Saturday, October 31, 2020

Two Pollsters Break Ranks to Predict Trump Win

In 2016, pollsters Arie Kapteyn and Robert Cahaly saw the coming of Donald Trump (right). And they were proven right. 

With November 03 almost upon us, it can be real tempting to see the US presidential election as a done deal. For as long as I can remember, Joe Biden has consistently and convincingly led Donald Trump in polls. And if you trust the polls, it won’t even be a skip to imagine him winning 330+ electoral votes. 

But, we all know how the polls tricked Americans into believing Hillary Clinton would easily emerge victorious four years ago! And of course, she didn’t! 

This year, both men again believe that polls could again be undercounting Trump’s support. 

The reason is “shy” Trump voters – people reluctant to share their opinions for fear of being judged. Though the “shy voter” idea is thrown around a lot by both Trump supporters and Democratic skeptics, Kapteyn and Cahaly have specific insights into why, and how, Trump support might be going undetected. 

For Cahaly (left), a Republican pollster with the Trafalgar Group, those votes are likely to make the difference again. “There’s a lot of hidden Trump votes out there”, he says. “Will Biden win the popular vote? Probably. I’m not even debating that. But I think Trump is likely to have an Electoral College victory”. 

As an illustration, Kapteyn (right), a Dutch economist described what his team at USC’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research see in their polls. 

Beyond simply asking voters whether they support Biden or Trump, USC asks a “social-circle” question – “Who do you think your friends and neighbors will vote for?” – which some researchers believe makes it easier for people to share their true opinions without fear of being judged for their views. 

According to Kapteyn, Biden (left) actually got a 10-point lead, nationally, over Trump when they asked voters who they personally plan to support. “But if you look at the ‘social-circle’ question, Biden only gets like a 5- or 6-point lead… In general – and certainly on the phone – people may still be a little hesitant to say to that they’re Trump voters”. 

Cahaly adds: “We live in a country where people will lie to their accountant, they’ll lie to their doctor, they’ll lie to their priest. And we’re supposed to believe they shed all of that when they get on the telephone with a stranger and become Honest Abe? I cannot accept that. 

Now, how we measure it is a little different. We find questions that are less confrontational. We brought the 'neighbor' question into the mainstream, but I got that from a man named Rod Shealy, who's since passed. I learned a lot from him doing politics in South Carolina. He always said that people are real polite, so when you need to know what they think about something that's not pleasant to talk about, ask them what their neighbors think, because they'll give you their real opinion without you judging them for it. 

This year, we're asking a series of other questions that are easy and don't seem like you're going to get judged harshly for answering them. Our first goal is to minimize the social desirability effect. And you do that by giving them a great sense of anonymity. The more anonymous they think they are when giving answers, the more honest they tend to be. 

It's kind of like the people who have two Twitter accounts – the one where they tweet out pictures of their pets and children, and one where they just go give everybody a fit. Well, that 'troll' account is their real emotion. 

And the persona that runs that troll account is the one in the ballot booth. That's who I'm trying to get to”. 

These are interesting insights. They make a lot of sense.

So, Trump will win – thanks to "shy" Trump fans  and I, for one, have nary a doubt!

Invasive Vaginal Examinations in Doha


 












This image taken from the October 02, 2020 surveillance camera footage obtained by the website Doha News shows officials with the abandoned baby at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar 

A new-born baby was left abandoned in a bin at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar on October 02, 2020.

Upon discovery, an indeterminate number of women at the airport, were removed from ten flights, taken to ambulances parked on the tarmac and told to remove their underwear before being examined to ascertain if they had recently given birth. 

One newswire had reported Qatar's Government Communication Office describing the abandoning of the baby as an “attempted murder” of the child. 

The news only came to light after affected Australian passengers spoke out. 

Australia’s foreign office described their treatment as offensive, grossly inappropriate and beyond circumstances in which they could give free and informed consent. 

So far as I can tell, among these women were thirteen Aussies, two British women, one New Zealander and one French woman. 

Qatar said Wednesday it “regrets any distress” over the incident and launched an investigation, with sources saying those involved could face criminal prosecution. On Friday, Qatar's government admitted that "standard procedures were violated" – and again offered its "sincerest apology" for what the women went through. 

Anyway, Hamad International Airport management said the baby is safe and being cared for by medical and social workers. 

