Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Reporting from Germany: “Welt am Sonntag”

Welt am Sonntag is reporting our honorable President is attempting to bribe lure a German company CureVac to develop a vaccine  to be used only in the US.

Germany’s Health Ministry confirmed a report in the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag”, which said President Donald Trump had offered bribes funds to lure the German company CureVac to the United States, and the German government was making counter-offers to tempt it to stay.

Welt am Sonntag quoted an unidentified German government source as saying Trump was trying to secure the scientists’ work exclusively, and would do anything to get a vaccine for the United States, “but only for the United States.”

CureVac’s chief production officer and co-founder Florian von der Muelbe told Reuters the company had started with multitude coronavirus vaccine candidates and was now selecting the best two to send into clinical trials.

The privately-held company based in Tübingen, Germany hopes to have an experimental vaccine ready by June or July to then seek the go-ahead from regulators for testing on humans.

Earlier this month CureVac CEO Daniel Menichella met Trump, Pence, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and senior representatives of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to discuss a vaccine.

Professor of Health Economics and Epidemiology Karl Lauterbach, a senior lawmaker with the Social Democrats and a junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition stated:

“The exclusive sale of a possible vaccine to the USA must be prevented by all means. Capitalism has limits.”

Germany tries to stop US from luring away firm seeking coronavirus vaccine, CNBC, March 15, 2020

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Ban Sidesteps Travel Resorts

On the topic of Coronavirus and the travel ban, Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts.

The President’s newly implemented European travel restrictions to the US conveniently side step a ban on nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located. No politics there, just plain greed.

Trump has been under fire for visiting his properties in both countries as president and using taxpayer money to fund his trips to and from while at his own firms. Numerous investigations have been launched and lawsuits filed  throughout his term alleging he is and has been violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by using taxpayer money to is benefit while in office other than his salary to fund his personal trips.

The newly implemented U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban does target 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The United Kingdom is home to Trump’s Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links while Ireland is home to a Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg. Neither Ireland or the United Kingdom participate in the Schengen Area. Additionally, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.

Nothing would stop a citizen of the Schengen area from traveling to the United Kingdom and hopping on a flight to the US if they had not spent time within the Schengen countries in the last 14 days. United Kingdom has logged 460 cases of the Coronavirus.

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Turn Up the Humidity in Your House

This is coming from MEDPAGE TODAY, “Track the U.S. COVID-19 Outbreak in Real Time,” Comments Section (3 comments), March 11, 2020 with regard to  COVID-19

“The mechanism of seasonal effect for seasonal respiratory virus spread is believed to be humidity, not temperature. In New York state which has 220 cases, fomites lose moisture where indoor humidity is low, allowing the lighter particles to stay longer in the aerosol. In Florida and Arizona, with 38 cases, fomites gain moisture and weight from the humid air and fall to the floor faster. Northern Italy, where people wear winter coats in the media reports has dry, heated indoor air, while Southern Italy has humid indoor air.

Humidifying indoor air in schools, stores, churches, etc. may reduce seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, coronoviruses which produce the common cold, rhinoviruses and Covid-19, Airports, airliners, airport shuttles should be the highest priority. The goal should be humidifying to the level seen in summer without transmitting Legionella.”

“The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong have warmer, more humid air and much less Covid-19. Southern Italy has warmer, more humid indoor air than Northern Italy where indoor air is dry. The photographs in the media from places with the highest rate of Covid-19 spread show people wearing winter jackets.”

“In warm humid climates, fomites absorb water from indoor air and sink to the floor. There is a fine layer of dust everywhere indoors and viral particles attach to charged dust particles.

The mechanism for seasonal respiratory virus transmission is: fomite size in dry heated indoor air promotes viral spread. Larger fomites in humid air fall to the floor and react with charged dust particles.”

fomite definition: objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture.

microbiology definition: A fomites (pronounced /ˈfoʊmiːz/) or fomite (/ˈfoʊmaɪt/) is any inanimate object that, when contaminated with or exposed to infectious agents (such as pathogenic bacteria, viruses or fungi), can transfer disease to a new host.

This would include counter tops, etc.

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A Political Judiciary – Sunday Edition

When I was commenting at Slate’s  Moneybox and Best of the Fray sites at least a decade or so ago, Dahlia Lithwick had taken over Jurisprudence. She always gave a sound and fair analysis of court decisions, the impacts of those decisions, and the resulting politics coming out of them. Fast forward   .  .  .  I was reading Schumer’s “reap the whirlwind” comments wondering why he would make such and then wondering why Chief Justice Roberts had not winced sooner on remarks being made about judges and justices while occupying his pulpit chair looking down at the rest of us. Schumer’s remarks are a replay akin to what Justice Brett angrily said to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has not gone unnoticed that Republicans white wash their ilk, Democrats eat their own, and those who comment fail in their commentary to treat this for what it is.

