Coronavirus Tidbits #232 2/12/23


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.


Scientists have discovered a protein in the lung that blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection

and forms a natural protective barrier in the human body.

This protein, the leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 15 (LRRC15), is an inbuilt receptor that binds the SARS-CoV-2 virus without passing on the infection.

The research opens up an entirely new area of immunology research around LRRC15 and offers a promising pathway to develop new drugs to prevent viral infection

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A new COVID-19 subvariant is a growing concern for experts.

preprint paper released last week by researchers at Ohio State University says that CH.1.1 has “a consistently stronger neutralization resistance available than XBB, XBB.1 and XBB.1.5, which is astonishing and warrants continuous monitoring and further investigations.”

Their study notes that CH.1.1 contains the mutation L452R that’s seen in delta, but not in omicron, and this may give CH1.1 the ability to become more infectious than other omicron stains. CH.1.1 has been nicknamed Orthus, after the two-headed dog in Greek mythology.

CH1.1 now occupies 5th place on the list of spreading variants, accounting for 1.6% of total new cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.

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Tobacco and e-cigs may put healthy young people at risk of severe COVID illness, new research suggests

This is among the first studies to find that not only smoking tobacco, but also vaping, may predispose people to increased inflammation and future development of severe COVID-19 and the lingering cardiovascular complications that can occur after initial illness from the virus, said Dr. Theodoros Kelesidis, the study's lead author.

It was a quite interesting and novel finding that vaping changed the levels of key proteins that the virus uses to replicate."

The study is published Feb.9 in the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

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Single-dose treatment w interferon reduces COVID-19 hospitalization risk by half for high-risk patients in phase 3 trial

A single-dose of the antiviral drug peginterferon lambda reduced by half the risk of hospitalization or a visit to the Emergency Department due to COVID-19, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The multi-center phase 3 TOGETHER clinical trial—designed to test a new therapy in a real setting—evaluated the use of this drug in more than 1,900 outpatients at high risk of developing complications from COVID-19.

Patients who received a single-dose subcutaneous injection of peginterferon lambda within seven days of their first COVID-19 symptom had a 50 percent lower risk of needing to be admitted to hospital when compared to people who received a placebo.

The trial was one of the first to test treatment in a largely vaccinated population. The research team found that a similar effect was seen in those who had received the vaccine—84 percent—as in those who were unvaccinated. The team also saw the benefits of treatment across multiple COVID-19 variants, including the highly transmissible omicron variant.

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COVID vaccination in pregnancy found to protect infants against infection and hospital admission

Two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy are highly effective against delta and moderately effective against omicron infection, and are linked to a lower risk of hospital admission in infants under six months of age, finds a Canadian study published by The BMJ today.

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Studies Tie Gut Microbiome, Metabolites to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Two new studies by independent research teams suggest gut microbial communities and related metabolites may differ between individuals with or without myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a heterogeneous condition marked by symptoms affecting everything from energy metabolism to neurological function and immune features.

The findings highlight potential treatment targets, while pointing to some of the disease features and possible biomarkers that distinguish relatively short-term versions of the disease (occurring over fewer than four years) with long-term ME/CFS cases that span more than a decade.

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Avian influenza H5N1

Peru: At least 585 sea lions and about 55,000 birds have died from avian flu in protected natural areas

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"But what worries me right now is that this is a change in the epidemiology and the ecology of the disease. " - Richard Webby, an influenza virologist this point the world would be better off focusing on spillover threats plural than one single type of bird flu. Fukuda worries that the Covid-19 experience, rather than strengthening our response capacity, has eroded political support for this type of work. And Osterholm worries about what the Covid pandemic has done to public support for public health.

“If we did have another pandemic right now I think it would be very difficult to get the public to do anything to try to limit or control transmission. That is to me a big setback,” he said."

