Monday, February 28, 2022

'SNL' examines the Russian invasion of Ukraine

I concluded CNBC explores 'Why The Future Of The Oscars And Emmys Might Be In Jeopardy' by telling my readers to "stay tuned for an entry on Russian invasion of Ukraine for the final post of the month." I'm letting "Saturday Night Live" do the reporting and commenting today, beginning with Weekend Update: Russia Invades Ukraine, Biden Nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like Russia invading Ukraine.
Michael Che was right. This is a tough subject to make jokes about, but comedy exists because laughing hurts less than crying. I'm glad "SNL" tried. I'll examine the war and its effects more next month, both through comedy and serious news.

To close today's entry, I'm going back to the beginning of the show with Ukraine Cold Open.

Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performs Prayer for Ukraine.
For my reaction, I'm quoting Michael W's comment: "Rather than just offer words of support from celebrities, I'm so glad SNL chose to instead step aside and give Ukrainians a platform. This was a genuinely moving gesture. Well done SNL." I couldn't have said it better myself.

So ends February's blogging. As I wrote above, I'll examine the war in Ukraine next month after Paczki Day AKA Fat Tuesday tomorrow. I love holidays!

Sunday, February 27, 2022

CNBC explores 'Why The Future Of The Oscars And Emmys Might Be In Jeopardy'

CNBC brings a tale of collapse and decline for this week's Sunday entertainment feature, Why The Future Of The Oscars And Emmys Might Be In Jeopardy.

[T]he Oscars and Emmys are the two oldest entertainment award ceremonies. Making their broadcasting debut to millions of televisions in the 1950s, the Oscars and Emmys have had a stronghold on the entertainment award-show zeitgeist. However, in 2021, viewership for award shows has been steadily declining. On top of dwindling in ratings, the prestigious Hollywood events have also been hit with controversies and protests that jeopardize these award shows as we’ve come to know them.
This video speaks to me, because if it weren't for the pandemic and climate change news, I'd normally be all awards shows all the time now, just like I was before the Emmy Awards, but I'm just not feeling it. Yes, I'll get to the posts about "Flee" and "Dune" I promised in Trevor Noah, Joy Reid, and Tiffany Cross interview Questlove, director of Oscar-nominated documentary 'Summer of Soul', but, like the declining viewership for awards shows in general, my interest is starting to wane, mostly because those posts might be more work than I want to put in today and also because I should watch movies like "Power of the Dog" that are available on streaming before I opine on them. Besides, I think I covered much of what I think is important in 'King Richard,' 'West Side Story,' 'Pose,' and more diversity among Golden Globes winners for MLK Day. Read that for a pre-Oscars take on the acting nominees.

I might have more to say about the decline in awards show viewership later. In the meantime, stay tuned for an entry on Russian invasion of Ukraine for the final post of the month.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

PBS Terra and CNBC explain methane and how to reduce its emissions

I concluded UN report predicts wildfires could increase 50% by 2100 "I plan on following up on the methane emissions mentioned in the PBS NewsHour report." I begin with PBS Terra asking This Explosive Gas Is Heating Our Planet. Can We Capture It?

Methane is a molecule that causes a bit of a conundrum: On the one hand, it’s a fuel that burns cleaner than coal or oil (it could be a bridge fuel to reach a renewable energy future, some believe). On the other hand, it’s a greenhouse gas that’s 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Controlling methane leaks and emissions, both climate scientists and activists say, is crucial for controlling global climate change.

Hosts Caitlin Saks and Arlo Perez Esquivel investigate this tricky molecule -- and its dancing abilities -- by tracing it to its source, both in nature and in the city. And they meet with Boston University’s Nathan Phillips and MIT’s Desiree Plata to figure out exactly why this molecule is so efficient at heating both our homes and our planet—and how scientists are trying to stem the flow of the molecule into the atmosphere.
That's a good description of methane and the problems it causes, although it concentrates on leaks from gas pipes as a human-caused source of methane and wetlands as natural sources, giving short shrift to other sources. It also focuses on plugging leaks on pipes and reducing climate change in general as solutions, as melting permafrost releases methane, as solutions.

So, what is the U.S. government doing about the problem? CNBC has two videos about that. First, the big picture from World leaders commit to curbing methane emissions.

CNBC's Diana Olick joins Shep Smith to report on world leaders' promise to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
While I would have liked to have seen more commitment to reducing carbon dioxide, I'll take reducing methane emissions, conserving ecosystems as carbon sinks, and promoting green technology as necessary if not sufficient steps to reduce climate change. As I wrote in CNBC explains 'Why The U.S. Has A Massive Lithium Supply Problem', "I'm not going to discourage people from investing in green energy. The world needs those people to do something useful with their money."

Speaking of doing something useful with money, CNBC addressed one particular source of methane emissions and what is being done about it in Why The U.S. Has Millions Of Leaking Oil And Gas Wells.

Scattered throughout the U.S. are millions of old oil and gas wells with no known operator. They’re a major source of methane emissions and can leak contaminants into the groundwater. But it’s hard to locate these wells, as many were drilled before modern mapping and recordkeeping technologies became widespread. It’s going to cost billions to clean them up, but for the first time there’s major federal funding devoted to doing just that.
The program to cap abandoned oil and gas wells is not only putting money where the Biden Administration's mouth is about climate change, but also a good example of the green parts of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It's still not enough for me to post Professor Farnsworth, but it's a start.

Now I can type that I'm done examining climate change for February. Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature followed by a post about the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the final post of the month. What, did you think I would ignore a war? Not a chance!

Friday, February 25, 2022

UN report predicts wildfires could increase 50% by 2100

"Should" and "unless" ended up doing a lot of work in the final paragraph of UCLA study shows high-risk fire days in southern California could double by 2100.
That should conclude my climate change blogging for the month unless another study comes out that makes the news. Stay tuned.
It didn't take long. That evening, PBS NewsHour reported Alarming new climate report predicts 'catastrophic' global wildfires in the coming years.

There's grim new reports about potential causes and effects of climate change. The United Nations Environment Program has projected intense wildfires linked in part to climate change could increase 50 percent by the end of the century, and the International Energy Agency said energy sector emissions of methane are 70 percent higher than governments claim. William Brangham reports.
So it's not just California but also the rest of the world that faces increased wildfire risk because of climate change. I'm not surprised.

CNN also uploaded a segment about the report, Fire season is now year-round': Here's how climate crisis fuels wildfires.

