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News release: “Following the release of a Majority staff report entitled, “The Real Wells Fargo: Board & Management Failures, Consumer Abuses, and Ineffective Regulatory Oversight,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, convened a full Committee hearing with Charles W. Scharf, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of Wells Fargo & Company…Among the disturbing findings uncovered in the report is that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is aware of dozens of cases at Wells Fargo where the number of consumers or customer accounts requiring remediation for a consumer abuse exceeds 50,000 or the amount of harm exceeds $10 million. I am very concerned that the bank’s pattern of harming its consumers appears to persist. The Majority’s staff report also uncovered notes from a May 2019 Federal Reserve meeting with Wells Fargo reflecting that a senior Wells Fargo executive stated “if he were CEO, he would not allow the addition of any new customers to the company since the firm is operating in this environment.” Based on the findings of the Majority staff report, I agree with the sentiment that Wells Fargo isn’t ready to be America’s bank again. And this is the challenge before you, Mr. Scharf. You must not only rebuild this institution, you must also rebuild America’s trust in it…”
Politico: “A looming shortage in lab materials is threatening to delay coronavirus test results and cause officials to undercount the number of Americans with the virus. The slow pace of coronavirus testing has created a major gap in the U.S. public health response. The latest problem involves an inability to prepare samples for testing, creating uncertainties in how long it will take to get results. CDC Director Robert Redfield told POLITICO on Tuesday that he is not confident that U.S. labs have an adequate stock of the supplies used to extract genetic material from any virus in a patient’s sample — a critical step in coronavirus testing. “The availability of those reagents is obviously being looked at,” he said, referring to the chemicals used for preparing samples. “I’m confident of the actual test that we have, but as people begin to operationalize the test, they realize there’s other things they need to do the test.”..,
The growing scarcity of these “RNA extraction” kits is the latest trouble for U.S. labs, which have struggled to implement widespread coronavirus testing in the seven weeks since the country diagnosed its first case. Epidemiologists and public health officials say that the delayed rollout, caused in part by a botched CDC test, has masked the scope of the U.S. outbreak and hobbled efforts to limit it…”
Via www.bitlog.com Jake Voytko’s personal log of bits – DuckDuckGo is good enough for regular use – “…I don’t personally miss most of Google’s result panels. Especially the panels that highlight information snippets. It’s easy to find these. Searching microsoft word justify text provides me a snippet from Microsoft’s Office’s support page explaining what to click or type to justify text. I’ve learned not to trust information in these panels without reading the source they came from. Google seems to cite this information uncritically. I’ve found enough oversimplified knowledge panel answers that I’ve stopped reading most of them. Recently, I was chatting with a Googler who works on these. I asked them if I was wrong to feel this way. And they replied, “I trust them, but I’ve read enough bug reports and user feedback that I don’t blame you.” So my position is wrong, but not very wrong. I’ll take that…[I have been using DuckDuckGo for many years – I do not miss Google – at – all.]
Bloomberg – “Since Covid-19 began to spread, Google has aggressively intervened in some of its most popular online services to limit the spread of misinformation. This is a departure for a company that has relied heavily on software and automation to index and rank information throughout its 22-year existence. Google searches related to the virus now trigger an “SOS Alert,” with news from mainstream publications including National Public Radio, followed by information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization displayed prominently. In contrast, a recent search for “flu season” showed the website verywellhealth.com at the top, while another search for “flu” produced tweets, including one from U.S. President Donald Trump comparing coronavirus to the common flu…On YouTube, Google’s video service, the company is trying to quickly remove videos claiming to prevent the virus in place of seeking medical treatment. And some apps related to the virus have been banned from the Google Play app store, prompting complaints from developers who say they just want to help. An Iranian government app built to keep track of infections was also removed from the Play Store, ZDNet reported…”
MIT Technology Review: “After an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease Covid-19 was found spreading through Boston’s biomedical community, Harvard University said it will move classes online and is telling students not to return from spring break. This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. You can also sign up to our dedicated newsletter. Online only: The nation’s oldest university said it plans to switch to online classes by March 23 and asked students not to return after spring break week, which begins on March 13. (Update: later the same day MIT, in an email from its president Rafael Reif, asked its students to do the same, and canceled classes for the week of March 16 to 20. MIT’s spring break is the week after Harvard’s.) Harvard has more than 6,500 undergraduates and more than 20,000 students overall.“These past few weeks have been a powerful reminder of just how connected we are to one another—and how our choices today determine our options tomorrow,” said university president Lawrence Bacow in a statement posted to Harvard’s home page…”
See also the Washington Post – “…Both Maryland’s public university system and American University in the District announced plans to keep students away from campus for a short time after spring break, teaching them online instead of in person, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in the region. Other colleges and universities in the region and throughout the country are taking similar steps…”
