And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

Lotsa alligators all wanting immediate attention. Sorry.

"The NASA chopper set to be first aircraft to fly on Mars now has a name -- thanks to a 17-year-old girl." Could we be a little less sexist, CNN? Ingenuity is great. But you might remember CNN's headline when they announces Perseverance, "Mars 2020 rover is officially named 'Perseverance'." And Alexander Mather, who named Perseverance is a 7th grader, whereas Vaneeza Rupani who submitted the name Ingenuity is a Junior in high school.

So much for "kids don't get corona…" "The urgent alert, sent to UK general practitioners by National Health Service (NHS) England warned that over the last three weeks, 'there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multisystem inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK,' the Health Service Journal first reported Monday."

"The medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital who worked with COVID-19 patients died by suicide this week… If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It is free and confidential." I'm not one for this "hero" thing, but it does take a toll on us.

On why working from home sucks. "'When we're actually face to face, we don't stare at each other's eyes for that long,' Bailneson says. 'But the default setting on a lot of these video conference technologies is a Brady Bunch grid, where everybody's staring at you right in the face.' It's exhausting and super weird to have disembodied heads just staring at you for hours."

"California Gov. Gavin Newsom intends to order the closure of all state beaches and parks starting Friday, according to a copy of a memo provided to CNN by a senior law enforcement official."

"Donald Trump has said the federal government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire on Thursday, even as the number of Americans who have died of coronavirus surpassed 60,000." This way he thinks he wins by "opening the economy", except the states are still controlling the timeline and he never had the ability to initiated the orders to begin with (which also happened after most states had already enacted them). This is just another, "I'm in charge!" play to the masses.

"South Korea, which waged an early battle against COVID-19 after the disease emerged from China, said on Thursday that it had no new domestic cases for the first time since a surge nearly 10 weeks ago."

"Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to wear a mask during his visit to the prestigious Mayo Clinic this week was potentially dangerous and sent the wrong message about the federal guidelines he regularly touts, doctors and health care officials said." The optics on wearing a mask weren't good. The optics of not wearing a mask doesn't change his poll numbers with the Trump administration core base. "While Pence was widely mocked for suggesting that a mask would stop him from looking workers in the eye, doctors and health care workers said it was a serious breach of safety regulations."

"Musk on Twitter this week criticized lockdown measures put in place in the United States to slow the spread of COVID-19, demanding in one, 'FREE AMERICA NOW.' He applauded Texas for its plan to begin reopening the state's economy, and said the U.S. should 'reopen with care and appropriate protection, but don't put everyone under de facto house arrest.'" You may remember Mr. Musk from the time he sent bi-PAP machines to California claiming they were ventilators.

"First-time filings for unemployment insurance hit 3.84 million last week as the wave of economic pain continues, though the worst appears to be in the past, according to Labor Department figures Thursday." Well, the weekly numbers are coming down (strained smile here). "Last week’s initially reported figure was revised up by 15,000 to 4.4 million, meaning that the most recent total is a decrease of 603,000."

"Twenty-six million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as of April 23, as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. And many of them are discovering what plenty of people already knew: our system is dysfunctional… Although unemployment programs are run by the states, which means the quality varies from place to place, across the country, the broader social welfare system in the United States is generally hard to access: riddled with red tape, and plagued by pointless burdens." Funny how conservatives never want to remove those regulations or red tape.

"The Small Business Administration on Wednesday will temporarily allow only the smallest financial institutions to access the small business coronavirus relief program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program… The move to restrict access comes after concerns that the smallest of businesses, and particularly those owned by people of color, were shut out of the first round of the program, which ran out of money in 13 days." No word on how well that went.

"This is the worst economy ever. That's according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who previewed some truly awful economic data headed our way when he spoke to reporters Wednesday." Jazz hands.

"On Monday, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 to reject a Republican effort to sabotage parts of the Affordable Care Act. The upshot of this decision is that health insurers will receive payments owed to them under Obamacare’s 'risk corridor' program… Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s majority opinion in Maine Community Health Options v. United States, relies on 'a principle as old as the Nation itself,' according to the opinion. That principle: 'The Government should honor its obligations.'" Funny how republicans have to keep being reminded of that.

The crazy increases. "Someone opened fire using an assault rifle outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington early Thursday and was arrested, authorities said."

"Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has just led his country, and indeed all of Latin America, to the end of a long cycle… Almost two decades ago, the election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — a union leader perceived as an extreme left-winger — to Brazil’s top job created one of the biggest buying opportunities in recent financial history. Having collapsed at first as investors took fright, the country’s stock market went into orbit, growing at more than two-thirds per year from Lula’s election in 2002 until the global financial crisis in 2008. For years after that, it continued to outpace the U.S. S&P 500 Index." Same here.

"The White House has ordered intelligence agencies to comb through communications intercepts, human source reporting, satellite imagery and other data to establish whether China and the World Health Organization initially hid what they knew about the emerging coronavirus pandemic, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter told NBC News." You mean the same intelligence agencies that have been sounding the alarm on this coronavirus since October?

"President Donald Trump said in a new interview that China's handling of the novel coronavirus was evidence that Beijing "will do anything they can" to have him lose the 2020 US presidential election." You mean President Xi, whom you said you got along with and really liked, is trying to fuck you over and is willing to kill his own citizens and much of the world to do it? This is what's known as "choosing your opponent". Too bad China isn't on the ballot in November (but they will try to tie Biden to China).

"China's military has said it 'expelled' a U.S. navy vessel from the hotly contested waters of the South China Sea this week. It said the "USS Barry" had illegally entered China's Xisha territorial waters on Tuesday." So, they "expelled" us by (checks notes) following us very closely and letting our ships traverse the South China Sea without molestation.

"President Donald Trump vented outrage Thursday over the FBI’s treatment of Michael Flynn following the release of government records and recent media reports regarding the the bureau’s 2017 investigation into his former national security adviser." The new notes are nothing, they're contemporaneous notes on how to proceed with investigating Flynn, either to hold their cards or press him directly. As to Flynn being an American Patriot, just remember Flynn has been awarded the "Friend of Russia" medal by Putin himself. Flynn was in trouble long before he was hired by Trump. Trump was even warned against hiring him. He lied under oath. He betrayed his confidences and the government he swore to defend. Fuck Flynn.

"The California Republican Party is suing Governor Gavin Newsom to prohibit the practice of ballot collecting or 'ballot harvesting' during two upcoming special elections in the state, arguing it stands 'in direct conflict' with social distancing guidelines and Newsom's shelter-in-place mandate to slow the spread of the coronavirus." I am so tired of this election fraud conspiracy thing. Especially since the majority of people prosecuted for election fraud are Republican. Also, "ballot harvesting" is a well researched intentional smear that polls well with conservatives.

"Senate Republicans are preparing to fire up the nominations engine when they return to Washington next week… GOP senators are discussing ways to advance several key nominations after a five-week recess temporarily threw the future of President Trump’s picks into limbo. To accomplish that, they plan to press ahead with confirmation hearings, committee votes and floor votes."

"Coronavirus cases are still rising in the District of Columbia, where more than 200 people have died of the disease. The House decided it was too dangerous to return to the Capitol… But Mitch McConnell’s Senate is coming back anyway." Because they can't continue to pack the judiciary unless they have committee votes and the full Senate in session. Hey Mitch, why don't you follow your own advice and hold up on judicial nominations in this presidential election year and let the voters decide? Hello? Is this thing on?

