Saturday, August 14, 2021

Last Call For The Vax Of Life, Con't

GOP disinformation for political posturing,the media's insistence that the unvaccinated cannot be held responsible, and tens of millions of Americans refusing to take any precautions if not actively preventing them being taken by others has now led to a massive COVID-19 delta variant spike in the American South, worse than any point previously during the now 18 months of the pandemic.

The US remains among nations with the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases, driven mostly by a surge in the South, where many states are lagging in getting people vaccinated against the coronavirus. 
"This is starting to look really ominous in the South. ... If you look at rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they're actually probably the highest in the world," Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Friday. 
Infection rates began to plummet in the US in the spring as vaccines became widely available, while the seven-day moving average of daily confirmed cases climbed in other nations, including India and Brazil, according to data from Johns Hopkins University
In the month of August, the US has so far reported more than 1.5 million new cases of Covid-19, more than three times the numbers for Iran and India -- which now hold second and third place, JHU data shows. And the seven-day average has topped more than 135,000 cases, well ahead of other nations. 
On a state-by-state comparison, Louisiana has the highest rate of new cases per capita, followed by Florida. 
"That's how badly things have gotten out of hand. There is a screaming level of transmission across the southern states right now. And now we're starting to see this happening among younger age groups," Hotez said. 
Florida on Friday broke its own record high in Covid-19 cases over the past week, reporting 151,415 new cases -- the most infections recorded during a seven-day period since the pandemic upended lives across the globe. 
The surge has been fueled by the more contagious coronavirus Delta variant, overwhelming hospitals across the country. 
New hospital admissions for Covid-19 among adults ages 30 to 39 have reached a record rate, according to CDC data. 
The data show the rate of new hospitalizations reached 2.52 per 100,000 people on Wednesday among adults in their 30s. 
Just a month earlier, on July 11, the rate of new hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19 in that age group was 0.64 per 100,000 people, according to the data.

As the Delta variant drives a surge of Covid-19 cases in Florida, a rapid-response unit will be deployed to administer monoclonal antibody treatments to residents infected with the virus, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday. 
"This is the most effective treatment that we've yet encountered for people who are infected with Covid-19," DeSantis said. "This, applied early and properly, has the ability to reduce your likelihood of being hospitalized." 
Monoclonal antibodies are intensely focused, lab-made versions of convalescent plasma. The antibodies come from people who have recovered from coronavirus. Researchers then take the blood, select the most potent antibodies, and make them into a drug. 
Speaking from Jacksonville, DeSantis said beginning at noon Thursday, the rapid response unit will begin delivering monoclonal antibodies in the city. 
The process will begin with referrals from the health systems, but the state is looking to move to allowing individuals to make appointments, he said. The intention is to expand the model to other parts of the state, the governor said. 
The state will also be deploying strike teams to long-term care facilities as well, DeSantis said, and the state "is going to bring in a lot more Regeneron into Florida." (Regeneron is a company that makes a monoclonal antibody treatment.)
DeSantis won't rescind his mask mandate ban however. His political career would end overnight, the state and national GOP would crucify him. Better to see thousands of Floridians die than admit he was wrong. 

And die, they will.

Who Checks The Fact-Checkers?

For years, has stood as one of the big fake news debunking sites, fighting the tide of disinformation for the GOP right and their death cultists. But as the old saying goes, you either fall as the hero or survive long enough to become the villain you fought.

David Mikkelson, the co-founder of the fact-checking website Snopes, has long presented himself as the arbiter of truth online, a bulwark in the fight against rumors and fake news. But he has been lying to the site's tens of millions of readers: A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that between 2015 and 2019, Mikkelson wrote and published dozens of articles containing material plagiarized from news outlets such as the Guardian and the LA Times.

After inquiries from BuzzFeed News, Snopes conducted an internal review and confirmed that under a pseudonym, the Snopes byline, and his own name, Mikkelson wrote and published 54 articles with plagiarized material. The articles include such topics as same-sex marriage licenses and the death of musician David Bowie.

