Stay Away Vladimir. The Forgotten Virus. Escobar’s Legacy Lives On.

Global Markets React. The Numbers Are Still Staggering. Hippos. My Takes.

Vladimir Putin has indicated he sees NATO’s expansion as an existential threat, and the prospect of Ukraine joining the Western military alliance a “hostile act.” The situation is complicated and has already spooked global markets, as the prospects of spiking costs of gas, electricity, and oil are highly likely once the Russians clamp down on Ukraine. Energy prices were up 29% annually in December and will continue to rise should a war break out. I obviously have no inner circle of intel, other than my friend, Samir, but I predict the Russians enter Ukraine later this morning, two hours after the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. I hope my prediction is very wrong.

Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, sits 236 miles from the Russian border.

  • For two years, we have focused on viruses. There is no doubt coronaviruses, namely Covid-19, woke up the world with the rate of infection, hospitalizations, and unfortunately over 927,000 people passing away. Pharmaceutical entities around the world went into action to quickly develop, produce, and distribute vaccines way outside of usual regulatory protocols, resulting in millions around the world electing to be vaccinated. The world of modern medicine took action – against a virus and its variants to help people.

I now wonder why another virus, first discovered forty-one years ago, did not have the same sense of urgency from the CDC and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.)? Maybe I am wrong, and that pharmaceutical companies that have so successfully and so quickly brought vaccines to the market to combat Covid-19, at that time did not have the same technologies in place to develop and produce vaccines to help people who are dealing with HIV. Here are staggering facts: “…after 41 years, the W.H.O. reports that 1.5 million more people were infected with HIV in 2020, and nearly half of them died, despite a commitment to end AIDS by 2030. Worldwide, 38 million people have HIV, and about 73% are receiving treatment with antiretroviral drugs.

The ignorant consider discussion around HIV taboo, which is ridiculous considering infection numbers are still staggering. Is there any path to a cure, which is viewed as the only way to end the decades-long HIV pandemic? Possibly, as last week, a woman with HIV who received an umbilical cord blood transplant has become the third person in the world to be cured of the HIV virus. The woman was diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and took antiretroviral drugs to keep her virus levels low. The path to a cure may lie with hematopoietic stem cells, which are used to treat more than seventy types of diseases, including diseases of the immune system, genetic disorders, neurologic disorders, and some forms of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma.

More than 36 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic but there is now some good news: Since 2004, AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 65% with patients receiving treatment with antiretroviral drugs. Hopefully, the hematopoietic stem cell procedure will finally lead to a clear path of a cure. Let us all hope that the great news from last week continues.

  • As if Colombia needs more socio-economic issues: Colombia’s government plans to sign a document declaring hippos an exotic invasive species, according to Environment Minister Carlos Eduardo Correa. This means coming up with a plan for how to control their population, which has reached 130 and is projected hit 400 in eight years if nothing is done as they flourish in Colombia’s rivers. I asked the same question you are now asking: “Why and how are there hippos in the rivers of Colombia?” We can thank drug lord Pablo Escobar, who thought it would be a great idea to bring a few that were imported illegally from Africa in the 1980’s. Nice work Pablo. Why could you not stick to the thing you did so well?
At least they are so good looking…..

A Few Short Takes:

  • It was awesome to see former UGA quarterback Matt Stafford lead his Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory.
  • This could only happen in the state of Florida. The headline: Officer chases woman riding motorized suitcase in Orlando airport. And to reinforce the world of the weird:
The poor police officer.
  • Kanye and Kim – please stop; please go away.
  • With the pending invasion of his country, why did the Ukrainian President decide, of all times, to fly to Munich yesterday? Maybe he knows something we do not?
  • I have had little time and for the first time a lack of interest in watching a great amount of Olympics coverage. I am not alone as NBC’s ratings are down 40%. I guess the main reasons for this ratings slide include the thirteen-hour time difference between Beijing and the U.S. eastern time zone, China’s controversial human rights record, and viewer fatigue due to the short timeframe with the Winter Olympics following last summer’s Olympic Games.
  • I try to be millennial-relevant, so can someone please explain this headline to me?: Call of Duty now lets you destroy cheaters with your own automatic god mode.
  • BA.2 is a new subvariant of Omicron. Please be a variant with little to no severity.
  • The price-earnings ratio, for many years, was the barometer many used to gauge the future success of various business entities. That metric is no longer the case – especially with the technology sector and their start-ups. Many say that we are now in a market that is NOT rewarding non-profitable tech names with long pathways to profitability. At market close on Friday, many tech stocks took a bath, including the once-prospering Roku, whose shares are 77% off their highs from July 27th of last year.
  • I am still not finished with the Ted Lasso series – so well done, and at times so damn funny:
Ted Lasso at his finest.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe and have a Funday Sunday!

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