Coronavirus Tidbits #233 2/19/22


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.

New posts:

Very happy to have had this OpEd with Dr. Gregg Gonsalves, a long-time AIDS activist, published in the Baltimore Sun:

You can’t mandate the end of a pandemic

OpEd here return-20230214-nbskbi5jingkfospmqnx32tco4-story.html

(Rumor has it that you can bypass the log-in by ctrl-Rt and opening in incognito; I have not tried; if you want, you can send me a request for a pdf. I agreed not to post the OpEd for a month).

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New Marburg Virus Outbreak Confirmed In Equatorial Guinea

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Natural immunity protection by COVID-19 variant

For someone previously infected with COVID-19, their risk of hospitalization or death is 88% lower for at least 10 months compared to those who had not been previously infected,

The analysis also suggests that the level and duration of protection against reinfection, symptomatic disease and severe illness is at least on a par with that provided by two doses of the mRNA vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNtech) for ancestral, alpha, delta and omicron BA.1 variants. The study did not include data on infection from omicron XBB and its sublineages.

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COVID's aftermath: Persistent organ damage at 1 year, lung abnormalities at 2

59% had organ impairment at 1 year In a study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,

Among all patients, 29% had multi-organ impairment, with lingering symptoms and impaired function at 6 and 12 months, while 59% of long-COVID patients had single-organ damage at 1 year—even those with non-severe infections

2 years in, 39% had impaired lung function

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New MERS-Like #Coronavirus Found in #Pangolins Can Infect Human Cells

the new virus is a MERS-like coronavirus related to bat HKU4-CoV
the new virus was able to infect human cells, using the human dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (hDPP4) receptor

the spike protein of the new virus has a furin cleavage site, enhancing its ability to infect human cells via human protease cleavage. The virus was able to enter and replicate in human respiratory and intestinal organoids, 

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Single interferon injection halves severe COVID outcomes, trial shows

A phase 3 randomized, controlled trial finds that a single injection of an experimental antiviral treatment slashed hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits among high-risk COVID-19 patients when given soon after symptom onset.

Led by Stanford and McMaster university researchers, the study was published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The team said that one subcutaneous (under-the-skin) dose of pegylated interferon lambda, which marshals the immune system against SARS-CoV-2, is more effective than any other COVID-19 treatment and doesn't rely on patient adherence to a drug regimen.

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Chest CTs Reveal Abnormalities 2 Years After Severe COVID

Two years after hospitalization for severe COVID-19 illness, more than a third of patients from the pandemic's early days had lingering pulmonary abnormalities on chest CT scans, according to a prospective study from Wuhan, China.

The incidence of persistent interstitial lung abnormalities (ILAs) fell over follow-up after hospital discharge from Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, dropping from 54% at 6 months and 42% at 1 year to 39% at 2 years

Notably, the proportion of non-fibrotic ILAs decreased from 31% to 19% to 16% over the course of the study, while the incidence of fibrotic ILA stayed at a consistent 23%, the authors showed in a study published in Radiology.

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The haunting brain science of long Covid - by Wes Ely

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The dark side of treating COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies

approximately 8% of mAb-treated patients developed evasive SARS-CoV-2 spike mutations with remarkable speed and  for the targeted mAb binding sites." Moreover, while most patients gradually cleared the virus, patients with weakened immune systems "had significantly higher viral loads for prolonged periods and had 3-fold higher chance to develop SARS-CoV-2 escape mutations." 

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@loscharlos   Feb 10   on clots/Covid as vascular disease
"People already on blood thinners were twice as likely to leave hospital.. which unexpected because people on these meds are usually sicker, so we thought there is something going on here" — Absolutely must watch talk by Dr. Jordan Vaughn on #LongCovid
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@MackayIM   Feb 11

COVID-19 & Airborne Transmission: Science Rejected, Lives Lost

"We alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) about the potential significance of the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the urgent need to control it, but our concerns were dismissed"
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@NancyNDougherty   Feb 9
Two @NIH funded studies find a possible link between #microbiome & #MECFS. "Imbalances in the species of bacteria identified could be used as biomarkers for ME/CFS classification, potentially providing consistent, measurable targets to improve diagnosis."