A new UN report says wildfires are increasing and becoming more intense around the globe. CNN's Bill Weir discusses how the climate crisis contributes to the damaging burns.
So it's not just California experiencing a year-round fire season. That's not how I want the world to imitate my former home state.

Since this report came from the United Nations Environment Program, it's only fair that I embed their video on the report, The Rising Threat of Wildfires.

That's a scary series of facts and findings.

Unlike two days ago, I can say that I'm not done with climate news for the month. I plan on following up on the methane emissions mentioned in the PBS NewsHour report. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Vox explains 'How American conservatives turned against the vaccine,' a pandemic update

Vox gave me an opportunity to change the subject from climate change to pandemic yesterday with How American conservatives turned against the vaccine.

The partisan pandemic, explained in 15 charts.
President Donald Trump presided over the fastest vaccine development process in history, leading to abundant, free vaccines in the US by the spring of 2021. Although the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines haven’t been able to stop transmission of the virus, they have been highly effective against hospitalization and death, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and rendering the majority of new Covid-19 deaths preventable.

Trump has received three doses of the vaccine. But many of his most dedicated supporters have refused, and many have died as a result. Why? Obvious culprits include misinformation on social media and Fox News and the election of Joe Biden, which placed a Democrat at the top of the US government throughout the vaccine distribution period. But if you look closely at the data, you’ll see that vaccine-hesitant conservatives largely made up their mind well before the vaccines were available and before Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.

To understand why, I took a deep dive into the data, interviewed researchers, and spoke to people who lost loved ones to preventable severe Covid-19 infections. What I found is a stark cautionary tale for the country and for Republican political elites. Partisan polarization takes on a life of its own; once set into motion it’s nearly impossible to stop, even when the fallout is immense and irreparable.
I found this depressing but not surprising, as I've been seeing this develop since I wrote Samantha Bee on 'Mask Hysteria' two years ago, even before vaccines. Since then, I've been paying attention to Charles Gaba at who has been tracking vaccination rates vs. partisanship since May 2021.* He found the same relationship between party identification and vaccination rates that Vox showed in the video above. In fact, it has been getting more pronounced, as the animated .gif he included in his most recent post on the subject, Updated: A Full Year of U.S. COVID Vaccinations by Partisan Lean...Animated, shows. Watch as the slope steepens over time.

The disparities in vaccination rates have resulted in noticeably higher death rates in counties that voted Republican in 2020, which Charles graphed two days ago.

Yikes! Talk about dying to "own the libs!"

*I've known Charles since before I started writing this blog, but I've never mentioned him here before. After eleven years, it's about time I did. He does very good work on health care and my readers should read him, too.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

UCLA study shows high-risk fire days in southern California could double by 2100

Another climate study came out last week in addition to the determination that the American West is in the worst drought during past 1,200 years. CBS Los Angeles reported UCLA Study Shows Southern California Wildfire Risk Will Continue To Increase.

It seems like there are major wildfires in Southern California every year and a new report from UCLA predicts things will only get worse. The study shows the number of days with a high risk of fires could double by the end of the century.
It's Glen MacDonald, not Park Williams, explaining the findings, but he's also a professor in the UCLA Geography Department. On the one hand, go Bruins! On the other hand, yikes! I thought California's year-round fire season was bad enough already, but it's going to get worse.

CBS Sacramento also reported New UCLA Study Predicts More Fires In CA.

A new study out of UCLA predicts more disastrous fires throughout California.
I found this clip worth including just for the spectacular fire footage.

KTLA included a relevant location, a fire station, in High-risk fire days could double by 2100 due to climate change, study finds.

I hope Californians respond by making their developed environment more able to survive the increased fire risk and by joining the rest of the world in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. I'm doing my part by reducing my driving because of the pandemic. I don't expect that will last past May, when I will probably return to in-person teaching and commuting, but we'll see.

That should conclude my climate change blogging for the month unless another study comes out that makes the news. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

American West in worst drought during past 1,200 years

Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification' that I originally promised at the end of One foot sea level rise by 2050 according to U.S. government study. I begin with PBS NewsHour reporting Western states face a bleak future amid the worst drought in more than 1,000 years.

The so-called megadrought that is afflicting the American West is the worst in 1,200 years, according to a study published this week. It has dried up water supplies, threatened ranchers and fueled wildfires. Park Williams, the lead author of the study just published in the journal Nature Climate Change, joins William Brangham with more.
About the only good news is that PBS NewsHour interviewed the lead author of the study, who is an Associate Professor at UCLA, my undergraduate alma mater. They went to the source and got a brief yet clear explanation of the science. Yay, PBS journalism standards and go Bruins! Other than that, this is bad news.

NBC News opted for more video clips to illustrate Western States Face Worst Megadrought In More Than 1,000 Years.

A megadrought in the western U.S. has become the worst in more than 1,000 years and is being driven by humans, according to a new study. NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins breaks down whether the drought is showing any signs of letting up and how California officials are hoping to combat the unprecedented drought.
At least NBC News focused on solutions.

To see how the local media where I grew up covered this story, watch CBS Los Angeles The West Enters Worst Drought In 1,200 Years.

Experts believe 42% the so called "Megadrought" can be attributed to human-caused climate change.
CBS LA went for a combination of expert interview, location footage, and a search for solution with a local emphasis, which I thought was a good combination for them. Still, they didn't avoid this being bad news.

For my conclusion, I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling what I wrote last June for my reaction to the PBS Terra video I embedded.
Calling this "the worst drought in 1200 years" and the process "aridification" instead of a mere drought reminds me of something I said in the interview I linked to in On BlogTalkRadio for Earth Day today.* I told host John Henry that I thought that the drought was comparable to the once-in-a-lifetime one that caused the Dust Bowl but it could be worse. The current drought could rival the ones that occurred in the U.S. Southwest during the mid 1100s and late 1200s, during which time the Anasazi, the ancestors of today's Hopi, who were featured in the PBS Terra video, abandoned many of their previous settlements and started building their current pueblos. I'd listen to the descendants of the survivors of that drought about how to cope with it.
I still would, even though these videos didn't feature indigenous voices. That's an additional perspective that might have been valuable.

Monday, February 21, 2022

National Day Calendar and KUSA explain Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day! I'm going to play it straight today with two short videos about the significance and history of the holiday, beginning with National Day Calendar's Presidents Day the Third Monday In February.

