Coronavirus Tidbits #229 1/22/23


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.

Reminder, Resilience: One Family's Story... is increasingly pertinent, as some of our politicians shift rightward. All proceeds go to Holocaust education.

Available here.





New posts:

--a 2-part series on homelessness

“Rough Sleepers”— The Growing Problem Of Homelessness In America


What We Can Learn About Homelessness From ‘Rough Sleepers’



COVID-19 infection at any time during pregnancy boosts mother's risk of death

Pregnant women were nearly 8 times as likely to die as their uninfected peers.

And they were nearly 4 times as likely to require ; 15 times as likely to require ; and more than 5 times as likely to need any type of critical care.

They were also more than 23 times as likely to be diagnosed with pneumonia and more than 5 times as likely to have serious blood clots.

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Testing of plane wastewater showed 'failure' of COVID-era air travel measures

Almost all planes arriving at three UK airports during a period of COVID restrictions had the SARS CoV-2 virus in their wastewater, according to newly published research. The virus was also found in wastewater at arrival terminals.

Bangor University scientists, who pioneered the use of wastewater testing to track SARS-CoV2 in the UK, wanted to find out whether wastewater testing could be used as a way of monitoring the general health of passengers on flights coming into the country in future. The study was published in PLOS Global Public Health.

The team tested the toilet tank water taken from long haul and short haul flights entering the UK at Heathrow, Edinburgh and Bristol airports over a three-week period between 8-31 March 2022. Samples were also collected from sewers connected to the arrival halls in the airport terminals and at a wastewater treatment plant in the vicinity of each airport.

The COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in England on the 18th March 2022, removing the requirement for unvaccinated passengers to take a pre-departure test and a day 2 post arrival test to prove their COVID status. But the researchers found little difference in the concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater before and after that date...

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Are current mRNA vaccines effective against XBB.1.5?

XBB.1.5 and XBB.1 are the omicron subvariants with the greatest immune-evasive properties. Therefore, one of the most contentious issues surrounding XBB.1.5 relates to the degree of protection afforded by currently available mRNA vaccines, including the latest bivalent booster formulations.

Researchers from the University of Texas determined that first-generation and bivalent mRNA booster vaccines containing BA.5 result in lackluster neutralizing antibody responses against XBB.1.5. A report (yet to be peer reviewed) from investigators at the Cleveland Clinic found that bivalent vaccines demonstrate only modest (30 per cent) effectiveness in otherwise healthy non-elderly people when the variants in the vaccine match those circulating in the community.

Furthermore, some experts believe the administration of bivalent boosters for the prevention of COVID-19 illness in otherwise healthy young individuals is not medically justified nor cost-effective.

In contrast, public health experts from Atlanta, Ga. and Stanford, Calif. reported that although the neutralizing antibody activity of bivalent booster vaccines against XBB.1.5 is 12 to 26 times less than antibody activity against the wild-type (original) SARS-CoV-2 virus, bivalent vaccines still perform better than monovalent vaccines against XBB.1.5.

However, investigators from Columbia University in New York found that neutralizing antibody levels following bivalent boosting were up to 155–fold lower against XBB.1.5 compared to levels against the wild-type virus following monovalent boosting.

This suggests that neither monovalent nor bivalent booster vaccines can be relied upon to provide adequate protection against XBB.1.5.

How can you protect yourself against XBB.1.5?

The rapid evolution of SARS-CoV-2 continues to pose a challenge for the management of COVID-19 illness using available preventive and therapeutic agents. Of note, all currently available monoclonal antibodies targeting the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 are deemed to be ineffective against XBB.1.5.

Antiviral medicines such as remdesivir and Paxlovid may be considered for the treatment of eligible infected patients at high risk of progressing to severe disease.

Standard infection control precautions including indoor masking, social distancing and frequent handwashing are effective measures that can be employed for personal and population protection against XBB.1.5 and other subvariants of concern.

Although bivalent boosters may be considered for elderly, immunocompromised and other risk-averse individuals, their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 illness due to XBB.1.5 remains uncertain.

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Remember: You know what are variant-proof protections?

- N95 masks - HEPA filters - Ventilation of indoor spaces #COVIDIsAirborne

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How your first brush with COVID warps your immunity

The immune system responds more strongly to the strain of a virus that it first met, weakening response to other strains. Can this ‘imprinting’ be overcome?

