Tag Archives: 2021

Why is the US Government prioritising obesity patients for Covid-19 vaccinations?

Patty Nece hasn’t been inside a retail store for an entire year.

Even though most Virginia businesses reopened by July and grocery stores remained opened throughout the pandemic, the 62-year-old hasn’t dared to step inside one since last March, as her obesity puts her at risk for severe COVID-19.

Because of her disease, she’s eligible to get the vaccine and has an appointment for her first dose on Wednesday. While she’s looking forward to getting vaccinated, she’s also disappointed some Americans have criticized people with obesity who are prioritized to get the vaccine.

“It displays a misunderstanding … weight isn’t always within your control,” said Nece, who is also the chairwoman of the Obesity Action Coalition. “Like many diseases, there’s personal responsibility involved but that’s not the end. The mantra of eat less and move more – which I’ve heard my entire life – isn’t the answer.”

In one instance, a news anchor for WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., sent a tweet criticizing health officials for prioritizing obesity patients for the vaccine.

“I’m annoyed obese people of all ages get priority vaccine access before all essential workers,” Blake McCoy said in the since-deleted tweet. “Vaccinate all essential workers. Then obese.”

Obesity and COVID-19

Roughly 40% of adult Americans have obesity, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2018. Studies have shown people with obesity are more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19 than others with a lower body mass index (BMI).Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found people with a BMI above 30 had a 113% higher risk for hospitalization, a 74% higher risk for ICU admission and a 48% higher risk of death, according to a study published in August 2020 in Obesity Reviews.

At first, health experts believed people with obesity were more at risk for severe COVID-19 because the disease also is associated with numerous underlying risk factors including hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney and liver disease.

But after controlling for those factors, researchers found people with obesity were still at higher risk for COVID-19, said Dr. Rekha Kumar, medical director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. This may be partly due to the excess fat tissue producing more inflammation, she said.

Nearly $1.9 trillion allocated- By 50-49 votes the United States Senate passes the #AmericanRescuePlan

Senate Democrats passed their version of the near- $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act Saturday afternoon, but not before making some major changes from the version of the bill passed by the House of Representative last week.

Some of the most notable changes between the two relief bills include dropping a provision to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and reducing the number of people who will qualify for a $1,400 stimulus payment

The value of federal enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) benefits were also changed to appease moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who threatened not to support the bill. Just as in the House, no Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the legislation, saying it was unnecessary.

“This isn’t a pandemic rescue package,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y, said on Friday. “It’s a parade of left-wing pet projects that they are ramming through during a pandemic.”

The bill keeps many of the progressive provisions from the House’s version, and added a provision to make student loan forgiveness passed between Dec 31, 2020 and Jan 1, 2026 tax-free.

“Covid has affected nearly every aspect of life,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Saturday. “The American Rescue Plan will deliver more help to more people than anything the federal government’s done in decades.”
Here are some of the major changes between the House and Senate versions of the bill that may affect your pocketbook.

Minimum wage

As expected, the provision to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour was stripped from the Senate’s bill after the parliamentarian, a nonpartisan official who decides which bills qualify to pass the upper chamber via reconciliation, determined last week that the provision did not meet the standards legislation must meet to pass with a simple majority.

It’s not clear it would have been included anyway: Seven Democratic senators and Angus King, the independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, voted against an amendment proposed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, also an independent, to increase the minimum wage.

Stimulus payments

The bill provides funding for a third economic impact payment, worth up to $1,400 per individual and dependent.

Individuals earning an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 (and married couples earning up to $150,000) are eligible for the the full $1,400 each, plus $1,400 for each dependent. In the Senate version, the payments phase out much more quickly than in the House version: No individual with an AGI over $80,000 or couples earning over $160,000 will receive one. Heads of household earning up to $112,500 will receive the full amount, and it will phase out completely at $120,000 for those filers.

In the previous version of the bill, the payments phased out completely at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples. An estimated 12 million fewer adults will now qualify for a stimulus payment, compared to previous rounds.

Many Americans were upset by the move to lower the top income eligibility threshold, calling it a “slap in the face” to middle class Americans who were counting on the money and no longer qualify.

The payments are based on either 2019 or 2020 income, depending on when a taxpayer files their 2020 tax return.

Unlike previous stimulus payments, adult dependents, including college students, disabled adults and elderly Americans, may qualify for a $1,400 payment.