Across the country, most Americans know the day as Presidents Day. More and more of the population celebrates the day to honor all of the past United States Presidents who have served the country. Throughout the country, organizations and communities celebrate the day with public ceremonies.
The website has more.
On the third Monday in February, the United States celebrates the federal holiday known as Presidents Day. The day takes place during the birth month of the country’s two most prominent presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. While the day once only honored President George Washington on his birthday, February 22nd, the day now never lands on a single president’s birthday.
KUSA, 9News in Denver, Colorado, took a different tack in The history behind Presidents Day.

While some states still view the holiday as specific to George Washington, Presidents Day is more commonly seen as a celebration of all U.S. presidents.
That concludes today's history lesson about the holiday. Stay tuned for "an update to Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification'...unless Russia invades Ukraine in the meantime" that I originally promised for today at the end of One foot sea level rise by 2050 according to U.S. government study.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

A comedic history of HBCU marching bands by 'The Daily Show'

For this week's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm sharing Dul-Sayin’ - The Impact of HBCU Marching Bands | The Daily Show for Black History Month.

Dulcé Sloan breaks down how Black marching bands became the phenomenon they are today in another Dul-Sayin’.
For my reaction, I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling my conclusion from Trevor Noah on First Ladies for Women's History Month.
[I]t's a good day when I learn something new, even from comedy. To paraphrase what I wrote two years ago, I learned more from ten minutes of reporting laced with comedy than I would have from ten minutes of straight reporting. I hope my readers do, too.
In this case, it's five minutes of comedy, but the idea still stands.

Speaking of straight reporting, follow over the jump for two videos about HBCU's in general and one HBCU marching band in particular.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

One foot sea level rise by 2050 according to U.S. government study

I had a feeling I might not blog about World Pangolin Day yesterday, when I told my readers to "Stay tuned to see if I actually celebrate it." Something bigger came to my attention, another dire warning about risks related to climate change. I begin with MSNBC's Climate Expert Discusses Sobering New Sea Level Rise Report.

A new report from NOAA shows alarming new predictions for sea level rise. Katy Tur sat down with Michael Mann, Penn State Distinguished Professor & Director of their Earth Systems Science Center, to talk about the report and what can be done to protect the climate.
First, those maps of selected coastlines are horrifying. The one of Florida seems to show more of Tampa Bay being flooded than Miami, which the third video explores. Second, Dr. Mann's comments about melting ice sheets reminds me of "Chasing Ice," which seems to be a successful replacement for An Inconvenient Truth" to show my classes. Third, I agree with both Mann and Katy Tur about the aptness of "Don't Look Up" as a metaphor for the reaction to climate change.

CNN described the report's findings as 'Mind boggling': See how rising sea levels will affect the coasts.

Rising sea levels could impact the world's coasts by 2050, a new study says. CNN meteorologist Tom Sater shows "astonishing" images of what that might look like.
While the maps of flooding MSNBC showed were horrifying in the abstract, the depictions of what sea level rise would look like in major U.S. cities from Climate Central were much more concretely scary. So were the projections of both temperature and sea level rise by the end of the century if climate change continues at its current pace. In its own way, I found the news that Indonesia was moving its capital to escape sea level rise to be the most stunning. It would be as if the U.S. moved its capital from Washington, D.C., to Columbus, Ohio. Brazil already did that 60 years ago, moving its capital from Rio De Janeiro to Brasilia. The Brazilians didn't do that for climate change, but it will work for that, too.

Both MSNBC and CNN described the causes and effects of sea level rise. WFTS-TV, ABC Action News in Tampa, Florida, which I already noted would be one of the more adversely affected areas, examined the adaptation measures needed to cope with sea level rise in Sea level to rise up to a foot by 2050, Interagency report projects.

An interagency sea level rise task force that includes NASA, NOAA, and other federal agencies said Tuesday the ocean height is projected to rise by up to a foot over the next 30 years.
As CNN's Tom Sater pointed out, if trying to prevent climate change is expensive, imagine what the price of having it happen will be.

Money for mitigation was also a subject of CNBC's Rising Risks: The race to save America's treasures from climate change.

CNBC's Diana Olick joins Shep Smith to report on the impact climate change could have on America's museums, where priceless American artifacts are housed.
I'm glad the Smithsonian Institution is preparing for climate change, but it would be better if the rest of us did more to reduce our contribution to it.

That wasn't the only climate change news to come out this week. There was also a report that serves as an update to Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification'. I plan on getting to that Monday after the Sunday entertainment feature — unless Russia invades Ukraine in the meantime. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 18, 2022

FiveThirtyEight and Sabato's Crystal Ball examine Congressional redistricting in New York State

I haven't written about redistricting since Brenda Lawrence announces retirement from Congress and Rashida Tlaib announces run for her new district, the latest in Congressional musical chairs from Michigan, which itself was the first I'd used the label since 2020. It's time to revisit the subject beginning with FiveThirtyEight's video New York’s Gerrymander Might Change Which Party Picks Up Seats In The Midterms.

Senior elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich breaks down how New York state was able to pass its Democratically gerrymandered congressional map and what it could mean for the 2022 midterm race.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics had its own analysis as part of Democrats’ Position Improves in Redistricting Tally by Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman.
Democrats enacted an aggressive gerrymander of their own in New York, which we will analyze in some depth below.
Though New York had a newly-formed independent commission to oversee the line drawing this cycle, the legislature retained the power to draw the lines itself. As expected, Democratic legislators ended up doing just that, and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) made good on her earlier suggestion that she’d use the redistricting process to boost her party’s prospects.

Hochul’s approach is a departure from that of her predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A decade ago, he seemed intent on taking the high road, and publicly decried gerrymandering — Republicans also still controlled the state Senate back then, meaning that neither side could dominate the process. As a result, New York ended up going with a court-drawn map for the decade. But this round, New York supplanted Illinois as the largest state where Democrats had a free hand in drawing a map, although some Republicans may complain that California’s independent commission made consistently pro-Democratic choices.

While New York lost a district — had it counted just 89 more residents in the last census, it would have retained all its seats — Democrats seem likely to come out ahead. If the Democratic plan pans out as intended, the number of Republicans in the New York delegation will shrink from 8 of 27 to 4 of 26.
Hearing Andrew Rakich and reading Kondik and Coleman makes me glad that Michigan's independent redistricting commission was able to agree on its maps for the state's legislative and Congressional districts. At least that part of the reform has worked so far, but I'm not celebrating until the maps survive all the court challenges they face.

Also, it shows how important the U.S. Census is. Just 89 more New Yorkers to retain a Congressional seat? Yikes!