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1) What should be done about avian influenza. Very easy. Master seed viruses and vaccines specific to the panzootic H5N1 need to be produced (which is likely in progress for a some time already, the CDC is really good at this and BARDA has manufacturing contracts for it).
2) It needs to be assess if these viruses are sensitive to the three classes of drugs we have against influenza. To my knowledge that has been done, looking good. There is likely also significant immunity to the N1 because humans have been exposed to pH1N1 which...
3) now the seasonal H1N1 strain and features and avian origin N1 (see 1968 H2N2/H3N2 cross-protection for literature). Then, physicians need to be informed about the possibility that an atypical influenza they detect is H5N1. They need to review the tests they are running..
4)...and what these tests can pick up. Furthermore, the public needs to be informed not to touch any dead or weirdly behaving birds or mammals. But it should be clear in general. Finally, we probably want to have a discussion about vaccination of poultry against avian influenza..


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Downed spy balloon may muddy US-China medical supply chains

experts fear the incident's effects on the US-China medical supply chain, according to an article yesterday in Scrip. The United States relies on overseas manufacturing for 18 of 21 critical antibiotics and 72% of its active pharmaceutical ingredients.

One urgent issue is the resumption of FDA inspections of Chinese drug manufacturing plants. For example, BeiGene, Ltd., which has interests in both China and the United States, is still awaiting approval of its cancer antibody tislelizumab, which was postponed in July 2022 because the United States couldn't conduct inspections in China amid its now-scrapped zero-COVID policy.

Geopolitical strain is expected to rise following the incident, putting the healthcare industry on alert.



 Medicare Will Not Cover COVID-19 At-Home Tests Post-PHE

Drugs and Vaccines:


@EricTopol  Feb 10
A new real-world effectiveness study documents 85% reduction of deaths and 55% reduction of hospitalizations for Paxlovid, independent of vaccination status, age, variants
Very low rate of clinical relapse (aka rebound) "Using emergency department visits as a surrogate for clinically significant relapse ...., we observed a *lower* ED visit rate in patients treated with nirmatrelvir–ritonavir [3.9%] compared with untreated patients [4.7%]"
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Inhalable powder could protect lungs against COVID-19, flu viruses

Researchers have developed an inhalable powder that could protect lungs and airways from viral invasion by reinforcing the body's own mucosal layer. The powder, called Spherical Hydrogel Inhalation for Enhanced Lung Defense, or SHIELD, reduced infection in both mouse and non-human primate models over a 24-hour period, and can be taken repeatedly without affecting normal lung function.

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A thoughtful take on and from Derek Lowe

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@HelenBranswell⁩ on the clinical benefits of the updated bivalent booster I hope the compelling evidence helps to increase booster coverage, especially among the most vulnerable (eg in nursing facilities)

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Single-dose antibiotic can prevent maternal sepsis and death

by NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

FEBRUARY 9, 2023

A single oral dose of the antibiotic azithromycin can reduce the risk of postpartum sepsis and death among women who deliver vaginally by one-third, according to a large multi-country clinical trial, called A-PLUS. Only 1.6% of women in the study who received azithromycin during labor developed sepsis or died within six weeks after delivery, compared to 2.4% of those who received placebo. Azithromycin did not reduce the risk of stillbirth, newborn sepsis or newborn death.

Results from the study, which enrolled more than 29,000 women in seven low- and middle-income countries, were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's 43rd Annual Pregnancy Meeting, San Francisco.

Devices and Masks:

@MackayIM   Feb 6
Yes, masks reduce the risk of spreading COVID, despite a review saying they don't. -fantastic summary of the issues .

Epidemiology/Infection control:

@NPR   Feb 10
After three years, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is ceasing operations. Its data dashboards and maps became go-to sources for information from the early days of the pandemic.

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How does COVID-19 compare with bacterial and viral pneumonia for older patients in intensive care?

"In ICU-patients aged 70 years and older, COVID-19 is more severe—with approximately double mortality rates—compared with bacterial or viral pneumonia. Nevertheless, more than half of these  admitted to Dutch ICUs with COVID-19 survived the ,"

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The pandemic missing: The kids who didn’t go back to school

Overall, public school enrollment fell by over 700,000 students between the 2019-20 and 2021-22 school years in the 21 states plus Washington, D.C., that provided the necessary data.