Nature Rachel Brazil  18 January 2023

During the summer of 2022, with the Omicron coronavirus variant running rampant, friends and relatives of immunologist Bob Seder kept asking him if they should postpone their COVID-19 boosters and wait for the new Omicron-tailored vaccine to become available. He told them not to delay.

Seder, acting chief of the Vaccine Immunology Program at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, suspected that the effectiveness of a new booster would be blunted by a quirk of the immune system known as imprinting — the tendency for someone’s initial exposure to a virus to bias their immune response when they meet the same virus again.

Imprinting was first observed decades ago, in people with influenza. Their immune systems responded to a new circulating strain by producing antibodies tailored to their first flu encounter. In some cases, this led to a poorer ability to fight off the new strain.

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One year later, hybrid immunity offered strongest protection against Covid

If you’ve been wondering how well or how long immunity against Covid-19 lasts after infection, a new paper out in The Lancet Infectious Diseases yesterday offers some answers. A review of 26 studies looked at immunity from infection as well as hybrid immunity, from the combination of infection and vaccination. After one year, hybrid immunity was best, meaning a 95% lower chance of developing severe Covid or needing admission to a hospital, compared to unvaccinated and uninfected people.

Immunity only from an infection one year before gave unvaccinated people a 75% lower chance of severe illness or hospitalization. Protection against being reinfected with Covid wasn’t as strong: Hybrid immunity conferred a 42% lower chance of reinfection after one year and previous infection alone meant a 25% lower chance of reinfection after one year, compared to unvaccinated and uninfected people.

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COVID-19 patients retain elevated risk of death for at least 18 months after infection, finds large-scale study

COVID-19 is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease and death in the short- and long-term, according to a study in nearly 160,000 participants published today in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Compared to uninfected individuals, the likelihood of COVID-19 patients dying was up to 81 times higher in the first three weeks of infection and remained five times higher up to 18 months later...

This study compared the occurrence of cardiovascular conditions and death in infected versus uninfected individuals recruited before December 2020, when no vaccines were available in the UK.

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Survey results indicate nearly 19 million US adults may have long COVID

The results of a population-based survey suggest that nearly 19 million U.S. adults may have long COVID, with some reporting symptoms more than 12 months after their initial infection.

“Most studies of long COVID are in select samples of people, such as people hospitalized with COVID or people who seek health care for COVID symptoms or long COVID symptoms, but there were no studies that tried to get at what the true burden of long COVID is in the general population,” Denis Nash, PhD, MPH, executive director of City University of New York (CUNY) Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health and distinguished professor of epidemiology at the CUNY School of Public Health, told Healio.

“More than 2 years into the pandemic, after most people in the U.S. have had COVID at least once, we wanted to assess how many people had lingering symptoms and to assess risk factors for having long COVID in the general population of U.S. adults," Nash said.

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Covid and innate immunity:

The more severe the COVID-19 infection, the slower the recovery of immune cells, such as the dendritic cells, which are necessary for the activation of the immune system.

In this study, the researchers have taken a closer look at the innate immune system, which is necessary for the body to organize any specific immune defense at all. The first time the body encounters a new virus, such as SARS-CoV-2 at the outset of the pandemic, the immune system must detect it. A group of cells called  are necessary for this to happen. These then activate T cells, which can kill cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, and which in their turn activate B cells, which can produce antibodies that neutralize the virus. The dendritic cells are therefore a critical link between the innate and the adaptive immune systems. In an earlier study of the same patient group, the research group found negative effects on T cells....

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Avian influenza aka Bird flu:

More Bears Infected with Bird Flu

The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) recently confirmed three juvenile grizzly bears tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus during the fall of 2022.

These were the first documented cases of HPAI in grizzly bears in Montana.

The three bears were observed to be in poor condition and exhibited disorientation and partial blindness, among other neurological issues. They were euthanized due to their sickness and poor condition.

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USDA data shows avian flu spread to red foxes, skunk in Minnesota

last year Minnesota recorded eight instances of avian flu found in red foxes. There was also a striped skunk in Itasca County that was infected in November. Wisconsin had 17 infected mammals, including in bobcats and a fisher.

Full text:

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gonorrhea strain with 'reduced response' to antibiotics in Mass.

