Virulant Friday Reads: Get Ready for the Next WavePosted: November 26, 2021
Happy Avoiding Black Friday Day!
I spent Thanksgiving with my neighbors, which is so lovely on many levels. It really felt like the first typical holiday for me in a few years. The last one was the Mardi Gras, where I woke up with something that made me highly ill for weeks. I was really hoping to make it to Seattle, but I’m still afraid of crazies on planes and the maskless roaming airports. Now, I’m delighted I just zoomed the grandbabies and enjoyed the bags of groceries my daughter sent me so I could do my own family-style Thanksgiving at home. The Dow has fallen this morning, and countries are racing to end flight contact with South Africa. There’s a new Covid-19 variant. This is the headline from WAPO: “Announcement of new virus variant alarms world, crashing stocks and banning flights.”
A new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant, with an unusual number of mutations, had scientists sounding the alarm, countries moving to impose travel bans and financial markets tumbling on Friday, as the world feared another setback on the long road out of the pandemic.
Major questions remain about the variant’s transmissibility, whether it might make people sicker and whether it might be able to evade vaccines, but Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to Britain’s Health and Security Agency, warned that the new variant found in southern Africa is the “most worrying we’ve seen.”
The variant, known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in Botswana, but scientists in South Africa convened a news conference Thursday and said they had linked it to an exponential rise of infections in their country. Cases have also been identified in Hong Kong and Belgium.
By the next morning, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged about 800 points or 2.2 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 1.5 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index was off 1.1 percent. Crude oil prices tumbled as well.
France, Britain, Japan and Israel began to ban or order quarantines for air passengers arriving from the southern African region. The European Union is also expected to also propose a ban on air travel arriving from southern Africa.
“Our view is very clear,” Dana Spinant, deputy chief spokeswoman for the European Commission, said at a news conference Friday. “We need to act very fast, we need to be vigilant, and we need to take all measures that are appropriate at this stage to prevent this virus from entering Europe.”
Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, said banning flights to the United States from southern Africa is a “possibility,” but that a decision has not been made yet.
I keep telling all my Mardi Gras-loving friends not to get overly excited about the possibility of parades again. This thing is not through with us yet. It should be called the Trump Virus by now. Reuters reports on Dr. Fauci’s comments.
“There is always the possibility of doing what the UK has done, namely block travel from South Africa and related countries,” Fauci said in an interview on CNN.
“That’s certainly something you think about and get prepared to do. You’re prepared to do everything you need to protect the American public. But you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that,” he said.
“Obviously as soon as we find out more information we’ll make a decision as quickly as we possibly can.”
Fauci said U.S. scientists would speak with South African counterparts on Friday about the new variant, called B.1.1.529, which has raised concern about its transmissibility and whether it might evade immune responses.
He added that there was no indication that the new variant was already in the United States.
Here we go again! Our healthcare continues to be threatened by right-wing Trumperz and Trumperz clones.
From the NYT: “Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies. Doctors in Texas say they cannot head off life-threatening medical crises in pregnant women if abortions cannot be offered or even discussed.” I am so glad my daughters have moved to states that let medical science rather than superstition abide.
A few weeks after Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, Dr. Andrea Palmer delivered terrible news to a Fort Worth patient who was midway through her pregnancy.
The fetus had a rare neural tube defect. The brain would not develop, and the infant would die at birth or shortly afterward. Carrying the pregnancy to term would be emotionally grueling and would also raise the mother’s risk of blood clots and severe postpartum bleeding, the doctor warned.
But the patient was past six weeks’ gestation, and under the new law, an abortion was not an option in Texas because the woman was not immediately facing a life-threatening medical crisis or risk of permanent disability.
“So we look at them like a ticking time bomb and wait for the complications to develop,” Dr. Palmer said of her patients.
In this case, the woman had the means to travel, and she obtained an abortion in another state, an option unavailable to many low-income and working class women.
Texas’ new measure was intended to impose stringent limits on abortion. But it is also affecting women who have no desire for termination but are experiencing medically risky pregnancies. Many doctors say they are unable to discuss the procedure as an option until the patient’s condition deteriorates and her life is at risk.
Abortion is permitted in Texas after six weeks only when a woman is facing a life-threatening or disabling medical emergency linked to her pregnancy. The law makes no exceptions for nonviable pregnancies in which the fetus has no chance of survival.