Roberts Denounces Schumer for Talking About Kavanaugh the Way Kavanaugh Talked About the Senate,” Slate’s Jurisprudence, Dahlia Lithwick

“On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had a message for Donald Trump’s two nominees to the Supreme Court as the court heard oral arguments in a landmark abortion case that threatens one of the underpinnings of Roe v. Wade. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!” Schumer warned of the pair’s jurisprudence since arriving on the bench. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

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Book Review; Dying of Whiteness

Hey, I am stealing one (or at least a partial) from another blog. It is on target as I would say and it will provoke comments or at least some thinking about the issue.

Dying of Whiteness, How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland

Lawyers, Guns, & Money, Erik Loomis (Blog writer and Reviewer)

I have not read this book; but it appears to be interesting enough to read. A couple of paragraphs in the review caught my attention and are worth repeating. The commentary (below) is right on the money

Erik Loom: “Donald Trump is absolutely incapable of managing any crisis. We all know this. But a lot of people are wondering whether this will finally be the disaster undermining his support among the base. Reading Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness is a good way to cure yourself of this delusion. Metzl, a doctor at Vanderbilt, has received a lot of publicity for his book and for good reason. It is a straightforward exploration into the heart of Trump’s America, where people know that guns kill, where they know that they have terrible medical care, and where it simply doesn’t matter to them because at least the Mexicans and welfare queens are not getting any benefits either.

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Biden Unfit?

The latest political news is  .   .   .    Trump  claiming Biden is unfit for office. One can hardly imagine this scenario occurring of the pot calling the kettle black; but, this is what Trump is doing.  Biden does have his issues which were on display early on in his campaign. I am hoping Biden has found his groove and can put the real unfit person out-of-office.

August 2019, Trump tweets

Joe Biden just said, ‘We believe in facts, not truth.’ Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president? We are ‘playing’ in a very big and complicated world. Joe doesn’t have a clue!

Max Boot asks the question,

Is this really the debate that Trump wants to have? Does he really want to have an argument about who is “mentally fit to be president” and who has a “clue” about what’s happening in the world? Because his own utterances of the past few days have confirmed what everyone who hasn’t joined his cult already knows: He is both unfit to be president and utterly clueless.

The same Trump is back and opening up another argument of who is fit for office. Earlier in this week he unleashed another attack;

“Sleepy Joe, he doesn’t even know where he is or what he’s doing or what office he’s running for. Honestly, I don’t think he knows what office he’s running for.

If Mr. Biden won the presidency, his staff would actually do the governing. They’re going to put him into a home, other people are going to be running the country, and they’re going to be super-left, radical crazies. And Joe’s going to be in a home and he’ll be watching television.”

No doubt Joe has his issues and gaffs; but having served 8 years as a VP under Obama and numerous years as a Senator and Representative, Biden’s gaffs still do not reach the level of amazement of listeners to Trump’s words and lies , or by readers of his tweets and lies, and the number of instances Trumps has given us during his three and one-half years in office. And he is proud of them, while we shake our heads in disbelief, the rest of the world laughs at him – gossiping behind his back, and take him for the liar he proves to be on a daily basis.

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Conversational Points about Coronavirus and Administration Answers

Newcastle ban handshakes at training ground: “There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning,” said Bruce as he prepared for Saturday’s game against Burnley at St James’ Park. “But we’ve stopped that on the advice of our club doctor. Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do. We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”

Dettol sales surge as markets fall again The disinfectant is seen as providing protection against the spread of the disease, although its effectiveness has not yet been scientifically proven.

Dettol owner Reckitt Benckiser said in its results on Thursday. “We are seeing some increased demand for Dettol and Lysol products and are working to support the relevant healthcare authorities and agencies, including through donations, information and education. We do see increased activity online for our consumers in China,”

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) held a telephone Town Hall Wednesday night. Rep. Ron Kind asked Azar how confident he was that rural providers were up to the task when;

“one out of every three calls into it was talking about the coronavirus. Certainly the concern, if not the fear, is starting to permeate throughout our communities and especially in rural areas. It’s coming, and I’m concerned whether we’re ready for that.”

Azar: “One of the bedrocks of our system is our great hospitals, our great public health infrastructure, and our providers, I worry about infection control protocols in rural facilities, just because they don’t see it as much … I think we have to up the game nationwide around immediate infection control on suspect cases so we don’t get nosocomial infections.”

Past the leap Mulvaney and Cruz are fools

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Conversational Points about Coronavirus and the White House’s Panic

The Incompetency of this man comes to light in a potentially catastrophic period. He instills fear rather than confidence.

White House Moves To Screen Scientists’ Statements On Coronavirus
As fears grow of a politicized White House response to the coronavirus outbreak, the White House has placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of messaging about the virus, the New York Times reported Thursday.”

