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TBR News April 23, 2020

Apr 23 2020

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April 23, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it. “
Comment for April 23, 2020:”To take a break from doom and derision, here are some bumpersticker that lighten the load:
1.Jesus loves you… but everyone else thinks you are an asshole
2. Impotence… Nature’s way of saying “No hard feelings”
3. The proctologist called… they found your head
4. Everyone has a photographic memory…some just don’t have any film
5. Save your breath…You’ll need it to blow up your date
6. Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them
7. I used to have a handle on life… but now it is broken
8. WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship
9. Hang up and drive
10. If you can read this… I can slam on my brakes and sue you
11. Heart Attacks… God’s revenge for eating His animal friends
12. Your ridiculous little opinion has been noted
13. Try not to let your mind wander… It is too small to be out by itself
14. Some people just don’t know how to drive… I call these people “Everybody But Me”
15. Don’t like my driving… Then quit watching me
16. Guys… just because you have one… doesn’t mean you have to be one
17. Welcome to America… NOW speak English
18. Hire the Handicapped: They’re fun to watch!
19. Death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
20. Asians don’t drive cars, they aim them ,,,,

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose.

The Table of Contents
• Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
• Coronavirus vaccine from BioNTech, Pfizer set to enter testing in Germany
• Top vaccine expert says he was fired for resisting Trump on hydroxychloroquine
• US unemployment applications reach over 26m as states struggle to keep up
• Blood-pressure drugs are in the crosshairs of COVID-19 research
• Did coronavirus really originate in a Chinese laboratory?
• Covid-19 Highlights Trump’s Malignant Narcissism — And Proves Americans Will Survive Despite Him
• Trump biography
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
With more than 2.5 million people now infected worldwide in the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has authorized the first clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The first human tests will begin before the end of April.
April 22, 2020
by Fabian Schmidt
DW
German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech.
In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.
Numerous vaccines in development
Aside from BNT162b1, which is now in the stage 1 testing phase, BioNTech — jointly with Pfizer — is working on three other similar mRNA vaccines. PEI head Klaus Cichutek, meanwhile, has said other pharmaceutical companies are also developing vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, based on a variety of vaccine platforms in Europe, China and the United States.
The first medical tests of BNT162b1 will involve 200 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55. The aim is to determine the immune response and whether the vaccine causes any unwanted side effects.
“Trials of vaccine candidates in humans are an important milestone on the road to safe and efficacious vaccines against COVID-19 for the population in Germany and internationally,” the PEI said in a statement.
Cichutek said testing would be completed by June, at the earliest. After this stage is complete, the PEI will determine if the vaccine can progress to further trial stages. Cichutek warned, however, that an approved vaccine was unlikely to be ready for the general public in 2020.
More than 2.5 million people have been infected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last four months, and at least 179,000 people have died.

Coronavirus vaccine from BioNTech, Pfizer set to enter testing in Germany
April 22, 2020
by Ned Pagliarulo
biopharmadive.com
Dive Brief:
Healthy volunteers in Germany will soon receive one of several versions of an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and partner Pfizer, after regulators in the country cleared a clinical study to begin.
The trial, which will enroll some 200 adults, is the first study of a coronavirus vaccine to begin in Germany, and one of only six ongoing worldwide. BioNTech and Pfizer said they expect to soon receive an OK from the Food and Drug Administration to start human tests of their vaccine prototypes in the U.S.
Pfizer and BioNTech have moved quickly to begin testing the German biotech’s vaccine technology in humans. Like Moderna, which was first into the clinic with a potential coronavirus vaccine, BioNTech uses messenger RNA to spur the body’s cells to make a non-infectious part of the coronavirus, training the immune system to respond to the real virus.
Dive Insight:
The speed at which drugmakers are moving to design and develop treatments for the coronavirus is well known. But regulators are moving just as quickly.
The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which in Germany is responsible for authorizing clinical trials, took just four days to approve human testing of BioNTech’s vaccine. Regulators in the U.S. and China have also acted rapidly to allow studies of other vaccines to move forward.
Pfizer and BioNTech began working together last month, and only finalized partnership terms on April 9. The pharma is paying the German biotech $72 million in cash and investing another $113 million in the company — a sizable sum for an early-stage collaboration. The companies will split the costs of developing a coronavirus vaccine.
The study in Germany is one of the first steps in that process. Four variations of BioNTech’s vaccine platform will be tested, all of which are designed to elicit production of a protein used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter human cells.
Two versions encode for the larger “spike” protein, while the other two contain code for the part of the spike that’s thought to be most critical for triggering antibodies capable of recognizing and fighting off SARS-CoV-2.
The Phase 1/2 study will attempt to find an optimal vaccine dose, as well as provide initial information on the vaccine’s safety and the type of immune response it produces. For three of the four versions, Pfizer and BioNTech will also study the effects of repeat, or “prime” and “boost,” immunization.
During clinical development, BioNTech will manufacture the experimental vaccines, but Pfizer is working to scale up production capacity now should testing prove the treatment safe and effective.
If all goes to plan, the companies said they could supply millions of vaccines doses by the end of 2020 and hundreds of millions of doses by next year.
Pfizer and BioNTech are also planning to conduct studies in the U.S. and said a go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration is “expected shortly.”
Moderna and Inovio Pharmaceuticals have already begun Phase 1 trials of their respective coronavirus vaccines in the U.S., while, in China, CanSino Biologics, SinoVac Biotech and the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products have launched human studies as well.