The Atlantic – Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately. “…The coronavirus could spread with frightening rapidity, overburdening our health-care system and claiming lives, until we adopt serious forms of social distancing. This suggests that anyone in a position of power or authority, instead of downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus, should ask people to stay away from public places, cancel big gatherings, and restrict most forms of nonessential travel.stay away from work when they are sick—the federal government should also take some additional steps to improve public health. It should take on the costs of medical treatment for the coronavirus, grant paid sick leave to stricken workers, promise not to deport undocumented immigrants who seek medical help, and invest in a rapid expansion of ICU facilities. The past days suggest that this administration is unlikely to do these things well or quickly (although the administration signaled on Monday that it will seek relief for hourly workers, among other measures). Hence, the responsibility for social distancing now falls on decision makers at every level of society…”
Motherboard – America is worse at building and operating public transit than nearly all of its peers. Why is that? And what can we do to fix it? – “American cities are facing a transportation crisis. There’s terrible traffic. Public transit doesn’t work or go where people need it to. The cities are growing, but newcomers are faced with the prospects of paying high rents for reasonable commutes or lower rents for dreary, frustrating daily treks. Nearly all Americans, including those in cities, face a dire choice: spend thousands of dollars a year owning a car and sitting in traffic, or sacrifice hours every day on ramshackle public transit getting where they need to go. Things are so broken that, increasingly, they do both. Nationwide, three out of every four commuters drive alone. The rate in metro areas is not much different…”
Washington Post – “…the 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard released today by traffic analytics firm INRIX found that commuters spend an average of 99 hours sitting in traffic at a cost of $88 billion, or an average $1,377 per person. What’s more, sitting in traffic costs Washington area residents an average of more than $1,700 a year Boston, where commuters lose 149 hours a year sitting in traffic, was the most congested city for the second year in a row, followed by Chicago (145 hours), Philadelphia (142 hours), New York City (140) and Washington (124 hours).
Law360: “Each year, 30 million people lack legal representation in high-stakes civil court cases involving evictions, restraining orders, child custody and more. They do not have the statutory right to an attorney. If they cannot afford one, none is provided to them. Lawyers cannot close this so-called justice gap by themselves: Even if every licensed attorney in the country logged 180 pro bono hours, each household with a legal problem would receive just one hour of assistance, legal services experts estimate But lawyers don’t have to provide access to justice by themselves, according to research by Mary McClymont, a senior fellow at Georgetown University Law Center’s Justice Lab. In an increasing number of courts across the country, she found nonlawyer navigators — laypeople who provide legal information to unrepresented litigants — stepping in to fill the void. “Time after time, court staff would say, ‘You can’t believe how helpful these navigators are,’” she said. “They find them absolutely essential in delivering services.” Her recent report, “Nonlawyer Navigators in State Courts: An Emerging Consensus,” surveys the national landscape of nonlawyer navigator programs and provides an in-depth look at how they fit into the day-to-day routines of courthouses from California to New York… [[h/t Mary Whisner]
..If the government were to demand pictures of citizens in a variety of poses, against different backdrops, indoors and outdoors, how many Americans would readily comply? But we are already building databases of ourselves, one selfie at a time. Online images of us, our children, and our friends, often helpfully labelled with first names, which we’ve posted to photo-sharing sites like Flickr, have ended up in data sets used to train face-recognition systems. In at least two cases, face-recognition companies have strong connections to photo-management apps. EverRoll, a photo-management app, became Ever AI (now Paravision), and Orbeus, a face-recognition company that was acquired by Amazon, once offered a consumer photo app. And even when our images are supposedly protected on social-media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, how secure are they?
The Atlantic – Even with a robust government response to the novel coronavirus, many people will be in peril. And the United States is anything but prepared – Juliette Kayyem Former Department of Homeland Security official and author of Security Mom
“For the professionals who try to manage homeland-security threats, reassuring the public after a natural disaster or terrorist attack—or amid a coronavirus outbreak like the one the world now faces—is just part of the job. I am a former federal and state homeland-security official. I study safety and resiliency issues in an academic setting, advise companies on their emergency-response plans, and trade ideas with people in public health, law enforcement, and many other disciplines. Since the beginning of the disease now known as COVID-19, I’ve also been receiving more and more text messages from nervous relatives and friends. The rash decisions that panic breeds have never made any emergency better. So like many others in my field, I’ve been urging people, in as calm a tone as I can muster, to listen to experts and advising them about concrete steps they can take to keep their families, communities, and businesses safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Avoid large gatherings. Don’t panic, and prepare as best you can. Advice like mine is meant to be empowering, but now I fear it may also be misleading. If Americans conclude that life will continue mostly as normal, they may be wrong. The United States is far less prepared than other democratic nations experiencing outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Low case counts so far may reflect not an absence of the pathogen but a woeful lack of testing…”
Study – People ‘shed’ high levels of coronavirus but most are likely not infectious after recovery begins
Stat News: “People who contract the novel coronavirus emit high amounts of virus very early on in their infection, according to a new study from Germany that helps to explain the rapid and efficient way in which the virus has spread around the world. At the same time, the study suggests that while people with mild infections can still test positive by throat swabs for days and even weeks after their illness, those who are only mildly sick are likely not still infectious by about 10 days after they start to experience symptoms.
