Wednesday, December 8, 2021

 -Ainsley Earhardt eulogizing the burning Fox News Christmas tree

On Tuesday, we promised that more substantive news about the Omicron variant was right around the corner. Let the record show that we were not fucking around (though the jury’s still out on Omicron, fucking-around-wise).

  • Lab researchers in South Africa have released the first dataregarding how well existing vaccines might protect against the new variant, and while the results are a mixed bag, there’s cause for optimism. The bad news: Omicron is, as feared, a slippery little sucker. Scientists have found it to be far better at eluding antibodies generated by two doses of the Pfizer vaccine than previous variants, suggesting that we’ll see more breakthrough infections as Omicron spreads.
  • The good news: Two doses may still protect against severe illness, in part because the immune system doesn’t rely on antibodies alone, and, on top of that, boosters appear to make a big difference. Pfizer said on Wednesday that a third dose provides the same level of protection against Omicron that two doses provided against the original coronavirus strain—somewhere around 95 percent efficacy. All of that data is still preliminary, but Pfizer said it will have enough information by the end of the month to know whether a new Omicron-specific vaccine is necessary. 
  • We also still don’t know definitively whether Omicron causes milder illness, as promising as it is that South Africa’s spike in cases hasn’t been accompanied by an overwhelming surge of patients requiring extra oxygen, thus far. The WHO warned on Wednesday that it’s too early to draw conclusions, and that “complacency could cost lives.”

Omicron cases have now been confirmed in at least 19 states, but Delta outbreaks in just six states are driving the current wave of U.S. hospitalizations.

  • Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois account for more than half of the country’s recent coronavirus hospitalizations. You’ll never guess which population is wearing out the medical staff: In Michigan, three-out-of-four COVID patients are unvaccinated, and unvaccinated people make up 87 percent of COVID patients in state ICUs. The situation looks similar in Ohio, where staffing shortages could force hospitals to start rationing care by January.
  • As hospitalizations ramp up, so do GOP efforts to block the federal vaccine mandates that would slow them. Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), are poised to win a simple majority vote to overturn Biden’s vaccine requirement for large employers, with the support of Sens. John Tester (D-MT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). That measure isn’t likely to make it past the House (and would certainly die on Biden’s desk), but it reflects the GOP’s deepening embrace of anti-vax politics at the federal level.

It’s still early, and pending studies could muddle the emerging picture of Omicron as a highly transmissible but less dangerous strain. Or they could confirm that we already have the knowledge and tools to keep it in check, and that America’s biggest public-health threat remains the major political party bent on rallying people not to use them. 

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Senate leaders have cut a deal to suspend filibuster rules for one matter, so that Democrats can raise the debt limit on their own, and you know what they say about filibuster carveouts: Once you pop, you just can’t stop noticing how simple it would be to do the same thing for voting rights. The House passed a measure on Tuesday night creating temporary new budget rules to raise the debt limit with just 51 Senate votes, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a deal that will allow Democrats raise the debt ceiling on their own without necessitating a new budget-reconciliation bill, or permanent changes to the filibuster rules; and skip another high-stakes game of debt-default chicken ahead of the December 15 deadline. The Senate is expected to pass the measure later this week, ending the debt-limit fight until sometime next fall.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is having the most chaotic week of his life since, well, most of his previous weeks. The January 6 committee announced that it will move forward with a contempt citation against Meadows, noting that it’s particularly egregious for him to refuse to testify after selling a book that discusses the events he claims he can’t talk about to House investigators. Meanwhile, Meadows has sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and all nine members of the committee, asking a judge to throw out the subpoenas issued to him and to Verizon for his cell phone records. Anywho, Meadows had already turned over a number of documents before he stopped cooperating, including text messages that show a member of Congress discussing a plot for GOP-controlled states to send alternate electors and Meadows replying, “I love it.”

In 2021 mental health is finally a thing, especially as people are not feeling like their normal selves. Let’s support one another and talk openly. Whether or not therapy is your thing, knowing it’s available and affordable is important, for you or perhaps a loved one.  

Millions of people are trying and loving online therapy. It doesn’t have to be sitting around just talking about your feelings.

So, what is therapy, exactly? It’s whatever you want it to be.

You can privately talk to someone if your stress is too much to manage, you’re battling a temper, having relationship issues, anxiety, depression, etc… Whatever you need, there’s no more shame in these normal human struggles. We take care of our bodies, why not our minds, too? Without a healthy mind, being truly happy and at peace is HARD.

BetterHelp is customized online therapy that offers video, phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist, so you don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to. It’s much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can start communicating with your therapist in under 48 hours.

It’s always a good time to invest in yourself, because you are your greatest asset. See if online therapy is for you by heading to for 10% off your first month.


President Biden has signed an executive order requiring the federal government to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

U.S. workers are in line for an average wage increase of 3.9 percent in 2022, the biggest pay bump in a decade.

A new guaranteed-income pilot will give about $850 in monthly cash, no strings attached, to hundreds of Black women in Georgia who are near or below the federal poverty line.

Nashville, TN, has taken down an offensive(ly hideous) statue of Confederate general and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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