Closing Thought–14Apr20

We have heard all the reports of the deaths, shortages and lack of responses……and most schools are out and probably for the rest of the school year.

There is one sad stat that has come out of the virus…..no one is dying in schools from mass shootings…..

The nationwide lockdown to stem the rise of the coronavirus has had one silver lining—March 2020 was the first March since 2002 without a school shooting. 

“Depressing on mulitple levels,” said New York Times reporter Annie Karni.

Washington Post reporter Robert Klemko made the observation Monday morning on Twitter.

“Heartbreaking statistic,” tweeted the Wall Street Journal‘s Robbie

Whelan in reply.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/13/heartbreaking-statistic-thanks-pandemic-last-month-was-first-march-2002-without-us

A classic good news/bad news.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Mallorca Files–A Review

I would like to take a short break from all this Covid-19 stuff…..and all the news around this killer….and offer something entertaining….my review.

I do not often do many review movie or TV or book….but from time to time something just catches my fancy…..and so it was with a British crime drama entitled “Mallorca Files”.

This was a no brainer for me….for I lived on Mallorca as a teen for 3 years and then again as an adult for 2 years…..and still hold the island in high regard…..although it is not as laid back as it was in my youth…..it has become the playground of the rich and famous which is the kiss of death for a culture.

But the islands lend well for a series especially a series about murder and stuff……

Mallorca Files…..

Set on the sunny Spanish island of Mallorca, this 10-part BBC Daytime drama (co-produced with German channel ZDF) is written by Good Karma Hospital‘s Dan Sefton and features a brilliant partnership in the form of uptight British cop Miranda Blake (Elen Rhys) and laid-back German policeman Max Winter (Julian Looman).

In the opening episode, DC Blake is in Palma de Mallorca to escort a star witness back to the UK: the gang-boss-turned-informant Niall Taylor (Aidan McArdle). To put things mildly, things do not go to plan.

Miranda soon finds herself paired with Max, a German police officer who has somehow ended up on permanent secondment with the Spanish police force. Together they form that classic “unlikely duo” beloved of buddy cop movies, but in a knowingly-naff kind of way with a heavy dose of sexual tension. Miranda is diligent, blunt, obsessive and angry; and despite the German stereotype, Max is the one who is chilled out and much more attuned to the Spanish pace of life.

(radiotimes.com)

Watch a couple of trailers…..

My thoughts…..

I get it on Britbox and only have 4 episodes at this time and so far I like the idea of this show…..Mallorca is a lovely place and has a rich history to go with the amazing scenery……I recognized the round castle….the Basilica de Santa Maria, the harbor of Palma and the mountains on the north side of the island.

After four episodes I noticed a bit of the repartee of Shakespeare and Hathaway…..in short a little comedic relief….works for me….I cannot wait to see the rest of the season and the next season when it is released.

If you liked the scenery of Death in Paradise…then you should truly appreciate the rich culture of Mallorca and the fantastic scenery.

“lego ergo scribo”

Covid-19–What About The Groceries?

This virus thing has given the people a wealth of information for them to try and digest…..in some cases it is TMI and helps with the confusion.

Here at IST I try to help with as much FYI as I can with the respect that it could help in the understanding of what is needed.

Plus while writing this post I may have come across the reason for the shortage of TP…..read on……

When we go to the market we should wear a mask and gloves and use wipes to clean the surface of the cart…..but what about the groceries in that cart?

Is all that necessary?

In March a Michigan doctor’s video on how to sanitize your groceries went viral—and his tips were pretty involved. But are they really necessary? According to the infectious disease, virology, and food safety experts NPR spoke with, perhaps not. The upshot of their tips is this: “Focus on the people, not the food,” as respiratory droplets are the biggest source of infection, per a Columbia University virologist. Here are seven more things to consider:

Don’t use your phone in the store. If you do so, you’re basically putting your hand on your face—a no-no.

Wear a mask, not gloves. Speaking of hands, the experts say gloves can provide a false sense of security and advise against them. As soon as you touch a contaminated surface the gloves are contaminated, but many people leave their gloves on for an extended period of time, and do things like talk on the phone or handle credit cards while wearing them. Instead, just wash or sanitize your hands as you enter and exit the store and once you get home.

Chill on the grocery sanitizing. Good news—none of the experts NPR spoke with are going to town on the grocery sanitizing. One says the probability of getting infected from your bag of tortilla chips is just really low. You’d have to touch the very spot where respiratory droplets landed, get enough of it on your hands to get infected, and then touch your face. Washing your hands after unpacking your bags and before cooking and eating is good practice.

But remember your countertops. After you unpack your groceries, give them a wipe down.

