The Monday Politics Thread is Counting Down the Days ’til X-Mas

Police, firefighters, teachers will be next in line for COVID-19 vaccine

Police, firefighters, teachers and grocery workers will be among those next in line for a COVID-19 vaccine, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel decided Sunday.

The committee voted 13-1 to recommend that Phase 1b include people 75 and older and front-line essential workers. Phase 1c will include people 65 to 74 and people 16 to 64 who have high-risk medical conditions, along with other essential workers.

“My hope is that these short-term recommendations will support efficiency and equity in every phase of vaccination until we can get to the time when all individuals have access to safe and effective vaccines in the U.S. and worldwide,” said Dr. Grace Lee, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and committee member.

USA Today

Marvel stars left baffled after Trump’s Space Force announces members will be called ‘Guardians’

On Friday, vice president Mike Pence announced what enlistees for the much-maligned Space Force will be called and it is ‘Guardians.’

In a tweet posted on Friday by Space Force they confirmed the news writing, “Today, after a yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public, we can finally share with you the name by which we will be known: Guardians.”

It added in subsequent tweets that the name Guardians has a long history in space operations dating back to 1983 adding that the name ‘connects our proud heritage and culture to the important mission we execute 24/7, protecting the people and interest of the U.S. and its allies.’

Indy 100

Birx travels, family visits highlight pandemic safety perils

As COVID-19 cases skyrocketed before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, warned Americans to “be vigilant” and limit celebrations to “your immediate household.”

For many Americans that guidance has been difficult to abide, including for Birx herself.

The day after Thanksgiving, she traveled to one of her vacation properties on Fenwick Island in Delaware. She was accompanied by three generations of her family from two households. Birx, her husband Paige Reffe, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren were present.

AP News

Grandma Who Survived COVID-19 Delivers 800 Handmade Tamales to Health Care Workers in L.A.

A California grandmother who recovered from COVID-19 thanked the health care workers who treated her with homemade tamales.

Margarita Montañez, a grandmother of 12, fell ill with the coronavirus in April and was taken to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she stayed for 20 days, several of which were spent on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

While at the hospital, Montañez promised the doctors and nurses that if she survived she would bring them handmade tamales for Christmas.

On Thursday, she delivered on her promise, bringing 800 tamales that she made over the course of five days.


Flights from UK canceled as health minister says new coronavirus variant is ‘out of control’

A growing number of European countries on Sunday halted flights from the UK following the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19, said by officials to spread faster than others.

The new strain of coronavirus, which prompted the UK government to impose a Tier 4 lockdown in London and southeastern England and tighten restrictions for all of England over the festive period, is “out of control,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday.


State senator dies from COVID-19 complications

Minnesota State Republican Sen. Jerry Relph has died due to complications from COVID-19.

The 76-year-old began serving in the Minnesota Senate in 2017 and represented the 14th district that includes St. Cloud.

His wife confirmed the news of his death in a statement published on the Minnesota Senate Republicans Caucus’ website Friday night.

Relph contracted the virus at a Republican Caucus meeting on Nov. 5, where other senators were also infected, KSTP reported. He began quarantining on Nov. 10 and started seeing symptoms three days later. It’s unclear when his condition began to worsen.

ABC News

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro bizarrely suggests COVID-19 vaccines could turn people into crocodiles or bearded ladies

He suggested that the COVID-19 vaccine could result in people turning into crocodiles, women growing beards, and men speaking with effeminate voices, according to AFP.

Bolsonaro said: “In the Pfizer contract, it’s very clear. ‘We’re not responsible for any side effects.’ If you turn into a crocodile, that’s your problem.”

He continued: “If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or if a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they [Pfizer] won’t have anything to do with it,” he said.

Business Inside

Seriously, if this vaccine makes me a superhuman, sign me the fuck up even faster.

8 nuns at Wisconsin retirement home die of COVID-19 in one week

Eight nuns living at a retirement home for sisters in suburban Milwaukee died of COVID-19 complications in the last week – including four who passed away on the same day – a grim reminder of how quickly the virus can spread in congregate living situations, even when precautions are taken.

COVID-19 outbreak reported at LA megachurch that held indoor services in defiance of court ruling

Notre Dame of Elm Grove had been free of the virus for the last nine months, but the congregation that runs the home found out on Thanksgiving Day that one of the roughly 100 sisters who live there had tested positive.

ABC 7 News

2020 Was a Year to Learn (or Relearn) Important Black Feminist Lessons

This year, we were confronted with a global health crisis that spanned the entire globe and deeply shifted our connectedness to one another and the world. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 73 million people, resulting in at least 1.6 million deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. In the United States alone, 16.5 million people have been infected with the coronavirus, resulting in more than 300,000 deaths. Those deaths, we’ve seen from early on, are disproportionately represented among Black people in the United States.

The political landscape has also given us answers to the questions of racial, gender, and health justice. After Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were killed this year, mass protests erupted. And while he was defeated in November, 74 million people still wanted to reelect the man who embraced racist violence and stoked doubts about the reality of COVID-19.

There is no doubt that the emotional, physical, and mental toll of this year is immeasurable. In moments like these, teachings from Black feminist thinkers remind us of the ways we can use our experiences to move us closer to justice.

Teen Vogue

Taking the gender out of Japan’s school uniforms

A growing number of Japanese prefectural high schools are relaxing or scrapping gender codes for uniforms to meet the needs of transgender and other sexual-minority students, with around a third of prefectures taking such steps in response to an Education Ministry request five years ago.

To win broad acceptance, meanwhile, many are pitching the changes as a move that benefits students as a whole by increasing flexibility for the sake of comfort and convenience.

The Japan Times

Eddie Izzard wins praise for asserting use of ‘she’ and ‘her’ pronouns

Eddie Izzard won praise and backing from fans after appearing on TV and being addressed with the pronouns ‘She’ and ‘Her’.

The 58-year-old stand-up comedian and actress was a guest on Sky Arts’ show Portrait Artist of the Year in which art hopefuls had four hours to create a portrait of the star.

Viewers were impressed to see Eddie addressed as ‘she’ and ‘her’ by the contestants – with many praising the star for being a “trailblazer” of the LGBT community.


Why do we have Christmas trees? The surprising history behind this holiday tradition.

Christmas trees are a strange tradition, if you think about it: Every December, people in regions around the world head to the nearest forest, chop down a tree, drag it into their homes, adorn it with lights, baubles, and tinsel—then unceremoniously drag it to the curb in January.

But evergreen boughs have been essential seasonal decor since ancient times as part of pagan winter solstice celebrations. “Evergreens at midwinter festivals were traditional since the ancient world, signifying the victory of life and light over death and darkness,” writes Carole Cusack, professor of religious studies at the University of Sydney, in an email.

National Geographic