Top vaccine expert says he was fired for resisting Trump on hydroxychloroquine
Rick Bright, who directed key government agency, tells New York Times refusal to embrace unproven treatment led to departure
April 22, 2020
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
A senior US government doctor who worked on the search for a coronavirus vaccine has claimed he was fired after resisting Donald Trump’s push to use the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Rick Bright was this week ousted as director of the US health department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or Barda, and as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response.
In a stunningly candid statement, Bright highlighted his refusal to embrace hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug relentlessly promoted by the president and Fox News despite a lack of scientific studies.
“Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit,” Bright said.
“While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public.”
Asked about Bright at the White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Trump said: “I never heard of him. If a guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. You’d have to hear the other side. I don’t know who he is.”
Trump repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine as therapy for coronavirus, pointing to a Democratic state representative in Michigan who claimed it benefited her and frequently asking: “What do you have to lose?”
But on Tuesday an analysis of the drug’s use in US veterans hospitals found no benefit.
Bright added: “I insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalised patients with confirmed Covid-19 while under the supervision of a physician. These drugs have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with Covid-19.
“Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis.”
Bright has reportedly hired lawyers Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, whose clients have included government whistleblowers and Christine Blasey Ford, who went public with allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh during his supreme court nomination in 2018.
On Wednesday, Ronald Klain, who led the Obama administration’s response to an Ebola outbreak in 2014, tweeted: “Dr Bright is a professional – an expert on vaccines – who I met during the Ebola response. If this is true, it … represents an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to put politics ahead of science and safety.”
Dr Bright said he would request that the health department inspector general investigate the way in which the Trump administration has “politicised the work of Barda, and has pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit.
“Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics.”
Bright, whose entire career had been spent in vaccine development, had led Barda since 2016. He was moved to a less influential post at the National Institutes of Health.
He told the New York Times: “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.
“I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science – not politics or cronyism – has to lead the way.”

US unemployment applications reach over 26m as states struggle to keep up
An additional 4.4 million Americans filed last week, as losses have wiped out all the job gains made since end of the last recession
April 23, 2020
by Dominic Rushe and Amanda Holpuch in New York
The Guardian
An additional 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week adding to a total of over 26 million since the coronavirus pandemic shut down swaths of the US and brought its economy to a standstill.
The latest Department of Labor figures show the pace of layoffs appears to have slowed slightly but a backlog of claims mean millions more are likely to file in the coming weeks. States across the country are encountering problems with the sheer number of people applying for unemployment benefits.
In Florida, bedevilled by the widespread collapse of its already flawed benefits system, just 14.2% of the more than 668,000 claims filed since 15 March have been paid. In Ohio, claimants now have to file on a specific day of the week, depending on the first letter of their last name, to ease congestion. Washington residents are complaining that the state’s website crashes or takes hours to respond.
Latasha Johnson, 41, has been struggling to get by without a paycheck for a month. In mid-March, she was laid off from her job in dining services at the University of Illinois, where she was employed by the British-based multinational Compass.
She had no severance and it took a month for her to file an unemployment claim because the site was overwhelmed.
Johnson said it was especially difficult because she is a single mother. “I pay for all my bills on my own, I don’t have any outside help, outside resources, I am doing everything by myself,” she said. “It’s a huge, huge struggle.”
Now, she’s waiting for her first unemployment check, which is a fraction of what she made before. She said the $1,200 stimulus check from the government will also do little to help her situation.
“If you are releasing it in the month of April and I pay my bills for May where does that leave me for June, July, August?” Johnson said. “We’re at a standstill because we don’t know when the city will open back up.”
Jobless claims, laid-off workers’ applications for unemployment insurance payments, have never risen this high so fast. The losses have wiped out all the job gains made since the end of the last recession.
Lenny Kiefer, the deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac whose dramatic animated charts of the weekly numbers have gone viral on Twitter, described the latest losses as “off the charts both figuratively and literally”.
Delays in processing applications have boosted the weekly totals in recent weeks but economists believe the unprecedented wave of claims is near its peak.
Nomura economist Lewis Alexander said the labor market remained “under severe strain” but said that “states that imposed lockdowns relatively early are seeing claims activity improve somewhat.”