“Pence, who Trump said Wednesday night would be the White House point person on the outbreak, will clear public health officials’ statements on the virus, the Times reported citing several unnamed people familiar with the matter.”

Not to worry, The Reverend Henry Kane from Indiana takes charge.

White House Reportedly Ordered Infectious Disease Chief ‘Not to Say Anything’ About Coronavirus Without Clearance

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told associates that he has received directions from the White House “not to say anything else without clearance” about the potential coronavirus pandemic.

Writing for the Times, Michael Scherer and Maggie Haberman report about recent efforts by the Trump administration to “tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to clear all statements and public appearance with the office of Vice President Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach.”

Early missteps and state secrecy in China probably allowed the coronavirus to spread farther and faster

“An analysis of those early weeks — from official statements, leaked accounts from Chinese medical professionals, newly released scientific data and interviews with public health officials and infectious disease experts — reveals potential missteps by China’s overburdened public health officials.”

In my mind, there is no doubt this happened in China. Since the White House is more worried about markets than the spread of this contagion, it will spread rapidly with little to contain it. It will be months before an adequate vaccine is found.

President’s budget would hinder US public health progress: Huge cuts proposed“.

The Nation’s Health: “Trump released his fiscal year 2020 federal budget proposal in March, recommending huge cuts across the federal government, including a 12 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a 10 percent cut for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At CDC, a reduction of that magnitude equates to a $750 million spending cut over fiscal year 2019. APHA member John Auerbach, MBA, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, said the proposed CDC cuts not only threaten federal public health capacity, they would have a “devastating” impact on state and local public health departments, which depend heavily on CDC dollars flowing down to the community level.

“Auerbach told The Nation’s Health. “Local health departments are still down more than 50,000 jobs from where they were in 2008. If large cuts like these were passed, it would seriously harm the overall capacity of state and local public health departments to respond.”

Donald Trump Is Worried About . . . The Stock Market!

“Trump is highly concerned about the market and has encouraged aides not to give predictions that might cause further tremors….In a Twitter post, he misspelled the word ‘coronavirus’ as ‘caronavirus’ and wrote that two cable news stations “are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”

As far as the markets, I would be concerned with the China supply chain to the US. At most there is 5-weeks, three on the ocean and a week on each side getting board ship, unloading, and customs. Perhaps companies will have 2 -4 weeks in stock already. We are two-3 weeks into this. China plants are more than likely closed or are half-staffed. Ships woill not call on Chinese ports till the crisis is over or is pronounced safe. The Chinese have fumbled the ball initially by not declaring an emergency sooner. While the epidemic started in a Wuhan fish market, it is now believed the virus originated elsewhere.

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Medicare Could Use the VA’s Negotiation Results on Insulins and Other Drugs

VA-Like Negotiations on Insulin Prices Could Save Medicare Billions, MedPage Today, Zeena Nackerdien, February 21, 2020

I am going to dispense with the reasoning dissing the increased pricing of Insulin and go straight to a pricing strategy. Suffice it to say, the various versions developed of Insulin do not justify the pricing increases seen today.

Recently, Philip Longman (“Best Care Anywhere”) was advocating for Medicare pricing for everyone using commercial healthcare insurance. The only problem with this approach is we are not getting to the root cause of increasing prices for pharma, hospital supplies, and hospitals. Kocher and Berwick breached the same topic with their plan to transition from today’s Commercial Healthcare Insurance to Single Payer by reducing insurance premium growth rates – “limit hospital prices to Medicare prices plus 20 percent.” The authors of this particular article (originally in JAMA)  on Medicare advocate using VA Pricing for Insulin.  Further down is a second article taken from JAMA Network (which I have access to) advocating the use of VA pricing for orally-taken drugs also ands using an approved formulary.

Talking about VA pricing for pharmacy after the leap.

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Katherine Johnson dies at 101

Katherine Johnson, a “‘hidden figure’ at NASA during 1960s space race, dies at 101,” Washington Post, Harrison Smith, February 24, 2020

This is one of those “Oh Wow” moments to note the passing of an important person amongst us. This Physicist – Mathematician, this African-American woman was never recognized or given the honor for the very visible work she did in calculating the trajectories for early space flights manned by Shepard and Glenn, rendezvous paths for the Apollo Lunar Modules and command module on flights to the Moon, and the Space Shuttle Path. Her paper (co-authored by Ted Skopinski) “‘Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position,’ marked the first time a woman wrote a technical report in NASA’s elite flight research division.”

Her title when she first started working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953 was Computer. “She was classified as ‘subprofessional,’ and barely outranked a secretary or janitor.” Recognition did come later in her career and more so when President Barack Obama awarded her the “Presidential Medal of Freedom.”


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