Biohazard

Coronavirus Update

Downtrend in new U.S. infections stalls, fueling concerns over virus variants’ spread

A steady decline in new coronavirus cases in the United States appears to have stalled, public health officials said, warning that new, more transmissible variants could be taking hold. The number of new infections remains critically high, with more than 76,000 cases reported Saturday, even as hospitalizations continue to drop.

The apparent plateau comes as Johnson & Johnson prepares to begin distributing its one-shot vaccine following emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The company will initially supply a limited number of doses, after which it will ramp up production. The hope is that the more flexible vaccine will be easier to deploy in harder-to-reach areas.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday against the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols.
  • While the baseline of cases has fallen in the US, he said the too soon relaxation could lead to a “rebound.”
  • About 70,000 new COVID-19 cases are still diagnosed each day in the US.

U.S. Surpasses 500,000 Covid-19 Deaths, a Monumental Loss of Life

The United States reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted almost a year. The nation’s total virus toll is higher than in any other country in the world. It has far surpassed early predictions of loss by some federal experts. And it means that more Americans have died from Covid-19 than did on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

The United States accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s known Covid deaths, but makes up just 4.25 percent of the global population.

About one in 670 Americans has died of Covid-19, which has become a leading cause of death in this country, along with heart disease and cancer, and has driven down life expectancy more sharply than in decades. The losses, monumental for the country, have been searingly personal for the relatives and friends of the 500,000.

U.S. deaths from Covid-19 came faster as the pandemic wore on. The country’s first known Covid-19 death occurred in Santa Clara County, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2020, and by the end of May, 100,000 people had died. It took four months for the nation to log another 100,000 deaths; the next, about three months; the next, just five weeks.

The virus has reached every corner of America, devastating dense cities and rural counties alike through surges that barreled through one region and then another.

  • Three times the number of people who died in the U.S. in any kind of accident, including highway accidents, in 2019 (167,127).

  • More than eight times the number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia (59,120).

  • More than ten times the number of suicides (48,344).

  • More than the number of deaths from strokes, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and related causes, combined (406,161).

  • Only heart disease (655,381) and cancer (599,274) caused more deaths.

When full data for 2020 is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 will certainly be one of the leading killers.


Global View2

A month ago, the pandemic looked bleak. More than 750,000 coronavirus cases were tallied worldwide in a single day. Infections surged across the entire United States. New variants identified in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa threatened the rest of the world.

Cases are an imperfect measure, and uneven records and testing mask the scope of outbreaks, especially in parts of Africa, Latin America and South Asia. But fewer patients are showing up at hospitals in many countries with the highest rates of infection, giving experts confidence that the decline is real.  The lull in many of the world’s worst outbreaks creates a critical opportunity to keep the virus in retreat as vaccinations begin to take effect.


A COVID end in sight for Hawaii?

Lt. Gov. Josh Green (doctor) who serves as Hawaii’s coronavirus preparedness coordinator, says the acute COVID-19 public health crisis could be over in less than three months, and that life may likely start getting back to normal for many residents by summer.

Still, there seems general agreement that many social and recreational activities can probably resume in the spring, although with precautions.  “I think you can say the end is in sight,” he said.

Green points to several metrics showing the public health crisis appears to be abating. It’s not just the daily case count, Green said, which had dropped to a seven-day average of 41 as of Friday, according to the Department of Public Health.

Another key number is the infection rate, which is now at 0.8%, and dropping. That means of every 8,000 people tested, fewer than 70 turn out to have the virus, he said. And he predicted the rate soon will be closer to 0.6%.

But now we have vaccines, and that’s a big difference, Green says.

The virus simply won’t have as much chance to jump from person to person and run amok. He projects 350,000 people in Hawaii will have at least started getting vaccines by March 1; 600,000 by April 1; 850,000 by May 1 and more than 1 million by June 1. And as more people get vaccinated, the virus will have fewer available hosts to infect.

Hawaii state’s changing public health policy:

COVID-19 vaccinations, who’s next…

Older Hawaii residents with pre-existing medical conditions that make them vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19 will likely have to wait another month before vaccines begin rolling out for them, and the same goes for residents in their mid-to-late 60s.

The DOH newest change is allowing people 70 to 75 years old to become eligible sometime in mid-March during the so-called 1b phase.  This expanded eligibility, comes with what some call a newly defined group or subset of the previously declared older individuals previously defined as Phase 1c qualified.

Hawaii Department of Health Director Libby Char told lawmakers today, in somewhat vague fashion, that the 1c phase would start in the spring, but precisely when was unclear. Char went onto in her public remarks, that before 1c vaccinations begin, an older subset of eligible 1c group residents will go first, regardless of their health status. At the same time younger people, also scheduled for 1c and with chronic diseases, will just have to wait.

Char stressed Hawaii is “vaccinating the right people as quick as we can,” but she said there have been challenges, including shipping delays caused by winter storms on the U.S. continent.

A new shipment of some 70,000 vaccine doses is expected to help Hawaii make up lost ground this week, she said.


Three million shots a day

Unlike his processor, President Biden has been quite cautious in setting its public vaccination goals.  The U.S. presently is averaging 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccinations per day.

Experts now project three million shots per day — probably by April. At that pace, half of adults would receive their first shot by April and all adults who wanted a shot could receive one by June, saving thousands of lives and allowing normal life to return by midsummer.

President Biden told CNN today that anybody who wanted a vaccine would be able to get one “by the end of July.”


Pandemic in retreat?

The number of new coronavirus cases continues to plummet, as does the number of Americans hospitalized with symptoms. Us Cases Retreat

Deaths have also begun to decline. And the number of daily vaccination shots has nearly tripled over the last month.

It’s been a long time since the virus news was as encouraging as it is right now.

The overall situation is still bad. The virus is spreading more rapidly in the U.S. than in almost any other large country, and more than 2,500 Americans are dying daily.

Newly contagious variants may create future outbreaks. For now, though, things are getting better — and a combination of vaccinations, mask wearing and social distancing has the potential to sustain the recent progress.

At least 3,255 new coronavirus deaths and 94,893 new cases were reported in the United States on Feb. 10.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 104,559 cases per day, a decrease of 36 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

As of Thursday morning, more than 27,328,400 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus according to a New York Times database.

  • For the first time since Election Day, fewer than 100,000 new cases were announced nationwide daily on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Case numbers have been falling rapidly for a month.
  • Deaths are also beginning to decrease, though they remain extremely high. Eight states are averaging more than 100 deaths a day.
  • The continued spread of variants could threaten the country’s progress in the weeks ahead.
  • The pace of vaccination continues to slowly increase, with roughly 1.5 million doses being administered each day.
  • States are leaving fewer vaccine doses unused. Through Tuesday, every state but Rhode Island had reported using at least 60 percent of the doses they received.

 


Vaccination1

Vaccine Datra2

 

Hawaii Vaccanation Count


Hawaii trails behind Pacific island territories in the state’s ratio of vaccinations to population. Hawaii ranks 18th in states’ population vaccinated.

