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Italians 3D-print key ventilator piece for just $1 to help battle coronavirus — so medical company threatens to sue them

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After two Italian volunteers used a 3-D printer to manufacture a desperately needed ventilator component for those stricken by the coronavirus, the medical company with the patent for the device threatened to sue—even as the printed valves saved at least 10 people’s lives in a hospital in the northern Italian city of Brescia.

“There were people whose lives were in danger, and we acted,” Cristian Fracassi, who along with fellow volunteer Alessandro Ramaioli made the valves, said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Period.”

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Fracassi and Ramaioli, who work at 3-D printing startup Isinnova, were asked by physicist Massimo Temporelli to assist with producing the valves for only $1 after supplies from the source medical company were not forthcoming. The company, which charges $11,000 a piece for the devices, did not share the technical specifications for producing the valve—leading the volunteers to measure the valves and print from those numbers—and has threatened to sue for patent infringement.

TechDirt‘s Glyn Moody noted on Tuesday that the greed at the heart of the threat to sue was staggering and indicative of the deeper problems in the world economic system laid bare by the coronavirus outbreak:

This is a perfect example of how granting an intellectual monopoly in the form of a patent allows almost arbitrarily high prices to be charged, and quite legally. That would be bad enough in any situation, but when lives are at stake, and Italian hospitals struggle to buy even basic equipment like face masks, demanding such a sum is even worse. And when a pandemic is raging out of control, for a company to threaten those selflessly trying to save lives in this way is completely beyond the pale.

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As Metro UK reported, Fracassi and Ramaioli are still hard at work manufacturing as many devices as they can:

The valves he produced worked on 10 patients at the overstretched hospital, and the engineer is in the process of creating 100 more. But Fracassi says he is not sure how long the they will last or whether they are reusable, as it is possible sterilisation may damage them.

His team are testing out three different designs after failing to secure the original blueprints. The country is grappling with a medical equipment shortage as the number of coronavirus cases continue to surge and 3D printing could off a solution to broken supply chains.

Observers were unimpressed with the medical company’s threats in the face of the pandemic, which has already killed 2,503 people in Italy.

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“On the face of it, this seems a pretty clear cut case of pure evil,” tweeted Australian political cartoonist Jon Kudelka.


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A whopping 14 percent of new US COVID-19 cases are coming from Texas

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With the daily number of new coronavirus infections in Texas now exceeding that of most other states, experts say Texas has become a hot spot of the global pandemic and that more aggressive measures are needed to slow the virus’ spread.

Texas’ new confirmed cases of the coronavirus now make up around 14% of the U.S. total — measured by a seven-day average — a significantly higher proportion than its 9% share of the nation’s population. Since July 1, the U.S. has reported 358,027 new infections. Of those, 50,599 were in Texas.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported more than 10,000 new cases — representing nearly 20% of the nation’s new cases for the day. It could be a “catch-up” from the July 4 holiday, DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen said, noting that numbers reported Sunday and Monday were lower.

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Devastating new ad uses Ronald Reagan’s words against Trump to stunning effect

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The Lincoln Project is not the only right-wing group that has been creating attack ads slamming President Donald Trump. Another is Republican Voters Against Trump, which uses the words of President Ronald Reagan in its latest video to illustrate Trump’s failures as president.

In the ad — which lasts one minute and 40 seconds — RVAT contrast Reagan’s words with images of the U.S. during the Trump era. The message is not subtle: Under Trump, the United States is a long way from Reagan’s vision for the country.

The ad isn’t aimed at liberals and progressives, many of whom would argue that Reagan’s economic policies were bad for the American working class during the 1980s. It asks Republicans: “Has your party left you?”

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The sheep-like loyalty of Trump supporters is starting to backfire

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Donald Trump thinks his voters are morons. This universal truth was once again demonstrated this week by a Facebook ad working Trump’s new statue-oriented campaign strategy. The ad declared, “WE WILL PROTECT THIS” and featured a photo of … no, not some racist-loser Confederate general astride a horse but “Cristo Redentor,” the famous statue of Jesus Christ that sits atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, which, for those keeping track, is not in the United States but in Brazil, a sovereign nation in a different continent.

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