patent applications that stemmed from research that the US government helped fund.

Now, Darpa is actively looking into which Moderna patents may have been produced with Darpa support, so the US government can take credit where credit is due. “It appears that all past and present Darpa awards to Moderna include the requirement to report the role of government-funding for related inventions,” Darpa spokesman Jared Adams said in an emailed response to the Financial Times. “Further, Darpa is actively researching agency awards to Moderna to identify which patents and pending patents, if any at all, may be associated with Darpa support,” he said. Mr Adams declined to comment further, saying the investigation was continuing. US federal law required government funding to be disclosed in these circumstances, he noted.

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Because Trump voters vote in person and Dems don’t, on election night itself it may look like a large Trump victory. But then….

I’m not sure why Mish says: “Prepare for Trump to Claim Biden Stole the Election”. Is that more likely than Biden making that claim about Trump?

On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won (Mish)

An NBC/WSJ Poll on expected mail-in votes might cause some very misleading if not totally inaccurate reporting on who is in the lead depending on when mail-in votes get counted: “Supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden are significantly more likely than Trump backers to say they plan to vote by mail. Nearly half – 47 percent – say they plan to mail in their ballot, with an additional 21 percent saying they will cast a vote before Election Day at an early in-person voting site. Only about a quarter of Biden voters, 26 percent, plan to vote on Election Day at a polling place. In contrast, two-thirds of Trump’s voters — 66 percent — say they will vote in person on Election Day. Just 11 percent say they plan to vote by mail, and 20 percent say they will vote early in person”.

Due to the above, FiveThirtyEight notes the Consequences Might Be Weird: “If this holds, it would mean votes cast on Election Day would skew heavily toward Trump, and votes cast by mail would skew heavily toward Biden. This has serious implications for … well, democracy. First, Trump could argue the mail ballots (which, remember, could account for most of Biden’s votes) were fraudulent and thus should not be counted. Although it’s unlikely they’d actually be thrown out, this would damage the credibility of the election in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Second, it could mean the first votes counted on election night will be disproportionately good for Trump, who might claim victory based on incomplete returns. It might not be until days later, after a good chunk of the Democratic-leaning mail vote is counted, that Biden pulls ahead.

Let’s do a quick-and-dirty exercise to show what I mean. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll overall, Biden led Trump by 9 percentage points among registered voters. But Biden led Trump by 63 points (!) among voters who planned to vote by mail, and Trump led Biden by 33 points among voters who planned to vote in person on Election Day. If this kind of partisan split occurred in every state, Biden would win the mail vote in all 50 states — from Alabama to Wyoming — and Trump would win the Election Day vote in all 50.”

The above scenario in all 50 states isn’t likely, but it is likely in some states. The election day results could easily swing Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and that could swing the election night apparent winner. Trump will howl and his supporters will believe him. Some of my friends believe Trump will refuse to stand down, but I am sure it would not come to that. A bluff in that direction, however, is another matter. Chaos could last for days or even weeks in such a scenario with severe consequences on the stock market as well as potential riots which Trump would then try to pin on Biden.

Read more …

Shift.

Trump Approval Rises Among Black, Hispanic Voters (Hill)

President Trump’s support among black voters rose 9 percentage points amid the Republican National Convention, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Twenty-four percent of registered black voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey, which included the first two days of the convention, said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 76 percent said they disapprove. That is up 9 points from the previous survey conducted Aug. 8-11, where the President received 15 percent support among this group. The survey found support among Hispanic voters also grew by 2 percentage points, from 30 percent in the last poll to 32 percent in this most recent survey. Forty-four percent of overall registered voters in the Aug. 22-25 survey approved of Trump’s job as president, a 1 percentage point dip from the last poll.


Eighty-two percent of Republican voters approve of Trump, a 1 point increase from the last poll, while 18 percent disapprove. Eighty-seven percent of Democratic voters disapprove of Trump along with 64 percent of independent voters. The survey found the president remains underwater with suburban voters and urban voters, at 42 percent support each. His support remains steady among rural voters, at 53 percent. Thursday, Trump officially accepted the 2020 Republican presidential nomination during the last night of the RNC. The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,861 registered voters between Aug. 22-25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.83 percentage points.

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Leaking secret docs to the press has become far too normal.

DNI Ratcliffe Declassifying More Russia-Collusion, Media-Leak Documents (ZH)

John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he has been coordinating with US Attorney John Durham and plans to soon declassify more documents related to the Trump-Russia probe. “I pledged to a bipartisan group of senators that I would look at all of the underlying intelligence surrounding the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s interference and this idea of Trump-Russia collusion, but I’m not going to prejudice John Durham’s work in connection with that, so we’ve had to coordinate with his office about the timing of that. But I’m optimistic that I’ll be declassifying additional documents soon.”

As a reminder, Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into several aspects of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities against Trump associates. Ratcliffe went on, referring to Durham’s review of the investigation: “He’s looking at the same documents that I am,” “He’s not sharing his findings or the work that he’s doing. But I’m coordinating with him to make sure that he has the intelligence documents that he needs to do his work. And what I don’t want to do is declassify something that might prejudice his work. So we’re going to have to coordinate as we go forward with the completion of his work with my ability to declassify documents.”

Additionally, Ratcliffe, said Sunday he has filed multiple “crimes reports” regarding alleged leaks of classified information to the media. “When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report. I’ve done that now on a number of occasions, and so those investigations are moving forward.” He said that the leaks were “for political purposes” to create what he said is a false narrative “that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

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“The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments..”

China’s Mega Banks Lost Billions Of Dollars In Profit As Bad Loans Rise (CNBC)

China’s five largest banks reported their biggest profit declines in at least a decade as they brace for further increases in bad loans in an economy weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. The five lenders — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and Bank of Communications — released their latest financial report cards last week. All five posted at least 10% year-on-year declines in profit for the first half of 2020 as they set aside more funds for potential loan losses in the coming months — much like many banks around the world. “The banks have been asked to … perform ‘national service.’

They’ve been asked to support the economy at the expense of their own operational strength,” said Jason Tan, research analyst at CreditSights, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. Chinese banks, among the world’s largest by assets, have been placed at the front line of the government’s effort to soften the economic blow on households and businesses. Authorities in Beijing reportedly asked financial institutions to sacrifice 1.5 trillion yuan ($219 billion) in profits this year to help companies by lowering lending rates and deferring repayments on loans. The Chinese economy — the world’s second largest — is expected to grow just 1% this year as measures to contain the coronavirus hit global economic activity, according to the IMF.


That would be China’s weakest growth in at least 40 years, according to data by the fund. China, the first country to be hit by the fast-spreading coronavirus, has shown some signs of economic recovery. But the effect of the economic slowdown on banks have not materialized fully, said Tan. “The brunt of the asset quality pressures might not have come through yet because of the still existing moratorium on the repayment of loans as well as its interest payments,” he explained. “So, these will probably come in the second half, if not in the first half of 2021 when the moratorium lifts in March 2021,” he added.

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Are Merkel and the EU just waiting for the shooting to start? Ironic that Erdogan ignored, if not insulted, Kemal Ataturk when he made the Hagia Sophia a mosque, but now lays a wreath at his tomb.

Erdogan Criticizes Greece As Turkey Marks 1922 Victory (K.)

Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the decisive War of Independence battle against Greek forces Sunday as the threat of a new conflict with Athens looms in the eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey’s struggle for independence and future continues today as well,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a message to commemorate Victory Day. “It is absolutely not a coincidence that those who seek to exclude us from the eastern Mediterranean are the same invaders as the ones who attempted to invade our homeland a century ago.” In recent weeks, Turkish and Greek forces have engaged in a series of cat-and-mouse military exercises in the seas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.

The confrontation was sparked when Turkey sent a research vessel accompanied by warships to search for gas and oil reserves. Greece, a member of the European Union, claims the waters are part of its continental shelf and has enlisted the support of the 27-nation bloc, which has condemned Turkey’s “illegal activities” and warned of potential sanctions against Ankara. Turkey says Greece and others are denying its rights to explore for energy resources in the Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus have recently been joined by France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates in carrying out naval and aerial war games in the region. On Saturday, Turkey began its own military maneuvers until Sept. 11 off its southern coast.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry also released cockpit footage of what it said were Turkish jets in mock dogfights with Greek F-16s between Crete and Cyprus. “No one should have any doubts about our resolve in this matter and our unshakeable belief in victory,” Erdogan said. In an interview with broadcaster AHaber on Saturday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greece extending its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles would be a “cause for war.” Earlier this week, Athens announced plans to extend its maritime border with Italy to 12 nautical miles. Erdogan laid a wreath at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara later Sunday. Ataturk led the Turkish troops in the independence struggle following World War I and went on to establish modern Turkey.

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Cancel culture wherever you look.

Assange Travesty Continues (Craig Murray)

The travesty that is Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes fully on 7 September at the Old Bailey. I shall be abandoning my own legal team and going down to London to cover it again in full, for an expected three weeks. How this is going to work at the Old Bailey, I do not know. Covid restrictions presumably mean that the numbers in the public gallery will be tiny. As of now, there is no arrangement for Julian’s friends and family in place. It looks like 4am queuing is in prospect. By 7 September it will be six months since I applied to resume my membership of the National Union of Journalists. I STILL have not the slightest idea who objected, or what the grounds were for objection. I have not heard from the NUJ for months.

A senior official of an international journalists’ organisation has told us that he inquired, and learnt that the NUJ national executive has considered my application and set up a sub-committee to report. But if so, why is this secret, why have I not been informed, and why am I not allowed to know what the objection is? I find this all very sinister. At this stage it is not paranoid to wonder whose hand is behind this. The practical effect of this is that without NUJ membership I cannot access a Press card, and avail myself of whatever media arrangements are in place for the Assange hearing (just as I was kept out of most of the Salmond trial). I have now reached the stage where I would like to take legal action against the NUJ, but the finances are beyond me.

I am not going to ask you to donate because we are going to need all our resources for the contempt case against me, which the Crown drags out. I shall be writing next week about my own case and that hearing earlier this week. I would just note now that the “virtual hearing” is entirely unsatisfactory and unfair on defendants. There was at least one occasion when my QC agreed with a suggestion of the judge when I would have instructed them not to had I been, as I should normally have been, seated near them in court and able to instruct.

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Yes, forest destruction is terrible, but you can’t link it to COVID19, because we don’t know where it comes from. You’re just destroying a perfectly viable argument.

Rampant Destruction Of Forests ‘Will Unleash More Pandemics’ (O.)

Scientists are to warn world leaders that increasing numbers of deadly new pandemics will afflict the planet if levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss continue at their current catastrophic rates. A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19. Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.


Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population. “There are now a whole raft of activities – illegal logging, clearing and mining – with associated international trades in bushmeat and exotic pets that have created this crisis,” said Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation at Duke University. “In the case of Covid-19, it has cost the world trillions of dollars and already killed almost a million people, so clearly urgent action is needed.” It is estimated that tens of millions of hectares of rainforest and other wild environments are being bulldozed every year to cultivate palm trees, farm cattle, extract oil and provide access to mines and mineral deposits. This leads to the widespread destruction of vegetation and wildlife that are hosts to countless species of viruses and bacteria, most unknown to science. Those microbes can then accidentally infect new hosts, such as humans and domestic livestock.

Read more …

 

 

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All good things are wild and free.

– Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 162020
 


Irving Underhill Irving Trust Building, Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York 1931

 

‘Over Half’ Of Trial Participants Had Adverse Reactions To Moderna Vaccine (JTN)
Obesity May Stack the Deck for COVID-19 Risk (WebMD)
Victoria Gov’t Refuses To Say How Many Health Workers Have COVID19 (G.)
Italy’s Call For Urgent Help Was Ignored As Virus Swept Through Europe (G.)
Hackers Convinced Twitter Employee to Help Them Hijack Accounts
Twitter Silences Some Top Accounts After Internal Systems Hacked (R.)
Twitter Hack Is A Nightmare Not Just For Twitter (BV)
Delta’s Passenger Revenue -94%. How it Plans to Stay Alive (WS)
Adam Schiff Just Can’t Stop Lying (Roger Stone)
“They Always Do It Within 24 to 48 Hours” – Sidney Powell (GP)
Ghislaine Maxwell Is Married, Refuses To Name Spouse (G.)
Cleaners Remove Banksy Artwork From London Tube Train (BBC)
Indigenous Group Accidentally Blows Up Rio Tinto’s Headquarters (Chaser)

 

 

The most disturbing thing about the Twitter hacks may not even be how easy it is to break into the company and take control over many things, but that, as screenshots show, Twitter very much DOES appear to have the power to shadow ban etc. accounts. And that is not what @jack told Congress.

 

 

Both the US and the world come up just short of new records. But there are rumblings about manipulated and inflated Florida numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moderna

 

 

So much for a rapid vaccine: “..they intend to follow participants “for 1 year after the second vaccination..”

‘Over Half’ Of Trial Participants Had Adverse Reactions To Moderna Vaccine (JTN)

A highly anticipated clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine managed in part by the American drug company Moderna has resulted in some adverse effects in more than half of the trial’s participants, with one test group reporting “severe” symptoms. The trial, which is also being sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, administered the vaccine “as a 0.5-ml injection in the deltoid muscle” in two shots spaced about one month apart. Two separate groups received 25-microgram and 100-microgram doses, respectively. A third group with a 250-microgram dose was subsequently added. The vaccine “induced anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all participants,” the research team reported Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers said that “no trial-limiting safety concerns were identified.” Yet a majority of participants still reported at least one side effect. “Solicited adverse events that occurred in more than half the participants included fatigue, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site,” the report states. Fever, joint pain and nausea were also reported. Side effects grew more common with more (and larger) injections, the scientists write: “Systemic adverse events were more common after the second vaccination, particularly with the highest dose, and three participants (21%) in the 250 microgram dose group reported one or more severe adverse events.”

Notably, every participant in the two larger-dose groups reported adverse reactions after their second injections. One study participant in the smallest-dose group, meanwhile, was removed due to having developed hives after the first round of injections. The scientists said that due to the ongoing status of the project, they are not yet “able to assess the durability of the immune responses” generated by the vaccine, but that they intend to follow participants “for 1 year after the second vaccination” and examine regular blood samples to monitor the vaccine’s effects.

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Overall big risk. As is smoking, which also returns as a major COVID risk.

