Wednesday, November 17, 2021

 -Donald Trump, scraping the bottom of the insult barrel

Between widely-available boosters, more vaccine doses for the global supply, and a life-saving new miracle pill, a pandemic endgame is in sight. Now just to flood midterm voters with reminders that Democrats’ fingerprints are all over it.

  • The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will invest billions of dollars to scale up U.S. vaccine manufacturing, with the aim of producing at least one-billion vaccine doses a year starting in the second half of 2022. That partnership with drug companies is meant to ease the global vaccine-supply shortage, as well as help prepare the U.S. for the next pandemic. The rare piece of good news that manages to be completely exhausting to think about!
  • The administration also plans to buy enough doses of Pfizer’s new highly effective COVID treatment for about 10 million people, and the company says it could have enough pills ready to cover between 100,000 to 200,000 people by the end of the year. In more welcome news for the global recovery, Pfizer has signed a license-sharing agreement that will allow other companies to make generic versions and sell them for lower prices in 95 countries.
  • Meanwhile, the FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer booster shots for all adults who are least six months past their second dose by the end of this week, which could help keep holiday-fueled transmission to a minimum. A growing number of states have already ditched booster-eligibility requirements without waiting for the federal sign-off. Moderna has also resubmitted its request for the FDA to authorize its booster shot for all adults, which could happen as soon as this week.

Pandemic-weary voters might also be interested to know that the economy has secretly been doing better than we thought.

  • Revised government figures show that the Bureau of Labor Statistics wildly underestimated job growth over the summer, undercounting by a cumulative 626,000 jobs between June and September. Sure, it would’ve been nice for those numbers to come out before the narrative of a stagnant economy dragged down Biden’s poll numbers, but at least the correction will get wall-to-wall media coverage in the days to come! (Haha.)
  • Positive news about job gains has been largely eclipsed by stubborn inflation, but there’s hope on the horizon there, too. On Wednesday, President Biden asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies,” noting that Americans are paying higher prices for gas even as the price of unfinished gasoline goes down. “Bring all of the commission‘s tools to bear if you uncover any wrongdoing,” Biden wrote.

It’s no small thing that millions of families will be able to once again gather for the holidays without the paralyzing fear of transmitting a deadly disease. For that to be a political victory as well as a humanitarian one, Democrats will need to cut through the noise of misleading news cycles and made-up culture wars to show Americans who made it possible, and who fought against it tooth and nail.

Catch up on the latest episode of X-Ray Vision! This week Jason Concepcion dives into Marvel's announcements and teasers from Disney+ Day last week and discusses the new The Wheel of Time adaptation. Follow X-Ray Vision on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The U.S. recorded more than 100,000 drug-overdose deaths in 12 months for the first time, a devastating milestone that’s linked to both the pandemic and the prevalence of fentanyl mixed into other illegal drugs. Overdose deaths jumped by nearly 30 percent from the previous year, and COVID factors like social isolation, difficulty accessing treatment, and housing insecurity undoubtedly played a role. But the pandemic just exacerbated an existing problem: Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, caused nearly two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, and the DEA has seized enough fentanyl this year to give every American a lethal dose. As part of the Biden administration’s plan to combat the opioid crisis, the White House has released a model law that states could enact to make the drug naloxone, which rapidly reverses opioid overdoses, more easily accessible.

New Hampshire Republicans and the conservative group Moms For Liberty have put a bounty on teachers who talk about racism, which we can all agree is a very chill new phase of the Koch-generated CRT panic. New Hampshire has set up a website to let parents turn in teachers who they think have violated that state’s impressively vague law forbidding classroom discussions of “divisive concepts” related to race and gender. Under the new law, teachers can lose their licenses if they’re found to have “discriminated against an individual or identified group.” To help get the accusations rolling in, the New Hampshire chapter of Moms For Liberty tweeted on Friday, “We’ve got $500 for the person that first successfully catches a public school teacher breaking this law.” Anyway, it’s important to keep in mind that critical race theory in schools is such a genuine, urgent crisis that Fox News stopped talking about it the moment Glenn Youngkin won his election.

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Nearly 10 percent of kids ages five to 11 have already received their first vaccine dose.

A Boston hospital will launch the first clinical trial of a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s.

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will become the first Black woman to join the crew of the International Space Station. 

Over 50,000 monarch butterflies have returned to California, after their population hit a record low last winter.

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