Finally Friday Reads: Mask up! Vax up!

A cartoon from a Dec. 6, 1918, issue of the Fort Wayne Sentinel.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Well, this is another fine mess that Republicans have gotten us into!  I watched coverage of a meeting of the St Louis County Council meeting with horror.  It was filled with women with that Clairol FoxNewsBlonde look and screaming red-faced old men.  It was about the recently reinstated mask mandate that the Council threw out over the objections of its Public Health Officials and the screaming, taunting, racist screams of the previously mentioned burbie nutterz.

This was after I finished a zoom chat with the Drs and my new granddaughters. I’ve been trying to tell myself that kids used to go West in this country and it took months for the Pony Express to get letters between there and New Orleans so this is better than that.  But, then I remember this doesn’t have to be this way. It’s those shrieking whackos that are killing people and preventing us from having normal lives.  They’re also killing us with misinformation so the reticent become more firmly afraid of the vaccine.

This is from NBC: “St. Louis County health director says he was called racist slurs during mask order meeting. “Public health is not the enemy. We don’t deserve to be targeted,” said Faisal Khan, the acting health director.”  If you do watch the video, notice that you’re likely witnessing a superspreader event worthy of Trumperz rallies.

St. Louis County’s acting health director said he was humiliated, attacked and called racist slurs during a council meeting on a newly reinstated mask mandate.

The director, Faisal Khan, was asked to present at Tuesday’s public meeting as council members considered terminating a mandate that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page put in place to slow the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.

Khan said in a phone interview on Thursday that the crowd was rowdy before the meeting even began because some of them had attended a political rally held outside the venue.

“The anger was already palpable,” he told NBC News. “By the time I was asked to come to the podium, the train had left the station and it was only going to go one way.”

Khan detailed what happened at the meeting in a letter to Council Chairwoman Rita Days, who was in attendance.

“My time before the Council began with a dog-whistle question from Councilman Tim Fitch, who said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country,” he wrote in the letter.

Khan, who said he became a U.S. citizen in 2013, wrote that Fitch should have known most of the people in the crowd were “from the ‘MAGA’ movement” because they kept chanting “Trump 2024.”

Khan wrote in his letter that during the meeting Fitch’s friend Mark McCloskey posted on social media that mask mandates are “un-American.” Khan told Days that he believes Fitch and McCloskey’s actions were an attempt to “stoke xenophobia against me.”

June 28,2020. Notice who has a mask on?

You may remember Mark McCloskey from his previous racist attack where he waved a semi-automatic rifle with his wife at a Peaceful Black Lives Matters Marches.  His wife wears that same shade of Clairol FoxNewsBlonde. Well, they got to speak at the RNC and now they’re back spreading the racism as freely as possible while threatening public health officials.

The NBC article above notes that the same level of threats aimed at folks working elections is now aimed at public health officials.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, public health officials have been targeted and attacked. This week, prosecutors in Maryland announced a man had been arrested and charged in federal court with sending emails that threatened to harm and kill Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and their families.

Khan said he believes they have been used as pawns for what some people have turned into a political battle.

“We’ve received so many threats, of all kinds, it is jarring. Public health is not the enemy. We don’t deserve to be targeted,” he said. “We are in the midst of the worst public health crisis to hit the world in 100 years. We should not be worried about our own safety in deliberative sessions with legislative officials. That really is a sad reflection of society in the United States.”

Khan said he wrote his letter with the hopes that it “would jolt members of the Council into realizing that orchestrating hostile meetings and firing up the crowd doesn’t really serve any purpose.” He has asked Days to investigate what happened at Tuesday’s meeting and to enforce measures so it does not happen again.

Today’s WaPo had an excellent article citing internal CDC data on the Delta variants and the threat this variant and others pose to our health.  It is also interesting to note that Europe and the UK are doing far better containing the pandemic than we are at this point. This is the headline: “‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe. The internal presentation shows that the agency thinks it is struggling to communicate on vaccine efficacy amid increased breakthrough infections”

The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal federal health document that argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.”

The document is an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide presentation, shared within the CDC and obtained by The Washington Post. It captures the struggle of the nation’s top public health agency to persuade the public to embrace vaccination and prevention measures, including mask-wearing, as cases surge across the United States and new research suggests vaccinated people can spread the virus.

The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.

The article really is the must-read today.  You can read about the CDC and its problems with communicating the situation. You can also read about the belief that the Delta Variant is likely to be more deadly which has not been widely communicated.  The article emphasizes that Delta is as contagious as chickenpox.

There is more about this in today’s NYT: “C.D.C. Internal Report Calls Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox.  Infections in vaccinated Americans are rare, compared with those in unvaccinated people, the document said. But when they occur, vaccinated people may spread the virus just as easily.”  So, we all need to mask up again.

