Monday, July 26, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Masks For Vaxxers Under Active Consideration

Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that the possibility of recommending that people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 again wear masks indoors is, quote, "under active consideration" by the government's leading public health officials amid the surge in the highly-contagious delta variant across the country. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist who's also President Biden's chief medical adviser, also said on CNN's State of the Union that booster shots may be suggested for vaccinated people who have suppressed immune systems. Fauci described himself as being "very frustrated" amid the lagging vaccine effort in the U.S., calling the soaring Covid case rates in the country driven by the delta variant an "unnecessary predicament" and saying, "We're going in the wrong direction."

➤PELOSI APPOINTS SECOND REPUBLICAN, TRUMP CRITIC KINZINGER, TO JANUARY 6TH COMMISSION: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday named a second Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to the special House committee that will investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Kinzinger accepted, saying, "For months, I have said that the American people deserve transparency and truth on how and why thousands showed up to attack our democracy. I will work diligently to ensure we get to the truth and hold those responsible for the attack fully accountable." Both Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the other Republican on the committee, also chosen by Pelosi, have been outspoken critics of former President Donald Trump. No other House Republicans are participating, as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all five that he'd put forward for it after Pelosi rejected two of them, Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, who both voted on January 6th against certifying Joe Biden's presidential election victory are outspoken allies of Trump. The House voted in May to create an independent investigation that would have been evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, but Senate Republicans blocked it. Pelosi created the House commission after that.

🚧PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IS SNAG IN FINALIZING INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL: Funding for public transportation has become a snag in finalizing the bipartisan infrastructure deal, according to Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the lead Republican negotiators. Portman said on ABC's This Week that they were, quote, "about 90 percent of the way there" on a deal, stating, "We have one issue outstanding . . . It’s about mass transit." Democrats want more money in the legislation to go to public transportation, but Republicans want the amount to be less, with GOP Senator Pat Toomey citing the relief money that was sent to public transportation as part of the pandemic relief measures. Meanwhile, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who's a Democratic negotiator, had an optimistic outlook, saying on CNN's State of the Union, "We’re down to the last couple of items, and I think you’re going to see a bill Monday afternoon."

➤GENERAL SAYS U.S. AIRSTRIKES WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT AFGHAN FORCES: General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Army Central Command, told reporters Sunday that U.S. airstrikes will continue in support of Afghan forces fighting the Taliban. He added the U.S. military will continue giving logistical support to the Afghan Air Force even after American forces leave the country by August 31st, stating, "We will continue to support the Afghan forces even after that August 31 date . . . " The Taliban has been taking over territory in recent months as the U.S.-led foreign forces have been carrying out their withdrawal. McKenzie said, "The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign. They are wrong. Taliban victory is not inevitable." The U.S. carried out two airstrikes on Taliban targets last Thursday in support of Afghan forces.

➤SEVEN KILLED IN UTAH CRASH CAUSED BY SANDSTORM: Seven people were killed and several others were critically injured in a series of crashes that were caused by a sand or dust storm on I-15 near Kanosh, Utah, late yesterday afternoon. The Utah Department of Public Service said in a statement, "It appears that 20 vehicles were involved in Sunday's crashes after high winds caused a sand or dust storm and impaired visibility on the roadway." Photos of the site showed multiple tractor trailers and several damaged cars on the road, with scattered debris.

➤LOUISIANA CONGRESSMAN HIGGINS HAS COVID FOR SECOND TIME: Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana revealed Sunda in a Facebook post that he and his wife, Becca, are both sick with Covid-19 for a second time, and that his son also has Covid. Higgins said he first had the virus in January 2020, quote, "before the world knew what it was," but his sickness is "far more challenging" this time. He stated, "We are all under excellent care, and our prognosis is positive." Higgins hasn't said publicly whether he's been vaccinated, but he has encouraged people to get the vaccine. In his statement, Higgins also called the coronavirus the, quote, "biological attack weaponized virus" from China.