Even crazier are these calls to action by the QAnon Queen of Canada reported in VIce. “QAnon’s ‘Queen of Canada’ Calls for Followers to ‘Kill’ People Vaccinating Children. QAnon influencer Romana Didulo told her 70,000 followers that “duck-hunting season is open” and by ducks, she means healthcare workers, politicians, and journalists.” Vigilantism is sure en vogue with these dangerous nutters. Oh, Canada!
Earlier this week, the so-called QAnon Queen of Canada opened up “duck-hunting” season in the Great White North.
Now, to be clear, we aren’t talking about hunters in hip waders going after our fine-feathered friends with a loyal hound by their side. These “duck hunters” are “soldiers” of Roman Didulo—a Canadian woman who has convinced thousands of QAnon adherents that she’s the secret ruler of Canada—targeting health care workers administering COVID-19 vaccines to children, politicians, journalists, and others who make up the cabal at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy.
In a post on Sunday to her over 70,000 followers on Telegram, Didulo issued an order to the soldiers of her “Kingdom of Canada’s Military.” She demanded the mass arrests of those they consider opposition, and wanted her soldiers to take control of newspapers and seize the border.
“Shoot to kill anyone who tries to inject Children under the age of 19 years old with Coronavirus19 vaccines/ bioweapons or any other Vaccines,” she wrote. “This order is effective immediately.”
A follow-up post on Tuesday changed the wording from “shoot to kill” to “arrest.”
“Please, use airports, hospitals, schools, stadiums, and other public venues to hold and detain all traitors,” the post said. “They will stay there until Military Tribunal is held for each one of them until the day they are executed via firing squad or hanging.”
Here are two articles to read.
As Ian Bassin, executive director of Protect Democracy, put it: “The United States just allowed an autocratic person to ascend to the presidency, to serve in it for four years and to very nearly extend that term. The big question is: how did that happen, what went wrong there?”
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, expressed a similar thought in Slate: “Our voting system is fundamentally broken,” she wrote. “The future of our country unequivocally depends on our ability to reform it.”
This Op-Ed byMSNBC Opinion Columnist–is provocative because we really have not faced these threats head-on.
There are a lot of different ways that democracies can fail. Some collapse under the weight of political leaders who assume authoritarian control, arrest opponents, or refuse to allow new elections to take place. Others suffer at the hands of citizens who support political violence, dehumanize other political parties as “evil,” or call for civil war. Still others struggle with voter suppression and intimidation efforts, weakened trust in institutions, and falling political participation.
The U.S. is facing all these problems, and more. We are witnessing challenges to the integrity of elections, rooted in disinformation spread by our own elected officials and in widespread conspiracies that circulate online. A third of election poll workers reported feeling unsafe this year, after an “unprecedented” number of them received threats. The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came at the hands of thousands of ordinary citizens who aimed to disrupt the democratic certification of the presidential election and prevent President Joe Biden from taking office.
We also face rising harassment and violence from extremist groups, citizen vigilantes, and unlawful militias who threaten minority groups, disrupt our freedom of assembly and demonstration with shows of violent force, and violate civil rights like the right to “public accommodations,” as recent court rulings have shown. We have seen repeated violent attacks, harassment, and even death threats directed at front-line workers and public officials, including school board members, health care workers, teachers, flight attendants, and restaurant hostesses.
The U.S. isn’t the only democracy that is eroding. Democratic stability is backsliding across the globe, as nations suffer from compromised elections, dismantled checks on government, challenges to a free media, and reductions of minority protections. But there is a particular urgency in the U.S. warning signs, not least because we are a nation of citizens who are now armed at previously unimaginable levels. This year is on track to be the second-highest year of firearm sales in history, following a “record shattering” year in 2020, in which 21 million background checks for firearms sales took place — far above the average of about 8.6 million annual checks.
Luckily, just because a democracy is in crisis does not mean it will collapse. On average, it takes about a decade from the onset of democratic backsliding to end in either democratic breakdown or recovery. But we are long overdue for a course correction.
We are facing back-sliding on so many civil liberties issues that I am astounded daily. Will SCOTUS overturn Roe v. Wade? Will we be able to correct the inequities that its decision on the Voting Rights Act caused? How do we deal with vigilantism; especially in communities where the police encourage it! Can we get some criminal justice reform? Haven’t we all seen enough to know how necessary it is?
These are all eyes-on-the-prize questions to me. What are yours?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?