What does it mean to say Covid is now endemic?

Living with Endemic Coronavirus
(SARS-CoV-2)
Sunday April 10th, 2022
09:03 AM

The WHO and CDC have not yet declared Covid as endemic because it is still at pandemic levels; like I said months ago an “Endemic Pandemic”.  As I use this term, I mean the disease is now endemic, “adjective 1. (of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area.”: While still remaining a pandemic “adjective, (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world”.

In short that means Covid is everywhere now, and as it mutates will bloom in spots over time.  Your best protection is vaccination, because they prevent the worst and most deadly aspects of the disease.  The second thing we will all need to do is assess our own threat level, all the time.  You will have to watch for new blooms and new variants, especially variants which cause spikes in hospitalizations.

If you’re an at-risk person due to underlying issues and conditions your needs will be greater.  It might be wise to mask in public or in crowded conditions because we will never know there is a new and more dangerous strain loose, until after the hospitalizations spike.  So if you are at risk, you won’t know when it is more dangerous or less dangerous, until after the fact.  This makes vaccination very important indeed.  I suspect annual boosters, or even new vaccines for new or future variants will be recommended.

Let us not forget that Covid is a fast mutagen. This list is from the CDC.
“The SIG Variant classification scheme defines four classes of SARS-CoV-2 variants:
Variant Being Monitored (VBM)
1. Alpha (B.1.1.7 and Q lineages)
2. Beta (B.1.351 and descendent lineages)
3. Gamma (P.1 and descendent lineages)
4. Epsilon (B.1.427 and B.1.429)
5. Eta (B.1.525)
6. Iota (B.1.526)
7. Kappa (B.1.617.1), 1.617.3
8. Mu (B.1.621, B.1.621.1)
9. Zeta (P.2)
*Variant of Interest (VOI)
*Variant of Concern (VOC)
10. Delta (B.1.617.2 and AY lineages)
11. Omicron (B.1.1.529 and BA lineages)
*Variant of High Consequence (VOHC)
To date, no variants of high consequence have been identified in the United States.

Vaccines approved and authorized for use in the United States are effective against the predominant variant circulating in the United States and effective therapeutics are available. CDC continues to monitor all variants circulating within the United States.”

So that is more than one a month, and they have been competing, and continue to compete against each other for dominance in any given geographical area.  Saying Covid is now endemic is admitting this model of rapid mutation is going to be with us forever.  Popping up here and there, or even sweeping the globe with newer variants.  Thusly we each need to determine how at risk we are, based on our individuals needs and the infection levels where we live.  Remaining ever vigilant for new more dangerous strains of covid.

Covid is currently the third leading cause of death for Americans, and it may be vying for first place before long.  It all depends on how it mutates, which we have no control over.  So, the watchwords for our future will be “situational awareness”.  Am I an at risk, or my loved ones?  Is our locale in a bloom right now, a spike in hospitalizations?  Have I and my loved ones been vaccinated against the latest strains?  It will be on us as individuals to decide if we need to mask, distance, or isolate for the foreseeable future.

UP two places from 13th most infectious Nation to 11th most infectious                                                                                

Global Infected      490,795,860                                   498,154,313
Increase             7,358,453
7-day average        1,051,207 infections diagnosed daily –Down

Global Dead          6,151,762                                          6,176,420
Increase             24,658
7-day average        3,522 deaths daily –Down

USA Infected         80,150,811                                       80,399,474                                          
Increase             248,663
7-day average        35,523 infections diagnosed daily –Up

USA C-19 deaths      982,533                                         985,482
Increase             2,949
7-day average        421 deaths daily –Down

Maine Infected       236,258                                           237,717
Increase             1,459
7-day average         208 infections diagnosed daily –Up

Maine deaths         2,202                                                                2,222
Increase             20
7-day average        2.8571 death daily –Up

Faith’s Room

Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY

“One of the lingering mysteries of the COVID-19 pandemic is why some people get infected without getting sick and others don’t get infected at all, despite exposure. Beyond a few known risk factors, it’s mostly dumb luck that determines how someone will fare if they are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19, a handful of researchers said. But they’re still trying for more scientific answers by studying people who are intentionally exposed to the virus and those who escape its effects.

People like Faith Paine.

