Coronavirus Tidbits #262, Sept 10, 2023


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 Post:

Where Have All The Masks Gone? And Where is the CDC?

Unfortunately, Biden joked about not masking despite CDC recs after his wife got Covid--again. His excuse is that he tested negative.


COVID hospitalizations have now been slowly rising for 8 straight weeks

(9/1 report) For the week ending August 19, admissions increased 18.8% compared to the previous week. Deaths from COVID rose 17.6% last week and make up 2% of the nation's deaths.

Test positivity level at 14.9%.

Biobot's wastewater tracking shows a continuation of a gradual rise since about the middle of June, with levels highest in the South and West.


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COVID patients exhale high numbers of virus during the first eight days after symptoms start, as high as 1,000 copies per minute, 

Covid isn’t caught from hands, it’s caught from breathing infected air We have all the tools to clean the air, it’s a political choice not to use them yet

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More COVID-19 studies suggest BA.2.86 may be less immune-evasive than feared

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Moderna says its new vax is effective vs new variants.

and generates an 8.7-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies in humans against BA.2.86 (Pirola), a new variant under monitoring and a similarly effective response against EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants.

The CDC says the highly mutated BA.2.86 variant may be more capable of causing infection in people who previously had COVID-19 or were vaccinated with previous vaccines.

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Clues from patients with rheumatic diseases point to a potential driver of long COVID

clues about long COVID in blood samples from patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease.

The team found that among these patients, those who developed long COVID were more likely to have expanded, pro-inflammatory antibodies specific to a coronavirus that causes the common cold. Their findings suggest that a person's viral history, especially prior infection and expansion of antibodies against a pre-pandemic coronavirus, could prime the immune system for developing long COVID. The research is published in Science Translational Medicine.

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Long Covid:

“Recovery is extremely rare” “Unfortunately the small chances of recovering from #LongCovid during first 2 years underscore that, as long as SARS-CoV-2 transmissions continue & few people are cured, LC will continue to accumulate”

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new position paper on #SARS-CoV-2 reservoir (viral persistence) in Long COVID or post-acute sequelae of COVID (PASC):

Amy Proal, PhD  @microbeminded2  
2/ We review evidence showing that some Long COVID patients may not fully clear the SARS-CoV-2 #virus after acute infection. Instead, replicating virus and/or viral RNA - potentially capable of being translated to produce viral proteins - persist in tissue as a "reservoir"
3/ Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in Long COVID includes studies that have found SARS-CoV-2 RNA or protein in Long COVID tissue samples collected months after acute #COVID-19. Immune responses indicative of a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir have also been documented in #LongCovid\

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Mississippi Declared Endemic Area for Melioidosis Pathogen

Public Health Needs Support to Respond

Finding human cases of melioidosis in the Gulf Coast region calls for increased education, diagnostics, research and development in neglected areas of public health.

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Bird flu:

Very important and concerning study. 'Importantly, we discovered that the virus had acquired human receptor binding preference and amino acid substitution PB2-E627K, which are necessary for airborne transmission'.


The FDA has extended the expiration dates of different test brands, lengthening their shelf lives to up to two years.

See the FDA's full list of test-kit expiration date extensions here.

Abbott's widely used BinaxNow COVID-19 test kits now have a shelf life of up to 22 months, depending on when the tests were manufactured. In January of 2023, the pharmaceutical firm told customers that kits they'd previously purchased "may now have a longer than labeled product expiry date." To see if a BinaxNOW  COVID-19 Antigen Self Test kit in your possession has a new epiration date, you can search for its lot number in the attached list here.

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No-cost antigen and PCR tests are available to everyone at more than 15,000 sites across the country. This includes locations such as CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies and clinics and some libraries.

People looking for no-cost locations near them can use the CDC's testing locator website.

(Note: Not in Cumberland now; maybe not if you are insured)

Drugs and Vaccines:

There's apparently debate as to who should get the updated Covid vaccines that are coming.

Paul Offitt is suggesting only those  75 years, immunocompromised or pregnant, based on cost-effectiveness. This is basically what UK is doing.

