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Election Reflection

By Claude Gerald

Voters love to hear about Christianity
Thinking that is the end of the story.
And when dem camouflage behind the pulpit
Voters tun choopit,
And shout out this is it
And forget it;
Then joyfully relax and quit.
Only to get a big pool of… got-yah – it is vomit.

If ayuh me a tek de warning
There would be now no bawling
Butt e no too late fuh get d history
So, ask Breedy, ‘Mess Mess’, and Murphy.
And please no forget de Hero.
He could tell you all you want to know
From d start of the show.
And the ladies of the Nursery
Dead or alive they too have a story.
And Sharlotte, Mamzel, Katy, Lucy and Mr. Daley
God bless dem soul whey ever dem be
Dey could complete the heartless history.
And no fuget d deceased Sherolyn Daley!
Her Harris’s soul is pained in childbirth misery.
If you want to know bout Mr. Harry Paddy
Ask the Groves family
Scattered in every nook and cranny.
Dem go tell you who dem be
Not much of a somebady….
So, forget Iceman’s generosity
He must say sorry as he now begin to see…

Dem tink dem smart and got d art
No know that God a go tek awe part.

Living at we expense a dish out nonsense

But still want to pocket every penny
With no empathy or sympathy to neither Tom, Dick or Harry.

But sickness and death a arll awe cooler
As we must confess to we Maker.

Just before the divine BULL BUD start to swing
In a Harry Paddy-Harry Paddy thin pretensive skin.

And blows haffoo roll without cloths
To be finally and comprehensively exposed..

Posted in COVID-19, Elections, Local, Opinions, Poems, Politics, Regional0 Comments

doctors-look-at-CT-scan

Recall to find purpose, meaning and understanding

Today we continue with a few leads on items that appeared in The Montserrat Reporter publications in print and online to bring us up to date, as we too often forget some of what we have tried to draw readers’ attention.

We might become concerned enough to want to join in the questions that often go unanswered as our leaders and the authorities under (or above) them completely ignore or simply misunderstand their obligations. As said elsewhere it might even meet the approval of some, who may be in the majority given the demography on the ground.

But does that serve any progress or development to bring us to a state where we can demand the respect of those with the higher responsibility, taking it all the way UP?

Here are a few excertps of the lead stories from January/February and note how not surprisingly, disturbingly familiar they are a year

Weather system causes disruption to Ferry Service

The Access Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, is informing travelers that a high-pressure system in the region is expected to produce rough sea conditions over the next few days, which is resulting in the cancellation of the ‘Day Tour Service’ and will possibly disrupt other scheduled ferry services from Friday, January 10 to 14.

Jaden Sun would be ‘done with’ without clarity, except oratory it was not economical to keep its service. The story yet to be told

 Bank of Montserrat announces New General Manager.

Former Manager Michael Joseph
New Manager Baldwin Taylor

The Bank of Montserrat is pleased to announce the appointment of its new General Manager, Mr. Baldwin Taylor who took up office on January 2, 2020.

He succeeds Mr. Michael Joseph who retires as General Manager after serving for ten (10) years in the position. During his tenure, the Bank grew exponentially recording growth in assets of 47% moving from $171M in 2009 to $252M in 2018, and Loans growth of over 100% increasing from $46M in 2009 to $94M in 2018. The Bank also reported its best profit in the last five years of $4.3M in 2018.

OPENING CEREMONY FOR FINANCIAL AID MISSION (FAM)

FS Colin Owen, partially hidden, Adam Pile FCO Director, Premier Farrell, and Governor Pearce

EVENT:    Opening Ceremony for the Financial Aid Mission (FAM)

BACKGROUND:   The FAM is held annually to allow for discussions between the Government of Montserrat and the Department for International Development (DFID) on the budget allocation for Montserrat.   This year’s FAM will be held from Monday, January 13 to 17,  at the   Montserrat Cultural Centre.

Read the full story on this which will enlighten the strangeness of this year’s FAM discussions.

UN agency declares global emergency over virus from China

1 of 15

A doctor attends to a patient in an isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (Chinatopix via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has spread to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency Thursday after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Paris hospital. Outbreak specialists worry that the spread of new viruses from patients to health workers can signal the virus is becoming adapted to human transmission.

In Japan, a man in his 60s caught the virus after working as a bus driver for two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, a man in his 30s was sickened after a Chinese colleague from Shanghai, whose parents had recently visited from Wuhan, came to his office for a business meeting. Four other workers later became infected. The woman had shown no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Britain’s Welcome Trust, welcomed WHO’s emergency declaration.

“This virus has spread at unprecedented scale and speed, with cases passing between people in multiple countries across the world,” he said in a statement. “It is also a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are to epidemics of infectious diseases known and unknown.”

virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China

virus which originated from China a “global health emergency.” China, where the coronavirus emerged

Construction workers labor at the site of the Huoshenshan temporary field hospital being built in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj)

coronavirus defense

Zhong Nanshan (a Chinese pulmonologist who discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003) suggested simple ways to prevent Wuhan pneumonia:

It is recommended that you rinse your throat with light salt water before going to the hospital or other public places (and do the same after you return home). The method is as follows:

a) hold a mouthful of dilute salt water;

b) raise your head; let the salt water stay around your throat area

c) open your mouth slightly and exhale slowly, let air bubbling through the water in your throat and make a “ha” sound

d) spit out the salt water after a few seconds

e) repeat 3-5 times

Because viruses or bacteria lurk in the pharynx through the nasal passage, diluted salt water can kill them on the spot, thereby achieving the purpose of preventing infection. During SARS, I promoted and supervised this method among my students. As a result, none of our students in our class got cold, cough and fever.

This method is simple, effective, easy to do. But requires persevere.

Zhong Nanshan

January 21, 2020

Montserrat Port Development Project enters procurement phase – prequalification of contractors to design and construct the new port

February 7, 2020 GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat– The Montserrat Port Development Project has advanced to the procurement process phase, as contractors are now invited to pre-qualify for the design-build contract for the Phase 1 Development.

Project Manager of the Montserrat Port Development Project, Dion Weekes said the Project has satisfied the conditions set by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to advance to a procurement phase and as a result contractors are now invited to pre-qualify for the design and construction of the port facilities.

Contractors interested in pre-qualifying should visit the Government of Montserrat tenders website at https://tenders.gov.ms/?page_id=9&id=209 and the Caribbean Development Bank website https://www.caribank.org/work-with-us/procurement/procurement-notices/montserrat-port-development-project-1. The invitation to prequalify is also published on the United Nations Business Development website.

The deadline date for pre-qualification submissions to be received is March 3, 2020, following which the bidding documents for the design and construction of the port facilities are expected to be issued by the end of March.

The Island’s Long-Awaited Hospital Project Moves to Design Phase

The Government of Montserrat has signed a contract with Article 25 for the preliminary design of the island’s new national hospital. This follows a previous announcement that the Government had successfully concluded a globally competitive procurement process.

Article 25 is an international architectural organisation based in the United Kingdom (UK), with impressive experience in health facility design, amongst a portfolio including more than 90 architectural projects across 34 countries.