Blood-pressure drugs are in the crosshairs of COVID-19 research
April 23, 2020
by Deborah J. Nelson
Reuters
(Reuters) – Scientists are baffled by how the coronavirus attacks the body – killing many patients while barely affecting others.
But some are tantalized by a clue: A disproportionate number of patients hospitalized by COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have high blood pressure. Theories about why the condition makes them more vulnerable – and what patients should do about it – have sparked a fierce debate among scientists over the impact of widely prescribed blood-pressure drugs.
Researchers agree that the life-saving drugs affect the same pathways that the novel coronavirus takes to enter the lungs and heart. They differ on whether those drugs open the door to the virus or protect against it. Resolving that question has taken on new urgency after an April 8 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 72% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients 65 or older had hypertension.
The drugs are known as ACE inhibitors and ARBs, broad categories that include Vasotec, Valsartan, Irbesartan, as well as their generic versions. In a recent interview with a medical journal, Anthony Fauci – the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert – cited a report showing similarly high rates of hypertension among COVID-19 patients who died in Italy and suggested the medicines, rather than the underlying condition, may act as an accelerant for the virus.
Efforts to understand how the virus uses the pathway to the heart and lungs, and the role of the medicines, are complicated by a lack of rigorous studies.
There are millions of Americans that take an ACE inhibitor or AR daily,” said Dr Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness in Baltimore. “This is one of the most important clinical questions.”
An estimated 100 million U.S. residents suffer from high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. About four-fifths of them need to take prescription drugs to control it, according to the CDC. ACE inhibitors and ARBs are widely prescribed to patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease. The drugs account for billions of dollars in prescription sales worldwide.
The absence of clear answers on how the drugs impact COVID-19 patients has sparked rampant speculation in correspondence and editorials posted on medical journal websites and those where scientists share unreviewed, pre-publication study drafts.
Many patients are agonizing over whether their medicines will help or hurt them. Doris Kertzner, 88, of Redding, Conn., said she has carefully followed experts’ guidelines for preventing infection and keeps her distance from others in her retirement community. Now she has a new worry: She takes losartan, an ARB, and can’t decide whether to stop.
Dropping the medicine “presents its own problems” in dealing with her high blood pressure.
“It’s gotten very complicated,” she said.
Dr Carlos M. Ferrario – a researcher at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and co-author of widely cited studies on ACE inhibitors – understands patients’ plight.
“There is a lot of paranoia and a lot of speculation with very little fundamental, convincing information,” he said.
The National Institutes of Health in the United States has put out a call seeking proposals for studies into the issue. An independent consortium of researchers has launched a global study to analyze health records for thousands of COVID-19 patients in the United States, Europe and Asia. That project is part of the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics program, an open-source research platform that enables large-scale studies.
Dr Marc Suchard – a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles who is leading the study – said that it aims to determine whether the medicines make infections more likely or more severe – or, by contrast, whether they help protect against the virus. Suchard said he expects a preliminary report within two weeks.
MORE TARGETS FOR THE VIRUS
There is evidence that the drugs may increase the presence of an enzyme – ACE2 – that produces hormones that lower blood pressure by widening blood vessels. That’s normally a good thing. But the coronavirus also targets ACE2 and has developed spikes that can latch on to the enzyme and penetrate cells, researchers have found. So more enzymes provide more targets for the virus, potentially increasing the chance of infection or making it more severe.
Other evidence, however, suggests the infection’s interference with ACE2 may lead to higher levels of a hormone that causes inflammation, which can result in acute respiratory distress syndrome, a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs. In that case, ARBs may be beneficial because they block some of the hormone’s damaging effects.
Novartis International AG and Sanofi SA are among the major drugmakers selling ACE inhibitors and ARBs.
Sanofi spokesman Nicolas Kressmann said that patients should consult their doctors on whether to continue taking the drugs but that the company has found insufficient evidence that they worsen COVID-19 through its own assessment of available scientific data.
The company reviewed several recent studies from China that came to conflicting conclusions about whether COVID-19 patients with hypertension fare worse than other patients, he said.
Novartis has not issued any guidance to clinicians or patients and defers to scientists studying the issue, said spokesman Eric Althoff.
Researchers and doctors generally agree that people with severe hypertension or heart failure should keep taking the drugs because of the high risks of stopping. The debate centers on how to advise the many patients with milder conditions who take the drugs. Two camps have emerged – one calling for no action unless the drugs are proven dangerous, the other for some limits on their use until they are proven safe.
The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at University of Oxford in England has recommended that clinicians consider withdrawing the medicines in patients with mild hypertension if they are in a high risk group, such as medical workers – and replacing them with alternative blood pressure-lowering drugs.
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) took the opposite tack, highlighting the drugs’ potential in fighting coronavirus and recommending patients continue taking the drugs until more about the risks is known. Several of the scientists who co-authored it had done extensive, industry-supported research on antihypertensive drugs.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Dr Kevin Kavanagh, founder of Health Watch USA, a patient advocacy organization, questioned whether scientists who are funded by the drug industry should be advising clinicians, given the high stakes.
“You need to consider stepping back, and let others without a conflict of interest try to make a call,” Kavanagh said.
His organization recommends that doctors temporarily avoid putting new patients on the drugs and warn those currently on them to take extreme precautions to avoid virus exposure.
Dr Scott David Solomon, a co-author of the NEJM article, conducts industry-financed research but said it has no influence on his position.
“Not only is there no compelling evidence that we should be discontinuing those medications, but there’s reason to think that doing so might actually cause harm,” said Solomon, who is the director of noninvasive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The lack of consensus leaves doctors to navigate the issue patient by patient. Alexander, of Johns Hopkins, is trying to strike a balance in his own practice. Patients with more severe blood-pressure problems may need to keep taking the medicines, he said, while patients with milder or newly diagnosed cases could instead take one of the “literally dozens” of alternative hypertension treatments.
“Rest assured,” he said, “there are dozens of scientific teams working feverishly to put this question to bed.”
Reporting by Deborah Nelson; Editing by Brian Thevenot