In 2022, "In people who were not immunocompromised, the booster provided 62% and 69% protection against hospitalization and critical illness, respectively, for the first 59 days. But the immunity quickly waned to just under 50% for both between 60 and 119 days. Although protection against critical illness remained the same out to 179 days, it plummeted to 24% for hospitalization. The median age of the boosted group was 76 years old...

“Despite the majority of people not getting boosted, severe disease remain very low,” he points out. So if you’ve had, say, a booster shot in the past year and then COVID-19, another booster may not offer you much extra protection against severe disease....

“For people who are at high risk of severe disease, I think the answer is pretty simple and largely noncontroversial: A 4- to 6-month period of protection has a meaningful clinical benefit,”  Barouch says. “It’s clear that that population benefits from a boost and probably more than one boost for the year.”...

Vaccination before infection reduced the risk of Long Covid by about 15%, the researchers reported in the July 2022 issue of Nature Medicine.

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I had fully intended to get the Novavax shot as soon as available, having only had mRNA shots until now, and wanting to get the advantage of heterologous (mix and match) added kick in immune response (as compared to homologous/same vaccine dosing).--Eric Topol

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How good is a Novavax booster and with previous mRNA doses? This long thread explores what kind of immune response a Novavax booster is giving people as a primary series and after 2 or 3 mRNA doses in recent studies, and what some of the benefits seem to be.

Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine that presents purified parts of the Spike protein, where mRNA vaccines get your cells to produce copies of the entire Spike protein. Protein based vaccines have been used for many years including for tetanus, diphtheria and hepatitis B

See initial thread:

and update: The one page web view is available here ( ). 

FDA currently doesn't allow people who have had mRNA vax to get follow-up w Novavax.

The ACIP is meeting next week and will hopefully change this.

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Should you get Covid and flu shots at the same time? Some new data suggests there's no increase in adverse events and a similar immune response

"was not associated with substantially inferior immune response" is not exactly an endorsement

Devices and Masks:

Our @NEJM study showed school mask mandates *reduce* COVID illness & absences. Others disagreed. But we take scientific critique seriously. So we checked everything suggested to us. And now we’ve published an updated Appendix with the details. Our results hold: Mandates work.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

'A Flu' at the U.S. Open? Hmm!

     — Plus: why I still mask in some, but not all, public situations

     --Jeremy Faust

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WHO warns of 'concerning' COVID trends ahead of winter

The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned of "concerning trends" for COVID-19 ahead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, calling for increased vaccinations and surveillance.

"Deaths are increasing in some parts of the Middle East and Asia, intensive care unit admissions are increasing in Europe and hospitalizations are increasing in several regions," he said.

But only 43 countries—less than a quarter of the 194 WHO member states —- are reporting COVID deaths to the agency, and only 20 provide information about hospitalizations, he added.

"We estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of people in hospital now for COVID," said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19.

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Covid mortality and political affiliation:


Tips, general reading for public:




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Friends have been in the hospital. DD is ever so much more tactful than I. I called the hospital, acting as a patient advocate. The floor nurse was appalled that I asked staff to mask, since it isn’t mandated by #Maryland. I said I thought it unethical to give someone #longCovid or kill them with a nosocomial infection.

DD posted this on our friend's door.

She got much better compliance than I did.



Study finds COVID vaccine mandates significantly reduce infection rates on college campuses

New research from The Ohio State University College of Medicine finds COVID-19 vaccine mandates are highly effective at reducing the spread of the virus and increasing immunity in a university setting.

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The US quietly terminates a controversial $125m #wildlife virus hunting programme amid safety fears #zoonoses #spillover

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New York's @GovKathyHochul just announced they will be sending free N95/KN95 masks and COVID tests to schools. Thank you to @COVIDAdvocacyNY and all the groups and advocates who have been pushing. Keep going: We need a free mask and test program for all New Yorkers!

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JD Vance introduced bill to ban mask mandates 

The “Freedom To Breathe Act.” “The act, which would be applied through the end of 2024, would prohibit any federal official from issuing mask mandates applying to domestic air travel, public transit systems or any school system.”

