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The Delta variant makes up an estimated 83 percent of U.S. cases, the C.D.C. director says.

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The highly infectious Delta variant now accounts for an estimated 83 percent of new coronavirus cases in the United States — a “dramatic increase” from early July, when it crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the dominant variant in this country, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

In some regions, the percentage is even higher — particularly where vaccination rates are low, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said during a Senate health committee hearing. Two-dose vaccines have been shown to be effective against the Delta variant but questions have been raised about Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose regimen against Delta. While almost 60 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, less than half of the total U.S. population is.

She said the C.D.C. would update its website later Tuesday to reflect the new estimate of Delta cases, which the agency derives from gene sequencing of new coronavirus cases.

The new figure comes as new cases have been rising across the United States, though cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain a fraction of their peaks. Still, public health experts are watching the increases with deep concern and Dr. Walensky warned last week that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The seven-day average now shows nearly 38,000 new daily cases, up from about 11,000 a day not long ago, according to a New York Times database.

Tuesday’s hearing was contentious at times. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, pressed Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on when the F.D.A. would authorize booster shots — and was not happy when she could not provide a specific answer. Federal health officials have said booster shots are not necessary now and have pressed Pfizer for more evidence.

Other Republicans clashed with witnesses over matters including mask mandates, booster shots for Covid-19 vaccines and “gain of function” research designed to identify genetic mutations that could make a virus more powerful.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, escalated his long-running attacks on Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser for the coronavirus pandemic, and accused Dr. Fauci of committing a crime by lying to Congress in May when he told senators that the National Institutes of Health did not fund “gain of function” research at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the pandemic’s early days.

Dr. Fauci, in turn, accused the senator of falsely implying that the N.I.H. is somehow responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths from the pandemic — an extraordinary exchange for the Senate, where witnesses almost always defer to lawmakers.

“I have never lied before Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Dr. Fauci declared, adding, “Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially.”

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News Roundup: New vaccine rules for federal workers; bipartisan infrastructure deal falls short

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In the news today: As COVID-19 cases continue to soar among unvaccinated Americans, President Joe Biden announced new vaccine requirements for federal workers, with a military vaccine mandate likely to follow. The Senate voted yesterday to begin debate on a “bipartisan” infrastructure plan. What’s the bipartisan part? That it’s less ambitious than needed and reeeeeally sketchy about its numbers. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed the Biden administration doesn’t have the legal authority to unilaterally cancel student debt, advocates point out that the Higher Education Act very specifically says it does.

Here’s some of what you may have missed:


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Trump’s aides reportedly fretting over his potential toxic touch in future endorsements

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The latest? Trump laid his bam on a candidate in Tuesday’s special House election in Texas, and that candidate—Susan Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, who previously held the seat—lost. Convincingly. And now Trump’s aides and assorted hangers-on are starting to show just a wee bit of panic.

Politico:

Now, Trump and his advisers are trying to figure out what Wright’s defeat means for them — and how to contain any damage. Her loss Tuesday night sent shockwaves through the former president’s inner circle. Many privately concede the pressure is on them to win another special election next week in Ohio, where a Trump-backed candidate is locked in a close primary.

Yes, the Eye of Sour-Don now alights on Ohio, where another nail in Trump’s big, gilded, tricked-out King Tut loser coffin is being teed up as we speak. In Ohio’s special House election, Trump has backed coal lobbyist Mike Carey—because if you’re going to back losers, you might as well back losers from waning, has-been, loser industries like coal production.

Needless to say, the Trump team is currently on tenterhooks in advance of that election, because a Carey loss would allow Trump’s detractors to affix another big red loser stamp on Trump’s flaky, flop-sweaty forehead. More importantly, it might allow some of the nontrue believers in his party to finally spit out their ball gags. 

Politico:

Advisers worry that a second embarrassing loss would raise questions about the power of Trump’s endorsement — his most prized political commodity, which candidates from Ohio to Wyoming are scrambling to earn before next year’s midterms. More broadly, losses could undermine his standing in the Republican Party, where his popularity and influence has protected Trump’s relevance even as a former president barred from his social media megaphones.

While we should all root against Trump’s candidate next week, it’s important to note that Trump has never actually been a superstar endorser. His continued influence over his party and its elected officials is indisputable, but there’s plenty of reason to believe he cherry-picks his candidates in order to cultivate a phony winner’s veneer.