➤FIRST LADY IN HAWAII SUNDAY ON WAY HOME FROM OLYMPICS: First Lady Jill Biden was in Hawaii on Sunday, making the stop on the way home to Washington, D.C., from the Tokyo Olympics, where she'd led a U.S. delegation. She had stopped in Alaska on the way to Japan days earlier. Biden went to a vaccinated clinic in Waipahu, urging unvaccinated Hawaiians to get the vaccine. Later in the day, she joined military families for a barbeque at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu.

➤SOME STATEs NOW MAKING PEOPLE SUBMIT TO FACIAL RECOGNITINION TO GET UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS:  A growing number of states are requiring people to submit to facial recognition technology in order to get their unemployment benefits. CNN reports that 27 states' unemployment agencies have entered into contracts with a company called for the identity verification process, and 25 of them are already using it. The states began using to try to reduce the surge of fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits made during the pandemic, amid the huge increase in legitimate claims because of the crisis. also verifies user identities for many federal agencies, according to CNN, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration and the IRS. uses facial verification, which compares a photo ID with a video selfie someone takes on their phone. says it doesn't sell user data, but it does keep it. Privacy advocates and civil rights groups have raised objections to the use of facial recognition technology, which has no federal laws governing how it's used. There are some states and local governments that regulate or banning its use.

➤SURVEY..NEARLY THREE-QUARTERS CAN IMAGINE GOING ONE DAY WITHOUT LOOKING AT A SCREEN:   A new survey of 2,000 British adults found that nearly three-quarters of them, 73 percent, said they can't imagine going even one day without looking at a screen, including things like computers, tablets and phones as well as TVs. That result in the OnePoll survey for Artelac comes as researchers say that adults spend about six hours each day in front of screens. Sixty percent of the survey respondents estimated they spend more time looking at screens while working from home since the pandemic began than they do when going into the office. While they can't imagine going a day without screens, some 64 percent admitted they spend too much time looking at them, with the average person estimating only 47 percent of their screen time is spent on productive things. Nearly half, 45 percent, said they're open to and feel positively about the idea of a screen break, and just over one-third said they've started cutting themselves off from screens at around 9 p.m. each night.

➤STUDY...NAME YOUR CHILD JOHN OR MARIE IF YOU WANT THEM TO BECOME A GENIUS: Your child’s name might have an impact on their level of success one day. Edubirdie, an online writing platform, has determined what baby names are most-likely to belong to future geniuses. They analyzed over 900 names of people who are extremely intelligent, including Nobel Prize winners and notable scientists to determine the top 20 baby names most-likely to be associated with genius. The top 9 baby girl names were (in order): 1) Marie, 2) Elizabeth, 3) Ellen, 4) Susan, 5) Ada, 6) Barbara, 7) Irene, 8) Jane, and 9) Nadia. While the top 11 baby boy names were, in order: 1) John, 2) Robert, 3) William, 4) James, 5) Thomas, 6) George, 7) Richard, 8) Charles, 9) Carl, 10) Paul, 11) Michael. The researchers found 30 geniuses were named John, while the name Marie was heavily associated with Nobel Prize Winner Marie Curie.

➤CDC..NUMBER OF FLU, OTHER VIRUS CASES REACH ‘HISTORIC’ LOWS IN 2020-21:  The 2020-21 flu season was really light. In fact, it was the lightest on record since at least 1997, the first year the cases of the virus were tracked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency says that well under one percent of more than 1.1 million specimens collected from people experiencing flu-like symptoms tested positive for the seasonal virus. By comparison, in a “typical” flu season, in which an estimated 35 million people are infected, as many as 25 percent of specimens come back positive, according to historical CDC data. It’s thought the reduction in flu cases between October 2020 and May 2021 is likely due to the measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as the wearing of masks and social distancing. Public health experts say this is another reason everyone should get their flu vaccine ASAP as they return to school and work, which means a return to exposure to the virus.