Health officials in Massachusetts say that they have detected a strain of gonorrhea in two individuals that has shown a reduced response to multiple antibiotics.

Officials said that this marks the first time that a strain of gonorrhea that shows a resistance or reduced response to antibiotics has been detected inside the United States.

The particular strain of gonorrhea detected by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's State Public Health Laboratory has been seen in Asia-Pacific countries as well as in the United Kingdom.

The state health agency says that "these cases are an important reminder that strains of gonorrhea in the US are becoming less responsive to a limited arsenal of antibiotics."


COVID's infectiousness, and at RAT's sensitivity curves, from  @Wikisteff  Dec 12

(a) infectiousness is very high on Day 1; (b) symptoms generally manifest on Days 2, 3, 4; and (c) RAT sensitivity doesn't pick up until Days 5, 6, 7, and you have to test correctly (mouth, cheeks, throat) and repeatedly.


Drugs and Vaccines:

Real-World Data Support Bivalent COVID-19 Boosters in Older Adults

the Israeli data really helps us understand that for 65-years-olds and over, getting a bivalent booster is going to protect against hospitalization. We don't know how long that's going to last, and that's the key...

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Intriguing anecdote re Long Covid:

@RachelStrohm   Jan 17
The next week passed in the usual haze of fatigue and brain fog. On Monday, April 18 I went back for my second JE dose. Within hours, I noticed that my energy levels were improving. It was the first day I didn’t take an afternoon nap in nearly 4 months. /9
Several people have pointed out that vaccines for JE and BCG (the TB vaccine) seem to be effective against other viruses as well, so I think I caught a very lucky break here. Check out some of the research below: /18
The JE vaccine protects against Dengue in mice /19
JE also protects against Zika in mice /20
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Hybrid immunity:

from COVID-19 vaccination and prior infection offers the most durable protection against severe illness, according to a systematic review and meta-regression. (The Lancet Infectious Disease)


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Primer on efficacy of masking


Epidemiology/Infection control:

@LizSzabo   Jan 17
Review spotlights COVID's impact on pregnant women, including 7-fold higher death rate

Tips, general reading for public:




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Expiration dates on meds:

expiration date is only an assurance that the labeled potency will last at least until that time.1 Clinical situations may arise in which expired drugs might be considered owing to lack of viable alternatives2 or financial concerns.3 Ongoing studies show that many medications retain their potency years after their initially labeled expiration dates.4 We sought to characterize the potency of some prescription medications that had expired decades ago.

In our data set, 12 of 14 medications retained full potency for at least 336 months, and 8 of these for at least 480 months. The 3 drugs found with less than 90% of their labeled potency were amphetamine and aspirin in both samples tested and phenacetin in 1 of 2 samples tested. (pain meds, barbituates, amphetamine classes of drugs only were tested)




@KashPrime   Jan 18
The world's elite at the Davos forum are enjoying every possible protection from Covid, including PCR testing, air filtration, UVGI light. Why isn't this being offered to everyone else? Every school, every workplace should have the same protections as the rich and powerful.
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Why are children told to go into schools covid positive but the elite at Davos are PCR tested and if positive their entry refused?
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"The real turning point of this pandemic may not be the lifting of Covid zero in China, nor Kraken in NYC, but rather Davos 2023: The world has just realized that the rich and powerful protect themselves from #COVID19 by improving the quality of their indoor air." @flahault
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DeSantis lies [again] and falsely claims people who get the COVID-19 bivalent booster are “more likely to get infected.”

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One billion days lost: How COVID-19 is hurting the US workforce

COVID reduced the US workforce by 2.6% in 2022.

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HHS extended the COVID emergency until mid-April.  House Republicans introduced "The Pandemic Is Over Act" in response.