The designers, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), will be responsible for reviewing previous design work, and generating new and costed architectural options for a facility with a minimum of 24 beds, with the capacity for expansion to meet peak demands. The consultants will also provide logistical plans for decanting from the current facilities and ensuring continuity of service, whilst demonstrating conformance to the highest clinical design standards for patients and medical staff.

The Head of Programme Management Office, Mr. Martin Parlett, said, “We are delighted to now be in formal contract with Article 25, and to fire the starting pistol on the overall project. Article 25 will begin by mobilizing a multi-disciplinary team, and conducting a review of relevant healthcare data and previous design work. We then expect Article 25 to be ‘on the ground’ in Montserrat in March, to conduct site visits and the first stage of consultation with a broad range of stakeholders. Input from our healthcare professionals, technicians and patient community is critical to ensure that the design responds to Montserrat’s unique contact, whilst enabling improvements to service and experience.”

STATEMENT ON JOHN A OSBORNE AIRPORT CLOSURES WHEN THE RUNWAY IS WET

The Governor and his Office sincerely sympathise with individuals who have been inconvenienced by the adjustments made to the airport operating regime, specifically the “wet runway” closure, since the runway overshoot incident in September last year. 

There has been some good recent discussion on the closure in the media, but also some misunderstandings on some aspects. People may welcome clarifications and information on the way forward. 

Air safety regulation in Montserrat has been wholly designated to the UK organisation, Air Safety and Support International (ASSI). These are experts in what is a critical but highly technical professional field and will be determining the way forward. The Governor does not have a personal responsibility for deciding such matters. It would clearly be wrong and inappropriate for him, or anyone else without the relevant professional experience and qualifications, to do so.

ASSI required that use of our runway in Montserrat in wet conditions be restricted temporarily after the accident last September. That was because they had grounds to believe that the very wet conditions at the time of the incident may have contributed to it.

FAM budget discussions friendly (Jan 2020)

With the concurrence of the other lead players in the recently concluded Financial Aid Mission talks here in Montserrat, (2020) His Excellency Governor Andy Pearce expressed at the joint press conference between the UK Department for International Development/Foreign Commonwealth Office (DFID/FCO) and Government of Montserrat (GoM), that his thoughts as to what would be key to a successful FAM were spot on, to be professional, in a spirit of cooperation an friendship.

He said in his opening remarks, “I just gave a couple of thoughts that the key to a successful FAM in my relatively brief experience here, was firstly professional d0iligence and thoroughness, attention to detail and secondly conducting things in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

“I must say from my own experience in this week, I think both have been absolutely hit on the nail,” adding that he would echo the Financial Secretary’s (FS) observation.

The FS had said as he introduced the press conference, “…it’s been an extraordinary week…very busy – it’s been very well attended,” and he said, “thanks to the Premier and the ministers for attending most of the sessions…”

The Governor ended his brief remarks addressing the “public service team in all its parts…really excellent preparation, coming straight after Christmas and with busy day jobs…thank you very much indeed for doing it also carefully; and such a happy spirit indeed. It’s built a really solid understanding between us all and an excellent spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

The Hon Premier Joseph Farrell speaking next, said he wished to join with the others who have extended words of thanks to the many persons who are involved (they said they had one more meeting after the press conference, having just concluded one before) in this week of activities.”

In particular,” he said, “I want to thank the core teams of both DFID and the government and once that Ministry of finance and all others who took part in the discussions.”

“Surely it was a very full experience for us as a new government. My ministers and I certainly enjoyed the exposure that we have had,” repeating the newness, “but we have learnt a lot.”

He confirmed that they had attended “most of the sessions and the only reason why we did that is because we want to be familiar with how it works

New Port stalled

February 2020

Montserrat may not receive the port break water and breathing facility that was advertised by the government of Montserrat. In the first in a series of Facebook live videos, minister of communication and works the honorable doctor Samuel Joseph says upon taking office he has discovered that the cost of constructing the port exceeds the budget that has been allocated.

After we submitted this designs this how we would like our ports, how we would like our break water just try to get an understanding of what it cost. What happen is that the cost of the project came way over the amount of money that’s available. So that created an immediate issue so what has happen is that we had to go back when I say we the technicians etc had to now go back and try to scale down the design of the port, scale down to a smaller version so basically cost less money they are currently in the process of doing that and the question we are going to face as a government and as a people of Montserrat is how small can you go before that project is acceptable.

Now that the real cost of the port has been introduced minister Joseph says the government will now have to scale back its expectations to the public.

Posted in COVID-19, Health, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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India’s dramatic fall in virus cases leaves experts stumped

Reprint

By KRUTIKA PATHI and ANIRUDDHA GHOSAL, Associated Press – Associated Press – 16 February 2021

NEW DELHI (AP) — When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in India, there were fears it would sink the fragile health system of the world’s second-most populous country. Infections climbed dramatically for months and at one point India looked like it might overtake the United States as the country with the highest case toll.

But infections began to plummet in September, and now the country is reporting about 11,000 new cases a day, compared to a peak of nearly 100,000, leaving experts perplexed.

They have suggested many possible explanations for the sudden drop — seen in almost every region — including that some areas of the country may have reached herd immunity or that Indians may have some preexisting protection from the virus.

The Indian government has also partly attributed the dip in cases to mask-wearing, which is mandatory in public in India and violations draw hefty fines in some cities. But experts have noted the situation is more complicated since the decline is uniform even though mask compliance is flagging in some areas.

It’s more than just an intriguing puzzle; determining what’s behind the drop in infections could help authorities control the virus in the country, which has reported nearly 11 million cases and over 155,000 deaths. Some 2.4 million people have died worldwide.

“If we don’t know the reason, you could unknowingly be doing things that could lead to a flare-up,” said Dr. Shahid Jameel, who studies viruses at India’s Ashoka University.

India, like other countries, misses many infections, and there are questions about how it’s counting virus deaths. But the strain on the country’s hospitals has also declined in recent weeks, a further indication the virus’s spread is slowing. When recorded cases crossed 9 million in November, official figures showed nearly 90% of all critical care beds with ventilators in New Delhi were full. On Thursday, 16% of these beds were occupied.

That success can’t be attributed to vaccinations since India only began administering shots in January — but as more people get a vaccine, the outlook should look even better, though experts are also concerned about variants identified in many countries that appear to be more contagious and render some treatments and vaccines less effective.

Among the possible explanations for the fall in cases is that some large areas have reached herd immunity — the threshold at which enough people have developed immunity to the virus, by falling sick or being vaccinated, that the spread begins to slacken, said Vineeta Bal, who studies immune systems at India’s National Institute of Immunology.

But experts have cautioned that even if herd immunity in some places is partially responsible for the decline, the population as a whole remains vulnerable — and must continue to take precautions.

This is especially true because new research suggests that people who got sick with one form of the virus may be able to get infected again with a new version. Bal, for instance, pointed to a recent survey in Manaus, Brazil, that estimated that over 75% of people there had antibodies for the virus in October — before cases surged again in January.

“I don’t think anyone has the final answer,” she said.

And, in India, the data is not as dramatic. A nationwide screening for antibodies by Indian health agencies estimated that about 270 million, or one in five Indians, had been infected by the virus before vaccinations started — that’s far below the rate of 70% or higher than experts say might be the threshold for the coronavirus, though even that is not certain.

“The message is that a large proportion of the population remains vulnerable,” said Dr. Balram Bhargava, who heads India’s premier medical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research.