Paine, 26, of London, volunteered for a “challenge trial” – meaning researchers dribbled the virus that causes COVID-19 up her nose, intending to get her sick. For 17 days last year, she had to stay in a single room in London’s Royal Free Hospital, unable to leave, exercise or see anyone who wasn’t encased in a hazmat suit. The food was the worst part, she said, ordered ahead for her entire stay and more appropriate for an airplane ride than a regular diet.

Between all the poking and prodding, she was allowed to go to bed only after 11:30 p.m., and was awakened by 6:30 a.m. She felt awful the whole time, but she wasn’t sure whether it was because of the lack of sleep and mediocre food, or because she had COVID-19.

She didn’t.

Like half of the 36 U.K. residents paid about $6,500 to be willingly exposed to COVID-19, she never developed an infection and never shed virus.

Dr. Andrew Catchpole, who helped lead the research, said he didn’t expect everyone to get sick. He runs regular challenge trials for infections like the flu and always aims for about 50% to 70% to fall ill, to ensure he is giving enough, but not an unsafe amount of virus.  But it didn’t take much virus to give those 18 people COVID-19, and though data is still being analyzed, they have yet to identify a clear reason why the others didn’t catch it, or why some of those who did never reported significant symptoms.

“(That’s) the great unknown – the X factor that has yet to be discovered,” said Catchpole, chief scientific officer of Open Orphan, the company that ran the study.

Infection – or lack of one – mainly has to do with chance combination of multiple factors, he and others said.  Many ingredients are in the mix, including amount of exposure, genetics, and immunity – “all factors which we are not aware of going on in our bodies and the environment which affect all these things,” Catchpole said.  For Paine, all the poking and prodding she went through – and the fact that she was chosen for the trial out of 26,000 people who raised their hands – was a happy reminder that she’s among the healthiest of humans.

“It’s quite nice to know everything is ticking along quite nicely,” she said, and it helped take away some of her fear of getting infected with COVID-19.

It never crossed her mind to quit the study early.

“If this is the two and a half weeks I have to give up to provide research to shorten the time we all have to live with this, that’s absolutely nothing,” she said.

For someone who is vaccinated, exposure likely plays a role in whether they get sick, said Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

That’s why “social distancing” from sick people and mask wearing reduces the likelihood of getting sick. “It’s really just a question of not getting exposed in the right amount,” Krammer said.

With infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and the stomach bug, rare individuals have a genetic gift that allows them to avoid falling ill.  And just as studying those outliers can offer insights into those diseases and potentially lead to treatments, Dr. András Spaan, a microbiologist at The Rockefeller University in New York City, hopes to learn more about COVID-19 by studying people who don’t get it.

Spaan and his colleagues have already shown that genes can make COVID-19 worse. About 10% of patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia share a genetic fluke, they found in a paper last fall.

No one knows how many people have such natural resistance to COVID-19. “It might be super, super rare,” Spaan said.   When Spaan and his colleagues published their first paper on the subject back in the fall, they were inundated with 7,000 emails from people all over the world offering to participate in their research.

So far, he said, the group, which now includes 150 partners, has enrolled 700 volunteers, analyzing their DNA and experiences with COVID-19.   It’s unclear whether immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 would translate to protection against other viral illnesses, such as the flu. Spaan thinks the luck is probably specific to COVID-19 and maybe even individual variants of the virus.

And very often, there’s a price to pay for genetic resistance to disease, which is why it tends to be biologically limited, he said. Genes that confer resistance to malaria, for example, also increase risk for sickle cell disease, a lethal and extremely painful blood disorder.

Still, Spaan said, it’s crucial to study these individuals.  “By studying how human genetics works against COVID, there may be evidence for therapeutics,” he said.

The human immune system has evolved a number of layers of protection, some of which have been around since our ancestors were single-celled organisms and others that arrived more recently, said Dr. Christopher Chiu, an infectious diseases physician and immunologist at Imperial College London.

One of these layers includes antibodies, which can recognize viruses, bind and neutralize them. Some of these antibodies can be found in the nose and begin attacking viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, before they have a chance to enter the body.

“(If) the virus in the droplets or aerosols that you breath in are at relatively small amounts, having the antibody right there may well block infection completely,” said Chiu, who was chief investigator of the British challenge trial for COVID-19. 