Did coronavirus really originate in a Chinese laboratory?
Did the novel coronavirus escape from a Chinese lab that researches bats? Though the early origins of the virus remain unclear, some Chinese scientists’ work is helping develop a vaccine. DW examines the facts.
April 18, 2020
by Fabian Schmidt
DW
Researchers and journalists have been speculating for months about how the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in the city of Wuhan, China. Initial indications pointed to a so-called wet market where fish was sold along with wild animals.
Now, however, Western media outlets are reporting that the virus possibly originated in the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology
Similar theories began making the rounds on social media sites as early as January, mostly in connection to conspiracy theories referencing secret Chinese military labs developing bioweapons. At the time, The Washington Post newspaper brushed off theories that the virus was manmade, citing experts who assessed that its characteristics pointed to a naturally occurring virus and not a manmade mutation.
That assessment was confirmed by a team of researchers led by Kristian G. Andersen, who published a finding stating as much in the March 17 edition of the journal Nature Medicine.
Another factor that would seem to corroborate that assessment is the fact that the lab’s work is not secret, and that much of its research on various bat viruses has been published in professional journals. Western partners have also been involved in a number of research projects conducted in Wuhan. One of those partners was the University of Texas’ Galveston National Laboratory. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has reported that the US government also provided financial support for research at the lab in Wuhan.
Where did the first infection come from?
But despite all these indications to the contrary, it can’t be said for certain that the pandemic didn’t accidentally enter the world via the Wuhan lab.
As early as the end of January, the magazine Science published an article questioning the official theory that the virus had been transmitted from an animal to a human at the wet market. And another study published in the medical journal The Lancet concluded that 13 of the first 41 people diagnosed with COVID-19 had no contact whatsoever to the Wuhan market.
Moreover, it is likely that “patient zero” — the first person to have the disease — was infected as early as November 2019. Thus, the earliest cases had no connection to the market, as Daniel Lucey, a professor for infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center in the US, told Science Speaks in an interview in late January.
Are researchers to blame?
But how did the virus make its way to the Wuhan market? Shi Zhengli, a professor of virology at the Wuhan Institute who published findings on bat viruses in a February issue of Nature, may have the answer. In a story on the professor that ran in the South China Morning Post newspaper on February 6, she told of how she had traveled to caves across 28 different Chinese provinces to collect bat feces.
As was also reported in magazines like Scientific American, she used those samples to create a comprehensive archive of bat viruses. In early 2019, she and her colleagues published an extensive study on bat coronaviruses. The report noted that the horseshoe bat was a vector for coronavirus strains similar to the one that would later appear in Wuhan.
It was her team’s work that made it possible to sequence and publish the virus’ genome so quickly, presenting a historically unprecedented opportunity for speedily coming up with a vaccine.
Still, over the past several weeks Shi Zhengli has been relentlessly attacked on social media sites in Asia and around the world. That has prompted a public defense from her New York-based research partner Peter Daszak, the head of the EcoHealth Alliance, an NGO focused on scientific research and pandemic prevention.
Speaking with the US public radio program Democracy Now!, Daszak said the theory that the virus found its way out of the Wuhan lab was “pure baloney.” He said he had personally worked with the lab for 15 years and that it does not store SARS-CoV-2 viruses on its premises.
“It’s really a politicization of the origins of a pandemic, and it’s really unfortunate,” he said of stories implying any connection between the lab and the outbreak.
It is notable, however, that the Chinese government recently began censoring stories dealing with those origins. When confronted with the accusations printed in the Daily Mail, the Chinese Embassy in London reacted angrily, calling them “groundless.” The embassy also released a statement saying that research aimed at finding the origins of COVID-19 was still underway.