But the survey offered other insight into why India’s infections might be falling. It showed that more people had been infected in India’s cities than in its villages and that the virus was moving more slowly through the rural hinterland.

“Rural areas have lesser crowd density, people work in open spaces more and homes are much more ventilated,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

If some urban areas are moving closer to herd immunity — wherever that threshold lies — and are also limiting transmission through masks and physical distancing and thus are seeing falling cases, then maybe the low speed at which the virus is passing through rural India can help explain sinking numbers, suggested Reddy.

Another possibility is that many Indians are exposed to a variety of diseases throughout their lives — cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis, for instance, are prevalent — and this exposure can prime the body to mount a stronger, initial immune response to a new virus.

“If the COVID virus can be controlled in the nose and throat, before it reaches the lungs, it doesn’t become as serious. Innate immunity works at this level, by trying to reduce the viral infection and stop it from getting to the lungs,” said Jameel, of Ashoka University.

Despite the good news in India, the rise of new variants has added another challenge to efforts here and around the globe to bring the pandemic under control. Scientists have identified several variants in India, including some that have been blamed for causing new infections in people who already had an earlier version of the virus. But they are still studying the public health implications.

Experts are considering if variants may be driving a surge in cases in the southern state of Kerala, which had previously been hailed as a blueprint for tackling the virus. Kerala now accounts for nearly half of India’s current COVID-19 cases. Government-funded research has suggested that a more contagious version of the virus could be at play, and efforts to sequence its genome are ongoing.

With the reasons behind India’s success unclear, experts are concerned that people will let down their guard. Large parts of India have already returned to normal life. In many cities, markets are heaving, roads are crowded and restaurants nearly full.

“With the reducing numbers, I feel that the worst of COVID is over,” said M. B. Ravikumar, an architect who was hospitalized last year and recovered. “And we can all breathe a sigh of relief.”

Maybe not yet, said Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University who advises the West Bengal state on handling the pandemic.

“We don’t know if this will come back after three to four months,” he warned.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Posted in COVID-19, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

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Support grows for Capitol riot inquiry after Trump acquittal

By Hope Yen, Associated Press – PA Media – 14 February 2021

House prosecutors who led Donald Trump’s impeachment maintained they proved their case on Sunday while railing against Senate Republicans for “trying to have it both ways” in acquitting the former president.

A day after Mr. Trump won his second Senate impeachment trial in 13 months, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent September 11-style commission to ensure such a horrific assault could never happen again.

The end of the quick trial hardly put to rest the debate about Mr. Trump’s culpability for the January 6 insurrection as the political, legal, and emotional fallout unfolded.

More investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also has asked a retired Army General Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.

Legislators from both parties signaled on Sunday that even more inquiries were likely.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Mr. Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

Mr. Cassidy said he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable,” and added that as Americans hear all the facts, “more folks will move to where I was”. He was censured by his state’s party after the vote, which was 57-43 to convict but 10 votes short of the two-thirds required.

A close Trump ally, GOP senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said he looked forward to campaigning with Mr. Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority.

But Mr. Graham acknowledged Mr. Trump had some culpability for the siege at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer, and disrupted politicians’ certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory.

“His behaviour after the election was over the top,” Mr. Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after House prosecutors laid out a case that he was an “inciter in chief” who unleashed a mob by stoking a months-long campaign of spreading debunked conspiracy theories and false violent rhetoric that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers countered that the then president’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment was nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

The conviction tally was the most bipartisan in American history but left Mr. Trump to declare victory and signal a political revival while a bitterly divided GOP bickered over its direction and his place in the party.

The Republicans who joined Mr. Cassidy in voting to convict were Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

“It’s frustrating, but the founders knew what they were doing and so we live with the system that we have,” Stacey Plaskett, a House prosecutor who represents the Virgin Islands, said of the verdict, describing it as “heartbreaking”.

She added: “But, listen, we didn’t need more witnesses. We needed more senators with spines.”

On Sunday, several House impeachment managers sharply criticised minority leader Mitch McConnell, who told Republican senators soon before the vote that he would acquit Mr. Trump.

In a blistering speech after the vote, Mr. McConnell said the president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day” but that the Senate’s hands were tied to do anything about it because he was out of office. But the Senate, in an earlier vote, had deemed the trial constitutional.

“It was powerful to hear the 57 guilties and then it was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say not guilty and then minutes later stand again and say he was guilty of everything,” said Democratic representative Madeleine Dean.

“History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth.”

Ms Dean backed the idea of an impartial investigative commission “not guided by politics but filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction”.

An independent 9/11 style commission, which probably would require legislation to create, would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events.

McConnell and Republicans who defied Trump face GOP backlash

Alex Woodward – The Independent – 14 February 2021

McConnell Condemned Trump’s “disgraceful dereliction of duty”

The Republican Party remains sharply divided in the wake of Donald Trump’s impeachment for his role inciting a deadly riot on 6 January inside the same halls of Congress where senators convened for his second trial this week.
Senator Mitch McConnell, moments after voting to acquit the former president on Saturday, condemned his “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and said he is “practically and morally responsible” for his supporters’ assault on the Capitol.
On Sunday, Trump ally Lindsey Graham said the Senate’s GOP leader “got a load off his chest, obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans” by giving ammunition to negative adverts ahead of critical midterm elections, as Republicans mount an aggressive campaign to gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB1dGeSp?m=en-gb&referrerID=InAppShare

Read more: Follow live updates following Trump’s trial

“That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns,” Senator Graham told Fox News.

He added that Senator McConnell’s speech “is an outlier regarding how Republicans feel” about Mr Trump’s impeachment.

On Saturday night, Donald Trump Jr fired back at Senate minority leader McConnell.

“If only McConnell was so righteous as the Democrats trampled Trump and the Republicans while pushing Russia collusion bull**** for 3 years or while Dems incited 10 months of violence, arson, and rioting. Yea then he just sat back and did jack ****,” the president’s eldest son tweeted.

Mr Trump Jr followed with a call to “impeach the RINOs” – referring to “Republicans in name only” – and oust them from the GOP.

Seven Republican senators who joined Democrats to vote to convict have faced blowback from their party leaders in their home states, signaling fissures within the GOP over the former president’s role in the party.
Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and North Carolina’s Richard Burr were censured by their state Republican parties for their votes.

“I have no illusions that this is a popular decision,” Mr Cassidy wrote in a column published on Sunday.

“I made this decision because Americans should not be fed lies about ‘massive election fraud.’ Police should not be left to the mercy of a mob. Mobs should not be inflamed to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”
Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry said the senator’s vote is “extremely disappointing” and claimed that Mr Cassidy has “fallen into the trap laid by Democrats to have Republicans attack Republicans”.

Senators Burr and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are both retiring in 2022, eliminating the likelihood of long-term political blowback.

But the chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party called the trial “an unconstitutional theft of time and energy that did absolutely nothing to unify or help the American people.”

“I share the disappointment of many of our grass-roots leaders and volunteers over Senator Toomey’s vote today,” Lawrence Tabas said.
While Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski still have strong support in their states, the former president’s volatile base of support has routinely rejected their place in the party.

In a lengthy statement on Sunday, Senator Murkowski of Alaska outlined the case against Mr Trump as presented by House impeachment managers, adding that if the evidence “is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is”.