Hawaii seniors 75 and older who received their first COVID vaccine during the past 3 weeks are soon scheduled to receive their second (booster) shot — and that has put a squeeze on supplies, limiting others access to the vaccine.  Since the kupuna population 75 and older started getting their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine their second doses will be available starting this week. Moderna recipients are expected to receive their second dose staring next week. Hawaii’s Kupuna population 65 – 74 years of age, many with pre-existing conditions placing them at very high risk, will likely have to wait to May- June under Hawaii’s 1c protocol before they qualify vaccination. Many mainland states have set their 1b (Hawaii’s present stage of the vaccination protocol) for 65 years old and older, including California, Oregon, and Washington.

Hawaii Pacific Health and Queen’s Medical Center are prioritizing second dose recipients ahead of first time applicants, in a statewide vaccine environment already taxed by limited vaccine supplies. Tens of thousands of seniors are in the group due for their second doses, limiting the number of people able to get their first dose for the next few weeks.

“It concerns us that we’re going to be limited to mostly doing second shots and not being able to schedule new appointments for first shots,” said HPH CEO Raymond Vara.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green remains hopeful that the federal government will start sending more vaccines to the islands in the weeks ahead. His expectation is that wider distribution of the vaccine will become available by March.


California Runs Out of Vaccine Doses

Braking News – Thursday, 2-11-21

Facing a shortage of coronavirus vaccine doses, Los Angeles will temporarily close five of its inoculation sites, including one of the country’s largest, at Dodger Stadium, raising new questions about the federal government’s handling of supplies and distribution.

By Thursday, the city will have exhausted its supply of the Moderna vaccine for first-dose appointments, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. The centers will be closed on Friday and Saturday with plans to reopen by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, he said.

“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials are arriving here in Los Angeles,” Mr. Garcetti said. “I’m concerned as your mayor that our vaccine supply is uneven, it’s unpredictable and too often inequitable.”


Hawaii Cases 2 9

Us Cases 2 9


Significant COVID-19 News

  • Oxford vaccine shown to have only limited effect against South African variant of coronavirus

    • Leading vaccine scientists are calling for a rethink of the goals of vaccination programs, saying that herd immunity through vaccination is unlikely to be possible because of the emergence of variants like that in South Africa.
    • The comments came as the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca acknowledged that their vaccine will not protect people against mild to moderate Covid illness caused by the South African variant. The Oxford vaccine is the mainstay of the UK’s immunization program and vitally important around the world because of its low cost and ease of use.
  • U.S. military to help states with coronavirus vaccine sites

    • More than 1,000 active-duty military personnel are poised to support state vaccination sites, the White House said on Friday as the Biden administration continues to look for ways to ramp up the national inoculation effort.
    • New infections in the United States have dropped 17 percent over the past week, but the daily death toll remains high; in total, more than 454,000 people have died of covid complications nationwide.
  • Hawaii’s Department of Health reported Friday the presence of the B.1.1.7 (UK) mutant variant of COVID-19, has been detected in Oahu.

  • The US Senate approved a budget bill early Friday that paves the way for passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package

  • The U.S. gained 49,000 jobs in January, a modest increase amid the labor market’s ongoing strain from the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • About 35.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Johnson & Johnson applied to U.S. regulators for emergency-use authorization after its single-shot coronavirus vaccine proved to be “robustly effective” against illness in a global trial — and especially at preventing severe disease and death.


Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine protects against virus variant dominant in the U.K., but far less effective on South African strain of the virus.

The vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca protects against the highly transmissible coronavirus variant that is dominant in the United Kingdom, according to results from ongoing clinical trials in Britain.

Oxford researchers reported Friday that their vaccine was 75 percent effective against the new variant first detected in the U.K., known as B.1.1.7 — compared with 84 percent efficacy against the original strain that appeared here at the beginning of the pandemic.


J&J Vaccine Falls Short in Covid-19 Effectiveness

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said on Friday that its one-shot coronavirus vaccine failed to demonstrate the extremely high effectiveness that many had hoped to see. The efficacy of J&J’s vaccine came in at 66% in preventing moderate and severe disease, 85% against severe disease alone, and fully effective to prevent hospitalization and death from the virus. Figures differed a bit by geography, including 72% effectiveness in the U.S. and 57% in South Africa, which has seen a recent new variant of the disease come up.

Those numbers are far below Moderna’s 94% and Pfizer’s 96%  effectiveness rates.  J&J argued that earlier trials didn’t take newly mutated variants of COVID-19 into account, thereby adding an extra challenge for the Johnson & Johnson trials.

Nevertheless, the failure of J&J to come up with a highly effective vaccine that requires just one dose and avoids special handling raises introduces additional unknowns into the nation’s supply and demand response to the coronavirus pandemic.


U.S. vaccine program struggles

During the White House’s coronavirus briefing Friday, Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious-disease expert said that the United States must do more to halt the spread of coronavirus and framed the spread of variant strains.

— most recently, a variant first identified in South Africa was reported in South Carolina — as a “wake-up call” to ramp up inoculation efforts.

“It is an incentive to do what we’ve been saying all along: to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we possibly can,” Fauci told reporters.

The U.S. continues to struggle with its vaccine rollout; just 6.6 percent of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine since it became available in December.

The Biden administration has set a goal of vaccinating at least 1 million Americans per day, officials reiterated, a pace that the United States has narrowly exceeded over the past week.

The emergence of new, mutant versions of the virus was expected, said Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they warned that more are likely to come. Those mutations also will challenge the ability of existing treatments and vaccines to curb the virus’ spread.

“So that means that we as a government, the companies, all of us that are in this together — we’ll have to be nimble,” Fauci said, adding that scientists would need to continually produce “versions of the vaccine that actually are specifically directed towards whatever mutation is actually prevalent at any given time.”

 


Hawaii Covid-19 Infection and Death Rates Decline in early February

Hi Cases 2 5

Hi Case 2 5 2

 

 


COVID-19 Mutant Variant Linked To California, Finds It Way to Hawaii

DOH reported today that A COVID-19 variant associated with several outbreaks in California has infected one person on Oahu who had traveled to the mainland and a second person on Maui who had not travel to California recently.  Hawaii scientists were able to recognize three mutations to the virus’ spike protein — which it uses to enter human cells — characteristic of the variant detected in California.

The mutant virus discovered in Hawaii is known as L452R and is suspected to be associated with increased transmissibility, although further research is needed to verify that assumption.

“What is known is that the prevalence of viral strains with this mutation have greatly increased in California around the same time that case rates in that state have also greatly increased”, Hawaii State Laboratories Division Administrator Edward Desmond said.  Hawaii DOH reported 1,656 new infections during the past two weeks.

The state also recorded several COVID-19 infections among people after they got their first of two vaccine doses.  Those who have received both doses of the vaccine should expect full immunity approximately two weeks after their second dose.

The vaccines currently being distributed are believed to still be effective in preventing illness, even against the newer strains.


…as of Feb 4, 2021Uvacciantion Progress


U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Projected to Reach One-half Million by April; Global Case Count Nears 100 Million, Over 2 Million Dead

Us Global Cases 1 24


PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

 

First U.S. case of Mutant COVID-19 virus identified

Just as vaccines begin to offer hope for a path out of the pandemic, officials in Britain on Saturday sounded an urgent alarm about what they called a highly contagious new variant of the coronavirus circulating in England.

