Friday, January 21, 2022
BY SARAH LAZARUS & CROOKED MEDIA
** -Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis ([link removed]) , on why she was subpoenaed
The Omicron wave has begun to recede and booster shots have proven overwhelmingly effective, but not to worry, Trump-appointed judges and elected Republicans are here to keep the plague party going for as long as humanly possible.
* The Pfizer and Moderna booster shots are 90 percent effective against hospitalization ([link removed]) with Omicron (meaning, a boosted person’s prior risk of hospitalization is reduced by 90 percent), according to data published Friday by the CDC. The third shot made a big difference with the new variant: Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization fell to just 57 percent in people who had gotten their second dose more than six months earlier. In the starkest contrast of all, unvaccinated Americans ages 50 and older who got infected were about 45 times more likely to wind up hospitalized than those who were triple-vaxxed.
* Those are studies that roughly 86 million Americans need to see. With the Omicron variant now accounting for virtually all U.S. COVID cases ([link removed]) , less than 40 percent of vaccinated Americans who are eligible for a booster have received one. That’s a problem for the health-care system, even as case numbers blessedly start to decline ([link removed]) : Hospitals across the country are still seeing record numbers of patients with COVID ([link removed]) and facing COVID-fueled staff shortages, limiting the care available for patients with other ailments.
* What better time to throw rocks at vaccination efforts from the federal bench! A Trump-appointed judge issued an injunction on Friday blocking the Biden administration’s vaccination rules for federal workers ([link removed]) , a week after the Supreme Court struck down a vax-or-test requirement for large private employers. The mandate for federal workers had been in place since November, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that 98 percent of federal workers were already in compliance, but on the right, it’s never too late to validate anti-vax sentiment, subvert Biden’s authority, and undermine efforts to contain the pandemic.
That’s certainly the theory GOP leaders are employing when it comes to posturing about mask mandates.
* Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen ([link removed]) this week saying that Arizona Republicans “will not be intimidated” by the Biden administration’s threat to rescind stimulus funds if the state didn’t stop using them to discourage school mask mandates. In Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) unsuccessfully ordered public schools to stop requiring masks on Day One, a parent showed up to a school-board meeting on Thursday night and threatened to come back with loaded guns ([link removed]) if it didn’t make masking optional.
* The House GOP’s most unhinged members continue to stoke similar violent rage without consequence. Less than a year after her revelatory visit to the Holocaust museum, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) once again compared mask and vaccine requirements to Nazi Germany ([link removed]) on her Telegram account this week, without a peep from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Greene herself has paid more than half of her $174,000 salary in mask fines ([link removed]) in her first year in office.
The worst of the current surge will soon be behind us, but the rate at which cases drop and hospitals empty will depend on how many Americans take simple measures to protect themselves. Two years into the pandemic, right-wing leaders would still rather prolong the pandemic and whip up their misinformed voters than guide them away from preventable harm.
Check out the latest episode of Hysteria! This week, J. Smith-Cameron from Succession joins to talk all about the newest season of the hit show. Plus, Erin and Alyssa also discuss the state of the omicron variant and everything going with the Supreme Court, and Naomi Ekperigin joins to talk about the Tik Tok generation phenomenon of “the pick me girl.” New episodes of Hysteria drop every Thursday. Listen wherever you get your podcasts ([link removed]) .
The January 6 committee has received the last of the National Archives documents that Donald Trump desperately tried to hide, for reasons that are already becoming clear. The records include a draft of an executive order that Trump never issued, which would have directed the defense secretary to seize voting machines ([link removed]) and analyze them for up to 60 days, in a ploy to keep Trump in power at least through mid-February. The draft is consistent with a proposal that Kraken lawyer Sidney Powell urged Trump to carry out in December 2020, but cites two classified documents, suggesting it was authored by someone with access to government secrets (or that yet more crimes were committed). Politico also obtained a speech draft labeled “Remarks on National Healing,” an alternate-universe version of the Oval Office address Trump gave on January 7, in which he would have unequivocally
condemned the insurrectionists, accepted Joe Biden’s victory, and called for a united national effort to end the pandemic. Ah well!
* The Justice Department's election-threats task force has charged a Texas man with threatening to kill Georgia election officials ([link removed]) , the first case it’s brought since it was established last summer.
* President Biden is prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin ([link removed]) if it will help defuse the Ukraine standoff, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
* Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen killed at least 70 people on Friday ([link removed]) , injured more than 130 others, and caused a nationwide internet blackout.
* Biden has a midterm message: ([link removed]) U want the party that works for people? Or the one controlled by a loser who’s stuck in the past?
* The FBI’s raid of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was reportedly related to a federal investigation into Azerbaijan ([link removed]) and a group of U.S. businessmen with ties to the country. An aide to Cueller said that he “will fully cooperate in any investigation.”
* Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni has held leadership roles at a number of far-right groups with business before the Court ([link removed]) , which has not prompted Thomas to recuse himself from those cases.
* Republican election officials in a rural Georgia county are considering closing all but one polling place ahead of the midterms ([link removed]) , a move that would have required federal approval under Democrats’ voting-rights legislation (RIP).
* Comedian Louie Anderson, of Baskets fame, died Friday ([link removed]) . He was 68.
* Meat Loaf, who claimed he once tried to push Prince Andrew into a moat ([link removed]) , died on Thursday at age 74.
* Yakei the macaque has become the first female leader of a troop of 677 monkeys on a Japanese reserve ([link removed]) , despite having once sent some work emails from a personal account.
There’s reason to believe that workers’ current power in the labor market isn’t just a short-term effect of the pandemic. ([link removed]) The country’s demographics have shifted in a big way since the 2010s, when companies were stumbling over cheap millennial labor everywhere they turned: Boomers are retiring, millennials are now old enough to wreck their backs by sleeping funny, and Gen Z is relatively small. The Congressional Budget Office forecast in July that the labor market will grow by just 0.2 percent a year from 2024 to 2031, meaning a high demand for workers is here to stay. Labor shortages are already forcing companies to compete in new ways, both by raising wages and offering creative ways to provide workers improved quality of life.
The Supreme Court ([link removed]) rejected a request to consider overturning McGirt v. Oklahoma, which ruled that much of the eastern portion of Oklahoma falls within Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation boundaries, though it will consider limiting that decision.
Intel ([link removed]) will invest at least $20 billion in a new chip manufacturing complex in Ohio, reducing U.S. reliance on foreign chip factories and bringing thousands of jobs to the state.
Chile’s president-elect Gabriel Boric has named a majority-women cabinet that includes defense minister Maya Fernández ([link removed]) , the granddaughter of former socialist president Salvador Allende, who was murdered in Augusto Pinochet’s military coup.
A group of volunteers ([link removed]) working alongside the National Park Service aims to plant 1,500 Joshua Tree seedlings to help protect the species from wildfires, the climate crisis, and human development.