But then… "The Kentucky Senate race between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his likely Democratic opponent Amy McGrath is shaping up to be one of the tightest, most contentious and expensive contests of the 2020 election cycle… Polls have shown the race to be incredibly close, with the candidates either being tied or separated by single digits."

"According to the New York Times, Pompeo is making a legal argument that the United States is still a 'participant' in the Iran nuclear deal. As such, he is saying, Trump will soon invoke a clause in the deal, known as the 'snapback clause,' which requires the U.N. Security Council to reimpose economic sanctions if Iran is found to be cheating. Since, by its own admission, Iran has violated some aspects of the deal in recent months, the sanctions will automatically be reimposed once Trump raises the transgressions." We formally withdrew from the agreement. We can't make this call. Trump is a fucking idiot.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"Early data of the Covid-19 crisis, broken down by race, is alarming. In the US, in Chicago, as of early April 2020, 72% of people who died of coronavirus were black, although only one-third of the city’s population is. In Georgia, as of 17 April, white people accounted for 40% of Covid-19 cases where race was reported, although they represent 58% of the state. In the UK, of the first 2,249 patients with confirmed Covid-19, 35% were non-white. This is much higher than the proportion of non-white people in England and Wales – 14%, according to the most recent census." On why it appears that COVID-19 has a bias.

"Wisconsin health department: 36 people positive for coronavirus after primary vote… The count of people exposed to the virus during the April 7 election is likely to grow in the coming weeks." (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he will allow his stay-at-home order for the Lone Star State to expire on Thursday, commencing a phased exit from the social distancing measures meant to mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic." Welcome to decisions being made about your health on the basis of the economy rather than what is actually most helpful to your health. Without widespread testing (and I'll note here, individuals may be tested multiple times) and contact tracing this will lead to a second spike. Also, many places of business are better closed than being mandated to 25% capacity.

"The southern state of Tennessee saw its biggest one-day jump in new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Sunday as the state's governor and neighboring Georgia move to reopen parts of their economies, despite significant concerns." This will not end well.

"President Donald Trump's surprisingly public rebuke of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's reopening plans is still reverberating through state capitals across the country and is contributing to decisions by some governors to take a slower approach in opening businesses in their state, Republican officials in a half-dozen states told CNN." This is what's known as "playing both sides to you can claim to be right no matter what the outcome."

"Brewer and Kowalski are among a global surge of people logging on to crowd-working sites due to the economic contagion of Covid-19. Millions of people are suddenly out of work or facing reduced hours, with many stuck at home sheltering in place. Crowd work can be done from anywhere with an internet connection." Working for pennies. The t-shirt sites I sell on are almost the same thing.

"Since the coronavirus outbreak exploded in the U.S., President Donald Trump has liked to portray the surging pandemic as a totally shocking problem that no one could have seen coming. 'It snuck up on us,' Trump said on March 18, calling the virus 'a very unforeseen thing.' It has now become very clear, of course, that the president and his administration were not in any way caught off-guard by the pandemic, receiving multiple heads-up about the looming catastrophe as the virus starting its spread from such sources as the World Health Organization, multiple federal agencies, and even Trump’s own economic adviser… Now, the Washington Post reports that warnings about the coronavirus even made their way directly to the Oval Office as part of the president’s daily intelligence briefing—you know, the one that he famously likes to totally ignore." More than a dozen times in January and February.

"President Donald Trump on Monday urged the nation's governors to "seriously consider" reopening schools as part of his push to restart the economy, though many states have already recommended against resuming the school year." President Trump, still a day late and a dollar short.

"Twenty-six million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as of April 23, as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. And many of them are discovering what plenty of people already knew: our system is dysfunctional."

"A family-run network of pro-gun groups is behind five of the largest Facebook groups dedicated to protesting the shelter-in-place restrictions, according to an NBC News analysis of Facebook groups and website registration information." Those "grass roots" organizations that are just money making scams.

"In an interview on Monday, the Senate majority leader said it’s 'highly likely' the next coronavirus response bill will aid local governments whose budgets have been decimated by lockdowns and now face spiraling deficits. But to unlock that money, McConnell said he will "insist" Congress limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners and employees from lawsuits as they reopen in the coming weeks and months." He's also walking back his, "let them declare bankruptcy" statement. But let's be clear here, he wants to release businesses from legal liability for reopening too early. Or for companies like Amazon or the meat packers who intentionally ignored health advice to keep workers distant from each other, to catch outbreaks quickly, and to shut down, he wants to make sure those businesses can't be sued for the disease and deaths they caused.

"Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department will intervene if stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic become too restrictive, directing federal prosecutors 'to be on the lookout' for state and local directives that could be violating constitutional rights." This is Bill Barr being the good lapdog of the president and trying to threaten recalcitrant states to lift their stay-at-home orders. This is the second time he's tried this. He still doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. Fuck off, Bill.

"Just as it affects us all, the coronavirus is affecting our nation's prison population. Inmates across the country are seeking early release in hope of avoiding contracting the virus in their detention facilities. Earlier in April, we learned that Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former attorney and self-described "fixer," is supposed to be released from prison early as a result of a coronavirus outbreak in Otisville, New York, where he is serving his sentence." How about no, does no work for you? This is a backdoor attempt at commutation for some of these people.

"The political whirlwind convulsing Brazilian politics has intensified with the supreme court approving an investigation into explosive allegations that the president, Jair Bolsonaro, illegally attempted to interfere in the federal police."

Monday, April 27, 2020

Linkee-poo Monday

It might just be design wonkery, but an article of corporate identity, corporate culture, the power of symbols, and what happens when you don't manage brand properly (hint, all 3 of those clash). "While NASA says there's 'a good chance' the worm logo will pop up again in the future, the organization's official logo remains the 'meatball' design introduced a year after the agency was established, in 1959, and replaced by the worm from 1975 until 1992."

"Elon Musk has confirmed Starship prototype SN4 passed a cryogenic proof test on Sunday, a milestone for the project designed to send payloads to Mars."

Oh, Microsoft… "Like many chat apps, Teams lets colleagues send each other whimsical animated Gif images… But CyberArk researchers discovered a problem that meant viewing a Gif could let hackers compromise an account and steal data… Microsoft has since patched the security hole, researchers said." Everybody does it, except they don't. Microsoft products are notoriously buggy and tend to not be developed with security in mind.

Something new has been added. "The CDC has long said said that fever, cough and shortness of breath are indications that someone might have the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It has now added six more conditions that may come with the disease: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell."

"Coronavirus antibody tests have garnered attention from officials as a potential tool to evaluate people's immunity to the illness. But the majority of companies creating the tests have had little to no regulatory oversight, according to the chair of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy." As a personal opinion, the tests in the US are for shit and will probably shown to have both low-sensitivity and a high false-negative rate. This is why you have regulations, as "market forces" means how many dead people pile up on either side of the decision line.

"'Worse than [the funding] — if you can believe it — worse than that is that he and the secretary of state have been deleting any reference to the World Health Organization in any of our strategies on how we can deal with the pandemic. That may be more harmful than just the money,' Pelosi said." The Dear leader does not share the spotlight.