Obesity May Stack the Deck for COVID-19 Risk (WebMD)

Stephen O’Rahilly recently spent a week in a hospital, sick with COVID-19 and struggling to breathe. “My lungs were quite badly affected,” says O’Rahilly, 62, who spent almost a week getting extra oxygen in what’s known as a high-intensity care unit in the U.K. The experience got him thinking: While about 80% of cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home, why do some people, including him, wind up with more severe infections? Besides his age, O’Rahilly knew he had another strike against him when it comes to COVID-19 infection: his weight. His BMI, or body mass index, is over 30. O’Rahilly, who directs the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit at Cambridge University, is considered one of the world’s leading obesity researchers.

He was knighted in 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II for his work, which includes the discovery of a genetic condition that robs the body of the hormone leptin, which controls appetite and weight. And so after his brush with the coronavirus, he started digging into exactly what it is about obesity that makes it so risky for a COVID-19 infection. It has become clearer that people who are obese are one of the groups at highest risk from the disease, regardless of their age. The CDC recently refined its risk categories for COVID-19, stating that obesity was as big a risk for COVID as having a suppressed immune system or chronic lung or kidney disease. The agency also lowered the bar for where that risk starts — from a BMI of 40 to a BMI of 30. Roughly 40% of Americans have a BMI over 30.

The CDC’s change in BMI risk comes after a British study of more than 17 million people found that people living with severe obesity were about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as people who were not obese. That was true even after other things like their age and sex were taken into account. The study also found that risk rises with the degree of obesity. The bigger a person, the higher their risk of a COVID-19 death. [O’Rahilly] he thinks the risk comes from the fact that fat makes and regulates hormones. For example, people who are obese make more of something called “complement” proteins. These proteins can trigger out-of-control blood clotting, which is a problem in patients with severe COVID-19.

People with obesity also have lower blood levels of a hormone called adiponectin. Recent studies in mice show that adiponectin protects the lungs. O’Rahilly thinks that if you have lower levels to begin with, you may be more likely to have lung inflammation during an infection like COVID-19. Adiponectin also helps keep blood vessels clean and open. So if the insides of your blood vessels are sticky, and a virus causes your immune system to go haywire and create more blood clots, that sets the stage for blockages. These blockages can cause heart attacks, strokes, and lung damage — all problems seen in COVID-19 patients. To compound the problem, people with obesity appear to have more ACE2 receptors on their cells than others. ACE2 receptors are the doors the virus uses to infect cells and then make more copies of itself.

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Oh, why not, you’re at the other end of the world anyway.

Victoria Gov’t Refuses To Say How Many Health Workers Have COVID19 (G.)

The Victorian government has refused to answer questions about hospital surge capacity or the number of healthcare workers and medical institutions coping with outbreaks of Covid-19, with hundreds of health staff now in precautionary quarantine due to potential exposure to the virus. An email from the chief executive of Victoria’s largest public health service, Monash Health, said 77 staff across the service were in precautionary quarantine following three potential sources of exposure. Infections have been found in five employees. Monash Health services a quarter of the state. “We must use this opportunity to reinforce processes, to make sure that we all understand them, and are doing what we need to do to stay safe,” the email said, urging staff to use protective gear properly and undertake frequent infection risk assessments.


Meanwhile, 14 staff from St Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne are recovering from the virus, an email sent from the chief executive to staff on Thursday said. The emergency and general medical departments of the hospital are undergoing deep cleaning following “potential exposures,” the email said. All emergency staff have undergone testing. There are 10 inpatients with Covid-19 at the hospital. The email said “a small number of emergency department staff” had contracted the virus, so precautions were being taken. There had also been a potential exposure in the intensive care ward, the email said. Contact tracing is underway and several intensive care and general medical team staff are now in isolation. As of Thursday, 70 staff associated with the Royal Melbourne Hospital were also in precautionary quarantine, with 12 positive staff and 48 inpatients with the virus. The ABC has confirmed Melbourne’s Northern Health has 142 staff in self-isolation.

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EU has zero power, and zero decision-making process.

Italy’s Call For Urgent Help Was Ignored As Virus Swept Through Europe (G.)

It was a moment of chilling clarity. On 26 February, with the numbers of Italians known to be infected by coronavirus tripling every 48 hours, the country’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, appealed to fellow EU member states for help. His hospitals were overwhelmed. Italian doctors and nurses had run out of the masks, gloves and aprons they needed to keep themselves safe, and medics were being forced to play God with the lives of the critically-ill due to an acute lack of ventilators. An urgent message was passed from Rome to the European commission’s Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels. The specifications of Italy’s needs were uploaded into the EU’s Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS). But what happened next came as a shock. The distress call was met with silence.

“No member state responded to Italy’s request and to the commission’s call for help,” said Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner responsible for crisis management. “Which meant that not only is Italy is not prepared … Nobody is prepared … The lack of response to the Italian request was not so much a lack of solidarity. It was a lack of equipment.” It was as millions of Europeans prepared for their New Year’s Eve celebrations that officials in the Stockholm office of the EU public health agency, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), first received notice of a cluster of pneumonia cases in China of unknown origin. Established in 2005 in reaction to the Sars outbreak two years before, the ECDC offers scientific advice. It can do no more.

Responsibility for health remains entirely with the national governments of the EU, and not in the European commission or its agencies. Despite its limitations, the ECDC’s job is to look to the full European horizon, and call the alarm whether capitals listen or not. The agency gave its first threat assessment on 9 January, the body’s director Dr Andrea Ammon recalled. “At that time, the notion [was] most of the cases were linked to this live animal market [in the Chinese city of Wuhan]”, she told the Guardian. “Roughly two weeks later it turned out it is human to human transmission which of course changes what you need to do”. The initial concern was how to keep the disease outside the EU’s borders. On 17 January a first coronavirus conference call was held by another EU body born out of previous health crises – but again lacking the powers retained by the national governments.

[..] The stark reality was that in the months and years before coronavirus arrived in Europe, stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) had dwindled. Emergency supplies of masks had expired, been destroyed and never replaced. Pandemic preparedness plans were out of date. “Several European countries had a strategic stock of masks that were outdated … Most of them were just destroyed,” said one scientific adviser. France held 1.7bn protective masks in 2011, but now had only 117m. Between January and March this year it incinerated 1.5m. In 2017, Belgium ordered the destruction of 38m masks and they were never replaced. No one, it appeared, had a hold on what was out there. Up until 23 February, flights carrying donations of PPE were leaving Europe for China in the hope of containing the virus there. But the unpalatable truth was that Europe itself was exposed.

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Hmmm…looks like@jack lied to Congress.

“Alleged leaked pictures from the Twitter admin control panel that was compromised showcase the buttons ‘Trends Blacklist’ and ‘Search Blacklist’, indicating Twitter DOES have the ability to shadowban its users.”

What is Congress going to do about that?

Hackers Convinced Twitter Employee to Help Them Hijack Accounts

A Twitter insider was responsible for a wave of high profile account takeovers on Wednesday, according to leaked screenshots obtained by Motherboard and two sources who took over accounts. On Wednesday, a spike of high profile accounts including those of Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Uber, and Apple tweeted cryptocurrency scams in an apparent hack. “We used a rep that literally done all the work for us,” one of the sources told Motherboard. The second source added they paid the Twitter insider. Motherboard granted the sources anonymity to speak candidly about a security incident. A Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard that the company is still investigating whether the employee hijacked the accounts themselves or gave hackers access to the tool.