The US Senate voted 57-43 to convict Mr Trump, falling short of a two-thirds majority to secure a conviction but representing a bipartisan effort to hold accountable a former president who will continue to loom large over a party moulded in his image.

It remains unclear how he will wield that influence without his social media bully pulpit.

Mr Graham told Fox News on Sunday that the former president is “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party” ahead of 2022 elections.
In a statement following his acquittal, the former president said his Make America Great Again movement “has only just begun”.

House impeachment managers’ closing arguments on Saturday warned that the insurrectionists are “still listening” and that the assault on the Capitol could be the “beginning” of a violent political legacy initiated by the former president.

“I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning,” said Congressman Joe Neguse.

“The extremist groups grow more emboldened every day. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It can’t be the new normal. It has to be the end, and that decision is in your hands.”

Federal law enforcement has warned that far-right militia groups and others supporting the “shared false narrative of a ‘stolen’ election” and opposition to Joe Biden’s presidency and a Democratically-controlled federal government “may lead some individuals to the belief that there is no political solution to address their grievance and violence action is necessary”.

The Department of Homeland Security has also issued a terrorism advisory bulletin due to a “heightened threat environment” through the end of April, following the Capitol violence.

Read more:
https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/editors-letters/trump-impeachment-biden-mitch-mcconnell-senate-b1802189.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/impeachment-isnt-the-final-word-on-capitol-riot-for-trump-donald-trump-capitol-impeachment-republicans-riot-b1802195.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-impeachment-republicans-voted-convict-list-romney-burr-cassidy-b1801991.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/can-trump-run-2024-election-impeachment-b1799980.html

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Crime, Elections, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Republican Sen. Collins on why she voted to convict | Second Trump impeachment trial

Republican Sen. Collins on why she voted to convict | Second Trump impeachment trial

https://youtu.be/VJt_-eU0SNE
Senator Collins in a most powerful informed truthful presentation on why former president Trump should be condemned for abusing his office on and before January 6, 2021.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, delivers remarks Feb. 13 following Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial. The 57-43 vote was the most bipartisan in history, with seven Republicans, including Collins, voting to convict but 10 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed.

“Context was everything. Tossing a lit match into a pile of dry leaves is very different than tossing it into a pool of water,” Collins said, explaining her vote to convict. She said Trump’s selfish interests are to blame for the Capitol attack. “This impeachment trial is not about any single word uttered by President Trump on January 6, 2021. It is instead about President Trump’s failure to obey the oath he swore on January 20, 2017,” she said.

She condemned his repeated false claims about a stolen election, the call to Georgia election officials asking to “just find 11,780 votes,” and his Twitter invitation to his supporters to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6. She said she voted to convict to uphold the oath she took to defend the Constitution.

Posted in Crime, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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Trump Acquitted – ‘Make America Great Again has only just begun’: Trump defiant after acquittal

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Sky News – 13 February 2021

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his 2nd impeachment trial.

Although the final vote came in as 57 “guilty” and 43 “not guilty”, the Democrats did not reach the two-thirds majority they needed to secure a conviction.

Seven members of Mr. Trump’s own party (Senators Sasse, Romney, Burr, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey, and Cassidy) joined Democrats on the charge of incitement.

In a statement after the trial, Mr. Trump said it was “a sad commentary on our times” that the Democrats had been given a “free pass to transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree”.

He added: “I always have, and always will be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

“No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”

Mr. Trump had been charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last month’s violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters, just as Congress was attempting to ratify the 2020 election result.

Just before the 6 January riots, thousands of his supporters gathered at a “Save America” rally on the National Mall, minutes away from the Capitol.
It had been organised to challenge the election result and Joe Biden’s win.

Mr. Trump’s supporters listened to him speak for 70 minutes, during which at one point the former reality star exhorted them to “fight like hell – or you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

https://news.sky.com/story/trump-impeachment-trial-three-things-that-make-the-verdict-crucial-to-all-of-us-12216607

The attack began moments after he took the applause.

At the impeachment hearing, Mr. Trump’s defence team had launched a blistering attack on the Democrats, describing proceedings as an “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt”.

Michael van der Veen, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said: “This whole spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long-standing political vendetta against Mr. Trump by the opposition party.”

He told the hearing Mr. Trump was not to blame and that he had told his supporters to protest peacefully.

It was argued that his speech at the rally was “ordinary political rhetoric” and was constitutionally protected free speech.

t is the first time in history that a US president has been impeached twice.
The first attempt to convict Mr. Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53 to 47 for the second.

Only one Republican voted against him on one of the charges.
In his defiant statement after the conclusion of Saturday’s vote, Mr. Trump hinted he may return to the political spotlight.

He said: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.

“In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.

“There has never been anything like it!”

Posted in Crime, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

The New Yorker

How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial

The New Yorker
Reprint

By Amy Davidson Sorkin – February 13, 2021

Former President Donald Trump standing on stage in front of a line of American flags waving in the wind.
The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him. Photograph by Brendan Smialowski / Getty

On Friday afternoon, when senators got their chance to ask questions in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, one of the first came from Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Like all of the senators’ questions, this one had been written on a yellow notecard, passed from the gallery to Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who was presiding and then read aloud by a clerk. “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them?” Murkowski and Collins wanted to know. “Please be as detailed as possible.” The two senators are among the handful of Republicans who are seen as possible votes to convict the former President for inciting an insurrection, and, for that reason alone, their question, which was directed at Trump’s lawyers, was worth taking seriously. But it also got at a central inquiry in the trial: How many people were Trump willing to see get hurt in his effort to hold on to the Presidency?

Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, didn’t really answer. “The House managers have given us absolutely no evidence one way or the other on to that question,” van der Veen, whose professional specialty is personal injury cases, said. This was an odd complaint, given that the question concerned his client’s knowledge and actions. Flipping through some papers, van der Veen offered that there had been “a tweet at 2:38 P.M.” on January 6th—which would have been almost half an hour after a mob seeking to disrupt the Electoral College vote tally had breached the Capitol—and so “it was certainly some time before then” that Trump had learned of the riot. (In the tweet, Trump advised the mob to be peaceful, but failed to tell them to leave the Capitol—perhaps because that was where he wanted them to be.) Van der Veen added, “That’s the problem with this entire proceeding. The House managers did zero investigation! The American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence. Hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay.” Van der Veen muttered something about due process and then, without any further attempt to answer the question, he sat down.

