Be Safe and Have Fun
A Collection of Political Cartoons by John Slade
By Jeff Thomas
Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings. Police have no suspects in any of the cases.” And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black. This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight. New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally. Why do black men kill each other?
First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do not commit murder ever in their lives. That is a fact! This is not a black man issue. There is nothing genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by another black man. Why does this happen with this subset?
The first thing about murder is that people usually kill people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race. White men normally murder other white men and black men normally murder other black men.
In the black community, these killings are normally city events. Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country. Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets. People kill others who they interact with.
Young men engage in risky and violent behavior. Most of the men dying on our streets are between the ages of 17-35.
100% were not upper class in America. The links between poverty and crime are well documented. And black men have lived in depression level economic conditions for the last 50 years.
But these are often cited, unsurprising factors. More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man? What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other
The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to escalate a situation. Down for whatever. Nothing to live for and anticipating the day he will either kill or be killed. This mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived life. This guy has had a number of arguments and fist fights throughout his life. He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards people. He often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness. This guy is a walking heap of rage. He is always nothing but a gun and an argument away from murder.
A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.
For this guy, respect is everything and options to express anger or refutation are often limited. He often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.
When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations. Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.
The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war. One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality. Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life. Twisted but true.
Constructing your dream life is a journey filled with excitement, challenges, and uncertainties. Along this path, maintaining confidence can be a crucial factor in your success. Confidence isn’t just about self-assurance; it’s about believing in yourself, your goals, and your ability to overcome obstacles. Let’s explore how to remain confident as you work towards creating the life you’ve always envisioned.
The first step in building your dream life is to have a clear and compelling vision. This vision should encompass your long-term goals, values, and what truly matters to you. When you have a crystal-clear understanding of what you want, it becomes easier to stay confident in your pursuits. Take time to reflect on your aspirations, create vision boards, and set specific, achievable goals.
Self-awareness is the foundation of self-confidence. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and values allows you to make informed decisions and take calculated risks. Regularly assess your progress and adjust your plans as needed. This adaptability and self-reflection will reinforce your belief in your ability to navigate challenges.
A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop your abilities through dedication and hard work. Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as setbacks. By adopting this mindset, you’ll maintain confidence even when facing obstacles, knowing that setbacks are a natural part of the journey towards success.
Your environment plays a significant role in shaping your confidence. Surround yourself with supportive, positive individuals who encourage your dreams and provide constructive feedback. Limit exposure to negativity, whether it’s toxic relationships or self-doubt. Seek out mentors and role models who can inspire and guide you.
Confidence often comes from acting. Procrastination and overthinking can erode your belief in your abilities. Break your goals into smaller, manageable steps and take consistent action toward them. Each small accomplishment will boost your self-esteem and reinforce your confidence.
Failure is not the opposite of confidence; it’s a steppingstone to success. When you encounter setbacks, view them as valuable lessons. Analyze what went wrong, adjust your approach, and try again with newfound wisdom. Remember that even the most successful individuals faced failure before achieving their dreams.
Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Be gentle with yourself on this journey. Recognize that perfection is not the goal, and setbacks do not define your worth. By practicing self-compassion, you’ll maintain a healthier self-image and, consequently, greater confidence.
Acknowledge your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrate your milestones and achievements to reinforce your belief in your abilities. These celebrations serve as reminders of your progress and can keep your confidence levels high.
Building your dream life is not always a linear path. You will encounter setbacks, rejections, and moments of doubt. However, the key to maintaining confidence is persistence and resilience. Keep pushing forward, adapt to changes, and stay committed to your vision.
Always remember, remaining confident while constructing your dream life is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, positivity, and a growth mindset. By clarifying your vision, surrounding yourself with supportive influences, and embracing failure as a learning opportunity, you can build and maintain the confidence needed to turn your dreams into reality. Remember that confidence is not a static trait but a dynamic quality that grows stronger with each step you take towards your ideal life.
In the vibrant and culturally diverse city of New Orleans, a pressing issue is affecting many residents. But the African American community is especially impacted. Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) have become a focal point in the city’s pursuit of a healthier and more resilient future.
Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) encompass a range of traumatic events or circumstances that occur during an individual’s formative years, typically before the age of 18. These experiences disrupt a child’s sense of safety, stability, and overall well-being. The ACEs concept gained prominence through the groundbreaking ACEs Study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente conducted the research in the late 1990s. They identified ten common ACE factors that can profoundly affect a person’s life throughout adulthood.
