There's good news and less-good news. Weirdly, it's the very same news.
A major new peer-reviewed study of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine published in the medical journal The Lancet yesterday has some really good news, and some other news that may help make the case for booster shots, depending on whose headlines you're reading. The Washington Post emphasizes that six months after the second dose, the vaccine remains 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Well that's pretty good news, and it also includes the vaccine's effectiveness against the Delta variant.
The study included more than 3.4 million people, and its other major finding made for the more dour headline from Reuters, which is that six months after the second dose, the vaccine's ability to prevent infection with the coronavirus dropped from an initial 88 percent to 47 percent, which might be a big factor in federal agencies deciding whether to expand the availability of Pfizer booster shots.
The researchers concluded that the decline in effectiveness was not due to the Delta variant, noting that patients fresh off a new vaccination were equally protected from both the original strain and Delta, and that even as Delta spread in California this year, hospitalization rates remained low. Finally, the rate of breakthrough infections was more closely related to the time elapsed since the second vaccination than with which variant of the virus people were infected.
Earlier this month, the CDC approved booster shots for adults over 65, residents in long-term care, and people aged 50-64 who have underlying health conditions, and said that younger people with underlying health conditions and people who regularly come in contact with people at high risk, like medical workers, may also receive a booster.
So what's the upshot of the study? Breakthrough infections after a vaccination may become somewhat more common, but they're far less likely to put you in the hospital or a coffin, so for fuckssakes we need to keep encouraging and mandating vaccinations. [WaPo / Reuters / LAT]
'Natural' Immunity Drops Quickly, Increasing Chances Of Reinfection
The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease and Policy reports on another major study that found that among people who've been infected with SARS-CoV-2, immunity from the virus wears off relatively quickly, with modeling showing that reinfections with the virus "will most likely occur at a median of 16 months." The researchers found that "natural" immunity could wear off as early as 3 months after initial infection, or as long as five years (which yes, the virus hasn't been around that long, that's why "modeling").
"Reinfection can reasonably happen in three months or less," said lead author Jeffrey Townsend, PhD, in a University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte press release. "Therefore, those who have been naturally infected should get vaccinated. Previous infection alone can offer very little long-term protection against subsequent infections."
The study authors conclude, "Our results caution that reinfection will become increasingly common as pandemic disease transitions into endemic disease."
What that probably means for policy is that Ron Paul and Scott Atlas should shut their fucking mouths about how wonderful it is for people to get infected with the coronavirus. It probably means that booster shots will become common for everyone, although at this point it's not known whether a third shot's effectiveness will wane over time, or will provide very long-term protection. [CIDRAP]
New Zealand Ends 'Zero COVID' Strategy
The extreme virulence of the Delta variant has led New Zealand, which has had one of the strictest virus control policies in the world, to abandon its goal of eliminating all COVID infections, because Delta is so much more infectious than the original variant of the virus that extreme lockdowns, extensive testing and contact tracing, and tight border controls just don't work to shut down the virus anymore. CNBC reports:
New Zealand has been notoriously strict in its tackling of Covid; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put the entire country under a strict lockdown in August after a single suspected case of Covid caused by the delta variant — at that time the country's first coronavirus case in six months — was reported in Auckland.
But on Monday, Ardern said that the city's lockdown would be eased gradually and that the country's strategy towards tackling Covid was changing.
"For this outbreak, it's clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases," Ardern said during a press conference. "But that is OK. Elimination was important because we didn't have vaccines. Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things."
Ardern said it was important that the country maintain strict controls, however, saying it still needed to "contain and control the virus as much as possible, while we make our transition from a place where we only use heavy restrictions to a place where we use vaccines in everyday public health measures."
Australia, which we are given to understand is a whole different country, gave up on its "zero tolerance" approach to the virus earlier this month, although both nations are only slowly phasing in relaxations in lockdowns as they ramp up vaccination rates. New Zealand has had, to date, only 4,408 cases and 27 deaths during the entire pandemic, which might seem incredibly good until you remember that people in Hobbitland have no freedom at all and living there is worse than China, according to American idiots. [CNBC]
No Business Travel For Unvaccinated JP Morgan Employees
Banking giant JP Morgan Chase is preparing to ban business travel for employees who refuse to get vaccinated, and will also take a larger portion of their pay to cover the cost of COVID testing. The company also won't allow people to participate in in-person meetings if they aren't vaccinated or refuse to disclose their vaccination status. GOOD.