But it’s hard to measure levels of antibody in the nose, so it’s unclear whether someone has enough antibodies there to protect against infection.  The immune system’s T cells can also recognize virus-infected cells and clear them before the virus can grow too much or spread around the body. Again, these are tough to measure, Chiu said.

And very little is known, he said, about the ancient protective mechanisms, like viral-killing proteins in the mucus. These have been around nearly as long as viruses, so pathogens have learned ways to evade them. “It’s really difficult to establish whether they have a big effect or not,” Chiu said.

Other than getting vaccinated and taking care of yourself, there’s not much people can do to build an immune system SARS-CoV-2 can’t penetrate. Krammer chuckled at the idea that some people didn’t have to worry about COVID-19 because they have a “strong” immune system.

But some people might have an immune system that responds so quickly to infection that the virus doesn’t have time to replicate much before it gets knocked out. This is why children generally – though not always – have a mild response to a COVID-19 infection, Krammer said.

Some people might be less vulnerable to infection because they were recently infected with different viruses, for example common cold viruses, Krammer said. This, and other infections as well, can activate part of the immune system, providing short-term protection from other viruses including SARS-CoV-2. That protection fades fast.

But having antibodies that recently fought off a similar virus might, at least for a few days, save someone from a severe case of COVID-19, Krammer said.  Previous infection with COVID-19 seems to provide protection for about 20 months, according to a study published Thursday.

The immunity from infection is better than vaccination alone, whose protection wanes, said Peter Nordstrom, an author on the study and a professor of pediatric medicine at Umeå University in Sweden.

After six months, protection from vaccination was only about half as good as it was shortly after the shots, while “a previous infection, if you survive it, provides very good protection,” he said, warning that it would be dangerous to try to get infected.

Mutations and the rise of different variants can also weaken the immunity provided by infection, he said. “Perhaps an infection from the alpha strain does not protect against the omicron.”  And people can still get infected even if they’ve been vaccinated or infected before.  “Protection against severe disease seems to last longer than protection against testing positive,” Nordstrom said.

Initially, it seemed that some people had natural immunity to the virus – maybe because of a previous infection or an immune system quirk. But as time has passed and the virus has evolved, it seems COVID-19 is likely inevitable for nearly everyone who isn’t vaccinated, said Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital.

“Very few people seem to generally escape infection,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time and the strain variation.”  In addition, there are clearly risk factors that make people more vulnerable to getting sicker if infected, including pregnancy, diabetes, obesity and advanced age.  These risk factors may partially explain why many countries in Africa have seen less devastation from COVID-19 than was initially feared. The median age across the continent is just under 20, while it tops 38 in North America.

Africans are also less likely to obese or have risk factors like diabetes.

“If you have a younger, slimmer population with less diabetes, it’s going to be less likely that they get sickened if infected by the virus,” Jha said.

Jha is currently studying COVID-19 infections  with researchers in Sierra Leone, a west African nation that was devastated by the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016. They are trying to understand why there have been relatively few deaths from COVID-19 in that country, despite widespread infections, little use of masks, no vaccines and little ability to maintain social distance.

“What that is pointing to? The truth is we don’t know,” Jha said. “This is where the detective story starts.””

(NEXSTAR) Sam Bankman-Fried– “Just days after the BA.2 strain of coronavirus achieved world dominance, international health officials are already turning their attention to a new, mutant variant believed to be even more transmissible – XE.

XE is a combination of the first form of omicron to spread across the globe, BA.1, and so-called “stealth omicron,” the subvariant BA.2, that is now dominant.

The highly transmissible XE strain was first detected in the United Kingdom on January 19, according to the WHO document, and there have been more than 600 documented cases in the UK since.

What to know about BA.2 variant spreading in the US

Preliminary findings suggest that XE may be about 10% more transmissible than BA.2, which is considered 50-60% more transmissible than its omicron predecessor, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

How deadly XE turns out to be is still a question mark when it comes to XE as health experts continue to monitor the subvariant’s spread.

“The transmissibility and the severity of this new recombinant variant is still being investigated, so we will closely monitor the latest situation,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch at Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection (CHP).”

