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'Like I'm banging my head against the wall': Doctor sounds off on vaccine rollout disaster

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the U.S. is not going well in the majority of states. On Dec. 14 in New York City, Sandra Lindsay became the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine, ostensibly just one of 20 million scheduled to do so by the end of 2020. Instead, only 3 million Americans had gotten the shot by then, and that number was only up to 4.6 million by Jan. 4. That's barely a one-quarter of the number of doses that had been shipped by then, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Now, in mid-January, almost 1 million doses are being administered per day.)

Dr. Fauci didn't mince words: "(N)o excuses. We should have gotten 20 distributed, and 20 into the arms of people, (and) by 20, I mean 20 million." There's no glib, "WTF" sort of phrase that properly captures how enraging this failure is. The New York Times editorial board called it "an astonishing failure—one that stands out in a year of astonishing failures."

We'll never know how many people in the U.S. will have died or suffered long-lasting harm because we are failing to hit vaccination benchmarks. Yet from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Great Lakes to the Gulf, we all want to know why we're in this position. Certainly, some of the blame goes to The President Who Tried To Overturn An Election He Lost: Donald Trump refused, for almost a week, to sign the COVID-19 relief bill with over $8 billion earmarked for vaccine distribution—essentially because he was angry about being ignored. Thus, that money couldn't be spent on ramping up the vaccination process for seven extra days—while we all watched the sociopathic Orange Manbaby throw a president-sized tantrum. Prior to Dec. 27, the federal government provided a piddling $340 million for the rollout. As Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti noted, "The federal government can't tell the local governments and state governments to do something and not give us aid."

It's yet another depraved action for which Trump has the blood of Americans on his hands—albeit not on his conscience, as that would require him to have one in the first place. Unsurprisingly, Trump is refusing to accept any responsibility. Again. Instead, he's blaming the states.

Beyond what the soon-to-be-former occupant of the White House did, the vaccine rollout's failures result from thousands of decisions made at the federal, state, and local level by people who, unlike the Insurrectionist-in-Chief, actually have good intentions. Broad reviews of those decisions, and their impact on the delay in vaccinating people, have been written elsewhere. Rather than write another one, I spoke at length with one New York City physician who takes care of patients directly, and who also has significant administrative responsibilities at an ambulatory (outpatient) facility that largely serves Americans of color, most of whom are lower-income.

This doctor, who spoke with me on condition of anonymity, is in charge of securing vaccine doses for their facility, to be administered to health care workers and other eligible staff members. Their facility is not a federally qualified health center (FQHC), which means it has to apply and be formally approved in order to receive the vaccine for its employees; most non-hospitals fall into this category. The physician's experience in seeking approval to receive and administer the vaccine has been, in short, a nightmare. "The whole process has been so stressful and is taking so long," the doctor says. "I want to protect my staff, and I have been working really hard to make that happen, but it is beginning to feel like I am banging my head against the wall."

Non-FQHC facilities seeking the vaccine in New York City must apply to the Citywide Immunization Registry (CIR), while those outside the city go through the New York State Immunization Information System (NYIIS). Non-FQHC facilities throughout the city and state have faced huge hurdles, according to the physician. Their NYC facility, after a month of waiting—while calling or emailing almost daily in pursuit of updates or an explanation for the delay—finally had its application accepted, but then was unable to order the vaccine for another week, due to a problem with the CIR computer system.

The doctor ordered the vaccine about a week into January. As of this writing, they have still not yet been informed when it will arrive. Who knows when they will actually be able to get shots in people's arms? The physician adds: "My staff is getting very antsy; everyone wants to know when we will be getting the vaccine, but I have nothing to tell them. Every day, we email the CIR and get uninformative and evasive responses."

The facility has locations across the state; outside of the city, things are even worse. Six weeks passed before those other locations learned that their applications had been accepted by NYIIS. Like the facility in the city, it remains unclear when those locations might actually receive doses of the vaccine. It's not just New York: Other cities and states are also dealing with delays and problems in getting the vaccine widely administered.

The CIR and NYIIS are significantly understaffed, and admittedly, the holiday season didn't help. Given the COVID-19 crisis, it is an open question as to whether staff should have been asked to continue working over those holidays and/or over weekends—with proper compensation, of course. New York City and state alike would've needed financial help to pay those workers—help that did not arrive in time, thanks to the whims of a certain Individual-1.

Independent doctors' offices and freestanding medical facilities face additional barriers to acquiring the vaccine for their employees. "The process has been extremely difficult, opaque and time-consuming," the clinic doctor relates. "I cannot imagine how an organization smaller than ours would ever be able to do it."

They can't, they won't, and they don't. As the physician I spoke to explained, many of these smaller facilities simply won't bother to apply for various reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Many facilities are already short-staffed because of COVID-19, so they don't have the staff to deal with the application process and/or to administer the vaccine, as well as comply with the incredibly stringent post-vaccination reporting requirements;
  • Facilities don't have appropriate storage, particularly cold storage, for the vaccine;
  • The minimum number of doses a single facility can receive—the 100 doses in a Moderna box—far exceeds the number of employees at most of these facilities, leading to concerns about wasting doses that are needed elsewhere.

On that last point, there's another concern. Initially, there was some confusion about whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo's threat—to slap a $100,000 fine on any hospital that doesn't use all doses issued within seven days—also applies to smaller health care facilities and practices. Numerous physicians and health care administrators told The New York Times that this lack of clarity and fear of financial penalties discouraged smaller facilities from applying if they didn't have enough eligible staff to receive vaccinations. Given that the minimum number of doses a facility can order is 100, what happens if a facility only has 50 eligible employees, or 20?

Cuomo seems to have since "softened" the threat of a large fine, and clarified that facilities can send excess vaccine doses back to the state; given storage requirements—the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70° C—that still may present difficulties for many facilities.

If employees at smaller facilities can't get vaccinated at work, they will further burden any alternative delivery system—systems that currently are unable to handle the load they already have. Many local health departments have set up vaccination sites for health care workers, but these sites are few and far between, and appointments are difficult to get. And, how will already understaffed facilities cope with employees missing time to chase down their shots? The questions go on and on.

