Coronavirus and Avian Flu Tidbits #300, June 23, 2024

Announcements:

First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.

News 

Perspective:

Thoughtful perspective on our worsening #denial: We’ve Hit Peak Denial. Here’s Why We Can’t Turn Away From Reality by @coopermarianne and @DrMaximVoronov

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weve-hit-peak-denial-heres-why-we-cant-turn-away-from-reality/

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Transmission:

The US Walgreens Covid positivity rate is now the highest since September 2023!

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Mike Hoerger: 

Expect 400,000 to 500,000 daily Covid infections/day in the U.S. for the following month. This is relatively low at 25% of last winter's peak, while extremely high in the absolute sense. Get dental/medical care before it is worse.

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@Alexander_Tin
An update on this year's summer COVID wave - trends are picking up earlier this year vs last year, which didn't peak until late August - @CDCgov's wastewater surveillance is already close to "high" levels across western states
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@JPWeiland
Ratio of people currently infected by region: (last week)
Midwest: 1 in 182
South: 1 in 97
Northest: 1 in 224
West: 1 in 61
Hawaii likely ~1:30 range
June 21: Larger increases (+16%) this week. Western and southern states with the highest rates. KP.3* plays a significant part of increases in the west. 250,000 new infections/day
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The CDC reports the KP.3 variant cases have steadily increased, from 16.9% to 25.9% to 33.1% over the last 3 weeks. “KP.3 is closely related to other ‘FLiRT’ variants KP.1 and KP.2, as well as the newly emerging LB.1.” No new symptoms have been associated with this variant and testing should pick it up.
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Long Covid: 

22.5 per cent failed to recover 90 days after infection.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-18/long-covid-research-study/103986302

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A new report in Emerging Infectious Diseases reveals an 11.8% prevalence of long COVID during the Omicron BA.5 wave in Japan, based on outcomes seen among 25,911 adults 20 years and older.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/study-shows-12-long-covid-prevalence-following-omicron-infection

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Long Covid and blood donations

"If the findings hold, clinicians might want to consider excluding individuals with long COVID from making blood donations, says Davide Robbiani, an immunologist at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland."

(Because of "rogue" antibodies in Long Covid:) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-02010-7

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Yes, Everyone Really Is Sick a Lot More Often After Covid

Free link: https://archive.ph/2024.06.14-204606/https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2024-06-14/why-is-everyone-getting-sick-behind-the-global-rise-in-rsv-flu-measles#selection-1413.0-1413.57

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Also:

A recent analysis by Bloomberg and Airfinity revealed...13 communicable diseases...—including tuberculosis, measles, pertussis, polio, influenza, RSV, chickenpox, invasive group A streptococcus, mycoplasma pneumoniae, parvovirus B19, dengue, and cholera—are "surging past pre-pandemic levels in regions across the world."

While this rise is certainly attributable to multiple factors, including vaccine hesitancy and climate change, Dr. David Putrino, Director of Rehabilitation Innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System, and a Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, recently discussed the issue with Chris Cuomo as part of Cuomo's ongoing series on COVID and Long COVID and emphasized one important cause: COVID-19 infections. We need to be very, very firm with our messaging that there is no such thing as a mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. There is no such thing as a SARS-CoV-2 infection that does NOT have prolonged consequences."

https://boingboing.net/2024/06/20/long-covid-expert-all-infections-have-prolonged-consequences.html

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Covid 19 and The Ears -

Direct Viral Invasion of Inner Ear Cells:  https://x.com/Dave_it_up/status/1803756191757078731

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences and illness, with emerging evidence suggesting that the virus can also affect the auditory system and cause hearing-related complications. This article explores the potential impact of COVID-19 on hearing, tinnitus, and balance disorders. - The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can directly infect certain cell types in the inner ear, including hair cells and Schwann cells [1][3][4].  - Hair cells are the sensory receptors for hearing, while Schwann cells support and insulate auditory neurons. - The virus can enter these cells by binding to the ACE2 receptor and using the TMPRSS2 and FURIN enzymes, which are expressed in the inner ear tissue [3][4]. - Confocal microscopy studies on human inner ear tissue samples showed that SARS-CoV-2 can infect hair cells and Schwann cells [3][4].