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Mixed results for Moderna mRNA flu vaccine trial

from a large-scale trial of its mRNA flu shot, based on the same technology used in its successful Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna's experimental mRNA-1010 flu shot is "quadrivalent," meaning it targets four strains of flu: A/H1N1, A/H3N2, B/Yamagata and B/Victoria—selected based on recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Massachusetts-based company said that its flu shot generated an immune response against influenza A strains that was equal or superior to that of already licensed vaccines.

However, it fell short of the already approved vaccines against strains of the less-common influenza B, Moderna said in a statement.

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Rebound and antivirals

Rates of COVID-19 rebound were similar among hospitalized patients infected with the Omicron BA.2.2 variant who did and didn't receive oral antiviral drugs, and relapse wasn't tied to worse clinical outcomes, suggests a study published yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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U.S. Orders 1.5 Million Protein-based COVID-19 Vaccines

This contract will support the U.S. government's continued efforts to make Novavax's vaccine available for free to states, jurisdictions, federal pharmacy partners, and federally qualified health centers.

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Devices and Masks:

A recent Cochrane review, limited in scope and problematic in methodology, does not show that masks do not work, despite common misreporting, writes @stevennovellafor
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Better article:
@Globalbiosec   Feb 6
The fuss about face #masks continues w the new #CochraneReview - read our simple explainer on meta-analysis 101 and the importance of content expertise in being able to seperate apples from oranges. #Cochrane


Epidemiology/Infection control:

COVID: While the world sanitized surfaces, a group tried to warn early on about airborne spread

A large group of experts from around the world say they warned the World Health Organization (WHO) at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that SARS-CoV-2 spreads through airborne particles, but their concerns weren't acknowledged until 3 months later, according to an account published late last week in Clinical Infectious Diseases...

In addition, it wasn't until May 2021 that the WHO changed its web page on COVID-19 transmission to acknowledge airborne spread. The CDC  followed suit in changing its guidance shortly thereafter


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COVID-19 survivors may have higher risk of developing diabetes

COVID-19 survivors have a 66% higher risk of developing type 1 or type 2 diabetes following their diagnosis compared to those not diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a study by Penn State College of Medicine researchers. Their findings are among the latest evidence suggesting that people diagnosed with COVID-19 may experience a range of health issues in the time period following their illness.

Tips, general reading for public:






Moderna has said it will likely charge $130 for its Covid vaccine. Taxpayers, through the US government, gave $2.5 billion to develop the Moderna vaccine. It was nearly entirely funded by taxpayers. And it costs only around $3 to produce.

(Moderna says it will keep its Covid vaccine free for all people in the U.S.—reversing course on its planned 400% price increase—one day after Bernie Sanders said he would force the CEO to testify.)

(Now they are saying there will be no charge in US--but patients will have to go through a "patient assistance" program, which is cumbersome and discourages completion.)

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Uncollected racial and ethnic pandemic data will drive inequities for decades to come

more than half of race or ethnicity data for confirmed Covid-19 infections were missing nationally — even months into the pandemic

"The pervasive missing-ness of racial and ethnic data amounts to nothing short of data genocide. This categorical erasure of viral transmission networks, lives lost, and missed vaccination opportunities in data collected from Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous communities represents a dismissal that may reverberate inequities for generations to come."

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Following the U.S. Department of Defense’s trio of policies announced Thursday that will provide assistance for service members seeking abortions, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) announced a hold on any new DoD nominees coming before the U.S. Senate.

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@JuddLegum   Feb 12
Just FYI, the same group that is financing the “He Gets Us” Jesus ads is also helping finance the lawsuit seeking to ban abortion medication nationwide
Specifically, the group behind the ads, The Signatry, also donated $16.7 million to Alliance Defending Freedom Alliance Defending Freedom is providing legal representation to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking a nationwide ban on abortion medication Mifepristone
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@lachristensen   Feb 16
24 days ago I learned my daughter was dying in utero, and if untreated I risked preeclampsia and stroke. Termination is illegal in NC after 21 weeks, which I was, even when she had no hope of surviving and I was in danger. Because I had the means to leave, I’m ok and recovering.
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The Spanish parliament on Thursday approved legislation expanding abortion and transgender rights for teenagers, while making Spain the first country in Europe that will entitle workers to paid menstrual leave.
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NYT’s @kzernikewrote an interesting piece on state constitutions mattering more for abortion: Reminder: in July, @yeargainresearched a masterfully thorough database for  @boltsmag  on what all state constitutions say on abortion.
The landscape has changed rapidly since July, with changed answers already in CA, VT, MI, and SC. You’ll find the last update of what the landscape looks like for state constitutions here:
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“HITLER WAS RIGHT:” CATHOLIC SOCCER TEAM ASSAULTS, HOSPITALIZES JEWISH TEENAGER: Members of a catholic high-school soccer team savagely assaulted a Jewish teenager in Miami, Florida, hospitalizing him with potentially serious injuries.

