Amy Coney Barrett Confirmed to Supreme Court

The US Senate voted 52-48 and confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. This process only took 30 days. After the ceremony, Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas administered the constitutional oat to Coney Barrett. Pres. Trump thanked the Senate, and expressed positive support for her.

Unfortunately, the Democrats could not halt the process, although they certainly tried to slow down, the confirmation process. As the Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, this was very difficult for the Democrats to act upon. This contrasts sharply with former Pres. Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, who the republican-majority Senate refused to hold even hearings for, although the nomination had occurred 8 months before the election.

Many Democrats voiced strong dissatisfaction in the unfair manner in which the Republicans choose to handle state affairs.

Unfortunately, this confirmation creates a strong conservative majority in the Supreme Court, worrying many women’s rights supporters and those concerned about healthcare.

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Remdesivir first FDA-approved COVID treatment, but only for severe Cases

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved remdesivir as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients aged 12 and up. In May 2020, FDA approved remdesivir for severe COVID-19 cases only, under the initial Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Remdesivir was allowed only for those with low blood oxygen levels or those in need of oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation.

FDA issued another EUA in August to include all adult and pediatric hospitalized COVID-19 patients regardless of the severity of the case. EUA today allows treatment of hospitalized pediatric patients younger than 12 weighing at least 3.5 kg.

Gilead, the owner of Remdesivir, attributes the approval on three randomized controlled trials. Nonetheless, remsidivir, which will be marketed as Veklury, is advised to be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting that is capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care.

The studies show that the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients improve with a 5-day treatment compared with standard of care (odds ratio of 1.65).

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Study Says 99.9% of Viruses Inactivated by Mouthwash

Penn State College of Medicine has published a new study showing that most coronaviruses can be inactivated by mouthwash and oral rinses. The study tested various rinses, which included 1% solution of baby shampoo, net pot, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers and mouthwashes.

Out of them, the baby shampoo solution and the mouthwashes were the most effective at inactivating greater than 99.9% of virus after only 30 seconds. This turned to 99.99% after 30 seconds.

However, it is important to note that the Novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 has not been tested. Researchers nonetheless are hopeful that this would equally apply to the Novel coronavirus given the optimistic results seen in other coronaviruses.

Ultimately, while vaccine continues to be elusive, simple methods like using mouthwash to gargle every day could significantly prevent the spread of disease, including the Novel coronavirus. However, clinical studies are necessary to determine whether this 99.9% result applies to COVID-19.

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GOP NOT Supporting Stimulus Package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reported that he warned the White House against striking a deal with the House on a new stimulus plan until at least November 3 election.

He blamed this on House Speaker Pelosi, claiming that she was not negotiating in “good faith” with the Treasury Secretary, and any deal reached would disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week. The Senate Republicans believe that the stimulus plan would divide the Republicans up in the Senate.

Therefore, most Americans will be held captive by the Republican desire to confirm a Supreme Court justice, as they continue to struggle through the pandemic-laden economy.

That being said, McConnell has not been part of the talks between Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin. Regardless, he stays adamantly opposed to the bill. As Republicans fear losing the majority in the Senate, they believe in appealing to the fiscally conservative voters, and the signing of a stimulus plan, they believe, would definitely do the opposite of that.

Pelosi has denied McConnell’s accusations. Furthermore, Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin have continued their talks for the stimulus plan, which will provide Americans with a second $1,200 check, along with aid for small businesses, money for covid-19 testing, and support for airlines and hospitals.

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Virtual Cults and Their Believers

Photo from Google Images

QAnon is a virtual cult that began in late 2017, with a fundamental belief that Pres. Trump is a hero in a fight against the “deep state” and the evil of Democratic politicians and celebrities who abuse children. “Q” in QAnon indicates someone in the US government with insider knowledge of these governmental evils.

It is unclear as to how many people are part of this cult, but QAnon-related Facebook pages and groups based outside of the US are continuing to increase, with at least 12.8 million interactions from January 2020 to September, according to CNN.

QAnon is a weird mix of cult and conspiracy theory, but ultimately, it continues to branch off of a central worldview, which includes the whole assumption of the Democratic Party worshipping Satan, JFK Jr. having faked his death to escape deep state, and even false ideas regarding the 5G infrastructure and even the very dangerous idea that COVID-19 pandemic is a ploy to monitor private citizens.

The last is particularly harmful, but QAnon has no known leadership structure, and no true way to contain it.

The fact that Pres. Trump had won the 2016 election had a profound effect globally, it turns out, as a former QAnon believer explained, no major media outlet had predicted his win, and that had proven to him that most of these media outlets were not correct. Alex Jones, Infowars exposed some to QAnon theories. Those who are obsessed with QAnon would oftentimes only want to talk about QAnon theories, which makes offline life very difficult.

People are likely to seek out conspiracy theories in times of crises, say experts. With the 2016 US election and the ensuing chaos that seemed to be the Trump presidency, followed by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, many people are feeling exactly that.

As conspiracy theories often blame some unknown party as orchestrating and controlling all aspects of one’s perceived reality, it can provide those unsettled by the chaos, some leverage to hold onto, even if dangerous.

In May 2019, FBI released a bulletin warning that conspiracy theorists like QAnon could “very likely” motivate criminal and sometimes violent activity in the US especially because of the extent and the content of the materials.