Student loans

The Senate’s bill includes a provision to make any student loan forgiveness passed between Dec 31, 2020 and Jan 1, 2026 tax-free. Usually, forgiven debt is treated as taxable income.

The Senate’s bill does not include student debt forgiveness directly, but it would make it easier for President Joe Biden to forgive $10,000 in student debt, as he has said he wants to, by executive action, if Congress does not do it.

Unemployment insurance

The Senate’s bill will extend the federal jobless benefit supplement at $300 per week through Sept. 6, and make the first $10,200 in UI received in 2020 non-taxable for households with incomes under $150,000.

That differs from the House bill, which extended jobless programs through Aug. 29 and gave an extra $400 per week in benefits. It did not include the provision to make any of the benefits non-taxable.

The House will now have to sign off of the changes before the bill can be signed by the president.

A light of “hope” for Democrats – #CovidReliefBill

Senate Democrats are moving ahead with an updated version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes several tweaks intended to satisfy some moderates ahead of an expected final vote in the coming days.

The Senate voted 51-50 along party lines to advance the bill on Thursday. Vice President Harris voted with all Democrats to break the tie and move ahead with the lengthy debate and amendment process.

The new version of the bill includes more money for rural hospitals, more generous access to federal programs for live venue operators, a tax benefit for student-loan borrowers and changes to the $350 billion pot of state and local relief money. The changes come a day after party leaders agreed to narrow the income eligibility for receiving the latest round of $1,400 stimulus checks, at the request of moderate Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spent the past several days negotiating with senators to balance changes demanded by moderates with tweaks that satisfy others in the Democratic Party. Republicans are not expected to vote for the bill, meaning Democrats will need unanimous support to pass one of the largest spending bills in history.”We are not going to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “We are not going to be timid in the face of a great challenge. We are not going to delay when urgent action is called for.”

The latest update would make all coronavirus-related student-loan relief tax-free, increase COBRA health care coverage for those who lose jobs in the pandemic from 85% to 100% and provide $10 billion in additional infrastructure funding for state, local and tribal governments.

Another significant change sought by Democrats and many Republicans was limitations on how the $350 billion state and local relief fund could be spent. The new version of the bill requires that funds be used by the end of 2024 and only to respond to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 “or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.”

The new limits go on to specify that the fund can be used to provide government services “to the extent of the reduction in revenue” from the pandemic and can be used for “necessary investments” in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure

Progressives have been disappointed by changes to the House-passed legislation that they say make the bill less effective in providing economic relief to the people hardest hit in the pandemic. First, Democrats were forced to eliminate a provision to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 after the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian decided the policy would have violated Senate budget rules.

They were further frustrated by the decision to cap stimulus payments at lower income levels than those that had passed the House. Senate leaders and the White House agreed to demands from centrist Democrats that the payments be focused on lower- and middle-income families.

Under the Senate bill, individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples earning $150,000 or less per year would still receive the full $1,400 payment. But the payments would cut off for individuals earning $80,000 or more and couples earning over $160,000, a significant decrease from the House figures.

Many House progressives, particularly those who represent cities with higher costs of living, argue the lower thresholds penalize single parents in particular because often they must earn much more in order to support their families.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the vast majority of people who received payments in December would still receive payments under the new agreement.

“Under the Senate version of the bill, 158.5 million households are going receive direct payments,” Psaki said. “That’s 98% of the households who received them in December.

[Full Story] Why are fans trending “Proud of Louis” on twitter? – Defenceless

One Direction fans have always been known to be a passionate and loud group of supporters. They’ve shown up in incredible ways for band members Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, and former member Zayn Malik in the the band’s 10 years of existence. The fans’ latest feat has been a beautiful way to support Tomlinson — read on to see why fans have said they’re “proud” of the oldest ban member.

How Louis Tomlinson fans have shown support before

Tomlinson’s fans have moved metaphorical mountains for him in the past. In May 2015, they decided to organize Project “No Control,” an effort to make One Direction’s song “No Control” a single. The song, from album Four, features strong lead vocals from Tomlinson as well as his own writing embedded through the song.

The project included calling radio stations, asking them to play the Tomlinson-written song. (Liam Payne also co-wrote it.) Eventually, the fans’ passion was so hard to ignore that the band added “No Control” to the setlist for their On the Road Again Tour and Tomlinson spoke about the project on The Late Late Show with James Corden in a 2015 interview.