Steer clear of disinfecting spray or wipes. You’re trying to make sure your pasta is coronavirus-free … but dousing the box it’s packaged in using disinfectant isn’t the way to go. The experts note such cleaning products are made for hard surfaces and could actually end up contaminating your food if used on certain kind of packaging. If you need to wipe, a little soap and water is sufficient.

You don’t need to soap up your produce. One expert says a simple cold-water rinse is fine, noting that consuming soap residue could spur diarrhea or vomiting.

Wash your hands when touching frozen food at home. Cold temperatures help the virus live longer, so wash those hands after taking frozen items out of the freezer.

Read the full story for more grocery-shopping tips.

Number 6 could explain the necessity for so much damn TP.

I hope these steps will be helpful.

Be Calm…..Avoid Crowds…..Wash Hands Often…..Stay Prepared

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

IST Covid-19 News #1

There is lots of news flying around the web about this killer virus…..so much so that it almost impossible for the normal human to keep up with…..I will update my readers on stories that do not get much air time as the numbers game……

Times like this brings out the worst in some people…..people that want scam the population for profit……

A major California labor union that claimed to have discovered a stockpile of 39 million masks for health care workers fighting the coronavirus was duped in an elaborate scam uncovered by FBI investigators, the AP reports. Investigators stumbled onto the scheme while looking into whether they could intercept the masks for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Defense Production Act, the US attorney’s office said Friday. The federal government has been quietly seizing supplies across the country as the outbreak spreads. But in this case, there was no warehouse, and there were no masks to seize, the LA Times reports. US Attorney Scott Brady told the Times that investigators tracked the tip back to a Pittsburgh businessman.

That businessman, Brady said, had been working with the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West to secure millions of masks. The businessman had been communicating with a broker in Australia and a supplier in Kuwait, who are both now the target of a federal investigation. The union and the Pittsburgh businessman appear to be among a string of middlemen who were fooled. The promise of 39 million masks was first made public March 26, when the union announced it had found the stockpile after seeking potential suppliers by phone. No money was ever exchanged, but the masks never appeared, either. Experts say dubious brokers and suppliers have flooded the market with suspect medical-supply offers, creating an atmosphere of confusion and distrust.

We all have seen first hand at the shortages and the empty shelves in the markets….especially the food stuffs….well there could be a new and more devastating shortage……Meat

Employees at meat processing plants are getting the new coronavirus—and some of the facilities are shutting down, including one of the country’s biggest pork processing facilities. Bloomberg reports there’s been a “spike” in coronavirus infections at such plants, with hundreds of new cases last week. Plants are starting to slow operations or reduce output, and one economist explains that’s “one of the huge reasons for the decline in futures prices,” down about 40% in recent months. As the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pork plant announced Sunday it was closing until further notice, the CEO of Smithfield, which runs the facility, had a dire warning for what this could mean.

  • The warning: “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain,” Kenneth Sullivan said, per CNN. “The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.”
  • More on the South Dakota cases: As of Saturday, when there were 430 active coronavirus cases in the state, Smithfield employees accounted for 240 of those. The plant, which employs 3,700, produces 4% to 5% of the country’s pork. South Dakota’s governor recommended a shutdown of at least two weeks, and employees will be paid for the next two weeks. (Its current inventory will be processed Tuesday with some employees on site.)
  • Colorado: There are as many as 50 cases at a Colorado JBS USA beef facility; AgWeb reports the Greeley plant will close through Tuesday so it can be cleaned and sanitized.
  • Pennsylvania: A Cargill meat packaging facility in Pennsylvania where at least 164 cases have been reported so far closed Tuesday with no indication of when it might reopen, the Citizens’ Voice reports. “The number that is even scarier is the many more who are sick and waiting for their test results,” says the union president, per the Star Tribune. He estimated as many as 200 others were out sick when the plant closed. Other plants in Pennsylvania have also gone idle, including a JBS USA beef plant, per NPR.
  • Iowa: After more than two dozen confirmed cases among employees of a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, the facility suspended operations last week without saying when they might resume, the Des Moines Register reports. A National Beef Packing plant in the state also suspended slaughter operations so it could move up a cleaning that was originally scheduled for later this month, Reuters reports.
  • Deaths: Two of the Colorado employees have died, as well as one employee at another JBS facility and two workers from a Georgia Tyson Foods plant. “You cannot make sacrifices like this with people’s lives,” a Colorado union president says. “People can live without beef.”
  • Risky environment: As Bloomberg explains, workers in plants like these are often quite close together, making social distancing a challenge.
  • Could this idea help? Iowa’s governor says quick tests should be made available for meat packing workers. Rapid testing machines at meat packing plants could produce results within minutes, Radio Iowa reports.

Looks like the celebrations on the 4th of July may be cancelled…..