➤TOKYO OLYMPICS: Highlights from Sunday-Monday:
  • U.S. Men's Basketball Loses to France, Ends Streak - The U.S. men's basketball team lost their first game, falling to France 83-76. That ended a 25-game Olympics winning streak for the U.S. team dating back to the 2004 Athens Games.
  • U.S. Women Second in Gymnastics Qualifying, First Time in Decade - The U.S. women's gymnastics team came in second in the qualifying round to the Russian Olympic Committee team, the first time since the 2010 world championships they didn't qualify in first place. Simone Biles had the all-around top score, with teammate Sunisa Lee second. However, mistakes by the gymnasts, including Biles, added up to land them in second place.
  • U.S. Wins Two Swimming Golds, Ledecky Second in 400-Meter Freestyle: The U.S. has won two swimming gold medals so far, the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay and Chase Kalisz’s gold in the men's 400-meter individual medley. But defending Olympic champion Katie Ledecky came in second in the women's 400-meter freestyle to Australia's Ariarne Titmus. It was the first loss of an individual Olympic final for Ledecky, after she won gold in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Games, and gold in the 200-, 400-and 800-meter freestyles in the 2016 Games in Rio.
  • Osaka Wins First Two Matches: Fresh off lighting the Olympic Flame on Friday, Japan's Naomi Osaka has won her first two tennis matches, both of them in straight sets, and is now into the Round of 16. Meanwhile, Ash Barty, the world's top-ranked women's player, stunningly lost in the first round to Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo.
  • U.S. Wins First-Ever Golds in Three Events: The U.S. won first-ever gold medals in three events: men's 10-meter air rifles, won by Will Shaner; women's individual foil (fencing), won by Lee Kiefer; and women's taekwondo, won by Anastasija Zolotic in the under 57-kilogram final.
  • Japan Sweeps Gold in Skateboarding's Debut: Host nation Japan swept gold in men's and women's street skateboarding as the sport made its Olympics debut. Yuto Horigome won the men's event, while American Nyjah Huston, who was favored to win the gold, came in seventh after a series of falls. Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya won the women's event, making her one of the youngest athletes to ever win Olympic gold.
  • U.S. Golfer DeChambeau, Spain's Rahm Out of Olympics After Positive for Covid - U.S. golfer Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm of Spain, who's top-ranked in the world, are both out of the Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19. DeChambeau tested positive as part of final testing before leaving the U.S. for Japan. Rahm tested positive for the second time in two months.
MEDAL COUNT: China is in first place with 13 medals overall -- six gold, two silver and five bronze -- followed by the U.S. with 12 and Japan with eight. In the gold medal count, China and Japan are tied in first place with six, the U.S. is second with five, and South Korea and Australia are tied in third with two.


⚾AFTER BEING NO-HIT INTO EIGHTH INNING, RED SOX BEAT YANKEES 5-4: New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German no-hit the Boston Red Sox for seven innings yesterday, but Boston exploded for five runs in the eighth inning and went on to win the game 5-4. With the Yankees up 4-0, Alex Verdugo began the eighth with a double for Boston's first hit of the game. New York manager Aaron Boone then pulled German, and reliever Jonathan Loaisiga gave up three runs. After he was taken out, reliever Zack Britton gave up two more runs before the inning ended. The Yankees didn't score in the top of the ninth, giving Boston the 5-4 win.

⚾PIRATES REPORTEDLY TRADING FRAZIER TO PADRES: The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to trade All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres, according to reports yesterday. The Pirates will be getting three minor league players in return. Frazier is leading the majors with 125 hits while batting .324, and was the National League starter in the All-Star Game earlier this month.


🏌AUSTRALIA'S LEE WINS EVIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FOR FIRST MAJOR: Australia's Minjee Lee won the Evian Championship Sunday at Evian Resort Golf Club in France to take her first major. The 25-year-old beat South Korea's Jeongeun Lee6 in a one-hole playoff after they both finished at 18-under 266.

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