The Delta variant is much more contagious, more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines and may cause more severe disease than all other known versions of the virus, according to an internal presentation circulated within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the agency, acknowledged on Tuesday that vaccinated people with so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant carry just as much virus in the nose and throat as unvaccinated people, and may spread it just as readily, if less often.

But the internal document lays out a broader and even grimmer view of the variant.

The Delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, and it is as contagious as chickenpox, according to the document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

Many businesses want to remain open while protecting workers and others.  Here are some other things you may want to read.

ABC News:
CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak

Associated Press:
Ravages of COVID surge evident inside Missouri hospital

CNN:
‘I am furious with myself’: Unvaccinated Covid patient describes the exhausting illness

Michael Paulson / New York Times:
Broadway Audiences Will Need Proof of Vaccination and Masks

I decided to basically still stay home and not go indoors anywhere unnecessary when I started seeing people pour into New Orleans for Independence Day. The clusterfuck of people driving cars with license plates from the surrounding plague rat states pretty much disturbed me to the point of it.  I had thought that May and June’s forays to the hospital would likely be my last mask-wearing adventure. This week, I washed all my cloth masks and now will actually use the double-up method. They’ve started canceling events here. Frankly, I don’t know when I’ll feel like going into a restaurant, let alone a bar. I’m still trying to time my visits to the corner stores carefully and have committed myself to order groceries and get them delivered to the kitchen door.  I’m glad I still can teach university online because there’s no intention here to mandate masking or vaccines at public universities.  I still enjoy walking Temple maskless though.  That’s my one big three times a day outing.

So, what are your plans?  Granted, I live in Louisiana where the wipipo are basically plague rats and Petri dishes. I shudder at what I could bring up to Seattle and my family including my sister and her husband who have had various medical problems recently.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Caturday Reads: Lots of News and Bookstore Cats

Kat's Book Nook, Bemidji, MN

Kat’s Book Nook, Bemidji, MN

Good Morning!!

Today is a pretty busy news day for a Saturday. The building collapse in Florida is looking worse the more we learn about it. The Delta variant is still in the news and looking more dangerous by the day. Trump will begin holding his revenge rallies tonight in Ohio and then continue his pity party in Florida over the Fourth of July Weekend. The Trump Organization may be criminally charged in New York next week. But the scariest news was broken last night in The New York Times by Trump whisperers Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman: Trump Aides Prepared Insurrection Act Order During Debate Over Protests

Responding to interest from President Donald J. Trump, White House aides drafted a proclamation last year to invoke the Insurrection Act in case Mr. Trump moved to take the extraordinary step of deploying active-duty troops in Washington to quell the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd, two senior Trump administration officials said.

The aides drafted the proclamation on June 1, 2020, during a heated debate inside the administration over how to respond to the protests. Mr. Trump, enraged by the demonstrations, had told the attorney general, William P. Barr, the defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, that he wanted thousands of active-duty troops on the streets of the nation’s capital, one of the officials said.

Mr. Trump was talked out of the plan by the three officials. But a separate group of White House staff members wanted to leave open the option for Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to call in the military to patrol the streets of the capital.

They decided it would be prudent to have the necessary document vetted and ready in case the unrest in Washington worsened or the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, declined to take measures such as a citywide curfew, which she ultimately put in place….

the new details about internal White House deliberations on a pivotal day in his presidency underscore the intensity of Mr. Trump’s instinct to call on the active-duty military to deal with a domestic issue. And they help to flesh out the sequence of events that would culminate later in the day with Mr. Trump’s walk across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church so he could pose in front of it holding a Bible, a move that coincided with a spasm of violence between law enforcement and protesters camped near the White House.

Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy, Austin, TX

Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy, Austin, TX

More details from the story:

…invoking the Insurrection Act, a rarely used authority allowing presidents to use active duty military for law-enforcement purposes, would have been a dramatic escalation. The act has only been invoked twice in the past 40 years — once to quell unrest after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and once during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

“We look weak,” Mr. Trump said, according to one of the officials. He complained about having been taken to the bunker below the White House on the night of May 29 when the barricade outside the Treasury Department was pierced. The New York Times had reported the bunker visit a day earlier, infuriating Mr. Trump….

Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Barr, Mr. Esper and Mr. Milley was marked by his rage at being embarrassed on the world stage, according to two of the officials.

Mr. Trump grudgingly went along with their counsel not to deploy active-duty troops, according to the officials. Immediately after the meeting, Mr. Trump joined a call with governors around the country, some of whom were seeing protests increase in their states. Mr. Trump urged them to “dominate” the protesters, as he said the National Guard in Minnesota had.

Mr. Esper told associates that he was so concerned that Mr. Trump would deploy active-duty troops that he echoed the need for them to get control of their states, hoping he could encourage governors to deploy the National Guard to head off federal action. Using Pentagon terminology that he later told associates he regretted, Mr. Esper told the governors to “dominate the battle space,” a sentiment stemming from concern about Mr. Trump’s intentions.