The New York City doctor's experience tracks with the broader failure of the city and state's vaccination rollout. Seventeen days in, barely 88,000 NYC residents had been vaccinated—1% of the population in a city as hard hit as any place in the world, where the current positive test rate stands at almost 1 out of 10. Scarily, vaccinating large numbers of people is only going to get harder, as The New York Times reports.

The pace is worrying some experts. "I do feel concern," said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University. Despite months to prepare, there still seemed to be a steep learning curve when it comes to "the nitty-gritty of how do you get it from the freezer to the arm as quickly as possible," she said. "I think there are growing pains as people are picking up how to do this."

The first phase should have been the simplest, she added. "We've started out with the easiest populations, an almost captive audience: nursing homes and hospital workers — you know who they are and where to find them."

The problems faced by non-hospitals, as reported by the NYC doctor, are echoed in the Times' analysis.

"We feel forgotten," said Dr. Kerry Fierstein, a pediatrician and chief executive of a company that runs pediatrician offices, mainly on Long Island and in New York City. "If you're owned by a hospital, you've probably been vaccinated, but if you're completely unaffiliated, you don't know when you'll get vaccinated."

More broadly, the barriers non-hospital employees face in getting access to the vaccine mirror and exacerbate larger health care and societal inequalities in the U.S. relating to race, education, and class—inequalities that are particularly acute for COVID-19. In many cases, physicians in medical practices are able to be vaccinated at the hospital where they admit patients, but only as individuals. Think of the medical assistants, phlebotomists, and front desk workers at these facilities—all of whom interact with patients directly—as well as the cleaning staff and others who are also at risk. None of them can get the vaccine at work until their facility goes through the onerous process described above, actually gets approved, and decides to follow through and order the vaccine (then receives it). These workers, along with home health aides and others working for agencies, are also more likely to be women, and more likely to be Black or brown.

Lower Black and brown vaccination rates are a particular concern due to the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on those communities. The lower rates result in part from long-standing (and well-founded) mistrust of the medical establishment and the government when it comes to vaccines and other health issues.

The doctor I spoke to suggested that, in order to get more Black and brown health care workers to take the vaccine, we need to offer it to them in their own workplaces, delivered by medical providers and staff with whom they feel comfortable discussing their vaccine hesitancy—people they know and trust: "I have had conversations with individual staff members who were hesitant about getting the vaccine. I was able to take the time and answer their questions—after which almost all of them decided to be vaccinated with us, because they know and trust me and our organization. They would not feel comfortable being vaccinated at a large, unfamiliar, and impersonal venue." Just one more reason to offer the vaccine in workplaces whenever possible.

Hopefully, New York and the other cities and states will share information and learn from one another about what went wrong—even as they're working feverishly to vaccinate people. "It's gone too slowly, I know, for many of us," acknowledged California Gov. Gavin Newsom shortly after New Year's. "All of us, I think, want to see 100% of what's received immediately administered in people's arms. That's a challenge."

On Jan. 5, Cuomo introduced a revised vaccination plan for New York, conceding that the existing approach wasn't working. The new plan has three components: First, vaccinate all staff and residents in nursing homes, over a two-week period. Next, a push to get hospitals to vaccinate their health care workers; and finally, "special efforts" created by the state to directly deliver shots to all eligible New Yorkers. These efforts include drive-through vaccination locations and pop-up locations in houses of worship and community centers. There's also a special focus on social equity, and making sure that Black and Latino New Yorkers get their shots.

The situation remains fluid as of this writing. Multiple rounds of changes have been issued in recent days. Taken together, they have broadened the eligibility criteria for receiving the vaccine to include all New Yorkers over the age of 65, those who are immunocompromised, and some essential workers—including K-12 teachers!

The clinic doctor remains frustrated by the continued delays in getting their facility's staff vaccinated, and it's not clear how much the revised distribution approach will help non-hospital health care workers access the vaccine more quickly ... if at all. As for whether Cuomo's new plans address these concerns and improve the overall vaccination situation in New York? Only time will tell.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Here are 11 ways to beat Mitch McConnell — even if Democrats don't take back the Senate

Ideally, if Democrats do their job up to and on Jan. 5, we will win both of Georgia's Senate seats, and secure a bare majority in both chambers of Congress. Coupled with President-elect Joe Biden, this small trifecta means, at the very least, that our government can still function. This is a big deal, since certain Republican senators have indicated that they plan on indefinitely blocking every single one of Biden's Cabinet nominees. Biden shouldn't waste any precious time trying to get the Republican Party to do the right thing, such as respecting the will of the voters. If he wants to get anything done, he is going to have to do it alone.

Hopefully, Democrats will take both Senate seats in Georgia, as this would be the easiest path for governance. However, it isn't at all necessary for Biden to get things done. There is a critical loophole that would prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from blocking votes—as long as Democrats are willing to use it. There's also plenty of things that Biden can make happen, and not a single Republican is required to participate. Extremists rule the opposition, so we must continue to rethink the old adage that bipartisanship is a good thing; the other side—either through sabotage or cowardice—is hellbent on undermining democracy and going all in with the politics of destruction.

But what if the Democrats don't win both Senate seats in Georgia? McConnell retains control of his chamber, and blocks all legislation and all nominees, leading to at least two years of solid obstruction. Game over, right?

Nope.

The Senate Majority Leader is a made-up position. It's not in the Constitution, or even in the Senate rules: The power of the Majority Leader is based solely on Senate norms and traditions. Since Republicans have decided those no longer concern them, then Democrats aren't bound by them, either, which presents a serious opportunity for the Biden administration. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution clearly states that the vice president shall be "President of the Senate," but have no vote unless the votes are equally divided.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is also the president-elect of the Senate.When the vice president is not presiding over the Senate, the Senate will choose a president pro tempore to preside in her absence. Tradition has junior members of the majority party presiding, but the president of the Senate can take control anytime. If McConnell refuses to bring up legislation, or refuses to hold hearings or votes on Cabinet or judicial nominees, then Vice President Kamala Harris has the legal authority to take control. She would then decide what comes up for a vote.