Follow over the jump for more from Sabato's Crystal Ball along with my commentary.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

MSNBC examines disinformation and 'insider threats' to the 2022 elections

It's a mid-term election year, so today I'm pivoting away from the pandemic to elections and government with yesterday's State Election Officials Battle The Spread Of Disinformation Ahead Of Midterms from MSNBC.

Arizona Secretary of State and candidate for governor Katie Hobbs and senior opinion writer for The Boston Globe Kimberly Atkins Stohr discuss how election workers around the country are fighting against conspiracy theories and misinformation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
For more about election misinformation and other threats to local election administration, read the Politico article Nicolle Wallace quoted, Election officials are on the frontlines of defending democracy. They didn't sign up for this.
Voting for the 2022 midterms is already underway, and the nation’s top election officials are caught fighting a two-front war: Battling disinformation stemming from the last election, while simultaneously preparing for the next one.

The officials are no longer just running elections. They’ve become full-time myth-busters, contending with information threats coming from the other side of the globe — and their own ranks.
They’re dealing with political candidates undermining the election systems that they still run for office in, and conspiracy theories that target even the most obscure parts of America’s election infrastructure. And they say the country will face the same issues this year as it elects a new Congress and decides control of three dozen statehouses.
The struggles stemming from misinformation vary state-to-state, from dealing with threats of violence against election workers at all levels to contending with so-called insider threats — election workers who themselves pose a security challenge to the system.
One of the insider threats the article mentions is Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters of Colorado, who was the subject of Election Denier Under Investigation Is Running To Oversee Elections In Her State on "All In" the night before last.

“There is a possibility that this lady, who is currently under investigation for allegedly tampering with election machines, who actively pushes Donald Trump's Big Lie,” says Chris Hayes, “That woman could conceivably be in charge of overseeing all of Colorado's elections in 2024.”
Time to recycle what I last repeated in Colbert and Klobuchar on the insurrection one year later.
It looks like the people who buy Trump's "Big Lie" are learning from last year's failed effort to overturn the election by not just working the refs, but replacing them. I'm going to recycle my reaction from April in response.
Personally, I'd rather call it Trump's dangerous delusion, his fixed belief that the election was stolen from him despite all evidence, which I see as related to his vulnerability to conspiracy theories, but "the Big Lie" is the established phrase used by CNBC and others, so I'm calling it that instead. It's a lie, too.
To paraphrase what I wrote last month, Benson's remarks show that Trump's delusion is not just dangerous but contagious.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold's response to Peters' behavior shows that, too.

So, what can the voters do to prevent candidates who pose an insider threat do? Run for something! Watch Alex Wagner substituting for Rachel Maddow reporting Wave Of New Candidates Eager To Counter Wave Of Right-Wing Activists In Local Elections.

Amanda Litman, co-founder and executive director or Run For Something, talks about the surge in interest in running for local office and the importance of supporting quality, non-kooky candidates in low level races to preserve the functioning and integrity of democracy in the United States.
If my readers can't or won't run for something, at least support the candidates who oppose the supporters of "The Big Lie" in this year's state and local elections. Our democracy depends on it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Fauci on MSNBC: 'COVID is not done with the U.S., nor...the world,' a pandemic update

I last wrote "the virus isn't done with us even though a lot [of people] are acting as if they're done with it" in ASAPScience asks 'When Will COVID End?' MSNBC featured that thought from Dr. Fauci: You May Be ‘Done With Covid,’ But Covid Isn’t Done With The U.S.

“You may be done with Covid, but Covid is not done with the United States—nor is it done with the world. We’ve got to do what it takes to get it to be done,” says Dr. Fauci, stressing the importance of boosters and vaccinations.
This, along with both Hayes and Fauci stressing the importance of vaccines and booster shots, are two of the messages about the pandemic I've been reinforcing.

Speaking of vaccines, Dr. Fauci appeared on MSNBC earlier yesterday to give an update on vaccines for preschooler Fauci: ‘No Doubt About Safety’ Of Vaccines For Children Under 5.

Dr. Anthony Fauci joins MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson to discuss the possibility of a three-dose regimen for young children, as well as the handling of state mask mandates.
The loosening of mask requirements strikes me as another example of Americans being done with the pandemic even though the pandemic isn't done with us. I picked up groceries just before sunset last Friday and the number of people out about and going into restaurants without masks surprised me. Thousands of Americans were dying of COVID-19 each day last week, and people have decided to accept it as normal. I'm being a good environmentalist and recycling the insight I included in Stephen Colbert and Dr. Sanjay Gupta discuss reopening the country, a pandemic update.
"America is quite clear about its screwed up priorities­. My experience has convinced me that the surest way to get Americans to act is to mess with their entertainm­ent" and "Americans want their entertainment, and will do just about anything to keep it going."
As I wrote last year, "My friend Nebris thinks this is one of my great insights. I'm sure it is, but...I wish it weren't true."

CNN weighed in yesterday as well in Dr. Fauci says delay of Covid-19 vaccine for kids under 5 is not setback.

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and gives his reaction to the FDA’s announcement that it had postponed a scheduled meeting to go over data from Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine trials and make a recommendation on whether a two-dose vaccine regimen should be authorized for children 6 months to 5 years old.
I think the reaction to the delay is another sign of people wanting to get back to normal, but at least it's not pandemic denial or vaccine skepticism. Also, if the science says that a three-dose vaccine for kids is safe and more effective than two doses, then the delay will be the right decision in the long run. In the short run, it's disappointing.

The pandemic continues, but I'm done with it for today, at least on this blog. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to end blockades and demonstrations

Today is National Flag of Canada Day, so I'm going to revisit Canadian trucker convoy spills over into U.S., blocking Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario and CNN and MSNBC report on the connections between U.S. conservatives and the Canadian trucker protests, a story that features lots of Canadian flags.* I begin with CNN reporting Trudeau invokes rare emergencies act to stop protests.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued his most aggressive response yet to the so-called "Freedom Convoy" protests, invoking the government's Emergencies Act for the first time to try to end more than two weeks of blockades and demonstrations. The law can temporarily suspend people's freedom of movement or assembly and allows authorities to go after those who financially support the protests. CNN's Paula Newton has more.
I agree with Tony Keller, editor of the Globe and Mail, that the second requirement for invoking the Emergencies Act, a jurisdiction's law enforcement being unable or unwilling to enforce law and public order, most likely happened. This is on top of the blockades at the U.S.-Canada border.