Have plans for Fourth of July? Better make sure they’re not cancelled. The News & Observer reports that at least a half dozen cities from Redwood City, Calif., to Ithaca, NY, are already nixing Independence Day events amid concerns over the coronavirus. That includes the much-loved festival in Southport, North Carolina: “The July 4th Celebration in Southport has been an iconic event for over 200 years,” writes Southport Mayor Joseph Hatem on Facebook. He recommends that “this celebration of independence and freedom be canceled to assist in stopping the spread of this contagious disease. This was a difficult decision, but the most prudent one and will … save lives.”

Other cancellations include St. Louis (Belleville News-Democrat); Redlands, Calif. (Redlands Daily Facts), and, in the Pacific Northwest, Portland and Fort Vancouver (Oregon Live). This jibes with a Maryland state health official’s take on coronavirus numbers possibly peaking around July 4: “If that happens, that means we will have done our job because we have slowed down hospital capacity demands,” said Webster Ye, per the Baltimore Sun. Similarly, the Washington Post quotes DC Mayor Muriel Bowser as saying the nation’s capital expects hospitalized COVID-19 patients to peak in late June or early July

I listen to our president and everyday he sounds more and more like a dictator instead of a leader of the Free World…..especially when he pushes some weird untried drug…..

Two drugs that have been promoted by President Trump for use in treating the coronavirus are being linked to heart problems in international research. The Hill reports that a review by France’s drug safety regulator turned up 43 “cardiac adverse effects” in COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, typically used to treat malaria. The agency reported 100 total cases of adverse reactions in patients treated with experimental drugs—82 of them serious, including four deaths—though only about half of these incidents were tied to hydroxycloroquine; the other half were linked to lopinavir-ritonavir, which is used to treat HIV. Meanwhile, a small study out of Brazil has been brought to a halt after patients given a higher dose of chloroquine, also used to treat malaria, developed heart arrhythmias, per the New York Times.

About half of the 81 patients involved in that study took 450mg of the drug two times a day for five days; the other half received 600mg for 10 days. Researchers started seeing irregular heart rates within three days in the patients given the higher doses; by the sixth day, 11 of them had died, and that portion of the study was ended. “Chloroquine causes a dose-dependent increase in an abnormality in the [electrocardiogram] that could predispose people to sudden cardiac death,” says Dr. David Juurlink, who heads up the University of Toronto’s clinical pharmacology division. Last month, Bloomberg reported that China had initially pushed using chloroquine after encouraging clinical trials, but that it soon walked that back after Wuhan Institute of Virology research showed just 2g of the drug—twice the recommended daily amount—proved deadly.

Just does not sound like the “miracle drug” that Trump wants us to believe….how much does he make off this branding thing?

Speaking of a dictator……Trump’s latest verbiage sounds just like one…..

President Donald Trump on Monday declared that he could force states across the country to reopen their economies, even if those states’ governors believe that doing so would be dangerous.

“For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect. It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!”

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/04/trump-says-he-can-force-states-to-reopen-even-if-their-governors-say-its-too-dangerous/

The National Guard is being used to help with this pandemic and it seems that they are not allocated much health care for their work…..

Legal arcana and the narrow wording of President Trump’s orders are complicating the mobilization of National Guard troops to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Pentagon, the White House, and the states are working urgently to increase the number of troops with federal funding and full benefits, said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the four-star chief of the National Guard Bureau, in a phone briefing with reporters this afternoon.

Part of the problem is that President Trump has not actually authorized federal funding and benefits for every state. Only 34 states and three territories are currently covered by his call-up orders, with 16 states and the District of Columbia still ineligible. (The full list is at the end of this article). Indeed, it’s not clear that all states have even requested federal support for their Guard troops, especially in rural areas where the spread of the virus has been slower and suspicion of the federal government can be high.

COVID-19 Federal Funds, Benefits Lag For National Guard

This is not the way to instill confidence in the leadership for this pandemic.

Finally, the numbers seem to be dropping more rapid than predicted…..some are asking ……..wassup?

Good idea because it is a little of a downer to have a 4th BBQ and have NO flesh to scorch.

Dire predictions about the coronavirus are easing a little—or let’s face it, a lot—and Fareed Zakaria wants to know why. Writing this week in the Washington Post, the CNN host looks at projected US fatalities and current hospitalization rates, both of which are way down. Just last month, he notes, the White House estimated 100,000 to 240,000 US deaths, but Anthony Fauci now says that will drop, and a prominent University of Washington model predicts a death toll of 60,415 by June 1 if social distancing is maintained. “That’s on par with the number of people estimated to have died of the flu in the 2019-2020 season,” writes Zakaria. “What is going on?”