Covid-19 Highlights Trump’s Malignant Narcissism — And Proves Americans Will Survive Despite Him
April 22, 2020
by James Risen
The Intercept
One piece of wisdom from ancient Rome has guided astute public health officials dealing with epidemics for 2,000 years: “Cito, longe, tarde.”
That’s Latin for “Leave quickly. Go far away. Come back slowly.”
Faced with a highly contagious, lethal disease for which there is no known cure, President Donald Trump has ignored that timeless advice.
Instead, like a medieval demagogue, Trump is spouting quackery and hatred straight out of the 14th century, when panicked Europeans confronting the Black Death strapped live chickens to their bodies, drank potions tinged with mercury and arsenic, and blamed the Mongols and the Jews when none of it worked.
Major catastrophes lay bare the truth about our leaders. Trump’s criminally negligent, chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed, once and for all, that he is a corrupt, narcissistic psychopath.
His babbling and incoherent press conferences, in which he lashes out in every direction, continue to show that he is in urgent need of psychiatric treatment. He exhibits the self-centered tendencies of a small child.
But a legion of enablers surrounds Trump and prevents any intervention, even in the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century. His family members, like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, appear perfectly happy to keep smiling while enjoying the favored status that, most recently, allowed them to disregard stay-at-home guidelines to decamp to a Trump resort in New Jersey for Passover.
Of course, some of Trump’s most important enablers are the reporters in the White House press corps, who daily act as his Greek chorus. Instead of ignoring his lies and outrageous statements, they dutifully cover his Covid-19 press conferences and tweets as if they were the serious, coherent statements of a genuine national leader. In the process, they are aiding and abetting Trump’s disinformation campaign, which could result in thousands of additional and needless deaths.
The government’s top public health professionals, fearful of losing their jobs and of even worse behavior by Trump, have also become crucial enablers, forced to pretend that Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has been sound. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, has taken on a more prominent role at briefings after effusively praising the president, while Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been less noticeable as he has grown more willing to contradict Trump’s most dangerous assertions. On Saturday, Birx went along while Trump hijacked the daily briefing to complain about Democrats, the press, and China.
The result is that the White House is stuck in a surreal alternate reality in which reporters and government officials continue to do their jobs as if the president were not mad as a hatter.
But because of Covid-19, the rest of the nation now recognizes what should have been obvious ever since Trump took office: His first response to every crisis is to insist on complete authority, while at the same time abandoning all responsibility. Despite his inaction and incompetence, he won’t relinquish control over the government’s resources to those who know how to use them.
In the total absence of national leadership or direction, governors have had to take charge, leading Trump to lash out at them. In this, he resembles the insane U.S. Navy captain played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1954 film “The Cain Mutiny,” who is so paralyzed with fear during a storm that junior officers must take control of the ship. After they steer it into calmer waters, he accuses them of mutiny.
Trump has attacked governors in hard-hit states for imposing strict stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus. He is fearful of how the economic impact from Covid-19 could affect his chances for reelection in November and wants the economy to reopen even before the disease has been contained or any treatment is available.
This has led, predictably, to small protests against state-level quarantine measures, staged by an extremist, zombie-like slice of Trump’s base. Trump has endorsed these demonstrations, which have been highlighted by groups funded by wealthy, right-wing industrialists eager for Americans to get back to work even if doing so will kill them.
Once again, the press has done Trump’s work for him by exaggerating the significance of the protests. In fact, Trump has long leveraged support from such fringe anti-government groups to control the media narrative.
These extremist Trump supporters firmly believe that government only helps people of color, and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed the African American community, has intensified and accelerated these racist, counterrevolutionary beliefs. These White Walker-like Trump extremists view measures to slow the Covid-19 contagion as government overreach designed to protect people who live in big cities — in other words, in their view, African Americans, liberals, and urban elites — and not them. Trump’s failures in dealing with the crisis only seem to reinforce their view that he is on their side.
Just as a major catastrophe exposes the truth about a leader, it also reveals the truth about societies and nations. Since 2016, the central question facing the United States has been whether it could survive Trump. So far, Covid-19 has shown that the answer is yes. Americans have overwhelmingly supported state-level efforts to curb the virus and have willingly sacrificed their own comfort and livelihoods to help the sick and the medical professionals fighting the disease.
For the most part, state and local officials have acted like adults, ignoring Trump and his threats while forging their own ad-hoc solutions. While some Southern Republican governors are eagerly pursuing a pro-Trump strategy of prematurely reopening their states, not all governors have responded along partisan lines. Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, has issued strict stay-at-home orders, as have other Republicans like Ohio’s Mike DeWine and Idaho’s Brad Little.
Hogan has gone further than the others, working closely with the Democratic governor of Virginia and the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., to try to come up with a regional strategy to fight the pandemic. He has also started to craft his own foreign policy: On Monday, Hogan announced that Maryland bought 500,000 badly needed Covid-19 testing kits from South Korea.
Hogan and his wife, a Korean immigrant, worked out the deal with the help of South Korea’s ambassador to the United States. Hogan’s unilateral success in countering the severe testing shortage embarrassed Trump, so naturally, Trump attacked Hogan, charging on Monday night that the governor “needed to get a little knowledge,” about testing in Maryland. On Tuesday, Hogan responded, saying on ABC’s “The View” that Trump “seemed to be a little confused yesterday in his press conference. I have no idea what set him off.”
With the Covid-19 crisis, Trump is exhibiting many of the same traits that led to his impeachment just four months ago, after he illegally sought to pressure Ukrainian leaders to intervene in the 2020 presidential election for his personal benefit. Trump abused his power by withholding crucial aid from Ukraine in an attempt to pressure the Ukrainians to spread lies about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Now, he is abusing his power again by threatening to withhold badly needed resources and aid from governors if they don’t go along with his reckless demands to abandon their quarantine measures.
It is strange to remember that the United States had a chance to remove Trump from power just weeks before the full force of Covid-19 hit the United States. The Senate impeachment trial ended with Trump’s acquittal on February 5, just a month before the World Health Organization declared the existence of a global pandemic.
The Senate’s failure to convict Trump of impeachable offenses and remove him from office is now coming back to haunt the nation. We are left with a president whose own company tweeted out a video suggesting that getting drunk on vodka is the way to defeat Covid-19.
“I kind of got a cure for this,” professional golfer John Daly said in the video. “I only drink one drink a day — it just happens to be a bottle — of good, old Belvedere. You know, you just drink one of these a day. You know, sippy, sippy on a little McDonald’s Diet Coke. You know, wash it down pretty good. Never have a hangover. And that’s the way you kill this coronavirus, I believe.”

