Pfizer vaccine may offer strong protection after first dose, Israeli study finds

“The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech produces a robust immune response after just one dose, according to a new Israeli study of vaccinated health care workers at the country’s largest hospital,” as NBC News is reporting.

“The research, published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet, followed 7,214 staff members at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, a government-owned facility, who received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination between Dec. 19 and Jan. 24. Scientists from the medical center found that the vaccine was 85 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 within 15 to 28 days after the shot was administered.

“Experts cautioned that more research is needed before broad conclusions can be drawn, but the results do provide some evidence that robust immunity is generated after one dose and that the second dose could be delayed beyond the three weeks prescribed by Pfizer in order to ease distribution and supply constraints.

“The timing of the second dose has been the subject of much recent debate, with some countries such as the United Kingdom opting to delay it as a way to speed up the country’s rate of immunization. In the United States, where the vaccine rollout has been bumpy and winter storms over the past week have hampered some states’ ability to administer shots, similar questions have emerged.”

The rest of the article is here.

Cruz travels to Cancun, MX, as Texans remain without power amid historic winter storm

“Sen. Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun, Mexico, he confirmed in a statement to CNN, as a winter disaster in his home state left millions without power or water,” as CNN and others are reporting.

“Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in the statement he flew down for a night because his daughters ‘asked to take a trip with friends.'”

“The trip was immediately criticized, including by Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat representing southwest Houston, who tweeted a photo of Cruz aboard a flight, saying Cruz was flying south ‘while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water.'”

The rest of the article is here.

Parler, a social-media platform for the far-right, is back online with Mark Meckler as interim CEO

“Parler, the preferred social media platform for the far-right, announced Monday that it was back online after it was dropped by an Amazon hosting service on January 11,” as Business Insider and others are reporting.

“The site became a haven for pro-Trump extremists ahead of, and during, the Capitol insurrection. Amazon Web Services (AWS) found that it ‘poses a very real risk to public safety.’

“On Monday, the company announced that site was up and running with a Tea Party co-founder serving as interim CEO. Mark Meckler, an attorney, political activist, and founder of the Tea Party Patriots, replaced former CEO and co-founder John Matze, who was fired by the company’s board earlier this month.”

“In a statement Monday, Meckler said, ‘Parler was built to offer a social media platform that protects free speech and values privacy and civil discourse,’ highlighting the platform’s focus on freedom of speech. ‘Parler is being run by an experienced team and is here to stay. We will thrive as the premier social media platform dedicated to free speech, privacy and civil dialogue,’ the statement said. 

The rest of the article is here

Senate acquits Trump again

“Former president Donald Trump was acquitted Saturday of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, becoming the first president in U.S. history to face a second impeachment trial — and surviving it in part because of his continuing hold on the Republican Party despite his electoral defeat in November,” as The Washington Post is reporting.

“That grip appeared to loosen slightly during the vote Saturday afternoon, when seven Republicans crossed party lines to vote for conviction — a sign of the rift the Capitol siege has caused within GOP ranks and the desire by some in the party to move on from Trump. Still, the 57-43 vote, in which all Democrats voted against the president, fell far short of the two-thirds required to convict.

“The tally came after senators briefly upended the proceeding by voting to allow witnesses — only to reverse themselves amid Republican opposition and following hours of negotiations with House Democrats and Trump’s defense team.

“The decision in the end to forgo testimony set the stage for Trump’s acquittal without a full accounting of his actions on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters who believed his false claims that he had actually won the election stormed the Capitol and endangered the lives of lawmakers, former vice president Mike Pence and hundreds of staff and police officers. Five people died in the melee.”

The rest of the article is here.

Meet the youngest female self-made billionaire (yes, with a “b”)

“Shares of dating app Bumble soared in its IPO on Thursday, turning its 31-year-old CEO and founder Whitney Wolfe Herd into the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire,” as Forbes reports. “Her nearly 12% stake in the company was worth $1.6 billion as of 12:40 p.m. EST on Thursday.”

Joan Phillipe appointed Nevada City interim city manager

The City of Nevada City issued this statement on its Facebook page:

“Nevada City Council announced, following a Friday special city council meeting, the approval of a contract with Joan Phillipe to serve as interim city manager effective Monday February 15, 2021.

“Phillipe comes to Nevada City as a retired city manager with over 35 years’ experience in local government including as city manager in Loomis, Colusa, Colfax and Clearlake as well as executive director of the California State Sheriffs’ Association and assistant city manager in South Lake Tahoe.  Since retirement she has provided interim management and consulting services. 

