September 13, 2021
The Good News
- Therapy dogs to help people with needle anxiety at COVID-19 vaccine clinic (CBC)
- This Custodian Stayed At His School All Night Pumping Water During Ida’s Storms (NPR)
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle
“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” — Mark Twain
A Hard Lesson
After nearly 18 months of pandemic-caused schooling delays, Louisiana was just getting ready to welcome students back with open arms when Hurricane Ida struck the state. Over 150,000 students are now out of school again thanks to the storm, and with test scores steadily declining, parents are concerned for more than a few reasons. Given the devastation left behind by the hurricane, many parents were hoping for their children to have somewhere to go to escape the heat or ruined homes they were left with.
Many children had returned to in-person learning last year, but some remained in virtual classes to avoid the virus. Their first time back in a classroom would have been last month, and for many, it was a desperately-needed sense of normalcy. But things went awry quickly. Nearly 7,000 infections among students and faculty were reported, leading to shutdowns. The state’s education superintendent acknowledged how hard the virus has been for student learning. Their standardized test scores that were released in August showed a drop of about 5% in proficiency. The changes were more significant for younger or poorer students, and people of color and those who speak English as a second language did not fare well either.
Now, with so many students set back for another few weeks, it’s just another barrier for those trying to recover from the pandemic-induced struggles. Nearly half of the students are expected to return to classes later this week, but the rest are still in limbo, unsure how long the recovery will take. In some areas, temporary or makeshift classrooms will need to be set up, but even if that can be accomplished, the students may not be able to get to them. With many left unable to go back to their homes, students without power or running water are going to struggle to make it to their classrooms. (AP)
What A Ve-nuisance
- England’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that plans to introduce vaccine passports for access to certain venues will not go through. It was thought that the plan, which came under criticism from venues and some MPs, would be introduced at the end of this month. Under the legislation, people would have been required to show proof – whether of double vaccination, a negative Covid test, or finishing self-isolating after a positive PCR test – in order to gain entry to clubs and other crowded events.
- Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Mr. Javid said: “We just shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it or because others are doing, and we should look at every possible intervention properly. I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it.” The announcement is a sharp 180-degree turn from the direction England’s government had been veering toward. On Sunday, the latest government statistics showed there were 29,173 new cases of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom and 56 deaths. (BBC)
Tech The Halls
- The “Zapad-2021” war games is a joint military drill between Russia and Belarus, which has alarmed Ukraine and some NATO countries due to the inclusion of sites near the European Union’s borders. Reports from the defense ministry have stated that Russia unveiled new combat robots and tactical vehicles on the second day of the active main phase of the war games.
- According to Russian news agencies, troops used Platform-M combat robots, which are controlled remotely and armed with grenade launchers and a machine gun. New Sarmat-2 tactical vehicles were also seen. President Vladimir Putin denies the drills are directed against any foreign power and says they are sensible given increased NATO activity near Russia’s borders and those of its allies.
- Despite Putin’s statement, some neighboring countries have been skeptical. “We need to realize that this (a Russian military attack on Estonia) may indeed happen in the coming years,” Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, said in an interview on Friday evening. “Russia’s goal likely isn’t to occupy us – it does not want to gain control through occupation, but it enjoys instability and influence via instability.” (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Strong typhoon cuts power, causes flooding in northern Philippines (Yahoo)
- Japan, Vietnam sign defense transfer deal amid China worries (AP)
- Taliban: Women can study in gender-segregated universities (AP)
- U.S. Forces Were Training the Guinean Soldiers Who Took Off to Stage a Coup (NYT, $)
- Chinese city with coronavirus outbreak stops buses, trains (AP)
- Al-Qaida chief appears in video marking 9/11 anniversary (WaPo, $)
- German SPD extends lead over Merkel’s conservatives before TV election debate (Reuters)
Not By The Hairs On Manchinny-chin-chin
- West Virginian Senator Joe Manchin announced on Sunday that he will not support the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion economic bill. The bill is intended to expand the social safety net, but Manchin said the bill won’t get his vote, and he also feels Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s timeline for getting it passed is unachievable.
- Manchin’s reasoning is that Congress had already offered enough assistance to Americans due to the pandemic, and that the funds would run “clear until next year, 2022.” The bill Democrats are trying to pass, however, is meant to fund a decade of social infrastructure, and has nothing to do with the pandemic.
- Manchin wants to wait and see if the pandemic funding is sufficient for some of the areas other Democrats are hoping to boost before deciding what to do. He’s also concerned about the number of jobs that remain vacant, saying, “something’s not matching up.” With the narrow majority of Democrats in Congress right now, Manchin’s lack of support could prove deadly for the economic bill. (CNN)
A Capitol Of-fence
- The Senate sergeant-at-arms, House sergeant-at-arms, and U.S. Capitol police chief are planning to reinstall a fence around the Capitol building in response to a far-right rally that’s planned for next weekend. Reportedly, officials will also authorize the use of deadly force, but have not requested the National Guard to stand watch.
- The rally, called Justice for J6, is meant to demand the rioters arrested in connection with the January 6th fiasco be released from jail. The organization Look Ahead America is in charge of organizing the event. Nearly 600 people have been detained in connection with the violence on January 6th, though they have been characterized by many on the right as “non-violent protestors.” (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- ‘Lifelong consequences’: What happens to people who can’t get abortions (NBC)
- Most Asian Americans are against the recall, but some haven’t forgiven Newsom for his nail salon remark (LAT, $)
- Capitol Police recommend Jan. 6 officers for discipline (ABC)
- Mudslide on scenic Colorado highway reveals vulnerabilities of aging infrastructure amid climate change (NBC)
- Biden Declassifies Secret FBI Report Detailing Saudi Nationals’ Connections To 9/11 (NPR)
- White House withdraws David Chipman’s nomination as head of ATF (CNN)
- If the Police Lie, Should They Be Held Liable? Often the Answer Is No. (NYT, $)
- It’s tough to see someone out in the world living out your dreams, but that’s exactly what happened in the wee hours of Friday morning. A 53-year-old man in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was arrested when he was found alone in a bar, drinking their beer. The bar was, of course, closed for the evening, so the man had the entire establishment to himself, and an open tab.
- The man was booked at the Minnehaha County Jail on one count of first-degree burglary. Reports of an alarm at the establishment alerted police to an intruder, but instead of finding someone clearing out the till or committing any other more atrocious crimes, they found a man wandering around the inside and drinking a lager in peace. The police still don’t know how he got into the bar, but confirmed that he did not force his way inside. (AP)
- Why There Are Fears That Nipah Virus Could One Day Cause A Deadly Pandemic (NPR)
- SpaceX gets ready to launch first all-civilian crew to orbit (Reuters)
- Twitch Sues Over “Hate Raids” Harassment Of POC, LGBTQ Streamers (BuzzFeed)
- Gorillas at Zoo Atlanta being treated after initial testing reveals Covid-19 virus (CNN)
- A Comprehensive Breakdown Of The Epic V. Apple Ruling (The Verge)
- One Woman’s Mission to Rewrite Nazi History on Wikipedia (Wired)
- Perseverance’s Rock Samples Hint That Mars Had Long-Lasting Ancient Water (ScienceAlert)
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