While CNN looked at the overall story, MSNBC examined the protests at both street-level in Ottawa and the level of U.S.-Canadian exchange of (bad) ideas in GOP-Backed Canadian Truckers Blockade Fizzles.

Canadian author Stephen Marche joins Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss his experience of witnessing trucker protests firsthand and why the protesters are causing “disruption for its own sake.”
Canadian conservatives maintained their integrity in the face of populist adversity. I wish I could say the same about more U.S. conservatives besides Liz Cheney and the few like her.

WDIV/Click on Detroit put a local spin in the story in Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invokes emergency powers due to protests on Ambassador Bridge.

At the Blue Water Bridge connecting Port Huron and Sarnia, truckers have been waiting for two hours to cross into Michigan for much of Monday (Feb.14). Protesters gathered there Saturday after a week that saw traffic at the bridge double because of the Ambassador Bridge closure. While the Ambassador Bridge re-opened Sunday (Feb. 13) night and the farmers ended their blockade of highway 402 Monday (Feb. 14), Canada’s Prime Minister isn’t taking a chance of the Freedom Convoy protesters returning.
I'm glad that's over, for now. So are the auto companies, who lost production because of the supply chain disruption. I'm still worried about similar protests happening inside the U.S. later this month and early next month. Stay tuned.

*I told the story of the modern Canadian emblem in 50 years of the Maple Leaf Flag for Canada Day for any of my readers who are interested.

Monday, February 14, 2022

FiveThirtyEight asks 'How many Americans believe in love at first sight?' for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day! I had a last-minute change of plans. Instead of a science video in the vein of PBS Eons on the evolution of the heart for Valentines Day, I am featuring FiveThirtyEight asking Do Americans Believe In Love At First Sight?*

How many Americans believe in love at first sight? How many have been ghosted? In this Valentine’s Day episode of “The United Stats of America,” host Galen Druke quizzes people in New York City’s Washington Square Park on all things love, dating and relationships.
I didn't play, but if you did, how did you do on the quizzes? Were you surprised by either the answers or the questions?

Now for a holiday tradition on this blog, a drink recipe from Tipsy Bartender, Valentine's Day Pink Moscato Sangria.

Raspberry Vodka
Pink Moscato
Luster Dust
I hadn't posted a Tipsy Bartender recipe for a holiday post here since Christmas, so it was about time I did. Happy Valentine's Day and drink responsibly!

*I decided to be a good environmentalist by conserving my resources. This applies to both the PBS Eons video I originally planned for today along with the other Tipsy Bartender recipes for Valentine's Day. Yes, there are more and I will eventually use them.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Trevor Noah, Joy Reid, and Tiffany Cross interview Questlove, director of Oscar-nominated documentary 'Summer of Soul'

I concluded yesterday's Darwin Day post by telling my readers that "the Sunday entertainment feature...may or may not be on the Super Bowl. I haven't decided yet, so stay tuned." I wasn't feeling like sports or commercials today, so instead I'm updating 'Summer of Soul,' my pick for best documentary of 2021 now that the film earned an Oscar nomination and it's the middle of Black History Month. I begin with Trevor Noah's interview Questlove - Black Woodstock, Black Erasure & Black Joy on "The Daily Show."

“Black joy is the component that shows that we’re human. This could have been that moment had it been allowed the spotlight that Woodstock had gotten.” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson discusses his award-winning documentary “Summer of Soul” and explains why the summer of 1969 wasn’t as one-dimensional as history makes it appear.
Questlove's observations about how this event was lost to history, his own disbelief that it had even happened, casual racism, and "Black joy" are ones that he also made in the MSNBC interviews below, but they are worth hearing and seeing again. I also second Noah's remark that "Summer of Soul" deserves all the awards it has won and will win, although I think the competition with "Flee," which I called "a triple threat" because of its then-expected and now-realized nominations for Best Documentary Feature, Best Animated Feature Film, and Best International Feature Film, will be fierce.

Joy Reid interviewed Questlove for even longer than Noah in Summer Of Soul' Doc Directed By Questlove Celebrates 'Black Woodstock' Hidden From History.

Questlove on directing 'Summer of Soul,' which is now Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary, and how the concert featured has been dubbed the 'Black Woodstock,' hidden from history until this groundbreaking film. 'Summer of Soul' is streaming on Hulu and airs for free on Sunday, Feb. [20] on ABC.
Thanks to Joy for making the Black History Month connection. This rediscovered event qualifies as an important moment in American cultural history. Also, I can relate to Joy's looking for her parents in the crowd. That's something I would do.

Tiffany Cross followed up with her own interview Saturday morning, Questlove's "Summer of Soul" Earns Oscar Nomination For Best Documentary.

More than 300,000 people attended the Harlem Cultural Festival to watch iconic musicians like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and more perform at the 1969 summer concert series. Questlove transports us back to that eventful summer in his Oscar-nominated documentary, “Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).”
Here's to hoping "Summer of Soul" wins so that Questlove can give Tiffany Cross a secret signal. If he does, and it's not a lock because of "Flee," I'll be watching for it.

Speaking of "Flee," I plan on writing a post about it, just as I did for "Belfast" and plan to for "Dune." I'll get to both, but only after Valentines Day. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

PBS Eons on Toxodon, 'The Creature That Stumped Darwin,' for Darwin Day 2022

Happy Darwin Day! To celebrate, I'm continuing the tradition of sharing videos about evolution from PBS I started in 2016. Like the past four years, this one is from PBS Eons, The Creature That Stumped Darwin.

Toxodon was one of the last members of a lineage that vanished 11,000 years ago after thriving in isolation for millions of years. And its fossils would inspire a revolutionary thinker to tackle a bigger mystery than Toxodon itself: evolution.
Over at my Dreamwidth journal, I embedded this video and wrote "I show enough videos to my I won't show this. It's still good."

I'm not the only blogger I follow who has written about Toxodon and its co-star in this video, Macrauchenia. Follow over the jump for what J.K. Revell wrote about both in his blog Synapsida.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Kenneth Branaugh says 'Belfast' has lessons for a divided America

I gave a capsule description of "Belfast" in Politics, government, and diversity among movie nominees at the 2022 Golden Globes, writing the film is "political, as it takes place in Northern Ireland during the 1960s, when The Troubles started to escalate," but "primarily [a] family drama..." MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell previewed the film's Oscar nominations when he interviewed its writer-director Kenneth Branagh in Branagh's 'Belfast' Has Lessons For A Fiercely Divided America.