On Tuesday of this week, a Colorado man became the first known U.S. case of the newly identified strain of Covid-19 circulating in the UK. The new variant is thought to be far more contagious than the previous strain of COVID-19 in which scientists, the world’s medical community, and governments have built their response assumptions and the current vaccines have been based.  Newly established variants have prompted some countries to restrict travel to-from the UK.

Vodi 19 MutationsThe Colorado man who contracted the new variant, called B.1.1.7, is in his 20s, and had no travel history, according to the state’s health department. In a statement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said that health officials are conducting an investigation into how the man might have contracted the virus, while he recovers in isolation.

Although the new variant had not been found in the US until now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that it was likely already circulating through the country.

The new variant has also recently been detected in at least 17 countries, including South Korea, Spain, Australia and Canada. On Christmas Day, the CDC issued new guidelines for travelers from the UK, requiring proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

All viruses evolve, and the coronavirus is no different. “Based on scientific understanding of viruses, it is highly likely there are many variants evolving simultaneously across the globe,” Mr. McDonald, of the C.D.C., said. “However, it could take weeks or months to identify if there is a single variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom.”


UK Mutant COVID-19 Virus

In recent days, the world has watched with curiosity and growing alarm as scientists in the U.K. have described a newly identified variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants.

Citing the rapid spread of the virus through London and surrounding areas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the country’s most stringent lockdown since March. “When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,” he said.

The British announcement also prompted concern that the virus may evolve to become resistant to the vaccines just now rolling out. The worries are focused on a pair of alterations in the viral genetic code that may make it less vulnerable to certain antibodies.

Viruses mutate all the time. Most of the new variants die out. Sometimes they spread without altering the virus’s behavior. Very occasionally, they trigger dramatic changes.

And the question now facing scientists is straightforward:  Does the mutated virus represent an increased health risk? Or has its recent rapid spread through southern England occurred because it has arisen in people who are infecting a lot of other people, possibly because they are ignoring Covid-19 restrictions?

The British variant has 23 mutations, including several that affect how the virus locks onto human cells and infects them. These mutations may allow the variant to replicate and transmit more efficiently, said Muge Cevik, an infectious disease expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a scientific adviser to the British government.

But several experts urged caution, saying it would take years, not months, for the virus to evolve enough to render the current vaccines impotent.

“No one should worry that there is going to be a single catastrophic mutation that suddenly renders all immunity and antibodies useless,” Dr. Bloom said.

Scientists are worried about these variants, but not surprised by them. Researchers have recorded thousands of tiny modifications in the genetic material of the coronavirus as it has hopscotched across the world.

Some variants become more common in a population simply by luck, not because the changes somehow supercharge the virus. But as it becomes more difficult for the pathogen to survive — because of vaccinations and growing immunity in human populations — researchers also expect the virus to gain useful mutations enabling it to spread more easily or to escape detection by the immune system.

“This thing’s transmitting, it’s acquiring, it’s adapting all the time,” said Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, who last week detailed the deletion’s recurrent emergence and spread. “But people don’t want to hear what we say, which is: This virus is mutating.”


What we Know So far …

Scientists believe that although initial mutated versions of COVID-19 appear to be more contagious, it does not cause a more severe illness than other established variants. Research is still ongoing, however, and it remains uncertain whether the new variant is actually more transmissible due to a genetic advantage, or whether it is simply spreading so widely due to fluke super-spreader events. A report from Public Health England found that the new variant in the UK has not been linked to higher rates of hospitalization or death.

It appears so. In preliminary work, researchers in the U.K. have found that the virus is spreading quickly in parts of southern England, displacing a crowded field of other COVID-19 variants that have been circulating for months.  Some scientists have raised the possibility that the increase in transmission is at least partly the result of how it infects children. Normally, children are less likely than teenagers or adults to get infected or pass on the virus. But the new variant may make children “as equally susceptible as adults,” said Wendy Barclay, government adviser and virologist at Imperial College London.

There is no strong evidence that it does, at least not yet. But there is reason to take the possibility seriously. In South Africa, another lineage of the coronavirus has gained one particular mutation. The mutant variant is spreading quickly through coastal areas of South Africa. And in preliminary studies, doctors there have found that people infected with this variant carry a heightened viral load — a higher concentration of the virus in their upper respiratory tract. In many viral diseases, this is associated with more severe symptoms.

Many experts doubt that it will have any great impact on vaccines, although it’s not yet possible to rule out any effect.

The issue is whether the new variant will be able to bypass the protection offered by the Covid-19 vaccines now being administered across Britain and United States.

“If the new variant was going to have a big impact on disease severity, we would have seen that by now,” said Ewan Birney, deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and joint director of its European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two vaccines, one from Moderna and the other from Pfizer and BioNTech. Both vaccines create immunity to the coronavirus by teaching our immune systems to make antibodies to a protein that sits on the surface of the virus, called spike. The spike protein latches onto cells and opens a passageway inside. Antibodies produced in respone to the vaccines stick to the tip of the spike. The result: The viruses can’t get inside.

It is conceivable that a mutation to a coronavirus could change the shape of its spike proteins, making it harder for the antibodies to gain a tight grip on them.  The mutations include eight in the spike gene. But our immune systems can produce a range of antibodies against a single viral protein, making it less likely that viruses can easily escape their attack.

Vaccine 1

Hawaii’s at-Risk Residents Told to Wait (patiently)

Breaking News

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s highest-ranking infectious-disease expert, struck a hopeful tone about vaccine availability in the coming months, predicting Thursday that there could be an “open season” on doses by April.

“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’ namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” he said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show.

 



Lt. Governor Josh Green MD…“We’d like everyone to remain patient”.

As we reported in Coronavirus Update (Jan 25th) , at least 407 people has so far died from COVID-19 in the state of Hawaii.


Hawaii’s 65 and older population, especially with “pre-existing” high-risk health conditions, ignored in state’s vaccine prioritization.

Hawaii, like much of the rest of the United States, has seen significant growth in its 65-and-older population since 2010.

Hawaii’s kupuna have grown by 37.6% since April 1, 2010, with an average growth rate of 3.5% annually.

Since July 1, 2010, Hawaii County’s 65-and-older population has grown 62.3%, and Maui County’s elderly population, which was the lowest in the state in 2010, had grown by 58.4% in the 9-year period, with the 65-and-older population continuing to grow, representing a greater percentage of the state’s population.

Hawaii Aging Population


Washington State’s Vaccination Program, in contrast to Hawaii

The strategic advisory group at the World Health Organization (WHO) weighed in with guidance for global vaccine allocation, identifying groups that should be prioritized. These recommendations were joined in a plan from a panel assembled by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), both which clearly establish vaccine priority access for “…older people and individuals with multiple existing conditions, such as serious heart disease or diabetes, put them at higher risk for more-serious COVID-19 infection and potentially death.” 

Mainland state governments, including by example the state of Washington, have vaccination plans in place which include NASEM guidelines and something Hawaii’s vaccination plan fails to factor, and which puts a portion of our older population at greater risk than is necessary.

The Washington State DOH COVID-19 website states:

We are currently in Phase 1B tier of vaccine distribution.”   