The travel and meeting bans will become effective immediately, and the higher payroll deductions will start January 1. The restrictions won't apply to branch workers, so we're sure some loonies are hankering for a demotion to the sticks. So, who's forcing this tyranny, Joe Biden, or maybe Australia? Haha, don't be silly: It is the not particularly invisible hand of the market, which would rather not wear rubber gloves or full PPE over a suit:
"Clients are increasingly asking us to ensure meetings are restricted to vaccinated employees," the bank wrote in the internal memo. "We agree with medical authorities that being vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, loved ones, colleagues and communities from the virus."
JP Morgan has not actually mandated vaccines for employees, but it does require employees to register whether they've been vaccinated or not, and is now offering some really strong disincentives to going unvaccinated. The company does require that face masks be worn in its offices.
Way to go, rapacious capitalists! Come the revolution, you might be among the last ones up against the wall.
Short Covid Idiocy Takes
Lindsey Graham suggested at a Republican gathering at a country club in South Carolina that folks might could get vaccinated if they haven't been, but got no further than "If you haven't had the vaccine you ought to think about getting it because if you're my age —" before being drowned out by boos and shouts of "No!" [WaPo (no paywall)]
In New York City, hundreds of anti-vaxxers marched through parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan to protest in favor of people dying, and while they were at it, they tore down a vaccine testing site, because that's how patriots do. Despite the protests, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city's vaccine mandate for public school employees has been a success, with 95 percent of full-time employees having gotten at least one dose by yesterday, the deadline to get the jab or lose the job. [Also WaPo (no paywall)]
In Farragut, Tennessee, a well-off suburb of Knoxville, antivaxxer protesters picketed at the entrances to several public schools, including Farragut Intermediate, Middle, and High School, the Oppossum Press reports. To get into their schools, kids as young as seven had to make their way past adults screaming at them and calling them "sheep." Many of the protesters aren't even parents, but they really hate a mask mandate ordered by a federal judge, presumably because having to wear a mask is traumatic to little kids, while having complete strangers scream at you is all about protecting your rights. The local sheriff's office has pledged not to enforce any mask mandates of any kind, so no deputies were sent to stop the protesters from screaming at little kids on school property. [Opossum Press on Twitter]
At Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, two administrators of a cool program where high school seniors finish their last year of school at the university got fired this month, two weeks after asking kids if they'd been vaccinated. The administrators weren't told why they were being shitcanned, because employment at will, but they noted that the dean in charge of the program was not pleased that they had asked about the kids' vaccination status, even though the program already requires proof of other immunizations. One of those fired, former student services coordinator Bruce Hodge, told the Washington Post he'd been worried that since the kids are minors, program staff might have to act in place of their parents.
"I could foresee a situation with an incapacitated student where I couldn't reach a parent and a doctor is asking me if they're vaccinated," Hodge told The Washington Post.
My god, what a tyrannical monster.
The story notes that Hodge said none of the students objected to the question being asked as they checked into the dorm, but that after the dean found out, she called him and the other administrator in to let them know she was unhappy. Also, weirdly, campus police showed up and confiscated the informal sheets of paper they'd used to jot down whether the kids were vaccinated.
So people are still being fucking idiots, even as the vaccine news is pretty good, hooray.
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But he says he's for traditional values, so everything's good.
In northern Idaho, one of the school board candidates endorsed by the Kootenai County GOP has a stellar track record as a super conservative. David J. Reilly — no relation to Ignatius J. Reilly, as one of them is fictional — used to be a radio guy in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, but he "resigned" in 2017 after posting video and tweets promoting the big racist "Unite the Right" hootenanny in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to a local advertiser boycott. Since then, as the anti-racist blog Angry White Men documents, Reilly has freelanced for an anti-Semitic "theologian," pushed the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory (which posits George Soros and all the Jews are importing brown people to replace decent Godfearing white folks), and left a trail of now-deleted (but archived) tweets saying horrible things about Jews, gays, and women. We're not talking long-forgotten stuff here; much of it was from 2020.
Now Reilly lives in northern Idaho and wants to bring his Christian values to the school board for Post Falls, a suburb of Coeur d'Alene and Idaho's 10th-biggest community. In a statement on the Kootenai County GOP's website, Reilly vows he'll "do all in my power to make sure Kootenai County remains a place where families can raise Godly, conservative, patriotic children."