|Physical Abuse||The experience of physical harm or injury inflicted by a caregiver or trusted adult can leave lasting physical and emotional scars.|
|Emotional Abuse||Verbal aggression, humiliation, or emotional neglect can negatively impact a child’s mental health and self-esteem.|
|Sexual Abuse||Inappropriate sexual contact or exposure during childhood can lead to long-lasting trauma and psychological distress.|
|Household Dysfunction||Living in an environment marked by domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, or incarceration can create an unstable and unsafe upbringing.|
|Neglect||Lack of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and emotional support, can hinder a child’s healthy development.|
|Parental Separation or Divorce||The breakdown of a family unit can result in emotional distress and a sense of abandonment.|
|Substance Abuse||Exposure to a caregiver’s substance abuse can lead to neglect, trauma, and a higher likelihood of substance use issues later in life.|
|Mental Illness||Growing up with a caregiver who struggles with mental health issues can create an unstable home environment and increase the risk of mental health challenges for the child.|
|Incarceration||A parent’s imprisonment can disrupt family dynamics, leading to a range of negative consequences for the child.|
|Community Violence||Witnessing or experiencing violence in the neighborhood or community can contribute to feelings of fear and insecurity.|
In New Orleans, a historical legacy of racial discrimination, economic disparities, and systemic inequalities contributes to the higher likelihood of African American children experiencing ACEs. Poverty rates in the Black community are disproportionately high. Poverty increases the risk of neglect, household dysfunction, and exposure to community violence. Additionally, limited access to quality healthcare and education exacerbates the impact of ACEs on children’s long-term outcomes.
ACEs are not mere childhood memories. They hold lasting implications for health, leading to an increased probability of disease, disability, and adverse life outcomes. Stress induced by ACEs can alter a child’s brain and body. This elevates the risk of illnesses and making life more challenging. These effects accumulate over time, with each additional ACE compounding the potential for harm.
The effects of ACEs extend beyond individual well-being; they have significant societal health, economic, and well-being costs. Many experts consider ACEs a public health crisis due to their pervasive influence. Marginalized communities often bear a disproportionate burden of ACEs, intertwined with issues like community violence, racism, incarceration, and discrimination.
ACEs disrupt the body’s equilibrium, causing toxic stress that can harm the immune system, emotional regulation, concentration, learning, and anxiety management. The cumulative effects of ACEs can manifest in various psychological and medical problems. The effects include chronic depression, anxiety and chronic health issues.
The ACE survey – comprised of 10 questions – quantifies an individual’s exposure to ACEs during childhood. Each “yes” response to a question contributes to an individual’s ACE score, which ranges from 0 to 10. A higher score indicates a greater likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes later in life. For instance, a score of 4 or more doubles an adult’s risk of developing heart disease or cancer. A score of 5 or more increases the chance of alcoholism by eightfold. And a
score of 6 or more amplifies the risk of further negative outcomes.
Please answer the following questions by indicating if they happened during your childhood (up to age 18). For each “yes” response, add one point to your ACE score.
While ACEs can have a profound impact on a person’s life, it’s essential to recognize that resilience is a powerful force that can counteract the negative effects of adversity. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences, adapt to challenges, and grow stronger in the face of adversity. In the context of ACEs, resilience can play a pivotal role in mitigating their long-term consequences.
Understanding the concept of ACEs and their impact is a crucial step toward creating a brighter future for the city. We must acknowledge the challenges and work together to address them. By promoting resilience, New Orleans can build a more resilient and healthier community. A resilient New Orleans celebrates its rich culture and ensures the well-being of all its residents. Most importantly, breaking the cycle of ACEs is not just a goal but a collective commitment. A commitment to nurturing the city’s most precious resource—its children, who, with resilience, can overcome adversity and thrive.
Originally published here
By Jon Jeter
On August 26, a lone white gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, fired 11 rounds from his semi-automatic weapon into the windshield of a car parked outside a Jacksonville Dollar General, killing the African American driver. Then he walked into the discount store, and fatally shot two other African Americans before turning the gun on himself.
Palmeter left behind a manifesto indicating his displeasure with African Americans, reminiscent of another 21-year-old white gunman, Dylan Roof, who eight years earlier sat outside the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Finishing off a bottle of Smirnoff’s Ice, he pulled a Glock handgun from his waistband, walked into the church and opened fire, killing a pastor and eight of his parishioners, all of them Black.
Roof’s objective, he wrote in his manifesto, was to start a race war by sounding the alarm and alerting his fellow whites to the African Americans who “are raping our women and taking over the country.”
In response to the Jacksonville shooting, President Joe Biden noted that the attack coincided with the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, and then, the cognitively impaired president of the free world declared that “white supremacy has no place in America.”
The Anti-Defamation League attributed 25 homicides to right-wing extremists in 2022, of which 21 were at the hands of white supremacists like Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old gunman who walked into a Buffalo grocery store and opened fire, killing 10 and injuring three, all African Americans. Similarly, on duty law enforcement officers killed at least 1,096 people in 2022–more than 3 people per day on average–representing the deadliest year on record for police violence since The Washington Post began tracking the slayings nationwide in 2015.The Post database also found that while nearly half of all of those slain by police were white, African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by on-duty police than are whites.
And the Gun Violence Archive identified 647 mass shootings in 2022 and 690 in 2021. Both figures are more than double the number of mass shootings, 282, in 2014 when the Archive first began tracking such assaults, and are commensurate with an FBI analysis of 2019 data that found that the number of hate crimes had increased by 42 percent over a five-year-span.
That figure represents the highest nationwide total since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, and is predicated mostly on a spike in hate crimes targeting African Americans. Analyzing data submitted by more than 15,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, the FBI identified 7,759 hate crimes, 2,755 of which identified Black victims, or 40 percent more than the previous year. Anti-Asian assaults increased by 70 percent over the same period, but the aggregate numbers were relatively minuscule, from 158 to 274, while anti-white violence rose by 16 percent to 773. (Attacks targeting Muslims and Jews fell by 42 and 30 percent respectively over the same span.)