"The furor over President Donald Trump's toxic suggestion that the coronavirus might be treated with an injection of disinfectant mounted Sunday as the President avoided the briefing room and one of his top medical advisers insisted his remarks were misinterpreted." Do you believe me or your lying eyes and ears? "Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper what the American people should know about disinfectants and the human body, (Dr. Deborah Birx) instead defended the President's tendency to muse aloud about his ideas as he processes new information, and suggested that the media had missed the point of the White House presentation." JFC, Dr. Birx, that's even worse.

"Returning to the West Wing just a month after impeachment, one of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers found a presidency in crisis: a deadly disease outbreak, a tumbling stock market and a White House struggling to form a clear message about how it was confronting a quickly escalating threat." The story of the feisty little sycophant and he desire to silence the child who yells the Emperor has no clothes.

"If you're getting money from the federal government as part of the recent stimulus response to the coronavirus, you'll also get a letter from President Donald Trump explaining why." Uh, no thanks. We're cool. This is the power of the incumbency. This is why there are rules about using official government-owned and paid for mechanisms for re-election and supporting the election of others.

"Italy has outlined plans to ease the strict restrictions it imposed seven weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus… Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the measures would be relaxed from 4 May, with people being allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers."

"The first world leader known to have had coronavirus is now leading his nation's response to it, and in a speech outside 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister had a clear message: Don't give up on the lockdown yet… In his first remarks after returning to work Monday, Johnson acknowledged that the restrictions were hard to bear and risked taking a heavy toll on the economy." Funny how actually having the disease can change your perspective on what government should do.

"For weeks we have heard that merely asking questions about the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak is 'politicising the crisis'. But now some people on the right are indeed making the pandemic political – firing up the culture wars forged in what now feels like the prehistoric age of Brexit… Luminaries of the leave campaign have jacked up familiar themes to revive a well-worn narrative: of patriotic ordinary people set against 'whingeocrat' metropolitan elites and woke leftists who hate Britain." Waves to my friends in Russia.

Meanwhile, New Zealand plugs along. "New Zealand claimed Monday it had 'eliminated' the coronavirus as the country announced the easing of restrictions from 'level four' to 'level three,' with new cases in single figures… At a news conference, New Zealand reported one new case, four 'probable cases' and one new death."

Misinformation, why we need the "truth in broadcasting act" to return (and include online media in the definition of "broadcasting"). "Maatje Benassi, a US Army reservist and mother of two, has become the target of conspiracy theorists who falsely place her at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, saying she brought the disease to China… The false claims are spreading across YouTube every day, so far racking up hundreds of thousands of apparent views, and have been embraced by Chinese Communist Party media. Despite never having tested positive for the coronavirus or experienced symptoms, Benassi and her husband are now subjects of discussion on Chinese social media about the outbreak, including among accounts that are known drivers of large-scale coordinated activities by their followers."

In case you're still laboring under the delusion that the Amish shun all technology… "Dr. Heng Wang, a board certified pediatrician and the Medical Director of the DDC Clinic located in Middlefield, OH, announced today that their Amish Genetic Disease Panel will now test for 160 rare conditions. This important tool allows faster diagnosis of unidentified genetic conditions at a reduced cost. DDC Clinic delivers personalized and life-changing medical care to special needs children affected by rare genetic disorders."

The fleecing of America. "While the government has not yet identified the entities that received the funding under (PPP), an in-depth analysis of almost 200 recipients by NBC News raises questions about some of them… The analysis shows three companies with ties to the Trump administration received a total of $18.3 million under the program… Another recipient received a loan from a bank that previously employed its board's chairwoman. Four companies received more than the $10 million maximum by applying for multiple loans through subsidiaries. Four other companies receiving more than $20 million in aggregate have wealthy investor board members in common." Just 5 years ago, even the smallest whiff of scandal would have been avoided, but now in the age of Trump, it's just a fucking grifter's ball. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Even as the U.S. small business relief program is set to reopen Monday with fresh funding, the full extent that public companies tapped the emergency facility is only now becoming clear… More than 220 public companies applied for at least $870 million from the government program that was billed as for small businesses without access to other sources of capital, according to Washington D.C.-based data analytics firm FactSquared." The fat cats belly up to the trough. And they ain't gonna give it back.

"Deutsche Bank said it expects to report a fall in net income in the first quarter from a year ago, and will set aside a significant amount for potential loan losses when it reports full earnings Wednesday… It also warned that it could miss its capital target in the future, as a result of Covid-19." Well that and writing off the president loans as a political favor.

How goes that great oil deal the president "helped" with the OPEC+ countries? "Oil slumped below $12 a barrel as the biggest oil ETF said it will sell out of its June WTI futures position, adding to the downward pressure from a huge glut."

"Stephen Miller indicates immigration pause will be long term: report." There's a line in a book that's apropos, I can't remember right now which book, but it goes like this, "some fuckers just need killing." (Grokked from Charlie Stross)

Anatomy of a political hit piece. "Amid growing criticism from progressives and increased anxiety among the nation's working families, small business owners and local and state governments that economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic will come too late and be too little, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday told television viewers to 'just calm down' when asked if she had erred in her legislative strategy with the Trump White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell." So, here we have 4 stakeholders identified who are worried, "progressives… working families, small business owners and local and state governments." Sounds good, like that's the whole Democratic base right there. I mean, everybody is worried, right? "Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on 'State of the Union' if she had made a "'tactical mistake' by allowing an 'interim' piece of coronavirus relief package — known as COVID 3.5 — to pass last week without much stronger support for state and local governments, Pelosi deflected on the premise." Only one of those stakeholders was passed by. Setup, and then moved the goalposts. "'Just calm down,' Pelosi said. 'We will have state and local and we will have it in a significant way. It's no use going on to what might have been.'" And then the hammer, Pelosi being dismissive of all those concerns… when the legislation she helped pass addressed 3 out of the 4 stakeholders directly, and the 4th indirectly. But by the conflation in the first paragraph, the author implies that the failure pointed out in the second paragraph pertains to all 4 stakeholders, when it doesn't. Also, the article never actual beings in any of those stakeholders, but is just about not getting local and state government relief and a missed opportunity for leverage. And while that is true, it is not anywhere near the consternation implied in the first paragraph.

"South Korea continued to pour water on mounting speculation about the health of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, telling CNN he is 'alive and well.'" You've got a friend in me (well, South Korea).

"This is hardly the first time that the libertarians have been challenged by big government conservatives. There’s a long history of the GOP embracing activist government when in power and then turning against it ferociously when a Democrat is in the White House. The GOP has a built-in advantage when it comes to using the government to ameliorate economic hardship. Decades of polling consistently shows that Democrats trust the government at high levels despite who controls the White House, while Republican voters fluctuate depending on the party affiliation of the president." Wow, Politico, you sure took a long time to get there.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Linkee-poo weekend

There's talk about how dealing with COVID-19 and getting "back to normal" will be measured in weeks or months. With some of the new news, depending on what proves out, this maybe on the time scale of generations, the virus' or ours. Hopefully not, but if catching it once does not provide immunity (as it is with cold viruses), and the level of mortality continues to hold up (20-30% of infections require hospitalization, with a 3% mortality rate), this might very well be an example of evolutionary pressure. It's possible the same thing happened with previous cold viruses, which is why they now only have a 0.1% mortality rate.

