130+ Secret Service officers infected with coronavirus after working Trumpo’s rallies


Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, according to three people familiar with agency staffing.

The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be partly linked to campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election, according to the people, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.

In all, roughly 300 Secret Service officers and agents have had to isolate or quarantine since March because they were infected or exposed to infected colleagues, according to two people with knowledge of the figures.

Hail to the Killer-in-Chief!

FCC underestimates number of folks with no access to broadband by 50%

The FCC’s Broadband Deployment Report states that 21.3 million Americans, or 6.5 percent of the population, lack access to broadband internet, including wired and fixed wireless connections. This figure relies upon semi-annual self-reporting by internet service providers using the FCC-mandated “Form 477.”

However, there is a widely acknowledged flaw with Form 477 reporting: if an ISP offers service to at least one household in a census block, then the FCC counts the entire census block as covered by that provider. BroadbandNow Research examined the magnitude of this flaw by manually checking internet availability using FCC data as the source of truth for randomly selected addresses.

Based on our research, we estimate that 42 million Americans do not have access to wired or fixed wireless broadband.

RTFA to understand the details. Based on my reading, the FCC is incompetent or simply doesn’t care about truthful reporting.

Or both.

Facebook can’t manage the harm it causes

❝ Never before has one company’s failure had such a devastating impact on the world. Facebook’s presence is truly global, as are the consequences of its failure to anticipate how its platform could be misused and abused. And yet never before has a single company been asked to fix a global problem.

❝ Racists, autocrats, and purveyors of hate and disorder have found Facebook the perfect medium for spewing poison, normalizing it, and gaining adherents. Facebook is a broadcast platform for anyone, including those who would break the rules, fake the news, lie, and mislead the community. Societies around the world are reeling from the consequences. Politics and democracy are under duress. And thus far, Facebook does not have an effective way to fight back. It is only beginning to try…

❝ Facebook received repeated warnings for at least six years from informed observers around the world that things were going wrong. But it appears to have almost entirely disregarded them. Gaining more users in any and all geographies was the company’s overarching priority, and it succeeded. The service was growing at an incredible pace into just about every country on earth. It is now a dominant medium of communications, typically the most dominant, in about 190 countries.

It expanded at full tilt into innumerable geographies where it lacked local expertise. But how could it possibly ensure its rules were being followed when nobody at the company spoke the local language or understood the nuances of the local culture? It couldn’t.

RTFA! David Kirkpatrick continues to provide socially useful analysis and evaluation in the online world we all know and love – and criticize. I certainly take the time to pay him close attention when I catch his appearance online or on the tube (sic).

Ebola vaccine sat on the shelf ready to test for a decade

Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.

It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now is it undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans — with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa.

Its development stalled in part because Ebola is rare, and until now, outbreaks had infected only a few hundred people at a time. But experts also acknowledge that the absence of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to develop products useful mostly to countries with little ability to pay…

The NY TIMES doesn’t need to waste space on defending the greed of corporate pharmaceutical giants. That’s what Congress is for.

Now, as the growing epidemic devastates West Africa and is seen as a potential threat to other regions as well, governments and aid groups have begun to open their wallets. A flurry of research to test drugs and vaccines is underway, with studies starting for several candidates, including the vaccine produced nearly a decade ago.

A federal official said in an interview on Thursday that two large studies involving thousands of patients were planned to begin soon in West Africa, and were expected to be described in detail on Friday by the World Health Organization.

With no vaccines or proven drugs available, the stepped-up efforts are a desperate measure to stop a disease that has defied traditional means of containing it.

Kind of like white folks noticing we don’t live in a post-racial society regardless of what Republicans say. The TIMES notices what anyone who cares about public health has always known. If it can make a bunch of money, any illness can receive study and attempts at a cure from the medical-industrial complex. The rest can waste their energy on hope.

Thanks, Mike

BP beancounters made risky decisions about Gulf deathtrap


The dead have no voice in our politics
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

BP and its partners made a series of cost-cutting decisions that ultimately contributed to the oil spill that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico coast over the summer, the White House oil spill commission said on Wednesday. In its final report on causes of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the commission said BP and its collaborators on the doomed Macondo well had lacked a system to ensure their actions were safe.

“Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money),” the report said.

Created by President Barack Obama in the midst of the BP spill, the panel is the first government-sanctioned group to wrap up its probe of the causes of the drilling disaster…

Although the commission lacks authority to establish policy or punish companies, its conclusions could have a bearing on future criminal and civil cases relating to the spill…

The commission’s report ultimately blamed management failures for the April 20 explosion that ruptured the Macondo well and unleased millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The commission also concluded the Gulf spill was not an isolated incident caused by “rogue industry or government officials”.

The root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur,” the report said.

The report offers no surprises. Neither will the responses, I fear.

Republicans and other corporate apologists will do everything they can to impede oversight, checks on safety and quality, environment protection. The Democrat Party will allow the liberal wing to have some say, proposing needed watchdog functions.

We wil get to watch Congress in action as both sides work at avoiding doing anything of importance.