Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

Medtronic posts design specs for ventilator to combat coronavirus

March 31, 2020

Medical equipment company Medtronic announced on March 30 that it would publicly share the design specifications for a ventilator product, in order to enable other companies to explore producing it rapidly to help meet demand driven by the novel coronavirus.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company posted online the design documents, service manuals and other information for its Puritan Bennett 560, which is sold in 35 countries. The company plans to post software code and other information shortly.

What’s more, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports,  Medtronic will get an assist from automaker Tesla Inc., which will convert a New York production plant to churn out medical devices instead of solar power cells.

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak discussed the partnership in an interview with CNBC, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter, “Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

Medtronic has ramped up production of another of its ventilators in recent weeks, the Puritan Bennett 980.

“By openly sharing the PB 560 design information, we hope to increase global production of ventilator solutions for the fight against Covid-19,” said Bob White, executive vice president and president of the Minimally Invasive Therapies group at Medtronics.

Ventilators are needed for people severely ill with the coronavirus who have trouble breathing on their own. Hospitals and state officials have increased orders for the machines, and manufacturers have boosted production, but some health experts say there may not be enough to meet a surge in cases in coming weeks.

Research contact: @WSJ

Absent clear federal guidance on COVID-19, the nation’s governors come to the rescue

March 27, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is a dark cloud, but even this modern plague has a silver lining: Americans at the state and local levels are finding ways to link arms and handle it themselves, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Indeed, absent a federal focus on the health of Americans, rather than on the vitality of the economy, the nation’s governors have taken up the cause. Among those who have assumed leadership during the U.S. emergency are two Republicans— Mike DeWine of Ohio and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts—and three Democrats—Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California, and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois.

Indeed, Cuomo is even being hyped as a shoo-in for the presidential nomination—replacing Joe Biden at a brokered Democratic Convention.

On March 22, for example, amid continuing mixed messages from the White House and Congress about the severity of the problem, a handful of governors took decisive action to effectively close bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the disease.

In the opinion of the Journal, “the most effective leader in the nation so far, in fact, may be … DeWine of Ohio”—chosen by the new outlet because, “He was among the first to ban large public gatherings and order schools closed. He declared that NCAA basketball tournament games scheduled for his state would have to be played without fans in the stands; within days, the NCAA followed by canceling the entire tournament.”

The Journal notes, “Initially, [Governor] DeWine appeared to be overreacting; today, he looks prescient.”

For his part, New York’s Governor Cuomo has relentlessly campaigned to receive funding and mandated manufacturing for the countless numbers of respirators, ventilators, and hospital beds that his state—the current U.S. epicenter of the virus—will need, if the healthcare community is not to be overwhelmed.

Citizens seem to have noticed. In a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday, Americans were asked who they have confidence in to handle the coronavirus. About half said President Trump, 62% said the federal government and 72% said their local government. The largest share—75%—said they had confidence in their state government.

Meantime, other institutions also are helping fill the void. Churches are making their own decisions about telecasting services so their flocks don’t have to gather; mayors are setting policies on public gatherings; businesses are developing new workplace protocols.

Still, there are limits to this grassroots coping. Active as others might be, the coronavirus crisis also serves as a reminder that there remain vital tasks only the federal government can perform.

The most important voice in guiding state and local leaders in their decisions has come from Washington, D.C., the Journal says—but it is not the president. It belongs to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Only the federal government can devise a plan to ensure that all Americans who need a test for the coronavirus can get one—a task that Dr. Fauci acknowledges it has failed at so far,” the Journal says.

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump to invoke Defense Production Act for first time during pandemic

March 25, 2020

On March 24, the Trump Administration was set to use the Defense Production Act for the first time since the coronavirus hit the United States in late January.

With millions respirators, ventilators, hospital beds, and masks all urgently needed by the healthcare sector, the president will use the act—which gives him authority to expedite and expand the supply of resources by ordering the U.S. industrial base to manufacture needed goods—only to procure about 60,000 coronavirus test kits, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Administrator Peter Gaynor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday on CNN that the administration had decided to use the Defense Production Act because “there are some test kits we need to get our hands on.”

Gaynor said the federal government was also inserting “DPA language” into its mass contract for 500 million masks.