Impact on Hearing - Infection and damage to hair cells in the inner ear can lead to sensorineural hearing loss, which was observed in COVID-19 patients with audiovestibular symptoms [1][3][4]. - Reduced or absent otoacoustic emissions (sounds produced by hair cells) were found in COVID-19 patients, indicating hair cell damage [5].

Tinnitus and Balance Issues - The viral infection and inflammation in the inner ear can also cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and vestibular dysfunction, leading to balance problems like vertigo [1][3][4]. - A study of 10 COVID-19 patients found that 9 experienced tinnitus, 6 had vertigo, and all had varying degrees of hearing loss [3][4].

Potential Congenital Effects on unborn children  - The study found that SARS-CoV-2 can infect otic progenitor cells (OPCs) present in the developing fetal inner ear [3]. - This raises concerns about potential congenital hearing loss in babies born to mothers infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy, similar to other viral infections like cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Zika virus [3].

In summary, the search results provide compelling evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect and damage various cell types in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and potentially congenital hearing problems in some cases [1][3][4][5].

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Looking for like-minded groups?

Violet Blue suggests Covid Action Map and the Covid Advocacy Group has an extensive list of groups in the Canada and US.

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Mask bans are a growing trend:

I'll be writing more later this week, but includes NY proposal, NC, Chicago, Philly, and more:

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Harvard Public Opinion Poll

A majority of Americans say four key pandemic policies were “generally a good idea” in retrospect (Figure 1), including those related to:

  • Mask requirements in stores and businesses – 70%
  • Healthcare worker vaccination requirements – 65%
  • Indoor dining closures – 63%
  • K-12 public school closures – 56%

The percentage who say all four policies were generally a good idea:

  • Democrats (71%); Independents (44%); Republicans (18%)
  • Black adults (62%); Hispanic/Latino adults (55%); white adults (32%)
  • People living in urban areas (55%); suburban areas (39%); rural areas (29%)

Notably, there is some policy receptivity among all subgroups, with majorities of each subgroup saying at least one of the four policies was generally a good idea. For example, 62% of Republicans say at least one was generally a good idea, as do 70% of people living in rural areas.

“These data suggest that keeping outbreak response policies focused on the most at-risk populations, communicating clear, limited time frames, and considering the broader economic and societal impacts of policies could go a long way to maintaining public support in the next outbreak and beyond.”

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/poll-majority-of-americans-say-key-covid-19-policies-were-a-good-idea-but-views-of-individual-policies-vary/

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Immune response to Covid:

As part of the UK Covid-19 Human Challenge study, led by Imperial College London, 36 healthy people were given the virus through the nose.

Researchers monitored the blood and lining of their noses, tracking the entire infection as well as the immune cell activity prior to the infection event for 16 volunteers.

The teams at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and UCL then used a technology called single-cell sequencing to generate a dataset of more than 600,000 individual cells.

Across all of those involved in the study, the team discovered previously unreported responses involved in immediate virus detection.

This included activation of specialised immune cells in the blood and a reduction in inflammatory white blood cells that normally engulf and destroy pathogens.

People who were able to immediately fight off the virus did not show a typical widespread immune response but instead mounted subtle, never-seen-before innate immune responses, researchers say.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/study-people-imperial-college-london-ucl-rosetta-stone-b2565427.html

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Pentagon ran secret anti-vax drive to undermine China

during Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters probe shows

WASHINGTON - At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the US military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus.

The clandestine operation has not been previously reported.

It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found.

Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign.

Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation.

Reuters identified at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former US military officials familiar with the Philippines operation.

Almost all were created in the summer of 2020 and centred on the slogan #Chinaangvirus – Tagalog for “China is the virus”.

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/pentagon-ran-secret-anti-vax-campaign-to-undermine-china-during-covid-19-pandemic-reuters-investigation

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Avian Flu H5N1:

Excellent brief summary of what we should be doing to control Bird Flu:

https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/18/health/bird-flu-risk-opinion-frieden/index.html and how Finland has been successful, in Epidemics That Didn’t Happen.