Modern social networks have made QAnon possible faster, as any misinformation can get in the mainstream quickly through platforms like Twitter. Reddit has banned the QAnon subreddit, and Twitter has removed 7,000 QAnon-associated accounts. Facebook is planning to ban QAnon-related pages, and YouTube will remove QAnon-related materials off of its website.

However, it is an enormous task given the widespread reach of QAnon globally.

Some are smart enough to notice the logical flaws of these conspiracy theories, others are not. Those who do, might be able to leave QAnon, and some are active on r/Qult_Headquarters to point out logical flaws in the conspiracies proposed by “Q.”

Since QAnon essentially fights against “facts,” this is not the way to solve the QAnon problem. It seems that to dissolve the dangerous entity known as QAnon, people must use empathy and sympathy and remind people that QAnon is essentially not a productive or helpful force in their lives.

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Ex-Candidate for Idaho Governor Charged in 1984 Cold Case Murder of a 12-year-old girl

69-year-old man who ran for governor of Idaho twice in the past has been charged to the death of then 12-year-old Colorado girl in 1984. The Weld County district attorney’s office announced that the grand jury indicted Steven Pankey for the killing of Jonelle Matthews. He is accused of kidnapping Matthews from her home in Greeley, Colorado in December 1984, and to have shot and killed her.

He is charged with first degree murder – after deliberation, first degree murder – felony murder, second degree kidnapping, and two counts of crime of violence.

He was arrested on Monday in Meridian Idaho and is being held without bail at the Ada County Jail. Colorado court date has not yet been scheduled.

Pankey had run for governorship of Idaho in 2014 and 2018 on the Constitution Party line to win the Republican nomination.

Matthews’ body was only recently found in July 2019 by a construction crew unearthing project for a pipeline installation.

Her death was ruled as homicide.

Pankey awaits trial, and it is not yet clear whether he has an attorney representing his case.

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2020 is for States Setting Record for Early Voting

Georgia, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois have come up as the top 4 states with highest early voting records, already outpacing voter turnout in 2016.
So far, more than 13.8 million voters have already cast their ballots for this year’s upcoming general election (November 3), according to U.S. Elections Project. In 2016, early voting had only been at 1.4 million.
The coronavirus pandemic, with health and safety concerns have led to expansion of mail-in voting, and it seems that this has helped increase voter turnout. Georgia and Texas began their early voting this week and already set records.
For example, Georgian voters reported waiting nearly 10 hours at the polling sites on the first day of early voting. 128,000 people hit the polls on Monday, surpassing 91,000 votes cast on the first day of early voting in 2016.
In Texas, more than twice the 2016 early voters showed up for the first day of early voting.
This pattern was repeated in Ohio and Illinois.
Voting pace in Virginia, Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin have also reached 20 percent or greater than the 2016 total vote.
Ironically, the pandemic that locked so many of us inside seems to have only led to the result of enhancing the nature of the political system in the US: Representative Democracy.

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Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca Stop COVID Vaccine Trials

(Photo from ABC News)

On Monday, Johnson & Johnson announced that it was pausing COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials due to an unexplained illness in a study participant. Eli Lilly and Company also stopped its Covid vaccine trials because of potential safety concern, as voiced by US government officials. Eli Lilly had been testing the treatment on hospitalized COVID patients, all of whom had received remdesivir.

At the moment, Johnson & Johnson’s patient is being reviewed and evaluated by independent monitoring board and company’s doctors. This comes at the head of AstraZeneca’s pausing its Covid-19 vaccine trials last month to investigate an illness in a patient in the UK. The study has resumed in the UK and other countries but not in the US.

The dean of Brown University School of Public Health, Ashish Jha stated that this was completely expected, but that the political pressure and desire simply was unrealistic to adhere to.

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Tanzanians Fight Fire on Mount Kilimanjaro

(Photo from CNN)

On Monday, Tanzanian residents, students, and firefighters all fought fire that broke out on Sunday on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

The harsh winds on Sunday had fanned the flames but have been reported to have since died down. There are no injuries or deaths reported so far, but the fire is still ongoing.

Mount Kilimanjaro rises to nearly 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) above sea level, but the residents that reported the fire saw the blaze burning on the lower part of the mountain.

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Super Storm Delta to make landfall on the Louisiana Coast and the Mississippi Delta, bringing damaging winds

(Photo from AccuWeather.com)

According to Accuweather.com, Category 3 storm Delta will arrive around 4 – 7 PM Friday, bringing strong winds with its landfall (40-mph-or-greater winds to 140-mph) to the Louisiana coastal region and surrounding area: Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama.

There are high risks of flooding, power outages, sinkholes, tree damages, as well as possible tornadoes on her path.

“As Delta approaches the coast then moves inland, the counterclockwise wind flowing around the hurricane will support the development of isolated tornadoes mostly along and to the right of the tropical cyclone’s path,” AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert, Dan Kottlowski said.

I-10 corridor, which is the predicted Delta’s pathway, will be affected from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, affecting states as north as West Virginia and Virginia.

There is a 10 ft. of surge expected from Delta’s landfall, along with heavy rainfall.

One good news for Florida: the panhandle will be safe from this storm.

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