Snopes VP of Editorial and Managing Editor Doreen Marchionni suspended Mikkelson from editorial duties pending “a comprehensive internal investigation.” He remains an officer and a 50% shareholder of the company.

“Our internal research so far has found a total of 54 stories Mikkelson published that used appropriated material, including all of the stories Buzzfeed shared with us,” Marchionni and Snopes Chief Operating Officer Vinny Green said in a statement.

"Let us be clear: Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, full stop," Marchionni added. "It has no place in any context within this organization."

Snopes’ editorial staff disavowed Mikkelson’s behavior in a separate statement signed by eight current writers. “We strongly condemn these poor journalistic practices. … we work hard every day to uphold the highest possible journalistic and ethical standards.”

Snopes told BuzzFeed News it plans to retract all of the offending stories and disable advertising on them. It will also append an editor's note of explanation to each.

Said Mikkelson, “There is no excuse for my serious lapses in judgement. I’m sorry.”
Suspended, but he still owns half the company.
Not a good look at all, throwing all your integrity away like this. I'd expect this from garbage merchants like Twitchy, Newsbusters, or the Daily Wire. But Snopes?
Yeah, won't be citing anything else from there, and it's a shame because the articles, while plagiarized, didn't have any factual errors. Is it fair to hold Snopes to a higher level?

Yes, yes it is. And they failed.

Af-Gone-Istan, Con't

The timetable on the fall of Kabul to the Taliban has moved up to the "days" mark from "weeks", as the remaining 3,000 US troops in Kabul desperately try to buy enough time to evacuate remaining US personnel from the embassy in Kabul.

The Biden administration is preparing for the fall of Kabul and a retreat from any U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan — a stunning reversal of expectations. It's looking increasingly likely to high-ranking aides to President Biden that the U.S. will have no enduring diplomatic presence in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31 — the date Biden has promised the full troop withdrawal will be complete.

Why it matters: It's a major reversal from even a few weeks ago
. The working assumption in Biden’s inner circle had been that Kabul could hold for the short term, allowing the U.S. to stay diplomatically engaged and help Afghan women secure their rights beyond the U.S. withdrawal. The 3,000 Marines and soldiers going in to help with the evacuation will also be gone by Aug. 31, we're told.

Between the lines: Biden is at Camp David this weekend, not at his Delaware beach house. He can relax there, but also has full comms. People can come and go without detection, and he avoids the optics of a beach vacation amid a mass evacuation.

The big picture: The U.S. embassy in Kabul wasn’t just a diplomatic building. It also was a major intelligence center with paper records and equipment there that the U.S. will remove or destroy. Protocols are in place for just such an emergency. Unlike Tehran in 1979, when the Iranian fundamentalists gained access to some sensitive material, the U.S. staff still in Kabul will ensure there’s nothing to gain. American diplomats at the embassy have been instructed to destroy important papers and desktop computers before they leave, according to a memo obtained by NPR.

Despite the efforts to secure intelligence and safeguard U.S. personnel and their Afghan supporters, Biden must brace for the symbolic defeat of seeing the Taliban overrun the space that housed the embassy. That includes the ambassador's residence — and the landmark "Duck and Cover" bar frequented by generations of troops, diplomats and journalists.

The major moment to come: Lowering the American flag that flies over what is essentially sovereign U.S. territory. That's typically done by the Marine Security Guard detachment that's always on post. It's a point of honor for the ambassador or chargé d'affaires to take custody of the flag and bring it back to State or a safe haven.


I wasn't around for the fall of Saigon, and I don't remember the fall of Tehran, is was a toddler, but this one I'm going to get to put into context for a long time. We've been in Afghanistan for 20 years, effectively my entire adult life, and it's come to nothing, I guess.

Reports out of the surrounding Afghan cities indicate that the Taliban has captured significant amounts of US weapons, vehicles, and helicopters as well.

It's going to be bad in Afghanistan very soon, folks, but the mission never could have ended any other way.

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