“The vaccine is available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household.”

This is in addition to populations eligible during phase 1A including health care workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection, first responders, people who live or work in long-term care facilities, and all other workers in health settings who are at risk of COVID-19.

Washington state, like other states including Hawaii’s state government, have the discretion to set their own vaccination rules within previous established scientific and Federal guidelines.

After health-care and essential workers, medically vulnerable and older high risk groups with qualifying pre-existing health conditions vaccination access can be a matter of life or death.


Hawaii’s three tier COVID-19 Vaccination Plans states:

  1. The first phase of vaccinations, Phase 1A, which began in mid-December and is underway this month, focuses on health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
  1. For the second phase, Phase 1B (now underway), Lt. Gov. Josh Green has said will focus on about 109,000 residents, ages 75 and older in the state, along with an additional 50,000 frontline essential workers.   The list of frontline essential workers includes first responders, corrections officers and staff, emergency service workers, and individuals essential for federal, state and local government operations. It also includes critical and public transportation workers, utilities workers, teachers, child care workers and education support staff, along with U.S. Postal Service workers and local farmers.
  1. In Phase 1C, which is expected to occur some time the spring of 2021, and will only then allow vaccinations for those age ranges 65 to 74, including those Kupuna with chronic diseases, along with the ever expanding list of essential workers not otherwise included in Phase 1B.

Doh Vaccine Timeline


President Biden signs into action the Defense Production Act in the advancement of nation’s coronavirus vaccination effort

President Joe Biden will use the Defense Production Act to boost production of vaccines, testing, and personnel equipment to help ensure the US will have enough vaccines, testing, and protective equipment to withstand the coronavirus pandemic.

The move, part of a slew of executive orders at the start of his administration, will specifically allow government agencies like the State and Defense Departments to use the law to get materials to make more vials, syringes, and more.

This executive order signed on Biden’s first full day in his new job as president of United States, titled “Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain,” authorizes those agencies to “to fill those shortfalls as soon as practicable by acquiring additional stockpiles, improving distribution systems, building market capacity, or expanding the industrial base.”

Biden’s team promised to use the DPA, which allows the government to mandate the production and acquisition of much-needed materials, in December. At the time Biden and his staff said the US needed to ramp up its production of materials to vaccinate 100 million people in the administration’s first 100 days.

“The idea there is to make sure the personal protective equipment, the test capacity, and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply,” Dr. Celine Grounder, a Biden adviser on Covid-19, told CNBC.

“Given the continued supply chain issues that we have seen over the past year, we believe it is in the best interest of the American public to shore up our access to critical supplies immediately and in the long term through all available DPA authorities,” wrote the group of senators, led by Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Chris Murphy (CT).

 

American Flag

American Democracy Prevailed; in Joe Biden, 46th US President

In his inaugural speech, President Biden delivered words of comfort to members of both parties, after living through four years of a Trump presidency… “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire… destroying everything in its path.”

President Biden Sworn InBiden 46th President


President Biden’s inaugural address to the nation; highlights and excerpts:

  • “This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.  We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
  • “This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”
  • “Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward, reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.”
  • “Hear me out as we move forward, if you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy.”
  • And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”
  • “My fellow Americans. We have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as was mentioned earlier, completed amid the Civil War, when the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. Yet we endured, we prevailed.”

BK: As president Biden seeks “Unity” in the foundation of his governing platform for the nation, that doesn’t mean that the president abandons his agenda just because the opposition disagrees with it. But it does mean that both sides agree to some basic ground rules about how our democracy works.

Trump Fringe Poltiics

BK: President Biden made clear his intentions (the polar-opposite of the previous president’s audience of loyalists, and not a United States of America), as the newly inaugurated President Biden told the American people today:

  • “Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans.”

BK: Some post-election elements within the Republican party of Trump foresee democratic institutions and norms of governing as obstacles to their end game, and “unity” being equated with surrender.  These Republican party elements remain engaged in an undeclared war with America and its democratic values. In a Biden presidency, they will increasingly find themselves isolated with in a media bubble of fringe politics — and for this minority of Americans, President Biden has a message …

  • “What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and yes, the truth.   “Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.”
  • “There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

BK: America is back!

Doorway

WHAT JUST HAPPENED …

– Editorial –

Fake Patriots, lies and conspiracies, the storm that hit the US capitol

Never before has a sitting president incited his followers to attack the heart of American democracy.

As Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary under George W Bush, put it: “What Donald Trump did was a betrayal of public trust and a violation of his oath of office. There’s no question that what we saw this week was incited by the rhetoric that he has been using now for weeks and that inspired and mobilized extremist right-wingers and conspiracy theorists.”

Chertoff likened the riot at the Capitol to 9/11. On 9/11 we worried that one of the planes was going to hit the Capitol building. In this case, the Capitol building was hit. It was domestic terror, and absolutely shocking.”

Dc Mobs1

There is going to be a persistent challenge over the next months, depending on how active Donald Trump is when he’s out of office, in terms of domestic terrorism inspired by him directly or by right-wing extremist and conspiracy groups representing an ongoing security challenge for the Country, and into the foreseeable future.

Impeachment; one public accountability option

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday threatened to impeach Mr. Trump unless he resigned “immediately” for inciting the mob attack on the Capitol this week, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican senator to follow her lead.

“I want him out,” Ms. Murkowski told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”

There are legitimate concerns that an increasingly unstable and erratic Trump is unfit for office and represents a threat to national security, as demonstrated this week in the Trump-led attack on the American government, and by extension, the American people he has sworn to serve.

The House is scheduled to be in session on Monday, and articles of impeachment cannot be introduced until then. The timing for an impeachment seems unlikely with fewer than 10 days left in the Trump presidency, once the House reconvenes next week. And in these final days of the Trump presidency, Mitch McConnell remains firmly in control of the Senate, with impeachment being a non-starter. There has been talk of invoking the 25th amendment, but without VP Pence’s participation, that too appears a bridge too far.


Digital Justice

Perhaps bringing Trump to justice in this digital age may be most effectively executed not in the halls of Congress, but as Twitter announced on Friday that it had permanently banned President Trump from its service “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” effectively cutting Trump off from his favorite megaphone for public lies, most recently his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election, and with it American democracy.

Twitter, although late in following Facebook, Snapchat, Twitch, and other platforms which only placed time limits on Trump’s access, permanently banned Trump from their worldwide messaging platform – a meaningful metering of digital justice for a man who deserves more for his crimes in office.

Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Mr. Trump’s account on Friday went the distance of digital justice.

A day earlier Facebook failed to do little more than ban Trump from their platform through the end of his term, the next 10 days. Either way, it was a watershed moment in the history of social media. Both companies had spent years defending Mr. Trump’s continued presence on their platforms, only to change course days before the end of his presidency.

Last Trump Tweet

These social networking companies have become powerful corporate autocracies, often masquerading as mini-democracies operating without a Constitution or Bill of (user) Rights.  Their moderation decisions are the results of  digital formulas without due process, and when publicly held to accountability, operate as if “don’t incite an insurrectionist mob” had been in their community guidelines all along.  The high-stakes calls were more the result of gut decisions made under extreme duress, rather than prevention.