The study, by scientists in Berlin and Munich, is one of the first outside China to look at clinical data from patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and one of the first to try to map when people infected with the virus can infect others. It was published Monday on a preprint server, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it could still provide key information that the public health response has been lacking…”
Crocuses, daffodils, magnolias, forsythia Chinese plum/Japanese apricot, Virginia bluebells, snow drops (no snow), more hellebores than I can ever recall in decades herald the end of the non winter in DC and the arrival of a new kind of spring (#climatecrisis, #globalheating) – the Washington Post – “Winter was barely perceptible in Washington this year, and now, we can put a fork in it. We see no more potential for enduring cold or substantial snowfall. Spring is here. Our what-is-known-as winter was about as tame as it gets. Temperatures averaged nearly five degrees above normal, and the period from December through February ranked as the seventh-warmest on record. Days with highs in the 50s or warmer outnumbered those in the 40s or colder (54 percent of the days between December and February hit at least 50 degrees). The snowfall output was meager, with only 0.6 inches falling, the third-lowest amount on record. During February, typically Washington’s snowiest month, just a trace of snow was observed. Spring is clearly in the air. Flowers started blooming in February, and, based on the emergence of tree leaves and other vegetation, the USA National Phenology Network indicated that spring reached Washington at the beginning of March (more than three weeks ahead of schedule)…” [Note – the cherry blossoms will be two week earlys this year]
This Twitter thread is authored by @PalliThordarson – Professor, School of Chemistry UNS – – 1/25 Part 1 – Why does soap work so well on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses? Because it is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. A two part thread about soap, viruses and supramolecular chemistry #COVID19
The New Yorker – “On Monday, Donald Trump held a meeting in the White House to discuss his Administration’s response to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has spread to every continent except Antarctica. At the time there had been more than a hundred and five thousand cases reported in at least eighty-three countries, leading to more than thirty-five hundred deaths. Seated around an oval table in the Cabinet Room were health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as pharmaceutical executives from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, and others. With more than a hundred cases already discovered in the U.S., which had resulted in six deaths (the virus has since infected nearly four hundred people in the U.S., and killed at least nineteen of them), Trump was concerned. But he was also confused, despite having had several previous briefings with the Administration’s top health officials. Grasping for some good news, he pressed the executives to deliver a vaccine within a few months, at which point Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (N.I.A.I.D.), spoke up. “A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable,” he said. The earliest it would be deployable, Fauci added, is “in a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.”
StatNews: “For a veteran epidemiologist, an authority on homeland security, and a global health reporter, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus is the type of emergency they had long anticipated. But now that it is here, the three experts said Friday, they still couldn’t help but feel the monumentality of what they were watching unfold. “It’s the most daunting virus that we’ve contended with in half a century or more,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said at a panel discussion Friday at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Helen Branswell, STAT’s infectious diseases and public health reporter, has covered emerging pathogens since the 2003 SARS outbreak.
But with the new coronavirus, Branswell said during the panel, “It’s bizarre but I find myself startled. Having written about the possibility of something like this for years, I still find myself really startled that it’s happening, and I don’t know why that is.” She compared the circumstances now to the summer of 2014, when Ebola was racing through West Africa and the world didn’t seem to have a plan to stop it. “Except that I never worried then about Ebola spreading in the city I lived in,” she said. “It’s different now.”…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly highlights on cyber security issues March 8, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: How to Dox Yourself on the Internet; Apple Bans Clearview Facial Recognition App From Its Store; You’re about to be scammed; and Robo lawyer will sue organizations that will not delete your personal info.
“Digital Collections is your all-in-one portal into the UC Berkeley Library’s digital gems. The digital materials you find here — images, text, audio, and video — enrich and support the work of Berkeley’s faculty, researchers, students, and staff. Digital Collections stems from the vision of the Digital Lifecycle Program, which serves the Library’s mission to preserve, protect, and provide access to the information it holds. This includes digital collections, archival records, and other materials that provide enduring value for intellectual inquiry, research, and discovery…”
EveryCRSReport – Workplace Leave and Unemployment Insurance for Individuals Affected by COVID-19, March 6, 2020: “This Insight provides a brief overview of the current availability of job-connected assistance to individuals, which may be relevant to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Specifically, this product discusses workplace leave, paid and unpaid, that may be available to workers affected by the virus, as well as unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. It also discusses policy options to amend or expand existing UI programs to be more responsive to the effects of COVID-19…”
FastCompany – “The wondrous, whimsical World Wide Web is still wonderful after all these years. And there are still plenty of helpful and powerful sites out there to discover. Here are eight that deserve a place on your bookmarks bar.”