Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, November 20 through Friday, November 26, 2021 [Vol.3 No.19]
Omicron – Thanksgiving Day
The Week’s Most Notable
Outside of Thanksgiving, it was a normal ugly week, or, it was the beginning days of something very bad – the Omicron variant will be the difference. Omicron exists. That is now the official name of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus. It has already spread from its probable origins in the southern part of Africa to a dozen countries. The timing of this new variant is particularly bad as it comes with the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere (where most of the world’s population lives) and at a time of seasonal holidays, gatherings, and travel. Omicron is significantly more infectious than the Delta variant, which was already far more infectious than the original virus. As of Friday, that’s about all we know of Omicron except for a crucial configuration: it has 32 mutations on the “spike” (the rod with a funky looking ball on one end), the Delta variant has only eight. It also has 10 mutations in the receptor site, Delta only 2. Together these mutations form the novel configuration that may be undetectable by the current vaccinations or the body’s own immune system. That’s the part we don’t know yet; the scary part, because if Omicron is more infectious and becomes the dominant virus of the pandemic, it’s crucial to have vaccines and treatments that can counteract it, at least partially. If not, it’s not only likely to spread very rapidly, but it could also be more lethal. With that unknown, but very possible potential, governments around the world have reacted with uncharacteristic speed. That alone indicates they are being advised by people who think this variant truly is very dangerous. Travel bans are beginning, other mitigations are soon to follow. Given the amount of resistance – people the world over are tired of the pandemic and suspicious of efforts to contain it – a new threat like this, if it turns out to be significant, could be a bigger test for humanity than anything we have seen so far.
Remember proven health mitigation measures, like getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, maintaining good hand hygiene, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and improving ventilation of indoor spaces. .
Saturday, November 20
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 48,619,516; Deaths: 794,290
[Coronavirus] Anti-COVID Mitigation Mobs in Europe – The biggest demonstrations were in the Netherlands, where 51 people were arrested and three shot by police. Another massive protest occurred in Austria, where some 40,000 people demonstrated against a new lockdown. The majority of demonstrations reveal a distrust of government along with a strong conspiratorial component, usually composed of misrepresentations and falsehoods mixed with some facts and validated concerns. And this was before the Omicron variant appeared.
[Coronavirus] U.S. COVID 2021 Toll Greater Than 2020’s – Deaths reported in 2020: 385,343; deaths reported (so far) in 2021: 411,571. The U.S. will exceed 800,000 dead from COVID-19 before the end of the year.
Sunday, November 21
[Vehicle Killing] SUV Plows into Christmas Parade in Wisconsin, killing at Least Five – The vehicle was willfully driven into the crowd. In addition to those killed, more than 40 were injured. [Update: The police ruled the incident “non-terrorist”; suspect is in custody; sixth victim has died.]
Monday, November 21
[Jan.6 Investigation] Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones – The list of those under subpoena by the House Select Committee grows, most recently with the well-known names Roger Stone and Alex Jones, compatriots of Trump and active participants in the events of January 6. As with many of the other potential witnesses now under subpoena they may not be cooperative. In fact, given their track record for bombast, it’s most likely they will attempt to pull as many shenanigans as possible. [Update: Subpoenas for members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were added later in the week.]
[Coronavirus] Under Vaccination Mandate, 95% of Federal Workforce Is Compliant – This includes most of the 3.5 million federal employees and federal contractor employees covered by President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. (According to current conspiracy theory, most of these people should be dead, mindless, or worse – Democrats – within 10 years.)
[Federal Reserve] Biden Nominates Fed Chair Jerome Powell for Second Term – Biden’s choice settled the running argument between progressives who wanted a more liberal Fed chair and those who were satisfied with Powell’s performance. The liberal objection was largely recognized as grandstanding for the future, since Powell’s policies and actions have been effective, relatively progressive, and approved by most members of the Democratic Party.
Tuesday, November 23
[Justice] Jury Finds Organizers of Charlottesville “Unite the Right” Rally Liable for Injuries – Few of the defendants will be able to meet their obligations under the $25 million damage award. Payment is not the only point; most of them are facing accountability, public scrutiny, and a black mark on their record that will follow them. It also sets a similar mark for other quasi-ideological groups.
[Inflation] U.S. Strategic Reserve Oil to Be Released to Fight Inflation – Having belatedly discovered that the public is unhappy with inflation, enough to affect polls and potential voting, the Biden administration has rolled out a number of “anti-inflationary” measures, including trying to flood the market with reserve oil to drive down gasoline prices.
Wednesday, November 24
[Justice] All Three Ahmaud Arbery Attackers Found Guilty of Murder – The jury agreed with the prosecution that the three men chased, confronted, and fatally shot Arbery while he was simply jogging on a suburban street. The claims of self-defense did not hold either in particular or in the context. Although race was not raised as an issue, everyone knew the verdict would be racially explosive – especially following the Rittenhouse verdict.
[Economy] Unemployment Claims Dropped to the Lowest Level since 1969 – As added punctuation to the recovery of the economy, though not in its media coverage, the Department of Labor reported unemployment claims dropped to 199,000. The economy averaged 581,000 new jobs each month this year, a strong recovery though still approximately 4 million jobs below the pre-pandemic level. Concurrently, consumer spending is rising, increasing by 1.3% in October. On the supply chain front, all indicators show an improving situation with the cost of a freight container from Shanghai to Los Angeles dropping to its lowest level in several months. Of course, these are numbers generated during the summer and early fall; they don’t reflect the return of COVID concerns.
Thursday, November 25: Thanksgiving Day
[Coronavirus] Media Announces New COVID-19 Variant – Originating somewhere in South Africa, the new variant – B.1.1.529, or Omicron – was immediately flagged a “variant of interest”; only four variants have ever been so designated, meaning that it has potential for rapid infection, escaping immunization, and high mortality. Governments worldwide are reacting with astonishing speed to shut down flights, control borders, and prepare for what appears to be a major threat. The problem, as is usual is at this early stage, is that very little is known about the variant and its characteristics. It first officially appeared only about two weeks ago. It stands out from other variants because of its very high number of mutations, which dramatically change the shape of the virus, making it harder to detect by the body’s immune system or vaccination antibodies.
Friday, November 26
[Coronavirus] WHO Emergency Meeting Highlights Omicron Variant – The WHO warned that it will take weeks to assess the nature of the new variant and that there may be needed changes in diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. In the meantime, it cautioned that this is not a state of panic but should be one of ongoing preparedness.
[Coronavirus] New York Declares State of Emergency over Omicron Variant – Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) reacted not only to the oncoming Omicron wave but to the ongoing winter spike of COVID cases.
[Coronavirus] Dow Drops 900 Points as COVID Concerns Return – The sudden appearance of the Omicron variant sent the markets (worldwide) into a tailspin; the Dow Jones average dropped 2.5% on Friday.
West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Candide, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Side by Side – Stephen Sondheim, 1930 – 2021
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 49,055,083; Deaths: 799,185
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who is overseeing Senate Republicans’ 2022 campaign, is cheering for economic disaster. ‘You can see what’s going to happen next. We’re going to continue to have inflation, and then interest rates will go up. This is a gold mine for us.’ . . . Economic pain for millions is a ‘gold mine’ for Republicans? I’m thankful that, for the moment, people like this are not running the country.
Dana Milbank, “Be Thankful That Sanity Has Returned to America—For Now,” The Washington Post, 11/23/2021.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]