Emblematic of that trend, the number of reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County rose by 23 percent in 2021, to 786, representing the highest total in nearly 20 years, according to LA County’s Commission on Human Relations. African Americans account for only 9 percent of the county’s population, but nearly half, or 46, percent of the total number of victims. Dominique DiPrima, the African American host of an AM radio show in southern California, told the Los Angeles Times:
Anti-Blackness is the tip of the sphere. It’s almost like we’ve normalized hate against Black people. It’s the default.
Capri Maddox, executive director of Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Department, told the Times that the city’s numbers are a microcosm of the country as a whole:
What typically goes unsaid in all public discourse is that Palmeter, Roof and Gendry are not unique, but rather characteristic of the white terror is as old as the Republic, and as consistent as rainfall. Whites’ homicidal tensions worsen when an economic downturn combines with Black demands for justice to persuade muddleheaded thugs like Roof, Gendry and Palmeter that their white skin privilege is waning.
Previously, the worst outbreak of racial terror occurred following the end of World War I, when African Americans returned from Europe’s battlefields with attitude, and the quickening pace of industrialization led muddleheaded white people to fear that Negroes were taking over.
The irony of both Red Summer as it came to be known, and the racial resentments at the core of today’s anti-Black terror, is that African Americans, in the main, have neither a pot to piss in nor a bed to push it under. If capitalism is, by definition exploitive, then racial capitalism is effectively a pyramid scheme which assigns Blacks permanently to the bottom rung tier. We are, in effect, the canaries in the mine, and our economic misfortune signals that something similar is bearing down on white America.
Consider, for instance, that while the Great Depression officially began in 1929, unemployment rolls show that it began three years earlier for African American workers.
We can discern a similar pattern in today’s U.S. economy. While the mainstream news media routinely portrays the economy as robust, and the gap between the haves and the have nots as a glitch–rather than a feature– of capitalism, 47 million African Americans have lost more wealth than at any time since the failure of the Freedman’s Bank in 1874.
In fact, the legal scholar Mehrsa Baradaran estimates that African Americans–accounting for 13 percent of the U.S. population–own no more than 1 percent of all assets nationwide, or, about one half of one percent more than we did on January 1st, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
It is in fact, the material bankruptcy of 48 million Blacks that facilitates these mass shootings; circumscribed by our poverty to poor, segregated neighborhoods, mass murderers like Palmeter, Roof and Gendron are assured of finding their target simply by going to a church, grocery or discount store on the Black side of town, and opening fire.
Whether the principal commodity is cotton, cars or credit, the white settler views Blacks as 48 million ATMs from which they are entitled to make regular withdrawals through the job market, workplace policies, health care, the criminal justice system, real estate and banking. Consider the fact that nearly half of all African Americans have bad credit, compared to roughly a quarter of whites. In fact, whites earning $25,000 annually are likely to have better credit than blacks earning between $65,000 and $75,000.
Nine of every ten black college students enrolled in four-year public universities rely on federally-subsidized student loans compared to six-in-ten whites, and African Americans who earned their bachelor’s degree from a four-year public university in 2012 owed an average of $3,500 more in school loans than white graduates that year. The default rates widen over time, as blacks who tend to bring home less pay than whites struggle to keep up with their payments.
But it’s the subprime mortgage market that truly reveals America’s white supremacist heart. Wells Fargo bankers testified that they peddled “ghetto loans” targeting “mud people” which is consistent with an Economic Policy Institute analysis that found that 53 percent of all black borrowers were issued subprime loans, compared to 47 percent of Latinos and a quarter of white borrowers. In New York City, African-American home buyers in 2006 were four times more likely than whites to be saddled with a subprime mortgage and another study found that between 2004 and 2008, only 6.2 percent of white borrowers with a credit score of 660 or higher received a subprime loan while the rate for black borrowers with similar credit scores was 21.4 percent.
In fact, lending disparities actually widened when households with higher incomes were compared, meaning that an African-American family earning $200,000 annually was more likely to be saddled with a subprime loan than a white family making less than $30,000.
Regulators have fined lenders such as Toyota, Fifth Third Bank and Ally for overcharging blacks and Latinos for car loans and African Americans, who, on average, pay between $300 and $500 more for an auto loan than do white borrowers, despite incomes that are, on average, slightly more than half of that of whites. One-in-three blacks between the ages of 18 and 64 have overdue medical bills compared to one-in-four whites in the same age cohort. African Americans are twice as likely to be in arrears on bills including water or utility bills and more likely to have their service disconnected or even lose their home as a result of a lien.
What that means, New York University Sociology Professor Jacob Faber told me a few years ago, is that borrowers of color were targeted not because they were credit risks, but because they weren’t.
The result is an expanding apartheid state: while nearly three of every white households own their own home, only 2 in five Black households do. Hence, much like South African apartheid, Blacks rent from whites.