Trump biography

Donald John Trump (June 14, 1946)
He is of German/Scottish origin. One of his German relatives was an Arnold Trumpf, b, 27 October 1892 in Gifhorn and died 7, January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen. Trumpf was a member of the Nazi party number 389 920 from 1 December 1930. He was a member of the SS Race and Settlement Office as an SS-Oberführer
Trump was born and grew up in New York City. He received a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Trump took over running his family’s real estate business in 1971, renamed it The Trump Organization, and expanded it to involve constructing and renovating skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. He also started various side ventures, including branding and licensing his name for real estate and luxury consumer products.
He managed the company until his 2017 inauguration as President of the United States.
Trump also gained prominence in the media and entertainment fields. He co-authored several books, and from 2003 to 2015 he was a producer and the host of The Apprentice, a reality television game show.
Trump owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015. According to the American financial Forbes magazine, he was the world’s 544th richest person as of May 2017, with an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion.
In 1977, Trump married his first wife, Czech model Ivana Zelníčková. They had three children: Donald Jr. (b. 1977), Ivanka (b. 1981), and Eric (b. 1984). Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988. The couple divorced in 1992, following Trump’s affair with actress Marla Maples.
In October 1993, Maples gave birth to Trump’s daughter, who was named Tiffany after the upper-class Tiffany & Company. Maples and Trump were married two months later in December 1993. They divorced in 1999, and Tiffany was raised by Marla in California.
In 2005, Trump married his third wife, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, Florida. Her original name was Melanija Knavs, born on April 26, 1970 at Novo Mesto, SR Slovenia, SFR Yugoslavia
In 2006, Melania became a United States citizen and gave birth to a son, March 20, 2006, Barron William Trump. Melania and Barron moved to the White House on June 11, 2017,
Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but his hotel and casino businesses were declared bankrupt six times between 1991 and 2009 in order to re-negotiate debt with banks and owners of stock and bonds. Because the businesses used Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were allowed to operate while negotiations proceeded.
Mr. Trump was quoted by Newsweek magazine in 2011 saying, “I do play with the bankruptcy laws – they’re very good for me” as a tool for trimming debt.
The six bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).
As president, Trump has frequently made false statements in public speeches and remarks. Trump uttered “at least one false or misleading claim per day on 91 of his first 99 days” in office according to The New York Times, and 1,318 total in his first 263 days in office. The Washington Post, also wrote, “President Trump is the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered… the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up.”
Mr. Trump has a history of making racially-charged statements and taking actions perceived as racially motivated.
In 1975, Mr. Trump settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1973 alleging housing discrimination against black renters. In 1989, he was accused of racism for insisting that a group of black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the Central Park jogger case even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence.
He continued to maintain this position as late as 2016.
Mr.Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech in which he described Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.
One of Mr.Trump’s campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked for several years to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovich win the Ukrainian presidency.
Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.
Members of Mr.Trump’s campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election In a December 29, 2016 conversation, Flynn and Kislyak discussed the recently imposed sanctions against Russia; Mr.Trump later fired Flynn for falsely claiming he had not discussed the sanctions.
Donald Trump has pursued business deals in Russia since 1987, and has sometimes traveled there to explore potential business opportunities. In 1996, Trump trademark applications were submitted for potential Russian real estate development deals. Mr.Trump’s partners and children have repeatedly visited Moscow, connecting with developers and government officials to explore joint venture opportunities. Mr.Trump was never able to successfully conclude any real estate deals in Russia. However, individual Russians have invested heavily in Trump properties, and following Mr.Trump’s bankruptcies in the 1990s he borrowed money from Russian sources. In 2008 his son Donald Trump Jr. said that Russia was an important source of money for the Trump businesses.
In 1996 Mr.Trump partnered with Liggett-Ducat, a small company, and planned to build an upscale residential development on a Liggett-Ducat property in Moscow. Trump commissioned New York architect Ted Liebman, who did the sketches.
In 1987 Mr.Trump visited Russia to investigate developing a hotel
In Russia, Mr.Trump promoted the proposal and acclaimed the Russian economic market. At a news conference reported by The Moscow Times, Mr.Trump said he hadn’t been “as impressed with the potential of a city as I have been with Moscow” in contrast to other cities had visited “all over the world.
By this time, Mr.Trump made known his desire to build in Moscow to government officials for almost ten years ranging from the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (they first met in Washington in 1987) to the military figure Alexander Lebed.
Moscow’s mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, showed Trump plans for a very large shopping mall to be located underground in the vicinity of the Kremlin. The mayor complimented Mr.Trump’s suggestion that this mall should have access to the Moscow Metro, and it was eventually connected to the Okhotny Ryad station. Although the 1996 residential development did not happen, Mr.Trump was by this time well known in Russia.
Between 2000–2010, Mr.Trump entered into a partnership with a development company headquartered in New York represented by a Russian immigrant, Felix Sater. During this period, they partnered for an assortment of deals that included building Trump towers internationally and Russia was included. For example, in 2005 Slater acted as an agent for building a Trump tower alongside Moscow River with letters of intent in hand and “square footage was being analyzed.”
In 2006, Mr.Trump’s children Donald Jr. and Ivanka stayed in the Hotel National, Moscow for several days, across from the Kremlin, to interview prospective partners, with the intention of formulating real estate development projects.
Sater had also traveled to Moscow with Mr. Trump, his wife Ivanka and son Donald Jr.
Mr. Trump was associated with Tevfik Arif, formerly a Soviet commerce official and founder of a development company called the Bayrock Group, of which Sater was also a partner.
