Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Biden & Peters Claim Victory in Michigan

Just four years after a surprising upset in the Mitten state, Joe Biden has seemingly pulled the state back into the Democrat column. Senate incumbent candidate, Gary Peters, also pulled off a hard fought battle with challenger, John James to claim reelection.

The battle appears far from over, though, as legal challenges have already been raised and messy counts in Shiawassee and Antrim counties cast doubt on the credibility of the electoral process.

Biden appears to have largely been the beneficiary of massive increases in voter participation from the expansion of absentee and early voting. Voters who seldom turn out on Election Day were able to cast ballots with unprecedented ease this cycle, leading to celebration by some and criticism by others.

The election is still being held in limbo as several states hang in the balance around the country and even more court battles begin. Stay tuned for more unbiased election news in the coming weeks.

Michigan to Host Dueling Visits from Presidential Candidates this Week

Michigan will receive visits from 2020 hopefuls, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, this week.

The former vice president arrives to deliver remarks at 1:15 pm today in Warren, MI and the president will hold a rally for supporters in Freeland, MI tomorrow at 7 pm.

The visits mark the kickoff of what is sure to be a busy push by both parties in the Mitten State between now and election day. Michigan was a hotly contested race in 2016 and appears to be tightening once again as discontent towards democratic Governor Whitmer’s coronavirus response has reinvigorated republicans and some independents. 2020 also appears poised to test whether years of anti-Trump sentiment can hold long enough and strong enough to flip the state that went red just four years ago.

Stay tuned for our coverage of both candidates and their remarks this week and throughout election season.

Coronavirus Antibody Testing Provides Hope as Mortality Rate Appears Lower than Early Indications

The potential for hope might seem misplaced as the world faces down the start of another month battling the novel coronavirus.

It may be hard to understand the full context of how far we have come in the last several months. Our newsfeeds and televisions have seen a steady flow of articles, opinion pieces and news conferences detailing the latest information and data surrounding this worldwide pandemic.

In March, early models out of the Imperial College London forecasted a grim scenario for the United States of 2.2 million dead. As we began to digest images and data out of Italy and China, Americans became increasingly concerned that fatality rates for the infected might be 10% or more and an underlying concern that some unknown number could carry the virus undetected led governments around the world to take sweeping action on a scale not seen by the modern world.

Toilet paper, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, bread, meat, rice, beans and other assorted grocery products disappeared from shelves. Americans were told masks were unnecessary. Then they were told masks were mandatory for anyone without a medical exemption. Businesses and workers, told to stay home, waited anxiously for unemployment checks to arrive. Some are still waiting.

All these unknowns and more have left Americans stranded in a sea of confusion, as well as political & social division, with available data offering little solace. The confirmed positive tests and fatalities linked to the virus have given Americans little room for hope or positivity in the weeks since America’s first outbreaks. Projected mortality rates based solely on confirmed infections and presumptive fatalities have continued to paint a grim picture of numbers as high as 10% or more in some regions.

In the weeks since, death estimates have been revised from millions to hundreds of thousands and now hover around 75,000 by August. Despite this reassuring trend, the countless tragic stories pouring in from around the country maintain the concerns of many politicians and constituents about the veracity of the coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19.

The concerns of citizens, desperate for the economy to reopen and those still grappling with the apocalyptic view presented by mounting presumptive fatality & confirmed infection totals may be granted a reprieve in the coming weeks as the tide of data coming in begins to take a reassuring turn.

Antibody testing in several places in the United States and around the world is beginning to shed light on many of the coronavirus’ darkest corners. Most recently, extensive testing has been compiled in New York, Boston (Chelsea) and Miami-Dade County. Other testing was also completed in two separate California studies (Santa Clara/Stanford & LA County/USC). While numbers are not exhaustive, they do give us the clear indication that our infection totals, and thus previous estimates of the virus’ mortality, are off by some degree. In fact, if recent findings are remotely accurate, conservative estimates put infection totals off by a factor of 15-20x depending on the region of the country.

While that news might be shocking and perhaps even terrifying, there is reason for optimism. As the picture of the infection denominator comes into view and a more accurate depiction of infection spread is known, the rate of deaths per infection necessarily falls. That change in data means significant reductions in estimates of the coronavirus’ mortality rate.

In the University of Miami study, researchers determined with reasonable probability through antibody testing that infection rates were anywhere between 12-22x higher than the county’s confirmed total of approximately 11,500. The findings led the team reach a median rate of 16.5x more infections than recorded through previous testing. The data, in effect, would cause Miami-Dade county’s infection totals to jump to just under 190,000. With that change in estimated infections, the mortality rate of Miami-Dade county would plummet from 2.6% to .16% of those infected with the virus. So while early fears regarding the virus’ ability to be carried with little to no symptoms provided serious cause for concern, the prevalence of those relatively unaffected by the virus may have skewed the earliest available data towards the most ill carriers by well over an order of magnitude.