Oscar-nominated director, actor, and screenwriter Kenneth Branagh joins MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss his brilliant new film, ‘Belfast,’ which is based on Branagh’s own experiences with the start of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The two also discuss the parallels of the turbulent era brought to life in the film and the current deep political divide in the United States.
I found reason for both alarm and hope in Branaugh's and O'Donnell's observations. The alarm comes from Branaugh's description of the street where he grew up being transformed in a matter of hours into a barricaded and occupied area during a low-grade civil war. That situation lasted for about thirty years until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Yikes! The hope is that family life continued through all of it and Northern Ireland recovered to the color scenes of today that open the movie. If all that happens to the U.S. on that time scale, I may not live to see it, but my children will. That's cold comfort for me, but it is something, although I'd rather have the U.S. fall into civil disorder. That's a topic I'll have to examine again, as it's a prime example of collapse and decline.*

O'Donnell was correct in forecasting Oscar nominations for "Belfast." The movie has earned enough awards and nominations that the topic has its own Wikipedia page. The Motion Picture Academy nominated "Belfast" in seven categories: Best Picture, Best Director for Kenneth Branagh, Best Supporting Actor for Ciarán Hinds, Best Supporting Actress for Judi Dench, Best Original Screenplay for Kenneth Branagh, Best Original Song for Van Morrison for "Down to Joy," and Best Sound. I plan on writing about the film's chances for most of its nominations later, but right now I'm venturing that Branaugh, who won Best Screenplay for "Belfast" at Golden Globes, is the most likely winner for Best Original Screenplay.

I am disappointed but not surprised that Judy Dench earned the Supporting Actress nomination over Outlander actress Caitríona Balfe. I think both repelling and attractive forces contributed to that choice. I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling what I wrote in Fantastic and futuristic politics and government nominees at the Critics Choice Super Awards for National Science Fiction Day for what pushed the Oscar voters away from Balfe: "[T]he creatives in Hollywood won't give 'Outlander' the time of day. As I wrote in September, 'The fans love 'Outlander.' The professionals, not so much.'" That even seems to extend to the actors in roles outside the fantasy historical romance series. As for the attractive force, all I have to type is "Dame Judy Dench." Electorates matter.

"Belfast" may be the most nominated contemporary or historical film at the Oscars nominee about politics, but it's not the most nominated movie about politics in general. That distinction belongs to "Dune," which features a lot of futuristic politics and political allegory in its science fiction. I definitely plan on writing about it. Consider this a down payment on the Oscars posts I promised at the end of 'Diana the Musical' leads 2022 Razzies with nine nominations. In the meantime, stay tuned for Darwin Day.

*Yes, I'm still a doomer blogger and societal collapse is still part of the blog's description, although I'm writing about that mostly in terms of the pandemic lately.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

CNN and MSNBC report on the connections between U.S. conservatives and the Canadian trucker protests

I ended Canadian trucker convoy spills over into U.S., blocking Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario by telling my readers "There's a lot more to this story, including possible U.S. inspiration, funding, and plans to bring it to major U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., so stay tuned." Both CNN and MSNBC reported on those aspects of the story last night. I begin with CNN's Small group of Canadian protesters get big support from US conservatives.

A small group of truckers protesting vaccine mandates in Canada are getting big support from GOP officials and right-wing media conservatives in the US. Donnie O'Sullivan reports.
I read the Grid News story that CNN mentioned, which is why I wrote about "possible U.S. inspiration, funding, and plans to bring it to major U.S. cities." I was waiting for a larger news outlet to pick up the story before blogging about it. CNN did, so I'm passing it along to show that it's a bigger story than just some long-haul truckers in Canada disgruntled over vaccine mandates.

Follow over the jump for last night's segments on MSNBC and Peacock about the connections between the trucker protests in Canada that have spilled over the border and U.S. conservatives.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Canadian trucker convoy spills over into U.S., blocking Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario

I orginally planned to write about the Oscar nominees for this blog's 5000th post, but a pandemic-related story changed my mind.* I begin with WDIV/Click on Detroit reporting Traffic to Canada blocked at Ambassador Bridge as protest continues.

Traffic heading into Canada is shut down at the Ambassador Bridge as protests continue in Windsor for the second straight night.
That's a surprisingly sympathetic depiction of the protest, one I don't necessarily agree with, especially since I'm on the other side of the issue regarding vaccines and it's causing economic disruption on both sides of the border. France 24 English shows that in Canada 'Freedom convoy': Truck protest leads to halted traffic on key trade bridge.

Canadian lawmakers expressed increasing worry about the economic effects of disruptive demonstrations after the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada became partially blocked by truckers protesting vaccine mandates and other Covid-19 restrictions.
The disruption is even worse in Canada, especially in the nation's capital, Ottawa. We don't have to imagine what that would look like in the U.S., as the Ambassador Bridge blockage shows that it's already here. As I last wrote in Seeker explains the environmental issues and solutions involving rare earth elements, "this touches on [a lesson] I teach my students, all of which connect to Commoner's Laws...everything is connected to everything else, in this case through the global supply chain." WXYZ explained how the blockage of the Ambassador Bridge is affecting the supply chain for auto parts in Day Three: The Ambassador Bridge on the U.S. side remains closed, backups at Blue Water Bridge.

Day Three: The Ambassador Bridge on the U.S. side remains closed, backups at Blue Water Bridge
WXYZ takes this protest seriously and is not that sympathetic to the protesters. In contrast, WDIV/Click on Detroit is more sanguine in Ambassador Bridge protest backups aren't biggest issue for automakers.

Traffic heading to Canada, particularly truck traffic, is delayed and backing up Tuesday (Feb. 8) evening throughout Southeast Michigan. Sky 4 gave a live look in the video player above at the delays near the Ambassador Bridge caused by a Canadian trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates across the border.
Ah, yes, the chip shortage continues. The diversion of traffic to the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia and subsequent delay is not causing that, but I'm sure it's not helping.

There's a lot more to this story, including possible U.S. inspiration, funding, and plans to bring it to major U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., so stay tuned.

*That's two days in a row that I've postponed my first Oscar nominations post after writing "stay tuned for the first post about the Oscar nominees" as the conclusion to 'Diana the Musical' leads 2022 Razzies with nine nominations. Man plans and God laughs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

CNBC explains 'Why U.S. Speed Limits Are Wrong,' a driving update

Snow Bear's odometer passed 9,000 miles as I drove her yesterday, so it's time for another entry about driving. I begin with CNBC explaining Why U.S. Speed Limits Are Wrong.