Bayrock searched for deals in Russia while Trump Towers company were attempting to further expand in the United States. Mr. Sater said, “We looked at some very, very large properties in Russia,” on the scale of “…a large Vegas high-rise.”
In 2007, Bayrock organized a potential deal in Moscow between Trump International Hotel and Russian investors
During 2006–2008 Mr.Trump’s company applied for a number of trademarks in Russia with the goal of real estate developments. These trademark applications include: Trump, Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Home.
In 2008, Mr. Trump spoke at a Manhattan real estate conference, stating that he really prefered Moscow over all cities in the world and that within 18 months he had been in Russia a half-dozen times.
Mr.Trump had received large and undisclosed payments over 10 years from Russians for hotel rooms, rounds of golf, or Trump-licensed products such as wine, ties, or mattresses, which would not have been identified as coming from Russian sources in the tax returns
A secret KGB memo under date of February 1, 1984 concerned the necessity of making an expanded use of the facilities of cooperating foreign intelligence services—for example, Czechoslovakian or East German intelligence networks.
The most revealing section concerned kompromat.
The document specifically requested any compromising information about Donald Trump, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft … and exploitation of his position to enrich himself. Plus any other information that would compromise the subject (Trump) to his country’s authorities and the general public. Naturally the information could be used to cause him serious problems in his country if exposed.
Finally, the report mentioned that his attitude towards women was also of interest. The point of interest would be if he was the habit of having affairs with women.
Mr. Trumps’ first trip to Moscow came after he found himself seated next to the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin in 1986. His original position was Soviet ambassador to the U.N. Dubinin’s mission as ambassador was to make contact with America’s business elite.
There was a luncheon held by Leonard Lauder, the son of Estée Lauder. Mr. Trump was invited to meet the Ambassador. Ambassador Dubinin spoke fluent English and during the course of the luncheon Trump spoke at length with the Ambassador who proposed that Trump build a large luxury hotel, directly across from the Kremlin, in association with the Soviet government.
Mr.Trump at once became interested in the project and expressed his willingness to cooperate on such a project.
By January 1987, Mr.Trump had become a “prominent person” status and therefore Ambassador Dubinin deemed Mr.Trump interesting enough to arrange his trip to Moscow. U.S.-based Soviet diplomat, Vitaly Churkin—the future U.N. ambassador—was of assistance in this project.
Mr. Trump first visited the Soviet Union on July 4, 1987.
Mr. Trump flew to Moscow for the first time, together with his wife Ivana and Lisa Calandra, Ivana’s Italian-American assistant. Ambassador Dubinin’s invitation to Trump to visit Moscow was a standard operation exercise by the KGB.
The Trump trip was orchestrated by the Intourist Agency which was under the control of the KGB. Its duty was to investigate and monitor all foreigners coming into the Soviet Union.
The Trumps were treated with great courtesy by Soviet officials and they were housed in Lenin’s suite at the National Hotel, at the bottom of Tverskaya Street, near Red Square.
The hotel was connected to the Intourist complex next door and was under KGB control.
The Lenin suite had been fixed for electronic surveillance.
In November of 2013, the Miss Universe pageant was held iin Moscow
It was there that Mr. Trump — then the pageant’s owner — spent several days socializing with Russia’s business and political elite and becoming acquainted with a wealthy developer whose connections his son would later seek to capitalize on. The developer, Aras Agalarov, offered to pass on information about potential rival Mrs. Clinton from Russia’s top prosecutor to help a projected Trump presidential campaign.
The contest was held at Crocus City Hall, a venue owned by Agalarov. The event would be a family affair: Agalarov’s son, a pop singer named Emin, performed on stage and his wife was a judge.
Mr.Trump remained on good and productive terms with the Agalarov family, at one point, appearing in a music video with Emin and sending him a videotaped greeting on his 35th birthday.
During his trip to Moscow on November 9-11, 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant, Mr.Trump surrounded himself with business people and those necessary to sign a deal which would bring a Trump Tower project to Moscow. These were: Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov,Yulya (Yulia) Alferova,Herman Gref, Artem Klyushin, Vladimir Kozhin, Chuck LaBella, Rotem Rosen, Phil Ruffin, Alex Sapir, Keith Schiller, Roustam Tariko and Bob Van Ronkel.
At first, President Putin, who had planned on meeting Mr.Trump at the pageant, sent numerous individuals tied to the Russian construction sector to the event to discuss potential lucrative building plans and to ascertain Mr. Trump’s attitudes.
President Putin to establish a distance, stated he was unable to attend the pagent because of a last-minute visit from the King of the Netherlands.
Previous to this meeting, there had been no positive positions on the possibility that Mr. Trump, with Russian assistance and financing, might construct a luxury hotel in Moscow. Trump made several tweets thanking individuals in Moscow and bragging about his future plans. Then on November 12th, 2013 Trump posted a link to the Moscow Times, remarking that his organization was working on building a luxury hotel in Moscow “@AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!”
This hotel deal was finalized during Trump’s weekend stay in Moscow for his Miss Universe pageant. At the Four Seasons Hotel at Ulitsa Okhotnyy Ryad, 2, a private meeting was held between Mr. Trump and President Putin. As the President is fluent in English, no other person was present. President Putin praised the business abilities of Mr. Trump and said that he would be a “refreshing person” as President of the United States. President Putin said that his people would be pleased to support Mr. Trump and that if this support was deemed material in achieving a victory, President Putin had one request to make of Mr. Trump. President Putin said his best wish was to establish “friendly and cooperative attitudes” by both parties, firmer business contacts and an abandonment of the policy of threats to the Russian Republic. President Putin stressed that certain very right-wing groups in America had been constantly agitating against him and against the Russian Republic and he hoped that Mr. Trump, if elected, could ignore these few people and work with, not against the Russian Republic. Mr. Trump repeatedly assured the President that he woud be most eager to do just that and he agreed to work with various people in the United States who were friendly towards, and had connections with, the Russian Republic.
This most important conversation was recorded as a form of kompromat. And it is certain that a direct quid pro quo took place in November of 2013 between President Putin and Mr. Trump.
On June 16, 2015, Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for President