Note that in Qatar, like much of the Middle East, sex and childbirth outside of marriage are criminalized. Migrant workers in the past have hidden pregnancies and tried to travel abroad to give birth, and others have abandoned their babies anonymously to avoid imprisonment.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Malaysia's Covid-19 Numbers are Worrying


Malaysia’s Covid-19 numbers are worrying. Yesterday, the caseload climbed to 30,000.


 





The Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (right) on Wednesday announced that the Covid-19 infectivity rate or R-naught (R0) for Malaysia has dipped and he wants it reduced further to less than 1.0. 

He had explained the R0 came down from 2.2 when the third wave started on September 20 to 1.1 following the enforcement of the Conditional Movement Control Order. 

I’ve got to ask this – what "third wave"? I believe this is the second wave because we went through MCO, followed by CMCO and RMCO – before we did a U-turn and saw us undertaking a partial return to CMCO. Therefore, this second CMCO represents the second wave! 

I think somebody doesn’t know how to count. Besides, I don’t think we should make it look more serious than it is. 

What say you, Dr Noor Hisham? 

On another note, on Sabah, Deputy Health Director-General Dr Rohaizat Yon (left) clarified on Thursday that the total number of beds for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and PKRCs (Quarantine and Low Risk Covid-19 Treatment Centers) in Sabah is 8,506 with a usage rate of 43 percent. 

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, please refer to my earlier post on the subject dated October 27, 2020 titled "CMCO's 14-Day Extension")

I guess I am inclined to believe the health professional rather than the politician.

US Companies Selling Covid-19 Treatments Aim to Make Big Bucks

Gilead Sciences Inc. pruned their 2020 revenue forecast as their anti-viral drug falls short. 

They had cited lower-than-expected demand and difficulty in predicting sales of Veklury which is the brand name for remdesivir, the only treatment approved in the United States for patients hospitalized with Covid-19. 

The Foster City, California-based biopharmaceutical company lowered the top end of their full-year sales outlook to $23.5 billion, which is below Wall Street estimates of $24.1 billion. The company had previously forecast 2020 sales as high as $25 billion. 

“The revision in guidance is tied, not entirely, but almost entirely to expectations around Veklury”, Gilead Chief Financial Officer Andrew Dickinson said. “There was less demand in the third quarter than expected”. 

No surprise there because WHO had come out to say that remdesivir has little to no effect on coronavirus patients' chances of survival. 

The WHO’s Solidarity clinical trial had tested the effects of four potential treatments – remdesivir, an Ebola drug; hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug; interferon, an auto-immune drug; and the HIV drug combination of lopinavir and ritonavir. 

These four drugs were tested on 11,266 adult patients in total, across 500 hospitals in more than 30 different countries.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan (left) announced on October 14 that their trials on hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June because they had already proven ineffective. However, the other trials continued. 

The trial results appear to contradict another study conducted by Gilead, which concluded that treatment with remdesivir cut Covid recovery time by five days compared to patients given a placebo. A total of 1,062 patients took part in that particular trial. Of course, they dismissed the WHO findings. 

Remdesivir had been given emergency use authorization in the US from the country's Food and Drug Administration on May 01. Later that month it was approved for use in the UK, and has since been authorized for use in a few other countries. 

FYI, remdesivir was administered to US President Donald Trump (left) when he was hospitalized for coronavirus on October 02, 2020. 

It's not only Gilead trying to make big bucks. 

The Tarrytown, New York-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Wednesday declared their coronavirus antibody cocktail – the experimental treatment that Trump also received – significantly reduced medical visits in a trial of nearly 800 patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19. 

The US biotechnology company added that patients given the treatment, REGN-COV2, made around 57 percent fewer coronavirus-related medical visits than those given a placebo over a 29 day period. 

Drug companies all want to make a killing from Covid-19.

45M Cases and Donald Trump is Still Bullshitting

Worldwide, Covid-19 continues to rampage and make deadly progress. With 45.3 million cases and nearly 1.2 million dead, the pandemic shows us all that it is still going strong. 

And yes, the US is standing tall and triumphant because it leads the world in coronavirus infections and fatalities. As at today, at 00:00 GMT, its tally adds up to 9.2 million cases and 234,000 deaths, according to the Worldometers website. 

In the waning days of his re-election campaign, US President Donald Trump is busy bullshitting the American public. And millions are happily lapping it all up.

At a rally in Florida on Thursday, he said this of the coronavirus: "You know the bottom line, though? You're gonna get better. You're gonna get better. If I can get better, anybody can get better. And I got better fast". 