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Banned Books:

Piper for Missouri   Feb 9

Missouri Republicans write legislation to say that my child isn’t mature enough to read about Rosa Parks, but as a fifth grader, she is mature enough to carry a loaded rifle in public…

There is no age requirement to carry a loaded gun in Missouri.

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@kgun9   Feb 17
With the chemical spill following a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the more local nitric acid spill after a semi wreck on I-10 in Tucson, many are voicing concerns about water, air and soil.
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Never forget how we got here: In 2018, the Association of American Railroads spent $4,737,989, and Norfolk Southern spent $1,025,330, lobbying to reverse the Obama-era ECP brake safety rule that was designed to prevent disasters like this. The Trump administration reversed it.
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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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On February 3, a horrifying railroad accident took place. A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. You might've seen images of the flames, but you probably haven't heard that unions were trying to prevent this exact accident
Union rail workers with @railroadworkers  have warned of a "ticking time bomb" saying, “In the last 10 years, Class I carriers have dramatically increased both the length and tonnage of the average train while cutting back maintenance and inspection.”
And remember last fall when rail workers were about to strike? They repeatedly expressed that rail companies' system of running their lines, which they call “Precision Scheduled Railroading," was really about profit-maximization at the expense of worker and public safety.
Even more fundamental to the union argument was and is that railroads are trying to run these complex operations with fewer and fewer workers. They've cut 22% of jobs since 2017. This approach, which the wealthy owners bill as “efficiency,” really means overworked workers.
Overburdened and exhausted workers means more dangerous situations for the folks making our trains run on no days off and no sick leave. And it’s not because the rail companies don’t have the money.
Norfolk Southern, the company running the trains that derailed in East Palestine with toxic chemicals on board, brought in over $12 billion in revenue last year, a record.
Norfolk also announced a new $10 billion stock buyback program last year.
And all this money, for stock buybacks that line the pockets of rich investors, is money that’s not being used to improve safety and make the upgrades that unions have been pushing for. It’s also money that’s not going to exhausted workers.
Not only are rail profits not helping workers, they’re instead being used to lobby against regulation.@TheLever found that rail companies spent big to block stricter safety rules, specifically for trains with hazardous materials like the one in Ohio.
The derailed Ohio train had 20 cars carrying toxic chemicals. They carried out a "controlled release" of hazardous gas from several tankers at risk of exploding. The fires burned for 5 days. The health risks to the community are unknown.
So when a train derails, and we see images of balls of fire in the sky over Ohio, know it’s not just a freak accident. It’s a systemic problem with lucrative railroad companies putting profit over people again and again.
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Norfolk Southern Refuses to Attend First Public Meeting on Toxic Train Derailment in Ohio
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@greenhousenyt   Feb 17
Employment among the largest freight railroads has fallen by 28% since 2021 while railroads have increased the length of trains So now we have longer, heavier freight trains with fewer workers on hand to make sure they operate safely. What could go wrong?
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@chrishendel   Feb 17
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Long seen as a fringe viewpoint, Christian nationalism now has a foothold in American politics. More than half of Republicans believe the country should be a strictly Christian nation, a new survey finds.
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@mynbc15   Feb 16
Companies microchipping employees, and the Alabama Reps trying to fight it
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@MorePerfectUS   Feb 17   Child labor (another)
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NoLieWithBTC   Feb 16
Holy shit. Texts obtained from Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News shows Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham calling the right-wing guests on their own shows “F’ing lunatics,” “totally off the rails,” and “MIND BLOWINGLY NUTS.” (@oldmcdougall)
Gift article:  Fox Stars Privately Expressed Disbelief About Election Fraud Claims. ‘Crazy Stuff.’
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@reckonnews   Feb 14   Eggs and price-gouging
The Mississippi-based Cal-Maine, which commands a fifth of the egg industry, increased its profits tenfold in the second half of last year compared with the same period a year earlier. Its gross profits increased from around $50 million to $535 million.
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@Reuters   Feb 16
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Tesla Workers United say at least 30 people were fired from the gigafactory in South Buffalo Wednesday, just one day after some workers at the plant announced they intend to form a union.
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Various investigations have found numerous child workers at Hyundai suppliers all over Alabama.
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@shannonrwatts   Feb 7
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.
Every month, over 70 women are fatally shot by an intimate partner, and 2/3 of mass shootings are instigated by domestic violence. The NRA's goal is to make sure as many people as possible buy guns, including abusers—even if it kills our mothers, sisters and daughters.
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@GunDeaths   Feb 18
FYI: There have been 2,400+ fatal shootings, 4,200+ non-fatal shootings, and an estimated 3,200+ firearm-related suicides in the first seven weeks of 2023.
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Missouri Republicans block proposed ban on kids carrying guns in public
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@shannonrwatts   Feb 14
Last week, some Republican members of Congress wore these AR-15 lapel pins handed out by Congressman Andrew Clyde, who has a $25 million stake in a company that makes assault rifles. Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children and teens in America.
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@laurahelmuth  Feb 17
The research is clear and all the relevant medical organizations agree: Gender-affirming care is evidence-based & medically necessary & leads to much better outcomes for trans kids than refusing them care
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@YaleLawSch   Feb 17
Health and legal experts — including Yale Law School faculty — have issued a report challenging a court decision that exempts private insurance from covering HIV prevention medicines on religious grounds.
In September 2022, a federal district judge in Texas ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging the federal mandates that require private insurance policies to cover PrEP, a class of medications that is highly effective in preventing HIV infection.
the judge ruled that the PrEP mandate violates the plaintiff’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The owner of Braidwood had alleged that “providing coverage of PrEP drugs ‘facilitates and encourages homosexual behavior, intravenous drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman,’ and [that] providing coverage of PrEP drugs in Braidwood’s self-insured plan would make him complicit in those behaviors.”
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@ErinInTheMorn   Feb 4
They tried to ban drag in Arkansas, and anyone wearing clothes not “of their gender identity” performing. So drag artists and activists got together and sang Seasons Of Love on the Capitol Steps. All references to drag have since been removed from the bill. Y’all rock.
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@yayayarndiva   Feb 9
At least 9 GOP-led state legislatures want to restrict or criminalize drag shows

