🌞 Covid… again – August 01 2022

Fabric

Happy Monday. Star Trek fans the world over, myself included, are mourning the loss of Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura. She helped break ground on TV by showing a Black woman in a position of authority. She experienced mistreatment by staff members which sought to hide the amount of fan mail she received at the time. As a result, she threatened to quit the show before its final season in 1968 but civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. talked her out of it. She was 89 years old.

credit: paramount

In Case You Missed It. 

💉 The U.S. FDA has opted not to make second Covid boosters available to adults under 50 this summer. Instead, they’re speeding up the timeline for BA.4- and BA.5-specific boosters for the fall. Looks like they’re aiming for availability in early September for people 12 and older. Will BA.4 and .5 still be the variants to battle by then? Covid knows!

✈️ Southwest Airlines announced that its flight vouchers will no longer have expiration dates.

🌊 Flood waters tore through Kentucky last week and then again this weekend. At least 28 have been reported dead so far as forecasters expect more rain.

🛒 Trader Joe’s is the latest to join the union drive sweeping the U.S., with workers at a TJ’s in Hadley, Massachusetts, voting to go union. TJ workers at a store in Minneapolis are set to vote on unionizing August 11-12.

🎶 U.S. music god Beyoncé dropped her seventh studio album Renaissance Friday and the internet broke a little bit. This is just “Act 1” of her Covid trilogy.

🏀 Bill Russell, an 11-time NBA champion, died yesterday at 88.

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*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 5:00am ET. .

The Lead: Trouble in Tunisia

credit: rueters

Last week, a few voters in Tunisia voted to adopt a new constitution.

Almost all of the 30.5% who turned up to the recent election voted yay on the new constitution, which gives President Kais Saied unchecked powers. Those numbers are according to the electoral commission, which Saied controls.

Tunisia is a democracy, so why is it Saied alone who’s in control? Probably because he wiped out parliament last year. Opposition has tried to fight back, but Saied is the one in control. Now, he’s got his ultimate authority in writing.

Opposition groups argue that the voter numbers are a joke and the 2014 constitution is still The One. Saied blames the old constitution for causing the economic problems everyone is struggling with, saying that this is why he had to suspend parliament and codify all those unchecked powers. He had a lot of support for his parliament wipe last year, but things are still bad, so it looks like only 30% (or less) are still with him.

Saied denies that his actions make him a dictator, but unchecked powers and election fraud seem to tell a different story. Tunisia is the only democracy to come out of the 2011 Arab Spring protests. It could be on its last legs.

Massive Inflation and Climate Bill Ready For Prime-Time

credit: getty

The U.S. is on the brink of passing what Senator Brian Schatz calls “the biggest climate action in human history.” This is debatable, but it does seem to be true as far as legislation passed in the U.S.

The $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act that Democrats agreed to last Thursday does not stop with the climate. Along with aiming to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, the bill calls for:

  • Investing $300 billion in deficit reduction to fight inflation
  • Reducing ACA premiums
  • Giving Medicare a say in drug prices
  • Raising taxes on corporations and the highest earners and closing tax loopholes

But the climate side of the bill is the one grabbing headlines, because that’s the historic part that it looked like oily Senator Joe Manchin had killed. Some climate activists say he still did; the senator certainly made sure his fossil fuel friends felt the love in this bill, despite the burning and drowning mentioned above.

“This is a climate suicide pact,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “It’s self-defeating to handcuff renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction. The new leasing required in this bill will fan the flames of the climate disasters torching our country, and it’s a slap in the face to the communities fighting to protect themselves from filthy fossil fuels.”

So, not everyone is a fan. But this is something, right? And it’s a bigger something than the country has agreed to before. If this passes when it comes to a vote (possibly this week), it seems like it would qualify as a win.

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That’s How The Cookie Crumbles

credit: giphy

Google still has its hands in the cookie jar.

Last year, the technology giant said it would end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser in early 2022, launching the “Privacy Sandbox” initiative to help advertisers find less stalkery alternatives. Then in June 2021, Google said, welllllll, maybe give us until late 2023.

Now the company says, welllllll, they “intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024,” according to the company’s blog post.

Smart Cookies

Why are cookies a problem? They do have good points. They allow websites to identify you so you don’t have to enter that username and password you forget every time you want to check Twitter.

But third-party cookies can ID and track you from any website their ads pop up on. This is why you get a ton of dog food ads if you Google pictures of dogs. I JUST WANTED TO SEE CUTE PUPS, OK?????!!!!!

Why the Delay

According to Google’s post, “The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the [UK’s Competition and Markets Authority] to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions.”

The Solution

Google is expanding Privacy Sandbox trials to millions of users and scaling that number up through 2022 and into 2023. So NO MORE EXCUSES, advertisers! Google says they “expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome” by Q3 2023.

Welllllll… we shall see.

What’s Trending?

credit: globo

Biden is trending because he tested positive for Covid again Saturday in what is thought to be a rebound case after taking Paxlovid. He is experiencing no symptoms.

Nancy Pelosi is trending because U.S. House Speaker Pelosi began her tour of Asia Sunday. Her planned itinerary does not mention Taiwan, as many have speculated/feared.

George Jetson is trending. The patriarch of the family in the 1962 TV series The Jetsons was—according to random people on the internet—supposed to have been born yesterday, July 31, 2022. That specific date seems to be fake, but there is evidence he was born this year. That gives us less than 40 years to get those flying cars soaring.

News By The Numbers

800,000. That is how many doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available in the U.S.

$1.337 billion. That is how much the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever was when one person in Illinois won Friday night. The winner hasn’t come forward and may not even know they won. IS IT YOU???

$4.25 billion. That is how much pharmaceutical company Teva agreed to pay to settle thousands of lawsuits over its role in the opioid crisis.

$8.2 million. That is how much retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s space memorabilia went for at auction last week. That includes the jacket he wore on Apollo 11.

Over $2 million. That is how much money a Texas teenager/political strategist has raised for the Gen-Z for Choice Abortion Fund in response to Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz and his body-shaming anti-abortion comments.

Barbiecore

Gen Z and Millenials are empowering the pink.

Hot pink is everywhere these days, and it’s not a comment on the weather. It is Barbiecore.

Barbiecore is a fashion movement centered on Barbie’s favorite color, hot pink. See also: long nails, fake eyelashes, chunky heels, and short skirts/dresses. The style means different things to different people, but many see it as a way to take back the stereotype, to show that hot pink is for everyone.

Is this an updated version of fourth-wave feminism or another wave? Does it matter? There is power in taking back something that has been used to keep a segment of the population down, and hot pink is definitely one of those things. See also: heels, etc.

Mattel’s doll still has a long way to go before Feminist Barbie hits the shelves, but if young women and femmes find beauty in Barbie’s favorites and choose to go Barbiecore no matter how stereotypically Barbie they are, that is pretty damn feminist.

As long as I don’t have to wear hot pink.

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