News roundup for Fri, Nov 19, 2021

The port in Los Angeles is still clogged despite the move to 24/7 operations. As I said before, you can make an operation go 24/7, but you can’t produce trained personnel overnight.

Amid tension on the Ukraine border and a Middle East migrant crisis on the Belarus/Poland border, Belarus is playing hardball and cutting off an oil pipeline to Europe. I expect a few crises will rapidly get better after this power play. Just watch. And I’m not advocating for their proverbial chess move–I’m just noting that it’s likely to capture a piece.

The chip shortage continues to thwart the automotive industry, this time by cutting access to heated seats and steering wheels in various GM models. Losing some luxury is not the end of the world, but it is emblematic of a more broad, general decline in quality of life in the post-COVID era.

US petroleum reserves are low and have been tapped in response to high gas prices. The Biden administration is very concerned about gas prices:

The floods in Canada this week were catastrophic. Vancouver was completely cut off as all major roads washed out. The government response was slow and reactionary, leaving most to fend for themselves:

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s a good time to reiterate: know the source of your cannabis products. There is a hard argument here for legalization and regulation in all US states given that it’s already so ubiquitous. Let’s protect people from this:

It’s also time to address the danger of fentanyl on the streets. Fentanyl is killing people to the tune of tens of thousands each year. The US has over 100,000 overdose deaths this year, with opioids like fentanyl causing more than half of those deaths:

Gallop polls in the US show people’s attitudes towards gun laws are bifurcating along party lines. Independents and republicans are advocating for fewer legal restrictions on guns and democrats are advocating for more. In general trends the desire for fewer restrictions is winning out.

A jogger in Scotts Valley, CA saved pets from a housefire using the Ring doorbell to contact the owners. The fire was contained to the garage because of this Good Samaritan.

The world has 256.3 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3.7 million cases in the last seven days. There have been over 5.1 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 48.4 million cases—nearly 700,000 cases were added in the last seven days. Over 789,000 Americans have died—about 9,000 in the last week. The US added nearly 105,000 new cases on Wednesday and over 1,400 deaths that day as well. The US is trending back up in case gain and is still leading global daily case gain.

A bunch of states are jumping on the “any adult can get a COVID booster” bandwagon:

Washington, DC lifts its mask mandate just in time for the convergence of holiday get-togethers and the seasonal uptick in COVID and flu:

In a trend that is baffling to me–Ireland and Gibraltar, two of the most highly-vaccinated regions on Earth, have imposed stricter COVID mitigation measures again. Perhaps this is in anticipation of seasonal trends, but it’s still slightly worrying to me. Why is this necessary if so many are already vaccinated? Waning immunity and a dearth of boosters?

Lab workers in Pennsylvania found and handled frozen vials of smallpox while cleaning out a freezer. Let’s revisit the assertion that lab accidents are so very unlikely to be a source of threats to public health. The FBI and CDC are investigating this near-miss.

In many countries the definition of being fully-vaccinated now means having had three doses (or two for J&J). This will likely be the case in the US soon as well.


  • 21 Comments

    • brownfox-ff

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep adding to your pantry. This is useful against bad weather, natural disasters, backed-up ports, job loss, or nearly anything else.
      • Check your backup heat source. Do you need a backup heater? A portable generator? Or maybe just some candles? Maybe you want a fire extinguisher to go with that.
      • Check on things that need replacing. Do you have any parts, appliances, gear, or items that look worn? Things you were planning to repair? Consider whether you need to order something now, if it may take a while to get.
      • Fill up your car’s gas tank when you get down to half a tank. The easiest place to store more gas is in your car’s gas tank. It’s a great habit to start.
      • Cut down your driving. Could you get food or run an errand without driving? Could you group multiple errands together to make one trip? What about carpooling with a neighbour, or picking up groceries for them while you also do yours? Perhaps you can swap next time.
      • Consider cutting or replacing a habit. Do you have a dependence on caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, or some other substance? Could you reduce your usage or replace it with something healthier? This might save you some money too (full disclosure: I drink way too much coffee)
      • Get some exercise
      • Relax. Read a book. Meditate. What is your favourite way of taking time for yourself?
      8 |
      • Lindsey brownfox-ff