In 2019, 9,478 Americans lost their lives from speeding, contributing to more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the year. Speed limits were created to avoid situations like this. Yet, millions of Americans continue to speed every year. Many experts argue that the current speed limits might be too unrealistic and arbitrary to have any impact on how fast people drive. Watch the video to understand what’s wrong, what’s right and how the U.S. can fix speed limits on the road.
Remember, those stats are for 2019 and don't include those for 2020, when I wrote Most Americans stay home, allowing people to speed on open roads, a driving update for Pearl during June 2020, Americans speeding during the pandemic is increasing traffic deaths, a driving update, and Traffic accidents down but fatal accidents up in Michigan while drivers overpaid $1 billion for insurance during 2020, a driving update, all of which document the effects of the pandemic on Americans' driving habits. More realistic laws and stricter enforcement may be necessary to convince Americans to drive more safely, but I think something deeper is going on that needs to be addressed.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Snow Bear rolled past 9,000 miles on Monday, February 7, 2022. That's 328 days since the car turned over 8,000 miles on March 16, 2021. That translates to 3.05 miles per day, 92.99 miles per standard month, and 1112.80 miles per standard year. That's less than the 4.17 miles per day, 127.08 miles per standard month, and 1,520.83 miles per standard year my wife and I drove her between July 26, 2020 and March 16, 2021. That decrease comes despite my driving her for errands (she has more cargo capacity) and the weather (she's better in snow and has heated seats, a feature I finally started using this winter). Maybe that's because the weather was warmer between March and December 2021 (January and February 2022 have been another story) and I drove very little to work this calendar year so far because of the Omicron wave, instead teaching remotely from home. That will end in May, when I expect to return to the classroom.

I expect I will post another driving update for Pearl later this month or early next month, when I will also post a graph of total miles driven and analyze my driving on both vehicles. In the meantime, stay tuned for this blog's 5000th post.

Monday, February 7, 2022

'Diana the Musical' leads 2022 Razzies with nine nominations

I told my readers that I would make up for yesterday's post not being the first Sunday entertainment feature of February by covering the Razzie nominations today. They're out on schedule. Watch 42nd Razzie Nominations.

While space was jammed in 2021 with the likes of Bezos, Elon and telescopes exploring escape routes, we simple Earthlings, who did not “Look Up” remained glued to the Razzie crap streaming, beaming and steaming from our various screens and devices.
LOL, loved using a "Don't Look Up" parody as the theme, although it briefly made me worried that it would be among the nominees. Nope and a good thing, too.

The press release continues.
Here’s a look at what we saw … the excruciating musicals, thrill-free thriller rip-offs, a nearly 2 hour product placement flick, and more Bruce Willis than any starving viewer could stomach. In other words, 2021 did not fail the Razzies!

As the ugly cousin to the Oscars, the Razzies duly follow in the footsteps of their more prestigious and dull counterpart’s rules and regulations. So, with the Academy guidelines allowing non-traditional releases to compete, guess what – so did we!

This year’s Worst Picture nominees include: The NetFLIX version of Broadway’s biggest bomb of the year, Diana the Musical (the stage version of which didn’t even last 40 performances); That multi-bajillion-dollar straight-to-streaming time travel turkey Infinite: The hopelessly on-the-nose/can’t-we-all-just-get-along melodrama Karen (whose title character makes Cruella seem like a nice neighbor); That 115 minute Time/Warner corporate sales reel posing as a family film, Space Jam: A New Legacy; And a lifeless, pointless “re-imagining” of a seminal Hitchcock classic, The Woman in the Window.

Acting nominees include an otherwise great actress, Amy Adams (with nods for both Woman in the Window and Dear Evan Hansen); LeBron James, who most likely dunked his chances for basking in the cinema limelight by starring in Space Jam 2; And a Razzie Regular whose appearance in no less than EIGHT titles in 2021 bagged him a category all to himself (Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 Movie).

Diana the Musical (9 Nominations, including Worst Picture, Actor & Actress)
Karen (5 Nominations, including Picture, Actress, Screenplay & Director)
The Woman in the Window (5 Nominations, including Picture, Actress & Remake/Rip-Off)
Space Jam: A New Legacy (4 Nominations, including Picture, Actor & Screen Couple)
Infinite (3 Nominations, including Worst Picture, Actor & Supporting Actress)
The Misfits (3 Nominations, including Supporting Actor, Director & Screenplay)
I pay attention to the Razzies because they usually recognize the worst big-budget genre films and sniff out bad political films. They didn't disappoint me this year, as "Diana the Musical," which is about the British Royal Family, so politics and government by default, earned the most nominations. While thrillers are not speculative fiction, they are genre shows that are adjacent to speculative fiction, so "Karen," "The Woman in the Window," "The Misfits," and "Vanquish" all qualify. Thrillers can also involve law enforcement, so government plays a role, and can examine political issues, so "Karen," which is about racism and harassment, qualifies. Actual speculative fiction made the list, too, as "Space Jam: A New Legacy," "Infinite," and "Tom & Jerry the Movie" all earned nominations.

I have noticed that the people behind the Razzies do not have the best math skills and attention to detail, so they make mistakes when counting nominations. This year was no exception, as "Dear Evan Hansen" earned four nominations for Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Screen Couple, and Worst Director but didn't make the "nominations per picture" list. Oops. Just the same, it shows that "Diana the Musical" wasn't the only bad musical tragedy in film last year. Bonus, it takes place in a public high school, so a government facility serves as the setting. Two bad musicals about government!

Before I go, I'm noting that two "Orange Is the New Black" alumna earned nominations for Worst Actress, Taryn Manning, who played Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett, for "Karen" and Ruby Rose, who played Stella Carlin for a season on the prison dramedy, for "Vanquish." Manning might be unfairly singled out because she's quite capable of playing an unlikable character well, but Rose might be another matter. She looks great, but I haven't heard good things about her acting.

