The next COVID wave is here. 1.5 times more transmissible than Omicron.


Cooper Neill/Reuters

There are already dozens of cases across almost half of the U.S. of a new Covid subvariant that’s even more contagious than the already highly transmissible omicron variant.

Nearly half of U.S. states have confirmed the presence of BA.2 with at least 127 known cases nationwide as of Friday, according to a global data base that tracks Covid variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement Friday, said although BA.2 has increased in proportion to the original omicron strain in some countries, it is currently circulating at a low level in the U.S….

The subvariant is 1.5 times more transmissible than the original omicron strain, referred to by scientists as BA.1, according to Statens Serum Institut, which conducts infectious disease surveillance for Denmark.

Here’s the important bit:

The new sublineage doesn’t appear to further reduce the effectiveness of vaccines against symptomatic infection, according to the U.K. Health Security Agency…

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, warned on Tuesday that the next Covid will variant be more transmissible.

“The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating,” Van Kerkhove said. “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.”

Please don’t work at convincing yourself this pandemic is over…or nearly over. Just saying…

Some States Want to Eliminate ALL Childhood Vaccinations

Georgia, David R. Kotok, Cumberland Advisors, January 30, 2022

Vaccinations requirements for school attendance have protected kids for generations. But some Georgia politicians recently appeared ready to scrap all that. Georgia Senate Bill 345, as submitted, would prohibit “vaccine passports,” or vaccine requirements of all kinds, for all facilities and services whatsoever, including schools…

Twitter lit up with responses, including this one, because apparently, people do not want to be drop-kicked back into a time when there weren’t vaccines and mandates and life expectancies, decades shorter, reflected that.

No Georgia children died of smallpox last year, either…

Zero Georgia children went blind from measles last year, though there were three cases of measles reported in the state as recently as 2019. That highly contagious disease (more contagious than Omicron) will surge again should vaccination rates languish…

No one in Georgia died last year of whooping cough (pertussis), either, though that virus continues to circulate in the US at a level held in check only by required vaccinations…

No vaccinated children in Georgia have died of Covid, though the state has lost 25 children so far to the disease…

Dear readers: Georgia is not the only state churning out laws to block vaccine requirements, but this proposed legislation is such a stark instance of ill-advised, deadly foolish lawmaking that we wanted to bring it to your attention.

David R, Kotok

This was emailed to thoughtful people all round the United States, this Sunday morning, by David Kotok. A well-known and respected economist, investment analyst and advisor. And a public-spirited Citizen.

It was forwarded to me via the daily newsletter I receive from Barry Ritholtz. He’s in the same trade as Mr. Kotok. Equally talented as economist and analyst, at least as public spirited…which is why I subscribe to his newsletter.

I’ve mentioned bits of my life experience before…growing up in a New England factory town before vaccines were generally mandated for schoolchildren. Federal guidelines were accepted in Connecticut when I was still in elementary school in the 1940’s. My peers and I were vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and smallpox.

In truth, today, reading this note from David Kotok included in Barry’s newsletter…I remembered my friend, Nick, who died of diphtheria. The last unvaccinated kid in the neighborhood. Although the vaccines I noted were mandated, his parents had him exempted on religious grounds. So, Nick never got to grow up beyond 5th grade. He loved reading and we shared books from the neighborhood Burroughs Library. I missed him for a long time.

Visit to Dairy contaminated by chemicals from Air Force Base


UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences

Looking at the cows at Highland Dairy, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez said there’s no visible sign that anything is wrong with them…

Leger Fernandez visited the eastern New Mexico dairy this week for the first time, although she has been advocating to get the dairy owner compensation for the cattle following contamination from a nearby U.S. Air Force base…

While the cattle at the dairy look like any other cows, Leger Fernandez said tests done at the dairy have yielded results far exceeding the federal (PFAS) standard of 70 parts per trillion. That means the cows can’t be used for food production

The contamination came from fire suppression foam used in training exercises at Cannon Air Force Base. The forever chemicals then entered the groundwater that the dairy relies on. This groundwater is part of the Ogallala Aquifer, which is quickly being depleted. Leger Fernandez said, like all water in New Mexico, the Ogallala Aquifer is a precious resource.

“It is heartbreaking to know that we have contamination in this very important aquifer,” she said.

We also have cities like Clovis that have taken their municipal water supply from the same aquifer – for decades. Negotiations with the Federal Government – ultimately responsible for paying to fix this disaster – are “ongoing”. One of my least favorite bullshit words in the lexicon of journalism.

The poisoning of people in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas – just like the cows – is “ongoing”.