The president last week issued an executive order invoking the law, but for days resisted calls to use it, saying he is concerned about nationalizing American businesses, the Journal said. Governors have called on him to invoke both the production and the distribution elements of the law, saying states are having to compete against each other for supplies.

“We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business,” President Trump said at a press briefing on Sunday. “The concept of nationalizing our businesses is not a good concept.” He said sufficient numbers of companies were volunteering to manufacture masks and other protective gear, so invoking the Defense Production Act wasn’t yet necessary, though he said “we may have to use it someplace along the chain.”

“We’re going to use it, we’re going to use it when we need it, and we’re going to use it today,” Gaynor said on CNN.

Administration officials have been having tense internal discussions about whether to use the law for weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Research contact @WSJ

Battle for the Oval Office: Mike Bloomberg’s campaign to donate $18M to DNC

March 23, 2020

Michael Bloomberg has promised to transfer $18 million from his presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee—boosting the party’s operations instead of forming his own super PAC, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The investment is aimed at strengthening the DNC’s battleground program, which comprises 12 states and is run in coordination with the state party committees According to NBC News, those states include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Virginia.

Bloomberg also has offered to transfer the ownership of many of his field offices to state party committees, according to a Democratiic official, who said that the former New York City mayor’s contributions would help speed up their hiring for positions in organizing, data and operations.

The multimillion-dollar boost to the party’s field organizing program could serve as a major asset to the Democratic nominee, the Journal says. Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the delegate count and has struggled to amass a large campaign war chest. Senator Bernie Sanders is still in the race, but Biden’s campaign is preparing to build out a larger staff for the general election while grappling with the new realities of campaigning during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump’s team has built a large campaign organization and is planning an extensive operation of field organizers and digital outreach to voters. Trump and the Republican National Committee had more than $225 million in the bank at the end of February.

Since he exited the race, Bloomberg’s advisers had been working on a way to absorb his campaign operations into an outside entity that would boost Biden. He said in the statement Friday they had ultimately decided to change course.

“While we considered creating our own independent entity to support the nominee and hold the President accountable, this race is too important to have many competing groups with good intentions but that are not coordinated and united in strategy and execution,” Bloomberg wrote in a memo to DNC Chairman Tom Perez that was made public Friday.

“The dynamics of the race have also fundamentally changed, and it is critically important that we all do everything we can to support our eventual nominee and scale the Democratic Party’s general-election efforts,” the former New York City mayor said.

Indeed, Bloomberg’s contribution to the DNC will be the largest transfer from a presidential campaign in recent history, the Journal notes.

“With this transfer from the Bloomberg campaign, Mayor Bloomberg and his team are making good on their commitment to beating Donald Trump,” Perez said in a statement. “This will help us invest in more organizers across the country to elect the next president and help Democrats win up and down the ballot.

Research contact: @WSJ

Biden sweeps Tuesday’s primaries as voters defy coronavirus fears

March 19, 2020

It may have been, literally, a death-defying act but—in defiance of the coronavirus threat—many Americans in three states made it out to the polls on March 17 to vote in the Democratic primary race.

Joe Biden won all three primaries held Tuesday on a day filled with anxious voting, building a lead in the Democratic presidential nomination race that appears increasingly difficult for Bernie Sanders to overcome, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The two-man race lurched forward against the major disruptions triggered by COVID-19, as the first balloting was held—in Florida, Illinois and Arizona—since the crisis engulfed the nation.

As of Wednesday morning, the former vice president had 52.8% of the delegates allocated so far and 57.6% of the number needed to win the nomination:

  • In Florida, a critical battleground state in the general election, the former vice president won nearly three times as many votes as the Vermont senator and carried all 67 counties.
  • With 99% of Illinois precincts reporting, Biden had garnered 59.1% of the vote versus 36.1% for Sanders.
  • In Arizona, with 88% of the vote in, the former vice president had won 43.6% against his rival’s 31.6%.

Ohio had been expected to hold a primary on Tuesday, but it joined a growing list of states that have delayed their contests until May or June in hopes the coronavirus situation will improve.

The latest large victories for Biden are likely to place more pressure on Sanders to exit from the race so the party can focus on President Trump. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on March 15 found that Biden was favored nationally, 61% to 32%, among those who have already voted in the Democratic primary or planned to do so.

Speaking from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said his campaign is moving toward winning the nomination as he reached out to his rival’s supporters. He delivered his address via a live stream to avoid gathering supporters during the pandemic.