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When show a picture of E. Jean Carroll at his deposition, Trump identified her as his ex-wife. “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife.”
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Judge Middlebrooks is PISSED Sanctions order in the Trump RICO LOLsuit against Hillary Clinton and half of DC
quite an amusing thread showing the fines and judge's statement against TFGs claims
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Now on House Oversight Committee:
Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar
and on Homeland Sccurity: MTG
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@SenWhitehouse   Jan 12
House Republicans used their first vote to protect wealthy tax cheats. Now they propose another giveaway to the wealthy and a massive tax hike on everyone else with a 30% sales tax on everything you buy. Worse, they have the audacity to call it “fair.”  
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@NoLieWithBTC   Jan 15
Republicans have just moved to allow smoking inside the Capitol, making it the only public building in Washington, DC where it is allowed. Because that will solve inflation.
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@mjschwartzman   Jan 20
If you're a Reform or Conservative Jews who is concerned about religious liberty and reproductive rights, you should read this amicus brief filed by the Becket Fund, which explicitly attacks the sincerity of the Jewish plaintiffs in Indiana./1
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Exxon made ‘breathtakingly’ accurate climate predictions in 1970s and 80s
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@GeoffreySupran   Jan 12
today, our latest peer-reviewed research shows Exxon scientists predicted global warming with shocking skill & accuracy between 1977 & 2003, contradicting the company's decades of climate denial. THREAD. No pay wall for 2 weeks:
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@RBReich   Jan 15
Moderna is planning to charge $130 for its COVID vaccine, but the vaccine only costs $2.85 to make. Meanwhile, over the last two years, the company made over $19 billion in profits off the vaccine. Folks, this is what corporate greed looks like.
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@RBReich   Jan 15
Do I have this right: Republicans added ~$7 trillion to the national debt under Trump, but now they want to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare before raising the debt ceiling?
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@Kidfears99   Jan 12
Your daily reminder that the insulin I’ve used for 26 years, Humalog, has gone from $21 a vial to $275 a vial with no changes to the insulin or even the packaging. That’s a 1200% increase on a hormone every human requires to live, but my body can’t make. I die in 48 hours w/o it
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@GunnelsWarren   Jan 11
Jonas Salk, inventor of polio vaccine: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" Frederick Banting, inventor of insulin: "Insulin does not belong to me. It belongs to the world."
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel: 400% price hike on COVID vaccine is "consistent with the value."
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@shannonrwatts   Jan 15
Neighbors who saw a toddler in diapers wandering around a Beech Grove, Indiana, apartment complex with a loaded handgun called police. The incident was caught on building cameras.
The Indiana man arrested for allowing his child to access his loaded handgun is a convicted felon out on bail in a pending domestic battery case: 
Indiana, which just enacted permitless carry, does not require background checks on private gun sales.
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The top three airports with the most confiscated guns at TSA checkpoints are located in states that have passed permitless carry and don’t require a background check or training to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public: Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee.
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@talmonsmith   Jan 11
new paper: the 2021 Child Tax Credit — which from July to Dec 2021 gave qualifying families up to $3,600 per child in auto monthly payments — not only appeared to “reduced child poverty by half” it also notably “improved the mental health of adults in the lowest-income families.”
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@brycecovert   Jan 19
It seems as if every new fact I learn about the child welfare system is worse than the last, and this most recent one is a doozy: poor parents in at least 12 states can permanently lose their kids if they don't pay the government back for foster care.
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@abnermason   Jan 19
Medicaid expansion was "significantly associated" with a decrease in evictions across 40 states, from 2002-2018. Interesting findings considering that 1 in 5 households were housing insecure in 2020. Housing = health.
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Race/MLK Day:
@KBAndersen   Jan 16
Excellent thread. Loved learning 2 Republicans still in Congress voted against the MLK holiday in 1983—@ChuckGrassley, 89, and @RepHalRogers, 85. And that in Louisiana in 1999 and 2004 state legislator @SteveScalise, now House GOP leader, voted to *cancel* its state holiday.1/2
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@CalesMcGinnis   Jan 15
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 733 active hate groups in the United States in 2021. Below is a list of ten states with the most active hate groups per person. Is your state on this list?
10. Idaho • Hate groups in 2021: 3.2 per million people (6 total) • Hate group ideologies include: Anti-Muslim, antisemitism, white nationalist • Total population: 1,900,923
9. Louisiana • Hate groups in 2021: 3.2 per million people (15 total)
8. South Carolina • Hate groups in 2021: 3.3 per million people (17 total)
7. West Virginia • Hate groups in 2021: 3.4 per million people (6 total)
6. Montana • Hate groups in 2021: 3.6 per million people (4 total)
5. Delaware • Hate groups in 2021: 4.0 per million people (4 total)
4. Tennessee • Hate groups in 2021: 4.0 per million people (28 total)
3. New Hampshire • Hate groups in 2021: 4.3 per million people (6 total)
2. South Dakota • Hate groups in 2021: 4.5 per million people (4 total)
1. Nebraska • Hate groups in 2021: 4.6 per million people (9 total)
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@SarahHuckabee   Jan 13
Today I was proud to sign an executive order terminating five existing orders on COVID. In Arkansas, we will not have mask or vaccine mandates. We will not shut down churches or schools. And we will move beyond COVID. I stand for freedom and it’s time to get back to normal.
[Arkansas ranks 49th in health care.]
As long as I am your governor, the meddling hand of big government creeping down form Washington will be stopped cold at the Mississippi.