New York City antibody results paint a very similar picture. Testing done in America’s largest hotspot showed that as many as 1 in 5 have had the virus. Adjusting for this indicator means a full-scale reduction in the mortality rate to around .5%. While this rate is still considerably higher than the mortality we have come to accept with seasonal influenza outbreaks each year, it is important to note that it falls well below the reported mortality of a staggering 10.7%. That would put NYC’s official tally off by 21.5x the projected mortality according to previous testing for the virus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on April 29 that 17.1% of FDNY/EMT and 10.5% of NYPD tested positive for antibodies to the virus. According to Cuomo, the entire downstate antibody average is 18%. Another test of NYC transit workers is also being conducted this week. The National Institute of Health has also recently announced a test of 10,000 healthy individuals to gauge possible antibody spread across the nation.

A much smaller scale study in the Chelsea neighborhood outside of Boston found 1 in 3 had antibodies for the virus. The neighborhood has been visibly hit by the virus with 39 fatalities and 712 confirmed cases, which totals just 2% of the population and 5.5% mortality rate. However, antibody indicators could point to the area being farther along the outbreak curve than previously believed and could mean that confirmed cases are off by a factor as high as 16x. That possibility means the viral mortality in Chelsea could drop from 5.5% to just .34%.

The approximate 15-20x factor of antibody indicators to confirmed cases in Miami-Dade, Chelsea and NYC has shown to be a consistent trend across the country and even in international studies.

This should come as no surprise, as data has been available for weeks giving glimpses at just how contagious and sneaky the virus can be. In a review of cruise ship outbreaks, the CDC determined that as many as 46.5% of positive tests were asymptomatic at time of testing. Available statistical models also led the CDC to suggest that the virus never developed symptoms of any kind in 17.9% of those infected. The CDC has estimated that approximately 25% of cases among the general population carry the virus asymptomatically. These numbers are even more staggering given the much higher than average median age of those embarking on cruises. Both numbers seem to support the growing evidence that the outbreak is far more widespread than testing has shown and gives substantial credence to the numbers coming out of ongoing antibody research.

Antibody testing, like the live viral testing going on around the globe, is not without its limitations. Early tests out of Oxford showed that there is a margin of error in both false positives and false negatives. To combat this, researchers have factored some amount of this into their findings by generating deriving the most conservative models from their findings and have got to work on formulating more specificity in future testing.

Despite these limitations, several researchers, speaking with Bloomberg News gave reasons to be optimistic. Natalie Dean, a biostatician with the University of Florida, explained, “The results change a lot depending on what assumptions you put in…I think there is value in getting an answer very quickly, even if it’s not exactly right. As long as it kind of gets us in a ballpark.”

John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and epidemiology with Stanford also supported this point. “No study, no matter how well done, will be able to give the definitive answer alone…But at last we have data, real data, because until now we have mostly relied on speculation.”

These antibody studies, coupled with testing of outbreaks among contained populations (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, several cruise ships and the USS Theodore Roosevelt), show that mortality rates fall far below figures that were initially believed in the early days of the virus. Though each of the above contained populations are not representative samples of the general population, the statistics are encouraging when tested against results shown in antibody studies.

While some critics of the government response have pointed to potentially inflated death statistics being linked to the virus, it is becoming increasingly clear that infection totals being amended according to new data will have a bigger impact on our understanding of the risk of this virus to the public at large. It is clear the virus is a significant threat, but Americans should be encouraged that our most dire predictions and indicators of the deadliness of this illness fall far below what we previously believed.

COUNTDOWN: Biggest U.S. News Events of the 2010s

As we wrap up the decade and start a countdown towards welcoming a new one, the Michigan Herald Tribune staff wanted to look back at some of the most impactful events of the 2010s. While this list is not exhaustive, we believe it captures some of the most impactful events that have or are likely to shape our world in the decades to come. Here is our countdown of the biggest news events in the United States this decade.

11. Avengers: Endgame tops 2.8 billion as highest grossing film of all time. Endgame beat out the precious record-holder, Avatar. (2019)
No entertainment company dominated the decade like Marvel Studios and this 2019 film culminated a decade of dominance by becoming the highest grossing film of all time. The movie also broke the record for fastest to 2 billion in box office sales after just 11 days, breaking the previous mark held by Avatar (47 days).

10. CIA contractor, Edward Snowden, leaks news of widespread illegal National Security Agency data collection of American citizens. (2013)
Edward Snowden leaked what may have been the biggest governmental scandal of the decade when documents were released via Wikileaks detailing a widespread spy operation that warrantlessly collected data on American citizens.