"The Starship prototype, a gleaming cylinder of stainless steel, is SpaceX's fourth test vehicle for a massive reusable spacecraft designed to fly to the moon, Mars and beyond. Called Starship SN4 (for Serial No. 4), it's the centerpiece of a launch system SpaceX hopes will one day lead to a colony on Mars." Let's see if this one explodes.

"Coronavirus pandemic: Updates from around the world…"

"As health officials across the country try to slow the coronavirus pandemic, a growing body of evidence and research suggests the virus may have been silently spreading in different parts of the country far earlier than initially believed and officially reported." Jazz hands. Welcome to what happens when you decimate the public health systems.

"In the global scramble for a COVID-19 vaccine, a select number of human trials are now under way, but it's scientists from England's University of Oxford who appear most confident that they're onto a cure. Professor Sarah Gilbert heads the Oxford team behind the potential vaccine being developed in partnership with the Jenner Institute. She's said it has an '80% chance' of success, and it could be available for wide use by the public as soon as September." This is bullshit and what's known as trying to bully the market.

"In a scientific brief dated Friday, the (WHO) said the idea that one-time infection can lead to immunity remains unproven and is thus unreliable as a foundation for the next phase of the world's response to the pandemic… As yet, it remains unclear precisely why (apparent reinfection) is occurring — whether it is a sign of a second infection, a reactivation of the remaining virus in the body or the result of an inaccurate antibody test." Ta-da! And also, if it proves true that developing antibodies doesn't prevent a recurrence of the disease (could be the virus either can or will adapt to replicate faster than your body can respond, or that it's evolution path renders previous immunity impotent) take a wild guess at what that means for the development of a vaccine.

"When Spain’s outbreak erupted in mid-March, many patients went straight onto ventilators because lung X-rays and other test results 'scared us,' said Delia Torres, a physician at the Hospital General Universitario de Alicante. They now focus more on breathing and a patient’s overall condition than just X-rays and tests. And they intubate less. 'If the patient can get better without it, then there’s no need,' she said." The debate surrounding intubation. Please note the argument is not "never intubate", it's "don't rush to intubation, because that may not be what the patient needs." And I can tell you first hand that CTs of COVID-19 patient lungs look like nothing else I've seen.

"More than 2 million people around the world have been infected with the novel coronavirus, but there's still a lot we don't know about how the disease affects the human body… With COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, doctors are also seeing blood clots in the lungs and bodies of patients. Clots can travel and create blockages in veins, leading to strokes, heart attacks, and other issues." And if the initial diagnosis is bilateral pneumonia (common with C19 patients), when they start having trouble breathing the doctor may jump to intubation, when the problem is actually a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the arteries of the lungs). Intubation may buy you time, but if you don't treat the clot, intubation won't save the patient (caveats here for all the variables, most people's bodies will try to breakdown the clot, but if it's big it won't happen fast enough). At this time, the gold standard to diagnose PEs (pulmonary embolism) is a CT scan with contrast. So if the patient is C19 positive, you need to transport them to the CT room which contaminates the hallways, exposes anyone in those hallways, and contaminates the CT machine.

"California saw its deadliest day since the coronavirus crisis began, with 115 lives lost over the last 24 hours, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at his daily briefing Thursday… The spike in the death toll represents an 8.5% jump from the previous day, bringing the number of fatalities associated with COVID-19 to more than 1,400." For al the talk of "we're flattening the curve" it certainly doesn't look like it.

"But how should states decide when to reopen? Epidemiologists and other public health specialists warn against moving too fast. They note that the coronavirus is still circulating. Cases could spiral up to catastrophic levels all over again unless proper measures are taken." Until we have wide-spread (and accurate) testing coupled with an army of contact tracers, opening up is playing Russian roulette with the populace.

"In early February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was looking for ways to stop the novel coronavirus before it got out of control in the United States… But that quick start to the project was far from quick in most places. Fully five weeks later — contrary to statements from top CDC officials — only one of those cities had in hand any results from completed coronavirus tests, according to an investigation by NPR." The failures of government and the lost of public perception tools.

"President Donald Trump will be holding a signing ceremony Friday for a bill providing a nearly $500 billion infusion of coronavirus spending, rushing new relief to employers and hospitals buckling under the strain of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 American lives and one in six U.S. jobs."

"The ink is barely dry on Congress’ latest $484 billion check to combat the coronavirus pandemic, but an epic fight over the next massive relief bill is already in full tilt… Democrats failed to secure billions for reeling state and local governments in the last round, and they vow the money will be the centerpiece of the next chapter of talks. But they’re running into a buzzsaw named Mitch McConnell." Mitch wants to fuck over public unions and government workers and he's not going to let this crisis go to waste.

"Undeterred by a barrage of criticism, Georgia state officials moved ahead Friday with plans to allow some nonessential businesses to reopen, even as coronavirus deaths increase statewide… Gov. Brian Kemp, a first-term Republican, was one of the last state leaders to issue a stay-at-home order, effective April 3, to combat the spread of Covid-19."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued more than 100 recommendations to the Smithfield Foods pork-processing plant on Thursday, as the facility works to reopen following a coronavirus outbreak… The facility, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, became one of the nation's largest Covid-19 hotspots before it closed earlier this month, with more than 783 employee cases and 206 cases stemming from employee contact, according to state health officials." But the CDC doesn't have the power to enforce their recommendations. "Plant managers told the CDC team 'that communicating messages to their diverse staff presented challenges due to the number of languages spoken,' according to the CDC's report." So just how did you interview and train all these employees, then? How do you assign them work? How do you communicate any safety messages?

"But in webinars and conference calls, business leaders and management strategists are discussing what steps must be taken to bring workers back to America's offices… The bar is likely to be very high, says David Lewis, who has been on a lot of those calls as CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources consulting company." Nothing will be the same. Who knows, maybe this will lead to the end of cubicle and open-workspace fanaticism (probably not, because those decisions are based more on floorspace costs than actual workflow).

"Restaurants say their industry needs its own targeted recovery fund because the bailout package Congress passed last month is making it more attractive for their staff to draw unemployment benefits than to continue working… The new Paycheck Protection Program waives repayment of small business loans if the borrower uses 75 percent of the money to maintain payroll, a measure intended to reduce layoffs. But with the expanded unemployment benefits included in the stimulus bill, some workers can as much as double their weekly checks if they stay unemployed." Again, I'm not familiar with all the state's unemployment regulations, but in Ohio if you refuse a job offered to you (any job you qualify for) you lose all unemployment. "(I)n 2019… the average weekly benefit nationwide was $370. A $600 sweetener… raises the average weekly benefit to $970, an amount that approximates average weekly pay nationwide and is nearly double average weekly pay within the food industry: about $500 nationwide for full-time workers." I think I see the real problem here. Pay your workers a goddamn livable rate.

"As the COVID-19 crisis took hold and schools in Lockhart, Texas, had to close and shift to remote learning, the school district quickly conducted a needs assessment… They found that half of their 6,000 students have no high-speed Internet at home. And despite being a short drive south of Austin, a third of all the students and staff live in 'dead zones,' where Internet and cell service aren't even available." Oh, hello digital divide. I wonder where you had gotten to. Also just noting at home I can only get DSL service (and it's crappy DSL at that) because the developer in my neighborhood put in substandard cable because in rural America construction codes are for chumps.