He notes that while he doesn't have any school-aged children, he's the "new father of a native Idahoan" and that he and his wife have already decided not to send their daughter to a public school, since the schools are full of critical race theory and "transgender child grooming," along with other horrors. Perhaps someday, he pines, Post Falls schools will become "an educational institution that I'd be proud to send my own daughter to."
Oh, for the sake of children in Post Falls, let's hope he doesn't get the chance.
As Angry White Men points out, shortly after the "Unite the Right" rally, Reilly's resignation letter from WHLM radio included a line in which he denounced "Nazism, the KKK, and racism," so don't you go looking for his name on either group's membership rolls, OK? But he sure has left a trail of internet crumbs to suggest what he believes.
For starters, they show,
Last year Reilly worked as an editor for E. Michael Jones, a deeply antisemitic and homophobic self-styled theologian who blames Jews for the murder of Jesus Christ, argued on a Neo-Nazi-hosted livestream that Jews should not be considered citizens of the U.S., and claimed that COVID-19 was created as a "bioweapon."
OK, but we've all worked for jerks (not now, thank goodness, hi, Rebecca!). Isn't that just guilt by association? Maybe not so much, since Reilly also wrote a 2019 piece for Jones's subtly-titled Culture Wars magazine, in which he explains that evil Marxist social engineering inspired a "mass movement of left wing agitation and sexual liberation" that led to an "almost complete breakdown of social norms." Oh, hey, who did the social engineering, which incidentally created white supremacy by telling some people they were oppressed? You got it! "Jewish sociologists"!
What's worse, by promoting "white identity," the Jews responsible for the mess the West finds itself in today ultimately disappear, and become indistinguishable from the dumb "goyim" who have fallen for their trap: hook, line and sinker.
Also, naturally enough, he figures the Catholic Church's mild reforms in Vatican II were part of the problem (we've removed links and note numbers here):
The result of this socio-sexual revolution together with the advent of contraception, coupled with the fallout of the revolutionary "spirit of Vatican II," Europe experienced an almost complete breakdown of social norms, the effects of which we are all aware: low birthrates, broken homes, and declining church attendance, [which has] ultimately led to the Great Replacement, and the media campaign demonizing native European populations, and promoting foreigners, with a religion alien to the European continent as "The New Europeans."
Short version: Jewish thinking destroyed Europe and is killing off beautiful European people and Christianity.
Oh, and then there are the tweets! All deleted now for some reason, as if Reilly were planning a run for office. Here's one from January 2020 in which he explained how sneaky Jews are, pretending to be both white and an oppressed minority group:
"White privilege" is a thing, because Jews pretend to be white when it's expediant for them. Everyone else of European heritage is left footing the bill, and taking the blame for their bad behavior.
When they want to virtue signal, they magically go from being white, to Jewish.
In another tweet from around the same time, Reilly repeated an old anti-Semitic myth that Jews are so terrible that they've been expelled from 109 countries, and added "110 confirmed," implying that the USA needs to get going on its own final solution. Bigots are so clever!
But wait! There's more! In another pair of tweets, Reilly retweeted a Hill article about a survey showing that "61% of Americans agree with at least one anti-Semitic stereotype," adding "Good news! Let's get those numbers up!" and then hinting that the survey was exaggerated to promote a narrative of Jewish victimhood, because after all, we know who really pulls the strings.
And still more! Seems Reilly is really big on the Jews as Christ-killers thing.
When the Anti-Defamation League tweeted that 27% of American adults believed that Jews killed Jesus Christ, Reilly concluded that "73% of American adults have been mis-informed [sic]." Reilly had previously tweeted a cartoon by "Stonetoss," a pseudonymous white supremacist, which implied that Jews bore responsibility for Jesus' death.
Just to prove he's not a Davey one-note, Reilly has also "joked" that letting women have the vote was a mistake, and that women "should not be allowed on social media." Ha! Ha! Also too, he reacted to the news that Pete and Chasten Buttigieg wanted to have a child with a funny quip: "Alternate headline: Pete Buttigieg and his 'husband' are planning to start dabbling in human trafficking."
So in case you were wondering what sort of Traditional American Values Reilly might bring to the Post Falls school board, there you go!
In an interview in the rightwing conspiracy site National File Wednesday, Reilly explained that children are the future, which is actually very true! He confirmed to the site that he is very much against
the "misguided liberal experimentation," including anti-white Critical Race Theory, SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), and Common Core. "There's not one person who I know that actually likes this, but our schools are still teaching with these frameworks in place," he added.
