Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, December 18 through Saturday, December 25, 2021 [Vol.3 No.23]
The Week’s Most Notable
The rocket carrying the James Webb Space Telescope rose skyward Saturday morning, a successful launch, freighting humanity’s desire for a glimpse at the origin of the universe and at some of the mysteries en route – hopefully on the way to a signature achievement of American science. At the opposite end of scientific achievement, more than 15 million Americans are still unvaccinated against COVID-19, and especially the Omicron variant, which they continue to believe is less dangerous than the vaccine. A natural reticence about vaccines, coupled with over two years of anti-science propaganda, has pushed anti-VAX sentiment until it is hardened to a lump of rock for millions of Americans. Republican politicians are using such rocks as ammunition to turn medicine into a political barrage. The result, thousands of unnecessary deaths, a further disrupted economy, and a penchant for political divisiveness on subjects that should be a matter of national unity.
Saturday, December 18
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 51,309,980; Deaths: 826,353
[Coronavirus] Netherlands Turns to Christmas Lockdown – In a country that has already seen anti-lockdown riots, the move to close schools and nonessential businesses until January 14 is likely to be unpopular. Nevertheless, the figures coming in from Omicron stricken regions of the country have forced the government’s hand. This will be a familiar story in many countries.
Sunday, December 19
[Coronavirus] Drs. Fauci and Collins Predict Record COVID Surge – Fauci marked the Omicron variant as having “extraordinary transmissibility” that will cause “significant stress” on some hospitals, “particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination.” Collins, NIH Director, said the nation could soon see a million new Omicron cases a day. [Update: By the end of the week the U.S. was averaging more than 200,000 cases a day.]
[Build Back Better] Manchin Drops a Bomb on Build Back Better – It might turn out to be a smoke bomb, but it got Democrats’ attention. Manchin said on Fox News Sunday that he would not vote for Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better infrastructure bill. Note that he referred to the $2 trillion dollar amount, not his suggested $1.75 trillion bill; he believes a restructured bill more to his liking is possible. The White House and certain Democrats jumped up and down and called him names, mostly as rhetorical flourish but there is likely to be some personal animosity mixed in. Come the new year, new twists and turns.
Monday, December 20
[Coronavirus] Omicron Surges to 73% of New Cases – U.S. cases have grown sixfold in one week. As expected, the country is becoming a patchwork of Delta and Omicron, with variable rates of infection, hospitalization, and death. Two months ago, the big numbers were in the North; now the numbers are in the East and South, with Florida again ready to take the pole position as the worst in the country.
[Coronavirus] Trump Gets Booed for Boosting COVID Booster – He was working the line that the vaccines were his idea and his greatest achievement, and his supporters should not be tearing that down. For the rest of the week some of his supporters, and much of the right-wing, disagreed. Do not mistake this for progress, rhetorical furbelows are a Trump specialty. Republicans in general are practicing the art of rapid contradiction, and getting away with it.
[Climate Change] Report: Glaciers Melting Fastest in Himalayas – Published in Scientific Reports (peer-reviewed), researchers found that among the Himalayas 15,000 glaciers, most had shrunk about 40% from their peak 400 – 700 years ago. Current losses are accelerating, happening about 10 times faster than the average rate for past centuries.
Tuesday, November 21
[Coronavirus] Israel OKs Fourth COVID Vaccine Shot for People Over 60 – The new booster shot is intended to shore up the immune system against the Omicron variant. We seem to be moving toward the point where recognition of vaccination on an ongoing basis is likely, at least until a more generic vaccine – like the one the U.S. Army is working on – is developed.
[U.S. Population] U.S. Population Growth Hits Record Low – In the period from July 2020 to July 2021, the population increased by 392,665, or about 0.1% – the first year since 1937 that the growth was less than 1 million a year. Much of the record low is attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, delayed pregnancies, and the higher-than-normal death rate.
Wednesday, December 22
[Jan. 6 Investigation] House Jan. 6 Committee Requests Information from Jim Jordan – This is going to be like a shouting match with a circus barker, as it is likely Jordan will stiff the committee at every opportunity – probably through legal maneuvers – but in any case, with buckets and buckets of twisty rhetoric. The committee is likely to be persistent, as Jordan was heavily involved with Trump and planning for the insurrection.
Thursday, December 23
[Economy] New Data Shows Omicron Already Affecting the Economy – The hospitality industry, always the frontline for the pandemic, has already shown a 22% decline in restaurant attendance. Hotel occupancy is also down 54% and airlines are beginning to cancel flights, often due to COVID illness among crew. It seems likely that continued declines due to COVID-19 will have an effect on some forms of inflation.
[Coronavirus] FDA Approves Merck Pill for COVID-19 – The emergency use authorization of molnupiravir is for treatment at home (under prescription). The 40-pill dose must be taken over five days and is authorized for those 18 or older who are at high-risk.
[Police Killing] Ex-Officer Kim Potter Convicted – Former Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting and killing Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, during a routine April traffic stop. Apparently, the jury did not find her contention that she mistook her service gun for a teaser credible.
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Trump Appeals to Supreme Court to Block Jan. 6 Committee – Trump is counting on his right-wing court to keep his documents out of the hands of the committee investigating January 6. Expect him to get half a loaf with some kind of nod toward his right to protect presidential documents, but excluding those documents that really are campaign and political documents.
Friday, December 24 – Christmas Eve
Saturday, December 25 – Christmas Day
Best of the Holidays, everyone!
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 52,986,307; Deaths: 837,676
From the early days of the Omicron variant, researchers were struck by its high count of mutations, and they wondered if that could have future implications. That may well prove true. Notably, the media has reported that cases in South Africa, where the variant likely originated, have been distinctly mild. However, the South African equivalent of the CDC reported that regional differences in the Omicron virus could result in different outcomes – some places having more damaging cases as well as an exceptionally high infection rate.
Politics, Legislation, Election Notes
Manchin lowers the boom (but doesn’t swing it around). Actually, though couched in angry rhetoric, he was repeating what he’s been saying for many, many months: He doesn’t like the grab bag approach to the current infrastructure bill, where a lot of programs get sort of funded. He says he’d prefer a few programs, carefully selected, for full funding for 10 years. Democrats have been acting like he never said that, or that he would change his mind. He won’t; he doesn’t have to. When Congress reconvenes in the new year, Democrats may need to face reality and rewrite the bill to fit Manchin’s outline. If not, there won’t be a second infrastructure bill and Biden’s agenda will be in tatters. On the hopeful side, Manchin signaled throughout the week that he had points for negotiation. There’s a lot of renegotiating to be done; this time don’t expect it to go quickly.
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
Sarah Palin, rocket scientist, offered her thoughts on the coronavirus vaccine at a far-right conference [Turning Point USA’s Americafest] in Arizona over the weekend. ‘It will be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot,’ she proclaimed.
Dana Milbank, “Sara Palin’s Anti-Vax Talk Shows [That] Republicans Have Become a Death Cult,” The Washington Post, 12/20/2021.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]