The accounts were taken over using an internal tool at Twitter, according to the sources, as well as screenshots of the tool obtained by Motherboard. One of the screenshots shows the panel and the account of Binance; Binance is one of the accounts that hackers took over today. According to screenshots seen by Motherboard, at least some of the accounts appear to have been compromised by changing the email address associated with them using the tool. In all, four sources close to or inside the underground hacking community provided Motherboard with screenshots of the user tool. Two sources said the Twitter panel was also used to change ownership of some so-called OG accounts—accounts that have a handle consisting of only one or two characters—as well as facilitating the tweeting of the cryptocurrency scams from the high profile accounts.

Twitter has been deleting some screenshots of the panel and has suspended users who have tweeted them, claiming that the tweets violate its rules. The panel is a stark example of the issue of insider data access at tech companies. Whereas in other cases hackers have bribed workers to leverage tools over individual users, in this case the access has led to takeovers of some of the biggest accounts on the social media platform and tweeted bitcoin related scams in an effort to generate income. The screenshots show details about the target user’s account, such as whether it has been suspended, is permanently suspended, or has protected status. One of the screenshots is a Twitter user posting images of the panel themselves. At the time of writing that account has been suspended.

Data breach monitoring and prevention service Under The Breach obtained a similar screenshot and tweeted it as the worker hijacked several accounts. The person in control of the Under The Breach account told Motherboard Twitter then removed the tweet with the screenshot and suspended them for 12 hours. A message replacing the tweet now says it violated the Twitter rules.

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Most are back up.

Twitter Silences Some Top Accounts After Internal Systems Hacked (R.)

Twitter said hackers accessed its internal systems to hijack some of the platform’s top voices including U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former U.S. President Barack Obama and billionaire Elon Musk and used them to solicit digital currency. Twitter said employees with access to its internal systems had been successfully targeted by hackers who “used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf.” “We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the company said.


Twitter temporarily took the extraordinary step of preventing for several hours at least some verified accounts from publishing messages altogether. It said it would restore access only when it was certain it could do so securely. Publicly available blockchain records show the apparent scammers received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey earlier said the company was diagnosing the problem and pledged to share “everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.” “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened,” he said in a tweet. Shares in the social media company tumbled almost 5% in trading after the market close before paring their losses.

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“Twitter’s average monetizable daily active users hit 166 million in the first quarter, an almost 25% increase.”

Twitter Hack Is A Nightmare Not Just For Twitter (BV)

A hack of prominent Twitter accounts is a nightmare for more than just the social network itself. Fake tweets soliciting digital currency on Wednesday from figures like Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden mean Twitter’s cybersecurity costs will rise. But if that’s all that happens, founder Jack Dorsey can count himself lucky. Posts on the social network have the potential to move markets, or worse. The intrusion was severe enough that Twitter locked down so-called verified accounts – its label for those owned by high-profile people. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former President Barack Obama and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos were among those that had appeared to solicit bitcoins from other users – saying that whatever was given would be doubled by them and returned. It sent Twitter’s stock down by almost 4% in after-market trading.

For investors in tech companies, a major hacking incident usually means one thing: higher costs. Twitter’s expenses already rose nearly 20% in the first quarter of the year, resulting in an operating loss of $7 million compared to a profit of $94 million a year earlier. Ideally, that’s offset by a reduced risk of future embarrassing events. The scam, though, could have been worse. Tweets from business leaders can move markets. Then there’s President Donald Trump, who uses the platform to announce new policies – and communicate with, or about, other world leaders. It’s not hard to see how a fake tweet could send markets reeling, or even pose a national security risk.

So what can be done? Users with public profiles could start behaving differently online, even if Trump doesn’t. The company, like other social media networks, benefits from having highly active celebrity users, and Covid-19 has actually proved good for business. Twitter’s average monetizable daily active users hit 166 million in the first quarter, an almost 25% increase. Fewer prominent tweeters could impact that trend, and hurt ad revenue. And if users don’t proceed with caution, regulators could also step in. Expect law enforcement agencies, and Congress, to want to know more about Twitter’s security processes. The social network could even emerge stronger for the scrutiny. The world, as well as the company’s investors, should hope it does.

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There go the jobs.

Delta’s Passenger Revenue -94%. How it Plans to Stay Alive (WS)

Delta Airlines confirmed today why Warren Buffett dumped his huge stake in mid-crash: Airlines are in an existential crisis, and there is no V-shaped recovery, according to Delta’s earnings report for the second quarter this morning, which was beyond dismal. There were the huge losses. In the quarter ended June 30, Delta booked a pretax loss of $7.01 billion and an after-tax net loss of $5.72 billion. That translates into a loss of $9.01 a share. These losses include $2.1 billion in write-downs of its stakes in Latam Airlines and Aeromexico, both of which filed for bankruptcy in the US recently, and in Virgin Atlantic Airways, which may go into “administration” in the UK.

Then there were the revenues, with a breath-taking plunge:
• Passenger revenue – which last year was 90% of total revenues – collapsed by 94% year-over-year to just $678 million.
• Its highly profitable business cabin and other premium sales (usually over 1/3 of total revenues): -95%.
• Revenues, domestic flights -93%; Atlantic -97%; Latin America -98%; Pacific -95%.
• Cargo revenue: -42% to just $108 million.
• “Other revenues” (loyalty programs, its own refinery, etc.): -31% to $682 million.
• Total revenues: -88%, to $1.47 billion, from $12.5 billion a year ago

So Delta is shrinking into “a smaller, more efficient airline,” and is shedding its older less efficient planes this year, including all of its ancient MD-88, MD-90, plus its 777 and 737-700 fleets, and portions of its 767-300ER and A320 fleets. Shedding these planes comes with shedding the people that fly them and take care of them. Today, Delta said it would “proactively manage headcount and rescale operations” via “voluntary separation and early retirement programs.” In late June, Delta said it would send WARN notices to nearly 20% of its pilots, notifying them of potential furloughs. On October 1, the layoff restrictions attached to the bailout funds expire, and then the involuntary layoffs can commence.

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Let Stone talk for a minute. He has as much right as anyone else.

Adam Schiff Just Can’t Stop Lying (Roger Stone)

On Dec. 10, 2017 Schiff once again stated, “We have all of these facts in chronology, you’d have to believe that these were all isolated incidents, not connected to each other — just doesn’t make rational sense … We do know this: the Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help, the Russians gave help and the president made full use of that help. That is pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.” Again, the Trump campaign accepted and made use of nothing. But don’t interrupt little Adam Schiff when he’s on a rhetorical roll. Schiff stated on Feb. 7, 2018 that there was “certainly a lot of evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He added, “In terms of ethical violations and acting against the interest of the United States, that evidence is already ample and in the public view.”

Again, the congressman from West Hollywood has produced evidence of no such thing. In what appeared to be a direct reversal, Schiff appeared on ABC’s “The View” on March 1, 2018. He refused to cite any specific evidence the panel he co-chaired had found that proved that the Trump campaign “colluded” with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Yet on April 15, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Schiff made a point to say that it was “simply not true” that there had been no evidence the 2016 presidential campaign for Donald Trump colluded with Russia. Schiff, the ever-hopeful wannabe star, continued making headlines such as this one on April 27, 2018: “ADAM SCHIFF ANNOUNCES DEMOCRATS HAVE EVIDENCE OF TRUMP/RUSSIA COLLUSION.” The story quoted Schiff: “In fact, we found evidence of collusion in the abundant secret meetings and communications between Trump campaign officials and associates.”

