Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bits 'n pieces from east, west and beyond

| August 6, 2021 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

A Morning Consult survey indicated that 26 percent of Americans fit the “highly right-wing authoritarian” mold, which is defined as “the desire to submit to some authority” as well as having aggression toward whomever that authority says “should be targeted.” In that 26 percent group, 85 percent are white, 76 percent are 45 or older, 76 percent lack a college degree and 55 percent believe voter fraud put President Joe Biden into the White House.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that masking should resume stems from data collected after a delta variant outbreak in Massachusetts. That outbreak caused hundreds of coronavirus infections, including amongst those fully vaccinated, CBS reported. The CDC’s director said it now appears that people vaccinated against the original strain that become infected with the delta variant can carry similar loads of the virus as the unvaccinated. The Washington Post noted that 75 percent of those who were infected in Massachusetts were vaccinated, but a minimal number required hospitalization.

So far, it is not clear to what extent the vaccinated can spread the virus. According to Yale School of Public Health professor Gregg Gonsalves, “The good news here: If you’re vaccinated, refrain from large group gatherings and mask up, chances are good you’ll be OK.”

The delta variant is responsible for 90 percent of new cases in Washington state, the Seattle Times reported. The delta variant was first detected in India in late 2020, where vaccination rates have been exceedingly low. The delta variant is now circulating in at least 124 countries. In the U.K. it accounts for 91 percent of new COVID-19 cases.

Health organizations indicate the delta variant is up to 225 percent more transmissible than the original strain. University of Toronto epidemiologists said the delta variant poses a 120 percent higher risk of hospitalization, 287 percent greater risk of admission into an intensive care unit and 137 percent greater risk of death. In the U.S. hospitalizations have accelerated to levels exceeding the peak of last summer, according to a report from a U.S. House subcommittee. The CDC has acknowledged that “the war has changed” regarding trying to get the coronavirus under control.

On average, an uninsured hospital stay for COVID-19 treatment costs about $73,300, according to

An analysis from Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund says 279,000 deaths and 1.25 million hospitalizations have been prevented by vaccinations.

Notable under-oath public testimony from the Jan. 6 insurrection hearings, so far: rioters said on-site that former President Donald Trump had sent them; rioters claimed “nobody” had voted for Biden; racial epithets were in abundance; and law officers were called traitors and were bullied. One experienced attempts to gouge out his eyes. Another said he was nearly crushed. One was beaten unconscious and stunned with a Taser repeatedly. Rioters sprayed chemicals, used white supremacist gang signs and white power hand signals, and told officers they were going to die. Testimony was backed by footage from body cameras.

More than 500 people have been arrested so far for their role in the riot, an attempt to stop the election certification process. One officer who testified said that when a hitman is hired and kills someone, he goes to jail, as does the person who hired him. He said Trump was the person who inspired the mayhem at the Capitol that resulted in deaths. Police officers testified that, beyond the horrors of that day, what has been numbing is the attempt by congressional Republicans to trivialize the event after the officers had put their lives on the line to defend them.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate said they were too busy to watch the first day’s proceedings. Some Republicans tried to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the day’s carnage, but various media outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR and USA Today, pointed out she has no control over Capitol police.

Temperatures are rising up to three times faster at the Arctic and that creates a new complication for global emissions agreements, according to reporting by Reuters. Both thawing permafrost and wildfires in the region release even more greenhouse gases. The deeper the permafrost thaw, the more gases released and the more warming that occurs. Fires and abrupt thawing could increase carbon emissions up to 40 percent by century’s end, researchers estimate.

Blast from the past: “[The nation] can lurch backward as quickly as it can lurch forward,” said Dr. Robert P. Moses, 1935-2021. In the 1960s, Moses led efforts in Mississippi to register people to vote. In that state, 40 percent of the population was Black, but few voted due to poll taxes, violence and subjective literacy tests. Many regard him today as the father of grassroots organizing. He recently died.