In one respect, his reply is an example of the dismissive, blame-shifting, reality-defying manner in which Trump’s defense has been conducted. Trump’s lawyers may have also recognized that the question of his response on January 6th has become a particularly hazardous area for him—and, indeed, for a few hours on Saturday morning, it seemed to have changed the timeline for the trial, opening the door for witnesses. The question is powerful for more than one reason. First, his reaction spoke of his intent: if he had truly been misunderstood by his supporters, who certainly seemed to believe that they were fulfilling his wishes, he might have quickly expressed shock and condemnation, told them in no uncertain terms to leave the Capitol, and rushed to send reinforcements. He, of course, did none of these things. Despite van der Veen’s claims, and even though much about how, exactly, Trump spent his time is not known, the House managers did document the former President’s inaction. It wasn’t until after 4 P.M. that he told the rioters to go home, but, in the same message, he said, “We love you,” and took the time to complain, again, about the election. As Stacey Plaskett, a House manager and a delegate representing the Virgin Islands, noted, when she got a chance to respond to the Murkowski-Collins query, the reason that the question of what Trump did to help “keeps coming up is because the answer is ‘nothing.’ ”

As Plaskett took her seat, Collins and Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, sent a question to the chair about the second aspect of Trump’s response: his attitude regarding the danger to Vice-President Mike Pence. In the days leading up to the January 6th assault, Trump had pounded home the message that he expected Pence, who was set to preside over the joint session of Congress that day, to sabotage and disrupt the electoral-vote certification. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the power to do that, as he and many others explained to Trump. No matter: Trump drew his supporters into his effort to pressure Pence to act lawlessly. At the rally before the assault, Trump built up the expectation that Pence might still come through. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people,” he said, and added, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.” When people in the mob realized that Pence had not done so, they shouted that he was a traitor and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They began searching for him inside the Capitol; at about 2:13 P.M., Secret Service agents took him out of the Senate chamber, to a room where he took shelter with his family, before being moved again.

As Pence hid, the mob heard from Trump. The 2:38 P.M. tweet was not his first since the breach of the Capitol. At 2:24 P.M., Trump posted this: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution . . . the USA demands the truth!” Romney and Collins asked whether, when Trump sent that “disparaging tweet,” he was “aware that the Vice-President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety.” Joaquin Castro, one of the House managers, replied that the assault itself was being reported live. People, he said, “couldn’t consume any media or probably take any phone calls or anything else without hearing about this, and also hearing about the Vice-President.” Castro also noted that Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, had confirmed that he had been on a phone call with Trump, which ended when he told him, “Mr. President, they just took the Vice-President out. I’ve got to go.”

Video From The New Yorker

A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege
In a Taped Call, Trump Pressures a Georgia Official to Overturn the State’s Election Results

It would be good to know more about that call to Tuberville—on Saturday, Mike Lee, whose phone Tuberville had used, said his call log indicated that the call had begun at 2:26 P.M., right after the tweet—but the focus soon shifted to another one, between Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. On Friday evening, after the trial had adjourned for the day, CNN reported new details of the “expletive-laced” call between Trump and McCarthy, citing several Republicans who had heard the Minority Leader’s account of it. Trump did not seem interested in ending the violence. According to some who spoke with McCarthy, Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” suggesting that McCarthy could learn from their devotion. (Three weeks later, McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, to reconcile with Trump.) Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington—one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—had spoken publicly in January about McCarthy’s account of the call. On Friday, she put out a statement in which she told any “patriots” who had heard Trump’s side of his conversations that day that “if you have something to add here, now would be the time.” In other words, witnesses are welcome. When the trial convened on Saturday morning, Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said that he wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, offering to depose her via Zoom. Van der Veen responded with an angry tirade, in which he said that any witnesses—he mentioned Vice-President Kamala Harris—would have to come to his Philadelphia office. (That is a fantasy.) The Senate voted 55–45 to allow witnesses—and then, after closed-door negotiations, the lawyers and House managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record instead.

Herrera Beutler had also suggested that Mike Pence might have something to say. For example, he might add something to van der Veen’s reply to Romney and Collins’s question. “The answer is no,” van der Veen said. “At no point was the President informed the Vice-President was in any danger.” This is an absurd answer. Even putting aside the particularities of Pence’s situation—that it was the Secret Service, for example, that led him out of the chamber—Trump certainly knew that his Vice-President was in a dangerous setting. If, before sending the tweet, he had bothered to find out whether Pence was safe, he would certainly have been given an even more troubling report. Pence was not safe: the managers’ presentation made clear that the mob had come even closer to him and his family than had previously been understood. At that moment, Trump not only abandoned Pence—he targeted him. To put it another way, the incitement did not end when the first window was broken.

Van der Veen, however, argued that the Pence question wasn’t even “really relevant to the charges for the impeachment in this case.” The House managers had focussed on how Trump’s actions ahead of January 6th had laid the groundwork for the violence; these included his threats to election officials and his summoning of his supporters for a “wild” rally to coincide with the vote certification. Trump’s lawyers seemed to believe that he had to answer only for his precise words at the rally, for which they offered improbable explanations. (Because Trump, early in his speech, had observed that the crowd planned to “peacefully and patriotically” protest, the lawyers brushed aside his subsequent repeated calls for them to act quite differently.) In their telling, it was as if Trump were just someone who had happened to wander onto the stage, with no context, history, or—perhaps most of all—power. But when the President of the United States tells people that they must go to the building he’s pointing at, the Capitol, and fight, or else “you’re not going to have a country anymore”—and when he says that “when you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules”—he is doing something distinct. Trump’s lawyers, throughout their defense, ignored all the ways that Trump used and abused the office of the Presidency to make January 6th unfold as it did. As Raskin had noted, the impeachment process, with its reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” has a political character that makes it distinct from the ordinary criminal justice process.

In the course of the defense presentation—which lasted a little more than three hours, less than a quarter of the time that Trump’s lawyers were allotted—they played so many clips of Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, delivering fiery speeches, that one might have thought that she was on trial. There were also videos of other Democratic politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Karen Bass, Al Green, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Hillary Clinton—and even ones featuring Madonna, Chris Cuomo, and Johnny Depp. One video, played multiple times, consisted of clips of Democratic senators and House managers using the word “fight” in different contexts. (Judging from the placard set up next to him in one clip, Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment managers, was captured saying, during his first term in Congress, that he’d fight for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which, among other things, helps preserve areas for mountain biking and protects the habitat of the greater sage grouse.) Speaking of the people shown in the videos, Plaskett noted, “It is not lost on me that so many of them were people of color. And women—Black women.” As Trump surely knows, that message won’t be lost on his supporters, either.

The underlying message in Trump’s defense, however, was that it was outrageous that his actions were being questioned at all. Bruce Castor, another of his lawyers, told the senators that, by any measure, Trump was “the most pro-police, anti-mob-rule President this country has ever seen.” The senators had already heard from the managers how, for months before the assault, Trump had reveled in acts of political violence, such as when COVID-lockdown protesters attacked state buildings in Lansing, Michigan, or when vehicles driven by his supporters dangerously surrounded a bus of Biden campaign workers on a Texas highway. The senators had also seen evidence of the injuries that his supporters had inflicted on officers with the Capitol Police and Metropolitan D.C. Police. But Castor showed them one of the videos. There was Trump, standing in front of an American flag, saying, “I am your President of law and order.” The scenes changed—to people holding Black Lives Matter signs, to street violence, to Maxine Waters, again—but always returned to Trump with the words “LAW AND ORDER” superimposed on the screen. “We know that the President would never have wanted such a riot to occur, because his long-standing hatred for violent protesters and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day that he served in the White House,” Castor said. He sounded like he was offering a declaration of faith—against all the evidence of reality—not a legal argument. On Saturday morning, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, reportedly told colleagues that he planned to vote to acquit. The Trumpist credo, it seems, is one that the Republican Party intends to live by.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/how-the-question-of-trumps-behavior-during-the-capitol-assault-upended-the-impeachment-trial?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_021321&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c4900cb3f92a44c6204e517&cndid=49388965&hasha=335bf5f704bb1992aeb4e5c8934cb9a9&hashb=71c6a87bf07011f21867006e6169ea9865429b1e&hashc=8611d077b9d4bfc03504d249e603f505bfeadca448fe02f135ccf05e677e717e&esrc=bounceX&mbid=CRMNYR012019&utm_term=TNY_Daily

Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Amy Davidson Sorkin

has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2014. She has been at the magazine since 1995, and, as a senior editor for many years, focusing on national security, international reporting, and features.