None of this of course even touches on his ridiculous antics during the Ukrainian impeachment hoax where Schiff once again got caught lying about contact with the so-called “whistleblower.” Now, incredibly, Schiff is trying to fan the embers of the Russian collusion delusion one more time. One thing is abundantly clear. If Robert Mueller and his minions had any proof whatsoever that I worked with Russian intelligence to steal and disseminate data from the democrats, they most certainly would have charged me with it. If Mueller and his henchmen had any evidence that I had received documents from WikiLeaks and passed them on to the Trump campaign, they would have charged me with that. In fact, if Mueller and his 12 angry Democrats had any proof beyond the plea bargain-induced uncorroborated claims of convicted liars Michael Cohen and Rick Gates that I ever even spoke to Donald Trump about WikiLeaks, they surely would have indicted me on that charge and would have used it to impeach the president.

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It’s not Bill Barr, it’s her.

“They Always Do It Within 24 to 48 Hours” – Sidney Powell (GP)

General Michael Flynn was lied to, set up multiple times before and after the Trump inauguration, excessively and to the point of illegally unmasked, targeted, ambushed in the White House, falsely accused, threatened with his son being indicted, provided corrupt legal counsel (the same firm where corrupt Obama former AG Eric Holder works), harassed for 3 years, belittled, slandered, besmirched by the judge, harassed by the judge, and then the attorneys going after him were the same attorneys who represented the corrupt Sally Yates who lied and told President Trump General Flynn lied.

The government reviewed General Flynn’s case and determined it never should have occurred. When the government and Flynn’s attorneys, including Sidney Powell, went to the court to have the case thrown out, the judge overseeing the case wouldn’t do it. Next the government and Powell went to the DC Circuit court to have the case thrown out and the Circuit Court two weeks ago ordered Judge Sullivan to do so. This interview discusses the entire case from Sidney Powell’s perspective and the current status of this corrupt case not being thrown out by this corrupted judge. At the 1:30 mark in the video the following exchange occurs:

Jan Jekielek: The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has basically said, has ordered Judge Sullivan to close the case and I think he had 24 hours to do so and he didn’t do it, so what’s going on? Where we at here?

Sidney Powell: Well they don’t really put a time limit on the order but I can’t say in my decades of practice, and we’re not going to number those, that I’ve ever seen a judge not do what he was told to do by what’s called a ‘writ of mandamus’ or extraordinary writ order directly from the Circuit Court of Appeals to do something. They always do it within 24 to 48 hours. I just haven’t seen that happen with the possible exception of one case way back when I had to get a writ of mandamus against a Federal District Judge twice in the same case. Now we are certainly hoping that doesn’t have to happen here and that the order will be signed shortly. Because he’s not party to the case. That doesn’t mean the full court can’t review the case on its own but it would be unprecedented to do so in these circumstances.

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Let’s go crazier. Anyway, no bail for her, which would have set up a storm.

Ghislaine Maxwell Is Married, Refuses To Name Spouse (G.)

The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who faces federal charges in Manhattan for allegedly enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of minor girls, is married, prosecutors said during a court proceeding. Prosecutors made the revelation on Tuesday when arguing that Maxwell should be detained pending trial. Maxwell, who had asked for release on a $5m bond co-signed by six people, was ultimately denied bail. Maxwell pleaded not guilty to the charges. They also said Maxwell had “declined” to identify her spouse to court officials. “In addition to failing to describe in any way the absence of proposed co-signers of a bond, the defendant also makes no mention whatsoever about the financial circumstances or assets of her spouse whose … identity she declined to provide to pretrial services,” assistant US attorney Alison Moe told Judge Alison Nathan.

“There is no information about who will be co-signing this bond or their assets and no details whatsoever.” News of Maxwell’s purported marriage surfaced in earnest on Wednesday morning. Maxwell’s arraignment and bail proceeding was conducted via video, and audio repeatedly cut out for those observing from the courthouse; transcripts that became available late last night filled in some of these gaps. However, many details of Maxwell’s secretive personal life were audible – including information on how she wound up living on the 156-acre Bradford, New Hampshire, estate where she was arrested on 2 July. A real estate agent involved with the property’s sale told an FBI agent that the buyers introduced themselves as “Scott and Janet Marshall, who both have British accents”.

“Scott Marshall told her that the … that he was retired from the British military and he was currently working on writing a book. Janet Marshall described herself as a journalist who wants privacy. They told the agent they wanted to purchase the property quickly through a wire and that they were setting up an LLC,” Moe said, noting that this conversation took place in November 2019. “Following [Maxwell’s] arrest, the real estate agent saw a photograph of [Maxwell] in the media and realized that the person who had introduced herself as Janet Marshall … was the defendant, Ghislaine Maxwell.”

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Love it. This is why he made the video. But it’s still a few million pounds they cleaned off.

Cleaners Remove Banksy Artwork From London Tube Train (BBC)

It was a smudge on a cleaning cloth long before the artist revealed on social media he’d done it. In the current climate, it is perhaps reassuring that the cleaners on the Tube did their job quickly and efficiently and cleaned off the work so quickly. Graffiti is regarded – certainly in the transport world and by many commuters – as something that contributes to a threatening, unwelcoming atmosphere. Of course there will be those who say it should have been kept or protected as art but that is somewhat academic. You get the feeling Banksy, who has previously destroyed his art on purpose, knew exactly what would happen to his work by putting it inside a carriage.


This was perhaps all part of the plan. An official statement said the art was removed “some days ago” in line with the London Underground’s “strict anti-graffiti policy”. All public transport users in London must wear a face covering, and TfL said it appreciated “the sentiment of encouraging people” to do so. “We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location,” it added.

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Bit of Australian humor.

Indigenous Group Accidentally Blows Up Rio Tinto’s Headquarters (Chaser)

The Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation have today apologised to the traditional owners of the Rio Tinto headquarters located in urban-Australia after learning that the site held special importance to the group who hold claim over the land. “We apologize to the traditional owners of the site,” explained a representative for the indigenous group, “and we hope that we can work together in the future to ensure that other mining-related artifacts aren’t destroyed without consultation with the corporation’s elders.” However, critics have pointed out that Rio Tinto was simply getting in the way of progress, with the P.A.C. acting well within their rights to explore for minerals underneath the skyscraper.


“We can’t seriously expect to just waste such precious resources because of some group that superstitiously believes that some rocks are valuable and are a source of power,” explained one Aboriginal expert with a degree in White Studies. “The reality is that at the end of the day, if we lost a few accounting books tracing the history of the company, that’s a small price to pay for progress.” Asked what they will be doing to make amends, the Aboriginal group said it all happened in the past, so instead of any meaningful action they will simply put up a plaque explaining why blowing up a building might be considered bad in hindsight, but also pointing out that people three hours ago held different views around these things so we shouldn’t judge them by the standards of the current time.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 192020
 


Jack Delano Engineer at AT&SF railroad yard, Clovis, NM 1943

 

US States’ Reopening Plans Are All Over The Map (R.)
Moderna: Early Coronavirus Vaccine Results Are Encouraging (AP)
Trump Says He Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine Despite FDA Warning (R.)
Trump Threatens To Permanently Cut Off WHO Funding (CNBC)
CDC Plans Sweeping COVID19 Antibody Study In 25 Metropolitan Areas (R.)
Coronavirus Deadliest In New York City’s Black And Latino Neighborhoods (R.)
Brazil Sees 674 New Coronavirus Deaths, World’s Third Highest Number Of Infections (R.)
India Coronavirus Infections Surge Past 100,000 (R.)
Agency Staff Were Spreading COVID19 Between Care Homes (G.)
France Sees 70 Cases Linked To Schools Days After Reopening (AP)
COVID19 Rental Hardship Kicked Down The Road To Spring Of ‘Carnage’ (ABC.au)
Don’t Piss Down My Back And Tell Me It’s Raining (Sirota)
The Uncle Joe-Can’t-Internet Criticism Is Mostly Malarkey (VF)
Obama, Biden Not Targeted In US Review Of Russia Probe – Barr (R.)

