The Monday Politics Thread is Business in the Front, Fun in the Back

Small-Town America Grapples With Vaccine Logistics

As the United States begins its massive vaccine rollout, health departments across the country are scrambling to plan and adjust, often while simultaneously managing a surge in new Covid-19 cases. “Just trying to keep up and stay alert of what new things are coming down the line is pretty critical,” said Jessica Martinez, a Mora Valley nurse. Rural clinics face unique challenges in getting highly perishable vaccines to residents who often live many miles away. “We’re kind of out here on our own,” she said.

Additionally, data show that rural residents are less likely to receive a flu shot than residents of metropolitan areas. This trend, combined with the reluctance of rural communities to embrace coronavirus mitigation measures, has some experts worried: “Think about a person who needs to drive one hour for a shot, then do the same 20 days later for a second shot,” said Diego Cuadros, a professor of health geography and disease modeling at the University of Cincinnati. “If it’s a person who maybe doesn’t think this is too important, or has some misperception or misinformation about vaccines, this is going to be extremely challenging.”

Mother Jones

Bodycam Captures Police Chief, Officer Defending Slavery, Using Racial Slurs

A west Georgia police chief and an officer have reportedly been forced from their department after body camera footage taken before a Black Lives Matter protest in their area last year captured the two men defending slavery and using racial slurs.

Hamilton Police Chief Gene Allmond resigned and Patrolman John Brooks was fired last week after the footage was unearthed by a city employee who was checking to see if the body camera was functional, local station WRBL reported.

The video, taken in June 2020, appears to capture the uniformed men standing outside the police department and talking about a BLM march scheduled to be in Hamilton later that day. In their conversation, they appear to reference the then-recent fatal shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, who was shot twice in the back by an Atlanta police officer after allegedly grabbing an officer’s Taser during a field sobriety test. His shooting death fueled ongoing nationwide protests against racial discrimination and police violence.

“I don’t own no slaves. My folks didn’t own no slaves. What are we talking about, 200 fucking years ago?” one of the men says in the video.


Anti-Vaxxers Now Trying To Stop *Other* People From Getting Vaccines

It used to be that the problem with anti-vaxxers was that they wanted to refuse to vaccinate their children, which messed with herd immunity and caused outbreaks when they sent their little Typhoid Marys to school or took them to Disneyland. They asserted that it was their right as free Americans to make that choice for their children.

But now they’ve taken it a step further and want to deprive other free Americans of their choice to get a COVID vaccine, for what appears to be a variety of reasons including but not limited to beliefs that the vaccine is unsafe, the vaccine is Bill Gates’ way of putting the Mark of the Beast in everyone, or simply that the vaccine encourages the belief that COVID-19 is a deadly virus that kills people instead of a harmless bug.

On Saturday afternoon, a not-very-large group of anti-vaxxers in Los Angeles managed to shut down the vaccine distributions at Dodger Stadium for a short period of time during what was advertised as a Scamdemic March/Protest. The LAPD, for reasons they have not made entirely clear, closed the gate for a while and refused to let anyone in to get a vaccine.


GOP Remove LGBTQ and Marijuana Flags, Defiant Democrat Flies Them Anyway

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman says state Republicans removed flags supporting the legalization of marijuana and LGBTQ rights from outside his office at the state capitol. Undeterred, the Democrat called out “the gay flag police” and hung them back up.

According to WGAL, the state Department of General Services said the flags were removed because of a provision passed by the Republican-controlled legislature barring the display of any flag other than the American flag at the capitol. But the 6-foot-9, bald-headed and tattooed lieutenant governor questioned both the timing and the use of state funds for their removal.

“To use state resources during a time of such upheaval to worry about two flags that I have hanging from my balcony seems odd,” Fetterman said.

Earlier this week Fetterman poked the state GOP by using the “How it started… How it’s going” meme in a photo tweet that included the Democrat posing with two thumbs up next to the rehung flags.

Rolling Stone

Lawmakers in 14 states have proposed anti-LGBTQ bills, many of which target trans youth

As is custom at the beginning of the legislative session, state lawmakers across the country have proposed a torrent of bills intended to boost local economies, constrain or expand spending or make much-needed infrastructure fixes. But mixed in among the standard bureaucratic business are bills that take aim at LGBTQ+ residents of states — bills that attempt to limit or dismantle their protections.

Just weeks into 2021, lawmakers in at least 14 states have proposed a slew of bills that would restrict the freedoms of LGBTQ residents. Most of the bills would affect transgender young people, according to Freedom For All Americans, the LGBTQ advocacy group that tracks the proposals.



Cori Bush Is Moving Her Office Away From Marjorie Taylor Greene Due to Safety Concerns

Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) announced on January 29 that she intends to move her office away from the office of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the QAnon congresswoman whose history of apparent support for online comments about violence against Democrats has invigorated concerns about her presence in Congress. In tweets posted Friday, Bush detailed examples of times she felt threatened by the Georgia Republican, who is one of the new members of Congress to openly support QAnon conspiracy theories.

“A maskless Marjorie Taylor Greene & her staff berated me in a hallway. She targeted me & others on social media,” Bush wrote just before noon ET on Friday. “I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety.

“I’ve called for the expulsion of members who incited the insurrection from Day 1,” Bush wrote. She also called for a vote on HR 25, the House resolution she announced the day of the January 6 Capitol attack as a means to expel members of Congress who incited the pro-Trump forces.

Teen Vogue

Navalny, WHO and Thunberg among nominees for Nobel Peace Prize

Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the World Health Organization and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg are among those nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, all backed by Norwegian lawmakers who have a track record of picking the winner.


El Paso shooting survivor deported to Mexico after traffic stop

A survivor of the 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 23 people dead was deported to Mexico after a recent traffic stop, legal aid clinic Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services confirmed to local media.

According to local station KTSM, city police arrested the woman, who has been identified as Rosa, after she was found to have had two outstanding citations from more than five years ago during a traffic stop on Wednesday.

From there, police reportedly took Rosa to a local jail and was placed into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She was deported to Mexico on Friday. 

Rosa told KTSM that she has her “whole life” in El Paso, where she also graduated high school.

“I got there when I was little — I don’t remember anything about Juarez,” she said.

According to a local ABC station, Rosa is also one of a number of witnesses the local district attorney has lined up for a coming trial in the 2019 shooting case.

The Hill

Medical school applications surge as COVID-19 inspires Black and Latino students to become doctors

Miriam Cepeda watched helplessly as her grandfather, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who was sick with COVID-19, resisted pleas last March to go to the hospital.

“He told us he had sad memories of hospitals back home and he just didn’t trust the medical system,” said Cepeda, 19, whose grandfather later passed away from COVID. “For a lot of minority communities, going to the doctor isn’t our first choice or solution.”

Cepeda, of New York City, hopes to change that. The Columbia University sophomore plans to apply to medical school in a few years so she can serve patients of color, whose healthcare inequities have been highlighted by a virus that has sickened and killed people of color in disproportionate numbers.

Cepeda is among a growing number of Americans who are embracing medical school in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Applications to medical school for this coming fall are up 18%, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents 155 U.S. institutions. Some schools have seen 30% jumps. And many school officials specifically note that the number of applicants from traditionally underrepresented Americans is helping to drive the surge. 

USA Today

On a side note, I checked my WordPress articles out of curiousity to see when I started doing the Monday threads, and it was October of 2018. That’s….quite a bit longer than I realized, holy shit.