May 7, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 4:07 PM


Hydroxychloroquine fails to help hospitalized coronavirus patients in US funded study (Berkeley Lovelace Jr., 5/07/20, CNBC)

Hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump, didn't appear to help hospitalized patients with Covid-19, according to a new observational study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, looked at 1,376 consecutive patients who showed up at the emergency room with symptoms of coronavirus.

Nearly 60%, or 811 of the patients, received the drug within 48 hours and were found, on average, to be more severely ill than those who didn't receive the drug, the researchers said.

The wingnuts can never win their war on science.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Beauty of Bankruptcy (KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON, May 7, 2020, National Review)

Because bankruptcy is associated with something that we are deeply uncomfortable talking about -- business failure and personal financial distress -- our bankruptcy procedures remain among the great unsung achievements of American life. We have retained the Victorian terror of bankruptcy, both the thought and the word itself -- recall Donald Trump's avoidance of the word "bankruptcy" when talking about being forced to take one of his struggling businesses and "throw it into a chapter," his favorite evasive euphemism for bankruptcy. But bankruptcy in our time is not a disaster on par with dying in a cholera epidemic. Though it may be embarrassing and painful, our bankruptcy process performs the invaluable service of codifying the terms of failure. And failure is essential to the success of a free and dynamic economy -- a world without it is a world without innovation and growth.

Failure is one of the main ways we adapt our economic arrangements to new conditions. Sometimes, those new conditions emerge slowly, as with the death by inches of many American newspaper publishers; sometimes, those conditions change almost overnight, as with the coronavirus.

It is famously the case that most new businesses fail. And that is especially true of small businesses, though it is good to keep in mind that many of today's corporate behemoths (Microsoft, Facebook, Apple) were once small businesses, too. Among new small businesses, one in five fail in their first year, and half fail by their fifth year. One wonders why entrepreneurs bother with the risks and demands of starting something new when many of them, being capable and energetic, might find comfortable salaried employment at a well-established firm. The answer has to do with risk and reward. Successful entrepreneurship is generally much more lucrative than is a successful career managing someone else's business: There are not very many billionaires who made their money on salary, but even at the less rarefied levels of business life, an entrepreneur who starts a successful dry cleaner or a prospering coffee shop will generally earn much more than someone who manages a dry cleaner or a coffee shop started by someone else. The upside is great -- and, equally important, the downside is not as grim as it could be.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Lynching Then and Lynching Now: Racial Justice as Christian Imperative (Malcolm Foley, May 7, 2020, Mere Orthodoxy)

The United States has a long history of racial terror lynchings. Particularly from the Civil War until this day, thousands of Black men, women and children have been indiscriminately killed for a myriad of reasons. When that killing took place at the hands of 3 or more, it was called a lynching. In attempts to address the phenomenon legally, the definition of the term has been restricted, particularly by the NAACP, to be a killing in which the killers acted under the pretext of justice, their race, or tradition.

If this is in fact the definition of lynching, Ahmaud Arbery was undeniably lynched.

But Black communities (and anyone familiar with this history) do not need that definition to see the resonance and to feel the terror that comes with reading such a story.

The same feeling wracked communities in Montgomery, Alabama on July 25, 1917 when Will and Jesse Powell were lynched to a tree for brushing against a farmer's horse.

That same feeling wracked communities in Missouri and Arkansas in June, 1926, when Albert Blades, 22, was hanged and burned for attacking a small white girl. Evidence actually suggests, however, that he was merely present at a picnic grounds where this girl was playing with her friend and she was startled by his presence.

That same feeling wracked communities in Texas and around the country when Botham Jean was murdered in his own apartment.

The message was the same then as it is now: if you "fit the description", you are not safe to walk. You are not safe to sit in your own apartment. You are not safe to run outside. Such is the purpose of racial terror lynchings, both now and historically.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Islam in America (Jeffrey Bristol, 5/07/20, Law & Liberty)

The difference in political imagination between disestablishment and Laïcité is a primary driver of this divergence. As Manent observes, Laïcité is structured on the division between public and private spheres. It assumes a neat distribution of social activities along this dichotomy. Social phenomena, however, are not so discretely categorizable. For example, it is unclear whether a student wearing a veil in school adorns her body, a private act, or promotes her religion in a government facility, a public one. Given this ambiguity, Laïcité creates line-drawing controversies where conflict becomes inevitable, especially when a minority group is more religious than the whole.

The relationship between religion, government, and civil society is different in the United States. Rather than controlling or containing religion, American political thought holds religion as a positive public good, one the government should allow to flourish. Thus, American disestablishment does not seek to purge religion from public space. Instead, it allows religion to thrive, promoting the free intercourse of peoples from all faiths. Disestablishment thus avoids Laïcité's line-drawing problems and its subsequent discriminatory laws.

Despite many Americans' discomfort with new religions, American civil and political society's embrace of religion allows religious minorities and newcomers to adapt readily to their new context, not only strengthening the minority's position within American society but also reinforcing liberal American civic traditions.

For several years, I have conducted research on Sharia's role in America's Islamic communities. What has impressed me most is  American Muslims' dedication to the principles of constitutional liberty. They understand the secret that has long guaranteed our freedom and rights: only mutual respect and self-organization under the law ensures that individuals enjoy liberty. They also know the best way to realize these goals is by building civil society.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Another Scandal. Another Whistleblower. Another Impeachment? (KIM WEHLE  MAY 7, 2020, The Bulwark)

[B]right is an expert in the development and production of vaccines to combat menaces like the coronavirus. He has a track record of success. America is drowning in the coronavirus crisis. Why, in the midst of the pandemic, would the Trump administration toss aside one of the leading figures in government with expertise and experience?

