The Full Belmonte, 10/11/21

100% Pure News. Distilled.

  • “Pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced Monday the submission of emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration for molnupiravir, an antiviral drug that offers the promise that COVID-19 could soon be treated by a pill.

    Molnupiravir, an orally ingested antiviral pill, is used to treat mild to moderate adult cases of COVID-19 that are at risk of worsening to severe COVID-19 or hospitalization, according to the companies. It was created by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta and is given as four pills taken twice a day for five days.

    An interim analysis from a clinical trial found that the antiviral medicine reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%.

    Since early in the pandemic, public health officials have hoped for effective antivirals that could help prevent severe infection in people exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several existing drugs were tested against the virus early on but shown to have no benefit for patients.” Read more at USA Today

  • “STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three U.S-based economists won the 2021 Nobel prize for economics on Monday for work on drawing conclusions from unintended experiments, or so-called ‘natural experiments.’

    David Card of the University of California at Berkeley was awarded one half of the prize, while the other half was shared by Joshua Angrist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Guido Imbens from Stanford University.

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three have ‘completely reshaped empirical work in the economic sciences.’

    C’ard’s studies of core questions for society and Angrist and Imbens’ methodological contributions have shown that natural experiments are a rich source of knowledge,’ said Peter Fredriksson, chair of the Economic Sciences Committee. ‘Their research has substantially improved our ability to answer key causal questions, which has been of great benefit for society.’

    Unlike the other Nobel prizes, the economics award wasn’t established in the will of Alfred Nobel but by the Swedish central bank in his memory in 1968, with the first winner selected a year later. It is the last prize announced each year.

    Last week, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia for their fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder.

    Ressa was the only woman honored this year in any category.

    The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to U.K.-based Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, who was recognized for his ‘uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee.’” Read more at USA Today

    Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, walk off the stage after a debate.

  • “The Virginia gubernatorial race is tightening ahead of the state’s election on November 2. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe recently said President Joe Biden’s political challenges are dragging down his election chances, but downplayed the comments this weekend, urging Congress instead to pass the looming $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. If McAuliffe loses to Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin, it will send shockwaves through the Democratic Party. Remember, Biden won Virginia by 10 percentage points in 2020.” Read more at CNN

  • “A US delegation met with representatives of the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, this weekend. It was the first such meeting since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August. The parties discussed the continued safe passage of Americans and American allies from Afghanistan, and the facilitation of humanitarian aid, among other topics. The US State Department called the talks ‘candid and professional,’ but said the Taliban will be judged on actions, not just words.” Read more at CNN

  • “The average rate of daily new Covid-19 cases in the US dropped below 100,000, to 93,814 as of Sunday. While it’s a step in the right direction, Dr. Anthony Fauci said cases should fall to about 10,000 per day for the US to feel like it’s out of the pandemic woods. Some experts are calling for vaccine requirements on airlines ahead of holiday travel to lessen the threat of another winter spike. But many agree that some fall fun, like outdoor trick-or-treating, can be comfortably enjoyed with minimal virus risk.” Read more at CNN

  • “Pfizer will fully vaccinate everyone over 12 in one Brazilian city to study how long protection lasts.” Read more at New York Times

  • “Parents are sneaking carbon dioxide monitors into schools to check ventilation.” Read more at New York Times

  • “Cargo is piling up at ports as the pandemic continues to cause chaos in global shipping.” Read more at New York Times

  • “A whistleblower identifying as a former high-ranking US Capitol Police official with more than 30 years of service has written a letter to Congress excoriating the actions of police leadership around the time of the January 6 insurrection. A lot of the criticism mirrors that of Senate Judiciary reports -- that some Capitol Police officials did not share vital intelligence before the riot and didn’t help officers during. However, the whistleblower focuses on department leadership, and accuses some congressional leaders of having ‘purposefully failed’ to tell the truth about the department's failures.” Read more at CNN

  • “About 25% of all critical infrastructure in the US is at risk of failure due to flooding, according to a new report from a nonprofit research and technology group. This critical infrastructure includes locations like police and fire stations, hospitals, airports and wastewater treatment facilities. The report also found nearly 2 million miles of road — 23% of US roadways — are already at risk of becoming impassable due to flooding. The threat of flooding is growing rapidly in the US as a consequence of the climate crisis. Areas along the Gulf Coast and Appalachia are especially vulnerable to flood damage.” Read more at CNN