“We’ve moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, and we’re doing it by building a broad coalition,” he said, according to the Journal.

In an effort to close ranks against President Donald Trump in the Demoratic Party, Biden said he and Sanders “may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision” on issues such as health care, wealth inequality and climate change. He told young voters inspired by Sanders, “I hear you, I know what’s at stake.”

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee noted Tuesday night that the president had secured enough delegates through the GOP primaries to become the party’s “presumptive nominee” for president.

“Nobody motivates our base more than President Trump, as evidenced by the historic turnout we’ve seen in state after state this primary season,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Fueled by both our longtime supporters and the thousands of new voters that continue to join our movement, we are united and enthusiasm is on our side.”

In a statement released late Tuesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called for states with upcoming primaries and caucuses to use vote by mail and other alternatives to casting ballots in person, the Journal reported.

“What happened in Ohio last night has only bred more chaos and confusion,” he said, adding that states should focus on figuring out how to make voting easier and safer as opposed to postponing primaries “when timing around the virus remains unpredictable.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Poll: Nearly 61% of Democratic voters support Biden, while 32% prefer Sanders

March 17, 2020

“Sleepy Joe” has woken up and energized Democratic presidential primary voters nationwide. They now overwhelmingly back Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders—a dramatic reversal in their standings of just one month ago, the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.

Among those who have already voted or plan to do so, 61% support the former vice president, while 32% would prefer the Vermont senator as their party’s nominee.

The standings in the poll—conducted between March 11 and March 13—are a major change from mid-February, when the survey showed Sanders backed by 27% of Democratic primary voters and Biden favored by just 15%.

At the time, Sanders stood alone as the party’s front-runner, while Biden was among four candidates essentially tied for second place. But the former vice president’s fortunes changed significantly following his win in South Carolina’s February 29 primary,and dominance in a string of field-narrowing primaries since then, the Journal says..

The share of Democratic primary voters who say they have definitely settled on a candidate has skyrocketed in the past month, from 37% to 80%, giving. Sanders little room for growth beyond his current base.

Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic, which has altered many aspects of the campaign, is making it harder for Sanders to break through with his message. It has also eliminated the large rallies that provide much of the fuel for his campaign, the news outlet notes.

“Bernie Sanders is on a cement trampoline—not a lot of bounce,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who worked on the survey with Jeff Horwitt, also a Democrat, and Republican Bill McInturff.

“The race is sort of locked into place,” said. McInturff. “This is very clear, definitive data about the status of this race and the things Bernie Sanders was unable to do to create a coalition.”

Looking to the general election, Biden led Trump in the new survey by 9 percentage points (52% to 43%) in a test match-up, while Mr. Sanders led by 4 points (49% to 45). Both margins were essentially unchanged from February.

Research contact: @WSJ

‘Strand’-ed: The latest must-have accessory for men is … a pearl necklace

March 16, 2020

Harry Styles—the British vocalist, former One Direction member, part-time actor, and occasional escort of Kendall Jenner—has added a new unofficial gig to his résumé, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The fashion-forward Styles now is styling himself in a piece of jewelry heretofore only coveted by ladies who lunch. In recent months, he’s rarely been seen in public without a single strand of delicate white pearls dangling from his neck.

Indeed, the Journal chronicles, he has worn them on “The Graham Norton Show,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “BBC Radio 1” and at the Brit Awards, among other outlets.

And the shaggy-haired star is not the only notable who appears to have raided Nana’s jewelry box. Milky pearl necklaces have swayed around the necks of rapper A$AP Rocky, designer-cum-Instagram-influencer Marc Jacobs, pop star Shawn Mendes, and songster  Pharrell Williams.

For attention-seeking men, explained Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant professor of Fashion Design-Menswear specialist at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, pearls serve as a strategic substitute for the now-ubiquitous gold chain: “If you were to put a gold chain around your neck, no one would be talking about you, because it’s been done a thousand times,” Blackman told the Journal, adding, “A gold chain says ‘mundane,’ but a rope of prim pearls on a man? That’s beguiling.”

