President Biden took a PR bow for ironing out the deal between rivals Johnson & Johnson and Merck to collaborate on the production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Merck, which failed to produce its own vaccine and is receiving $268.8M from Uncle Sam to manufacture J&J’s COVID-19 shot, said the alliance is “part of its commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic.”
It is actively discussing deals with other companies, governments and public health agencies to find other ways to “make a meaningful impact” on the fight against COVID-19.
J&J, which fell behind on its promise of 37M doses of vaccine by the end of March, is being bailed out by Merck.
It somewhat downplayed the deal with Merck, noting that eight other companies signed on to its global COVID-19 network since January.
J&J did praise Merck’s “long history of vaccine expertise” that will “enhance our production capacity so that we can supply beyond our current commitments.”
Biden spun the deal as “the type of collaboration between companies that we saw in World War II."
He praised J&J and Merck for “stepping up and being good corporate citizens during this crisis.”
That’s priceless PR for the companies, especially coming from a leader of a political party that is not usually singing the praises of Big Pharma.
There was a missing element of the good news J&J/Merck story. Where’s Donald?
No credit was given to the Trump administration, which had been trying for months to forge a partnership between J&J and Merck.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki sniffed that the Biden team was able to get the deal over the finish line.
That’s true but Team Trump set up the starting blocks. It would have been fair play to give Trump some credit for laying the foundation for the J&J/Merck partnership.
Freedom House is out with its Freedom in the World 2021 report, and it shows the US continues to slip on the democracy front.
The US scored 83 out of 100 points in 2020, compared to 86 in the previous year.
Freedom House notes that the US, which once was a beacon of democracy for the rest of the world, needs “a serious and sustained reform effort to repair the damage done during the Trump era to the perception and reality of basic rights and freedoms in the United States.”
It torched the final weeks of the Trump White House for its unprecedented attacks on US democracy.
The Report reads: "After four years of condoning and indeed pardoning official malfeasance, ducking accountability for his own transgressions, and encouraging racist and right-wing extremists, the outgoing president openly strove to illegally overturn his loss at the polls, culminating in his incitement of an armed mob to disrupt Congress’s certification of the results.”
The group noted that 2020 was fraught with “politically distorted health recommendations, partisan infighting, shockingly high and racially disparate coronavirus death rates, and police violence against protesters advocating for racial justice over the summer. All underscored the United States’ systemic dysfunctions and made American democracy appear fundamentally unstable.”
Trump’s bid to overturn the election though was the icing on the cake, or ”arguably the most destructive act of his time in office.”
President Biden and his team ”will need to work vigorously to strengthen its institutional safeguards, restore its civic norms, and uphold the promise of its core principles for all segments of society if it is to protect its venerable democracy and regain global credibility," according to Freedom House.
“No Irish Need Apply” was a fixture on help-wanted signs and classified advertising in mid-19th century America as discrimination against immigrants fleeing the Potato Famine and economic collapse at home ran rampant in the US.
Pontins, British campground operator, has updated that bigoted view of Irish people, according to the Irish Times and UK press.
It put together a list of surnames of undesirables who were to be banned from the parks.
The Times revealed the names of the banned 40.
They are: Boylan, Boyle, Carney, Carr, Cash, Connors, Corcoran, Delaney, Doherty, Dorran, Gallagher, Horan, Keefe, Kell, Leahy, Lee, MacLaughlin, McAlwick, McCully, McDonagh, McGinley, McGinn, McGuiness, McHarg, McLaughan, McMahon, Millighan, Mongans, Murphy, Nolan, O’Brien, O’Connell, O’Donnell, O’Donoghue, O’Mahoney, O’Reilly, Sheridan, Stokes, Walch, Ward.
The list covers the names of about half the people who live on the island of Ireland.
Alastair Pringle, executive director of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, said banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful, according to the BBC. “To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement.
Pontins has agreed to change its bookings practices and to enhance staff training and procedures "to promote equality throughout its businesses.”
The move comes just before the busy summer vacation season. The Irish should skip Pontins and spend their money in the Emerald Isle.
Or better yet, The Big Apple welcomes you.