Bloomburg-“While many countries are gradually loosening coronavirus restrictions and the world continues to return to some semblance of normality after two years of the covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning not to let the global guard down yet following the discovery of another new variant. The novel coronavirus has mutated several times since SARS‑CoV‑2 first emerged in Wuhan in 2020, most recently the Omicron strain sweeping the globe in the wake of the Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma variants.

The WHO has confirmed the existence of three new mutations, designated as XD, XF and XE. The latter strain has been found to be a combination of Omicron and its sublineage BA.2, and is the one that the WHO is keeping a closer eye on. XD and XF are combinations of Omicron and Delta – the so-called Deltacron variant.”

ABC-“Being infected with COVID-19 raises the risk of developing serious blood clots, a new study suggests.

An international team of researchers from Sweden, the United Kingdom and Finland compared more than 1 million people in Sweden with a confirmed case of the virus between February 2020 and May 2021 to 4 million control patients who tested negative. They found three to six months after contracting COVID-19, patients were at increased risk of being diagnosed with blood clots in their legs or lungs, according to results published in the journal BMJ on Wednesday.

Specifically, patients had a significantly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that forms deep in the thigh or the lower leg, up to three months after a COVID-19 infection.  Patients also had a heightened risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, a clot that develops in a blood vessel and travels to a lung artery, up to six months after having the virus.

The team said its results add to a growing body of evidence about the link between COVID-19 and serious blood clots, while adding new information about how long the risk might last.  “The present findings have major policy implications,” the authors wrote, adding that the report “strengthens the importance of vaccination against COVID-19.”

They also said the findings suggest that COVID-19 patients — “especially high-risk patients” — should take anticoagulation medicine, which are medications to help prevent these clots.  During the course of the study period, the team saw 401 cases of DVT among the COVID-19 patients, compared to 267 cases among the negative patients.

Meanwhile, there were 1,761 cases of PE among virus patients in comparison with 171 cases among the control patients.  COVID-19 patients were at higher risk of blood clots if they had underlying conditions, had a severe case of the virus or if they were infected during the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020.”

Fortune—”“This is the Pfizer vaccine, arriving here in Colorado, to end the pandemic!” exclaims
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis as the door opens slowly awkwardly revealing a delivery man who perhaps wasn’t aware he’d been chosen to save mankind—or at least Coloradans.  Polis’ giddy anticipation mirrored the mental state of so many Americans in those weeks before Christmas 2020. The potential side effects were unnerving, maybe, but the vaccine was coming. To end the pandemic and nine months of isolation and tragedy.

That was the hope. But it wasn’t reality.

“I think some of it is just human nature, that you want to believe there will be a quick technological fix. Endemicity is not a victory: the unmitigated downside risks of widespread SARS-COV2 transmission.”

Scenarios under which the U.S. sees surges of a variant more deadly than any seen before are plausible, Chakravarty and his colleagues contend.  Hundreds of thousands of deaths could ensue annually, they say. COVID could become the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., beating out the most common maladies like heart disease and cancer.

“It’s not a specific prediction about the future,” Chakravarty hedged. “We’re not saying the world will end on Tuesday, April 7, 2024. But the goal is to make people say, ‘Gee, some scenarios out there are really quite ugly.’”

Chakravarty isn’t alone in worrying about what happens next. He has good company in Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who has become the face of America’s COVID response. He said this week that a surge of COVID is likely this fall, and an increase in cases over even the next few weeks would not be surprising. 

Fauci’s remarks contrast with a sudden vanishing of the Omicron wave that gripped the country in December and January (and ruined many people’s holiday plans). Cases fell so far so fast that big cities like New York relaxed mandates that had been in place for nearly two years. In New York’s case, famously unvaccinated celebrities like basketball star Kyrie Irving are free to play indoors again, and masks are off at most restaurants and retail outlets, bringing it in line with the rest of the country.  March is seeing cases creep back up again as bosses consider a widespread return to the office. 

When it comes to the blissful oblivion of many to the pandemic’s continued existence, “motivated reasoning” is to blame, says psychologist Paul Thagard, a philosopher and cognitive scientist who authored the paper “The cognitive science of COVID-19: Acceptance, denial, and belief change.”

Another term for motivated reasoning: “a complicated version of wishful thinking.”