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Transmission of Bird Flu:

Researchers studying a 2003 outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on chicken farms in The Netherlands found that one quarter of all transmission may have been caused by viral particles attached to farm dust being carried on the wind. Up to 25km.
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Inadequate Bird Flu response

Many complaints, e.g., Seth Berkley, the former head of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, gave voice last week to a point of view STAT has been hearing for a while about the U.S. response to the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in dairy cows. “It’s been shocking to watch the ineptitude,” Berkley, an American currently living in Switzerland, said at an event on the future of vaccines held in London.

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“Although federal funds have been allocated, no farms have enrolled in voluntary on-site milk testing, according to the USDA. Fewer than a dozen farms have applied for separate financial aid in exchange for boosting biosecurity measures”

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/06/17/avian-flu-spread-response-00163294

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"Averting another pandemic is one challenge that can be solved. Why would leaders make any other choice?"

Political courage needed to prevent the next pandemic

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(24)01260-1/abstract

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Other:

in a press release.

“....we’ve shown that BCG can protect type 1 diabetics from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.”  

The 18-month Phase III trial, published in iScience, was conducted when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was circulating.

A 15-month Phase II trial was conducted early in the pandemic; the results of that trial were published in Cell Reports Medicine.

https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/100-year-old-vaccine-protects-people-infectious-diseases-2024-06-13

Diagnostics:

Rick Bright: it’s impossible to get a serology test for H5 antibodies from any commercial or @APHL public health lab. People, including farmers who’ve been symptomatic, have tried to find a place for a test..I have personally searched..found none.

Amy Maxmen: My last piece covered how we could use Flu A tests (include bird flu, seasonal flu, etc) - but aren't. kffhealthnews.org/news/article/b

also https://kffhealthnews.org/news/article/cdc-bird-flu-tests-covid-repeat-concerns/

Drugs:

Devices and Vaccines:

Corsi-Rosenthal boxes:

New research from epidemiologist @JehnML: DIY air filters work better than commercial HEPA filters for fraction of cost. Read more: bit.ly/3x7DDSQ

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BARDA: Through the @RRPV_Consortium and #ProjectNextGen, we’re partnering with @castlevaxbio, Cyanvac, and @Vaxart to evaluate novel #COVID19 vaccine candidates that are needle-free. Learn more: ow.ly/Z3CF50SipJ3

Epidemiology/Infection control:

@NateB_Panic
Spain is experiencing its third biggest covid wave of the pandemic. In June. If the trend continues, it will become the largest wave of the entire pandemic in under two weeks
June 13  @SamuelHurtadoBE
Currently 6.65% of the population has covid (one in 15 people). Four of the 53 stations sampled, including one in Madrid, are at their highest viral concentration of the whole pandemic.

Tips, general reading for public:

Vaccinate

Ventilate

Mask

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Valuable resources for networking with like-minded groups

Violet Blue suggests Covid Action Map

Covid Advocacy Group has an extensive list of groups in the Canada and US.

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The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines website will remain available until August 16, 2024, and will provide a downloadable PDF of the final version of the Guidelines.

https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/about-the-guidelines/whats-new/

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A template asking your healthcare team for COVID-19 protections

https://protectbc.ca/template-asking-your-healthcare-team-for-covid-19-protections/

Politics:

Covid: 

“[The White House] have nine or better fresh air exchanges per hour and all filters are upgraded to MERV 13. They have also installed 220 nanometer Germicidal UV lamps.”  https://t.co/RoIidpkd4j

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Mask bans: The new NC mask bill says it's okay for a police officer or store manager to make someone remove their mask "temporarily." Peak viral exposure happens within 5 seconds of a face-to-face encounter.