 

 

• US new cases on May 17 had a “good day” with 18,939, but on May 18 was up to 22,423 again

• US virus deaths fall for second day, with 759 in 24 hours, pass 90,000

• Russia 9,263 new cases from yesterday’s 9709

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 4,911,720 (+ 91,373 from yesterday’s 4,820,347)

Deaths 320,454 (+ 3,487 from yesterday’s 316,967)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

“There has not been the slightest hint of interest on the part of Congress in creating a national uniform set of rules..”

“None of the guidelines from the White House are legally binding”

US States’ Reopening Plans Are All Over The Map (R.)

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has set some distinct goals the federal district needs to meet in order for her to feel comfortable ending a stay-at-home order, she told reporters last week. If the U.S. capital, which reported more than 7,200 cases and around 400 deaths by Monday, hits certain metrics, including a declining number of cases over 14 days and sustained low transmission rate, she could lift the order before it expires on June 8. Neighboring Maryland, home to tens of thousands who commute to D.C. for work, is looking at a different set of data to determine whether it is ready to open up. It includes a plateau in the rate of hospitalizations and the number of cases in hospitals’ intensive-care units.

Virginia, home to tens of thousands more who commute to D.C., has another metric altogether. Governor Ralph Northam said in April the state needed to see a decrease in the percentage of positive tests over 14 days, a decrease in hospitalizations, have enough hospital beds and intensive care capacity and a sustainable supply of personal protective equipment. This situation, with three different leaders using different criteria to decide how to reopen – has been replicated throughout the country, according to data here compiled by the National Governors’ Association. Luisa Franzini, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, said every state seems to be using its own criteria to determine whether to reopen. None is really meeting all the metrics set out by the federal government, Franzini said. Instead local governments appear to be picking “what seems to be working for them.”

New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, said it would need 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people, and 90 days of PPE stockpiles before it can “re-open.” Next-door New Jersey is looking for a “14-day trend line” of dropping cases and hospitalizations, and has already allowed some beaches to reopen. Kansas said it needed to see stable or declining case rates over 14 days, but has opened most businesses. Neighboring Missouri, which Kansas City straddles, reopened all business on May 4. South Dakota, site of one of the largest hot spots, said it could not have clusters that posed a risk to the public, and neighboring Minnesota has reopened retail shops.

[..] as with many aspects of handling the pandemic, the final say on how to reopen lies with state and local officials, who under the U.S. Constitution hold the authority here to make laws related to residents’ health and welfare. Federal lawmakers, meanwhile, have not set any new standards for workplace safety, although they could. “There has not been the slightest hint of interest on the part of Congress in creating a national uniform set of rules on business closures and re-openings,” said Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas. None of the guidelines from the White House are legally binding, he noted. [..] “I hate to say it in these terms,” said Raymond Scheppach, a professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, “but I think we’re in a period of experimentation.”

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How crazy are we? Try this: Moderna’s “encouraging” results are based on tests of 8(!) people. Not an error, just 8 people. Tons of media coverage, and its stock goes to the moon. 8 people. The CEO is selling selling selling stock. And there was an IPO yesterday?!

In other news today: 8 people have now amassed 50% of all wealth of earth. Presumably they are not the same 8 people.

Moderna: Early Coronavirus Vaccine Results Are Encouraging (AP)

An experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in very early testing, triggering hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers, its maker announced Monday. Study volunteers given either a low or medium dose of the vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. had antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19. In the next phase of the study, led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, researchers will try to determine which dose is best for a definitive experiment that they aim to start in July.


In all, 45 people have received one or two shots of the vaccine, which was being tested at three different doses. The kind of detailed antibody results needed to assess responses are only available on eight volunteers so far. The vaccine seems safe, the company said, but much more extensive testing is needed to see if it remains so. A high dose version is being dropped after spurring some short-term side effects. The results have not been published and are only from the first of three stages of testing that vaccines and drugs normally undergo. U.S. government officials have launched a project called “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a vaccine and hopefully have 300 million doses by January.

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Obesity means having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30. Morbid obesity means having a BMI of 40 or higher.

Trump Says He Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine Despite FDA Warning (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump, in a surprise announcement, said on Monday he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against the coronavirus despite medical warnings about the use of the malaria drug. Trump volunteered the disclosure during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the White House as he met restaurant executives whose businesses are reeling from the impact of the virus. “I’m taking hydroxychloroquine,” Trump said. “I’ve been taking it for the last week and a half. A pill every day.” Weeks ago, Trump had promoted the drug as a potential treatment based on a positive report about its use against the virus, but subsequent studies found that it was not helpful. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about its use.

In an April 24 statement, the FDA said it was “aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or an older drug, chloroquine. Trump, 73, who is tested daily for the virus, said he had asked the White House physician if it was OK to take the drug, and the doctor told him: “Well, if you’d like it.” The president, a well-known germaphobe, has nonetheless refused to wear a protective mask in the West Wing. White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo that Trump was in “very good health” and had been receiving regular COVID-19 testing, which has all been negative since one of his support staff tested positive for the disease two weeks ago.

Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked on CNN about Trump’s taking the drug, said: “He’s our president. I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say weight group what is morbidly obese, they say.” According to the results of an annual presidential physical examination conducted in February 2019, Trump had gained weight over the past year and was now in the obese range, although remaining in “very good health overall.” Morbid obesity is generally defined as a body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight relative to height – of 40 or higher. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 or above is obese. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in an MSNBC interview that what Trump did with hydroxychloroquine was “reckless” and was giving people “false hope.”

Trump’s disclosure came as Moderna reported progress in a potential vaccine for the virus. The only drug that has emerged so far as a potential treatment is Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir.

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Tedros should simply explain the delays.

Trump Threatens To Permanently Cut Off WHO Funding (CNBC)

President Donald Trump threatened to permanently cut off U.S. funding of the World Health Organization, in a letter dated Monday that he shared on Twitter. Trump said that if the WHO “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.” Last month, Trump halted U.S. funding for the WHO as his administration conducted a review of the agency’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, the agency said “We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic so now is not the time to cut back on funding.”

It’s not immediately clear how Trump would withhold those funds, much of which are appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding. The renewed threat comes as the Trump administration faces criticism for how it has handled the crisis. The United States is the worst hit country with more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases reported and at least 90,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In the Monday letter, Trump said the review “confirmed many of the serious concerns I raised last month.” It also outlines what the White House perceived as “repeated missteps” by the organization and its director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The letter echoes Trump’s previous complaint that the WHO resisted issuing a travel advisory in the early days of the outbreak. When the agency declared the situation a global health emergency in late January, Tedros advised countries against imposing “measures that unnecessarily interfere with international trade or travel.”