"Canada’s worst mass shooting started as a domestic dispute between the gunman and his girlfriend, who survived the attack, a police official said late Thursday." Not entirely surprising. Although they make it sound like it was a crime of passion. "Police have said Wortman carried out much of the attack disguised as a police officer in a vehicle marked to seem like a patrol car. They say he shot people in and around their homes and set fires to homes in Portapique." Nobody in a fit of passion thinks, "hey, let me get a uniform, and then let me paint my car to look like a police car."

"Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had to have a discussion with her 12-year-old son after the pair received a racist text regarding her efforts to keep the city closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said Thursday… In a Wednesday night tweet, the mayor said she received a text addressing her by the n-word and demanding, 'just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA!'"

So one of the more pernicious parts of 1984 (that's often overlooked, because it's only mentioned a few times) is that people feel the need to wear expressions of happiness and compliance for all the video cameras watching them (or may be watching them). "As social distancing remains in effect across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, people are moving from one video call to another. But there may be an unintended effect, mental health and communications experts warn: 'Zoom fatigue,' or the feeling of tiredness, anxiousness or worry with yet another video call." Big Brother is watching. And we invited him in.

Definition of a mensch. "US actor Tom Hanks has written a letter and sent a Corona-brand typewriter gift to an Australian boy who said he was bullied because of his name - Corona… Corona De Vries, 8, first wrote to the Toy Story actor and his wife Rita Wilson after they fell sick with the virus in Queensland."

What do real engineers do? "Researchers at NASA developed a 'high-pressure' ventilator for treating patients with the coronavirus in just 37 days and it is seeking expedited approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)… The new machine can be built more quickly and uses fewer parts than a traditional ventilator, according to NASA… NASA noted that the machine would not replace current ventilators, which can last for years and are built to help a larger range of patients than those with coronavirus. It said in a Friday statement that VITAL is intended to last up to four months and is 'specifically tailored' for coronavirus patients." Whispers, 4 months is actually pretty good. You would be astounded at how flimsily and poorly constructed most "medical grade" devices not for implantation are. We have machines which are specifically designed and sold as "portable" but can break going over the slightest bump.

"Amazon warehouse employees had been able to take unlimited unpaid time off during the coronavirus pandemic. But starting May 1, Amazon will instead ask workers who want to stay home to use their regular accrued time off or request a leave of absence." So the rollback begins.

They've got their dirty little fingers in everybody's pie. "Citi Tax’s clients — just like some clients of big tax brands such as H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and TurboTax — didn’t get their money for the very reason Congress wanted to get money to them quickly in the first place: They are poor. The Georgia customers, almost all black women, are among the likely millions of Americans who are having trouble getting the stimulus funds they are owed. The IRS’ difficulty in swiftly getting payments to Americans has a basic, root cause: There are multiple private actors sitting between the IRS and tax filers." The system is broken, and unfortunately the only solution people can think of is to make it more complex to extract more fees. It's exactly this kind of shit that the CFPB was created to solve. But conservatives have gutted that in the 3 years Trump has been president. So, conservatives, now that you know that people need to start spending money to save the economy (which is the only real thing you can campaign on, other than abortion restrictions) how do you like your system now? (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A new government program that funnels taxpayer money to churches, synagogues and mosques has brought welcome relief to some financially stressed houses of worship, while leaving others — many of them serving communities of color — still struggling to survive."

"The CARES act, the $2 trillion coronavirus response legislation Congress approved late last month, calls for a government watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, to monitor the spending and the overall federal response to the pandemic. And while President Trump has pushed back on other oversight, it will be difficult for him to block the GAO's work."

"Donald Trump is warning 'China will own the United States' if Joe Biden is elected president… But Trump himself is tens of millions of dollars in debt to China: In 2012, his real estate partner refinanced one of Trump’s most prized New York buildings for almost $1 billion. The debt includes $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China — its first loan of this kind in the U.S. — which matures in the middle of what could be Trump’s second term, financial records show."

Friday, April 24, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

Lots of alligators of all kinds this morning, so just a quick one (might post something new later today or tomorrow to catch up with the news). But just a general comment… I don't know who fucking reversed the tachyon flow, but this is dumbest timeline ever.

"A new 'Star Wars' series is in the works at Disney Plus, Variety has learned from sources. The series hails from Leslye Headland, the co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the critically-acclaimed Netflix series 'Russian Doll.'" Many outlets have called this a "female-focused" Star Wars series, which has promptly caused me to change my head cannon of the first 6 films to the "sausage-fest" Star Wars series.

"The Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be very active, fueled by very warm ocean temperatures in the tropics, according to several forecasts including a report released April 16 by The Weather Channel… A total of 18 named storms — nine of them hurricanes — are predicted in the season starting June 1, according to the Atlanta-based weather forecasting company, which is owned by IBM. That’s higher than the seasonal average of 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, determined by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration."

"Apple Inc is planning to fix a flaw that a security firm said may have left more than half a billion iPhones vulnerable to hackers." Oopsie.

"The ultimate purpose of Starlink, of course, is to serve high-quality internet to customers anywhere on Earth, ranging from the deep winter Arctic to the middle of the Australian outback – places that are fundamentally underserved." I really hope the price is actually affordable, better than DSL, and available to us ruralians. (insert gif of "I mean, it's one banana, Michael. What could it cost? Ten dollars?" here)

"The Florida Aquarium celebrated Earth Day this year by announcing a history-making accomplishment that could help save the United States' only living coral barrier reef from extinction. For the first time, scientists at the aquarium's Center for Conservation reproduced ridged cactus coral in human care." That's great, but a zoo is not the wild and the problem is not with the coral themselves.

"Overall, about 20% of Covid-19 patients treated at Northwell Health died, and 88% of those placed on ventilators died, according to the study." That ain't good. But to be fair, again, many people put on ventilators don't survive just like many people who receive CPR don't survive.

"Trump's numbers on the flu have come into question, but even by his own cited numbers, there have now been far more deaths from COVID-19 — in less than two months. As the chart below shows, the curve nationally is hardly flattening by that measure." Jazz hands.

"Health care providers in coronavirus hot spots will receive $10 billion in bailout funds as early as next week, and hospitals will soon receive money for treating uninsured patients, the Trump administration said Wednesday." And what about the rural hospitals who mostly shut down waiting for a surge that hasn't happened (yet)? Apparently there is money for them.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday warned the battle against the coronavirus was in its early stages and that the pandemic looked set to be part of life for the long term."

"Shortly after his televised comments (saying we'd have test shortly), Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him 'the dog breeder.'" Hell of a job, Alex. (Grokked from Random Michelle K)

"The boss of Ryanair says the airline will not resume flights if it has to keep middle seats empty to fight Covid-19, calling the idea 'idiotic'… Michael O'Leary said he was hopeful 80% of flights could resume by October if travel restrictions are eased in July." Good luck with that. Fly Coronavirus Air, the cheapest fare anywhere.

"California has been approved to borrow what is expected to be billions of dollars from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits to those left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic, raising concerns about the cost of repaying the debt."