First of all, Trump is not just anybody. He is the President of the United States of America and his treatment after a coronavirus diagnosis earlier this month was not the sort of thing any average person can expect or even hope for. If you must know, The New York Times estimated that the total cost of Trump's care is at least $100,000. 

Second off, Trump is not a medical doctor. So any advice he provides about anyone’s chances of recovery if they do get Covid-19 is just hot air. Please, don't give it any credence. 

Third, and most importantly, all of the data makes abundantly clear that you can actually die from the coronavirus. As in, not everyone is "gonna get better"! 

Trump is a false prophet. When you look at the numbers, Americans account for 19.7% of the world’s coronavirus deaths! Sure, that's a mere 2.5% of the 9 million plus who have been infected in the US – but the deaths are still staggering! 

Trump is just so full of shit.

Hang on tight, America because things will get even more shitty before they get better.

Please God, America needs saving!

In God We Trust. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

November 03 Prep











It appears that Americans are already gearing up for post-election violence. 

Of course, the authorities have said they are not responding to any specific threats or information – nonetheless, they are still preparing for a host of different scenarios that could play out.

In the nation's capital, businesses close to the White House began to board up their windows on Monday. 

Texas is said to be ready to send in 1,000 National Guardsmen to five cities, i.e. Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio “to deter any civil disturbance” post-November 03. 

In Washington State up to 300 National Guard soldiers are undergoing training to handle civil unrest and Seattle police officers have had their time off cancelled. NYC has similar plans in place, as the NYPD are training every day and deploying hundreds of extra cops. 

It was reported last week that FBI and other agencies in many states have been conducting drills, running through worse-case scenarios and setting up command centers to improve coordination on reports of violence and voter intimidation ahead of the vote. 

Not to be left out, the Justice Department and Homeland Security Department have sent additional personnel to cities where violence has cropped up during protests. 

And the National Guard has designated military police units in Arizona and Alabama to serve as rapid reaction forces so they can respond quickly to any potential unrest. 

Federal and state law enforcement officials have begun expanded preparations for the possibility of widespread unrest at the polls on Election Day, a response to extraordinarily high tensions among voters and anxieties about safety stoked in part by Donald Trump (right). 

I think this is all an overreaction – but I guess, with the present climate in the US and more so, with Trump, you never know! Anything can happen.

Santas are Essential Workers Too

Donald Trump being a first-rate clown, naturally surrounds himself with a circus of clowns. 

Of course, we already know them: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, William Barr, Alex Azar, Mark Meadows, Larry Kudlow, Peter Navarro and others. And whenever they open their big mouths, you can expect something bizarre, absurd or daft.

Health and Human Services assistant secretary Michael Caputo is no exception. It seems that he hatched a scheme to save Christmas (and, presumably, the Trump administration by extension). 

Speaking to the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas and other mall Santa labor unions, Caputo had planned to provide early coronavirus vaccine access to Santas in 35 countries, as part of a $250 million public service campaign to celebrate the Trump administration's role in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

In a 12-minute phone call, Caputo (left) informed Ric Erwin of the said Santa group that vaccines would likely be approved by mid-November and distributed before Thanksgiving. 

The latter recorded the call and even provided it to the Wall Street Journal. 

The international daily newspaper reported too that, "Those who perform as Mrs. Claus and elves also would have been included". 

Yup, you read it right – Caputo readily acknowledged that if Santas and their ilk “are not essential workers, I don't know what is"! 

But on Friday, much to the disappointment of Santas everywhere, the Department of Health and Human Services admitted that the Santa plan is "under review" and will likely be scrapped! 

It's not clear what will happen with the $250 million in taxpayer dollars that were earmarked for the Santas though.




Wednesday, October 28, 2020

I Say It Again, Donald Trump to Win on NOV 03

Did you know that one out of two eligible voters picked Donald Trump (left) in 2016?  I shake my head as I ponder over this fact.

In this 2020 election, like it or not, he still commands the loyalties of millions of Americans who share his unrepentant prejudice and bigotry. To me, Trump represents racist fascism deeply rooted in American society and history. 

And yet, I remain convinced that Trump will triumph (again) this November. 

This is, in spite of his coronavirus posturing, preening, prevarication and paranoia – and which has fatally hindered the US response. 

Today, the country is exacting a heavy price in terms of both infections and fatalities. Thus far, 9 million cases and more than 230,000 deaths.