This would come in handy in a situation where, say, McConnell decides to go with the Ted Cruz plan to block all of Biden's Cabinet nominees. While the overwhelming majority of Republicans would back McConnell, sadly, not all of them would. A few, like Utah's Mitt Romney, know that not having qualified experts in top positions during a pandemic or a foreign policy crisis is dangerous. It isn't typically in the Democrats' nature to play this kind of hardball, but we've got a nation to repair—a nation we all know the GOP is now hellbent on destroying.

As far as appointments go, Biden has a lot of options, as helpfully outlined by Washington Monthly. Obama paved the way for the appointment of nearly unlimited policy czars, and Biden also has the ability to appoint "acting" positions for more than 1,200 agency positions. (Trump managed to do it for other positions, as well.) Perhaps most interestingly, Biden can use the adjournment clause, in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, to force numerous recess appointments. This technique would simply require the speaker of the House to propose a lengthy adjournment, of which the Senate can either accept or disagree. However, if the Senate disagrees, the refusal would constitute a "disagreement"—which means Biden gets to decide. This technique has never been used, but again, if the GOP is going to obstruct everything they can, Democrats better be ready to fight back—hard.

As far as legislation goes, if we lose the Senate, and can't get one Republican to do the right thing, there are plenty of things Biden can do by himself without Congress. The one thing Donald Trump did well was show us all how much a president can get done without Congress.

It's time to put on those aviators and play hardball, Joe.

The executive branch carries a lot of unilateral power, which presidents have been increasingly less hesitant to use: Think executive orders, federal regulations, and national security decision directives. Importantly, Biden has already promised on his first day to hit the ground running—without waiting for Congress. Here's a sampling of actions he might take.

COVID-19: Biden has promised to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by immediately appointing a "national supply chain commander" and establishing a "pandemic testing board" upon assuming office. It is very likely he won't be picking his children for any of those roles. Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain coordinated the federal government's response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which is good, since Trump was keen on pushing out experts. Biden will bring the experts back, and put scientists back in charge, instead of political hacks. This is critical, since the CDC and FDA have suffered so much under Trump. This new leadership will standardize guidance and base it on facts. Biden could and should reinstate the pandemic response team that Trump dissolved, which would improve the federal coordination in the fight against COVID-19. With new leadership, Biden could work with the CDC, and even the military, to develop a national distribution network for the vaccines. He could use the powers of the Defense Production Act to manufacture supplies and equipment—which Trump didn't want to do.

Voter Suppression: Bill Barr's DOJ was not at all interested in fighting voter suppression. You can bet that whomever Biden picks won't have that issue. However, there is one thing that Biden can do immediately that would be a huge victory against the GOP's war on voting. The entire point of Republican voter ID laws is to make voting inaccessible to thousands of poor voters. That's because voters of color are the least likely to have a driver's license, given that they are more likely to live in urban areas which have adequate public transportation, and unable to afford a car. Furthermore, tracking down the documentation to obtain a driver's license can be time-consuming and expensive. Other valid IDs, such as passports, are even harder to get. However, giving people the option to add a photo to their Social Security card, which most people have anyway, could ensure that they're not barred from voting in the red states with strict voter ID requirements where concealed carry licenses are fine, but student IDs typically are not accepted. This is an easy directive with no congressional approval requirement.

Paris Climate Accord: Biden already stated he will bring the U.S. back into the Accord as one of the first orders of business. This pact is an agreement among nations to reduce emissions. Biden does not need the Senate to do so, because the Accord is an executive agreement; Biden just needs to send a letter to the United Nations stating his intent to rejoin. Furthermore, Biden can reverse the more than 125 environmental rules that Donald Trump overturned by fiat, such as rules on energy efficiency, oil exploration, and use of biofuels. There are other accords and agreements that Biden can rejoin on his own if he chooses to, but this is arguably the most important one.

Postal Banking System: North Dakota has a very popular public bank, but nowhere else in the U.S. does a government-run bank compete with private banking. Fortunately, President-elect Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders convened a task force to look into the creation of a public banking option, set up through the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Reserve, for low-income and middle-income families. Biden can set parts of such a system up without any legislation, such as USPS launching their own refillable, prepaid debit cards.

Student Loans: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that "President Biden can undo this debt—can forgive $50,000 of (student) debt—the first day he becomes president. You don't need Congress. All you need is the flick of a pen." Over 90% of the student debt in this nation is owed to the federal government. Biden can either forgive or eliminate the interest. Student loan debt is the only debt that you can't discharge through bankruptcy, thanks to a 2005 law. Educational debt is a massive burden to millions of people who are currently paying at least 10% of their income every month, and will for at least a decade. Forgiving it can provide much-needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overtime: The Trump Administration's Department of Labor allows companies to screw workers out of overtime, simply by classifying workers as managers. Dollar General is the worst offender, but there are plenty of others. Most likely, the workers you see helping you in these stores were classified as managers just so they can be forced to work extra hours without overtime pay. One ex-CEO of Dollar General faced no less than four class-action lawsuits over wage theft. That CEO became very rich exploiting this loophole. He is now an incumbent senator fighting to save his seat in Georgia—Mr. David Perdue himself.

Immigration: Biden still needs to work with Congress on pathways to citizenship, but he can do so much in this area without the Senate. This is an area where Trump was at his cruelest. Immigration in this nation has been virtually shut down, and refugees were limited to only 15,000 per year. Biden has already promised to raise that by over eight times the current amount. He has also promised to set up a task force to reunite those missing children lost under the Trump administration, and end the child-caging that Trump will forever be remembered for. Biden also vowed there would be no more Dreamer deportations, Muslim bans, workplace raids, or child separations.

Affordable Care Act: Trump did everything he could to sabotage Obama's signature achievement, but Biden can reverse much of the damage on his own. He can extend the enrollment period, increase advertisement spending, and repeal the IRS rule that workers must accept a health care plan from their employer, no matter how bad, if one is offered. Biden can also help states create their own plans—something Trump was not at all interested in—and lower prescription drug prices.