Those states saw private-school enrollment grow by over 100,000 students. Home-schooling grew even more, surging by more than 180,000.

But the data showed 230,000 students who were neither in private school nor registered for home-school.

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Long Covid survey:

@organichemusic   Feb 7
Reviewing preliminary data from the survey (n=1,750!), here are some early observations on a few treatments:
1) Both #pwLC and #pwME benefit remarkably similarly from LDN. Check out the almost identical survey results for overall benefit & number of symptoms improved.
(50% ME/CFS  vs  56% Long Covid improvement)
2) People are more likely to benefit from CoQ10 at doses 200 mg or higher, but even then, their overall condition improves only slightly. 2) Both #pwME & #pwLC
benefit from anticoagulants (more on this another time - very interesting stuff!).
3) There is a clear increase in benefit when adding on antiplatelets to anticoagulants, but aspirin alone does not help many (78/255). 4) Interestingly, HEPARIN may be more beneficial in both pwME & pwLC than direct oral anticoagulants.
5) The majority of ME/CFS respondents have had ME for over 20 years. 6) The majority of LC respondents have had LC for 6-12 months. 7) NAC dose: Only 29% of those on NAC ≤600 mg daily had sustained benefits (n=195) compared to 51% on NAC >600 mg daily (n=106)

Tips, general reading for public:




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You probably know (I hope) that you shouldn't work out if you have #COVID19. There is evidence exertion can extend symptoms or complicate recovery. But when can you return to physical activity after?

“Only return to exercise after at least seven days free of symptoms, and begin with at least two weeks of minimal exertion.” Here is a flowchart to help make the right decisions:



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One of the most ridiculous parts of New York State removing its mask mandate for #COVID-19 in medical settings is that we have had a mask mandate in place long before the pandemic for the #flu if you aren't up-to-date on your seasonal #vaccine.

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Pfizer made a record $100 billion in 2022, almost $57 billion of which was from its #COVID-19 vaccine and Paxlovid.

Yet they still want to charge people $130 per dose, and refuse to share vaccines and treatments with the world.

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Schools in Anderson County, Tennessee shut down for two days because teachers are too sick to work, and there aren't enough subs to cover for them.

For some reason, though, nobody's losing their shit over "learning loss."

In an airborne pandemic, schools without mitigations ARE NOT SAFE.

Enough is enough.

Walk out, sick out, strike, shut it down. #SchoolWalkout2023

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Terri Wilder   @WildNycgirl   Feb 9
Curious about what folks think we should do as a community re: RECOVER's decision to launch a clinical trial on exercise and #longcovid. Would love to hear bold and brave ideas! Can't believe we have to deal with this! #mecfs #longcvoid #millionsmissing
[Note: her dismay is because exercise is contraindicated in MECFS and appears to make pts much worse; see also]
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More than half of board members of top-ranked U.S. hospitals had backgrounds in financial activities or business/professional services, as compared with 15% who had healthcare backgrounds. (Journal of General Internal Medicine)
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@oni_blackstock   Feb 4
In this brutal cold in NYC, thinking about how all $$$ going to pay police to hang out in subway stations as they check their cellphones and chat with one another could be used for permanent supportive housing for people who are unhoused. “A budget is a moral document.”
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@NoLieWithBTC   Feb 4
Wow. The US military just confirmed in an official statement that there were at least THREE Chinese spy balloons that flew over the US when Trump was president. Trump kept it a secret and did not shoot them down. The Republican narrative just imploded.
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"In 2022, 90% of House Republicans voted against a bill that would codify the right to basic contraception.
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The Biden administration said in July 2022 that refusing to fill prescriptions for drugs that could be used to terminate a pregnancy could violate federal law, regardless of various state bans on the procedure.

Texas sued the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday to prevent it from asking pharmacies to fill reproductive health prescriptions.