“People look at what makes them happy instead of evidence,” Thagard says. “This virus has been very unpredictable. People want to believe it’s going to get better and better. It’s not based on solid knowledge of the biology of the virus.”  If another severe wave of COVID were to hit the U.S., Thagard predicts the country would see a similarly large wave of denial, “one more application of motivated reasoning. Right now, things don’t look that bad in North America, generally, because hospitals aren’t that full. That could change fairly quickly.”

Current vaccines have failed to end the pandemic.  That’s a key argument Chakravarty and his coauthors make in their new paper.  It’s a reality, they say, that so many are failing to recognize as they buy into the scenario that the pandemic is becoming milder and will continue to, and that the pandemic is shrinking to endemicity and will continue to shrink in scale.

“Public-health authorities in many countries have advocated for a strategy of using the vaccines to limit morbidity and mortality while permitting unchecked SARS-CoV-2 spread (‘learning to live with the disease’),” Chakravarty’s team writes.  But that strategy seems to rely on future waves of COVID being less deadly, either due to weaker but more transmissible strains of the virus taking hold, or due to population immunity that is inevitably temporary, the authors write. And it ignores the fact infection fatality rates of future COVID variants may wax and wane.

“Omicron was mild. Maybe if there’s a BA.3, it will be mild too,” Chakravarty says. “But just because it was named Omicron 3 doesn’t mean it couldn’t be its own beast.”

Writing the paper wasn’t easy, Chakravarty says.  “We, as a team, went back and forth—this took months to write,” he says. “Emotionally, it’s a difficult conclusion to come to. It doesn’t help you sleep well at night.”  Regarding COVID, “You have to mitigate the risk of the worst thing without having a big debate about whether or not it’s going to happen today. People aren’t really having that conversation.”

He and his colleagues realize an approach like China’s zero COVID policy isn’t sustainable. The team recommends an approach of “subtle changes” that “don’t require endless amounts of personal sacrifice,” and that “slow down evolution and work on limiting the spread.” Among their proposals: upgrading air quality and ventilation in buildings, since most transmission occurs indoors; widespread surveillance of virus transmission; and focusing on the development of preventative medicines and next-generation vaccines that can reduce the spread.

But with Congress bickering over a $10 billion COVID aid bill and the U.S. running out of funds for things like vaccines and research, the U.S. is quickly losing its ability to “see what’s happening and react nimbly.”

“We’re more and more flying blind,” he says.  A World Health Organization official recently aid we may be entering a “period of ceasefire” with the virus, but Chakravarty says “it takes two parties to agree to a ceasefire. Another word for a one-way ceasefire? Surrender.”

Chakravarty says America is now rolling the dice with its COVID strategy.  Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says it’s the no-plan plan.  In short: The American approach to COVID seems to be “ignore it and hope it goes away, and hope the interventions we have right now are functional enough to make it tolerable,” he says.

“And the answer is, not yet. We have good tools. We’re better than we were two years ago, but this virus is pretty tricky. It’s fooled us every time we thought we understood something.

COVID isn’t the only public health crisis about which Americans have become complacent, Benjamin says.  “We get tired of an issue,” he says. “We park it. We get comfortable with what happens. Thousands of people die from gun violence every year. That’s something that, when it happens, particularly mass shootings, everyone says, ‘It’s terrible. We must do something.” “But the political will to do something about it quickly fades.”

He worries the most about politicians getting COVID fatigue and potentially failing to pass another COVID aid bill to fund, among other things, surveillance of the virus and research on new variants. “Resource allocators have a tendency to, when something happens, throw a lot of money at it—usually not quite enough, never for long enough,” he says. “Then they withdraw funding, and their expectation of performance far exceeds the money put into it.  “We’re seeing that happen right now.”

This isn’t the first time Americans have turned a blind eye toward disease, says John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza: The story of the deadliest pandemic in history.”  The 1918 flu pandemic “killed young people and children, and the elderly largely escaped it—despite that, people grew tired of taking precautions.”

The flu, an H1N1 virus thought to have originated in birds, was first identified in the U.S. in the spring of 1918. It spread worldwide in waves, infecting about a third of the world’s population and killing at least 50 million, with about 675,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many were previously healthy young adults and young children.