On the upcoming Trump rallies, Asawin Suebsaeng writes at The Daily Beast: Trump’s Underlying Rally Message Is Clear: Fear Me.

Early this month, as Donald Trump delivered his keynote address to the North Carolina Republican Party’s annual convention, the former U.S. president noticed something: His greatest crowd-pleaser of the night didn’t come when he attacked President Joe Biden, trashed Dr. Anthony Fauci, or repeated his lies about the 2020 election being stolen from him. It came when he railed against critical race theory, declaring that it should be banned from being taught to schoolchildren and government staff….

otis-clementines-books-coffee Halifax, Nova Scotia where you can adopt a kitten

Clementine’s Books and Coffee, Halifax, Nova Scotia, where you can adopt a kitten

The coming days and months should prove no different, with Trump planning on delivering yet another red-meat-hurling speech on Saturday evening, with plenty of time devoted to dumping accelerant on the flames of the culture wars and asserting his continuedsolidified sway over the GOP.

But his return to the rally circuit also serves another purpose: scaring off potential competition for holding dominant power over the Republican Party, and keeping himself positioned as the 2024 GOP frontrunner.

“In [recent] conversations that I’ve had with him, he has said that he wants to be everywhere to remind people, not just Republicans, that he’s still in charge,” a person close to the former president said, paraphrasing Trump. “The message is a pretty straightforward one: I am still leading this party, and if you want to try to challenge me for that, it will get ugly.”

More details at the link.

The condo collapse in Florida looks to be a horrific tragedy, as rescue workers are found no survivors yesterday. The New York Times: Frustration Mounts in Search for Survivors of Condo Collapse Near Miami.

After an initial two rescues, only bodies had been recovered, three of them overnight. The number of people unaccounted for rose to more than 150 — dozens more than officials had estimated a day earlier — and their families were losing their last threads of hope.

Family members of the missing were asked to provide DNA swabs in case they were needed to identify remains. President Biden said federal mortuary services would be available if needed.

Underneath the parking garage of the exposed building at 8777 Collins Ave., search-and-rescue teams drilled through concrete and inserted probes with cameras to peer through the rubble. Specialized hearing devices alerted them to any sounds that could indicate a person was waiting for help — tapping, scratching, falling debris, twisting metal.

On Thursday, crews briefly heard the voice of a woman trapped somewhere under the wreckage, but it went silent before they could find anyone. On Friday, crews were still using dogs trained to sniff out the scent of a living person; the dogs that come later find cadavers.

From the outside, in the stifling humidity and amid intermittent thunderstorms, little of the tunneling work going on below could be seen. Heavy machinery arrived at the site on Thursday night, but some of the families of the missing wondered why they could not see more action atop the mountain of rubble.

“We’re frustrated because we feel as if they are alive,” said Toby Fried, a family friend of Harry Rosenberg, a man missing from Unit 212. “We offered to bring more manpower — professional searchers. There’s nobody to talk to. We are waiting. We want to help out.”

Jack at Copperfield's, Sonoma County, CA

Jack at Copperfield’s, Sonoma County, CA

More stories on this topic:

The New York Times: Engineer Warned of ‘Major Structural Damage’ at Florida Condo Complex.

The Washington Post: Before condo collapse, rising seas long pressured Miami coastal properties.

Could the Trump Organization really be indicted soon? CNN: Trump Organization could face criminal charges in New York as soon as next week.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has informed lawyers for the Trump Organization that it could face criminal charges in connection with benefits it has provided to company employees, a Trump attorney confirmed Friday.

The charges, which could come as soon as next week, would likely involve allegations of a company effort to avoid paying payroll taxes on compensation it provided to employees, including rent-free apartments, cars and other benefits, a person familiar with the matter said….

Prosecutors are also likely to announce charges against Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization chief financial officer, as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said.

Weisselberg’s lawyers recently informed prosecutors that he would not cooperate in the investigation, the people said, although that could change in the future.

Weisselberg is under scrutiny for benefits he received, including a company-funded apartment and car. Prosecutors are also looking into similar benefits given to Matthew Calamari, the chief operating officer of the company. One source familiar with the matter said it’s possible he could also face charges.

Finally, the Delta variant of Covid-19 is spreading rapidly, and WHO recommends that fully vaccinated people should continue wearing masks to protect against it. CNBC: WHO urges fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks as delta Covid variant spreads.

The World Health Organization on Friday urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, social distance and practice other Covid-19 pandemic safety measures as the highly contagious delta variant spreads rapidly across the globe.

Isabel, Crescent City Books, New Orleans, LA“People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news briefing from the agency’s Geneva headquarters.

“Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Simao added. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”

The health organization’s comments come as some countries, including the United States, have largely done away with masks and pandemic-related restrictions as the Covid vaccines have helped drive down the number of new infections and deaths.