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Those are the exact same claims being made in this Texas case [re removing mifepristone from market]. And, again, 15 years ago, under the Bush administration, the GAO found that FDA's mifepristone approval was consistent with normal practice and followed the science:

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I need y'all to listen: The Nebraska Heartbeat Bill LB626 is dangerous & too few in the media are paying attention. I am a double board certified OBGYN & Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility specialist in Nebraska & LB626 will cost lives. Here's why:
LB626 claims it is a 6 week abortion ban, sensationalized by eliminating access to pregnancy termination after identification of a “heart beat.” In reality, LB626 is a near total abortion ban without a practical exception for rape or incest.
To appeal to the masses, LB626 pretends to create a carve out for rape and incest,...
Doctors practicing within the confines of this bill cannot take a woman’s word for it, that she was raped. The text of the bill indicates that confirmation of rape and subsequent pregnancy will require a police report.
Meaning, if a woman suffers this horrible crime and is afraid to report to the police, under the language of this bill, doctors will be legally unable to assist her, should she desire a termination.
And it gets even worse than that. IF one becomes pregnant as a result of rape, and reports their rape to the state, and the rapist is NOT convicted of FELONY charges, then the state of Nebraska will award parental rights to the rapist. No I’m not exaggerating.
This is one of many reasons why Nebraskas are disinclined to report their rape trauma, most especially if it results in a pregnancy.
If you ‘lose’ your case, you are forced to carry to term and your rapist will have equal parental rights, forcing you to relive your trauma with your rapist.
According to RAINN, less than 2% of cases charged with rape result in a felony conviction. Which means that in over 98% of cases, the assaulter that raped you, your sister, friend or daughter will be awarded parental rights Thereby requiring a victim to co-parent with their assailant.
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Banned Books:
Duval County, Florida has banned Henry Aaron's Dream, among many others, incl  a book on Roberto Clemente, Justice Sotomayor, an introduction to Rosa Parks,
See their entire banned book list here:
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@PeccaryNotPig   Feb 1
Hudbay working hard to get this ridgeline of the Santa Rita Mountains prepped for mountaintop removal. This is part of the vast home range of the jaguar El Jefe and some of the most important, federally designated jaguar critical habitat in the United States.
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@jul1arock   Feb 9
Railroads lobbied for the right to carry hazardous & flammable materials on trains with Civil War-era braking systems, while slashing their workforces by 30%, leaving employees exhausted & rails understaffed... Fast forward to 2023, East Palestine, Ohio
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Trump classified documents discovery is a BIG deal. Potentially means *dissemination* of the classified docs to third parties (not just retention). It's multiple classified docs. Trump aide, at PAC, on unsecure laptop...Plus a thumb drive! "A Trump aide had previously copied those same documents onto a thumb drive and laptop."
The aide previously worked for the Save America PAC...and studied in Russia.
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@ChrisMurphyCT   Feb 3
Marjorie Taylor Greene said that Sandy Hook and Parkland were staged and the parents are actors and the kids are really still alive. Republicans just put her on the committee that oversees school safety. But Ilhan Omar…
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RT @imcivicaction
BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron have all reported making record profits in 2022.

In case it wasn't obvious before, it is now — Big Oil used the cover of inflation to line their pockets by price-gouging consumers.

We need a windfall profits tax. NOW.

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It is frankly astonishing to read about how billionaires can get away with paying a lower tax rate than teachers, nurses, and firefighters.

Is this really the kind of country we want to live in?

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@ajplus   Feb 2
11,000+ people in Nigeria are suing Shell for oil spills they say are ravaging their farms and drinking water. The Niger Delta has hundreds of oil spills every year. Cancer-causing chemicals in water are 900x safe levels. Shell, which made $40B in 2022, denies responsibility.
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1.3 million Americans — 16.5% of all adults with diabetes who use insulin — rationed the life-saving insulin last year to save money.
neither the privately insured nor the uninsured — the groups who the new study found most often rationed insulin — have any protection from insulin costs, which can average $1000 per month or more.
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@iteptweets   Feb 7
.@POTUS mentions our finding of 55 corporations that paid $0 in taxes. These companies collectively avoided about $8.5 billion in taxes. The 15% corporate minimum tax will help reduce the number of corporations paying little or nothing in taxes.
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5th Circuit: Wife Beaters Can Own Guns Since Wife-Beating Was Legal In 1791