When it comes to America’s collective memory, the flu pandemic was left out, a seeming historical amnesia.  “That’s the single question I was asked most when my book came out in 2004: ‘How come I never heard of this?’” he says.

He’s not entirely sure, though it might have something to do with people at the time being more accustomed to death by infectious disease, World War I, and historians writing about “what people did to people,” but not about what nature did to people.  Thagard offers a cautionary tale: a fourth wave of the 1918 flu pandemic that came in 1920 at a time when the public was weary.

“They pretty much entirely ignored it—and the fourth wave, in some cities, was the deadliest yet,” Barry says.  “People just didn’t want to deal with it, just as we don’t want to deal with it.”

Over the past month numerous tales have been spun about Ukraine, illustrating what those of us possessing “Military Minds” would term “The fog of war”.  It is hard to know what is what in combat because combat is chaos.  This problem of the fog of war is being amplified by social media.  Nothing on it is reliable, confirmed information.  It is something posted by “someone” from “somewhere” and alleged to be this or that.  Proving it to be true and viable is difficult and often disputed by the other side anyway, which only amplifies the fog of war.

It has become so bad since Trumps misinformation diet spread to many Americans that professional media journalists have to create sections of their production, be it video or print, to vetting social media bullshit.  Here is an example of what one outlet did in one week, and many other outlets are doing the same thing.

“Fact check roundup: What’s true and what’s false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine-Ella Lee and McKenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY-False and misleading information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine has spread rapidly on social media since Russian forces launched a military assault in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 24. Here’s a roundup of claims related to the Ukraine-Russia conflict analyzed by the USA TODAY Fact Check team:

Claim 1: There are U.S. biolabs in Ukraine funded by the U.S. government
Our rating: False
The labs in question are owned and funded by the Ukrainian government. The social media posts misrepresent a treaty between the U.S. and Ukraine aimed at preventing biological threats, and numerous reports indicate the claim is tied to a years-long Russian disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting the U.S.

Claim 2: Ukraine was the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation
Our rating: False
Though foreign governments have contributed to the Clinton Foundation, Ukraine is not listed as a donor.

Claim 3: Vladimir Putin has banned the Rothschild family from entering Russia
Our rating: False
There’s no evidence supporting the claim that Putin has banned the Rothschild family from entering Russia, which was first published in 2016 and has been debunked by independent fact-checking organizations. The Rothschild family’s company has an office in Moscow.

Claim 4: President Joe Biden plans to sell Alaska to Russia
Our rating: Satire
The claim that the U.S. president plans to sell Alaska to Russia is satire. It stems from an article published by The Babylon Bee, a satire website.

Claim 5: Sean Penn’s pre-war Ukraine visit is evidence of propaganda
Our rating: Missing context
Actor Sean Penn’s visit to Ukraine in November 2021 for a documentary offers no proof of political propaganda. At the time of his visit, there were already concerns that Russia might invade parts of Ukraine, and the conflict between the two countries dates back to at least 2014.

Claim 6: Poland is sending jets to a US air base in Germany to send to Ukraine
Our rating: Missing context
The U.S. Department of Defense said it would not advance Poland’s plan to send jets to a U.S. air base in Germany so jets could be sent on to Ukraine. Polish officials announced the proposal before it was cleared by the Biden administration.

Claim 7: President Joe Biden said there is a ‘new world order’
Our rating: Missing context
Biden did not confirm a world domination conspiracy theory when he mentioned a “new world order.” He was describing international changes from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and historians say politicians have used the term for decades.

Claim 8: The Space Foundation stripped the honors of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
Our rating: Missing context
The Space Foundation did not revoke any awards or remove any honors from Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. A spokesperson said the nonprofit changed the name of a fundraising event this year in light of recent events to not distract from the event’s purpose.

Claim 9: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is ‘scripted and staged’
Our rating: False
There is ample evidence the conflict in Ukraine is real. Photos and videos from correspondents on the ground have shown the extensive damage done to buildings, and the toll inflicted on civilians. A number of countries and international humanitarian organizations have responded to the conflict and confirmed the situation there.

Claim 10: The price of crude oil increased 513% between Joe Biden’s inauguration and the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Our rating: False
Data shows crude oil prices increased by around 75% between Biden’s first day in office and the day Russia launched its attack on Ukraine. Experts say different international factors are responsible for the surge in crude oil prices.