According to Dr. Bright, he was sidelined for voicing concerns "about the pressure that . . . government officials were exerting on BARDA to invest in drugs, vaccines, and other technologies without proper scientific vetting or that lacked scientific merit." He objected to the administration's award of contracts to companies with political connections rather than "exclusively on scientific merit." Bright insisted "that BARDA would only invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic in safe and scientifically vetted solutions and it would not succumb to the pressure of politics or cronyism." He paid a political price for his integrity as a scientist, physician, and steward of taxpayer dollars.

Dr. Bright was particularly troubled by Trump's reckless promotion of the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, as well as the administration's plan to source these products from uninspected labs in Pakistan and India. In touting the drugs, Trump promised on March 19: "The nice part is, it's been around for a long time, so we know that if it--if things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody." After hydroxychloroquine became a conservative cause célèbre for a few weeks, as the Trump administration's reflexive defenders tripped over one another to praise the president and the drug, the interest petered out--because it became clear that it is not at all the magic bullet they thought it was.

The fight over chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine finally drove a frustrated Bright to go to the press, on the rationale "that Americans needed to have this critical information available to them to better inform them of the risks before taking the medicine." He claims he "felt that he had exhausted all avenues to alert government officials, who refused to listen or take appropriate action to accurately inform the public."

Shortly thereafter, he was removed as BARDA director, allegedly in retaliation for his whistleblowing activity under 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8)(A), which protects employees who disclose information that reveals "any violation of any law, rule, or regulation," or "gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Outrage Mounts After Cell Phone Footage Surfaces of Ahmaud Arbery's Fatal Shooting in Georgia  (MAHITA GAJANAN, MAY 6, 2020, TIME)

Video footage captured by an unidentified witness in a vehicle being driven behind Arbery shows him as he jogs along a two-lane road on Feb. 23. Ahead, a white pickup truck is parked, with one man standing in the truck bed and another standing by the driver's side.

Arbery is seen running toward the truck's right side and he then veers in and out of the camera's frame. A gunshot rings out. Arbery is then seen entering into a struggle with one man, who appears to hold a long gun. Another shot then rings out; Arbery was shot at least twice before he fell to the pavement. [...]

Gregory McMichael said he saw Arbery run by his front yard and alerted his son, according to the police report -- he says they thought he resembled a suspect behind recent break-ins in the neighborhood. Both men then grabbed weapons and attempted to follow Arbery in their pickup truck. After a chase, the men pulled up beside Arbery and shouted at him to stop, McMichael claimed, and Travis McMichael got out of the vehicle with a shotgun. Gregory McMichael alleged that Arbery then attacked Travis and that the men began fighting over the weapon before any shots were fired-- an assertion which appears to contradict the footage appearing to show Arbery only began grappling with a man after the first shot.

They get to relive the joy of murdering Trayvon all over again.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Shocking social media posts yanked by Republican House candidate (ALLY MUTNICK, 05/06/2020, Politico)

One post described the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a rapist and a pedophile. Another mocked a survivor of the Parkland high school shooting. A third accused Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) of "hitting the crack pipe too hard."

The commentary was among now-deleted social media posts and retweets from the accounts of Ted Howze, a Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Josh Harder in a battleground district in California. Others described Islam as "a death cult" and suggested Hillary Clinton and her 2016 campaign chairman, John Podesta, were responsible for the murder of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer.

Who exactly is shocked?  This is Donald's platform.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Researcher testifies to Congress that not a single state meets Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security criteria to reopen safely (Rosie Perper, 5/07/20, BI)

Last month, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created guidance for governors looking to reopen their states, outlining four criteria for phased reopenings. According to the center, states should consider reopening when: 

1. "The number of new cases has declined for at least 14 days;

2. "Rapid diagnostic testing capacity is sufficient to test, at minimum, all people with COVID-19 symptoms, including mild cases, as well as close contacts and those in essential roles;

3. "The healthcare system is able to safely care for all patients, including providing appropriate personal protective equipment for healthcare workers;

4. "There is sufficient public health capacity to conduct contact tracing for all new cases and their close contacts."

Caitlin Rivers, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who co-authored the document, spoke about safely reopening during a hearing with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday and said that, while her comments were her own and did not reflect the university, there are no states that currently meet all of these criteria.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


States so far ahead of Australia government, it's as if they are in a different industrial era (Giles Parkinson7 May 2020, Renew Economy)

What was abundantly clear was that their individual and combined ambition - and this from a tri-partisan mix of Liberal, Labor and Greens ministers - is that the states and territories are so far ahead of the federal Coalition government on climate and energy, it is almost as though they are in a different industrial era.

South Australia's van Holst Pellekaan wants to fast track his state's target of "net 100 per cent" renewables to be reached "by" 2030, rather than "in" the 2030s. That shouldn't be much of a problem, given the Australian Energy Market Operator reckons the state will be at 87 per cent within four years.

Victoria's D'Ambrosio has a legislated target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030, and will have to reach 100 per cent renewables well before 2050 if she isn't to break the climate law she designed and legislated for the state to reach zero emissions by that date.

The ACT's Rattenbury has already reached the territory's target of delivering the equivalent of 100 per cent renewables through a series of contracts with wind and solar farms in S.A., Victoria, NSW and the ACT, and is now plotting more such contracts to ensure that the electrification of transport and buildings (heat and gas) can follow a similar path. The results of a new 200MW renewable energy tender plus storage are before cabinet and should be announced soon. will be antiquated.