Cannabis: A Florida doctor prescribed opium to a friend of mine, who suffered tremendously in the hospital before she died. Cannabis would have been a better drug, but that was not a possibility. Such is the insanity of keeping cannabis a Schedule 1 drug, which means it is classified alongside heroin. There is some disagreement between legal scholars, but many, such as a professor Sam Kamin of the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law, assert that the president-elect can unilaterally reschedule cannabis through executive powers—he just can't deschedule it entirely. Rescheduling would make things easier for marijuana businesses, so for example, they could at least deduct business expenses with the IRS. While Biden can't deschedule cannabis—making it legal—on his own, he could order his Health and Human Services to run tests on the medical value of cannabis, which would help with descheduling down the road. He could also order the DOJ to not focus on prosecuting cannabis-related offenses.

Drug Prices: Two words: drug patents. The feds issue drug patents to companies, giving them exclusive rights to sell drugs for several years, at any price, before allowing generic versions to be manufactured. Biden has the option of "march-in rights," meaning that if a drug is being sold at an outrageous price point—which is more common than it should be—the government can seize the patent and issue it to generic manufacturers, in exchange for those manufacturers selling that drug at a reasonable rate. Although this would help the elderly on fixed incomes the most, it would also benefit everyone. Republicans would scream, but who the hell cares?

There's plenty more, such as restoring government unions, breaking up monopolies, utilizing municipal lending instruments for better access to loans, and enacting Wall Street reform—just to name a few. The point is that Joe Biden can do a lot on his own, and if Georgia's runoff goes sideways, he'd better get ready to do 'em.

Republicans will complain about everything on this list, and whine that Biden is doing things without them. So what? The American people no longer care what the excuses are for not getting things done. Trump went so far as to redirect benchmarked funding toward his own projects, and blatantly violate established law—such as the Hatch Act. He even disregarded court rulings, as with the Census and DACA. When Congress refused to give him the people he wanted for his Cabinet, he made them "acting in the role of" and dared somebody to do something about it.

Biden doesn't have to go as far as breaking the law, but breaking from norms and traditions to get his agenda through? You'd better believe it.

We need all hands on deck to win the Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, and you can volunteer from wherever you are. Click here to see the Georgia volunteer activities that work best for you.

Here's why you should care about the thousands of farmers protesting in India

2020 has been a year of ongoing protests and demonstrations for change across the globe. It has also been the year the world saw not only the largest but longest single protest to date. For almost a month now, tens of thousands of farmers in India have marched and protested against three bills passed in India's parliament in September. Since their start in late November, the protests have spread from the Indian capital of New Delhi to other parts of the country and garnered global attention. More than 250 million people across India have participated in not only the ongoing protest but in 24-hour strikes to show solidarity. According to Reuters, nearly 30 people have died as a result of freezing temperatures and at least 10 have died in accidents near protest sites

Despite the severe cold weather, farmers from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have vowed to stay camped outside of national highways until the laws are repealed. "It's very difficult to camp out in this weather, but we aren't scared," Balbir Singh, an octogenarian from the Patiala district of Punjab, told Reuters. "We won't go back until our demands are met. Even if we have to die here, we will."

The bills in question include the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. While the first two laws expand on the marketing infrastructure provided by India's state-level governments and enable direct marketing of farm products to processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, and exporters, the third law works to facilitate the production, movement, and distribution of farm produce by removing existing regulatory barriers. As a result, farmers' already depressed wealth is further reduced.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi argues that under these laws the agricultural system will be streamlined and farmers will have more freedom to sell their goods at any price directly to private businesses, as opposed to having to sell their produce through auction, known as the "mandi system." However, farmers argue that these bills will collectively privatize the agricultural system, making them vulnerable to corporate exploitation.

Additionally, under the new laws large corporations can dominate the market by driving down prices and diminishing any advantage farmers had at setting their own produce prices. This will add to India's growing unemployment and the debt the farming community is already facing.

According to Al Jazeera, many farmers argue the current state-controlled "mandi system" needs reform within the food supply chain to give farmers more options to sell their crops to make a profit, and that these new laws will only further disempower farmers economically and within the agricultural system as a whole.

Despite consistent development in the tech sector, agriculture still remains the largest source of income for most Indians, employing more than one-half of the subcontinent's workforce. However, despite feeding a significant portion of India's economy and people, farmers themselves have struggled for years, often bearing debts and losses as a result of not only marketed goods but severe weather changes resulting from climate change.

While Modi and his corrupt government maintain that these laws will protect farmers, these farmers, who are often elderly, refuse to stop protesting until their demands are met. "We're worried no one will buy our produce, and that we'll go into debt," Harinder Singh, general secretary of a Punjabi farmers union, told NPR. "We want the government to repeal these laws."

Similar to protests in the U.S. in which peaceful demonstrators are met with police-induced violence, protesters in India have faced harsh and violent retaliation from the government. At the start of the protest on Nov. 25 when marchers first reached New Delhi, police officials not only used tear gas and water cannons against protesters but damaged roads outside the city to prevent them from entering. Photos and videos went viral on social media depicting the brutal tactics police officials were using, including beating protesters. Despite this, farmers and their allies continued to march on and were even filmed feeding some of the officers who beat them.

As a result of global attention and the ongoing protest being the largest and longest one in human history, talks between representatives of a farmers union and government officials are scheduled to take place this week. This has come as a shock to many South Asians, as the Modi government is not known to talk about issues and instead inflict violence on protesters of its policies.

While these protests are taking place mainly in India and are in favor of Indian farmers, it is important to note that they impact conditions and people outside of the country. "The pandemic has shown us that there are two economies," Simran Jeet Singh, a scholar of religion and history currently teaching at Union Seminary, told CNN. "Essential workers across the world are suffering. The farmers in India represent all of them, and their resistance to unjust legislation that privileges the uber-wealthy corporations is a resistance that speaks to so many of us all over the world."

Not only is India one of the world's largest producers and exporters of spices, but the places in which these protests are happening lead the world's export in Basmati rice and milk. Outside of food, these herbs are used for homeopathy and medical practices as well. Odds are that something in your home was made in India and would not have been had these farmers been protesting earlier. These protests impact not only the livelihood of farmers in India but also how you receive the goods you use on a daily basis, whether it be spices or cotton found in your clothing or bed sheets.

"Even if you don't feel a personal connection to India or the farmers out there like many of us do, as a human being who lives on earth you should be concerned about exploitation of the people who feed you everyday," Ramanpreet Kaur, a Sikh Punjabi woman in New York, told CNN.