From Fox News… "President Trump said Wednesday that he's instructed the U.S. Navy to 'shoot down and destroy' any Iranian gunboats harassing American ships, in the wake of a tense encounter in the Persian Gulf." "Um, sir," said the big man in his crisp uniform, huge muscles, tears in his eyes, "you don't shoot down boats. They aren't flying." Also, this would give the Iranians cases belli.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin… "Brian Westrate, the treasurer of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, posted to a private Facebook group for organizers and some attendees of the Madison rally… 'Ok folks, I implore you, please leave Confederate flags and/or AR15s, AK47s, or any other long guns at home,' Mr. Westrate wrote. 'I well understand that the Confederacy was more about states rights than slavery. But that does not change the truth of how we should try to control the optics during the event.'… In an interview, Mr. Westrate acknowledged writing the post and said it may be futile to ask the rally participants to limit the variety of their political motivations." Well, at least they're now admitting to it. "'All indications are that these are manufactured protests,' Ms. Rhodes-Conway said. 'They are seeking attention. I think they are getting more attention than they deserve.'" (Grokked from Laura J Mixon) How dumb is the president? "After hearing presentation President Trump suggests irradiating people's bodies with UV light or injecting them with bleach or alcohol to deal with COVID19." There's video. Where he said this. On camera. In front of a crowd. Now, besides the utter stupidity of these suggestions (seriously, don't do these) showing us the president doesn't have the sense God gave geese, is him saying that his medical advisors said they "would look into it." That's the level of dysfunction here. No one, none of his advisors, was willing to correct the president by saying, "Mr. President, that would kill people." Instead they knew they couldn't do that. They couldn't tell the president the truth. Expect them to try and walk this back or explain it away. He will kill us all.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Linkee-poo Thursday

"At least five people were killed as severe weather raged across Texas, Oklahoma and the Southeastern United States on Wednesday."

"Americans, many of whom have been stuck at home for several weeks, may dream of returning to the pre-coronavirus "normal," but only in a theoretical, aspirational sense. Polling has consistently shown that Americans do not want to become fully open right now, because they perceive a serious health risk from doing so." Funny how your perception changes when it might be your death that is needed to restart the economy.

"U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he “totally disagrees” with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s phase 1 plans to reopen tattoo parlors, bars, hair salons and other nonessential businesses this week." Schizophrenics gonna schizo.

"In Wednesday's most stunning development, a top administration official working on a vaccine claimed he was ousted after resisting efforts to push unproven drugs promoted by President Donald Trump and his conservative media cheerleaders as "game changer" treatments… That news was followed by a bewilderingly inconsistent White House briefing. Conflicting messages on when to reboot the economy, the need for testing and the possibility of a resurgence of the virus combined with Trump's effort to suppress facts that jar with his insistence that the end of a nightmare likely to last many more months is near."

"A University of Washington model of coronavirus deaths was updated—and increased 10%— Wednesday to include a presumed increase in nursing home deaths (according to CNN), ultimately predicting the country will see 66,000 deaths from the disease by August."

"Experts say it’s possible that some of the jump in at-home death stems from people infected by the virus who either didn’t seek treatment or did but were instructed to shelter in place, and that the undercount is exacerbated by lack of comprehensive testing. It’s also possible that the increase in at-home deaths reflects people dying from other ailments like heart attacks because they couldn’t get to a hospital or refused to go, fearful they’d contract COVID-19." (Grokked from someone, sorry)

"Yet finding refrigeration units to store the remains was becoming harder, too; many companies were reluctant to rent to funeral homes in the midst of a pandemic. Funeral directors were left with little choice but to crank their air-conditioners and continue working. Like Sherman’s, one parlor in Rego Park, Queens, had converted a chapel into a 'makeshift refrigerator.'" Collecting the dead in New York. (Grokked from Laura Mixon, I think)

"New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced the launch of a massive contact tracing program in an effort to better contain the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). How massive? How about larger-than-any-contact-tracing-effort-that’s-been-attempted-before-in-the-U.S. massive?" Waits for the conspiracy theories to begin.

"In the past few weeks the United States has witnessed an unprecedented spike in jobless claims that has overwhelmed state agencies. Alongside a health crisis and an economic crisis, we are now entering into a devastating period of mass unemployment, one that—decades of research tell us—will leave deep financial and psychological scars for the workers and families trapped within it. Today, Americans across party lines recognize the need to act quickly to minimize this harm, but that bipartisan support will soon fade, as it has in past recessions. If Congress and state governments are going to pass forward-thinking legislation to help unemployed and precariously employed workers, now is the time."

"The number of people forced out of work during the coronavirus lockdown continues to soar to historic highs. Another 4.4 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week around the country, the Labor Department said… That brings the total of jobless claims in just five weeks to more than 26 million people. That's more than all the jobs added in the past 10 years since the Great Recession."

"A doctor who was removed as head of the federal agency that is helping develop a vaccine for the coronavirus said he was ousted after he resisted widespread adoption of a drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19."

"US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to temporarily suspend the approval of some green cards… Critics have accused him of using the pandemic as cover to ram through long-sought hardline immigration policies in an election year." Because that's what this is.

From earlier this month, but… "On Wednesday, March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that, because of the spread of the new coronavirus, the following week would be a non-working week in Moscow, and the city's residents should stay indoors… On Friday evening, about 730,000 cars, carrying perhaps 10% of Moscow's 12.7 million population, left the capital, centre of Russia's epidemic, for the countryside, according to Moscow's transport department."

"The half-loaf agreement that Democratic and Republican negotiators reached on Tuesday to replenish the the government’s emptied-out small-business rescue offered nothing on one of Democrats’ top negotiating demands… Republicans would not negotiate on the aid in this 'interim' bill to reup the Payroll Protection Program, and with restaurants and bookstores collapsing by the day, Democrats agreed to defer it to the next relief bill… Around the same time, though, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—who had just secured more money for PPP, and a month ago had secured all the money that large corporations would ever need—suggested it might be time for Congress to declare victory and call it a day."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he favors allowing states struggling with high public employee pension costs amid the burdens of the pandemic response to declare bankruptcy rather than giving them a federal bailout." Because fuck the people, that's why.

"As his own health officials continue to warn against nonessential travel, Trump has privately urged aides over the past week to start adding official events back to his schedule, including photo ops and site visits that would allow him to ditch Washington for a few hours. The day trips would be similar to those Vice President Mike Pence has made visiting businesses during the viral pandemic, according to three people familiar with the planning." He feels his control is starting to slip.

"More than a quarter of the country's 18- to 29-year-olds say that their lives are worse because of President Trump, according to a new poll, the latest to show the motivating impact the president could have on the youngest subset of voters this election year."

"Because from the early ‘90s, when bankers and lenders in New York and state regulators in New Jersey could have all but ended him, to his herky-jerky presidential campaign in 2015 and ’16, to his aberrant, hyperactive presidency, Trump has built an astonishingly consistent record of surviving crises, of dodging the comeuppance everyone assumes is coming his way, and then turning seeming calamity into his next great opportunity—and emerging not just intact but emboldened." Politico is starting to whipsaw.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Linkee-poo paved over paradise and put up a parking lot

So, speaking of things gravely ill and on ventilators, happy Earth Day.

"Ingram Content Group has created Bookfinity.com, a consumer-facing website to help booklovers choose the next 'great read' and make the "discovery process both fun and easy and in the process, aiming to expand book discoverability, bolster book sales and get more great books in the hands of readers.… When a user wants to purchase a book, buy buttons go to Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple Books or Target." Most of those companies source a majority of their books from Ingram. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Fifty years after the first Earth Day helped spur activism over air and water pollution and disappearing plants and animals, significant improvements are undeniable. But monumental challenges remain… Black, brown and poor communities suffer disproportionately from ongoing contamination. Deforestation, habitat loss and overfishing have wreaked havoc on global biodiversity. And the existential threat of climate change looms larger than anything that came before."