  • “A growing number of cities are replacing Columbus Day — celebrated Monday — with Indigenous Peoples Day . President Joe Biden on Friday issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day, lending the most significant boost yet to efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus toward an appreciation of Native peoples. Monday is also Columbus Day, which commemorates the arrival of the Italian explorer to North America in 1492. Native American groups say the holiday embraces Western colonialism and pays tribute to a man who promoted the trans-Atlantic slave trade and is responsible for the genocide of indigenous people, while some Italian Americans see the move to scrap the holiday as an affront to their ethnic heritage.” Read more at USA Today

  • “Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend, citing air traffic control issues and weather. The airline's President Mike Van de Ven said he hoped operations Monday would be ‘more normal.’ Van de Ven's comment came after Southwest cancelled more than 1,100 flights  Sunday, roughly 30% of its scheduled flights that day, stranding travelers and flight crews across the country. Travelers need to check their flight status before heading to the airport. As of 6:10 a.m. E.T. Monday, Southwest had canceled more than 1,400 flights, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Prior to Monday's cancellations, the airline apologized to employees and customers.” Read more at USA Today

  • “A Southern California beach that had been closed since an undersea pipeline leaked crude into ocean waters last week is set to reopen Monday , officials announced. City and state beaches in Huntington Beach will reopen after water quality tests revealed no detectable levels of oil associated toxins in the ocean water, Huntington city and California State Parks said in a news release. They are still urging visitors to avoid areas that smell of oil and not to touch any oiled materials that wash ashore. That news will likely please beach-goers like Richard Beach, who returned to the waves in Huntington Beach on Sunday with his bodyboard – until lifeguards on jet skis chased him out. ‘The water’s perfect,’ said Beach, 69. ‘Clear all the way to the bottom.’” Read more at USA Today

  • “The U.S. arrested a Navy Department employee and his wife on spying-related charges after they allegedly sold restricted data on nuclear-powered submarines to an FBI agent posing as a foreign official.” Read more at Bloomberg

  • “WASHINGTON (AP) — Year-end pileups of crucial legislation and the brinkmanship that goes with them are normal behavior for Congress. This autumn, lawmakers are barreling toward battles that are striking for the risks they pose to both parties and their leaders.

    Though few doubt that Congress will again extend the government’s borrowing authority when it expires in December, no one seems certain of how they’ll do it . Democrats don’t have the votes yet to enact President Joe Biden’s top priorities into law. And Republicans are nervous that Democrats may weaken the filibuster rule that lets the Senate’s minority party derail legislation.

    Miscalculate and there could be a calamitous federal default, a collapse of Biden’s domestic agenda and, for good measure, a damaging government shutdown. Stir in lawmakers whose nerves are already frayed and are looking to tee up issues for next year’s midterm elections, and it’s a recipe for confrontations that could damage each party if leaders aren’t careful.” Read more at AP News

  • “Henry Kravis and George Roberts are stepping down as co-chief executive officers of KKR & Co., as the founders of the seminal private-equity firm become the latest to pass the torch to handpicked successors.

    Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall, who have served as the firm’s co-presidents since July 2017, will become co-CEOs, effective immediately, KKR said Monday.

    Messrs. Kravis and Roberts, first cousins who founded KKR with Jerome Kohlberg in 1976, will continue to serve as co-executive chairmen. Mr. Kohlberg died in 2015.

    KKR also announced a series of structural and governance changes aimed at helping it transition to a “one-share, one-vote” structure from the current dual-class setup that gives the two founders extra voting power. In doing so, it follows in the footsteps of Carlyle Group Inc. and Apollo Global Management Inc., rivals that have announced their own leadership and governance transitions.

    Messrs. Kravis and Roberts, pioneers of the buyout industry, have led KKR as it developed into a global investment firm with $429 billion in assets across numerous business lines at the end of the second quarter. In February, the firm closed a deal to buy insurance company Global Atlantic Financial Group Ltd., giving it $90 billion more to manage.” Read more at Wall Street Journal

  • “CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Sydney hairdressers, gyms, cafés and bars reopened to fully vaccinated customers on Monday for the first time in more than 100 days after Australia’s largest city achieved a vaccination benchmark.

    Sydney planned to reopen on the Monday after 70% of the New South Wales state population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated.

    By Monday, 73.5% of the target population was fully vaccinated and more than 90% have received at least one dose.

    Some businesses opened at midnight due to demand from people impatient to enjoy their freedom.

    More pandemic restrictions will be removed at the 80% benchmark, and New South Wales residents will be free to travel overseas for the first time since March last year.