[Arkansas gets 39.68% of their revenue from the federal government. pre

@RonFilipkowski   Jan 17]
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CA's #COVID sick pay policy has now expired, as of Jan. 1, 2023. California employers can no longer accept any new claims for COVID paid leave.
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The San Francisco District Attorney's office has issued an arrest warrant for Collier Gwin He is being "charged with misdemeanor battery for the alleged intentional & unlawful spraying of water on & around a woman experiencing homelessness"
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@QasimRashid   Jan 12
Keenan Anderson—a 31-year-old high school teacher & father—stopped LA police for help after an accident. They instead cuffed him, pinned him, & tased him repeatedly as he begged them to stop. Keenan died of cardiac arrest from excessive tasing. His crime—asking police for help.
tased him for over 90 seconds, video and family accounts reveal. At one point he yelled: "They're trying to George Floyd me."
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LAPD killed 170+ people since 2013, Black victims 4.4x more often than white.
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the Aurora Police Department has re-hired Matthew Green, the officer who threatened Elijah McClain with his police dog during the stop that led to the young man's death.
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@Phil_Lewis_   Jan 18
Florida has used Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Stop WOKE Act” to block AP African American Studies from its schools Florida’s Department of Education said the curriculum “is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
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@MiamiHerald   Jan 12
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@tomaskenn   Jan 15
A grand jury convened by Ron DeSantis recommends creating a third degree felony for a person who doesn’t report undocumented people to the authorities. They have passed increasingly anti-immigrant bills in Florida but this would be the most extreme so far.
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colleagues and I have spent a great deal of time writing about and researching. Here's what we've found:
...campuses that submitted falsified fire safety inspections, hired people w/ criminal records and failed to pay workers. Many don't require teachers to have degrees.
kids used hand-me-down textbooks — some dating to the Bill Clinton presidency. School leaders rebuffed his requests to buy computers for classrooms.
In 2018, we looked at the curriculum used in schools that take vouchers. We found dozens of campuses where students use textbooks from religious publishers that contain lessons that downplay slavery or depict dinosaurs and humans on earth together.
And in 2020, we looked at policies banning students from voucher campuses if they identify as gay/transgender (or if their parents do). We found 156 campuses with anti-gay views educated > 20,800 students who used vouchers to pay tuition.
And despite what voucher advocates say, the public does not know exactly how kids using vouchers are doing academically. There is very little data available, especially compared with what we have for public school students.
One thing I want to underscore: Because these campuses are private, it's impossible to know how many schools ban LGBTQ kids, hire teachers w/out degrees or use textbooks that, say, teach creationism. The education department does not track this. Schools aren't required to tell us
Other schools were evicted from their campuses mid-year or hired teachers who had been fired from the public schools.
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New York:
@GailWaldby   Jan 18
NY vaccine mandate for healthcare workers 'null, void' following judge ruling #COVIDIsNotOver #VaccinesWork
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@radleybalko   Jan 14
Pittsburgh police chief says he’s going to ignore a city ordinance barring cops from pulling people over for trivial traffic offenses, in part because it’s hurting officer morale. Just a whole lot of dysfunction going on in this story.
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@GregAbbott_TX   Jan 16
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of liberty & opportunity for all inspired our nation. Today, we honor his life & legacy. The beacon of hope he lit burns brightly in Texas....
Abbott signed a bill last year eliminating the requirement for Texas schools to teach about MLK’s “I have a dream” speech.
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@pblodlr   Jan 9
As asylum seekers at Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley (and 30+ other locations) waited for court hearings, little did they know their cell phone data locations were being tracked by a conservative group. Read my latest story for @TPRNews here:
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Youngkin is revamping curriculum and promised to ban CRT and to oppose LGBTQ inclusion in schools. His new proprosed plan deleted references to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth, mentioned white President Ronald Reagan five times but Black President Barack Obama only once, and referred to Indigenous people as “America’s first immigrants.”
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Book banning:

North Dakota:

North Dakota weighs ban on 'sexually explicit' library books

The bill, which would prohibit books depicting sexual or gender identity, proposes up to 30 days in prison for librarians who refuse to remove banned titles.
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@StephenKing   Jan 18
Hey, kids! It's your old buddy Steve King telling you that if they ban a book in your school, haul your ass to the nearest bookstore or library ASAP and find out what they don't want you to read.
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[Makes me want to see what I've missed!]
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Shatter Me series of 6 books by Tahereh Mafi (Defy Me, Ignite Me, Restore Me, Shatter Me, Imagine Me, Unravel Me)
  • Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Sula by Toni Morrison
  • Love by Toni Morrison
  • The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  • Empire of Storms by Sarah Maas
  • Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  • 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
  • It by Stephen King
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand

As always, any teenager in America can borrow a digital copy of any banned book from the Brooklyn Public Library as part of their Books Unbanned Project.

Learn more at

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New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern:

A signed copy of the transcript of the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, calling a minor opposition party leader an “arrogant prick” has been sold for more than $100,000 at an auction to raise money for prostate cancer.

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quote from Jacinda Ardern’s resignation: ‘Hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused...that you can be your own kind of leader, one who knows when it’s time to go’..

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@talschneider   Jan 14
Mass demonstration tonight in Tel Aviv, under some rain. Around 50k Protesters gathered at Habima sq to demonstrate against the Gov Constitutional coup (a political takeover of the Supreme Court, override clause and much more)
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@Reuters   Jan 13
Colombian authorities are melting weapons seized in operations against criminal organizations and transforming them into steel rods to be used to build low-income housing
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UK  @kallmemeg   Jan 18
Pretty shocking NHS stats — estimated 1 in 20 people in England are on a waiting list for elective surgery. The queue is now 10x longer than in 2011. And the backlog really started growing in 2019, the pandemic only exacerbated it.
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The Houses of Parliament have installed air filters to remove viruses
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Taliban ban on female NGO staff is deepening Afghanistan’s public health crisis

Many aid groups have suspended their work as United Nations is negotiating to reverse the decree.

Science  BY LESLIE ROBERTS  16 JAN 2023

The Taliban’s 24 December 2022 decree barring women from working in national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is another devastating blow to women’s rights in Afghanistan. It also threatens to plunge a country beset by hunger and natural disasters even deeper into a public health crisis.

The United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian partners are engaged in intense negotiations to persuade the Taliban to reverse the edict. But for now, many NGOs, which depend heavily on female staff, have made the heart-wrenching decision to suspend their operations, which provide vital food, hygiene, and medicines. The decree also jeopardizes the global campaign to eradicate polio, in which women play crucial roles raising awareness and vaccinating children. Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan are the last two countries where the wild poliovirus is still endemic, and the campaign is going full bore to wipe it out by the end of 2023.

Since August 2021, when the extremists took over, Afghanistan’s economy has collapsed and the country has been hit with a punishing drought, an earthquake, floods, and a brutal winter. More than 28 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, such as food, shelter, clean water, hygiene, warm clothes, child protection, education, cash transfers, immunizations, and essential health services. Some 6 million are on the brink of famine.

Feel good du jour:

@JoshShapiroPA   Jan 12
I’ll take my oath of office on a bible provided by the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was on the bima the day eleven Jews were killed in the deadliest act of antisemitism in US history. On Tuesday, it will be at our state Capitol.

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And Wes Moore used Frederick Douglas's Bible for becoming Maryland's Governor.

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Jamaad, video of hijab-wearing basketball player trying to encourage other girls:

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@DrKwane Stewart has gone out for years to homeless encampments in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles counties to give free care to unhoused pets.
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@CBSSunday   Jan 15
Glen Lake Elementary, in Hopkins, Minnesota, has students with physical disabilities, but no adaptive playground equipment. This really bothered the kids in Betsy Julien's 5th-grade class, so they asked her if they could just buy the equipment themselves.
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Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:

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