Here however is the rub: By dispossessing Blacks, whites have merely bit their nose—HARD—to spite their face. Reducing Black buying power– as evidenced by the African Americans relegated to shopping for the bare necessities at Dollar General and other discount stores across the nation—means that we have less to spend on the goods and services peddled by whites and other racial groups. Had Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton read Hegel—and in Reagan’s case, had he read anything— perhaps they would realize that shipping the manufacturing sector might indeed lower wages, and undercut Black political power that was headquartered in unionized workplaces, but it also means fewer customers for businesses.
Many of you might recall the energy trader Enron, which imploded after its fraudulent accounting practices were uncovered by a skeptical Fortune magazine reporter, Bethany McClean, who amid the sound of popped champagne corks wrote a 2001 story that simply asked:
“How does Enron make its money?”
In this episode of Black Owned Conversations, we think this is the perfect time to ask:
How does racial capitalism make its money?
Here we are NFL week 2, in Carolina again. This will be the 3rd straight year the Saints have played the Panthers in Carolina early in the season, usually week 2 or 3. And if you’ve been keeping score, you should know that the Saints owe the Panthers a serious ass whipping.
The last 2 trips to Carolina haven’t been great. Really, they’ve been horrible. In both games, the Panthers’ D-line pummeled the Saints O-line into submission. Last year was so bad the Panthers not only battered Jameis Winston and his bad back, but they also knocked starting receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and TreQuan Smith out of the game. Even Alvin Kamara gave up a fumble. And for the 2nd year in a row, the Saints failed to gain over 100 yards rushing.
Maybe this year will be different. To open the season, the Saints went through a slugfest against the Titans. It was a hard hitting, physical game. Previously the Saints often folded in these games. But they didn’t this time. They not only won, but they won by being the more physical team. They were more physical on defense especially, but also on offense when it mattered.
Up front on defense, Cameron Jordan looked as spry as ever. Carl Granderson led the team with 1.5 sacks. And rookie Bryan Breese continually collapsed the pocket from the middle and finished with a half a sack. All that pressure forced Titans QB Ryan Tannehill into 3 interceptions.
The Titans couldn’t do much running the ball either. Derrick Henry is one of the best running backs in the league. But he finished with only 63 yards on 15 carries and got stuffed by Demario Davis on a key short yardage possession.
Offensively, it wasn’t what some fans expected. The Saints had all sorts of problems running the ball. And Trevor Penning gave up constant pressure at left tackle. The Titans are renowned for their run defense. And you would’ve liked to see the Saints average more than just 2.3 yards a carry. But give them credit for sticking with it, Surprisingly, they ended up with 27 rushing attempts.
More importantly, with a chance to put the game away on 3rd and 4, the Saints lined up and did just that with a key 11-yard run. That showed physicality and a commitment to being a physical team that we haven’t seen in the past. Under Sean Payton, at 2.3 yards a carry, they would’ve most likely thrown the ball.
But all was not terrible on offense. When he had time, Derek Carr was impressive. And Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, and Michael Thomas also impressed. Thomas played more possession receiver, while Olave and Shaheed were explosive. Both had pass plays over 40 yards.
Fans should also keep in mind that 2 of the past 3 years, the Titans were either the number 1 or number 2 seed in the AFC. They might have been right up there again last year had Tannehill not gotten hurt. So, this wasn’t some rinky dink opponent.
But with that said, the Saints are going to have to run the ball a lot better against the Panthers. The Panthers, as the Saints now know, have a pretty good D-line. And the best way to keep them from pummeling Derek Carr is to establish a run game to keep them off balance. That’ll be hard without Kamara and rookie Kendre Miller. But hey, Taysum Hill anyone?
The Saints defense kept the team in both games in Carolina before eventually folding from exhaustion. Under Dennis Allen, the defense has typically gotten better as the season goes on. If they make even a slight improvement from last week’s domination, they just might carry the offense to victory. That’s the reason to be optimistic about the Saints.
We’ll see. If they do pull off a win, this will be the first time the Saints have gone 2-0 in 10 years. The last time was way back in 2013. How’s that for some Who Dat trivia?
6:15pm. Let’s go.
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
By Cassandra Willyard
This article first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, and read articles like this first, sign up here.
Last week I came down with some kind of bug. So I got to play one of my least favorite games: “Covid or Not Covid?” In my case, two rapid tests were negative, so probably not covid. But many other people have been testing positive. Covid hospitalizations in the US rose nearly 16% during the third week of August. Even Jill Biden got covid this week. Data suggest we’re at the beginning of a fall wave. And with students returning to schools and workers returning to offices, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is thinking about covid vaccines. It’s been a year since a booster was released. And while the latest wave isn’t likely to be as bad as the tsunami we experienced in 2021-2022, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the next few months look like.
So for this week’s Checkup, let’s take stock of where we’re at. Where are the updated shots? And how do they stack up against the new variants?
Depending on where you live, as soon as this month. At the beginning of the summer, the US Food and Drug Administration decided that the vaccine needed a refresh. The agency advised manufacturers to develop vaccines targeting XBB.1.5, a descendent of omicron and one of the dominant variants circulating at the time. Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax have done that. Now they’re waiting on FDA approval, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how the shots should be administered. That should all happen by mid-September. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the body that provides guidance on who should get vaccinated and when, is set to meet next week, on September 12.