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza (I know, I know) noted in his July 28 column, Trump’s reputation as a kingmaker is, at the very least, exaggerated. Noting that Trump’s endorsement record is 141-42 in general elections, 3-2 in special elections, and 21-2 in battleground primaries, Cillizza writes:

In general elections, Trump has always padded his stats by endorsing lots and lots of incumbents who face almost zero chance of losing. Trump did a LOT of this in the 2020 cycle. For example, he endorsed Rep. James Comer in Kentucky’s 1st district; Comer won with 75% in a seat that Trump won by almost 50 points. No one thought Comer was losing. Trump’s endorsement had nothing to do with that fact. 

And, yes, as Cillizza acknowledges, Trump’s endorsement record in primaries is very good, but it won’t help the Republican Party much if he backs dozens of slavering sycophants and Q-weirdos in contested primaries only to see them flame out in their general elections. And, regardless, the scuttling of Trump’s preferred candidate on Tuesday shows he’s vulnerable, even when it comes to primary candidates (though, granted, he may not be not quite as vulnerable in exclusively Republican primaries).

Politico:

Unlike the Texas election, where voters from both parties were allowed to vote, the Ohio contest is a Republican primary. Trump allies say that means it will be a purer test of his ability to shape GOP nomination contests. At the same time, they argue that the more conservative nature of the race increases the odds that Trump’s endorsed candidate will be successful.

Some Republicans contend that Tuesday’s loss highlights a trend in Trump’s post-presidency: His endorsement doesn’t carry as much weight as when he was in office. After being kicked off social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Trump has been forced to promote his endorsement largely through email blasts.

Aww, so sad.

I used to want Trump to shut up and go away forever. For one thing, he sounds like a glitchy jet engine sucking in the cast of The Jersey Shore. And I’ve had enough lies for one lifetime. But I happen to believe it’s in our best interest if he stays in the game. He’ll keep picking nonviable candidates and pushing the GOP further into Bonkersville, and his constant harping about election fraud will likely—as happened in the Georgia Senate runoff elections—depress turnout among his own base, many of whom already neglect to show up when Trump’s not on the ballot.

So keep talkin’, Loser Man. And keep hosting your Loser-paloozas. I can almost see the stink lines wafting off your stable of candidates, and it’s beautiful to behold.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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Black woman’s travels with white adoptive sister end in police questioning

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Bailey told the news station that officers also questioned her mom and a social worker before following them to baggage claim. “The whole time they were talking with us, people kept staring at us, whispering and stuff,” Bailey said.

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She said it’s clear that she was racially profiled. “If the roles were changed and it was a white person walking off the plane with a Black person, like a Black child, I feel like things would be different,” Bailey said.

Frontier Airlines issued this statement to The Denver Channel:

”A concern was raised during the flight by another passenger who was sitting near the woman and child and suspected human trafficking. That passenger approached the flight crew with those concerns and subsequently completed a written report during the flight to document her observations. The captain was notified and felt an obligation to report the matter. Air travel is one of the most common means for human trafficking. Race played no part in the actions of the flight crew who were following established protocols”

Bailey said she and her family are considering suing the airline. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted on Tuesday: “After a flight, law enforcement accused Lakeyjanay Bailey of human trafficking her 4yo white sister, Olivia, & demanded to speak w/ their mother & a social worker to confirm their relationship! This traumatic experience shouldn’t have happened!”

Bailey’s experience, though frustrating, is unfortunately not unusual. Keia Jones-Baldwin, a Black North Carolina therapist, told The Today Show in 2019 she was accused of kidnapping her white son Princeton, who she was in the process of adopting. Jones-Baldwin was having car trouble and decided to knock on a local resident’s door when she said the person who answered the door called the police and accused her of stealing both the car and the child. She was again accused of kidnapping while vacationing with her family in Tennessee. Jones-Baldwin had decided to do a Western photoshoot. “The girl behind the camera would disappear and then come back. Finally she asked, ‘Is that your baby?’” Jones-Baldwin said. “I told her he was. Then she said, ‘I just took picture of this baby with his family two weeks ago.’”

The incident actually led to the authorities being called and Jones-Baldwin being made to show a custodial document proving she had permission to travel with her son. “We get a lot of stares,” Jones-Baldwin said. “I’m frequently asked if I’m Princeton’s babysitter … I get, ‘Why didn’t you let him stay with a family of his own race?’”

Her answer to the question was simple. “I don’t look at family as blood,” she said. “I look at family as love. When Princeton came into our lives, he came into our hearts.”

RELATED: A white man complained about Muslim woman on flight, launching 6-hour ordeal


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