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In 2022, seniors paid up to $200 to get shots like the shingles vaccines. As of January 1, common preventive vaccines now cost $0 for seniors with Medicare prescription drug coverage.

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Arkansas has introduced a bill that would criminalize trans people using the a restroom consistent with their gender identity while a minor is present as "sexual indecency with a child." This is one of the most heinous anti-trans bills I've ever seen.
Senate Ed passes anti-trans bill #HB1156. Along with bathroom restrictions, it would require trans girls to stay with boys and trans boys to stay with girls on overnight school trips. HB1156 needlessly puts trans youth at risk. Ask your senator to oppose this bill.
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@BrentToderian   Feb 11
“In April 2022, Denver began offering residents $400 off a new electric bike or $900 off an e-cargo bike, with low-income residents eligible for an additional $800 discount. The program was a sensation.” Via ⁦@DavidZipper⁩ in @CityLab. #EBikes
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@CarlosGSmith   Feb 10
Florida has become so anti-LGBTQ under Ron DeSantis that when this annual survey showed escalating suicidal ideation for LGBTQ youth, rather than help these kids, his administration immediately pulled the plug and began pressuring school districts to stop doing the survey
@MelissainJax   Feb 10
The @DuvalSchools says it will no longer conduct its Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The district has compiled data on youth activity since 2009. This week, the survey showed high numbers of Duval kids have contemplated suicide. The DOE has “strongly urged” them to stop the survey.
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Idaho House passes ban on gender-affirming medical care

A bill criminalizing gender-affirming healthcare for minors overwhelmingly passed the Idaho House Thursday, despite warnings from opponents who said it would likely increase suicide rates among teens.