"The strange thing is, though, that despite the uneasy connection between environmental news reports and apocalyptic films, climate change is mentioned in hardly any of them."

"The justices sparred in dueling opinions over the notion of 'paternalistic central planning,' a formulation Gorsuch used in his dissent and one that suggested his colleagues in the majority were practically communists or—almost as loathsome—socialists. Roberts, for his part, defended a centralized approach to environmental cleanups under federal law and evidently resented his colleague’s claims."

The year without a Santa Claus. "Yet another famous event has fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, German officials announced that this year's Oktoberfest has been canceled."

"New autopsy results show two Californians died of coronavirus in early and mid-February -- up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus." Ta-da!

"Some COVID-19 survivors will never recover completely from a condition known as post-intensive-care-unit syndrome, she says. It can produce long-term disabilities from muscle wasting, organ damage, brain damage, and PTSD… As a result, many COVID-19 survivors will need months or years of rehabilitation. But a few have been able to bounce back quickly."

"Health officials in Wisconsin said they have identified at least seven people who appear to have contracted the coronavirus from participating in the April 7 election, the first such cases following in-person voting that was held despite widespread concern about the public health risks." Yep. There's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

"Why, he asked, did tests say he still had the virus more than two months after he first contracted it?… The answer to that question is a mystery baffling doctors on the frontline of China’s battle against COVID-19, even as it has successfully slowed the spread of the coronavirus across the country." The tests are't accurate, and this is a tricky virus.

"Singapore’s coronavirus cases exceeded 10,000 on Wednesday as infections among migrant workers living in dormitories continued to surge."

"Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season." Given the move to reopen economies, I don't think 1) the second wave will wait until October and 2) the Southern hemisphere has been dealing with their own outbreaks, Summer is not going to "save" us. You need to get that out of your head. Why does Summer work on existing flu and colds? Well, it doesn't. But it does help with social distancing, and much of the time outdoors has some benefit from UV radiation. Mostly it's the social distancing and our herd immunity that helps break the chain of infection. There is no herd immunity to SARS-CoV2. But the main concern here, that we won't be through with COVID-19 by the time the seasonal flu starts hitting hard again. And that will really suck.

"A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported… The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19, which has killed more than 171,000 people as of Tuesday." Oopsie. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is defending his decision to secure half a million coronavirus test kits from South Korea instead of waiting for assistance from the federal government… The decision to lean on a foreign government has drawn a rebuke from President Trump, who said of Hogan, 'I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would've been helpful.'" Oh, Mr. "You're On Your Own" is now upset people are succeeding on their own.

"President Donald Trump says there are plenty of coronavirus tests available, while many governors raise alarms, saying they continue to run short even as states begin to lift their stay-at-home orders."

"The fastest test being used to diagnose people infected with the coronavirus appears to be the least accurate test… Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic tested 239 specimens known to contain the coronavirus using five of the most commonly used coronavirus tests, including the Abbott ID NOW… But the ID NOW only detected the virus in 85.2% of the samples, meaning it had a false-negative rate of 14.8 percent, according to Dr. Gary Procop, who heads COVID-19 testing at the Cleveland Clinic and led the study." Makes jazz hands. False negatives are deadly.

"Challenges in collecting data, a patchwork of state tracking systems and patients who die at home mean the true toll of Covid-19 on US healthcare workers is unknown." And let me state here, the people being hit the hardest are the environmental services crews. They have very little training to handle this, and to be frank, the procedures and policies for cleaning haven't been updated to account for coronavirus. Also, until recently, if we came down with symptoms we were not being tested.

"A state prison has become a hot spot of the COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio, with at least 1,828 confirmed cases among inmates — accounting for the majority of cases in Marion County, which leads Ohio in the reported infections. Ohio officials say an aggressive testing program is responsible for the large number." No, having a huge infection rate in the incarcerated population is responsible for the high number.

"According to the lawsuit, Barkai had expressed concerns to management about the lack of personal protective equipment and staffing shortages at the end of January or early February, more than a month before the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Michigan. She allegedly told hospital officials she would report potential violations to government agencies." Many hospitals have very stringent social media rules mostly to protect patients' private health information (covered under HIPAA). And it is quit possible making a video in the hospital is prohibited. But showing up hospital management for the incompetencies and in adequacies is one sure way to the unemployment line. So I guess now I need to explain some new terms I've been using. When I say "ta-da" or "jazz hands", I'm usually indicating something we've been talking about at the hospital between us workers.

"While Indonesia’s neighbors scrambled early this year to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation insisted that everything was fine." And now it's not. Again, if you think Summer will help this all go away, you're fooling yourselves.

"The tension in America between the national government and states' rights is as old as the republic itself. That tension is about to play out in a starkly political way and on a grand scale over the next several weeks, as states consider how to reopen their states in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic… President Trump seems to be itching for states to reopen — frankly, faster than his own administration's guidelines recommend." It always was going to be a political decision, but it would be best if it wasn't driven solely by political concerns.

"A panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against doctors using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities." Sad trombones. Unfortunately the president cannot be sued for malpractice.

"The U.S. Senate has approved a measure to add roughly $484 billion in new funds to bolster the already record-breaking coronavirus response legislation."

"Banks handling the government's $349 billion loan program for small businesses made more than $10 billion in fees — even as tens of thousands of small businesses were shut out of the program, according to an analysis of financial records by NPR." Heinous fuckery.

"Lenders are pleading with lawmakers to save the Small Business Administration's 7(a) program, which was the government's primary lending plan for small firms before Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program to fight layoffs during the pandemic through forgivable loans. The much smaller and more traditional 7(a) program allows lenders to make government-backed loans to businesses that might otherwise be unable to get credit."

"Harvard University has pushed back against US President Donald Trump after he demanded it pay back nearly $9m (£7.3m) in coronavirus relief aid… The president said he was unhappy that the ultra-wealthy Ivy League college had received stimulus money… But the university said the funds would help students facing 'urgent financial needs' because of the pandemic."

"When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category."

"In the January 2020 recording, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre criticizes ongoing investigations by the New York and Washington, D.C., attorneys general, bemoaning 'the power of weaponized government.' And he told the NRA's board of directors, assembled for the group's winter meeting in January, that the organization has had to make $80 million in cuts to stay afloat." Thoughts and prayers. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"National security adviser Robert O'Brien has accused the World Health Organization of being 'a bit of a propaganda tool for the Chinese,' and said the White House is investigating whether money from China influenced the WHO's judgments during the coronavirus crisis." There aren't enough face-palms for this administration. Do conservatives realize that there are things such as records and search algorithms that can help you see just how much of a farce this is? This is just blame placing.

"The state of Missouri is suing China for that country's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. It's the first such lawsuit brought by a state, and it relies on an unusual interpretation of federal law." Those last 5 words basically means this is bullshit. Blame placing. "China, however, is protected by sovereign immunity." But hey, Missouri, let's not stop you from spending tax dollars on this idiocy.

"Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s attempt to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic cannot be enforced, a federal judge has ruled." You assholes made it time sensitive, now you've got to deal with it.