Trump’s cleverness is not just limited to his handling of Covid-19. Indeed, he has carved a long list of achievements. He pulled America from a sprawling Asia-Pacific commercial deal; he abandoned the Paris climate agreement, he imposed billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese goods, and he withdrew his country from the World Health Organization at the height of a global pandemic.

And where the US has retreated, China has stepped in. Bravo, China! 

A second Trump term will cement China’s ascendancy in the world – and it’s all Trump’s doing. That aside, China deserves its rightful place on the world stage. 

Win or lose, this pompous and imperious gascon has already changed the world! On the home front, the US will slowly and steadily self-destruct. 

Indeed, four more years of Trump will guarantee America's implosion. And all credit belongs to Trump!

To be fair, I should not discount his contender, Joe Biden. After all, the media is rooting for him. You never know, he might just miraculously pull it off next week – but personally, I don’t see how he can win. 

And in the unlikely event that he does, he is unlikely to be able to undo the ruination Trump has inflicted upon the country.  

Between you and I, I don’t believe for one minute that Biden is up to the job. 

The truth of the matter is, neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden are capable. It’s really between a rock and a hard place. 

No matter who wins, America is doomed!

44 Million Cases









Covid-19 is on a stampede again and continues to trample lives. It’s now 44 million infections and 1.1 million fatalities! 

If we wish to be more accurate, we can pin the numbers down to 44,221,963 cases and 1,171,149 deaths as at today, 00:00 GMT, according to data aggregation site Worldometers.

It’s still the same 48 countries which have 100,000 or more cases – and together, they constitute 93.3% and 95.4% of total global cases and deaths respectively.





 








Yesterday, Liverpool moved two points clear at the top of Group D with a forgettable but precious 2-0 victory over Champions League rookies FC Midtjylland. 

The Reds took the lead in the fifty-fifth minute when Trent Alexander-Arnold played a neat one-two with Xherdan Shaqiri, the former teeing-up Diogo Jota to tap home in front of an empty Kop. And then Mohamed Salah (90+3) won a penalty and which he took and scored himself to wrap up the game.



 







Their next game is a potential banana skin – against West Ham on Saturday. 

The Hammers have been impressive – they drew with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in their last two outings and also winning away to Leicester City.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

CMCO's 14-Day Extension










The CMCO in Selangor and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya is extended another 14 days until November 09, 2020. Sigh!

Anyway, something interesting came out of the shadows yesterday! Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (left) issued a denial that the Ministry of Health had manipulated Covid-19 data. 

He explained all particulars were collated by MOH until 12 noon every day using the public health information system in each state. He also took pains to emphasize that data compilation “is not done by me alone but together with the team behind the scene from day one”. 

If there was no manipulation, he didn't have to be so defensive! 

Still, it is noteworthy to mention that a FMT news report today has the Malaysian Medical Association urging the health ministry to publish detailed breakdowns of individual hospitals, quarantine centers and intensive care units used to treat Covid-19 patients in Sabah. 

Their president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy (left) says information on the ground on bed occupancy in these locales, especially in the red zones, do not correspond with the figures presented during the ministry’s daily press briefings.

Meaning, the numbers don't add up. 

A case in point: State Local Government and Housing Minister Masidi Manjun (right) reportedly said 99.5% of the beds in Sabah were filled on October 22 – but this fact contradicted with the numbers presented by the health ministry. 

Muniandy adds that presenting statistics by using an average percentage for the entire state provides a false sense of security and dampens the urgency of the situation. 

Without precise information, don’t expect to come up with the correct containment strategies. It’s like having a machine gun that merely sprays bullets everywhere – it won’t work quite as well as using a sniper rifle to take careful aim, fire and hit the intended target.

Hillary Clinton Lampooned Again

On October 26, 2016, Hillary Clinton tweeted a childhood picture of herself (right) with the caption, “Happy birthday to this future president”. 

The tweet was posted while she was still in the thick of campaigning for president – just days before she would ultimately lose the 2016 Presidential Election race to Donald Trump. 

Every year since then, her critics have gleefully revived the tweet, mocking how badly it's aged. And yesterday, which was her 73rd birthday and the fourth ‘anniversary’, was no different! 

Social media users again lampooned her 'future president' birthday wish to herself! 

“Thanks for giving us something to still laugh at four years later madam private citizen!!” wrote one Twitter user, who capped off the tweet with a crying-while-laughing emoji. 