“Phillipe’s experience in small communities faced with economic and fiscal challenges drew the council to her.  Her experience with water and wastewater issues was also a benefit.  She has substantial planning experience having worked on updating General Plans, zoning ordinances and other planning documents including economic development plans. 

“In addition, her experience in working with other jurisdictions as well as state and federal government officials was seen as an asset for the city.  Phillipe has assisted several cities in the recruitment and transition of city managers by helping to identify the qualities and assets needed in a candidate to be a good fit for an organization, its staff, and its community. 

“Phillipe is familiar with Nevada City having had family living in the area for many years.  She and her husband, Brian, were also married in the city and visit it regularly.  Phillipe’s contract with the city will run until the council fills the position with a permanent manager.  It is anticipated filling the position will take approximately six months.”

A “little joy” on #ValentinesDay weekend

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden walked their two dogs on the North Lawn of the White House to review Valentine’s Day decorations:

California town will pay you to visit

“A small town set amid the sprawling ranchland on California’s Central Coast wants you to come visit — so much that it will pay you,” as SFGate is reporting.

“Santa Maria, known for its barbecue and wineries, is offering a $100 Visa gift card for use toward a minimum two-night qualifying hotel stay. You can also use the credit in neighboring Orcutt.

“While the state continues to discourage nonessential travel to any destination that’s 120 miles or more from one’s home, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the stay-at-home order for all regions across the state last week, allowing hotels to reopen to tourists and restaurants to offer outdoor dining with safety measures in place. After a major widespread shutdown in the winter, the state is slowly beginning to reopen.”

The rest of the article is here.

George Shultz dies at 100

RIP, George Shultz. I interviewed Mr. Shultz in the late ’90s when I was at The Chronicle. I went to his office at Stanford University, and we had a good visit. He was a well-rounded intellectual, as expected, but he also had a keen sense of humor. During our interview, he pointed to a picture he had hung on the wall of old Middle Eastern men sitting around a hookah, and he wondered aloud if it was a solution to the Mideast oil crisis. (And yes, he did discuss that Tiger tattoo on his posterior, too, in honor of his alma mater, Princeton).

His obituary, released today from the Hoover Institution, is here:

“One of the most consequential policymakers of all time, having served three American presidents, George P. Shultz died Feb. 6 at age 100. Remembered as one of the most influential secretaries of state in our history, Shultz was a key player, alongside President Ronald Reagan, in changing the direction of history by using the tools of diplomacy to bring the Cold War to an end. He knew the value of one’s word, that ‘trust was the coin of the realm,’ and stuck unwaveringly to a set of principles. This, combined with a keen intelligence, enabled him to not only imagine things thought impossible but also to bring them to fruition and forever change the course of human events.

“George Pratt Shultz, the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor emeritus at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, had a distinguished career in government, in academia, and in the world of business. He is one of only two Americans to have held four different federal cabinet posts – State, Treasury, Labor, and Office of Management and Budget. He taught at three of this country’s great universities, and for eight years was president of a major engineering and construction company.

“Condoleezza Rice, a fellow former Secretary of State and current director of the Hoover Institution, where Shultz served for more than 30 years until his passing, said, ‘Our colleague was a great American statesman and a true patriot in every sense of the word. He will be remembered in history as a man who made the world a better place.’

“His colleagues at Hoover called him the ‘great convener’ because he would assemble the greatest minds together to tackle the most difficult and vexing problems. He never shied away from trying to find solutions to challenges, whether they were on the global stage or just down the street. Many were not aware of Shultz’s quieter contributions or how deeply he cared about his local community, especially K-12 schools. He and his wife, Charlotte, worked tirelessly as leaders in the Bay Area, San Francisco and the Stanford community, concerned with questions of disparity, particularly in K-12 education. Fulfilling America’s promise of equality was a driving force for him and he believed deeply that only by delivering at home, could the United States lead with moral authority abroad.”

WaPo: Marjorie Taylor Greene and her crock-of-bile tears

“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says he is determined to prove ‘this Republican Party’s a very big tent,’ columnist Karen Tumulty writes in The Washington Post.

“It must be. Where else could you hold the epic two-ring circus that has been going on within the House Republican caucus this week?

“To McCarthy, the dual sagas involving Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), an unhinged freshman congresswoman, represented a chance to show his mettle. ‘You elected me leader,’ he said during a private session with his membership. ‘Let me lead.’

“What McCarthy actually demonstrated, however, was precisely the opposite of taking charge. The degree to which the Trumpist hard-right is in the driver’s seat became clear when the GOP rallied behind Greene.

“Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent of the Republicans who voted — a surprisingly large bloc — ignored McCarthy’s pleas for unity and chose to oust Cheney from her leadership post.”

The rest of the article is here.