People from all across the world including the U.S. are partaking in solidarity movements with these farmers because even if you do not consume the goods they produce, this is a humanitarian issue. Human beings should always be valued over corporations. A number of nonprofit organizations like Khalsa Aid are working to provide protesters and organizers with food and other supplies. Even if you cannot protest, you can help these farmers in a number of ways, including donating to organizations that help the families impacted such as Sahaita. Whether you are Indian or not should not matter: Exploitation should not be ignored.

Watch right winger give out 'Kraken' offer code for MyPillow during ‘StopTheSteal’ rally in DC

The Trump administration is a swamp. The great con that Trump was able to to perpetrate on the Americans who voted for him was that his political outsider credentials—which were and remain real—would allow him to clean up the big money corruption developed and fostered predominantly by the Republican Party in Washington, D.C. The reality has been that not only has Trump further swampified the government, he's also brought in new con men and women into the government—or more realistically, brought around the government to leech off of. These are people like Mike Lindell and David Harris. Lindell you might remember as the MyPillow guy who sort of makes up a lot of right-wing media advertising dollars. He's a shameless mad hatter pushing unproven COVID-19 remedies and alien-level conspiracy theories about the election.

David Harris is a lesser known former vitamin huckster who rebranded himself as a Black conservative and received a big boost from Trump in popularity. His angle is that he's conservative and he's Black and there's a financial niche market to be found in super racist right-wing circles if you can serve the purpose of making right-wingers feel less racist than they are. Harris was highlighted as one of the top "superspreaders" of Trump's false election misinformation by The New York Times in the weeks after Election Day. On Sunday, Harris was in Washington, D.C. for one of the "Stop The Steal" Trump rallies of people trying to overthrow the U.S. government. He spoke on stage in front of others, like the Mike "MyPillow" Lindell. It turns out that before Harris went into his speech, which mostly consisted of a long-winded recitation of a Bible passage, he had some shilling to do.

One of the people helping to fund these rallies is Lindell, and Harris wanted to make sure the audience gave Lindell the applause and recognition he deserves; being a scumbag who wants to overthrow the government takes money and time and conning. Before Lindell went up to bluster away relatively incoherently about how all of the Biden votes are proof that Donald Trump has more votes (yes, that was the basic statement by MyPillow man on Sunday), Harris had some business to do for what we call in the entertainment business the money.:

DAVID HARRIS: A special thank you to the cosponsor that really helped fund a lot of this. Mr. MyPillow himself, Mike Lindell! Amazing patriot, loves this country, loves us, loves the president, and the president loves him. And I gotta tell you I love his codes, right? I love his pillows, I love his sheets, I love his mattress topper, and I love his codes because you know what, the Kraken has been released. You are a part of the Kraken. So for the best deals to support this patriot, use the code "Kraken" at mypillow.com. He does not talk about a lot of what goes through behind the scenes, but he goes through a lot of hell for standing up for us.

It's very important to note here how Harris began by saying, "And I gotta tell you I love his codes, right?" before remembering that he needed to do the whole make sure to mention the things Lindell sells (i.e., sheets and bed toppers), and then mention the codes. It's one of the things you learn doing live readings for ads. There are a few things you need to hit and if you nail it, you make it seem like you aren't doing an ad. Usually you just have to remember to mention all of the things in the right order. Harris does a fine job selling that MyPillow merch. We are just weeks away from their discount promotional codes going from "Kraken" to things like "IAMASucker" and "PleaseTakeMyMoney."

After the day's events, Proud Boys and other racists from the day's "peaceful protests" went on to enact seemingly state-sanctioned violence against Americans who are interested in protecting our democracy from ethno-state insurgents and domestic terrorists like Trump and friends.


Right winger shills for MyPillow guy during Trump election fraud rally youtu.be

No longer ‘standing by,’ Proud Boys bring politics of intimidation to streets in defense of Trump

The violence following the November 14 'Million MAGA March' in Washington, D.C., helped establish a pattern for Proud Boys violence that's now expanded to other American cities.

It's become apparent that, even as Donald Trump tries to deny reality and continue claiming he won the election, the hate group that he ordered, on national television, to "stand back and stand by" now considers (per leadership's statements that "standby order has been rescinded," as well as other threatening statements on social media) those orders null and void: The Proud Boys are now playing the role of Trump's goon-squad defenders in the streets—and appear unlikely to stop anytime soon.

Following the initial burst of Proud Boy violence in Washington, D.C., during and after the "Million MAGA March" of November 14, the familiar black-and-yellow polos, red MAGA hats and thug tactics have been showing up on the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina; Sacramento, California; and Staten Island, New York. At each event, brawls broke out amid overheated rhetoric, much of it in Trump's defense.

The violence follows the pattern established over the previous four years—right-wing extremists organizing gangs of out-of-town thugs from rural and exurban areas to invade liberal urban centers on vague political pretexts in order to engage in threatening acts of intimidation and provoke violence that they can then blame on "antifa" and "left." And as with all those events, the Proud Boys' presence has been to act as street enforcers for a variety of far-right causes: Denouncing the election results, protesting about COVID-19 public-health measures, or whatever else might be the right-wing grievance du jour.

Mostly, it's about creating fear and violence on behalf of a white-nationalist agenda. That's what the Proud Boys exist for, and it's why the Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a "general" hate group.

All during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Proud Boys have been whipping up a sense of public intimidation at the liberal cities where they hold rallies while spreading conspiracist misinformation about the virus, its spread, and the government orders to intended to fight it. These appearances have been part of the Proud Boys' steady drumbeat of bringing the politics of thuggery to American cities throughout 2020, as the Institute for Education and Research on Human Rights has mapped out in detail, for a variety of ostensible causes.

In Raleigh last weekend, Proud Boys came out to protest North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's pandemic-related business restrictions, particularly those on indoor gatherings. Calling it a "Pilgrims and Patriots Thanksgiving in Raleigh" event, organizers with Reopen Carolina joined arms with the Proud Boys and a Latinos for Trump group at the state Capitol. Then, as usual, they proceeded to provoke brawls with counterprotesters who held an event called "Racists Out Of Raleigh."