Fans began trending the topics “Support Defenceless” and “Proud of Louis” on Twitter on Feb. 6 after their latest effort to get Tomlinson’s song “Defenceless” to No. 1. It reached that top spot on the Global 100 iTunes chart per data-tracking site Kworb.net, knocking off formerly consistent song “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo.

“Defenceless” is a track from Tomlinson’s album debut, Walls, released in January 2020. The album track came out over a year ago, and is a favorite among fans. While Tomlinson never released “Defenceless” as a single himself, it appears that fans are pushing for another fan-released song and may prove to have another successful campaign for the singer.

Fans took to Twitter to express how proud they are of Tomlinson for reaching No. 1 with “Defenceless” so quickly in this new effort.

“I hope his smile was wide and his eyes sparkled when he saw ‘Defenceless’ up at No. 1,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

Another fan remembered when Tomlinson recounted an anecdote in the 2013 One Direction documentary film This is Us, that his Geography teacher said he would “never amount to anything.”

“Proud of Louis you deserve it,” they wrote.

Someone else commented, “Now that’s the sh*t I wanna see. I can’t even describe my love for him! I’m so proud of Louis, he deserves the world.”

Tomlinson, who often uses his Twitter account to interact with his fans, responded to the outpouring of love on Feb. 6.

“#1 on the worldwide iTunes chart and it’s an album track, crazy,” he said. “Never have enough words to thank you all for everything you do!”

This might be only the beginning for where the song “Defenceless” will go — but one thing’s for sure, we’re definitely #ProudOfLouis, too.

U.N. Criticises Pakistan for allegedly killing 23 in Iran’s Boarder

At least a dozen people and possibly up to 23 have been killed in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province where Revolutionary Guards and security forces have used lethal force against fuel couriers from ethnic minorities and protesters, the United Nations said on Friday.

Iran is investigating an incident in which at least two Iranians were shot dead this week at the border with Pakistan, and Islamabad has handed over the body of one of the victims, the Iranian foreign ministry said a week ago.

The shooting of people carrying fuel across the border led to protests that spread from the city of Saravan to other areas in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, including the capital, Zahedan.

“The series of violent events and unrest began on 22 February, when Revolutionary Guards are alleged to have shot and killed at least 10 fuel couriers, known as sookhtbar, in Sistan and Baluchistan Province at the border with Pakistan, after a two-day stand-off triggered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps blocking the road to the city of Saravan,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.

The killings had triggered demonstrations in several cities across the province, during which the revolutionary guard and security forces fired lethal ammunition at protesters and bystanders, he said.

Colville said that it has been difficult to verify the death toll due to disruptions of local mobile data networks, but some unconfirmed reports have estimated that as many as 23 people may have been killed.

“We call on the authorities to immediately restore Internet access in areas that remain disconnected,” he said.

Sistan-Baluchistan’s population is predominantly Sunni Muslim, while most Iranians are Shi’ite. Iran has some of the lowest fuel prices in the world and has been fighting smuggling to neighbouring countries.

Poll shows Americans’ trust in the Black Lives Matter Movement has fallen #BLM

Americans’ trust in the Black Lives Matter movement has fallen and their faith in local law enforcement has risen since protests demanding social justice swept the nation last year, according to an exclusive USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll.

The debate over the intersection of racism and policing will be in the spotlight again as jury selection opens Monday in the Minneapolis trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide marches last year.

The debate over the intersection of racism and policing will be in the spotlight again as jury selection opens Monday in the Minneapolis trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide marches last year.

The survey finds complicated and shifting views about Chauvin’s actions and broader questions of race. On many issues, there is a chasm in the perspective between Black people and white people.

Last June, 60% in a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll described Floyd’s death as murder; that percentage has now dropped by double digits to 36%. Uncertainty has grown about how to characterize the incident, caught on video, when Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck and ignored his protests that he couldn’t breathe. Last year, 4% said they didn’t know how to describe it; that number has climbed to 17%.

“There were eight minutes that the officer could have made a different decision, and he willfully held a man,” said Valda Pugh, a 67-year-old retiree from Louisville who is Black. She was among those surveyed. “It was a murder. It was willful – maybe not premeditated. Nonetheless, the young man died.”