As phenomena go, the masc-pearl mystique is relatively new. While the coveted orbs have signified wealth and taste on women for centuries, they’ve only rarely distinguished men—mostly Asian or European royals with particularly glittery tastes, the news outlet notes.

ghteenth-century Indian Maharajas draped themselves in mounds of frosty pearls, and that tradition has trickled down: When Blackman attended a wedding in India around 15 years ago, men in the bridal party were drenched in multiple strands.

Meanwhile, in the West, the “man-pearl” has appeared only infrequently—and very discreetly—in the past few decades. On a 2005 cover of Italian Vanity Fair, Pierce Brosnan smoldered with a solitary brownish pearl slung on a cord around his neck.

As for the men’s white pearl necklace, Williams was an early adopter, arriving so adorned at the Time 100 Gala in 2014. This past year the look popped: Male models on runways for brands like Ryan Roche and Palomo Spain donned strands, while an ad for a current collaboration between Comme des Garçons and Japanese pearl specialists Mikimoto shows a man in a traditional suit with a string of delicate pearls perched on his tie. In the March issue of WSJ. Magazine, A$AP Rocky posed with a rope of pearls from that collaboration atop a white T-shirt.

Pearls for men are part of a larger trend, catalyzed by fashion labels like Gucci and Givenchy, that injects classically feminine ideas into the male wardrobe. “The pearl is the quintessential feminine accessory,” said Chris Green, the general merchandise manager at retailers Totokaelo and Need Supply Co. in New York City, who, the Journal says, has worn pearls for several years now. When used to accessorize a modest, masculine outfit—say, the T-shirt and plaid coat that Harry Styles sported in London in December—pearls add a potent, even disorienting, daintiness that’s macho in its audaciousness.

The relative affordability of pearls bolsters their relative popularity.  Etsy, the online marketplace, lists over 61,000 results for “vintage pearl necklace” with some selling for under $100, and costume pieces going for even less. But, if that still seems too steep for a risky trend, you can always borrow a set from grandma.

Research contact: @WSJ

Corporate America races to respond to a crisis that routs the usual 9-5 routine

March 11, 2020

Employers are implementing contingency plans—from dividing teams across locations, to limiting visitors, to allowing employees to telecommute—as the spread of the novel coronavirus is starting to topple basic expectations about the safety and sustainability of office-based work, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The moves, designed to minimize disruption to businesses while protecting workers, range from advising colleagues to stand at least six feet apart, to requiring that people register their personal travel plans with their employers. While some companies have done emergency planning, the virus’s breadth and speed are posing challenges still hard to anticipate, executives said.

On Monday, the Journal notes, Bank of America began splitting up some employees on its Equities and Fixed-Income teams between New York and Connecticut—creating redundancies, so that if an employee gets sick and a whole team has to self-quarantine, a backup team can keep functioning in its place. More than 100 employees will work from Connecticut, while the majority will remain in New York.

Microsoft has instructed thousands of its workers in Seattle and the Bay Area area to work from home if they are able, and recommended that employees still needed in open office spaces stay six feet away from others. The company also asked its staff to try to limit prolonged interaction with other people.

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a company email, encouraging staff in California and areas around the world with a high concentration of infections to work from home if possible over the coming week. The note represented an escalation in the company’s caution to staff. It last week had encouraged its 25,000 workers across Silicon Valley to work from home.

Meanwhile, the news outlet reports, Harvard informed students this week that they should not return from Spring Break; all classes will be held online. In addition, several colleges, including Texas A&M and MIT, have started asking employees and students to register their personal travel plans, so that administrators can keep track as coronavirus spreads—and MIT says, “Classes with more than 150 students will begin meeting virtually [this week]…; numerous MIT events have been postponed or modified.”

Stripe a San Francisco-area financial-technology company, has switched to videoconferencing for job interviews in place of on-site meetings. Becton Dickinson ,a medical-supplies company based in New Jersey, told employees to limit client meetings off-site.

Facebook, which on Thursday recommended that thousands of its employees in the San Francisco-area start working from home, is further encouraging people to stay away from the campus by canceling shuttle-bus operations for the coming week.

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase last week asked several types of workers—including people with compromised immune systems, those who are “at risk because of age,” or people for whom getting sick would be especially problematic—to start working from home, according to Philip Martin, the company’s chief information security officer. He estimates that 200 out of 1,000 employees globally fell into groups that Coinbase asked to work remotely, including single parents and pregnant employees. The company on Friday suggested all employees begin working from home if they can starting this week.