In this case, the actions of Trump’s followers did not happen in a vacuum. Equally guilty, is a disgraced president buoyed by alt-right billionaire media tycoons who fueled participation by promoting and cheerleading false narratives, all of which occured in a vacuum of facts self-reinforced from the bully pulpit of Trump.  Altogether, these elements are responsible for embolding an attempt to takeover the U.S. government, and in so doing throwout democracy along with national and state election results. In a word: sedition.

 


Media’s Role

Through “The Apprentice,” TV show Trump he a fantasy version of himself as a tough-minded chief executive of a global business empire and a self-made billionaire, yet in reality, although Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, hotels and casino businesses of his have declared bankruptcy six times between 1991 and 2009 due to Trump’s inability to meet required payments and to re-negotiate debt with banks, owners of stock and bonds and various small businesses (unsecured creditors).

But as Trump’s 2016 campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the TV screen, evolved gradually into a different character, @realdonaldtrump, and Twitter  became his media vehicle of choice. Unlike all previous presidents in moderentimes whose communicated with the public through press conferences and State of the Union addresses, Trump’s unfiltered and targeted messaging — not to the American people, but to his base of blind faith followers. Twitter and other social media became presidential-speak and media megaphone: an agenda-setter for the day’s coverage, a weapon against his rivals, a way of firing aides and cabinet secretaries, a grenade he could throw at Republican lawmakers who had crossed him and reporters whose coverage he hated, a window into his psyche, and most of all, an unfiltered pipeline to his supporters.

Digital media also complimented his wrestling match-style of non-start “political” rallies throughout his presidency and helped him dominate television throughout his term as president.

Part of Trump’s media formula was relying on right wing media outlets to amplify his message, best typified by the Fox News media engine with its built-in bias and fueled by unsubstantiated conspiracies and falsehoods.  At the same time, Fox raked in massive profits for the Murdoch media empire and Fox Corporation during the Trump years, and has spawned Fox-like voices also masquerading as “news” to compete for the same audience eyes and ears, e.g., Newsmax.

The Future of Fake News | Edutopia

On Friday night, Fox engaged in typical and continuous looping of self-reinforcing coverage, featuring pro-Trump Republicans in rage. The single thought being recycled were claims that Twitter’s move was an example of Silicon Valley’s tyrannical speech controls, and not a thoughtful reflection on … what just happened.

Outside this alt-right bubble, other media outlets on the co-called left cheered Twitter’s decision as an overdue and appropriate step to prevent more violence, while some also cringed at the thought of so much influence and control which rests in so few hands.

To break this cycle of brainwashing and influence, consumers of media must increasingly “do their homework and due diligence” in order to stay informed, and thereby form well-founded beliefs and opinions. The implications of this needed paradigm shift in media consumption extends beyond the United States, and goes to the core of citizenship responsibility in ever democratic society which requires the fulfillment of democratic obligations by its citizens who elect officials (public servants), and then hold them responsible for their governing actions.

How do we get there from here?   It requires cross-referencing multiple reliable media sources (Google is helpful). Reading books to acquire an in depth knowledge on subjects of interest, and most importantly thinking for yourself. It also comes at the price time and effort, but it is well worth the investment.   Being a pawn in world loaded with misinformation happily supplied by state actors, corporate media, and social media is the easy way out that too often leads to unattended consequences as this week’s news cycle proved.

 



The final tally of Trump’s presidency: 30,573 false or misleading claims — with nearly half coming in his final year.

For four years, day after day, week after week, claim after claim, from the most mundane of topics to the most pressing issues, Donald Trump lied to the American people and the world.

Trump unleashed his falsehoods with increasing frequency and ferocity, often by the scores in a single campaign speech or tweetstorm. What began as a relative trickle of misrepresentations, including 10 on his first day and five on the second, built into a torrent through Trump’s final days as he frenetically spread wild theories that the coronavirus pandemic would disappear “like a miracle” and that the presidential election had been stolen — the claim that inspired Trump supporters to attack Congress on Jan. 6 and prompted his second impeachment.


For more than 10 years, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker has assessed the accuracy of claims made by politicians in both parties, and that practice will continue. But Trump, with his unusually flagrant disregard for facts, posed a new challenge, as so many of his claims did not merit full-fledged fact checks. What started as a weekly feature — “What Trump got wrong on Twitter this week” — turned into a project for Trump’s first 100 days. Then, in response to reader requests, the Trump database was maintained for four years, despite the increasing burden of keeping it up.

 

 

Manchurian Candidate

From Russia With Love

What is the real story of Donald Trump and Russian puppet master Vladimir Putin?  Official and unofficial investigative channels have been mostly blocked.  Effective legal obstruction has ensured the President is firewalled from questions of his conduct while he is protected by the office of the Presidency, but time is winding down for Mr. Trump, and the presidential pardons are ramping up.

The Trump presidency has been marked by four continuous years of public scandal, civil and criminal investigations, impeachment. Yet, President Donald Trump remains the master of manipulation, and the most powerful man in the world to be manipulated.

History will show that the rocky path to impeachment for President Donald Trump was only the tip of the iceberg.  Trump, the one term president, decisively lost the popular vote in two consecutive elections, and equally failed decisively to win his 2020 re-election or talk and tweet his way out of electoral realties – but he is a self-described “winner”.

Perhaps Donald Trump’s greatest accomplishment as President was his exploitations of long standing divisions within the Union, both for personal gain and profit. The latest example was Trump’s highly discredited narrative of election fraud, which as it turns out, has been little more than a fund raising scheme to enrich Trump, sort of a retirement bonus funded by blind faith followers of the pied piper of politics.

Looking back at the Trump administration over the past four years, it is difficult to recap in one article or a single book (and there is a library full of books on the Trump presidency) which offers a clear path to unanswered questions surrounding his scandals, misdeeds, and corruption during his time as president.

In the final days of the Trump presidency, there are (as of this writing) two major mismanaged events which now dominate the American landscape:

  • More than 3,000 Americans every day are dying from the Covid-19 pandemic.

After sowing doubt in the democratic system for which he was the chief executive for 4 years, Donald Trump reaped public division on a national scale, disabling public institutions vital to the Republic, and leaving the Country weaker in every category of governmental endeavor.

Trump also prioritized personal loyalty from his agency appointments ahead of qualifications and competency, and also subverted the county’s long standing system of checks and balances, as well as public transparency in government. All the while engaging in endeavors for personal profit ahead of the interests of the United States.

The Russian Bear

But throughout the Trump presidency there was one common dominator, Russia and Vladimir Putin.

The conservative publication, National review, this month recapped the role of Russian interference in American politics, and if anyone was paying attention, it is easy to connect dots the between the Trump playbook and Russian goals…

“Based on 2016 evidence, Russian attempts to interfere with voter-registration lists and to promote voter fraud cannot be discounted. But in the 2020 presidential election, Putin’s primary aim was neither to hurt Biden, nor to aid Trump. We can ascertain today that his primary goal was to polarize the country, and to sow distrust and social chaos to undermine the confidence of Americans in each other and in their democratic process. A polarized, disunited America will help Putin end American dominance of a unipolar world and re-establish Russia as a global power.”