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GOP/TFG: 

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@ResisterSis20
He had his lawyer present for his probation interview, refused to give a urine sample and was excused from doing so.
He also owns a gun and is in contempt of the Gag Order.
While out on bail in 4 cases, he threatened President Biden.
Yet, he is a free man. This is white privilege in a patriarchal system designed to protect the rich. Forget two systems of justice.
This is injustice under the law for him and those like him. Trump’s life matters. The rest of us, not so damn much.
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Project 25:
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or John Oliver on Project 25
In a stunning video, Donald Trump blames NATO for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Donald Trump is parroting Russian talking points.
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Trump's speech to the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington DC. 
video clips and quotes from Aaron Rupar
Trump nods toward the big lie: "We have to make sure everything is honest. You keep your eyes open. You're the police in a way. You can police your vote. A lot of people don't know that. Just make sure your vote counts."
"I hope you can put the lockboxes in your churches. You know, these boxes that they cheat with so badly. You should put them in your churches."
"You gotta get out and vote. Just this time. In four years you don't have to vote, ok? In four years don't vote, I don't care. But we'll have it all straightened out, so it'll be much different."
Trump accuses Biden of running "a Marxist administration" (lol) and says he's demonstrated "a remarkable ability to demolish the rule of law." (Trump was recently convicted of felonies.)
"Our allegiance is to our creator ... who likes the Ten Commandments going up in schools? ... has anybody read the, 'thou shalt not steal?'" -- Trump is doing his pretending to be religious thing today for the Faith & Freedom Coalition
"The hardest thing to do is we have perhaps 20 million that came in from all parts of the world, and they're gonna have to be gone ... whenever I say Silence of the Lambs, the fake news says, 'oh, he's likes Hannibal Lecter.' No, they're crazy."
Trump says he has "wounds all over" his body from defending religious liberty, then adds that he has been treated worse than any president, including Abraham Lincoln (who was assassinated)
"The right to freedom of worship does not end at the door of a public school"
"We did something that was amazing" -- Trump takes credit for ending Roe v Wade and federal abortion rights
"There are states that allow that" -- Trump, speaking to a conservative Christian group, pushes his grotesque, misogynist lie that moms in blue states want to murder their babies
Trump lies that Biden has "rounded up" Christians and thrown them in jail (Biden is a devout Catholic)
"If we don't win, we don't have a country" -- Trump on the 2024 election
Trump, freshly convicted of felonies and obviously ignorant about Christianity, says that if more people grew up with religion, there would be less crime
Trump pushes the big lie hard: "The radical left Democrats rigged the presidential election in 2020 and we're not gonna allow them to rig the presidential election in 2024."
Trump, speaking to a Christian group, says migrants "are just getting comfortable now. They're gonna start hitting us very hard. These people are bad."
"As president I will not cut one penny from Social Security or Medicare." (Trump repeatedly proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare when he was president.)
Trump takes credit for veterans health care legislation that was actually signed into law by President Obama
"That thing has haunted me for three years" -- me thinks Trump doth protest too much about the "suckers and losers" comment about dead veterans
"In my next term, we will build a great Iron Dome over our country."
"I'm giving immunity to police all over the country."
"I will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate,"
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RFK is also a felon:
September 1993, RFK Jr was charged with heroin possession in Rapid City, South Dakota. He pled guilty in February 1984 and was sentenced to two years probation and community service.
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Reminder... Rand Paul sure did try to hide the fact that his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences, which makes an antiviral drug used to treat it, for 16 months. That was well past the 45 day requirement in the Stock Act designed to combat insider trading.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/08/11/rand-paul-gilead-stock/

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Valuable perspective: Dems Need to Get in the Ring With MAGA. Take It From Voters
Focus groups and surveys reveal red alarms but also opportunities for Biden: Voters need to hear Dems warning about MAGA agenda and countering it

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/dems-need-get-in-ring-maga-voters-1235040459/

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SCOTUS:

Neil Gorsuch tried to sell his $10.8M property for 2 years with no luck - but only 9 days after getting confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, he sold it to a lawyer with numerous cases before SCOTUS. Plus, he didn’t report it.

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The Supreme Court's conservative majority just found that U.S. citizens do NOT have a constitutional right for noncitizen spouses to enter country. All three liberal justices dissented. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor says the Court's decision will most heavily burden same-sex couples, citing Obergefell v. Hodges.

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Supremes actually voted to do something good!

This was an 8-1 decision saying domestic abusers can be banned from owning guns. Clarence Thomas is the lone dissenter.