In Europe, Pfizer’s new vaccine is already approved. The European Commission greenlighted the shot last week. And this week regulators in the United Kingdom followed suit. The first shots should be going into arms soon. Those at greatest risk of developing serious illness in the UK will be eligible for the new shot starting September 11.
XBB variants are still causing the majority of infections in the US. But a couple of other variants have been gaining ground. According to CDC estimates, EG.5 is now responsible for about 20% of covid-19 cases in the US. That’s more than any other single circulating variant. A variant called FL 1.5.1 comes in second, making up 15% of cases. These viruses don’t seem to cause more severe disease, but they are more adept at evading the body’s immune response.
Scientists are also paying close attention to a variant first detected in early August known as BA.2.86 or, by its nickname, pirola. This variant is notable because it’s so unlike any of the other versions circulating. “What really caught people’s attention is that it had over 30 mutations in spike, so a very substantial genetic change,” says Dan Barouch, an immunologist at Harvard University, referring to the sharply protruding protein the virus uses to gain entry into cells. It’s only the second time that SARS-CoV2 has made such a big leap. (The first time was the jump from delta to omicron, a shift that led to the deadliest covid wave to date.) The worry is that this massive change in sequence might make the virus harder for our immune systems to recognize and fight off.
But preliminary data trickling in suggests that fears about pirola may be overblown. In a preprint posted on Tuesday, Barouch and his colleagues looked at blood samples from 66 individuals, some who received the bivalent booster in the fall and some who didn’t. The group also contained a subset of people who had been infected with XBB.1.5 in the past six months. Neutralizing antibody levels against BA.2.86 were comparable or higher than levels against XBB.1.5, EG.5, and FL.1.5.1. So this variant doesn’t seem to be much more immune evasive than other variants. “That was a bit unexpected, and good news,” Barouch says.
BA.2.86 has been “downgraded from a hurricane to not even a tropical storm,” Eric Topol told USA Today, adding, “We’re lucky. This one could have been really bad.” But the data thus far is preliminary. And even if BA.2.86 is just a light rain shower, that doesn’t mean it won’t lead to problems in the future. “It’s BA.2.86 (Pirola) descendants that worry me more than the current variant per se,” wrote T. Ryan Gregory, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Guelph, on Twitter. “The concern will be that it will continue to evolve and its descendants will have traits that make it successful at reaching new hosts.” In fact, BA.2.86 already has developed a sublineage.
Probably a combination of factors, including waning immunity. The last vaccine update, the bivalent shot, came out a year ago. “It’s been quite a long time since boosters were provided for covid, and those boosters did have a relatively low uptake rate in the population,” noted Johns Hopkins virologist Andrew Pekosz in a recent Q&A. Plus, the new dominant variants are more adept at evading our immune system than previous viruses.
That remains to be seen. Both Moderna and Pfizer have reported that the new shots elicit a strong antibody response against the XBB variants, as well as EG.5.1, FL 1.5.1, and BA.2.86.
Borouch and his team also found that XBB.1.5 infection appeared to boost neutralizing antibodies against BA.2.86, a hopeful sign that the vaccine might also help fend off the new variant.
But protection will likely fade quickly, just as it did with previous covid vaccines. “We know that the durability of the mRNA boosters is relatively limited,” Barouch says—on the order of six months.
An updated shot will be most important for people who are immunocompromised or vulnerable in other ways that leave them at high risk for developing severe disease. Whether the shot will be useful for younger, healthier people “is a source of some controversy amongst experts in the field,” Barouch says.
We know the vaccine won’t protect against any and all covid infections. But it could lessen the severity of the illness. “I still might get [covid], but it just might not be as uncomfortable,” says John Wherry, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania. An updated shot might also reduce the risk of developing long covid. “There’s still some chance of getting long Covid every single time you get infected,” Wherry says. But if a robust immune response can keep the virus from spreading beyond the upper respiratory tract, “I think the chances of long covid are probably a little bit lower.”
That’s a win in Wherry’s book: “I’ll take it.”
©Provided by PopSugar
When it comes to relationships, having a bit of difference and distance is pretty important, as it lets each individual have a sense of independence, but if you’re too far apart when it comes to core values and goals, your relationship can turn complicated. Disagreeing when it comes to the small things doesn’t matter, of course. If your partner, for example, isn’t into reading or taking your kids to every Disney Pixar movie the minute it comes out, it’s no big deal. But if there’s a difference in opinion on how to raise your children or financial planning for the future, it can definitely create tension and potentially lead to a break up. After all, they’re called dealbreakers for a reason.
The truth is, there really are some non-negotiable opinions and values when it comes to forging a healthy and long-lasting relationship. Don’t agree? Here, experts weigh in on the 16 most important things you should have in common with your partner for a successful relationship.
“It’s vital that a couple shares a basic, overall picture of how they’d like for their lives to unfold financially, spiritually, lifestyle-wise, and with respect to children. When you have a plan in place, it serves as an irreplaceable ‘true north’ and helps clarify what each partner should be working towards daily, as well as helping the couple clarify how to make some of the tougher decisions in life,” said Shlomo Zalman Bregman, a rabbi and matchmaker in New York City.
It should be natural to be yourself around your spouse, with all your good and bad qualities. “Whereas many people go through life holding back major pieces of themselves from everyone else, and only sharing what they want seen – when you find your proper partner, they really can ‘see’ you. This backdrop creates a precious opportunity to have truly honest communication and to share love, fears, and hopes without judgment,” Bregman said.