"The world is awash in oil, there’s little demand for it and we’re running out of places to put it… That in a nutshell explains this week’s strange and unprecedented action in the market for crude oil futures contracts, where traders essentially offered to pay someone else to deal with the oil they were due to have delivered next month."

"While the president and his advisers talk about "reopening" the economy, there are parts of it that never closed… In recent week there's been a squeeze on Charmin and other brands of toilet paper. De los Rios and his colleagues are making as much as they can, running the plant 24 hours a day, while also taking steps to protect the health of the 2,200 people who work there."

"But even though she had customers, Marietta was reluctantly forced to close the coffee shop just over a week ago. With the federal government now offering $600 a week on top of the state's unemployment benefits, she said her former employees can make more money staying home than they did on the job." Let me call bullshit right here. You can't get unemployment for leaving voluntarily, or for being fired for cause (like making sure you screw up enough to be fired). Yes, some states do weigh disagreements to the favor of the former employee, but not that much. Secondly, at least in Ohio, if you are offered a job, any job, and you refuse, you lose your unemployment benefit. Only people who never have been on unemployment would think this was a thing. This is someone looking for an excuse.

"Monikers have followed Martin Pichinson for his whole career, given his line of work. He winds down technology companies, selling off their assets in their final days. And so, in some corners, Pichinson has become known as the 'Undertaker of Silicon Valley.'… Now, once again, Pichinson says, his business is booming because of the coronavirus pandemic."

"A severe oversupply continued to hammer oil prices a day after they turned negative for the first time ever. That sign of crashing demand in the global economy sent stocks indexes down again (on Tuesday)."

"President Donald Trump said Tuesday his forthcoming executive order barring new immigration will apply only to people seeking green cards, last 60 days and won't affect workers entering the country on a temporary basis." Someone has got to mow the president's golf courses and clean his rooms. Also, remember that travel ban that was also supposed to be temporary? Still in place.

Never let a crisis go to waste. "Coronavirus-related slurs against Jews are promoted mainly by 'extreme rightists, ultra-conservative Christian circles, Islamists, and to a minor extent by the far-left,' according to an annual report on global anti-Semitism by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University. This year's report, which notes an 18% increase in anti-Semitic violence in 2019, was issued on Monday, ahead of Israel's annual commemoration of victims of the Holocaust."

"A new Senate report undercuts claims by President Trump and his allies that Obama-era officials sought to undermine him while investigating Russia’s 2016 election meddling." You know, the Republican led Senate, found that the Mueller Report and the IG's reports were factual and correct, thereby implying the guilt of the administration. (Grokked from Michelle)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Linkee-poo Tuesday

"The first known comet to visit us from another star system has an unusual make-up, according to new research… The interstellar comet 2I/Borisov was detected in our Solar System last year… New data suggests it contains large amounts of carbon monoxide - a possible clue to where it was 'born'."

Dagon goes missing. "In its place was... nothing, leading astronomers to the conclusion that the spot was never an exoplanet at all. Instead, they now believe the bright spot visible in those early Hubble images was an even rarer sight - the aftermath of a collision between two asteroid-sized planetesimals."

"John McDaniel railed against Ohio's Gov. Mike DeWine's lockdown order on social media. Weeks later he contracted the virus. A few days ago he died." The problem is who else he might have infected and the impact of his hospitalization had on other patients. I can't wait for the "he died as he lived…" hot takes. (Grokked from Anne Wheaton)

And another one bites the dust. "After a handful of workers at the JBS pork processing plant came down with COVID-19, health experts jumped into action. A team of MDH investigators went to Worthington Friday to help determine how widespread the outbreak had become."

Ah, the simple Amish life… "A noise complaint led the Geauga County Sheriffs Department to a barn party that defied Governor Mike DeWine’s social distancing orders… According to officials, there was a large party inside the barn that housed over 100 partygoers… The Sheriff’s Department says that EMS was called because of a man who was intoxicated and wouldn’t wake up." We're just waiting for COVID-19 to hit that population, because it's going to be horrendous. And unless they're all dying at home (which is possible), we really haven't seen it yet.

"The Covid-19 outbreak in Los Angeles County is likely far more widespread than previously thought, up to an estimated 55 times bigger than the number of confirmed cases, according to new research from the University of Southern California and the LA Department of Public Health." Ta-da!

"The true death toll from coronavirus in England and Wales up to April 10 was about 41% higher than the UK government's daily update, according to data released by the country's Office of National Statistics (ONS)… The daily updates on the government's website only include deaths in hospitals -- not other locations, including hospices, care homes and private residences. They also don't account for the lag in reporting some deaths." And it's not only England and Wales.

"An arrest warrant was issued Monday for Tony Spell, the Louisiana pastor who has defied state orders against large gatherings, who is alleged to have nearly hit a protester with his church bus… Spell will be charged with aggravated assault for backing his bus too close to a protester in a confrontation caught on tape, said police in the city of Central, near Baton Rouge."

"Over the last few weeks, it has started to appear as though, in addition to abandoning the states to their own devices in a time of national emergency, the federal government has effectively erected a blockade… to prevent delivery of critical medical equipment to states desperately in need. At the very least, federal authorities have made governors and hospital executives all around the country operate in fear that shipments of necessary supplies will be seized along the way… having evacuated federal responsibility, the White House is functionally waging a war against state leadership and the initiative of local hospitals to secure what they need to provide sufficient treatment."

"The Trump administration took Surgeon General Jerome Adams off television last week after his controversial remarks on Covid-19's threat to minorities, silencing the White House's loudest voice on racial disparities even as concerns mount about risks to communities of color."

"Evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in bats in China in late 2019 and was not made in a laboratory, the World Health Organization said Tuesday… The comment from the United Nation’s health agency comes days after President Donald Trump said the U.S. was trying to determine whether the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China." This argument was never about facts, this is about redirecting the anger from the US's late response to China. The "this was built in a lab" argument has been disproven many times over (adjusted or manufactured bioweapons have tell-tale signatures in the DNA, the coronavirus has none of them, it's not been modified except by natural selection). Note the "waffling" language (such as "most likely" is standard scientific "you can never be too sure, even though we are 99% certain) is just the way actual scientist speak.

"Republican Governor Brian Kemp announced at a Monday press conference that some Georgia businesses would be able to reopen later this week… 'I don't give a damn about politics now,' said Kemp, who made the call after the state's health department advised that new cases were flattening." That's hilarious since this move is entirely about politics. Kemp is a willful ignorant idiot.

"This was a debate that was largely about nothing. Why? Because Democrats and Republicans mostly agreed about all the items that they were fighting for. At some point, Congress is going to have to send hundreds of billions of dollars to states and local governments." That doesn't mean the parties are the same, but each side knew they were going to have to get here and do all of it eventually.

"President Trump, in a late-night tweet Monday, said he 'will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States' in order to protect against the coronavirus and its economic toll." Oh, hello there Stephen Miller. I thought you had gone to the basement with all the other rats, you Nazi, racist, bastard. Stopping immigration will do nothing to help with the coronavirus outbreak, and every economic study shows the US benefits from immigration.

"The US is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery, according to a US official with direct knowledge… A second source familiar with the intelligence told CNN that the US has been closely monitoring reports on Kim's health."

"The Korean won weakened sharply on Tuesday against the dollar on unconfirmed reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seriously ill."