Claim 11: Ukraine announced it’s the first country to implement the ‘Great Reset’ through a mobile app
Our rating: False
The Diia app, which allows Ukrainians to upload identification documents, is not connected to the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset proposal.

Claim 12: George Soros is wanted in Russia and has been declared a ‘global terrorist’ in China
Our rating: False
There is no evidence Soros is wanted in Russia or that he was declared a terrorist in China.  An Open Society Foundations spokesperson said the claims are false.

Claim 13: Biden administration is “sucking the Strategic Oil Reserve dry”
Our rating: False
The Biden administration’s planned release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the largest on record, but the amount scheduled to be removed is one-third of the total.

False or misleading videos
Claim 1: A video shows Russian soldiers parachuting into Ukraine
Our rating: False
A viral video, recorded by a man in a military uniform, shows a handful of people with parachutes descending into an open field. But the video was posted on Instagram in 2015, nearly seven years before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Claim 2: A video shows a recent explosion in Ukraine
Our rating: False
A viral video shows a flash of light followed by an orange glow behind several darkened buildings, claiming its setting is Ukraine. However, the video was shared to TikTok in January and has nothing to do with the Russian invasion.

Claim 3: A video shows a Russian fighter jet in Ukraine
Our rating: False
An online video clip shows a plane falling from the sky and bursting into flames, purporting to show a Russian jet shot down by the Ukrainian military. But the footage really shows a Libyan plane shot down by rebels over Benghazi in March 2011, a decade before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Having to do this much debunking every week illustrates how misinformed everyone on social media is.

TREASON?

trea·son
/ˈtrēzən/: noun: “The crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.”
Dean Obeidallah-CNN–
“A coup. That’s what Donald Trump Jr. was advocating for in a text message to his father’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows that laid out ways to subvert the Electoral College process and keep his father in power. There are many alarming — and even bone-chilling — aspects of Trump Jr.’s November 5, 2020, text message.

But the most jaw-dropping is that the text was sent just two days after the 2020 election, when the result was still too close to call. That Trump Jr. was already pushing for several strategies — from pressing Republican state legislators to put forward slates of fake “Trump electors,” to firing the FBI Director and replacing him with a loyalist who would do Trump’s bidding — reveals the level of preparation and dogged determination within Trump’s inner circle to keep him in power, no matter the outcome.

On November 5, 2020, two days before news outlets finally projected Biden won, votes were still being tallied in key states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Yet Trump Jr. was texting Meadows: “We have operational control Total leverage. Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now.”

How was Trump supposed to start a second term when the election hadn’t been called — and he was still trailing Joe Biden by 40 electoral votes?! The complete lack of regard for the will of American voters is in plain view in these texts.

Of course, President Trump started lying about the specter of election fraud in the spring of 2020 — an insurance policy he likely planted because he was trailing in the polls and desperately feared losing. But there was no credible evidence of widespread election fraud then, and none has been found since. Even Trump’s own Attorney General Bill Barr said in December 2020, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Let’s be clear: There was never a credible argument behind the attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. It was all a lie to keep Trump in power.

Reading some of the contents of Trump Jr.’s text is literally jaw-dropping. He called for firing the FBI Director Christopher Wray and making Trump loyalist Richard Grenell, former acting Director of National Intelligence, interim head of the FBI.

The text called for politically weaponizing the Department of Justice by calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the “Biden crime family.” This is not something that should ever happen in our nation — then again, the same can be said of the January 6, 2021, attack on our Capitol and Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The text also made reference to filing lawsuits and advocating recounts in swing states to prevent the certification of the results — a strategy the President and his allies used in the ensuing months after the election.

In a statement to CNN, Trump Jr.’s lawyer Alan S. Futerfas said, “After the election, Don received numerous messages from supporters and others. Given the date, this message likely originated from someone else and was forwarded.” Even if true, here was the son of the President sending the President’s chief of staff ways to upend the election results and abuse the power of the presidency in Trump’s remaining months in the White House.

