08 December 2021 ⚡️ South Africa: Omicron may need booster; Wisconsin: no 2020 election fraud
Pfizer-BioNTech booster restores protection; national media ignore WI conservative election investigation; Omicron now reported in 20 states; Republicans are the largest unvaxxed group in the country
Preliminary data (from 12 people in South Africa) found a significant decrease in vaccine or vaccine+infection antibody protection when participant blood was challenged by the Omicron variant.
The research also suggests that people who were previously infected and then vaccinated, or people who’ve had boosters, should maintain greater levels of protection even against Omicron…
Many experts have said their best guess is that Omicron is likely to lead to more breakthrough infections and reinfections, but that for most people, protection against more serious outcomes will be preserved. The new study lends credence to that hypothesis.
If you are one of the 3-in-4 vaccinated Americans who have not gotten a booster, please rethink that decision.
Preliminary research shows that people with only two Pfizer-BioNTech shots should get a booster. REMINDER: vaccinations are designed to minimize risk of hospitalization. They are not designed to prevent infection, but minimize it.
From the two companies on Wednesday, per STAT News.
People who have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are likely susceptible to infection from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but a third shot restores antibody activity against the virus…
Experts caution that there are limits to what can be gleaned from these lab experiments and that they cannot be used to definitively say how Omicron may lower vaccine effectiveness in the real world. Vaccines and infections trigger different layers of immune protection beyond neutralizing antibodies, including T cells, which are fighters more important to guarding people from serious outcomes than to blocking infection.
🗳 As I suspected when reading news late on Tuesday, national media (newspapers, TV) have ignored a report from Wisconsin on the election.
A conservative Wisconsin organization (Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty) announced on Tuesday that it had found “no evidence of widespread fraud” in the 2020 presidential election.
The report from the institute concluded there were no indications of widespread fraud and there was nothing suspicious about voter turnout or the timing of the vote tally. In addition, voting machines operated properly, the report found.
The group analyzed 20,000 in-person ballots and 29,000 absentee ballots out of a total of 3.2 million ballots. They focused on wards where 2020 results differed from prior elections. “Our hand recount was also consistent, in general, with what was found by the machine initially,” according to spokesman Will Flanders.
The conservative organization found no evidence that a someone cast a ballot for a deceased voter.
The conservative organization found no evidence of more than one vote being cast in the name of the same voter in Wisconsin.
The conservative organization found no evidence of voting machine tampering. “Our analysis found Democrats actually did worse than expected in areas that used Dominion machines.” This report directly refutes former President Trump’s claim that Dominion was ruining their election.
The conservative organization identified 129 instances where individuals used a PO Box as a mailing address. Although it is not legal to register to vote from a PO Box, the report does not claim that the registration was improper. It is perfectly legal to use a PO Box for a mailing address in Wisconsin.
The principle criticism lobbed in Wisconsin, as in many states, was making it easy to vote by using ballot drop boxes. Ballot drop boxes are secure and have been used for many years in vote-by-mail states like Colorado, Oregon Washington. The group claims:
As recently confirmed by the Legislative Audit Bureau, the widespread adoption of absentee ballot drop boxes, encouraged by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), runs afoul of state law requirements for the collection of absentee ballots.
The Wisconsin GOP created the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) only five years ago. Yet a state Republican legislator still wants to decertify the 2020 election results. Then there’s U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI):
As in Arizona, the Wisconsin finding flies in the face of Trump’s insistence that Biden stole the election. #TheBigLie
🤓 Recommended reading
Five must-read essays. Only one paywall; I have a long Twitter thread there.
﹡How this all happened (pdf). Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund, 24 November 2021.
Recommended by a friend. I found this essay engrossing and educational even though, as an economics grad, I thought already knew this story! The Collaborative Fund was founded in 2010 as an advocate for “the shift from an ownership-based economy to an access or sharing-based economy.”
This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II.
That’s a lot to unpack in 5,000 words, but the short story of what happened over the last 73 years is simple: Things were very uncertain, then they were very good, then pretty bad, then really good, then really bad, and now here we are. And there is, I think, a narrative that links all those events together. Not a detailed account. But a story of how the details fit together.
﹡Texas Toughens Ban on Medication-by-Mail Abortions With Jail Time and Hefty Fine. Ashley Lopez; Kaiser Health News; 06 December 2021.
On 01 December, in the state with the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, a new law adds jail time and a fine of up to $10,000 for telehealth or mail vendors who prescribe pills for medication abortions. The practice was already illegal.