        Brownfox-ff: Thank you for posting action steps with Stephanie’s news roundups. I like reading the roundups to see what concerning trends my local news isn’t mentioning. I really enjoy seeing your action step ideas based on the roundups. It makes the whole situation feel less hopeless and out of control. The combination of news roundup and action steps to go with it leaves me feeling empowered to act, which I appreciate since that isn’t often the feeling I get after reading the news.

        6 |
      • brownfox-ff Lindsey

        Hello, thank you for the kind words. That is excellent. I am glad this helps you to feel empowered to act and more positive about the world. That is precisely the goal!

        If you have your own ideas or tips, posting comments or in the forum is also welcome.

        3 |
    • Bill Masen

      The Brits are deploying crack troops to the Polish border to support the Poles in their facing off against Belorus and Russia

      4 |
    • Bill Masen

      Fentanyl and guns, what a combination in a place where there is so much civil unrest at this time,  and political disagreement has now morphed into unbridled hatred between the two main poltical groups. And this tragic court case of a child in Kenosha could trigger even more violence.  I absolutely have no idea why the US is getting so hostile to itself, but I hope calmer heads prevail.

      3 |
      • Sunnuva Gun Bill Masen

        ” I absolutely have no idea why the US is getting so hostile to itself, but I hope calmer heads prevail.” –> Agree Bill. I personally have ideas but not appropriate on this site, a policy I actually welcome and, frankly, it’s all just conjecture anyway.  Either way, for prepping community it’s good to be aware of whatever the reasons.  Unrest, distrust, internal strife and unbridled hatred make for bad decisions and bad decisions lead to bad actions.

        Thanks as always Stephanie.

        5 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Sunnuva Gun

        The polarization in the US is seriously concerning. Algorithm-driven information funneling and a purposefully inflammatory news media arm has a lot to do with it. 

        And you’re very welcome. 

        8 |
      • So the young chap in Kenosha has been found not guilty on all charges, I hope the community can and will accept that justice has been served by 12 good people. I have everything crossed it all remains peaceful.

        1 |
      • Greg P Bill Masen

        I have to disagree with your assessment Bill.  I don’t believe that justice was served.  That young man KILLED two people and wounded a third.  He had no business wandering around in that situation armed as he was – not even legal to carry that weapon in my state ( at his age).  If you are there to render first aid, a long gun is not part of any first aid materials I ever carried while in the military.  

        While I could make a case for self-defense for the guy who was carrying the sidearm & MAYBE for the guy with the skateboard, there is no way that the first guy he shot was a threat.  He shot that man four times, twice after he was already down.  I was hoping that he would be convicted of some of the lesser charges, but I wasn’t surprised that he got off scot-free.  I’m sorely disappointed in the outcome.  I certainly hope that the three men on trial in Georgia are convicted of killing the unarmed jogger.  If they go free, Atlanta (and other portions of the country) will burn – not a threat, just a prediction.

        3 |
      • Bill Masen Greg P

        Lets agree to disagree over Kenosha, I hope those three in Georgia are convicted IF guilty, I love the justice system it works better than politically motivated lynch mobs .

        2 |
      • EzlyAmuzzed Bill Masen

        Even as an American I can say the hostility keeps amazing me. I have been even more cautious around people than I used to, not out of fear for safety for the most part but more more for personal sanity. I see people argue over anything  with this general societal acceptance of ever increasing hatred back at people. 

        I try to make my small contribution of being extra friendly to people, especially workers who are looking miserable, and stay totally quiet when I know it’s best. 

        6 |
      • Bill Masen EzlyAmuzzed

        Whoops I hit the report button by mistake, apologies.