Just last week, US District Court Judge David Carter wrote an opinion in response to Trump’s former lawyer John Eastman, who asked the judge to withhold certain documents requested by the January 6 House select committee. In it, Carter wrote that Trump and Eastman had “launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history.” But there’s one line in particular that truly resonates upon reading Trump Jr.’s text messages: “It was a coup in search of a legal theory.”

Thanks to the newly revealed text message, we now know the seeds for a coup were planted even before the election results were announced. Would Trump have continued harping on about election fraud had he been declared the winner of the 2020 election? Of course not. It was never about election fraud — or any facts for that matter. Their goal was straightforward: Reinstall Donald Trump and end our democracy.

If we hope to keep our democratic republic, every single person involved in this coup attempt must be criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Anything less will only embolden Trump and others to engage in the same conduct — and given how close they got this time, they may just succeed next time around.”

Fire season never really ended last year and the Megadrought remains . . .

USA Today
“The time for talk has passed and the time to act is now, according to a new United Nations report on how to curb the worst consequences of climate change.  Rapid mitigation measures – reductions in fossil fuels and better building practices – are needed to avoid unsustainable global warming, according to the report.

In fact, the report says, without immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “beyond reach.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed “a litany of broken climate promises” by governments and corporations and accused them of stoking global warming by clinging to harmful fossil fuels.

“It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world,” he said. “We are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts.”

Total net greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise during the years 2010-2019, according to the report. Although the rate of growth was lower than 2000-2009, the average annual emissions were higher than in any decade on record.

“This report tells us we’re still not doing enough to cut carbon emissions,” United Nations Environment Program executive director Inger Andersen said. “The last two decades saw the highest increase in carbon emissions in human history, even though we know the trouble we are in.

“The next decade cannot follow the same pattern if we are to hold warming this century to 1.5 degrees. We have the knowledge and the technology to get this done.”

The environmental group Climate Nexus said the main takeaway from the report is that “we must wind down dependence on fossil fuels by scaling up renewables that are now incredibly cheap and available when political barriers are overcome, to deeply reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible.”

Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are considered the most authoritative assessments of the state of global warming, its consequences and the measures being taken to tackle it.

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit),” IPCC co-chair Jim Skea said. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”  The cutoff point for data in the report was last fall, meaning the effect of the war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia weren’t included by the authors.

Last August, the IPCC said climate change caused by humans was “an established fact” and warned that some effects of global warming are already inevitable. In March, the panel published a report that outlined how further temperature increases will multiply the risk of floods, storms, drought and heat waves worldwide.

“Getting the scientific community and governments to agree on the report’s summary for policymakers wasn’t easy – which shows one thing above all: It’s decision time now,” said report co-author Elmar Kriegler of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “The report is not just words, it calls for action, and it’s good that governments now recognize this. For example, we need to phase out coal worldwide.”

Governments had agreed in the 2015 Paris accord to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) this century, ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

Yet temperatures have already increased by more than 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) since pre-industrial times, resulting in measurable increases in disasters such as flash floods, prolonged droughts, more intense hurricanes and longer-burning wildfires – putting human lives in danger and costing governments hundreds of billions of dollars.

“I hope this information will be used by governments in different parts of the world to proceed with mitigation,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary General Petteri Taalas said.

Skea concluded that “climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production. This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.””

In Closing on Covid

I am going to call this post the end of my real time history on the Covid Pandemic.  We, that is humanity, failed.  We did not unite against a common threat; contain the virus and prevent it from becoming a new grindstone on humanities health.  Now Covid takes its place alongside AIDs, Cancer, Heart Disease, and everything else which kills us.  Unfortunately for US Covid is a highly contagious virus which mutates very quickly so it is likely to outgrow some of the others as leading causes of human mortality over time. As it stands only heart disease and cancer out pace it, and not by much.

We have over 6 million dead people from Covid in two years’ time, and those numbers are guaranteed to be an undercount.  In America alone we are just under 1 million dead, and those numbers will also wind up as an undercount: it’s the nature of pandemics.  We only get a full reckoning in hindsight. 

Covid will remain a new millstone grinding away at the elderly and infirm, and sickening the rest of us as the blooms go.  Covid is an endemic disease now.  It is here to stay.  I am quite surprised it did not kill me already, but since it is not over, and likely never will be over, we all have a possible future death by Covid to look forward to.

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