More: Impeachment Donald Trump Senate Capitol Hill

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Brian Stelter here at 10:40pm ET Thursday with the latest on BBC News, Dean Baquet, Medium, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Disney, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Issa Rae, and much more…

Those empty seats in the Senate chamber on Thursday? They are emblematic of the public’s reaction to the second Trump impeachment trial.

If you’ve been glued to every minute of the trial, or even just half-watching the proceedings, then you’re part of a special club. You’re learning the full story of the crimes that were committed at the Capitol on January 6. But you are much more plugged-in than the average American adult.

The Nielsen TV ratings for the first two days of trial coverage show that only a sliver of the public is watching at any given time. The ratings for CNN and MSNBC are way up — and the ratings for Fox News are much weaker. Some people are also watching coverage via the broadcast networks, but not in huge numbers.

The bottom line: News junkies are gripped by emotional presentations, but a vast swath of the nation is not. More casual news consumers are catching the coverage in bits and pieces, by watching clips of the Democratic presentation on news websites or YouTube, or by scanning summaries by partisan outlets. This is far, far from one of those “drop what you’re doing and watch” moments in America.

What the numbers tell us

On Tuesday afternoon an average of 11 million viewers watched the opening arguments across MSNBC, CNN, Fox, ABC and CBS. (NBC, PBS and other outlets also aired live coverage but I don’t have exact data for those channels.) On Wednesday afternoon the same five channels averaged 12.4 million viewers. This is an average, which means people came and went the whole time, and the cumulative audience was much higher. But given that nearly 210 million adults live in the US, you might conclude that many folks think they know how this story ends, so they’re not bothering to watch…

 >> However: Trump’s second trial IS drawing a larger average audience than the first trial, the NYT’s John Koblin points out…

 >> On Wednesday CNN was #1 overall in the 25-54 demo while MSNBC prevailed among total viewers…

 >> Online, the streaming audience was smaller, but still significant. CNN Digital’s traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday surpassed the equivalent days for the 2019 House Impeachment Hearings and the 2020 Senate Impeachment Trial…

Fox viewers don’t want to see Democratic arguments

Fox News ended Wednesday morning with 1.4 million viewers. Then the trial began, and so did Fox’s ratings slide. Fox bottomed out at 1 million in the 3pm hour, though the audience levels noticeably ticked up during a break in the trial at 1:39pm, when Fox’s Trump-friendly analysis of the trial brought some viewers back. The audience came back in a big way at 5 p.m. when Fox cut away from the Senate chamber and aired “The Five” — 2.7 million viewers were there for it. Some tuned out during “Special Report” at 6, and many more tuned out when Fox resumed trial coverage from 6:30 til 7 — Fox plummeted to 1.2 million viewers. The audience rushed back, of course, for “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which topped 3 million. But MSNBC and CNN’s average viewership was up above 3 million all afternoon long! The takeaway is clear: Fox’s base rejected the prosecution of Trump. They only wanted to hear the pro-Trump spin…

 >> Thought bubble: I know it never would have happened, but what if the Senate had decided to conduct this trial in the evening, when a prime-time audience might have watched live?

Pulling further apart?

Will that be the primary result of this trial? New tears in the proverbial American fabric? Even more fights between red and blue?

The insurrection shouldn’t be seen as a partisan issue, but it has been, period, full stop. Folks have retreated to their corners. Charges of hypocrisy have flown in all directions. The crimes that will never be forgotten by Trump critics have already been excused, and buried down the memory hole, by Trump loyalists. The terms “Trump critics” and “Trump loyalists” shouldn’t even be a part of this conversation, but… they are.

What happened at the Capitol on January 6? Trump’s war on truth has affected how people answer that question. And it’s pulling people even further apart…

Not worth debating?

Brian Lowry writes: “Twitter spats seldom merit attention, but I think there’s a significant point buried in producer David Simon’s gleefully vulgar exchange with Hugh Hewitt, in which Hewitt offered Simon a chance to come debate on his syndicated radio show. It’s a favorite tactic of Hewitt’s, but buried within Simon’s response was this: Having gone all-in on defending the former president, you no longer have the credibility to be worth debating. This might not be a path to bridging the political divide, but it does send a message that someone like Hewitt – once seen as a fair broker of conservative ideals – has sacrificed that standing in the eyes of many on the left…”

FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

 — “I’m not sure what, exactly, to call what we have been watching this week: part trial, part documentary film, part constitutional-law seminar, part Facebook video shared by your politics-obsessed cousin,” Susan Glasser writes… (TNY)

 — “Anderson Cooper called out the three Republican senators who met with Donald Trump’s defense attorneys on Thursday, despite being jurors of the trial, noting that ‘the fix is likely in…'” (Mediaite)

 — Instead of leading his hour with the trial news, Tucker launched into a conspiratorial complaint about Jeff Bezos, Max Boot, Nick Kristof, and yours truly… (Twitter)

 — Speaking of stories you won’t hear in MAGA media: “The Capitol assault resulted in one of the worst days of injuries for law enforcement” in the US since 9/11… (NYT)

 — WaPo’s most-read story right now: “Mounting evidence suggests Trump knew of danger to Pence when he attacked him as lacking ‘courage’ amid Capitol siege…” (WaPo)

 — Jonathan Reiner: “The former president’s legal team could literally say nothing tomorrow, offer no defense, and GOP senators would still vote to acquit…” (Twitter)  — The WSJ editorial board’s harsh assessment of Trump: “He might be acquitted, but he won’t live down his disgraceful conduct…” (WSJ)

Trump wants to see more lawyers on TV defending him

Jim Acosta reports: “Trump wants to see more lawyers defending him on television, a source familiar with his thinking said. One of his attorneys, David Schoen, left the Senate in the middle of the impeachment trial to do a live interview on Fox News. Even out of office, Trump has the people working for him performing for the ‘audience of one.’

