This is an excerpt from Incoming, BuzzFeed News’ morning newsletter dedicated to making sense of this chaotic world we live in. Join the club here.
If you think the pandemic is over, you may be part of the problem
Yes, if it seems like everyone around you is getting sick, they are.
The US appears to be in the grip of a “tripledemic” — not only are flu and RSV circulating following a relatively quiet two years, but COVID hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise. Just last week, the CDC recommended that people wear masks again to protect themselves against COVID. The US Department of Health and Human Services also renewed the public health emergency declaration for COVID in October for the 11th time since the pandemic began.
There’s no denying that the US is in a totally different place than it was three years ago. Around this time last year, 11,000 people on average were dying of COVID each week. Now, we’re seeing 2,400 deaths a week on average, or about 340 daily.
But even though we can say fewer people are dying from COVID now, infectious disease experts point out the pandemic is far from over. Many of the most vulnerable, including people who were unable to or didn’t get vaccinated, are already dead from the disease. And with all the tools we have to reduce the risk of infection and severe disease, including vaccines and treatments like Paxlovid, any death today is a potentially preventable one.
“Everything is relative. That’s just how people’s brains work. Things can be relatively better than before but absolutely still not good,” said Abraar Karan, an infectious disease doctor and researcher at Stanford University.
Patriot missiles to Ukraine
Government officials say that the US is poised to send "Patriot missiles" to Ukraine. These missiles are the country's "most advanced ground-based air defense system," according to the New York Times. The White House had refrained until now from offering these missiles to Ukraine.
What the heck is a Patriot missile? ABC News explains.
Club Q shooting survivors denounced anti-LGBTQ lawmakers for hateful rhetoric. "Hate starts with speech. The hateful rhetoric you've heard from elected leaders is the direct cause of the horrific shooting at Club Q," James Slaugh, who was shot that night, told lawmakers at a House committee meeting.
Personal finance influencers were charged with fraud after creating a $100 million stock manipulation scheme. A complaint filed by the SEC stated that the influencers “bragged and laughed about making profits at the expense of their followers” in private chats.
"I can't let him win now": The student behind the banned Twitter account tracking Elon Musk's private jet vowed to fight. @ElonJet's creator said the account’s suspension showed the risk caused by a single, impulsive individual having total control of a social media platform. “It just shows that they can play the rules however they want to, really, for whoever they want,” he said.Drake unveiled a custom necklace made up of 42 diamonds representing each time he thought about proposing.
It's sparked aconversation
about his "indestructible reputation."
The man accused of attacking Nancy Pelosi's husband also wanted to target Tom Hanks, Hunter Biden, and Gavin Newsom, police said
A San Francisco judge ruled Wednesday that there was enough evidence for the man who beat Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer to face trial and ordered him to appear for an arraignment on Dec. 28.
David DePape, 42, told Paul Pelosi that his wife and other members of Congress were “crazy and corrupt” and that he needed “to take them out,” a detective testified in court Wednesday. DePape also told officials he planned to target California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Hunter Biden, and actor Tom Hanks, San Francisco police Sgt. Carla Hurley said.
DePape is facing several state charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and threats to a public official and their family, in connection with the early morning attack on Paul Pelosi. He could be sentenced to 13 years to life in prison if convicted.
The federal government has also charged DePape with assaulting an immediate family member of a US official and attempting to kidnap an official “on account of the performance of official duties.” The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of up to 50 years in federal prison.
IMAGE OF THE DAY
Avatar: The Way of Water is boring
The Way of Water picks up roughly 30 years after the last Avatar film ends. It is, in its basic premise, a straightforward escalation of the original film, Izzy Ampil writes: The humans are back, and this time they want nothing less than total takeover. They want to turn Pandora into the next Earth, because by now humans have turned Earth into a barren wasteland.
The primary problem with The Way of Water is that it homogenizes each of its opposing factions — the human colonizers and the Indigenous Na’vi — to the detriment of both its world-building and its social critique. Fantasy is most powerful when creators engage thoughtfully with their chosen allegory, checking all the minute components of their fictional world’s machine. But The Way of Water’s persistent disinterest in the realities of Indigenous life, in historical context or cultural specificity, undermines the entire project, so that the film doesn’t even function effectively as escapist fantasy.
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