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How the Dobbs Decision Can Affect #Cancer Patients #abortion

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Alabama can prosecute those who help women travel for abortion, attorney general says

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In June, the same group also distributed antisemitic flyers in Middle Georgia and the Atlanta suburbs -- and waved Nazi flags outside synagogues in Macon and Cobb County.
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This is simply an extraordinary study. Researchers gave $7,500 (CAD) to homeless people in Vancouver. The result? The program *saved* money. It helped many of them to move into housing faster, which saved the shelter system $8,277 per person
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Trump could face copyright lawsuit for exploiting his mugshot (which belongs to the Feds)

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E Jean Carroll has WON her second defamation case! The judge has granted partial SUMMARY JUDGEMENT! The trial will only be to determine how much trump owes her in damages!

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Trump is poised to lose millions by using his mugshot to sell T-shirts if Fani Willis enforces Georgia’s copyright. Various legal experts have noted, Trump’s sale of that mug shot, taken by the Fulton County sheriff, likely violates U.S. copyright laws. This could mean the millions Trump is making off that photo may rightfully belong to the Fulton County sheriff — an entity that just happens to be in desperate need of funds to address the horrific conditions in the Fulton County Jail.

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Fani Willis says jurors were doxxed to intimidate them in Trump charges

Willis said at least 23 jurors in the case have had their personal information — including their names, ages, addresses and vehicle details —posted anonymously on "conspiracy theory websites" hosted by a Russian company as part of an effort to "harass and intimidate them."

  • She and other members of her office were also doxed, and their personal information was often "intertwined with derogatory and racist remarks," Willis said in the filing.
  • The information about her included her family members' names, their dates of birth, home and work addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and "GPS coordinates."

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Trump has paid Fabrizio Lee nearly $600,000 THIS YEAR for polling and travel expenses per FEC filings. Fabrizio Lee is responsible for the WSJ poll all over the major networks today.

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Medicare announced the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. These drugs are used to treat some of the most common diseases – and in 2022, it cost seniors up to $6,497 in out-of-pocket costs for just one of these drugs. Every single Republican in Congress voted against the law that made this possible.

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NEW: Financial disclosures revealed that Ginni Thomas was paid $700,000 by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has weighed in on Supreme Court justice confirmation processes, filed multiple amicus briefs and had cases before the Court. 1/
Billionaire Harlan Crow reportedly treated Thomas and his wife, conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, to luxury travel for over two decades, most of which did not appear on Thomas’ financial disclosures, @ProPublica first reported.
4/ Justice Thomas’ new financial disclosure covering 2022 also reveals that Ginni Thomas continued to draw a salary through her for-profit consulting firm but because of the disclosure loophole, the amount of money she received and the sources remain hidden.
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See Ronan Farrow
A top advisor to Zelensky states that Elon Musk's decision to assist Russia by disabling Starlink for the Ukrainians led to the deaths of civilians, including children.
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So the Saudis basically went into business with Elon investing $1.9 billion to obtain user data to they can commit atrocities against Saudis critical of the murderous regime? Why are American companies allowed to do business with murderous regimes?