FRIDAY PLANNER

The trial will resume at noon ET…

The WH press briefing will take place at 12:30 pm…

Friday is the deadline for public input on the Facebook Oversight Board “as it nears a decision” about Trump’s account…Natalie Morales will make her official debut as a “Dateline NBC” correspondent…

Kamala Harris and The 19th*

“In her first national, extended interview since becoming vice president, Kamala Harris sat down with Errin Haines, editor-at-large at The 19th* to discuss her focus on an equitable response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the website said in a press release. Here’s the interview…

FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

— The deception of the Trump era is still being documented and exposed. The NYT’s Thursday afternoon scoop: “Trump Was Sicker Than Acknowledged With Covid-19…” (NYT)

 — The day’s most hopeful headline: President Biden “declares there will be enough vaccines for 300 million Americans by end of July” (CNN)

 — “On Wednesday, the 7-day average of new doses administered exceeded President Biden’s target for 1.5 million doses per day the first time,” per CNN Health…

 — NBCUniversal is rolling out a new tool “dedicated to helping you plan when and where you can get vaccinated…” (NBC)  — Journalists all across NYC are mourning the sudden death of Katherine Creag, a beloved reporter for News 4 who was “the first face many New Yorkers woke up to every day.” May her memory be a blessing. (WNBC)

Baquet walks back controversial comment

Oliver Darcy writes:Dean Baquet on Thursday walked back a controversial comment he and Joe Kahn made last week in which they said the paper does not ‘tolerate’ the use of racist language ‘regardless of intent.’ At the State of the Times meeting, Baquet said that in their ‘zeal to make a powerful statement about our workplace culture, we ham-handedly said something you rightfully saw as an oversimplification of one of the most difficult issues of our lives.” Baquet called it a ‘deadline mistake’ and expressed regret for it. More in my story here…”

>> Darcy adds: “The comment Baquet and Kahn had made about intent had drawn criticism from external critics, but also from staffers inside NYT who had expressed confusion to me and said that intent and context always matter. These staffers pointed to NYT’s own use of such language in reporting. Baquet nodded to that fact, telling employees racial slurs ‘will no doubt appear in our pages again….'”

Stephens says Sulzberger ‘spiked’ column, but…

Darcy writes:Bret Stephens on Thursday accused AG Sulzberger of having ‘spiked’ a piece he had written about the McNeil departure. In an email to a small group of colleagues, which was first reported by Dylan Byers and which I later obtained, Stephens said he had filed the column Monday, but that it was never published. Opinion editor Kathleen Kingsburyexplained to me over the phone that the paper regularly chooses not to run columns for various reasons. ‘The bar is especially high for columns that could reflect badly on colleagues,’ Kingsbury said. ‘And we decided that this column didn’t reach that bar.’ Kingsbury also pointed out to me that she has previously published and supported Stephens when he has written critically about NYT, including the 1619 Project and his reaction to retracting the Tom Cotton op-ed, but in this case felt his piece wasn’t quite there…”

A call for coverage

An Phung emails: “A number of celebrities and activists of Asian descent have taken to social media to condemn the spate of anti-Asian violence around the country, a trend that took root at the start of the pandemic and was reinforced by Trump’s hateful language. A thread that runs through the commentary: The glaring lack of attention from the national media. Amanda Nguyen said it. Daniel Dae Kim touched on it. Gemma Chan pleaded for media attention.

Phung adds: “A few high-profile incidents caught on camera that rippled through social media in recent weeks showed perpetrators targeting elderly people. This detail gets to the heart of why celebrities are wielding their powerful platforms: “Our elderlies won’t speak up to report these crimes so we have to do it,” said comedian David So, citing language and cultural barriers. On Thursday, the Asian American Journalists Association weighed in, calling on the national media to ‘prioritize coverage of this ongoing violence against AAPIs, and to empower their journalists to report on these incidents immediately, accurately and comprehensively.’ Indeed, coverage of the latest wave of violence was scant at the start of this week — but the media has since picked up the pace. Some credit goes to Nguyen for her powerful plea for media attention in a video that caught the eye of celebrities, journalists and lawmakers. Catch up with CNN, The Cut, or NPR for the latest on this troubling trend.”

FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

— “In an apparent tit for tat move, BBC World News has been banned from airing in China,” one week after China Global Television Network was blocked in the UK… (CNN)

 — State Department spox Ned Price condemned the BBC blockade and said “it’s troubling that as the PRC restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinfo…” (Reuters)

 — “Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has won a privacy claim in her case against a tabloid newspaper,” the Mail on Sunday, “that published a handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle…” (CNN)

 — David Folkenflik is out with a new story about the Trump-era VOA and about the lives that were upended… (NPR)

 — Via Brian Fung: Twitter has permanently banned an account belonging to Project Veritas (and temporarily locked James O’Keefe’s account) for repeated violations of the company’s anti-doxxing policies… (CNN)  

— New and compelling from Donie O’Sullivan and company: “Two women tell us how their parents began following QAnon and how it is tearing their families apart.” The extended 11-minute story is up on YouTube… (CNN)

A Valentine edition of the RS podcast

My better half, NY1 host Jamie Stelter, took over the “Reliable Sources” podcast for a Valentine-themed episode. She gathered questions via social media and asked me about everything from work habits (I’m a huge procrastinator) to “love language” to local news. A special guest makes an appearance at the end of the conversation. Hint: We taped this during afternoon nap time, or at least, we thought we did. Listen in via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite pod app…

Microsoft calls for laws forcing Big Tech to share revenue with news outlets

CNN’s Brian Fung writes:Microsoft is calling for new laws, including in the US, designed to force tech platforms to share more advertising revenue with news publishers. It is a direct assault on Facebook and Google, who have protested such a proposal currently under consideration in Australia and, increasingly, in Europe. And it reflects Microsoft’s eagerness to challenge the reigning kings of digital advertising in markets where doing so could provide a convenient boost to Microsoft’s own bottom line.”

 >> Microsoft prez Brad Smith spoke with the NYT’s Cecilia Kang about his push…  >> Bloomberg’s Dina Bass has much more here…

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Crime, Elections, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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Mutated virus may reinfect people already stricken once with covid-19, sparking debate and concerns

The Washington Post
Reprint

 Carolyn Y. Johnson, William Wan 

a person standing in front of a brick building: Volunteers deliver coronavirus test kits Thursday west of London as part of surge testing for the virus variant discovered in South Africa.
© Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images Volunteers deliver coronavirus test kits Thursday west of London as part of surge testing for the virus variant discovered in South Africa.

A trial of an experimental coronavirus vaccine detected the most sobering signal yet that people who have recovered from infections are not completely protected against a variant that originated in South Africa and is spreading rapidly, preliminary data presented this week suggests.

The finding, though far from conclusive, has potential implications for how the pandemic will be brought under control, underscoring the critical role of vaccination, including for people who have already recovered from infections. Reaching herd immunity — the threshold when enough people achieve protection and the virus can’t seed new outbreaks — will depend on a mass vaccination campaign that has been constrained by limited supply.

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that it appears a vaccine is better than natural infection in protecting people, calling it “a big, strong plug to get vaccinated” and a reality check for people who may have assumed that because they have already been infected, they are immune.

In the placebo group of the trial for Novavax’s vaccine, people with prior coronavirus infections appeared just as likely to get sick as people without them, meaning they weren’t fully protected against the B.1.351 variant that has swiftly become dominant in South Africa. The variant has been detected only a handful of times in the United States, including a case reported Friday in Virginia, which became the third state to identify the presence of the virus variant.

The preliminary finding from the South African vaccine trial, based on a data set with limitations, stirred debate and concern among researchers as results first hinted at in a news release last week were revealed more broadly this week.

“The data really are quite suggestive: The level of immunity that you get from natural infection — either the degree of immunity, the intensity of the immunity or the breadth of immunity — is obviously not enough to protect against infection with the mutant,” Fauci said.

Even if they don’t agree on the scope of the threat, scientists said reinfection with new variants is clearly a risk that needs to be explored more. There is no evidence that second cases are more severe or deadly, and a world in which people may have imperfect protection against new versions of the virus is not necessarily a world in which the pandemic never ends.