“While conventional military conflicts between large powers appear to be out of fashion — along with formal declarations of war — Russia has been waging a silent, “hybrid war” against the U.S. for years. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal: to influence American minds.”

Since the 2016 elections, America’s intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned about the threats to American elections posed by foreign states such as Russia – ignored and covered up during the Trump years.  A 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment highlighted the efforts of foreign states who try to “shift U.S. policies, increase discord . . . and undermine the American people’s confidence in the democratic process.” In Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin found his Manchurian candidate.

 


Where there is smoke there is fire

There’s nothing inherently damning about most of the ties illustrated below. But they do reveal the vast and mysteriously complex web of the Trump organization links to Russia, and its oligarch president, Vladimir Putin. Published in 2017 in the publication Politico, the graphs illustrate dozens of links, including meetings between Russian officials and members of Trump’s campaign, and administration; all dating back to Trump’s 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, and continuing throughout his presidency.

Trump Putin 1


Trump Putin 2

 

Password

Russian State Hackers Break into key US Federal Agencies

UPDATE – Breaking News

Microsoft has said the UK and six other countries outside the US have been affected by a suspected Russian hacking attack that US authorities have warned poses a grave risk to government and private networks.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal counsel, said the company had uncovered 40 customers, including government agencies, thinktanks, NGOs and IT companies, who were “targeted more precisely and compromised” after the hackers had gained initial access earlier this year.

Eighty per cent were in the US, including, it is feared, agencies responsible for the US nuclear weapons stockpile. But the remainder were spread out across other countries.

The attack appears to have started when an updated popular IT network management tool called Orion, made by SolarWinds, was compromised from March this year. Around 18,000 customers installed the compromised update, many of whom were in the US federal government.

Of these, at least 40 were then selected by the attackers for further exploitation, including the US Treasury and Department of Commerce, where emails are thought to have been read, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The hackers’ intention appears to have been a “high end espionage operation” according to security sources, designed to steal government and military secrets. Information has not thought to have been destroyed, although the assessment is ongoing.

It emerged overnight that the US National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the US nuclear weapons stockpile, had evidence that hackers accessed its networks. The NNSA also supplies some nuclear technology to the UK.


Originally published Dec. 15th

The US Treasury, Department of Commerce,  Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and the National Institutes of Health are known victims of a months-long, highly sophisticated digital spying operation by Russia whose damage remains uncertain but is presumed to be extensive.

Russian hackers are being accused of carrying out the biggest cyber-raid against the US in more than five years, targeting federal government networks in a sophisticated attack, according to American officials and sources.

Justice Department Seeks To Recover Hacked Cryptocurrency Funds Tied To North Korea

The hackers, linked to Russian spy agencies, were able to monitor internal emails in what is being described as a highly sophisticated state-level attack.

Security agencies in the UK and elsewhere were also scrambling to assess the impact on their systems – while the revelation was deemed so grave it led to a national security council meeting at the White House over the weekend.

On Monday, the US national security council said it was working closely with the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) “to coordinate a swift and effective whole-of-government recovery and response to the recent compromise.”

The US has not formally named the country it believes is responsible, but multiple sources blamed Moscow. The Washington Post specifically cited a well-known Russian hacking group – known as Cozy Bear or APT 29 – linked to the country’s FSB and SVR spy agencies.


Among the greatest U.S. intelligence failures of modern times

Over the past few years, the United States government has spent tens of billions of dollars on cyber-offensive abilities, building a giant war room at Fort Meade, Md., for United States Cyber Command, while installing defensive sensors all around the country — a system named Einstein to give it an air of genius — to deter the nation’s enemies from picking its networks clean, again.

It now is clear that the broad Russian espionage attack on the United States government and private companies, underway since spring and detected by the private sector only a few weeks ago, ranks among the greatest intelligence failures of modern times.

Einstein missed it — because the Russian hackers brilliantly designed their attack to avoid setting it off. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security were looking elsewhere, understandably focused on protecting the 2020 election.

The new American strategy of “defend forward” — essentially, putting American “beacons” into the networks of its adversaries that would warn of oncoming attacks and provide a platform for counterstrikes — provided little to no deterrence for the Russians, who have upped their game significantly since the 1990s, when they launched an attack on the Defense Department called Moonlight Maze.

Something else has not changed, either: an allergy inside the United States government to coming clean on what happened.

“Stunning,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote on Tuesday night. “Today’s classified briefing on Russia’s cyberattack left me deeply alarmed, in fact downright scared. Americans deserve to know what’s going on.”


Trump took the nation in the wrong direction on cybersecurity

President Trump took the nation in the wrong direction on cybersecurity, according to a solid majority of experts polled by Cybersecurity 202.

During four years in office, Trump failed to hold adversaries including Russia accountable for hacking U.S. targets, removed experienced cyber-defenders from their posts for petty reasons and undermined much of the good work being done on cybersecurity within federal agencies, according to 71 percent of respondents to The Network, a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity experts who participate in our ongoing informal survey.

The survey concluded before news broke about probably the most significant breach of the Trump administration — a hack linked to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, that infected at least five federal agencies  and probably several others, as well as foreign governments and companies across the globe.

The respondents’ comments reflect widespread concern Trump is disinterested in the damage that hack has done to national security, unwilling to take Russia to task and preoccupied instead with his own efforts to sow baseless doubts about his election loss.

Electrol College

Electoral College Affirms Biden’s Victory

President-elect Joe Biden achieved formal victory over President Trump on Monday, winning his 306 votes in the electoral college and advancing one more step toward inauguration even as die-hard Trump supporters redoubled their efforts to stop the normal transfer of power.

Sen. Mike Braun (R) said that he was “disappointed” by the results of the electoral college vote but that “we must put aside politics and respect the constitutional process.”

“Today, the Electoral College has cast their votes and selected Joe Biden as the President-elect. State Legislatures, State Courts, and the United States Supreme Court have not found evidence of voter fraud to overturn the results of the Electoral College vote,” Braun said in a statement.

“FALSE certification!!” Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted in reply.

The US electoral college shows its durable power | Financial Times

Republicans’ devotion to Trump pits them against democracy, history – and reality

The anticipation followed a barrage of lawsuits alleging that voter fraud and wrongdoing by election officials delivered Biden’s win in six key states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These claims were rejected by at least 86 judges around the country, including the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to more than 50 court losses for Trump and his supporters.

In filing the lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) alleged, without evidence, that “Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.”   But Democratic and Republican election officials across the country reported minimal irregularities during the 2020 vote, and the results have been certified by every state.

Republicans’ embrace of a baseless Texas lawsuit suggests the ‘threat to democratic norms is not Trump-specific,’ experts say, and not likely go away after he leaves office.

The attempt to overturn results in four states won by Democrat Joe Biden represented a stunning escalation of a trend toward Republican authoritarianism, according to political scientists.

Although the case is over, experts and good-government watchdogs warn the damage to American democracy may be long-lasting.

“Democracy really depends on a shared sense of fairness and legitimacy,” said Lee Drutman, a political scientist at New America.  “You can’t have a system of self-governance if half of the people believe that the only fair rules are the rules in which their side comes out on top.”