        So EA  I think all western countries are becoming more agressive, hostile, confrontational and intolerent.   Violent crime here in the UK has been steadily rising for decades, but anti social behaviour is even worse.  We are all walking on eggs shells these days

        2 |
    • Bill Masen

      Lockdowns are starting again in europe, Austria has just locked down at lunchtime today, other EU states likely to follow.  Personally I think the Virus is winning.

      3 |
    • más picante

      In a trend that is baffling to me–Ireland and Gibraltar, two of the most highly-vaccinated regions on Earth, have imposed stricter COVID mitigation measures again. Perhaps this is in anticipation of seasonal trends, but it’s still slightly worrying to me. Why is this necessary if so many are already vaccinated? Waning immunity and a dearth of boosters?

      Why is this baffling?  Oodles of data has been showing that vaccine-triggered antibodies only last 5-6 months tops.  Endless boosters will be necessary, as well formula changes as the virus mutates further in the future.  Same reason we get a flu shot every year.  Why would this virus be different than the flu in that respect?  Seems people were sold a certain bill of goods regarding the efficacy of these vaccines and are startled to learn that they don’t work much better than any other attempt at vaccinating against coronaviruses.  

      3 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor más picante

        I had (and I think most people had) hoped for more durable immunity. And you’re right that that generally is not the case with coronaviruses. Europe needs to get boosters in arms as fast as possible. I’m not personally thrilled with the possibility of needing boosters every 6 months from here on out–I’m still hoping we can vaccinate our way to an R lower than 1 long enough to get out from under this thing. I’m struggling with the idea of having to live with an endemic virus like this. It’s not a happy prospect. I could not have imagined lockdowns still being needed 2 years later. But this is where we are, I guess. 

        7 |
      • Sbesch Stephanie Arnold

        The figures I’ve seen describing the vaccine efficacy dropping to 80%, or 60%, or whatever, related to “breakout infections” (i.e., just symptomatic infections). The last time I dug into the data, the protection against death was still as high as it was immediately after the initial completion of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations.

        I interpreted those results to mean the short-lived “kill it as soon as it shows up” immune cells in the blood were waning after several months (which is normal), but the long term “I’ll remember this bug for the rest of your life, it just takes me a little longer to mobilize, so you might feel it a little before I ramp up enough to kill it off” immune cells coming from the marrow were still present and effective.

        That’s just a semi-educated laymen’s interpretation, of course. If it’s (relatively) accurate, an endemic COVID bug (which seems inevitable at this point) would become much like the seasonal flu – vaccinated/previously infected people might get sick, but would not be more likely to die from it anymore than they would be from the seasonal flu.

        4 |
      • Bed más picante

        Yeah, endemicity is definitely becoming more and more likely, as does needing countless boosters much like the yearly flu shot. Not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is I guess.
        I’m just hoping there’ll be more and more treatment options, like Merck’s antiviral pill or Novavax’s non-mRNA vaccine. Having more options and available choices will be better for everyone in my opinion.

        4 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Bed

        The treatments should help. 

        2 |
      • Things will get back to something resembling “normal” once more people accept vaccines and there’s an easily-accessible antiviral. Ireland and Gibraltar are worried about a combination of waning immunity and seasonal trends.

        So far, vaccinated people are less likely to get severe cases even if they’re not boosted, but a breakthrough case is not benign or risk-free.

        We probably need boosters every 6 months PLUS widespread mask use and occasional lockdowns to push the R0 below 1 for a long time before we can have “virus-free zones” with sustainable contact tracing. It’s questionable whether doing that is politically feasible or whether it would be better than doing the best we can while we wait for the virus to reach some equilibrium.

        4 |
    • Greg P

      Update on smallpox story –  vials found to contain smallpox vaccine, NOT the virus itself.  Whew!

      9 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Greg P

        That is excellent news. Those lab workers must have been sweating bullets. 

        5 |