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@duty2warn   Feb 15
DeSantis threatens to rid Florida of ALL Advanced Placement classes because the expurgated version of African American history wasn’t sufficiently whitewashed. Florida is becoming a third world country under him.
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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a new bill into law Thursday barring police from lying to underage kids during interrogations.
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BREAKING: Indiana legislators are moving forward with a horrific bill modeled off Florida's infamous "Don't Say Gay" law. HB 1608 would censor or even ban discussion or acknowledgment of LGBTQ people in schools.
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@AGAndrewBailey   Feb 10
I want Missouri to be the safest state in the nation for children, which is why we are calling for an immediate moratorium on the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital prescribing puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to any new patients.
@piper4missouri   Feb 10
Why is the Missouri Attorney General not investigating how many children are shot and transported to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis?
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Still can't believe this dude stood on the Montana House Floor and said "We are under no obligation to be kind to one another and students are under no obligation either" while arguing in favor of a right to bully trans students. Which then PASSED! This is what the GOP wants. [Good Christian beliefs in action]
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@ErinBrockovich   Feb 15
"DeWine said President Biden as well as senators and representatives from Ohio have been reaching out to offer help. But he said he doesn’t feel further assistance is needed now."
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@Acyn   Feb 14
Reporter: Senator Vance is on Fox critical of the Biden Administration.. Are you satisfied with the Biden Administration response?
DeWine: … The President called me and said anything you need. I will not hesitate to call him if we see a problem but I’m not seeing it
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Tonight Governor Abbott is delivering the Texas State of the State address to invited guests that have been asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement and are prohibited from having cell phones. Reporters are banned. This is what one-party rule looks like.
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@McGeeReports   Feb 16
New: a bill has been filed in Texas to prohibit counties from putting a polling place at a college or university. It follows another bill filed earlier that would require counties to put a certain # of polling places on college campuses depending on enrollment size.
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@bestoneTX   Feb 15
Did you realize that in Texas some of our state parks are not actually owned by the public but are leased at taxpayer expense from energy corporations? Neither did I. :
@TPWDnews   Feb 14
With heavy hearts we announce that Fairfield Lake State Park will close to the public on Feb. 28. We received notification from Vistra that it will terminate the land lease for the park. Details at
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@Esqueer_   Feb 18
A new Texas bill introduced would ban nearly all insurance coverage for gender affirming care for everyone, including adults. They are now pushing to eliminate all coverage of this care. It was never about trans youth.
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@strujillo075  Feb 16
Virginia governor clears path for ‘extreme’ bill allowing police to seek menstrual histories - Youngkin essentially kills bill passed in Democratic-led state senate to ban search warrants for menstrual data on tracking apps

Youngkin opposes effort to shield menstrual data from law enforcement

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West Virginia:
@bryankelleybpk   Feb 15
newly introduced bill in WV would allow teachers in public schools to "teach intelligent design as a theory of how the universe and/or humanity came to exist" #edpolicy
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Republicans in Wyoming are trying to kill a bill (brought by a Republican) to create a minimum age for marriage.
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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega stripped 94 people of their citizenship, including prominent writers, journalists and human rights activists.
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@0liviajulianna   Feb 15
The person leading the “ban TikTok” movement in congress is congressman Michael McCaul— Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In November, $400k in his wife and sons name was invested into Meta stocks— a competitor of TikTok. This is clearly a conflict of interest.
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Deaths from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria surpassed 42,000. The UN projects over 6,000 deaths in Syria, most in rebel-held areas where it took days for aid to arrive.
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@gbrumfiel   Feb 10
Satellite images and data obtained by @NPR show that Russia is draining a massive reservoir in southern Ukraine. At stake is drinking water for 100,000s of people, agricultural production, and safety at Europe's largest nuclear plant.
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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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@meduza_en   Feb 18
The Ukrainian Armed Forces report that Russia launched four missiles at Ukraine from the Black Sea on the morning of February 18. Two allegedly passed dangerously close a nuclear reactor in Mykolaiv, again raising fears of “nuclear catastrophe.”
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@atrupar   Feb 16
Mitch McConnell on Fox News: "I'm gonna try to help explain to the American people that defeating the Russians in Ukraine is the single most important event going on in the world right now ... there should be a bipartisan support for this."

Feel good du jour:

32% Decrease in Malaria Hospital Admissions in Western #Kenya With the rollout of the malaria vaccine in Western Kenya,

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A digital museum dedicated to the idea of lost memories is the result of one man’s extraordinary efforts to return neglected or misplaced family mementos to their owners. @cgbooker has this report.

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Comic relief:




Bits of beauty:

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