Trump will leave office as a rejected one-term president who never won a majority in two tries. Instead of seeking to broaden his appeal, he chose to play the bile-filled victim even as nearly 300,000 Americans were dying.

Voting

The Whole World is Watching

ELECTION EDITIORAL — Fortified by the solidarity of a majority of Trump-Party Republicans..,  Trump has wantonly rejected the outcome of America’s most sacred institution of democracy, free elections and the public’s choice of its leaders.


President elect Joe Biden decisively scored a 306-232 electoral college victory. In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 3m in the popular vote, but lost the electoral collage.  Biden has nearly doubled his popular vote win to that of Clinton, with a lead over Trump now nearing 6 million votes.

On Sunday morning, Donald Trump tweeted about Joe Biden: “He won”“He won because the election was rigged,” Trump wrote, before recycling baseless claims of voter fraud he continues to push and which his lawyers are attempting to prove in court in battleground states – with little to no chance of success, according to most observers.

Trump went to tweet …“He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”


The 2020 Biden presidential election victory is a victory for American democracy.  Biden is a true centrist and just what a nation in desperate need of healing needs at this time.  President Biden must navigate a narrow channel of rapids with hazards on both the right and the left, only come out the other side to face a McConnell-led Senate firewall — one guaranteed to place minority party priorities ahead of doing the people’s business of governing.

The Republican party of Eisenhower, Regan, and Bush has been hijacked by extreme right wing populism embodied in the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Problems for the party faithful were apparent during the 2016 primary when mainstream GOP candidates, most with some history of capable governance, were knocked-off one-by-one by the Trump mob, replaced by the party’s new self-appointed leader and godfather, Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election was seen by many right-wing populists in Europe as a momentous turning point. In their view, the threat began to the totalitarian state goes back to 1989, when the fall of the Berlin Wall made liberalism appear unstoppable and triumphant.  Right-wing populists from Hungary to Britain believed that if Mr. Trump could become president of the United States, the future belonged to them. President Trump’s 2020 defeat may trigger the rise of a much darker vision.

By refusing to concede to overwhelming election results, Trump the loser, has sent a message to his fellow strongmen around the world — that this is a fight for survival.

In trying to make sense of Mr. Trump’s defiance, most analysts have looked at the president’s personality: Mr. Trump never concedes defeat and this entire act of defiance is a way to soothe his ego, but Trump’s legitimate fear runs much deeper in giving up his seat of power.

Trumps problems range from legal prosecution for his crimes before and during his presidency, to the matter of Trump’s highly-leveraged family empire, with more than a billion dollars in personal guaranteed debt coming due in 2020 and NO foreseeable means to pay.  As long as Trump holds the reins of power, he has the means to further leverage the office of the presidency and to serve his personal power and wealth objectives, which he handily demonstrated come at a high cost to the United States — and the American people he has sworn to serve.

Nobody has articulated the fear of being outvoted as a result of demographic change better than Mr. Trump.    During the 2016 presidential campaign, he told his supporters: “I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning, because you’re going to have people flowing across the border, you’re going to have illegal immigrants coming in, and they’re going to be legalized … and be able to vote. Once all that happens you can forget it.”   

All European populists have echoed Trump’s demographic anxiety.  Trump understands all too clearly that the reason his supporters both inside and outside the United States stand by him run much deeper. They reflect the apocalyptic mind-set of the right-wing populist voters in the West.


Being a Successful Common Good Leader - Have a Positive Impact

Democratic politics serves as a nationwide therapy session. It allows voters to express their fears about the future while at the same time reassuring them that when the elections are over, everything will go back to normal.

Of course normal these days is a very fluid definition, as the Country struggles with a bungled Federal response to COVID-19, post-election misinformation in the wacky echo chamber of conspiracy-driven social media, amplified by Trump’s alt-right media outlets, and mix it up with a few bad foreign actors, and altogether, American democracy has never been so challenged as it has been for the past four years.

The one sane voice above all the noise has been president-elect Joe Biden.

President Biden deserves the support, respect, and hopes of all Americans for a future marked by the best ideals of democracy and selfless governance, and which will arrive on January 20, 2021, with or without Donald Trump.

 

 

 

We The People

A Split Decision for Democrats

BeyondKona Update: Nov.7   09:30HTNyt Bdien Beats Trump


Weary voters appeared willing to give former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. a chance, but they shied away from putting Democrats in full control of Washington.

Americans who turned out in record numbers for the election were willing to weigh a change in course at the White House after four tumultuous years of President Trump, but the unfolding results showed that voters were not ready to hand unfettered control of the government to emboldened Democrats who had pledged to pursue an ambitious agenda if they triumphed.

Despite a record-setting fund-raising bonanza and a flurry of indications that voters were deeply dissatisfied with Mr. Trump, disappointed Democrats came up well short of their aspirations to seize clear control of the Senate and pad their numbers in the House. Instead, they watched gloomily on Wednesday as their path to the Senate majority narrowed while they absorbed unexpected losses in the House.

The split political decision underscored the reality that even as they turned away from the chaos of a divisive Republican president, voters wanted to hedge against Democratic hegemony in the nation’s capital and in statehouses around the country.

Far from the so-called blue wave that many Democrats had imagined, the election was shaping up to be a series of conflicting squalls pointing in different directions that, above all, appeared to promise continuing division at all levels of government.

In some ways, the configuration could be tailor-made for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who will likely prevail.  It mirrored the decision that Democrats made this year in choosing Mr. Biden as their standard-bearer, elevating him over far more progressive contenders.

Mr. Biden sees himself as an old-school deal maker, someone who can operate in the more conventional political environment that voters seemed to be yearning for by delivering mixed outcomes like re-electing Senator Susan Collins, the centrist Republican from Maine, while delivering three of the state’s four electoral votes to Mr. Biden.

A Senate Firewall

A Biden victory will mean our next President will have to break through a Senate firewall controlled Republicans, some of whom are on a mission that is ahead of country and party – simply put: the deconstruction of key governmental institutions design to serve and protect the public interest.

Biden must also contend with Republican majority led by senate president Mitch McConnell, who consistently demonstrated he plays by rules only subject to his whims, and has a recent history of gutting bi-partisanship for a take-no-prisoners governing style — obstructionism when it suits him, and running rough shod over Senate processes and norms to achieve his very partnership goals, e.g. Barret Supreme Court nomination process absent of due diligence and process. Trump Exit

The Biden-McConnell dynamic could force the new administration to scale back legislative goals on immigration, health care, the environment and economic policy. For the majority of Americans who help elect Joe Biden, they are looking for a different outcome.

It could also compel Mr. Biden to negotiate with Republicans on his nominees for the executive and judicial branches, who would need to win Senate confirmation. Progressives who had been expecting big wins on Tuesday that would allow them to rush forward with bold new initiatives were headed for disappointment.

“Senate Republicans are going to be in a very strong position to steer the next two years,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of the Republican leadership. “Nothing is going to become law without the support of Senate Republicans.”

With a GOP-controlled Senate unwilling to do the people’s business, a President Biden may have no other choice than to take a page from the Donald J. Trump playbook, and govern by Executive Order.