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Saudi Arabia wanted the names of 6000 anonymous Arab Spring dissidents from Twitter. At first, MBS tried to get their names using EDRs - requests under emergency circumstances. When that proved cumbersome, KSA basically bought Twitter.
They did so by threatening to pull twitter out of their market (biggest in the Middle East) and by offering to invest in heavily in Twitter. They also positioned two spies inside Twitter who helped funnel the personal information on dissidents out of Twitter to KSA. 2/
In 2011, they invested $300M. In 2022, MBS bought that investment for $1.5B, worth $1.9B later that year, making KSA (The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) the biggest shareholder of Twitter behind Elon Musk. 3/
The two KSA spies inside Twitter INFORMED Twitter that the personally identifying information they were gathering was for the Saudi Government. One received money and gifts from the KSA in exchange for the user data including $300K and a nice job after he fled the US. 4/
Not only that, but the KSA oversaw a digital army of hundreds of Twitter users who hunted for dissident voices, and Twitter KNEW because the FBI confronted Twitter about it in 2015. 5/
Then, within 48 hours of the FBI visit to Twitter, the social media company acknowledged they had "found" the leak to the FBI - proving they knew. The next day, the spy fled the US. 6/
Six months later, Jack Dorsey met with MBS to discuss how they could work together to "train and qualify" Saudi groups on Twitter to do the very same work the two spy employees had done. And just 8 months prior to that meeting, KSA doubled its investment in Twitter. 7/
Once KSA had recruited Twitter, it plotted to kidnap, disappear, and murder multiple dissident voices including the plaintiff's brother, and Jamal Khashoggi. The transnational criminal enterprise of threats to anonymous Twitter dissidents continues to this day. 8/
I recommend you read this lawsuit to understand WHY the KSA and MBS own the second largest chunk of Twitter behind Elon Musk. How involved is Musk? I keep thinking of the photos from the World Cup with Kushner and MBS. What's Kushner's involvement? He just got $2B from MBS. 9/
from @MuellerSheWrote
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@FinanceLancelot   Aug 30
Here's Vivek Ramaswamy in 2015, scamming the public on his Alzheimer drug that had already failed drug trials 4 times before he bought it for pennies. He rebranded it & took the company public in an IPO. Then he & his family dumped $2 billion of stock before it failed again.…
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Vivek Ramaswamy, who claimed he could speak truthfully on climate change b/c he's not "bought and paid for," has a $50M+ stake in an investment firm dedicating to drilling as much fossil fuels as possible. The main fund is literally called DRLL.
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Alabama's governor is very concerned about 12-13 year olds reading about sex. But perfectly fine with forcing them to have a baby under Alabama's no-exception abortion ban. What a world.
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Federal Court rejects Alabama's redistricting plan. The court had ruled last year, in a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court, that Alabama needed a second district where Black voters have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.
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Property records suggest that Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville has actually lived in Florida for almost two decades, according to a Washington Post report.
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Tuberville is still holding up military appoiontments/promotions.
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Tuberville bought $45k in Humacyte, $HUMA, on July 20th & $50k RIGHT WHEN the Ukraine war started. $HUMA is now +91% this year due use in the Ukraine war. Tuberville sits on the Armed Services Committee.
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Republicans in the Alabama legislature ignored the Supreme Court and continued its practice of diluting the Black vote through gerrymandered districts. Now, a federal court has cut them out of the process and has appointed a special master to draw a fair map.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her supporters in the Arkansas Legislature aim to gut a longstanding law that shines light on the workings and expenditures of state government.

A bill lawmakers will take up during a special session next week would hide all information about where the governor travels on the state dime and with whom, retroactively to before she took office. The proposal comes the same week a lawsuit was filed over the Arkansas State Police’s ongoing refusal to share the names of the governor’s travel companions and some of her travel expenses.

But this wholesale rework of the state’s longstanding Freedom of Information Act extends far beyond the governor’s trips and expenses. It would let state government officials operate largely in secret. Should it pass next week, the law will hide from journalists and citizens any communications or documents about proposed policy changes, leaving us no way to know what a state agency is about to do until they do it and decide to tell us about it.

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Raise your hand if you think it’s weird that Sarah Huckabee Sanders not only rolled back child labor laws, her LEARNS bill forces all high school students to produce 75 hours of unpaid labor to graduate?
     @piper4missouri   Aug 30
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Mike Huckabee warns that if Trump's legal problems prevent him from winning in 2024, "it is going to be the last American election that will be decided by ballots rather than bullets."

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Fondomonte, owned by a major Saudi Arabian dairy company, has acquired extensive land holdings in western Arizona. In this area, there are no regulations governing groundwater extraction, and state authorities do not monitor it. Furthermore, Fondomonte has secured leases for thousands of acres from the state, facilitated by officials who have since left their positions. Remarkably, the company doesn't pay for the water it uses, raising concerns about the exploitation of local water resources.