    New South Wales reported 496 new infections in the latest 24-hour period and eight COVID-19 deaths.

    The infection rate will rise as Sydney residents return to work and become more mobile.” Read more at AP News

  • “It was nothing short of a political earthquake that gripped Central Europe as heads of the established leaders began to roll over the weekend.

    In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned over a corruption scandal, while elections in the Czech Republic dealt a blow to billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

    It’s been a dizzying turn of events in neighbors that straddle east and west. Both are members of the European Union that have tested its rules-based system. Neither are big hitters in the 27-nation bloc, but they’ve exploited opportunities to punch above their weight.

    Kurz, Europe’s youngest leader, was at the vanguard of the far-right populism that gripped the EU after the refugee crisis that presaged Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump.

    His anti-immigration stance caused trouble for Germany’s Angela Merkel and his perceived fiscal stinginess also made life difficult when the EU needed everyone to support a pandemic recovery fund.

    Kurz’s demise is unlikely to be mourned west of Vienna, though a comeback cannot be excluded. He bounced back from a 2019 sleaze scandal that toppled his earlier government.

    The situation in the Czech Republic is more volatile. Babis is locked in a long-running battle with the European Commission over conflicts of interest and whether he directed EU funds toward his agri-food conglomerate.

    Holding onto power is potentially key to keeping him out of jail, which is why the combination of losing an election and his protector — President Milos Zeman was rushed to hospital yesterday — could mean power may change there too in more significant ways.

    In Austria, Kurz stepped down and put forward an ally, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, with a view to still exerting influence behind the scenes. In Prague, it’s looking more like the end of an era. — Flavia Krause-Jackson Read more at Bloomberg

  • Lives Lived: Abdul Qadeer Khan made Pakistan a nuclear power. For at least 25 years, he built, bought, bartered and stole the makings of weapons of mass destruction. He died at 85.” Read more at New York Times

  • “Iraq’s election. The results of Iraq’s parliamentary election are expected today with turnout figures suggesting most Iraqis voted with their feet. A turnout of just 41 percent in Sunday’s vote marks the lowest voter participation since elections were introduced following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.” Read more at Foreign Policy

  • Sankara trial. Fourteen people go on trial today in Burkina Faso for the murder of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, 34 years after his assassination. Blaise Compaoré, Sankara’s immediate successor as president up until he fled to Ivory Coast in 2014, will be tried in absentia.” Read more at Foreign Policy

  • “The first-ever fall Boston Marathon will finally hit the streets Monday following the cancellation of the 2020 race and a six-month delay in 2021. Originally scheduled for April 2020, the 125th edition of the Boston Marathon was first postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then canceled for the year — the first time since 1897 that no version of the race has been run. The 2021 race was postponed from April for six months to give the pandemic more time to abate. About 20,000 athletes are expected to compete in the 26.2-mile race. In addition to a medal, some water and maybe a banana, volunteers will be handing out masks to the finishers as they leave the socially distanced course and disperse into the city’s bustling Back Bay.” Read more at USA Today

  • Actor Granville Adams, best known for his role as Zahir Arif in HBO's prison drama ‘Oz,’ has died after a prolonged battle against cancer.” Read more at USA Today

    Matt Amodio.Jeopardy Productions Inc., via Associated Press

  • “‘The Amodio rodeo’ continues

    Matt Amodio doesn’t come off as an aggressive person. He is a self-effacing graduate student from Ohio who hopes to become a computer science professor. But Amodio is also a strategically ruthless ‘Jeopardy!’ player on the second-longest winning streak in the show’s history.

    His biggest advantage is his broad knowledge, gleaned partly from reading Wikipedia pages late into the night. But he also benefits from a Moneyball approach to the game, looking for almost any small advantage.

    He starts almost every response with ‘What’s … ,’ rather than wasting mental energy on choosing among ‘What,’ ‘Who’ or ‘Where.’ He pauses after saying ‘What’s …’ even when he seems to know the answer, to double check himself. When the correct response is a person, he gives only the last name, to avoid a needless mistake on the first name.

    He also uses a betting strategy — aggressive early, often cautious later — that maximizes his chances of winning the game, rather than maximizing his winning dollar total.

    As of Friday’s show, Amodio, who is a graduate student at Yale, had won 38 games, still a long way from Ken Jennings’s record of 74. Amodio has somehow managed to become popular even among the players he beats, The Ringer’s Claire McNear reported: When his total winnings exceeded $1 million, he received a standing ovation from the defeated players in the room.” Read more at New York Times