Trump said that if the WHO “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.” Last month, Trump halted U.S. funding for the WHO as his administration conducted a review of the agency’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, the agency said “We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic so now is not the time to cut back on funding.” It’s not immediately clear how Trump would withhold those funds, much of which are appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

The renewed threat comes as the Trump administration faces criticism for how it has handled the crisis. The United States is the worst hit country with more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases reported and at least 90,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In the Monday letter, Trump said the review “confirmed many of the serious concerns I raised last month.” It also outlines what the White House perceived as “repeated missteps” by the organization and its director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


click to read in new tab

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In July, when the pandemic has been going for 6 months. Sweeping.

CDC Plans Sweeping COVID19 Antibody Study In 25 Metropolitan Areas (R.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans a nationwide study of up to 325,000 people to track how the new coronavirus is spreading across the country into next year and beyond, a CDC spokeswoman and researchers conducting the effort told Reuters. The CDC study, expected to launch in June or July, will test samples from blood donors in 25 metropolitan areas for antibodies created when the immune system fights the coronavirus, said Dr. Michael Busch, director of the nonprofit Vitalant Research Institute. Busch is leading a preliminary version of the study – funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – that is testing the first 36,000 samples.


The CDC-funded portion, to be formally announced this week, will expand the scope and time frame, taking samples over 18 months to see how antibodies evolve over time, said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. Vitalant, a nonprofit that runs blood donation centers and tests samples, will lead the broader effort as well. Researchers aim to publish results on a rolling basis, Nordlund said. Antibody studies, also known as seroprevalence research, are considered critical to understanding where an outbreak is spreading and can help guide decisions on restrictions needed to contain it. The CDC study should also help scientists better understand whether the immune response to COVID wanes over time.

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15 times more deadly is a lot.

Coronavirus Deadliest In New York City’s Black And Latino Neighborhoods (R.)

Some New York City neighborhoods have seen death rates from the novel coronavirus nearly 15 times higher than others, according to data released by New York City’s health department on Monday, showing the disproportionate toll taken on poor communities. The data shows for the first time a breakdown on the number of deaths in each of the city’s more than 60 ZIP codes. The highest death rate was seen on the edge of Brooklyn in a neighborhood dominated by a large subsidized-housing development called Starrett City. Civic leaders had been pushing for the more granular data, which they said would show stark racial and economic disparities after New York City became the heart of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world in March and April.


In the wealthy, mostly white enclave of Gramercy Park in Manhattan, the rate is 31 deaths per 100,000 residents, the data shows. A long subway ride away in Far Rockaway in the borough of Queens, which is more than 40% black and 25% Latino or Hispanic, the death rate is nearly 15 times higher: 444 deaths per 100,000 residents. “It’s really heartbreaking and it should tug at the moral conscience of the city,” Mark Levine, chairman of the City Council’s health committee, said in an interview. “We knew we had dramatic inequality. This, in graphic form, shows it’s even greater than maybe many of us feared.”

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Large countries such as Brazil, India, Mexico, Pakisten, Indonesia are a main concern.

Brazil Sees 674 New Coronavirus Deaths, World’s Third Highest Number Of Infections (R.)

Brazil recorded 674 new coronavirus deaths on Monday, the Health Ministry said, and announced a total of 254,220 confirmed cases, overtaking Britain to become the country with the third-highest number of infections behind the United States and Russia. There are now 16,792 people in Brazil who have died from the outbreak, the ministry said. Its daily tally does not indicate that infections and deaths necessarily occurred in the past 24 hours, but rather that the records were entered into the system during that time period.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has lost popularity over his handling of the pandemic, but he retains a resilient core of support. Last week, Health Minister Nelson Teich resigned, becoming the second top health official to leave the post since the pandemic began. General Eduardo Pazuello is the interim health chief and Bolsonaro is in no hurry to choose his replacement, sources say. According to data from the Health Ministry, São Paulo remains the worst hit by the outbreak, with 63,066 cases and 4,823 deaths. Rio de Janeiro is in second place, with 26,665 infections and 2,852 deaths.

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1.3 billion people. 100,000 ICU beds.

India Coronavirus Infections Surge Past 100,000 (R.)

India reported 4,970 new cases over the previous 24 hours, taking its total to 101,139. Deaths rose by 134 to 3,163. India’s number of cases has easily outstripped that of China, where the virus emerged late last year and which has been one of Asia’s infection hot spots. China has reported nearly 83,000 cases but has kept its daily rise in new infections to single digits for the past week. In contrast, new cases in India have risen by an average of more than 4,000 a day over the past week, according to a Reuters tally based on official data, despite a severe weeks-long lockdown. India officially extended the lockdown on Sunday to May 31, although several states indicated they would allow businesses to reopen.


Health experts and officials are worried about the strain the epidemic is placing on India’s over-stretched and under-funded hospital system. Dhruva Chaudhry, president of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, told Reuters last month that India probably had only about 100,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 40,000 ventilators. Chaudhry warned there was not sufficient infrastructure or staff in the country of 1.35 billion people to handle a sharp spike in the number of critical patients. [..] India’s death rate is less than that of some other big countries, at 3%, compared with about 6% for the United States, where some 89,000 people have died, and 14% for Britain.

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A global problem.

Agency Staff Were Spreading COVID19 Between Care Homes (G.)

Temporary care workers transmitted Covid-19 between care homes as cases surged, according to an unpublished government study which used genome tracking to investigate outbreaks. In evidence that raises further questions about ministers’ claims to have “thrown a protective ring around care homes”, it emerged that agency workers – often employed on zero-hours contracts – unwittingly spread the infection as the pandemic grew, according to the study by Public Health England (PHE). The genome tracking research into the behaviour of the virus in six care homes in London found that, in some cases, workers who transmitted coronavirus had been drafted in to cover for care home staff who were self-isolating expressly to prevent the vulnerable people they look after from becoming infected.

At least 22,000 people are estimated to have died in care homes in England and Wales directly or indirectly from Covid-19. While the peak appears to have passed, the crisis is far from over for the country’s 400,000 care home residents, with some providers reporting fresh outbreaks and hospitalisations at the weekend. [..] Results from the PHE study, conducted over Easter weekend from 11 to 13 April, have been known about inside the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) since at least the end of last month, but were only circulated last week to care home providers, councils and local directors of public health.

It was referenced as part of a £600m infection control plan, which adult social care directors said came “tragically late in the day” given the peak of deaths in care homes appeared to have already passed. The study warned: “Infection is spreading from care home to care home, linked to changed patterns of staffing, working across and moving between homes.” The infection could be introduced by “bank staff” – floating workers used to fill temporary vacancies in different homes – it said, adding that workers were often asymptomatic so “by the time local health protection teams are informed of an outbreak substantial transmission may already have occurred”.

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70 isn’t much out of millions of schoolchildren. Plus, they’s have been infected beforehand, incubation time is 4-5 days minimum. Oh wait, that means at least 70 kids have been free to spread the virus for days on end.

France Sees 70 Cases Linked To Schools Days After Reopening (AP)

Just a week after one-third of French schoolchildren went back to school in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown, there has been a flurry of about 70 Covid-19 cases linked to schools. Some schools were opened last week and a further 150,000 secondary school students went back to the classroom on Monday as further restrictions were loosened by the government. The move initially spelled relief: the end of homeschooling for many hundreds of thousands of exhausted French parents, many of whom were also working from home.