Your relationship should be a safe space where you and your partner can admit when you’re wrong and seek forgiveness without judgment. “The most successful, dynamic couples have no difficulty admitting when they were wrong and fell short of treating their significant other properly. Whereas most of the world and its relationships often boil down to people taking a defensive posture and protecting their fragile egos, when you’re with your soulmate, you can pursue the truth and admit mistakes freely,” Bregman said.
“Morality and shared ethics are a huge part of a committed relationship, because without it, your admiration and the esteem in which you hold your partner will be diminished,” Bregman said. Talking about morality and ethics can be tricky, but it should be done early. “If you discover that your morals don’t line up with that of your partner, and it’s something you deem to be ‘major,’ then it may well be advisable to let that relationship go,” he added.
A physical attraction is super important (and fun, of course), but you and your SO should agree that there’s an emotional connection there too in order for the relationship to head to and stay at the next level. “If the person that you’re in a relationship with is only interested in physically connecting with you or that’s the only sphere it appears the two of you are really connecting, it doesn’t bode well for the long-term. Someone who is envisioning a future with you and who shares your desire for lasting love will want to get to know you on a multitude of levels and will verbally express the interest in doing so,” Bregman said.
Of course, you should both have your own say in your personal finances, but if you’re in a committed relationship, you’ll want to be on the same page for future larger expenses whether you are just getting serious or have been married for years. “I can’t count the number of relationships I’ve seen break up because two people respect money differently, especially when those people are theoretically trying to plan a future together,” dating coach Eric Resnick explained. “Savers rarely end up doing well with spendthrifts, unless the savers make so much money that they can cover the actions of their partner. This doesn’t mean you have to make the same amount of money, just that you both agree on the place it has in your lives.”
If this is just a casual thing, goals might not matter, but when you start looking at a future with someone or you’ve already started building a family together, it’s really important that the two of you are looking in the same direction. “That doesn’t mean you have to be the same on every single aspect of life, but, for example, if one of you wants to have kids (or more kids than you already do) and the other doesn’t, that is just going to cause a lot of problems down the road,” Resnick said.
This doesn’t include little differences, such as one partner going to a Spin class after work while the other likes to head home instead. Instead, if your SO is a total social butterfly, always wanting to be out, while you like to stay in, and you can’t agree on this lifestyle difference, that’s when this tiny issue might become a bigger problem. “While you can have different interests, if you fundamentally disagree about how you should be spending your time as a couple, it can be a problem in the relationship,” Bennett said.
This is a key long-term issue for couples, as kids are a huge factor in a relationship that’s looking toward the future. “It’s very difficult to talk someone into wanting kids or out of wanting kids. Compromise on this can lead to a lot of resentment and unhappiness,” said clinical psychologist Natalie Feinblatt, PsyD. It’s fine to be flexible, but make sure you have the same vision.
You and your partner should have a conversation about topics like kinks, intimacy, and consent. If you’re not super clear on these topics, especially consent, “you can experience a lot of distressing sexual experiences together. You both need to be on the same page about when ‘no’ means ‘no’ and how to communicate clearly about consent with one another,” Feinblatt said. You should also discuss things relationship boundaries – like whether this is an open or closed relationship and what you consider cheating – as well as what you do and don’t like in bed. When it comes these ground rules, you want to create an open and honest dialogue so that clear expectations are being set.
Of course, couples with different political ideals make it work, but it surely helps if you and your partner agree on politics. “It can be very difficult to be with someone when you have different political beliefs because there are so many important things that you may feel strongly about and can cause a major distance between couples. If you both aren’t that political and you don’t push it on each other, it may not be as big of a deal, but tread lightly,” clinical sexologist Dr. Stacy Friedman said.
Having a shared attitude toward laughter and a similar personality can make for a happier relationship. “You want someone that ‘gets’ you and can laugh at your jokes. When you laugh together, you love together, and I believe that if you find someone with the same type of humor, you can always laugh at the small stuff and make the big stuff easier to deal with,” Friedman said. If you can both laugh at the total mess your kids just made, then you’ll probably have a better time parenting together.
Again, you don’t need to subscribe to the same religion, but you should discuss how religion will play a role in your lives as a couple and family and respect each other’s views. “Agreeing on religion is not a necessity, but it’s something that could help you stay bonded if you have the same background and beliefs,” Friedman explained.
Your sense of work ethic and drive should measure up for a satisfying relationship where you both know the boundaries between work and play and what it takes to find success, no matter what it means to you. “Someone who has the same drive, motivation and desire to succeed is great so you both can push each other to be the best,” Friedman said.
Big important elections are happening this fall in Louisiana. We will elect the most powerful political officers in state government. Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer and Secretary of State. Significant changes are possible. In fact, things could change big time. Going from a conservative Democrat governor to a ultra conservative Republican governor will drastically impact the state. Democrats tend to leave budget surpluses, while Republicans leave deficits. Former Governor Bobby Jindal(R) left nearly a billion-dollar deficit. Under Gov John Edwards(D) the state was so flush with cash during this last budget cycle, fierce spending battles erupted. So let’s get some election information.