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Steven Myers

Deranged, home-made theories defended with motivated reasoning by “independent scholars” are a dime a dozen, and the Giza pyramid is a common target. Edward J. Kunkel, for instance, argued – in his book The Pharaoh’s Pump – that the great pyramid in the desert at Giza was a water pump. The idea is silly for an impressive range of reasons, but silliness hasn’t stopped independent scholars before and probably won’t in the foreseeable future.
Now, Kunkel is long dead, but his ideas are still ardently promoted by one Steven Myers, who runs a website and a foundation devoted to the idea, The Pharaoh’s Pump Foundation, which, Myers claims, is going to build a pump using ancient Egyptian technology. It’s been going for a while, but we haven’t seen much by way of goal accomplishments. Now, whywould Myers want to build a pyramid pump, you may wonder? Apparently because the “ancient pumping technology is nonpolluting and does not require fossil fuels or electricity to operate.”And now you may wonder precisely how they did operate. Well, according to Myers, the pyramid pump was fueled by fire. It must be a novel type of non-polluting fire, then, presumably fed by the renewable, lush and fertile forests of the Giza area. There seem to be some gaps still in the Kunkel-Myers hypothesis.
Perhaps he has given up on it. Apparently the project was motivated in part by the doomsday rants of Richard Noone, and the pumps ostensibly needed to be built with some urgency to pump away the water from melting polar ice caps following the cataclysmic events of May 5, 2000, when Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were aligned with Earth, a date that came and passed with no notable weather events (or pumps).
Of course, Myers is not without his critics. Christopher Dunn, for instance, has argued that the Giza pyramid is a power plant working “by responding harmonically with the seismic energy contained within the Earth.” As Lakatos pointed out, competing research programs are important to good scientific progress.
Diagnosis: At least he’s harmless. Which is more than can be said of many of the loons covered here recently.

Amy Myers

Amy Myers has, over the course of recent years, risen to become something resembling a bigshot in the worthless-supplement industry, with a brand that promises to sell nonsense for often vaguely defined conditions. Now, Myers is, indeed, an MD, but she markets herself as a functional medicine practitioner and is the founder and director of Austin UltraHealth, a functional medicine clinic. Functional medicine stands to medicine like diploma-purchased-online-by-following-the-link-in-a-spam-email stands to education. And her supplements are the kind of supplements that “support MTHFR, adrenal stress, and detoxification efforts” (($43.97 for 120 tablets). Anyone with the faintest knowledge of medicine would of course immediately call “bullshit”. But those with the faintest knowledge of medicine are not in the target audience for these products, of course.
Myers is also the author of a couple of rather popular books, The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases and The Thyroid Connection, both of which should be shunned like the plague by anyone seeking anything remotely resembling medical information. The former claims, without any foundation in fact or reality, that “over 90 percent of the population suffers from inflammation or an autoimmune disorder” – the recipe is simple: convince the reader that she has a disease that doesn’t exist, then push a fake cure that does nothing. “Until now, conventional medicine has said there is no cure,” says Myers, which is technically correct given that there is nothing to cure, and responds with “a cocktail of toxic treatments that fail to address their root cause” – and yes, that is the astonishingly dishonest “doctors-only-treat-symptoms” gambit, no less. Currently, Myers is part of the Goop group, and in particular responsible for developing the Goop vitamin/supplement protocol, Balls in the Air, “designed for women who want to stay on top of their A game”. The protocol is about empowerment, you know; actual health benefits and truth have nothing to do with it.
Myers has been particularly influential on the gluten-free misinfo scene, and has written articles (or rathe rinfomercials) in HuffPo spreading various types of misinformation about gluten. Not all of her writings mention that she, coincidentally, also sells online courses on Celiac/gluten-free diets for the meagre sum of $49.
She has also made a name for herself scaring potential victims with horrid tales of parasites as a likely cause of Hashimoto’s, which is nonsense but surely a good way to lead worried people (including the Morgellons crowd) to her online store and buy her (not cheap) “comprehensive test”. I think we can all tell you in advance what the results of that test and subsequent recommendations are going to be. Suffice to say, the Myers’s Way® Parasite Control Program is not gonna go easy on your wallet. It is certainly not actually going to improve your health, but you may not ever actually realize that: “My objective is to empower you to discover the root cause of your symptoms and be able to self-treat at home with food and supplements,” says Myers – or, put differently: do not seek a second opinion from a different doctor before enrolling or during treatment!
Diagnosis: She’s good at marketing; we’ll give her that. Her claims have no grounding in facts, of course, but that’s never a particularly major obstacle when designing a good marketing strategy.

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