There were no fights, since police kept the two sides separated assiduously. So the Proud Boys turned their thug tactics to the press who came to cover the event, including a reporter for the Indy who they harassed. Their report describes it:

A man in a Proud Boys bandana kept the INDY reporter from recording speeches by putting his hand in front of the camera, while others around pretended to sneeze. A woman in a white tank top and MAGA hat also told the reporter to leave. This happened a second time once the group was back at the Jones Street corner; this time, the man who had been blocking the camera told the reporter, "we can ask you to leave, or we can make you leave."

Proud Boys also showed up at another COVID-related protest in Staten Island—this time outside Mac's Public House, a tavern that had recently been busted for offering food and drinks beyond a 10 p.m. cutoff time mandated by New York City officials. A large, entirely maskless crowd gathered outside the pub on Wednesday night to protest the charges.

Inside the pub, there were chants of "Proud Boys in the house." According to the New York Post, a speaker also led a Proud Boys chant: "I am a proud Western Chauvinist." Afterwards, they segued into singing Queen's "We Will Rock You."

According to The Sun, protesters blamed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for the pandemic measures, with signs reading "Dictator Cuomo." One protester shouted at cops through a megaphone: "Where is your backbone? Where is your morality?"

The event in Sacramento had nothing to do with COVID, but instead was entirely a protest of the election results, and an insistence that Trump won the election—and heavily populated by Proud Boys and their militia cohort. One of the Proud Boys told the crowd that the organization's role was to defend "people like you that come out to rallies."

As Capital Radio reporter Scott Rodd observed, those were hollow words:

But the Proud Boys also played the aggressor. CapRadio observed one Proud Boy take a swing at a member of the press for filming him. Other members, after the demonstrators returned to the barricaded area near the Capitol, remained outside the perimeter and instigated counter-protesters and passersby. Several chased after one counter-protester. Some also followed and taunted observers from the National Lawyers Guild.

By day's end, multiple brawls had broken out, and police—who declared an unlawful assembly and issued a dispersal order—reported one arrest on "assault-related charges."

Reporter Gabe Stutman of Jewish Weekly was also present, and watched as, after their rally speeches ended, "they spilled into the streets of downtown Sacramento, chanting 'Whose streets? Our streets!' and 'F*ck antifa!' while butting up against police cordons that blocked their path. The demonstrators exchanged insults and threats with roughly a dozen people identified as part of antifa ..."

Stutman notes that "each protest has followed a similar pattern," one familiar to reporters covering Proud Boys events elsewhere: First, a peaceful demonstration with speeches in a public space, followed by a march into downtown or other urban areas with the intent of brawling with counterprotesters—or, for that matter, anyone who shouts at them or protests them.

The San Francisco-based office of the ADL for the Central Pacific region issued a statement decrying the event: "First, they bring attention and possibly attract new adherents to extremist agendas and groups like the Proud Boys," it read. "Second, their provocative and divisive rhetoric can and does lead to violence, as we saw in Sacramento and elsewhere."

Stutman also described getting the intimidation treatment from a right-wing protester, who shouted insults and blocked his cell-phone-camera lens. When Stutman asked if he was a Proud Boy, the man responded: "I'm a white boy, motherf*cker."

Fox News sold its soul to Trump. Now Trump's walking away with it

Hey, here's a feel-good story for you. Let's all laugh at Fox News, the network that sold the scraps of its soul to Trumpism and is now reaping the predictable rewards: Trump viewers now incensed with and leaving the network because Fox couldn't keep up the fiction that Actually Donald Trump Won after Trump demanded, very publicly and poutishly, that they do so.

See, that's the problem with acclimating an audience to hearing only the news they want to hear, even if you have to make it up. Once you've successfully created an audience of conspiracy freaks, it's only a matter of time before they decide their conspiracy theories include you.

We should probably enjoy this news while it lasts, because after Trumpism crawls back into the nation's woodwork it's likely quite a few of these previously Fox-obsessed conservatives will go back to the old familiar faces of Sean Shoutyface, Tucker White Panic, and whoever else was left after sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault scandals rocked the network and ousted a good chunk of its top talent. I think there's a Jesse somebody? Am I remembering that right? Ahem.

Anyhoo, Fox News' advantage here over its new, more directly conspiracy-premised competitors Newsmax and OANN should not be underestimated. Fox News conspiracies come with production values. There's custom theme music, and (until the pandemic sent their hosts into basement table-and-chair studios) custom-made desks and, most of all, just a buttload of flag imagery. Flags everywhere. Parts of flags everywhere. Stars here, stripes there, now stars and stripes alternating, now rotating softly, now stripes with stars in them: Fox viewers may still be completely ignorant of what's going on in the country, but by God they'll always be able to remember which country they're currently in.

It's like the Pledge of Allegiance turned sentient, took up heavy drinking, and got a concealed carry permit.

Now that I say it out loud, however, "nice desks and lots of flag images" rather does seem like a format anyone with a MacBook Pro and some carpentry skills could whip up in short order, and there is literally no end to the number of conservative pundit-wannabes willing to sell their souls, their parents' souls, and their pets' souls for a chance at being the next fabulously wealthy movement talking head. It is possible that Fox may indeed have reasons to be worried, here.

On one hand, Trump voters are going to forget about Trump after he's gone. They're going to move on; if you doubt that, just consider how hard Trump himself is fighting to stay relevant and powerful-seeming only a week after losing the election. There's not going to be a Trump News Network, any more than there's going to be a Donald Trump Healthcare Plan or a Donald Trump Here Are My Taxes Day. This is it for him. It's either retirement or prison. Trump's insistence that his viewers not watch the Bad network is not likely to last long into the Biden administration.

On the other hand, Fox News itself has created an addiction in their viewers that anyone with a website and a willingness to lie can easily fill. Macedonian teens may have pioneered conservative hoax-news sites, but now American private equity firms want in on that action. They have money, and Fox has proven that there is an audience for pie-to-the-face conspiracy clown fights.

It's hard to see how Fox will respond to this new climate, but they've put themselves in a tough spot. When they ceased to be a "news" network and just began inventing conservative-pleasing news on the fly, they created a new market in which the most ridiculous invented news would likely win. Now Sean Hannity and the others are playing in a new pool alongside people who claim the fringes on flags stand for global socialism or that having Dear Leader spit in your mouth will cure COVID-19.