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A federal audit of Southwest border wall construction – largely bypassing environmental protection laws – under former President Donald Trump found threats to endangered wildlife and “irreparable” damage to natural and cultural resources, including destroying a burial site and igniting explosives on sacred Indigenous sites in Arizona.
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9/6 DeSantis appointed Tina Descovich, co-founder of the Moms for Liberty, to the Florida Commission on Ethics.
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Florida has skyrocketing housing costs, crumbling property insurance, car insurance rates doubling the national average, lack of public transportation and so many issues. Instead of addressing this, Tallahassee politicians promise more hateful legislation, targeting gender-affirming surgery.
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Florida public schools were defunded $2.5 BILLION this year to finance the purchase of lavish perks and private school tuition for wealthy families. Unaccountable school vouchers are an multi-billion dollar disaster and taxpayers are footing the bill.
--paying for TVs, kayaks, theme parks
    @CarlosGSmith 9/2
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 Financials and donors of PragerU – the nonprofit behind controversial right-wing propaganda videos recently approved for Florida schools The DeSantis admin approved PragerU curriculum for K-12 students New reporting on donors and financials
@WendySiegelman 8/21
Home Depot’s Bernard Marcus is huge funder of far-right including Prager U.
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“Lawmakers in Tallahassee voted to apply for Florida’s allocation (of energy savings rebate program) — which, at roughly $346 million, is the third-largest in the country, behind California and Texas.” “But Gov. Ron DeSantis VETOED the measure as ‘woke.’” So, Floridians get NO relief.
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More than five dozen people were reportedly indicted on RICO charges — as well as some on domestic terrorism charges — over the ongoing protests to halt construction of Atlanta’s planned $90M police training center (aka Cop City)
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Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) and other officials appeal this pro-voting decision to the Iowa Supreme Court.…rule ALLOWING (not requiring) counties to provide election materials in languages other than English as well as in English.
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@NoLieWithBTC   Aug 29
Mark Robinson, the leading Republican candidate for Governor of North Carolina, said that public school teachers are “wicked people.” He added that if he’s in charge, he will stop elementary school students from being taught science and social studies.
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Oklahoma's superintendent announces partnership with fake university to teach white-washed, white supremacy-friendly version of American history that makes racists feel good about themselves.


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Gloria Johnson, Member of 'Tennessee Three' looks to challenge Marsha Blackburn for Senate

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Great ad by Johnson:

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@brotherjones_   Aug 28
Just left the House Chamber after Speaker Sexton forced a vote to silence me for the remainder of the legislative day (for speaking “off topic”) and ordered the public cleared out of the gallery.
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@TheTNHoller   Aug 28
MOM DRAGGED OUT BY TROOPERS: “I encourage everyone to come bear witness to what is going on at the legislature… I know my constitutional rights.” The ACLU just argued for her and others to be able to hold small paper signs. #KremlinCameronSignBanHearing
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Texas declares an electricity grid emergency amid heat-driven surge in power demand, says there is a possibility that blackouts may be needed.

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Federal judge David Ezra rules Texas must remove the border buoys by Friday, Sept. 15.

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@DemocracyDocket   Aug 30
 Harris County leaders have dismantled the office of election administrator due to new law #SB1750. Election duties are now in the hands of the county clerk and tax assessor:
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@RachelBitecofer   Aug 30
Not only is MAGA superintendent Mike Miles turning school libraries into detention centers in Houston, he’s going to patrol the schools using ‘district minders’ who will patrol the schools to spy on teachers. Teachers instructed to leave all doors open.
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Republicans threaten to impeach Justice Protasiewicz and remove our chief elections officer.

Feel good du jour:

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‘We love you Karen’: How Starbucks workers rallied to help one of their own

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Dale Schroeder spent his life savings sending 33 students to college. He grew up poor in Iowa, never married, had no children, worked as a carpenter at the same company for 67 years & only owned 2 pairs of jeans.

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It seems that so many wonderful people are leaving this world, and now Jimmy Buffett is one of them. I’ve known Jimmy for some time and found him to be one of the kindest and most generous people.  I remember once on holiday when I had forgotten to bring my guitar and was itching to play. He said he would get me one of his, but I said, ‘I’m left-handed’. So, Jimmy had his roadie restring one of his guitars which he loaned me for the duration of the holiday. He then followed this act of generosity by giving me my own beautiful left-handed guitar that had been made by one of his guitar-making pals. It’s a beautiful instrument, and every time I play it now it’ll remind me of what a great man Jimmy was.  He had a most amazing lust for life and a beautiful sense of humour. When we swapped tales about the past his were so exotic and lush and involved sailing trips and surfing and so many exciting stories that it was hard for me to keep up with him.  Right up to the last minute his eyes still twinkled with a humour that said, ‘I love this world and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it’.  So many of us will miss Jimmy and his tremendous personality. His love for us all, and for mankind as a whole. 
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Bits of beauty:



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