The site really does focus on Reilly's objections to "equity" and other evils:
He highlighted the "equity framework" implemented by Coeur d'Alene's School Board as one example of something that was "stealthily snuck by" parents, which he would not let pass if he was elected. With 41% of children in the overwhelmingly white district living in poverty, Reilly said it was "absurd" for the white students to be taught that they were oppressing black people.
We would note that 41 percent of children living in poverty would seem to be a failure of the Idaho state government, and possibly even the last presidential administration. But we are happy to note that with President Joe Biden's expanded child tax credit, if Coeur d'Alene follows the national trajectory, that number of children in poverty should have already fallen by as much as 40 percent.
Also too, we learn that Reilly is especially angry about the June arrests of disruptive parents and troublemakers at school board meetings in Loudoun County, Virginia, simply because they were shouting and carrying on over the "critical race theory" that isn't actually in the district's curriculum:
"Regardless of what policy is being debated, when you're treating parents like that, and you're being condescending towards them as if you know how to raise their children better than they do, you're going to be met with a lot of anger," he argued. "The whole point of me getting on the board is… to be the people's voice against these anti-white, racist and destructive policies. If you've got your own board member who's anti-CRT, you're not going to be shut down in these meetings any more." [Emphasis added]
Also too, while all of Idaho's hospitals are literally rationing care because there's no room for all the COVID patients, Reilly vowed to oppose mask or vaccine mandates, because he believes
Forcing kids to wear masks in school is tantamount to child abuse, and I think that foisting an experimental vaccine on kids as a condition of enrollment is absolutely out of the question.
Nice to know that if Mr. Reilly gets elected to the Post Falls school board, with the endorsement of the official local Republican Party, the crazies screaming about the Great Replacement and "needle rape" at school board meetings will have an ally in the room.
As of this morning, the Kootenai County GOP's endorsement of Mr. Reilly is still up.
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Christ, what a bigoted, ignorant sack of shit.
Matt Walsh doesn't live in Virginia. Remember this for later.
The rightwing troll from the Daily Wire (I suppose I should be more specific) is appalled by the Loudoun County, Virginia, school district's radical policy of treating trans students like human beings. He planned to hold a “Protect Your Kids" rally outside Tuesday's school board meeting. He's obviously not interesting in protecting all kids, as you can tell from his Facebook post promoting the event.
The Loudoun County school board in VA has imposed a radical trans policy allowing males access to girl's restrooms and teams.
This is no longer a “radical" policy, even if Walsh's mind is stuck in 1973. Also, trans girls are girls so what he's describing isn't taking place. He reveals his own issues when he fixates on trans girls rather than trans boys who'd also have access to boys' restrooms and teams.
Teachers are required to use preferred pronouns.
Yes, teachers should not be assholes. That's not a huge ask.
WALSH: To protest this madness, I'll be leading a rally outside the school board meeting on September 28. Join us! The time for sitting on the sidelines is over. Schools that harm children must be confronted. We must speak up against this indoctrination loudly and in person. I have a large platform and intend to use it to help mobilize these efforts. The child abusers will hear from us.
Walsh uses his large (why, it's practically MASSIVE) platform to demonize trans children, and he has the gall to consider other people “child abusers."
As we've mentioned, Walsh doesn't live in Virginia. He previously lived in rural Pennsylvania before moving to Nashville, Tennessee, in November. As a concerned member of the community, he yelled nonsense about mask mandates during an August school board meeting in well-off Williamson County. (His kids don't actually attend public school.)
WALSH: What does it do to a child's developing immune system if you ask to wear a mask all day and every day? You're satisfied to place this burden on children anyway. And why? It's not to keep them safe. It's not to keep the adult safe.
It does nothing to a child's immune system if they wear a cloth facial covering for six hours a day. However, children had accounted for 40 percent of Tennessee's new COVID-19 cases by September. That's far worse than developing a slight rash because their parents are too lazy to wash their masks.
WALSH: How would you respond to a parent who forced his kid to wear a football helmet every day, all day, for fear of falling coconuts and meteors? Your kid is almost as likely to die of COVID as he is from a rock from the sky.
At least three Tennessee children died from COVID-19 in August. The state doesn't report pediatric deaths related to falling coconuts and meteors but I suspect that number is much lower.
Walsh decided to take his traveling one-man circus act to Loudon County — again, in Virginia — but the school district has recently adopted rules that restrict speakers at their meetings to "students, parents, residents or business owners in the county." However, they underestimated the resourcefulness of trolls. Walsh leased property in Loudon County like some crazy-ass stalker. I don't think trans kids are the true threat here.