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@shannonrwatts   Feb 7
Just days after a federal appeals court of GOP-appointed judges ruled that domestic abusers could buy and own guns - making that the law of the land in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas - the NRA is suggesting men buy women guns for Valentine’s Day.
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Missouri Republicans block proposed ban on kids carrying guns in public
A woman is 5 times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun. Over 4.5M women in the US have been threatened with a gun, and nearly 1M women have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner. Over half of all intimate partner homicides are committed with guns.
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@chasestrangio   Feb 6
The following states are closing to banning - and in some cases criminalizing and deeming child abuse - medical care for trans adolescents: MS, TN, SD, ND, WY, ID, WV, OK, MO, MT, ID. The following states have: AR, AL, UT, TX.
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At least 9 GOP-led state legislatures want to restrict or criminalize drag shows
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"The DeSantis legal position is, in effect, that there is no such thing as #academicfreedom for professors in most of the universities in America. Because they work for state institutions, they are obliged to follow government speech. This is a truly radical & dangerous notion."
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@Victorshi2020   Feb 10
More cruelty out of Florida: The Florida state legislature just passed a bill that would allow Ron DeSantis to relocate migrants from ANY state — not just Florida. This is inhumane. This is evil. Don't ever think that Ron DeSantis is sane. He is Trump, but worse.
"Unauthorized Alien Transport Program"
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Faced with a "flood of complaints," the Florida High School Athletic Association decided to eliminate questions about menstrual history from a participant medical form, but left in place a question about assigned sex at birth. (AP)
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@OhNoSheTwitnt   Jan 30
“Trans students are a threat to our children’s safety!” said Ron DeSantis who wants to allow people to carry concealed firearms without a permit or training.
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@thehill   Feb 6
Publishing company Haymarket Books will offer free Black history e-books, especially in Florida
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@nywolforg   Jan 27
Idaho Fish & Game says they want to reduce the wolf population to 500. In 2021, Idaho allowed the killing of 494 wolves, including pups & nursing mothers, using snares, bait, & bounties up to $2500 to incentivize the slaughter. It's time to #RelistWolves
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@MorePerfectUS   Feb 7
A new Iowa bill would roll back child labor laws, allowing 14 to 17-year-olds to work in mining, meatpacking, demolition, operating guillotine shears, and other dangerous jobs. Under the business-backed bill, employers wouldn't be civilly liable if kids are injured or killed.
The new Iowa bill would also completely lift a ban on 14 and 15-year-olds working in freezers and meat coolers, and allow kids as young as 14 1/2 to drive themselves to work. Other dangerous jobs would be allowed with exemptions.
Iowa's child labor bill is sponsored by Republican Sen.@Jason_Schultz
Ohio may also expand child labor. Currently, Ohio teens can only work until 7 p.m. during the school year, but a bill backed by the restaurant lobby would allow 14 and 15-year-olds to work until 9 p.m. year-round with permission from their guardian.
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@MSTODAYnews   Feb 7
A white supermajority of the Mississippi House voted to create a separate court system and expanded police force within the city of Jackson — the Blackest city in America — that would be appointed completely by white state officials.
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@yayayarndiva   Feb 8
Bill would ban the teaching of scientific theories in Montana schools
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New York
@GovKathyHochuland @HealthNYGovplan to end the protections in healthcare facilities on Feb. 12.
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@nycibo   Feb 9
New Preliminary Budget Report: IBO estimates NYC will end FY23 with a $4.9B surplus, $2.8B more than @NYCMayorsOffice projects. If the entire surplus is used to prepay some of next year’s expenses, IBO projects FY24 will end with $2.6B surplus. For more
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Temple University in Philadelphia announced revocation of healthcare and tuition coverage for graduate-student employees who participated in a strike related to pay and benefits. (Vice)
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Tennessee axed 8.3 million in HIV funds amid scrutiny from far-right provocateurs about gender dysphoria/Trans Rx
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@NewsHour   Feb 8
One of Tennessee’s most influential Republican lawmakers says the state should stop accepting the nearly $1.8 billion of federal K-12 education dollars that help provide support for low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities.
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@davenewworld_2  Feb 4
People in Austin are taking food from the dumpster of a grocery store during the power outage. This is Greg Abbott's Texas.
Interesting contrast. In New York City when a 30 hour blackout happened in 2003, restaurants, stores, bodegas etc. handed out food that would spoil. They didn’t throw it out & make people dumpster dive. They gave the food away graciously without humiliating the people taking it.
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Eric Blair      Feb 10