“I worry especially that some of these premature sweeping conclusions being made could rob people of hope,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security. “I worry the message they may receive is that we’re never going to be rid of this. When in fact that’s not what the data suggests.”

She and others emphasized the apparent lack of severe health repercussions from reinfection — and the lack of evidence that reinfection is common.

When Maryland biotechnology company Novavax first disclosed results from two international vaccine trials last week, the company noted in its news release that some people in the trial with earlier infections had become reinfected, probably with the variant B.1.351, which had become dominant during the trial.

On Tuesday, details of the Novavax trial were presented at the New York Academy of Sciences.

About 30 percent of the people in the South African trial had antibodies in their blood at the start of the trial showing they had recovered from an earlier infection.

But that previous exposure didn’t necessarily appear to afford protection. Among those who got saltwater shots, the people with a prior infection got sick at the same rate as study participants who had not been previously infected — a surprise because they would have been expected to have some immunity. Nearly 4 percent of people who had a previous infection were reinfected, an almost identical rate to those with no history of infection.

“It’s awful strong data,” said Larry Corey, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who is co-leading the federal clinical trial network testing coronavirus vaccines in the United States. “Basically, it’s saying vaccination actually needs to be better than natural immunity. But vaccination is better than natural immunity.”

The study found that two shots of the experimental vaccine did provide protection against the variant.

The reinfection result was incidental to the main objective of the study, which was to determine the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. It was not designed to test the likelihood of reinfection, and others argued that it can’t be used to draw firm conclusions and cautioned against assuming that the previous infection provided no protection.

It also shows the risks of a strategy to reach herd immunity pushed by Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and adviser to President Donald Trump, who is said to have endorsed allowing the virus to spread mostly unfettered, while protecting nursing homes and other vulnerable populations. Atlas has repeatedly denied backing such a strategy.

The study backs up recent laboratory data from South African researchers analyzing blood plasma from recovered patients. Nearly half of the plasma samples had no detectable ability to block the variant from infecting cells in a laboratory dish. In a separate study, scientists at Rockefeller University in New York took blood plasma from people who had been vaccinated and found that vaccine-generated antibodies were largely able to block mutations found on the B.1.351 variant.

Novavax did not provide a breakdown of mild, moderate, and severe cases, but severe cases of covid-19 were rare in the trial, suggesting that reinfection is unlikely to send people to the hospital.

“It is not surprising to see reinfection in individuals who are convalescent. And it would not be surprising to see infection in people who are vaccinated, especially a few months out from vaccine,” said Michel Nussenzweig, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller University. “The key is not whether people get reinfected, it’s whether they get sick enough to be hospitalized.”

Reinfection has always been a possibility, but scientists who design disease models had assumed that natural infection would convey some level of immunity for at least a few months. That figured into some earlier calculations for how America could start approaching herd immunity by this summer or fall. Even with limited vaccination supply and delays in distribution, the hope was that people previously infected would factor in the drive toward herd immunity.

If it turns out that previously infected people could be susceptible to reinfection by variants, that could have implications for when the nation reaches herd immunity.

“Everyone’s still trying to digest this and asking, is this really what’s happening? Because the implications are pretty huge,” said Chris Murray, who leads the modeling team at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “If the data holds true, it means we will need to walk the public back on the idea of how close we are to the finish line for ending this pandemic.”

Others are less sure. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, said he couldn’t draw clear conclusions from the data because it remains limited and preliminary.

“The pace has been dizzying, and several times today, I have learned new things that significantly change my view of those data,” Lipsitch said.

Projections created by data scientist Youyang Gu — whose pandemic models have been cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — suggest that about 65 percent of America’s population will reach immunity by June 1. But built into that 65 percent is roughly 20 percent having immunity from past infections only. Scientists are unsure how the potential for reinfection might influence their projections. They are eager to see if other vaccine trial data in the coming weeks will corroborate the trend from the Novavax trial.

“The sample size so far is small,” Gu said. “We need much more data before we can draw conclusions.”

More data from South Africa will help clarify how common reinfection is and whether it results in severe disease. Researchers are following up with certain groups, such as health-care workers, to quantify reinfection, said Anne von Gottberg, co-head of the Center for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

“Several individual cases of reinfection have been confirmed,” Gottberg said in an email. “We may be able to learn from seasonal coronaviruses and the fact that reinfection for these viruses are not uncommon, and start to occur 6 to 12 months after the previous infection.”

The good news is that vaccine trials from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax show that vaccines can work — even against the B.1.351 variant, and particularly in preventing severe illness.

“I think the fact that we … now have data from two vaccines indicating that we can prevent serious disease, even against the new variant, is hopeful,” Penny Moore, a scientist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, said in an email. “We need to keep monitoring sequences as these won’t be the last lineages.”

A future concern needing close monitoring is whether the reformulation of vaccines to keep up with the evolving virus could drive the virus to continue evolving. There is also a concern that subpar immunity could allow new resistant variants to emerge. That possibility, Nussenzweig said, is one reason that people should get both doses of a vaccine, on time.

In the News today –

Biden says ‘erratic’ Trump should not receive intel briefingsWorld’s most terrifying airport landings

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<p>Boris Johnson provided a Friday update on Government

Boris Johnson says he will unveil ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ on Feb 22

Barney Davis – Evening Standard – 05 February 2021

<p>Boris Johnson provided a Friday update on Government's intentions</p>

Boris Johnson says he plans to unveil the “roadmap” out of the national lockdown to the public on February 22.
British officials are also said to have started working on a “vaccine passport” that would allow people to travel for a holiday this summer.
The Prime Minister has urged the public to continue following the rules despite successes with the vaccine rollout which has seen nearly 11.5 million jabs given in the UK so far.

Posting a video on Twitter, Boris Johnson said on February 22 he would “set out the beginnings of our roadmap for a way forward for the whole country as the vaccine programme intensifies and, as more and more people acquire immunity, a steady programme for beginning to unlock.”
He added: “I want to stress that it is still early days and we have rates of infection in this country (that are) still very, very high and (have) more people – almost twice as many people – in our hospitals with Covid now than there were back at the peak in April.

“So, do remember how tough it still is, how high that rate of infection is, and that we must, must work together to get it down – that’s the fundamental thing to get right. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Coronavirus – In pictures

A sign advertising a book titled "How Will We Survive On Earth?" is seen on an underground station platform
Customers wearing face masks shop at the pork counter of a supermarket following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province
Westminster Bridge is deserted in London the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown
Canadian passengers Chris & Anna Joiner ask for help onboard the MS Zaandam, Holland America Line cruise ship, during the coronavirus outbreak, off the shores of Panama City
A man crosses a nearly empty 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City

Lockdown measures in England are set to remain in place until at least March 8, after the Prime Minister announced the date for the earliest reopening of schools.

Following a scientific review of data on the UK vaccination programme and the impact of the lockdown on reducing infections and hospitalisations, ministers will gather in the Commons on February 22 to establish a plan for taking the country out of lockdown.

Government sources told the Times that there were “tentative” plans to prioritise outdoor activities such as golf and tennis and limited social gatherings outside, for the first phase out of lockdown.

Outdoors markets are expected to reopen before high street shops.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, International, Local, News, Travel0 Comments

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