I mean, Tucker Carlson will likely be able to go with that flow without breaking a sweat. But the network heads themselves have got to be feeling a bit of heat.

Scotland may look at 'serious and long-standing concerns about Trump's business activities'

What I know about money laundering is drawn almost entirely from Ozark and Office Space, so I won't try to add too much to this. But here's a little more detail from the Scotsman story McLaughlin linked to:

An UWO is a relatively new - and rarely used - power which has been designed to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK.
The mechanism, introduced in 2018, is an attempt to force the owners of assets to disclose their wealth. If a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot show a legitimate source for their riches, then authorities can apply to a court to seize the property.
Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation have always stressed that they did not require any outside financing for their Scottish resorts.

The 2024 election begins now, and our first order of business should be ensuring Trump can't vie for another term. A mob boss can run his crime organization from jail, and Donald Trump managed to "run" the country from his toilet — but prison is another story.

And, man oh man, if Scotland seized his golf courses, I might have to start believing in God again.

One can dream, right?

This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry." — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via Twitter. The first history of the Trump error is complete! Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump is hot off the presses! Along with Dear F*cking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump, Dear Pr*sident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump, you'll see the Trump years from a hilarious new perspective. Click those links, yo!

Studies hint that over-the-counter treatments could be effective against COVID-19

When Pfizer reported the first results out of its phase 3 trials of a COVID-19 vaccine last week, the nation—and world—were rightfully excited. Though the number of people involved was small, and the pool of those reporting was far from as diverse as might be desired, those early results showed an efficacy rate above 90%. Pfizer is expected to report additional data later this month, and we should be just weeks away from hearing similar data from Moderna, AstraZenaca, and Johnson & Johnson.

But even as these very deliberate, controlled, and active tests of vaccines are going on, there is other COVID-19 data emerging. This data comes mostly from questionnaires given to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. It asks about the habits, health, and actions of these patients in the hopes that data might emerge providing clues about the behavior of a disease that ranges from extremely mild to downright deadly. And, in at least a couple of cases, it seems that data may have pointed to a couple of common treatments as having a potential effect on the severity of infection. Meanwhile, another study shows that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 may not be as common as many have believed.

The University of Bristol reports that it has completed an antibody survey of the "Children of the 90s" community spanning just under 5,000 participants. This group represents a number of British families who had—you guessed it—children in the 1990s. Health researchers have been following both the parents and the children through their lives, so they have a great deal of information on both their health history and personal habits. So their COVID-19 data could be particularly telling.

In the latest survey, 4.3% of those tested had developed antibodies to COVID-19. These people were twice as likely to be from the "children" group as the "parents" group. However, even though most of the people who had COVID-19 at some point were under 30—the group generally thought to have the mildest cases of the disease—only about 25% of all participants reported being asymptomatic.

In past results, mostly taken from smaller groups like infected passengers on the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship, about half of all patients were asymptomatic. That number has frequently been used when working out the potential spread of COVID-19. Some researchers and politicians (especially politicians) have even projected much higher numbers of asymptomatic carriers to support specific theories or actions. If only a quarter of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, that may mean that the threat represented by asymptomatic carriers is smaller than has been estimated. It would also mean that calculations setting the number of cases far above the number of positive tests based on the idea that many of the infected never developed symptoms could also be way off.

The U.K. is also host to the massive RECOVERY project, a set of interlocking COVID-19 studies that has helped to both show that Trump's beloved hydroxychloroquine is ineffective, and that the steroid dexamethasone helps patients receiving breathing assistance. On Tuesday, PharmaTimes reported RECOVERY was about to test the efficacy of something else: aspirin.

The idea that aspirin might be helpful against COVID-19 has been debated since very early in the pandemic. Last February, researchers in China announced that they were beginning trials of using aspirin as part of COVID-19 treatment with expectations that it could help with the damage COVID-19 can cause to both the blood vessels and the lungs, and early results appeared positive. Since then, many hospitals around the world have incorporated this most common of drugs into their COVID-19 regime—but it's far from universal.

In October, a study published in Anesthesia and Analgesia looked at 412 patients. Of those, 76% did not get aspirin, and 24% got low-dose aspirin, the same kind often taken by heart patients. Patients who received low-dose aspirin were 44% less likely to end up on a ventilator and 43% less likely to require admission to the ICU. The number of patients studied was small, but those results are more than dramatic enough to indicate why RECOVERY is taking another look at a drug that really has been considered a "miracle" before. The very broad effects of aspirin—fever lowering, reducing clumping of platelets, lowering inflammation—may be a good match to the broad spectrum of symptoms caused by the coronavirus.

But aspirin isn't the only off-the-shelf product to generate new interest from coronavirus researchers. As Science News reports, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found evidence that there's another widely available product that might be a big positive when it comes to COVID-19. In this case, while it's often seen in the form of a pill, it's not really a drug; it's the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.

Melatonin is naturally produced in the body each evening, with production rising as light decreases. When people take synthetic melatonin (in pills that range usually range from 1 mg to dosages far above the generally recommended limit of about 5 mg) it has a pair of sleep-inducing effects.

By doing a deep dive into patient data—including both those who had COVID-19 and those who did not—researchers discovered that those reporting regular use of melatonin had a 30% lower rate of testing positive for COVID-19. That seems like a fairly fantastic result … but it heaps up over a large dataset even when adjusted for other factors. And here's something that seems to really stand out: For Black patients in the study, melatonin use seemed to cut the odds of being infected by COVID-19 in half. This type of study is notorious for drawing a statistical connection between unrelated items, and there could easily be coincidental causes behind this data. Maybe people who take melatonin take better care of their health in general. Maybe they're just better rested. In any case, additional sources are now being examined to see if similar results can be found.

