And now for something completely different… Worthy of a Monty Python skit, The Dept. of Health and Human Services is looking to dole out 250M big ones for a PR firm to counter Donald Trump's nonsense about COVID-19.

As the nation's number of COVID-19 cases surpasses the six million mark and deaths top 183K people, HHS is counting on PR to "defeat despair and inspire hope" about combatting the pandemic.

That's Mission Impossible since the despair and hopelessness is due to president Trump's disastrous handling of COVID-19.

Politico reports that DHHS issued a "performance work statement" to a number of firms, spelling out the goal of forging a coalition of spokespeople to deliver the message that Trump is capable of defeating the virus and setting the stage for national recovery.

That's laughable. The twitter-in-chief remains in full denial about COVID-19, and when he acknowledges the virus it's only to promote quack cures.

The DHHS is naïve when it talks about lifting the national despair at a time when Trump is whipping up hate, divisiveness and social unrest though his "law and order" routine, which he sees as his only path to re-election.

COVID-19 is just about the last thing that Team Trump wants to deal with at the moment, especially as November 3 draws near.

And speaking of discouraging news, The Washington Post reported Sept. 1 that the US has decided to boycott a World Health Organization-led effort of more than 170 countries to develop, manufacture and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.

Both Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun expressed interest in participating in some fashion with the WHO effort, but were overruled by Trump.

The reason: Trump's snit with China, which he feels has too much influence within the WHO.

The president would rather snub the world community and its search for a cure that could save tens of thousands of lives rather than cooperate with WHO.

The DHHS should save its cash and call off the search for a PR firm. Creating uplifting messages on the COVID-19 front is a waste of money when Trump is still in office.

It may want to revisit the PR effort when Joe Biden takes office, but then such a campaign won't be necessary. A Biden presidency would go a long way in restoring confidence in the US.

Whatever happened to the US trade deficit with China? Candidate Trump promised to win the trade war with China because he said that nation was "raping" the US on trade.

The president has been bashing China on COVID-19, national security and human rights issues but is mostly silent on trade.

The Financial Times notes that the president is "now conspicuously quiet on trade" with China. It points out that the US trade gap with China was $347B in 2016 and $345B in 2019.

Candidate Trump asked voters to use the size of the trade deficit with China as a "scorecard" on his effectiveness in office. He may want to take back those words.

Powered by the pandemic… Zoom Video Communications chalked up a robust 355 percent surge in second quarter revenues to $663.5M. Net income jumped to $185.7M from $5.5M a year ago.

CEO Eric Yuan sees even better days ahead as Zoom's video meetings evolve from a tool that companies used to insure "business continuity" during the early stages of the COVID-19 to "supporting a future of working anywhere, learning anywhere and connecting anywhere."

Yuan may be right, but others are zoning out on Zoom and longing for the days when they can mix it up face-to-face with people at the office.