J&J + Merck moves vaccine schedule ahead by 2 months!


Jim Watson/Getty

With a White House-brokered deal, vaccine giant Merck has agreed to help Johnson & Johnson boost its COVID-19 vaccine production, which is woefully behind on its manufacturing schedule.

President Joe Biden announced today that, with the new deal, the country is on track to have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to vaccinate every adult in the country by the end of May — two months ahead of earlier plans.

Merck—a powerhouse in vaccine production, responsible for the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine among others—will dedicate two US facilities to making the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. One facility will make the vaccine and the other will provide final-stage “fill and finish” services, involving aliquoting vaccine into vials and packaging them. The help from Merck stands to perhaps double J&J’s manufacturing.

Getting what can be done on time – accomplished early.

2023, this critter starts delivering to our rural mailbox

The new van, manufactured by Oshkosh Defense, will get a massive overhaul that will provide some significant and desperately needed upgrades for the folks who ensure that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom” prevent your packages and letters from arriving on time. While the polygonal-like build and massive front windshield of the new truck have some wondering if the USPS stole Homer Simpon’s car idea or perhaps tapped Pixar to do the design, it’s what’s on the inside that is most interesting. Sure, there are high-tech advances like the inclusion of 360-degree cameras and front- and rear-collision avoidance, but postal workers will welcome one feature in particular: climate control.

…Uncle Sam is hoping to squeeze a long life out of these new vehicles, too, equipping them with both gasoline and electric drivetrains to ensure they are prepared to transition to a fossil fuel-free future. It seems likely that the government will lean heavily into the electric option, as the vehicles won’t hit the road until 2023 and President Biden recently expressed his interest in converting the entirety of the government’s fleet of vehicles over to electric. That would have to include the USPS, which makes up about one-third of the government’s fleet.

Overdue…

Texas money loves their version of class warfare


Dan Christian Rojas/AP

Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America, most of them oil tycoons. Last week, the laissez-faire state energy market delivered a bonanza to oil and gas producers that managed to keep production going during the freeze. It was “like hitting the jackpot”, boasted the president of Comstock Resources on an earnings call. Jerry Jones, billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, holds a majority of Comstock’s shares.

But most other Texans were marooned. Some did perish…

Lower-income Texans, white as well as Black and Latino, are taking it on the chin in many other ways. Texas is one of the few states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving the share of Texans without health insurance twice the national average, the largest uninsured population of any state. Texas has double the national average of children in poverty and a higher rate of unemployment than the nation’s average.

The tactic isn’t new, of course. Standard operating procedure for the top of the money pile for decades, centuries. Owning and controlling mass communications and political parties in the two main streams of pop culture politics remains the usual drill. Still, there is an insurgency growing…and I doubt Texas can continue to be the Lone Star exception.

How many people must die?

The first deaths from COVID-19 were assumed to be in the end of February, 2020. Further testing projected that number was earlier by several weeks.

No matter. Today, we reached over a half-million deaths from this public health disaster. The sort of disaster the United States was long presumed capable of showing the world how to resolve. Unfortunately, American voters had placed a charlatan, a fraud, an incompetent in charge of leading this nation before COVID-19 struck.

Today, we arrived at a number of deaths from this disease greater than the sum of American lives taken in World War 1, World War 2. and that travesty of murder called the VietNam War. And who is truly responsible for this carnage? If you voted for Trump…if you voted for what masquerades as American conservatism, nowadays…you know who you are.

I would hope, I do hope you’ve learned something about the misleaders of America, the “leaders” of most American politics. I doubt many will ever change. I won’t try to forecast how many American voters will reflect upon this result…and change. It’s your decision.

Eideard

Facebook blocked news pages as a negotiating tactic in Australia

Facebook may wait up to a week before unblocking some of the pages of hundreds of non-media organisations caught up in its news ban, while anti-vaccination content and misinformation continues to run rampant on the social media platform.

Content designated as news was blocked on Facebook in Australia on Thursday morning in response to the federal government’s news media code, which would require the tech giant to negotiate with news publishers for payment for content…

Tim Hanslow, head of social at Preface Social Media and who also helps run the Australian Community Managers group on Facebook, told Guardian Australia he had heard from a couple of community managers who had been contacted by their Facebook representatives and were told an appeals process would be put in place for people to plead their case…

“An appeals process for the ban will launch on Feb 25 and you can request your page be assessed as outside the news ban. All of the government pages/sites caught up in this should be reinstated.”

So, just wait around for a spell and Facebook will decide who is banned, who isn’t…and apparently what is news.