Meanwhile, hospitalization rates in California, Louisiana, and even New York have plummeted from original projections. Zakaria says Stanford University scholars might have an explanation—that the lack of early widespread testing hid the number of mild or asymptomatic cases. Some studies say 75% to 80% could be asymptomatic, meaning most people who get infected “never get to a clinic and never get counted,” writes Zakaria. “We have shut down the economy based on models, understandably worried about worst-case scenarios. But models are only as good as the data that shapes them. And reopening the economy will depend crucially on mass testing.” Click for his full piece. (Fauci just predicted “a real degree of normality” by November.)

Just few of the stories that you may not have read or heard over the weekend……

The news seems to be breaking faster than a Trumpian lie……I will try to keep my readers up-to-date as best I can…..

Watch This Blog!

Stay Calm…..Avoid Crowds……Wash Hands Often….Stay Prepared

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Say Goodbye Afghanistan

From time to time I get some grad students papers to read…..the following is one of those papers…..

The US has a peace deal with the Taleban…..for good or bad…..

On February 29, 2020, in Doha, Qatar the United States and the Afghan Taliban signed a peace agreement designed to end the long war in Afghanistan. The agreement contains largely the same conditions that had been agreed upon in September 2019 but which was scuttled by President Trump. Essentially, this agreement calls for the removal of United States and Coalition forces from Afghanistan in exchange for the promise that the Taliban would not allow terrorist groups to operate on Afghan soil. However, the agreement is premised on several assumptions that will make its success problematic. The agreement assumes a functioning Afghan government in Kabul with which to negotiate. The recent Afghan presidential election, rather than resolving who is in charge, has in fact muddied the waters. The failed presidential election took place last September, but the vote counting process was so confused and contested that the winner was not announced until February 18, 2020, almost five months after the election took place. The flawed and contentious election has resulted in a contested and split government in Kabul, creating a stalemate regarding who is in charge and making the implementation of the next step in the peace agreement problematic. The result may be that with a weak, or split, government in Kabul, the Taliban will be in a stronger position to dictate terms of an agreement over the future of Afghanistan favorable to their point of view.

The Afghan Peace Agreement and Its Problems

After 19 years there are whispers of a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan…..and I state again….”whispers”…..Pompeo has threatened a cut of a billion dollars in aid because of the impasse…..an impasse of the creation of the US….

NBC News, quoting two current US senior officials (and one former official) on Tuesday reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a trip to Kabul two weeks ago on March 23, threatened President Ashraf Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah that President Trump might do a complete troop pullout, as well as an cut aid, if the dispute continues.

Immediately following his visit to Kabul, the US State Department released a statement saying that because of the failure of the Afghan leaders to end the political impasse, $1 billion in US aid money for Afghanistan would be cut, and funding in 2021 might also be reduced.

However, the statement about a complete troop withdrawal was not previously reported.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/nbc-pompeo-warned-full-troop-pullout-kabul-trip

Seriously?

That promise has been made so many times that most of us have lost count.

Let’s say the US pulls troops…what will that mean for the region and for say China?

With the U.S. troop withdrawal in sight, Afghanistan’s future seems less certain than ever. As a neighboring state with significant interests at stake, how does China view and prepare for Afghanistan’s future?

Since 9/11, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has presented a dilemma for China. On the one hand, Beijing instinctively sees American troops in China’s “backyard” as a serious strategic threat. However, China believes that it has benefited from the security that the United States has provided there, especially in terms of curtailing the growth and spread of anti-China terrorist groups. The implication of this dilemma is that China wants the United States to withdraw — but only when the withdrawal is responsible and does not leave a chaotic power vacuum that would destabilize the region. The reality, however, is that the American decision regarding Afghanistan will be made in Washington — not Beijing — and that China must react to whatever moves the United States makes going forward.

China’s Strategic Assessment of Afghanistan

China will probably use their best weapon in Afghanistan….economics.

One last point…..the Taleban is preparing for our departure and their ascension to power…..

A draft of a Taliban charter consisting of a list of rules, presumably intended as a guide for the potential future governance of Afghanistan, was shared with TOLOnews by a senior government official. Titled “The charter of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan,” the list of articles looks very similar to those of the former Taliban regime, which was in power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001.

The charter, which calls for the establishment of an Islamic emirate, has 149 articles which include a broad range of topics covering how laws will be passed to the mandate for a white flag.

The document which is seen by the leadership of the Afghan government suggests that the Taliban’s plans for their “future government” are not very different from the policies of their former regime.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/taliban-drafts-%E2%80%98charter%E2%80%99-future-govt-document

So basically….Afghanistan will return to the way it was in 2000 before the invasion and occupation.

Same as it ever was!

And they may well be much more successful than the use of force.

Just a thought.

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”