Oddly this year, nearly every statewide seat is open this year. The primary is October 14th. If you are reading this, then you are probably already registered to vote. But Think504.com readers are not only some of the most intelligent but also the most influential people in the state. So, let’s get the word out.
All of this information is taken directly from the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Website.
October 14, 2023 – Gubernatorial Primary Election
The following is important information for the Saturday, October 14, 2023 Gubernatorial Primary Election:
Louisiana offers absentee ballots by mail to voters who will be unable to vote in person. Absentee ballots should be requested as far in advance of the election as possible. When your mail ballot arrives, read it carefully and follow the instructions to complete and return it. Please be aware of standard mail delivery times and the return ballot deadline when applying for a mail ballot to ensure your voted ballot is received by the registrar of voters before the deadline. Completed absentee ballots may only be hand delivered to City Hall or Algiers Courthouse. Hand delivery certification form must be completed if returning a ballot for someone other than yourself.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is commonly given credit for coining the phrase “high tech lynching” during the conclusion of his confirmation process in 1991 . His assessment was made after being grilled relentlessly, over the course of several days and under oath, by U.S. Congress. This process is legal, normal, and necessary considering the gravity of anointing any judge to a lifetime appointment to the court of final authority in the United States.
What occurred with, and to, Gregory Joseph in City Council chambers on August 31, 2023 was worse than the Thomas hearings. As the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Communications, he was hauled in by the Council to provide testimony regarding a mailer distributed by his office earlier this year https://cityofno.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=42&clip_id=4646 . The mailer was sent out during the time period of the recent failed mayoral recall effort. Councilman JP Morrell stated early in the hearing that the questioning and answering was not as in a court of law. Immediately after that statement, Morell and other Council members commenced to drill Mr. Joseph for the next 90 minutes, in an aggressive tone, about dozens and dozens of documents generated through a Council authorized investigation of a $ 30,000 contract for a flyer mailout.
Certain Council members want the public to believe their concerns are solely the legality of the mailout. Don’t be fooled. First and foremost, this is a political attack on the mayor’s office. For Mr. Joseph, who was hired by the mayor in May 2022, to be forced to testify under oath in council chambers is, if not unprecedented, certainly unusual. The tenor of Mr. Joseph’s hearing was adversarial, not simply fact seeking. Councilman Morrell, an attorney and the hearing chairman, was the chief interrogator. Councilmembers Joseph Giarrusso, Lesli Harris (both attorneys) and Helena Moreno adeptly assisted .
In fairness to the Council, Mr. Joseph’s responses sometimes seemed evasive and nonsensical. He ducked taking much responsibility. He claimed to not know the target audience of the flyer, the timing of its issuance. Oddly he also claimed no knowledge of Louisiana professional service contracts law. He even claimed to not tune in to local television news reports. The nature of his of employment would seem to mandate that he have a better command of the position’s demands.
Councilmen Eugene Green and Freddie King (another attorney) were also present on the dais. But their total silence during the entire affair is rather confounding. Additionally confusing is the 45-minute testimony given by Julien Meyer, Chief Procurement Officer-Purchasing Bureau. He is also an attorney, but his testimony was not given under oath. Mr. Meyer’s responses were also sometimes sketchy, but the tone was generally more civil and less accusatory. The council accepted Mr. Meyer’s extended vacation during the 2022 Christmas holidays as absolution from any alleged improprieties regarding the flyer mailout.
After a subsequent non-public meeting on September 5, Morrell and the City Council drafted a document. In it they request that the mayor fire Gregory Joseph. Of course, Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s initial response is, in millennial vernacular, GTFOH. No surprise there given the mayor’s acerbic relationship with the council.
Listening to the August 31 hearing, one could conclude that Mr. Joseph’s refusal to “bow down” to the council is the real reason they want his head on a platter. Joseph’s demeanor during the hearing was at times serious, unaffected, dismissive, entertaining and even flippant. He was not in any way intimidated even under oath. He has survived this emasculation attempt, regardless of whether he keeps his job. It was wise of him to rent in New Orleans rather than buy. His departure is a lot easier if he winds up falling on the sword for the mayor.
When sleep feels elusive, getting out of bed can calm your mind and help you avoid bad sleep habits
We’ve all been there: lying in bed wide awake and desperately wondering how to get to dreamland. In fact, scientists say it’s pretty normal to have a little trouble falling asleep or staying asleep from time to time.
“There’s this expectation that we should just go to sleep and stay sleeping for seven to eight hours,” says Roxanne Prichard, a neuroscientist at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. “That’s just not biologically supported with how humans sleep.”
While having trouble drifting off to sleep isn’t unusual, it still can be frustrating. Fortunately sleep experts are gaining an increasingly strong understanding of what’s happening in the brain during the process—and they say you can use that knowledge to increase your chances of catching some z’s, even when sleep feels elusive.
“It’s very uncommon for people to be able to just transition from being awake and active to falling asleep right away,” says Kim Hutchison, a sleep medicine specialist at Oregon Health & Science University.
Falling asleep is a big shift for your brain. When conditions are good, hitting the sack allows your brain activity to slow down and become more orderly, and your brain waves synchronize, Prichard says. This switch is governed in part by environmental cues, such as light or temperature. A hot summer night or a bright streetlamp seeping through the window can interfere. Your emotions can also affect the process of nodding off.