9. UberCab launches its service in San Francisco, California. (2010)
The growth of the “gig economy” and ride-sharing apps changed the landscape and definition of public transportation across major US cities before spreading to communities across the nation. The popularity of such apps infiltrated to other industries and companies such as Airbnb, Lyft and VRBO to name a few.

8. Streaming Video Platforms (2010s)
Nothing has seemingly changed more than the consumption of video media in the United States over the last ten years. Video stores, theaters and cable tv have all receded into near obscurity over the last decade as Netflix, HULU, AmazonPrime, YouTube and various other companies have dominated the space.

7. Facebook becomes the world’s largest photo host. (2011)
Perhaps one of the biggest cultural paradigm shifts of the decade was the ubiquitous nature of social media. Proof of concept became increasingly clear when Facebook became the world’s largest photo host.

6. Rise of ISIS. (2014)
ISIS declared the establishment of its caliphate in 2014 during the second presidential term of Barack Obama, making waves across the middle east and beyond. By 2019, however, ISIS had been widely defeated in the region, leading President Donald Trump to announce that ISIS had been defeated as an established force.

5. Same sex marriage is made legal across all 50 states by Supreme Court decision. (2015)
The supreme court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges swiftly struck down gay marriage limitations across the United States. The decision followed the early part of the decade’s shift towards increasing LGBT rights and major politicians such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton flipping camps to support the measure.

4. Election of Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton (2016)
In what may be the biggest upset in US political history, Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States after overcoming 3% or less odds to attain the office in his bid against Hillary Clinton. Oddsmakers had a Clinton presidency riding at 97% or above in the days leading up to the election.

3. First cross country commercial freight delivery completed by self-driving semitruck. (2019)
While the institution of this change to American commerce may take several years to materialize. It is certain that this moment will be looked back on as a defining one in the history of the US and global economy. Self-driving commercial trucking is destined to shape industry in ways not unlike the invention of automobiles, themselves.

2. Raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound ends in assignation of al Qaeda’s top man.
Following the biggest story of the previous decade, the destruction of the World Trade Center Buildings on 9/11, a team of Navy Seals, known as Seal Team 6, underwent a daring late-night raid on a compound housing global terrorist figurehead, Osama bin Laden. The raid ended in the killing of bin Laden and the acquisition of valuable intelligence in the fight against global terror networks. (2011)

1. Amazon.com (2010s)
Nothing has likely shaped industry more than the growth of Amazon.com. The website has been an absolute juggernaut that expanded from a used book site to offering every product imaginable at the click of the mouse and free two-day shipping. The website singlehandedly has kept shippers such as UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service throughout the decade and even expanded into marketing its own products and services, which it now couples with its third party brands. Amazon has redrawn the entire map of the global economy and shaped the future for the foreseeable future.

Just Outside the List:
1. Donald Trump becomes first president to enter North Korea after meeting with Kim Jong Un in DMZ. (2019)
2. Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in NYC and other northeast cities. (2012)
3. Political movements: Occupy Wall Street (2011), TEA Party (2013), Black Lives Matter (2014), #MeToo (2017)
4. Mass Shootings/Terrorism: Boston Marathon Bombing (2013), Pulse Nightclub Shooting (2016), Las Vegas Shooting (2017), Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting (2012), Aurora Movie Theater Shooting (2012), Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting (2018).
5. Rise of “Fake News” term. (2016)
6. FISA abuses and FBI surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign. (2016-2019)
7. Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in U.S. military (2011)

Congress & FDA Officially Limits Sale of Tobacco Products to 21+

In news that will shock many, anger some and confuse most, the Federal government has officially raised the legal purchase age of tobacco products in all 50 states to 21 years old.

The legislation follows other recent advancements on anti-tobacco advocacy with new restrictions being levied against so-called “vaping” products.

While many might agree with the result, the method is sure to turn heads. The massive nationwide turn was not passed after debate on the house and senate floor or with a bill titled the S.M.O.K.E. Act or some other kitschy acronym, commonplace in congressional legislative circles.

Instead, this incredible shift was passed as a part of a massive annual government spending bill. While “pork” or other line-items have been the standard in Washington for generations, this particular instance is sure to make Americans scratch their heads as the measure was snuck into a spending bill when the context of the move has nothing to do with annual appropriations.

Supporters of the move tend to lay their support at a general disapproval of the habit. Opponents seem to be a much more diverse crowd and is made up of smokers and non-smokers alike that point to the backdoor way legislation was passed into law via a spending bill and the odd dichotomy of an 18 year old being able to enlist in active duty military, something one could justifiably considered to pose a rather dangerous risk to their health, but forbade from purchasing alcohol or tobacco products due to their harmful effects.

Regardless of the feeling Americans may have regarding the intent of the legislation, it seems that the method Congress took to achieve it is likely to leave a bad taste in their mouth; perhaps far worse than that of tobacco smoke.