I might have more about the Razzies later. In the meantime, stay tuned for the first post about the Oscar nominees tomorrow.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

U.S. passes 900,000 dead from COVID-19, a pandemic update

I know I told my readers "Stay tuned for the first Sunday entertainment feature of February" at the end of PBS NewsHour on U.S. death rate, long COVID, vaccines for preschoolers, and coronavirus in deer, a pandemic update, but I missed including a grim but important milestone in the pandemic, the US COVID-19 death toll tops 900,000 as reported by ABC News.*

Nearly two years since the first known COVID-19 death in the U.S., the country reports approximately 15.7% of the world's virus-related deaths.
It's only been a little more than six weeks since U.S. passed 800,000 dead from COVID-19, a pandemic update, just a week longer then it took to go from 750,000 dead to 800,000 dead, so the death rate nearly doubled during the past month-and-one-half. I wish I could say I were surprised, but I know better.
Omicron infects more people, appears to evade immune responses more often, and can re-infect people. The bottom line is that a smaller proportion of a much larger number can still result in more hospitalizations and death.
That's exactly what's happened and is still happening. Sometimes I wish I weren't right.

That's the bad news. KPIX CBS SF Bay Area highlighted the good news in As U.S. COVID Deaths Top 900,000 Omicron Cases Plummet.

With the highly-contagious omicron variant retreating and hospitalizations down, there's renewed hope this COVID surge might be the last. Michael George reports.
I'm not surprised by Omicron cases dropping, because that's what this strain did in South Africa. Just the same, reported cases are still higher than they were before Omicron arrived and deaths are a lagging indicator. Mortality will likely stay high for weeks.

Speaking of mortality, that's the focus of New4JAX/WJXT's US surpasses 900K COVID-19 deaths.

Johns Hopkins University reported that as of Friday, more than 900,000 have died from COVID-19 in the United States. The country met the grim milestone two years after the first cluster of the virus was reported in China.
One million dead from the pandemic by April. I hope that won't happen, but I'm afraid it will. When it does, I'll report it here.  In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.

*I'll make up for it later this week, as nominees for the Razzies and Oscars will be announced tomorrow and Tuesday, respectively. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

PBS NewsHour on U.S. death rate, long COVID, vaccines for preschoolers, and coronavirus in deer, a pandemic update

PBS NewsHour uploaded four clips about the pandemic this week, which helped convince me to write about it today after the reality of the Guantánamo Bay prison still being open for a third decade depressed me — not that COVID-19 is any better. I begin with PBS NewsHour examining Why the COVID death rate in the U.S. is so much higher than other wealthy nations.

More than two years into this pandemic, the United States death toll is the highest in the world. The country is closing in on 900,000 deaths, and its death rate is alarming -- particularly given that the U.S. was the one of the first to have the vaccine. Geoff Bennett looks at why the nation is struggling compared to much of the world.
Two of the main reasons why so many Americans are still unvaccinated are low social trust and misinformation from both politicians and media personalities. As Dr. Brian Castrucci said to Business Insider, which MSNBC quoted: "For every single death certificate that has COVID-19 as a primary cause of death, partisanship should be listed as a contributing cause. This pandemic was politicized from day one."

In the next clip, PBS NewsHour asked Who is most likely to suffer from long COVID?

With hundreds of thousands of Americans contracting COVID everyday, health officials worry that may mean more people will end up suffering from so-called “long COVID," the mysterious ailment that can affect the body and the mind for months or longer after an initial infection. William Brangham looks at the latest research on the disorder, beginning with the perspective from a long-COVID survivor.
Not only is the pandemic likely to evolve into endemic COVID, but the health effects could remain for a lifetime. It could be like polio, which gave my next-door neighbor growing up a limp and put Franklin Delano Roosevelt into a wheelchair.

The next clips moved from gloom about the future to hope, as PBS NewsHour explained What parents need to know about a possible COVID vaccine for children under age 5.

Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to authorize two low-dose shots for children between six months and 5 years old. Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatric infectious disease at Stanford University who has helped conduct trials for the under-5 vaccine, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.
Here's to the pediatric vaccine being found safe and effective so that the FDA approves it.

I conclude with the clip that drew my attention to PBS NewsHour's coverage of the pandemic this week, Scientists discover shockingly high rates of COVID infections among white-tailed deer.

Scientists have recently discovered what they are calling a silent outbreak of coronavirus among white-tailed deer. William Brangham reports about how one of the most ubiquitous species in North America contracted COVID, and what that means for the future of the pandemic.
This is not entirely new, as I reported it as the final story in Vaccinations approved for children 5-11 and news about COVID-19 antivirals as U.S. passes 750,000 dead and deer are infected, a pandemic update last November, but it's still concerning. As I wrote then: "I certainly found this news worrisome, but as long as the deer don't get sick and die or pass it back to humans, I'm not going to panic. Again, may it stay that way."

Enough reality. Stay tuned for the first Sunday entertainment feature of February.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Vox asks 'Why is the Guantánamo Bay prison still open?'

It's been more than 20 years since 9/11, so other 20th anniversaries of events in the War on Terror have been happening as well. One of them was the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Vox observed the occasion this week by asking Why is the Guantánamo Bay prison still open?

Two decades of the world’s most notorious prison.
In 2002, the US opened a prison at its naval base in Guantánamo bay, Cuba. The 9/11 attacks had occurred just months before, and the US was capturing hundreds of men in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It wanted a place to hold and question them. So the Bush administration opened Guantánamo and claimed that it lay outside of US and international law.

The detainees didn’t have to be charged with a crime to be imprisoned and the US could hold them as long as they’d like. By 2003, there were nearly 700 men imprisoned in Guantánamo, but there was backlash from around the world. When Barack Obama took office in 2009, he pledged to close Guantánamo.

But politics quickly got in the way. He was able to decrease the population but faced legal challenges. Ultimately, no president has been able to close Guantánamo because once something is created outside the law, its impossible to bring it back inside the law.
As Dan Fried said, "Don't throw out the rule book in a fit of passion. You'll regret it...and we did."

That was the past. PBS NewsHour tried to ask about the future in As Guantanamo enters its third decade, what does the future look like for detainees?

Tuesday marked 20 years since the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba opened. Since Jan. 11, 2002, it’s been one of the most enduring symbols of the United States' war on terror. But it's also a symbol of government waste and mismanagement, and a legacy of torture. Amna Nawaz looks back at the facility's two decades, and what's to come, with Carol Rosenberg of The New York Time[s].
The answer is that some of them will get to go home, some may be convicted and imprisoned for the rest of their lives, which may end in execution, while others will be stuck in limbo, keeping the facility open because they're not considered prisoners of war and the political will is against interning them in the U.S. proper. If the U.S. had considered them prisoners of war, all but the war criminals would be released now that the U.S. has withdrawn from Afghanistan. But we're not and we're stuck with them as much as they're stuck with us. Phooey.

That prospect is enough to make me want to blog about the pandemic tomorrow. I have something planned, so stay tuned.