However, The Wall Street Journal notes, working from home doesn’t work for swaths of the employee universe, from food-service and hotel staffers to nurses. Nearly four in 10 workers in the United States (or 37%) say it isn’t possible at all for them to do their job by working from home for a period of several weeks, according to a new Wall Street Journal/SurveyMonkey poll.

Companies say they are looking to federal and local authorities for guidance, but they are also closely watching how their peers respond, often not wanting to be first to implement a drastic protocol, said Lars Schmidt, the founder of Amplify, an HR consulting and executive-search firm.

“There’s a bit of a cascading impact,” he said. “Companies are holding out to see what others are doing.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Federal judge challenges Barr’s interpretation and oversight of Mueller report

March 9, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday, March 5, accused Attorney General Bill Barr of a lack of candor and questioned his credibility in his handling of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed to the bench in 2001 by President George W. Bush, posed questions about Barr’s interpretation and treatment of the report in a ruling on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that sought to obtain the redacted portions of the report.

According to the Journal, the judge noted in his ruling that there may be reason to believe that Barr, in summarizing the report weeks before a redacted version was released to the public, intended “to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report—a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report.”

Judge Walton went on to say that he would review the full Mueller report, including the material not publicly released, to give Americans confidence that the Justice Department’s redactions were made for good cause. The decision opens the door to additional parts of the Mueller report being unredacted and made public.

The judge’s ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by BuzzFeed journalist Jason Leopold and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a group that advocates on civil liberties and privacy issues. Both sought access to the special counsel report under the act, which provides for public access to government information.

Much of the 448-page report was released to the public in April 2019, although several categories of information were redacted.

Democrats in Congress have been seeking access to the fuller report, as have journalists and transparency activists, the Journal stated.

Judge Walton criticized the way in which the attorney general had rolled out the report. Barr issued a letter that critics say inaccurately summarized the central findings of the report in the weeks between when it was wrapped up and when it was made available to the public in redacted form.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Wall Street Journal. The department has previously defended its handling of the release of the report, saying it contained substantial amounts of information that required redaction.

The report, which investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, found extensive efforts by Moscow to boost the candidacy of Donald Trump but didn’t find collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. It also investigated whether President Trump obstructed the investigation.

On the obstruction issue, Barr’s letter said the special counsel investigation failed to establish that President Trump was involved in a crime. Mueller wrote in his report that he didn’t reach a conclusion one way or another, leaving it to Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to decide no crime had been committed.

Mueller later complained in a letter to the attorney general that the summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

The judge said there were “inconsistencies” in the attorney general’s statements that required him to apply additional judicial scrutiny to the request from journalists and activists to possibly unredact more of the report.

Research contact: @WSJ

Ring of truth: House Intel report reveals Giuliani, Nunes, and White House call records

December 5, 2019

Call records obtained by impeachment investigators have given them new ammo against President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—including details on his interactions with the White House, several Ukraine associates; and Representative Devin Nunes (R-California), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, The Wall Street Journal reported on December 3.

The records of those calls were included in a draft report by the House Intelligence Committee released Tuesday. The panel alleged that Trump had abused his office for personal and political gain by pressuring Ukraine for dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter—with the help of the Giuliani.

According to the Journal,” the phone records suggest Giuliani’s deep involvement in several key episodes that have become a focus of the impeachment probe.” The frequent contacts between Nunes and two figures at the center of the inquiry—Giuliani and one of his indicted associates—are viewed as highly unusual and are likely to redouble calls from Democrats for Nunes to face an ethics inquiry.

A lawyer for the Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, said his client’s conversations with Nunes in April were focused on corruption investigations in Ukraine. However, by that point, Parnas had for months been helping Giuliani push Ukraine to investigate Biden and alleged interference by Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election—the effort that set off the impeachment inquiry.

A spokesman for Nunes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Tuesday that the phone records showed “considerable coordination” among the parties under investigation, including the White House. The records only show the timing and length of calls placed and don’t include their content.

The phone records show that on April 24, the day that Marie Yovanovitch, then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was recalled to Washington, Giuliani spoke at least eight times with a White House phone number. He already has acknowledged pressing the president to remove Yovanovitch from her post, and Trump subsequently ordered her to be recalled, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Giuliani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the news outlet. He and the president have denied any wrongdoing.

Research contact: @WSJ