This judge is eminently qualified to be a member of the Supreme Court

The Republican Party doesn’t give a shit about qualifications!


Judge Emanuella Groves

SHE’s BLACK. That’s all that matters to the racist crooks who own the Republican Party.

Emanuella Groves may not be Joe Biden’s candidate for SCOTUS. But, she’s an example of the talented, leading, qualified candidates he may choose – who also happen to be a Black woman. Qualities the bigot brigade in American politics fear and hate.

10 minutes a day, folks…


Nigel Msipa/Unsplash

In the rush of our busy lives, it can be hard to find time to exercise. Luckily, you don’t have to invest too much time to reap nationwide rewards. A new study shows that if every US adult over 40 walked just an additional 10 minutes each day, we would collectively prevent 110,000 deaths in the country each year.

The researchers used data from a study that ran from 2003 to 2006, where scientists tracked participants’ physical activity for a week. Researchers then tracked death rates through 2015 in a mortality follow-up and analyzed the data against trends, in minutes, for how long participants were physically active. They found that 10 extra minutes of exercise per day, in addition to normal daily activity, was associated with an 8 percent decrease of total deaths among men, and a 6 percent decrease of total deaths among women. The paper was published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine…

Though the message is not novel—we all know that exercise is good for you—inactivity still contributes to a significant portion of deaths in the US. A 2019 study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 8 percent of deaths are “attributed to inadequate levels of physical activity,” a statistically significant culprit for adults aged 40 and older.

This is something I learned when a lot younger. It certainly feels good finding out this part of my lifestyle continues to be recommended by study and science. Not that I’m surprised. All told, it feels good and statistically, I’m ahead of the curve for old geezers. Geek or otherwise. A retiree, I put in at least 45 minutes a day. Most of that exercise walking.

First hearing in NM legislature ends with Hydrogen Hub plan tabled, blah, blah, blah.

The Hydrogen Hub Development Act was tabled on Thursday by a 6-4 vote during its first committee hearing after about six hours of discussion.

The bill, which is backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, would create tax incentives for hydrogen projects in New Mexico as well as laying the groundwork for state-authorized hydrogen hubs.

About three quarters of the hundreds of members of the public who spoke at the committee meeting opposed the bill. Opponents called it a hand out to the oil and gas industry and described the bill as “greenwashing” and a “false solution.” They said the state should focus on renewable energy development and expansion. Many of them were concerned about the emissions related to hydrogen produced from fossil fuels as well as the use of water to produce hydrogen through electrolysis.

A pretty good description of my own analysis. Why I oppose this bill. And the White House butt-kissing the same folks on a larger scale.

Does GM need the BOLT?


Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg
Article by David Welch

Here’s a question to ponder. General Motors this week announced a $6.5 billioninvestment in electric-vehicle assembly and battery production in Michigan that includes, among other things, converting the Chevrolet Bolt plant to making electric pickup trucks. So, does this mean the Bolt is marked for death?

The gist of the speculation — which I’ve seen on CNN and Jalopnik — is thus. GM makes the Bolt at its plant in Orion Township, Michigan, a suburb north of Detroit. The plant will convert to making electric Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups underpinned by GM’s new Ultium platform. The Bolt and larger Bolt EUV have been built in that plant using GM’s prior-generation battery pack and a different platform for small EVs. So the Bolt must be dead, right?

The factory part of the argument is rather facile. GM won’t necessarily kill the Bolt merely because the plant is being reassigned. But the name probably will go away for a variety of reasons.

During GM’s investor day presentation last October, the company said it would have more than 60 nameplates by the end of the decade, and at least half would be EVs. Barra echoed legendary GM Chairman Alfred Sloan’s credo of selling a car for every purse and purpose when she said GM’s EV portfolio would offer “options for every price point and lifestyle.” GM might need something the size of a Bolt EUV, but marketers can use any name they want.

The Bolt’s future in the showroom could be something like an electric Trailblazer in the U.S. As for the Bolt, GM may not have called it the EV2 after the EV1 of the late ’90s, but the two may soon share a retirement home in automotive history.

Names come and go. Some are worth keeping. Frankly, I’d agree with continuing a similar size EV in the line-up. Partly because I’m bored to tears at the endless lanes filled with identical mid-size cardboard boxes called SUVs. I’ve been a car geek all my life and I can’t tell most of them apart until I can see the badge – or at least the grill. And EVs don’t need a grill.

And the size works for 2+ size families like ours. Which is why we’re still in my wife’s Fiesta for her, me and Sheila the dog. And maybe someday Ford will ship the Maverick Hybrid she has on order.