If any man can find a way forward in these divided times, it’s Joe Biden

Biden served as a senator from Delaware for more than 35 years, and during the campaign talked about his experience working across the aisle and suggested he could win over the half dozen or so Republicans needed to advance legislation. But that was provisioned on a Democratic majority.  A president Biden will be facing a different time, however, Biden and McConnell have a history of hammering out agreements, but the terms did not always meet the approval of fellow Democrats.

But if bi-partisanship is now truly dead, President Biden and the Country as a whole, will have more fundamental problems to address than just restoring the recent absence of traditional checks and balances of power among the three branches designed by America’s founding fathers.

Covid 19 Image

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about COVID-19, and More

There are two camps in the world of COVID-19, believers and non-believers.

Believers tend to follow the science and medical community recommendations, while the non-believers generally don’t.

Some believers have had first hand experience with COVID-19 inflections; others haven’t, but most share a common respect for a novel Virus that continues to teach humans about the thin line between life and death.

For the non-believers COVID-19 is more nuanced, characterized not by facts and growing daily public death tolls, but by a belief COVID-19 won’t kill me, that only happens to seniors already knocking on death’s door, and to other people they don’t know.  If they do contract the virus, it will likely be little more than a bad case of the flu. It’s a belief system more a kin to a religion than scientific fact and empirical evidence.

Come Together

As Americans, we have a history of coming together in time of national crisis, be it the threat or reality of war and other catastrophic events.  Historically, we have looked to our leaders in a time of crisis and expect them to call for unity in a common public purpose – a norm which has vanished under the present divisive and absentee leadership and which is guilty of national malpractice.

President Trump, who self-describes himself as a “victim” because the media keep talking about “Covid, Covid, Covid”, while claiming unmasked at packed supporter rally this week that,  “… coronavirus fatalities are being exaggerated because doctors get more money and hospitals get more money if they say that Covid-19 was the cause of death.”  Not exactly a message of unity or national leadership during a global crisis affecting all Americans.

Leana Wen of the Washington Post, adeptly described the current administration’s response to nation’s immediate and life threating challenge of this new century this way: “For eight months, Americans have been asking what the Trump administration’s national strategy is to combat the coronavirus pandemic. We finally have our answer: capitulation.”

For weeks, the White House has been advancing a “herd immunity” approach of essentially letting the coronavirus infect (burn-through) the majority of the population. President Trump insists that the United States is “rounding the corner” despite record-breaking infection rates and rising hospitalizations.

Nearing a year into the COVID-19 pandemic the White House finally revealed its plan

On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stated bluntly: “We’re not going to control the pandemic.”   When pressed on why not, Meadows said the novel coronavirus “is a contagious virus just like the flu,” and that “what we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”   

No, this is not January 2020, and no, it’s not a national pandemic plan or response.  But that’s Trump’s plan, October 2020 — to accept our fate and surrender to the virus. Cross our fingers and place all of our hopes on undeveloped vaccines and unproven therapies, while ignoring a rising national death count, and letting the virus rip through our communities — music to the ears of “non-believers”.


A Pandemic, Closer to Home

Lt. Gov. Green is now advocating a statewide mask mandate after learning on Sunday that Hawaii Island suffered its highest single-day jump in new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic …and the tourists are only just beginning to return to the islands.

As a physician and a “believer” in the health threat COVID-19 represents to residents of Hawaii, Green knows masks are the first line of protection against the virus, wearing them will save lives, limit and contain spread, and manage a pandemic in line with the state’s limited medical response resources.

Yet managing a pandemic can get in the away of normal business operations and the state’s economy (pain and all) is surviving and will survive, despite an absence of national  leadership in establishing pandemic response standards, or provide the resources to fight the fight against COVID-19 and protect the public well-being. Instead, we have a national policy of neglect, denial, obstruction, and incompetency.

As for this president’s claims of a vaccine available in two weeks and counting, and still counting, the global scientific and medical community project 2021 before any meaningful vaccine response will become available to the general public. In the meantime, we need to do what humans do best, adjust and adapt with an united national response and purpose.

Now you can play a game of denial, throw caution to the wind, believe in herd immunity (which is an oxymoron) or scream about freedom infringement without any consideration to responsibility to community and country — or face the facts. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic, which locally, has found it way to every island community through out the state creating unwanted economic and social adjustments.

This highly contagious and deadly global pandemic will not last forever. In the meantime, throwing caution to the wind, will only further enable the consequences of surrendering to a pandemic marked by over 1 million deaths globally, and 230,000 deaths within the United States.


A 100 year old history lesson  

History is a powerful teacher.  In 1918, a novel strand of influenza (Spanish Flu) killed more people than the 14th century’s Black Plague which ravaged Europe. At that time, the pandemic deaths spiked in 1918, and then slowly dropped off the following year, however, it wasn’t until well into 1921 before the deadly virus was no longer a threat to the general population, and by then more than 2,300 people in Hawaii had died from the virus.

Flu Pandemic Of 1918 | First LibertyHawaii’s health officials at the time learned from cause and effect that social distancing and shutting down events and gathering places were effective measures to battle a dangerous airborne virus.

In the absence of an effective vaccine, the science tell us there’s a natural progression which a virus follows — but not always — it becomes less lethal as time wears on.

The natural order of an influenza virus is to change, and in the case of the 1918 flu and pandemic, the science told us the virus simply mutated in the direction of other influenza viruses, which is to become considerably milder over time, coupled to a developing immunity within the general population, and this process took several years.


COVID-19 Is More than a Question of Life or Death

The long term effects of COVID-19 infections are just beginning to be understood. Could the summer bring an end to COVID-19? | Live Science

COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.

The Mayor Clinic recently reported that most people who have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) recover completely within a few weeks.  But some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.

For example, older patients and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms — the most common signs and symptoms that linger over time include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Joint pain

Although COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs, it can damage many other organs as well. This organ damage may increase the risk of long-term health problems.

 

The Legacy of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) is much more than Catch and Release

Organ damage caused by COVID-19 includes:
  • Imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 which show lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms. This may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.
  • The type of pneumonia often associated with COVID-19 can cause long-standing damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems.
  • Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
 Blood clots and blood vessel problems

COVID-19 can make blood cells more likely to clump up and form clots. While large clots can cause heart attacks and strokes, much of the heart damage caused by COVID-19 is believed to stem from very small clots that block tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the heart muscle.

Other organs affected by blood clots include the lungs, legs, liver and kidneys. COVID-19 can also weaken blood vessels, which contributes to potentially long-lasting problems with the liver and kidneys.

Problems with mood and fatigue

People who have severe symptoms of COVID-19 often have to be treated in a hospital’s intensive care unit, with mechanical assistance such as ventilators to breathe. Simply surviving this experience can make a person more likely to later develop post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety.

Because it’s difficult to predict long-term outcomes from the new COVID-19 virus, scientists are looking at the long-term effects seen in related viruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Many people who have recovered from SARS have gone on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that worsens with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest. The same may be true for people who have had COVID-19.

Many long-term COVID-19 effects still unknown

Much is still unknown about how COVID-19 will affect people over time. However, researchers recommend that doctors closely monitor people who have had COVID-19 to see how their organs are functioning after recovery.