Large numbers of people in EVERY society want an authoritarian leader.
Decades of work at the intersection of psychology, political science, and sociology have shown this.

What holds off authoritarianism is:
Pro-democracy media, peace, and education.

#media #democracy #conservative #maga #psychology #sociology

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Kharitonin purchased the world-famous historic #Nurburgring race track complex in Germany in 2014. Who did he buy this national treasure from? The German government, in a sweetheart deal of €77 million, despite the 379-hectare property valued in excess of €100 million.
Now, Kharitonin has already signed the contract to buy the Frankfurt Hahn Airport, which is a former US military airport not far from the historic Nürburgring race track which he already owns
Asked about the sale of this international airport with a unique night-flight permit to a Russian billionaire controlled by the Kremlin, German Ministry of the Interior in Mainz said on Saturday evening: "The country was not and is not involved in the tendering process."
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@duty2warn   Feb 9
Elon Musk tweeted SpaceX was “not allowing Starlink to be used for long-range drone strikes,” helping Russia on the battlefield, leaving Ukrainians to be slaughtered. Starlink was “never meant to be weaponized,” a company spokesperson said.
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@netblocks   Feb 8
Confirmed: Real-time network data show Twitter has been restricted in #Turkey; the filtering is applied on major internet providers and comes as the public come to rely on the service in the aftermath of a series of deadly earthquakes
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@MazMHussain   Feb 8
The fact that people in Turkey were tweeting the addresses of their families trapped under the rubble to alert emergency services is kind of a reminder the site is an important utility to a lot of people that should've never been left up to the whims of one indifferent fool.
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@NasimiShabnam   Feb 9
The Taliban have reportedly ordered pharmacies & drug stores to STOP selling contraceptives to women in Kabul and Balkh provinces — stating that it’s forbidden under Sharia law. Access to contraception is a universal human right. This is outrageous.
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Feel good du jour:

We're feeding the kids': Minnesota House passes universal school meals bill
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Some good news: After Nepal relinquished control of forests to the villages that depend on them, forest cover nearly doubled.

Under community forest management, local forest rangers worked with the community groups to develop plans outlining how they could develop and manage the forests. People were able to extract resources from the forests (fruits, medicine, fodder) and sell forest products, but the groups often restricted grazing and tree cutting, and they limited fuelwood harvests. Community members also actively patrolled forests to ensure they were being protected.

(Worth a read and look at the maps)

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Lovely story thread on Twitter: The head of a teddy bear found washed up on a Cornish beach a year ago has been lovingly repaired, and the bear has been made whole, by a Wiltshire priest, Canon Eleanor Rance.Once his head was mended, Canon Rance set about matching him to a new body. She posted each step on Twitter with pictures which that have attracted wide interest. After taking Sinbad into a care home to visit residents, and into schools for assemblies, she suggests that he now has a future as a therapy bear.

Efforts are still being made to trace his ocean journey. A marine biologist in Shrewton has offered to examine the pieces of seaweed kept from his fur to see whether they provide clues to how long he spent at sea, and where he may have travelled.

Canon Rance said: “The fact that he was battered and wounded but could still have a life and a future — it’s a story we all understand and relate to. People who meet him want to love and care for him, as I did.”

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Comic relief:

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Officials continue to avoid acknowledging that immunocompromised & high risk people are being locked out of society. This is a complete failure of public health. Public health officials should always listen to & center the voices of the people who are most impacted by a crisis.

#COVID #PublicHealth

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Bits of beauty:

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