﹡The white evangelical war on truth. Joel Bowman, Sr.; Baptist News Global; 16 November 2021.
Joel is a recent addition to my reading list. Erudite and empathetic, he is the senior pastor of Temple of Faith Baptist Church, in Louisville, KY. In this essay, he explores the contradiction between a Christian worldview of “absolute truth” and evangelical leader denialism on Covid-19 vaccinations, climate change, fair elections, January 6th and systemic racism.
I surmise that most of these individuals don’t even know what Critical Race Theory or Marxism actually are, nor have they read primary sources related to either. All they know is that these terms can be deployed as weapons of mass distraction, intended to shut down any substantive conversation about race or racism (emphasis added).
What made the interactions with my friend so deeply disturbing and traumatizing is that he gave more weight to the perspectives of an author he’s only briefly met as opposed to those of me, one whom he’s called “friend” for years.
﹡These Real Estate and Oil Tycoons Avoided Paying Taxes for Years. Jeff Ernsthausen, Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger; ProPublica, 07 December 2021.
If you have anything left over in your donation budget for 2021, please consider supporting ProPublica. Their Secret IRS Files is an ongoing reporting project. Sign up to be notified when the next story publishes. Or text “IRS” to 917-746-1447 to get the next story texted to you (standard messaging rates apply).
In case you didn’t believe tax laws were written to privilege “capital” and those who earn their living from investing money rather than “working”:
Real life Stephen Ross, who founded Related Companies, a global firm best known for developing the Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards in Manhattan, was a massive winner between 2008 and 2017. He became the second-wealthiest real estate titan in America, almost doubling his net worth over those years, according to Forbes Magazine’s annual list, by adding $3 billion to his fortune. His assets included a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park and the Miami Dolphins football team.
Then there’s the other Stephen Ross, the big loser. That’s the one depicted on his tax returns. Though the developer brought in some $1.5 billion in income from 2008 to 2017, he reported even more — nearly $2 billion — in losses. And because he reported negative income, he didn’t pay a nickel in federal income taxes over those 10 years.
What enables this dual identity? The upside-down tax world of the ultrawealthy.
﹡Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun. Barton Gellman, The Atlantic, 06 December 2021. Twitter thread/Threadreader.
The opening paragraph reads like George Orwell might have authored it:
Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence... If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect.
It’s an astounding claim. And one that Gellman solidifies with evidence, brick-by-brick, although not always chronologically. You won’t miss much if you skip the interviews with two rabid conservatives public officials that set my teeth on edge.
MARCH: 4% of American adults didn’t trust 2020 election results and were prepared to join a protest that might turn violent. That’s 10 million Americans.
JUNE: 8% of American adults agreed “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president” and “use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.” More extreme; twice the support. This means 21 million Americans are “committed insurrectionists,” according to Professor Pape.
In at least 16 states, Republicans are trying to shift authority over elections from governors and career officials to the legislature.
Finally, if this doesn’t scare you to death, not sure what will:
🦠 COVID-19 in review
The U.S. is still reporting almost 100,000 cases a day, mostly the Delta variant. Today, New Hampshire, Michigan and Minnesota lead the county in per capita cases.
More than 30 states that have seen increased Covid-19 hospitalizations during the past two weeks. Six states (35% of the US population) account for most of the increase: IL, IN, MI, NY, OH and PA. Nationally, hospitalizations have increased 15%, returning to early September levels. On 04 December, we had about 59,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals. Since early 2020, we have exceed 50,000 hospitalizations five times. The latest: 03 August and 22 November.
The Omicron variant has been detected in 20 states as of Monday.
CA, CO, CT, GA, HI, IL, LA, MA, MD, MN, MO, MS, NE, NJ, NY, PA, TX, UT, WA, WI
In October, the reddest tenth of the country (by county) had Covid-19 death rates that were six times greater than the bluest tenth, even when controlling for age. Republicans are now the largest group of unvaccinated individuals in the country.
“An unvaccinated person is three times as likely to lean Republican as they are to lean Democrat,” according to Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Of the unvaccinated:
🪦 Deaths and cases (still predominantly Delta) by vaccination status (NYT)
No vax data from Georgia or Texas.
💉 Risk and vaccination rates by county (NYT)
📷 Photo of the week
Sunset in Lynnwood WA (no filter), 29 November 2021.
CC license; attribution to this post, no commercial use, no mods.
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