“The anniversary of this tweet should be a National Holiday”, mused one tweeter. 

Another Twitter user wrote, “Wishing yourself happy birthday and taking the election result for granted. This has got to be an all-time classic twitter self own”. 

“One small bright spot in this hell we all live in is coming back to laugh at this tweet every year”, wrote one tweeter. 

“Voting for trump so I can get 4 more anniversaries of this”, a tweet read. 

“Happy birthday to the worst loser ever”, wrote another tweeter. 








I don’t understand why she won’t delete the tweet. Maybe, she thinks she's providing much-needed entertainment to her fellow Americans. Maybe, it’s to keep her fantasy alive. Maybe, it’s her whimsical sense of humor. 

The revival of Clinton's infamous birthday tweet came the same day that a new podcast interview with the former US Secretary of State was released, in which she said that the possibility of Trump getting another four years in office made her 'sick' to her stomach. 

I wonder, who will have the last laugh?!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Show Me the Monet










Claude Monet (1840–1926) was a famous French painter whose work gave a name to the art movement Impressionism, which was concerned with capturing light and natural forms.

His 1899 oil painting "The Japanese Footbridge" (above) immerses us in the physical experience of being in a garden. 

With the bands of the blue bridge suspended like a canopy near the top of the canvas and no sky to be seen, the water and billowing foliage fill the visual field, immersing the viewer in the verdant, brightly colored waterscape. 

Cool blue and green tones predominate, but are balanced by the pink, white, and yellow lilies floating in complex pattern across the surface of the water from near to far. Controlled, vertical dabs of paint define the sparkling greenery and its fleeting reflection in the water, while the more fluid lilies are rendered with broad, textured, horizontal strokes that emphasize the shared physicality of the paint and the landscape.


 










Then we have Banksy's 2005 painting "Show Me the Monet" which riffs on that particular artwork – it features shopping carts and a bright orange traffic cone ditched in a pond – and which was sold at a Sotheby's auction on Wednesday for a cool $9.8 million. 

Five collectors bidding during the final minutes of the auction drove up the price to make it the second most expensive Banksy sold at an auction. 

“The work is such a complex and strong comment on the institution of art, but also a comment on consumerism versus culture”, pronounced Jacob Thage, the director of the Museum Jorn in Silkeborg, Denmark where “Show Me The Monet” was most recently displayed to the public. 

It’s the priciest of Banksy’s works to sell at auction since his painting Devolved Parliament, depicting MPs as chimpanzees in the House of Commons, was sold for $12.1 million on October 03, 2019, and which marked the artist’s record auction price.




 







Celtic were left frustrated on Sunday when they could only manage a draw in a six-goal thriller in their Scottish Premiership match against Aberdeen. 

The Dons took a first-half lead before Callum McGregor surged through to equalize in the fifty-second minute. Again, the Dons scored in the sixty-fifth minute but eleven minutes later, Leigh Griffiths received Tom Rogic's pass inside the box to fire in Celtic's second equalizer, his rising shot flying past the goalie. Ryan Christie's penalty in the seventy-eighth minute put Celtic ahead for the first time but the Dons levelled with an injury time penalty. 

Oh well, that's football!

43 Million Cases










It's now 43 million cases and still counting!






And Colombia is the eighth country to top a million infections.

Like many other countries, its government is pumping in more money to tackle the pandemic. It was reported by Al Jazeera yesterday that they have allocated resources of “close to 11 percent of GDP” – some $31 billion. That’s a lot of wherewithal. 

Overall, Latin America has continued to register some of the highest caseloads, diagnosing more than 100,000 confirmed infections each day – though WHO report that Europe is seeing even bigger numbers. 

Whether Latin America or Europe or elsewhere for that matter, the tireless virus is rampaging pretty much throughout the world. 

That includes the US of A – still No. 1 in infections and deaths. 

On Sunday, the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows (left), in so many words, indicated that the Trump administration will continue to disregard advice from government health experts to wear masks, social distance and avoid big gatherings as a way to curb the spread of the virus. 

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas", he actually told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union".

It's nothing to be surprised or shocked about. That’s so typical of Donald Trump and his sorry squad of shit-asses because they consistently refuse to take responsibility of leading the country through this menacing coronavirus outbreak. 

As of Sunday, there were at least 8,575,000 total cases of Covid-19 in the US, and at least 224,800 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.