Walsh was very proud of how he evaded the school district's rules, designed to prevent obnoxious assholes from shouting, “You're all child abusers" at them. He shared some classic “I'm a Virginian trapped in a Tennessean's body" humor that's both offensive and stale.
I'm not including the clips of his transphobic garbage because no one needs to see this. Dismiss me as the intolerant Left if you must but Walsh isn't interested in honestly engaging on this topic nor even attempting to empathize with the people, including vulnerable children, he actively demonizes. This is all a sick game to him.
I'd almost feel sorry for someone so contemptuous of their fellow humans but then I remember this is Matt Walsh we're talking about, so he can go fuck himself.
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It's your very bewildered Sunday show rundown.
Among the MANY INSANE THINGS about the anti-abortion bill Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott signed is that it doesn't even include perfunctory exceptions for rape and incest, which conservatives often add to make it look like they're not complete monsters. Abbott, when asked about this days after law went into effect, said it didn't matter because they would just stop all the future rapes by arresting all the future rapists:
This is an incredibly bizarre statement. When asked why sex assault victims who get pregnant have to carry to term… https://t.co/1GYAjrFk5e— Ron Filipkowski (@Ron Filipkowski) 1631032631.0
That was then.
On "Fox News Sunday" this weekend, host Chris Wallace, after giving Abbott a platform to spew hatred against immigrants and asylum seekers, in the guise of "border protection," asked about the Texas abortion ban. He specifically asked Abbott about his stated intention to prevent all the future rapes, in what we can only assume was an attempt to give Abbott a chance to make himself look a little bit less insane.
It did not work.
WALLACE: You signed a law in May that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, around six weeks. And there is no exception and that law for either rape or incest. [...] Now, in 2019, which is the last year that we have numbers for, almost 15,000 cases of rape were reported in your state of Texas, and almost everyone says that that's a severe undercount, there are a lot more cases that just aren't reported. Is it reasonable to say to somebody who is the victim of rape and might not understand that they are pregnant, you know, until six weeks, well, don't worry about it because we're going to eliminate rape as a problem in the state of Texas?
After saying some disingenuous "thoughts and prayers"-type things about victims of rape and incest, Abbott mostly ignored the question. Wallace tried again, but Abbott made clear the real intent of the law:
WALLACE: Let me just ask this question, a state representative, Republican state representative is -- says that he's going to offer a new measure that would restore the exception to the Texas abortion law for victims of rape and incest. If that came to your desk, will you sign it or not?
ABBOTT: Well, we've got to go back, Chris, to what the reason was why the law was passed in the first place. And the goal is to protect the lives of every child with a heartbeat. And so we're -- we're working to achieve that goal.
WALLACE: Including -- including a child -- including --
ABBOTT: Chris -- I -- I got to point this out, Chris, and that is what this -- this --
WALLACE: Including a child of a rape -- of a rape?
ABBOTT: This -- this goal is consistent with what the United States Supreme Court has written, and that is states have the ability to make sure that we protect the health and safety of both the mother and the child. And that's what we are seeking to do here.
So Chris Wallace gave Abbott a THIRD chance, and in response Abbott TRIPLED down.
WALLACE: But so just -- just to lock this down, are you saying, sir -- I don't mean to interrupt, but are you saying that you will not sign an exception for rape and incest?
ABBOTT: Well, first, I've got to tell you, Chris, you're -- you're making a hypothetical that is not going to happen because that bill is not going to reach my desk. But, second, again, the goal is to protect the life of every child with a heartbeat.
One thing's clear: Texas Republicans love unborn fetuses -- allegedly -- but they sure don't seem to give any sort of fucks about pregnant people or children. Texas has the eighth highest maternal mortality rate in the United States, in a country that already has the worst maternal mortality rate of any developed country.
But what about the fetuses Texas "saves"? Well, Texas has the highest raw number of children in poverty and the 12th highest child poverty rate (19.2 percent) in the nation. Its overall poverty rate (13.6 percent) is number 11, and it comes in ninth when it comes to families with annuals incomes below $10,000 (3.9 percent). Those children who survive the Texas Hunger Games are "treated" to the
best 34th in education Texas can provide. If they reach adulthood, their voting rights have a pretty good chance of being suppressed! What a "cherished" life that Texas has to offer!
Have a damn week.
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