But French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer sounded the alarm on Monday, telling French radio RTL that the return has put some children in new danger of contamination. He said the affected schools are being closed immediately. French media reported that seven schools in northern France were closed. The situation highlights the precarious situation the French government is finding itself in as it seeks both to reassure the public that the country is moving forward past coronavirus and to react prudently to safeguard public health. Mr Blanquer did not specify if the 70 cases of Covid-19 were among students or teachers.

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In September all relief has to be paid back. By people who still won’t have jobs then.

COVID19 Rental Hardship Kicked Down The Road To Spring Of ‘Carnage’ (ABC.au)

An eviction “ban”; a mortgage pause for landlords; income support for renters: extraordinary measures by governments and banks have stopped an eviction surge, kept Australia’s 8 million renters in their homes and helped landlords struggling with loans. But the temporary measures mask a growing problem: many renters are receiving “reductions” that are really deferrals, accruing thousands of dollars in debts they will never be able to repay. [..] Half of the nation’s workforce are on income support through an increased JobSeeker payment or the JobKeeper wage subsidy. Both expire after six months. In addition, the eviction ban and the big four banks’ offer to pause mortgage repayments for landlords expire around the end of September too. Shelter WA chief executive Michelle Mackenzie dreads to think about what will happen when all those supports end within days of each other.


“The world’s going to collapse.” JobSeeker, previously named Newstart or known colloquially as “the dole”, was effectively doubled through the addition of a coronavirus supplement. The extra payment boosted the amount unemployed people receive from $550 per fortnight — below the poverty line — to $1,100 a fortnight. Ms Mackenzie wants it made permanent, along with increases to Commonwealth rental assistance and investment in social housing. “It would stop the shock at the moment,” she said. Ms Mackenzie said some of her colleagues in community housing associations, who support tenants in government-supplied housing, have almost 40 per cent of their clients in arrears. The growing debt balloon in the private market could lead to increased homelessness, she added. “It’s really just deferring what’s a huge problem down the track,” she said.

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Bernie staffer Sirota is on to something, but is there anyone left who thinks US healthcare can be salvaged?

Don’t Piss Down My Back And Tell Me It’s Raining (Sirota)

Customers pay big money to purchase health insurance policies, but when they go to actually use the insurance product they bought, almost 1 in 5 in-network claims are denied — and we accept this as just a normal part of life in the world’s richest nation. This is quite a feat — the insurance industry has created for itself a unique carveout from human civilization’s most elemental economic laws about services being delivered in exchange for payment. And now as insurers rake in huge profits during a lethal pandemic, the industry’s propagandists are going a step further, insinuating that while insurance companies may begrudgingly pay some policyholders’ claims out of a sense of altruism, they don’t necessarily have a legal obligation to do so.

“It’s Actually A Selfless Act” This was the sentiment expressed by an insurance industry front group, defending a new initiative that eschews an expansion of Medicare and instead purports to address the COVID crisis by funneling money to insurance corporations through the COBRA program. That program allows laid off workers to keep their existing health care coverage, but only if they somehow find the cash to pay both the employee and employer side of health care premiums. The COBRA provision was written by Democratic lawmakers at the request of industry trade associations — and just after insurers’ lobbyists raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for House Democrats’ campaign committee.

In response to COBRA critics like Medicare for All proponent Bernie Sanders, here’s what Heather Meade, a spokesperson for the insurance industry-backed Alliance to Fight for Health Care, told Politico: “It would be helpful for them to remember that it’s actually a selfless act of employers to do this,” Meade said. “This bill pays just for the premiums, and either the insurance companies or the employers would pay the claims for people who are no longer employees. So it’s a lack of understanding of how COBRA actually works. There’s no bailout here.”

There’s that scene in The Outlaw Josey Wales when Captain Fletcher tells a senator: ”Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” Well, that’s exactly what’s happening here: the insurance industry is urinating on us and telling us to thank them for the precipitation. Think about it: A health insurance company’s product — the very widget that it exists to sell — is security. The entire reason you pay a health insurance premium through your job is so that you receive a health insurance policy — one that presumably grants you the security of knowing that your medical claims will be paid out if you get sick. That assurance is literally the thing you are purchasing. And yet, we are now being told to believe that “it’s actually a selfless act” when insurance corporations and employers decide to “pay the claims” that are supposed to be covered by the policy you bought.

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Stay in the basement.

The Uncle Joe-Can’t-Internet Criticism Is Mostly Malarkey (VF)

To state the obvious: Of course Biden is losing the internet. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang, and Kamala Harris would all be losing the internet to Trump too, especially in the fog of a global crisis. Trump is an incumbent president who has been building a reelection campaign for almost four years. His strengths, online and off, flow from the political asymmetry he’s created for himself. Trump has little interest in the facts or decorum to which most Democrats and members of the press are still bound. His deliberate provocations lend themselves perfectly to the clickbait of the platforms and the outrage porn of cable news.

Trump is such brain poison for the media that CNN prime-time hosts now devote their entire A-blocks to breathless anti-Trump harangues, which are gleefully spun by the Trump campaign into base-rallying cries of “Fake News,” email blasts, and Facebook fundraising ads that can be tested and reoptimized thousands of times over. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have combined to raise over $700 million so far this cycle, more than Obama did at this point in his 2012 reelection campaign. In 2016, the Trump campaign was held together by duct tape, Facebook ads, and a megaphone handed to them by TV news executives. But to their credit, Trump aides took a groundbreaking risk by devoting nearly half of their advertising budget to digital rather than TV ads, which proved themselves rather useless in a campaign defined by earned media controversies.

In 2020, with a huge staff at his disposal, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale can afford to do much more, experimenting and expanding his online reach far beyond the field of view of most Beltway-dwellers. Trump has more than 1.5 million followers on Snapchat, where his campaign test-drives messaging and regularly bumps his Snapchat followers across platforms into near-daily YouTube livestreams. His supporters are so loyal that they create low-grade content on their own and share it with their own networks, through podcasts, memes, or just old-fashioned handmade signs. Trump’s knack for weaponizing culture and turning politics into a contact sport means that everyone on his team wants a red jersey.

The Trump campaign sold $4 million worth of MAGA merchandise in March and April alone, according to CBS News. Parscale even previewed a new Trump–Pence 2020 COVID-19 face mask on Twitter, which was promptly mocked by the blue-checkmark crowd, ensuring that Parscale will sell thousands of them. Biden’s armchair quarterbacks point worriedly to the Trump campaign’s bombastic fundraising texts and his app, which can feel like being inside a Las Vegas casino, with its point-collecting contests and huge fonts. But Trump’s digital program—indeed his entire campaign—works because it mirrors who Trump is.

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It depends on John Durham, or so it seems. Problem is so many roads appear to lead to the White House.

Obama, Biden Not Targeted In US Review Of Russia Probe – Barr (R.)

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Monday he does not expect a Justice Department review of the FBI’s handling of 2016 election interference to lead to criminal investigation of former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden. “As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. Federal prosecutor John Durham is reviewing the origins of the investigation of Russia’s 2016 election interference. President Donald Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly referred to a scandal he calls “Obamagate,” saying without evidence that Obama was tied to “the biggest political crime in American history.”


Trump stepped up those claims as he faced criticism for the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 88,000 Americans, and prepares to face Biden in the November election. Barr added that the election should be decided strictly on policy debates, and that any investigation of a political candidate would need to be approved by him personally. “We cannot allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate,” Barr said. Barr did not rule out the possibility of others being criminally investigated, without offering specifics.

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