“You need to feel both physically and psychologically safe to sleep,” Prichard says. “If there’s something that you are really worried about, if you are sleeping next to someone you don’t trust, if you’re worried that the newborn that you’re caring for might stop breathing, it’s going to be hard to fall asleep.”
That’s why anxiety and stress are key culprits when people are unable to fall and stay asleep—and why relaxation is a crucial tool for easing into slumber. Hutchison and Prichard both say that the key, whether you’re struggling to sleep just as you’re heading to bed or after waking up in the middle of the night, is to limit the amount of time you spend lying awake fretting about not being asleep.
“If you’re unable to fall asleep in what seems like or feels like 20 minutes or so, or you feel your body getting more amped up because you’re getting anxious that you’re not falling asleep, then I would recommend getting out of bed and sitting somewhere quietly with dim light and just relaxing, doing something boring,” Hutchison says.
You could use the time to read, listen to calming music, drink some chamomile tea or do breathing exercises—anything that slows and comforts your body and mind, Hutchison and Prichard say. Avoid snacking, exercise and screens.
It’s also important to resist the urge to fixate on worries, concerns or challenges, both experts say, especially in the middle of the night. Not only will those thoughts keep you awake, you also probably won’t make much progress on what’s keeping you up because your prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that excels at planning and analysis, doesn’t get as much blood at night.
An emerging hypothesis suggests the brain isn’t well suited for cognitive processing in the wee hours, Prichard says. “The mind, after midnight…, is less equipped to problem-solve and more prone to find problems,” she explains. “It’s really easy to wake up in the middle of the night and freak yourself out about something that you could probably problem-solve more effectively later.”
Sleep aids and supplements, such as melatonin, are commonly used to fall asleep, but Prichard likes to advise people to use relaxation practices instead. “I want people to learn sleep skills, not pills,” she says.
If basic relaxation strategies fail to calm your brain, both Prichard and Hutchison recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia.
Even if your night’s rest is incomplete, avoid the urge to make up for it by sleeping in or napping the next day, Hutchison says, because that can backfire. To fall asleep more quickly the next night and get back on track, it’s important for your brain to crave sleep. “If you nap during the day, especially longer naps, then your brain gets little snippets of sleep and will be less likely to fall asleep quickly at bedtime,” she says.
Although Hutchinson and Prichard emphasize that occasional sleep struggles are normal, they recommend seeing a doctor if the situation continues or if it interferes with your ability to function during the day—which could indicate something physiological is at play. “In general, if you’re having problems falling asleep for three nights or more per week, then we would consider that problematic, but it also needs to interfere with your daytime functioning,” Hutchison says.
For most sleep seekers, if something is keeping you up at night, it’s no help trying to force yourself to sleep. The best trick may be to simply preoccupy your mind until slumber comes naturally.
It’s one of the most taboo topics in the world of intimacy: Are you having enough sex? Couples often talk about the topic, particularly when they are not aligned. One partner thinks they do it enough, while the other wants to increase their intimacy frequency.
The one question that lingers is: Just how often are most people having sex? How do you know you are more or less intimate than the average single person if you don’t talk about how often others are having sex? As a married couple, are you more active in the bedroom than other married people?
The Center for Researching and Understanding Sexual Health (CRUSH) set out to answer questions about sex frequency and sex satisfaction (we’ll discuss satisfaction in another post). In 2021, researchers surveyed over 600 people and found pretty interesting data in their “Are We Doing It Enough? Sex Frequency and Satisfaction Report.”
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According to the findings, 70 percent of people are having sex at least once per month, and, unsurprisingly, 25-34 year-olds are having more sex than other age groups. According to the theories of Erik Erikson, we are trying out new partners and settling down into long-term relationships during this stage of life. Therefore, it’s no shock that 46 percent of adults in this age group are intimate 1-3 times per week.
What’s most interesting is that single people, as a group, are not having more sex than married people. While 36 percent of single people are intimate 1-3 times per month, 35 percent of married people are intimate at the same rate. It’s people who are dating who are more active in the bedroom, as 44 percent shared that they were having sex 1-3 times per week.
Although we often fantasize about wanting to be intimate nearly every day of the week, it’s not a realistic goal. The survey found that less than 6 percent of people are actually engaging in sex this frequently.
We often hear married couples lament that single people are “having all the fun,” particularly in the bedroom. They can have “new” sex with different people, which creates some anticipatory excitement in their intimate life.
On the other hand, we hear single people opine about wanting the stability of having a partner who knows what you want and is available to you when you are in the mood. We all want what the other has.
If it’s true that comparison is the thief of joy, it may be helpful for us to stop thinking about what’s happening in other people’s bedrooms. Instead, focus on doing what works for your intimacy needs.
If you are someone with a higher sex drive, make sure your partner understands your needs. Keep in mind that intimacy is not sex. Intimacy may include sex, but it may also involve having deep conversations, cuddling, and eye gazing. If you are someone who doesn’t need as much sex, find out what intimately makes you feel fulfilled. Test out new experiences in the bedroom with a trusted partner.