Saturday Snippets: Tesla delivers report variety of automobiles; cursing parrots despatched to their corners

• 17 House Republicans vote against condemnation of the QAnon movement: The resolution, which carries no legal force, labeled the movement a “collection of unfounded conspiracy theories,” and urges the FBI and intelligence agencies to focus on threats from fringe conspiracy groups. It passed with the affirmative votes of 371 members—225 Democrats, 146 Republicans. In addition to the Republicans, Rep. Amash, a libertarian from Michigan, cast a nay vote. Perhaps this little cohort is eager to be pals with QAnon believer Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican likely to win the House seat for Georgia’s 14th congressional district.


• White House officials object to proposed FDA standards on Covid-19 vaccine: Although there’s no need for White House approval of the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for deciding whether a vaccine should be given widely, the agency would like that thumbs-up. Among the officials objections is a guideline requiring monitoring of study subjects for side effects for two months after they receive their injections. The Wall Street Journal says this dispute could turn into an outright clash between the Trump regime and the FDA of whether and when to authorize use of a vaccine once the trials testing the shots start giving researchers data—which could happen as early as November.

• Timothy Lee Brown, the first person cured of HIV, dies at 54: Also known as the “Berlin patient,” The U.S.-born Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 and in 2007 developed a blood cancer—acute myeloid leukaemia—in which his bone marrow produced tumor cells. He was given a marrow transplant that year from a donor with an HIV-resistant gene. As a result he no longer needed the anti-viral drugs used to fight HIV, and he remained free of detectable levels of the virus for the rest of his life. But the cancer that had sparked the transplant returned early this year, attacking his spinal cord and brain. Although the results encouraged doctors worldwide, his cure was too risky and aggressive for routine use and too costly for most the world’s 38 million people estimated to be living with an HIV infection. It is still used as a cancer treatment.

•  Republicans were thumbs-down at hearing for “Environmental Justice for All” bill: HR 5986 would do a better job of protecting people affected most by pollution and environmental health and safety hazards. These are typically lower-income communities of color. It would mandate that federal agencies must take into account community health impacts when deciding on permits, codify federal environmental justice initiative, impose new fees on fossil fuel companies to fund local transitions to a greener economy, and reverse a two-decade-old Supreme Court that made it more difficult for private citizens to sue when they are hurt by actions disproportionately affecting poor communities of color. A number of Republicans argued that the bill would hurt the communities it is designed to help. For instance, Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) said the bill is biased against oil and gas and would hurt people dependent on the industry for their jobs by making fossil fuels more expensive. Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), who put the legislation together with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) noted that instead of the usual top-down approach to writing legislation, they worked with environmental justice communities. “It was written by the people and for the people,” he said. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) was irked. “Our addiction to fossil fuels is literally killing us,” he said. “Communities of color are bearing the worst impacts of that. Arguing the only answer is to make fossil fuels cheaper and more abundant is like the heroin addict who thinks finding cheaper heroin is the only way to keep buying groceries and pay the rent.”

• Meanwhile, the EPA finalized a rule allowing more poisonous emissions: The rule could relax standards so that facilities could emit higher levels of dangerous chemicals like mercury, benzene, lead and arsenic. That will put millions of people at greater risk of harm. “EPA’s reckless decision to allow large sources of dangerous pollution to pollute even more—and in the midst of a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 American lives—undermines the Clean Air Act and endangers the health of communities nationwide,” said Tomás Carbonell, lead attorney for Environmental Defense Fund. “This rollback of vital health protections is as unlawful as it is outrageous, and we will make every effort to oppose it.”

• Parrots separated for swearing: Keepers at the British Lincolnshire Wildlife Centre were forced to separate five of the facility’s 200 African gray parrots because the birds kept swearing a visitors, actually encouraging each other to keep up the profanity. “We are quite used to parrots swearing, but we’ve never had five at the same time,” the center’s chief executive, Steve Nichols, told AP. “Most parrots clam up outside, but for some reason these five relish it.” No visitors complained. Indeed, “When a parrot tells you to ‘f*** off’ it amuses people very highly,” Nichols said. “It’s brought a big smile to a really hard year.” But it was decided it would be better to protect the ears of children.

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