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Monday 08.09.21


The Tokyo Olympics just ended, but can you believe the Beijing 2022 Winter Games are less than six months away? Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On With Your Day.
 

By AJ Willingham

A medical worker rests last week at a Covid-19 ICU ward in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

1

Coronavirus

The average number of new coronavirus cases in the US has increased ninefold since the beginning of July, and hospitalizations are at their highest rate since February. In some parts of the country, hospitals are at capacity, and loved ones of those battling the virus are pleading for access to life-saving equipment. As if the situation isn’t bad enough, new concerns are starting to arise: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the continued spread of the virus could allow new variants — possibly ones more resistant to vaccines — to emerge and spread if more people don’t get vaccinated. Experts are already seeing more cases of the Lambda variant, which is designated by WHO as a coronavirus “variant of interest.”

2

Afghanistan

The Taliban has seized five provincial capitals in Afghanistan and let loose a string of violence as foreign forces, led by the US, complete their withdrawal from the country. Among the areas now under Taliban control is Kunduz, a strategically important provincial capital that marks the first major city to fall to the Taliban since it began its offensive in May. Afghanistan’s swift descent into violence has been alarming and follows international warnings that a foreign troop withdrawal could lead to a Taliban resurgence. Now, there is concern that even the country’s capital of Kabul could fall. In the past week, the US has increased airstrikes against Taliban positions in a bid to halt its advances.

3

Infrastructure

The Senate has voted to cut off debate on the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, clearing the way for a vote on the final passage of the bipartisan bill. Sixty-eight senators, including 18 Republicans, voted to invoke cloture (quickly halting the debate) to break the filibuster and push the process forward. The Senate is now expected to hold a final vote tomorrow morning. Senators are confident the bill will pass, but there’s been some recent shuffling of necessary Republican support of the bill. If it passes, it wouldn’t just be a win for President Biden’s agenda; it would also be a win for both parties, which have worked for months to come to an agreement on the bill. An affirmative Senate vote wouldn’t make it a done deal, though. The bill would still face significant challenges in the House. 

4

Climate

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a new report, and the message is clear: Deadly and irreversible effects of climate change are already here. Unlike previous assessments, the report also concludes it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused the climate crisis. It states the world has rapidly warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels and is now careening toward 1.5 degrees — a critical threshold that world leaders have agreed should represent the upper limit of global warming. Scientists say the only way to keep from reaching this point of no return and to prevent even more catastrophic damage is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

Last Night I Saw My Friend Vanish

Last night no one knew if it was

the sun setting or the moon rising

but it was orange: hung there by a

wire moving around our sky, currents

of warm air lifting and lowering its round

shape enough to light the narrow, soft roads

crisscrossing the sandy summer peninsula.

One young woman pushing her

old cruiser bike silently, leaving Book Club late after

a chat about amphibians, taking the

long way home, blond hair falling in a

triangle down her back, white Keds glistening,

she thinks of fall when everyone will be gone

and suddenly there in the mist she becomes

invisable except for the sound of one repentant

bicycle spoke grinding it’s rhythm until she’s home.

In the Desert You Can’t Remember Your Pain

 

In the December desert near the crepuscular 

hour many people experience subtle, ocular

change. Sometimes these changes are

permanent. Saguaros (Te 

quiero) can begin to move

and appear to challenge with their arms

the delicate prickly pear while the Feather

cactus plays, “catch a falling Star“. It is, however,

the Christmas cactus that interests me: 

blooming blood red pink like a baby‘s lips exactly at the

time they say we had a virgin birth.

Who will tell it to bloom now that we have lost faith:

a world divided, no party lines, no Avon lady, no 

agreement  not to kill each other?

 

 

 

Ferguson

So today on Facebook I posted a piece written by a black woman who was raised by white parents which Gloria Steinem had originally posted. It’s been up for a few hours and there’s only one comment. No likes. A friend of mine “unliked” it saying it was biased. I think it’s right on. The writer describes what it’s like to be black in a world where racial profiling is a part of our national profile. It’s a very moving and passionate piece expressing what the writer feels in her own life and asking us, the white people of the world, to do something. She says that prejudice can only be changed by the people who are prejudiced. We are all prejudiced. We can’t help it. No matter what the reality was of the shooting incident in Ferguson, the cops there would probably have hesitated if the guy had been white. Yes, he may have robbed a convenience store prior to the incident, but that mean he should be shot on sight? The only way we can have true equality as a society is if those of us who are in the position to speak up do so. What would it be like if everyone was “colorblind”? It’s not up to the underdog to change things, it’s up to the people of the world who never had to worry about being the underdog. Change happens at the top of any organization. If everyone made an effort to look at their own misplaced fear of those who are different than we are, interesting and positive things will happen.