Finally, a drug that's not over-the-counter but definitely seems appropriate for 2020 may also turn out to be an unexpected COVID-19 fighter. In a study published today in JAMA, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that patients receiving the antidepressant fluvoxamine were much less likely to develop serious COVID-19 symptoms when compared to those receiving a placebo. How much less likely is hard to say … because it appears to be infinite. As in none of the fluvoxamine patients displayed worsening conditions during the study. That's a fantastic result … but it was also a very small study. So small that it's not likely to change treatment regimens. However, if an antidepressant seems like a strange treatment for a virus, note that fluvoxamine is a group known as "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors" (SSRIs), which have a powerful effect on inflammation.

Aspirin, melatonin, SSRIs … they may not seem like the most obvious tools to use against a virus that has proven to be so deadly. But they have the advantage of being extremely widely used and well-understood.

Big note: I'm not a doctor. This article should not be taken as medical advice. Don't begin taking new medications without checking in with your health provider. Thanks.

Mike Pence stayed loyal to Trump to the end -- and now the joke's on him

Vice President Mike Pence, who may or may not be the actual Antichrist, has played a long, patient game these last four years. He has embraced Donald Trump's every white nationalist act. He has slathered Trump with praise at every possible opportunity, and has aggressively declared himself to have never seen any of Trump's buffooneries, incompetence, or crimes. He protected Trump through impeachable acts. He adopted, wholesale, Trump's notion that a worldwide pandemic was No Big Thing and led a coronavirus task force that was steadfast, absolutely steadfast, in doing nothing of note to combat it.

Pence did all of this for the usual reason: power, and the certainty that loyally holding Trump's pants up for four years as Trump rampaged around the place would inevitably lead to Pence's own nomination as Republicanism's next presidential contender.

Sucker. Now Donald Trump's contemplating running again in 2024 (if the Secret Service eventually tosses him from the building), and where does that leave Mike Pence? Screwed. It leaves him on the corner of Boned and Screwed, down the street from a crematorium and real close to the sex toy shop.

The New York Times gives a bit of an inside look at the Mike Pence team, although to be honest the whole thing could have been written in advance. Mike Pence has been predictable as a sunrise through the Trump years. He wants to "distance" himself from the current completely batshit insane and dangerous thing Donald Trump is doing so as to protect his own ambitions. He also intends to support Trump in doing the insane and dangerous thing to whatever extent he has to in order to keep Trump's favor. Pence will enable Trump to the end, but Trump has no such loyalty.

It is exceedingly likely that Trump is going to announce he will be running in 2024, whether he truly intends to or not. He is obsessed with his cheering rally crowds. He needs the donations to keep flowing—donations that he may not be able to spend with total freedom, but that continue to be aggressively siphoned off to pay Trump's gargantuan legal bills. He needs to be famous, and not just the kind of famous that allows a person to slap their name on mail-order steaks for pocket change.

Whether he follows through with it or not, that means every Republican who has devoted themselves to Trump for the last four years now has their own presidential ambitions on hold, full stop—or they will be considered an enemy of Trump and Trump's base. Mike Pence can't run for president until Donald Trump gets out of the way, and nobody has ever, in history, been able to pry Donald Trump out of the way when Donald didn't want to go. The man is willing to kill off his own relatives out of spite; he would relish the chance to immolate Mike Pence as he did Marco Rubio.

For now, though, Trump is moping. Multiple reports suggest Trump has completely given up on his day job of being president. CNN reports that "he has thrown relatively few angry fits," which is how we judge American presidents these days, but is despondent, pouting, and weighing the conflicting advice being given to him by Uday and Qusay Trump, who want him to press his coup-like position because they crave power, and Ivanka, who wants him to pack things in while his (her) brand still has cash value to it. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump has no interest in a lame duck agenda or any other presidenting, no matter how much his staffers jingle those keys.

The odds that Trump can successfully pull off a coup remain near zero. Eventually he is going to be pried from the building and, realistically, the only face-saving measure available to him will be to claim he will win the next election for sure. Probably. Maybe. For whatever length of time he remains unindicted.

In the meantime, take a moment and pour one out for Mike Pence. Mike Pence was a good fascist. Mike Pence protected Trump even when it was long past obvious Trump was not only incompetent at the job, but recklessly incapable of fulfilling it. Even as Trump slid into delusion after delusion, Mike Pence backed him. Even as he committed impeachable acts, Pence was by his side. Even as Trump's indifference killed a quarter million Americans, Mike Pence took to the podium to make damn sure Trump was able to do it slickly and with minimal interference.

What does Mike Pence have to show for it now? Not much. He won't be able to run for president anytime soon, that's for sure. He might be able to wrangle his way into a Celebrity Apprentice cameo, if that's what it takes to pay the bills.

Texas surges past California to become state with most COVID-19 cases

s Americans go to the polls and wait in (hopefully) socially distant lines, COVID-19 continues to spread mostly unchecked. The Republican-led localities that wanted to believe major cities, frequently under Democratic leadership, were the only areas dealing with large outbreaks of the virus have been dealing with exponentially growing infection rates. States considered red are breaking daily records, while many blue states continue to try and keep their numbers manageable.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that over the weekend, Texas surpassed California to become the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases at 938,503. This number, of course, is most likely an undercount because testing in our country has continued to lag behind the spread of the virus since the beginning. And as AP explains, the coronavirus rate in Texas is far worse than California as California has 10 million more people living inside of its boundaries.

States like Texas, Florida, and Georgia's Republican leadership scoffed at early prevention measures like mask mandates and shutting down indoor businesses. Since the initial wave of the pandemic hit our country in February, March, and April, these states have seen exploding numbers. Over the last two weeks however, Texas has surged to a positivity rate of 10.72%. The national average is 6.6%.

More than 29 million people live in Texas. The state's cases per 100,000 population is 3,269.84. By comparison, California—home to more than 39 million people—has a rate of 2,371.56 cases per 100,000.

Three days ago, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego tweeted: "The County is currently working on creating more space at our Medical Examiner's Office parking lot so that we can get a 3rd mobile morgue unit. If that doesn't put our situation into perspective I don't know what will." NPR reports that as of Nov. 3, it looks like El Paso has added a fourth "mobile morgue." This is because as COVID-19 cases surge, death rates go up. They go up because resources and access for people become stretched thin, and Americans pay for this lack of infrastructure and leadership.

Will this reality have any effect on the close races of Republican duds like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas? It remains to be seen, but he has clearly felt the shift in his state from complacency to anger.

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