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SPLC:

@DanWernerLaw   thread start here
@splcenterhas just laid off 80+ of the most talented advocates I've known & entirely eliminated its immigrant justice and Teaching for Justice programs. SPLC leadership is all about spin, and they'll put a spin on this. But make no mistake, this is a win for the right wing.
And to make matters worse, @SPLCenter, in decimating its imm justice & Teaching 4 Justice programs, has fired some of the strongest #union leaders at the organization; falling in line behind Deep South Big Business campaigns to kill organized labor. Shameful.
If you donate money to @SPLCenter, stop. The org has over $800 million in assets. Its investment in the important work that needs to be done doesn't come close to matching its resources. Your money will go much farther with orgs that spend--rather than hoard--money.
[Note: The same is true of St. Jude's Children's Hospital]
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Greed:

@RBReich
John Deere has laid off roughly 1000 workers so far this year.
But the company reported a profit of over $10 billion in 2023.
Its CEO received $26.7 million in total compensation.
And it spent over $7 billion on stock buybacks. Textbook corporate greed.
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Medicare For All would save $450 billion in health care costs and 68,000 lives per year.
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Walmart is replacing the price stickers with electronic shelf labels across 2,300 stores — which could be a precursor to surge pricing. One industry analyst says: “If it’s hot outside, we can raise the price of water and ice cream."
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Abortion/Reproduction:
@RyanMarino
More than 1200 women die each year in the United States directly from pregnancy complications. More than 6 thousand women die each year in the United States directly from intimate partner violence. 6 or fewer women die each year in the United States related to legal abortions.
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LGBTQ:
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Dr. Eithan Haim charged with taking private patient information on transgender care. He views himself as a noble whistleblower for illegally stealing and disseminating personal health info on LGBT youth.
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Book Bans:
The Bible has been removed from all elementary and middle school libraries throughout the Davis School District in Utah after a parent utilized a new law that permits the removal of "pornographic" books from school libraries. The removal of the Bible was requested due to it being "one of the most sex-ridden books around." The Utah Legislature in 2022 approved a contentious bill HB374, which lawmakers have described as a way to weed out content found to be pornographic from K-12 libraries and classrooms.
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Arizona: 

Arizona is sending taxpayer money to religious schools — and billionaires see it as a model for the US

https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/19/politics/arizona-private-school-vouchers-invs

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Florida:

"Some of the larger line items Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed last week...were about $32 million for arts, culture and museum grants...a stunning blow to hundreds of organizations across the sprawling state: children's choruses, opera houses, symphonies, theatres, zoological societies, cultural councils." jacksonville.com/story/news/col via @jaxdotcom

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Louisiana:
Louisiana is the first state in the country to require that the 10 Commandments to be displayed in every classroom in the state. On the flip side, Louisiana is ranked last in the U.S. in crime and corrections, 47th in education, 46th in health care, 49th in infrastructure, and 49th for the overall state of the economy.
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GOP Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, who just signed a bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in classrooms, rejected $71 million from the Biden administration to feed nearly 600,000 hungry children in his state
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Maryland:
Larry Hogan vetoed legislation to require background checks on shotguns and semiautomatic rifles after the 2018 mass shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom. His veto was overridden by the Democratic legislature.
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Texas:
After decades of lobbying by Christian conservative donors, school voucher legislation may finally have the votes texastribune.org/2024/06/21/gre
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Iran:
@Angry_Staffer
People always ask me which stories to pay attention to. This one. You should pay attention to this one. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran is undergoing a major expansion at Fordow, its most heavily-protected nuclear facility. Post-expansion, Fordow will be able to enrich enough uranium for a bomb a month, according to experts. There are also plans for further expansion at Natanz. The last time Iran expanded its nuclear program on this scale, we hit them with Stuxnet in order to keep Israel from launching military strikes on Iran. Also, to be clear: this is a direct result of Trump withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal/JCPOA. wapo.st/3xonNU2

Feel good du jour:

https://twitter.com/Rainmaker1973/status/1800899607901209071

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Comic relief:

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden/status/1804528150572879924

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Perspective/Poem

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Worth listening to Reggie Jackson:

Bits of beauty:

 

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