Kevin Hayworth, 66, of Garner, Iowa, who is white, disagreed. “I think it was a police officer doing his job,” he said in a follow-up phone interview. “It was just a tragedy, but I think he was within the limits of his duty of jurisdiction.”

Nearly two-thirds of Black Americans, 64%, view Floyd’s death as murder; fewer than one-third of white people, 28%, feel that way. White Americans are more likely to describe it instead as the police officer’s “negligence,” 33% compared with 16% of Black respondents.

That said, Americans who have heard at least something about Chauvin’s trial say 4 to 1, or 60%-15%, that they hope Chauvin is convicted. That included 54% of white Americans and 76% of Black Americans.

The online poll of 1,165 adults, taken Monday and Tuesday, has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Drake drops 3 new hits for Scary Hours 2

Drake’s hotly anticipated album Certified Lover Boy may still be indefinitely delayed, but the Canadian rapper has given us some new music to tide us over. At midnight on Friday, March 5, Drake released the EP Scary Hours 2, featuring three new songs, guest verses from Lil Baby and Rick Ross, and an accompanying video for the first track on the EP, “What’s Next.” In “What’s Next,” Drake makes it very clear how he’s spent his quarantine: stretching and you-know-what-ing.

“Well, summer, all I did was rest, okay? / And New Year’s, all I did was stretch, okay? / And Valentine’s Day, I had sex, okay? / We’ll see what’s ’bout to happen next,” Drake raps in the chorus, giving us the juicy deets about what he’s been up to for the past year. Given the fact that he underwent knee surgery in 2020, it’s no surprise that he’s been stretching a lot these days, but it’s still nice to know Drake is making time for calisthenics (and other carnal pleasures) during the global pandemic.

K-pop group BTS hit the jackpot by getting nominated Grammy for Dynamite

Korean pop group BTS has grabbed their first Grammy nomination. This nomination does not come as a surprise since the K-pop group has had a successful run this year. BTS has also broken several music records with their brand new single, Dynamite. Find out more details about their first-ever Grammy nomination here.

BTS grabs first nomination at Grammys 2021

The music industry is evolving every day and several new artists are entering the music scene with their unique sounds and creatives. In 2013, the world witnessed the debut of the South Korean pop group, BTS. Soon enough, the K-pop- group was delivering chart-topping single in their country.

As the band BTS’ popularity grew with the help of their ARMY, their music was soon becoming a part of Billboard charts and other renowned music rankings. Recently, BTS’ latest single, Dynamite bagged the number one spot on the Billboard Charts in the U.S. Apart from this, Dynamite also broke the record for the highest live viewership during the premiere of their music video.

But now, BTS has achieved a major feat in their career. The seven-member K-pop group has bagged their first-ever Grammy nomination. They have bagged a nomination in the ‘Best Pop Duo/Group Performance’, for their song Dynamite. This is the first time a South Korean group has been nominated in this category.

This nomination even became special for BTS’ ARMY since the K-pop group live-streamed their reaction to this nomination on Twitter. Their reaction went viral on social media in no time. In this video, BTS’ leader RM, other group members including Jimin, Jungkook, and V were seen dancing and cheering over the nomination. Furthermore, the K-pop group did not forget to thank their fans and added they helped in making this “miracle come true”. Watch BTS’ reaction to Dynamite’s Grammy nominations 2021 here.

It’s Official that BTS got the performance lineup for Grammy

K pop band BTS are now set to perform at the Grammys Virtual Concert and it hopefully brings them closer to their dream of winning someday winning a Grammy Award too.

After making history for being the first K pop artists to be nominated for a Grammy to then performing at the Grammys and finally presenting an award at the prestigious music award; BTS has come a long way.

The Recording Academy’s MusiCares is a virtual concert and a fundraiser that aims to put ‘Music on a Mission’ by supporting the music community in need across the globe. Alongside BTS, artists such as John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, H.E.R, Usher, and more will also be performing at the Grammy Week event happening on 12th March 2021.

Fans flooded social media with praise and excitement messages at the news

[TRENDING] What’s with the sudden #Pitmad craze?

#Pitmad is a quarterly pitch event ran by Pitch Wars where people all over the world can pitch their manuscripts to agents on Twitter.

The aim of #Pitmad is to help connect aspiring writers with agents, but the challenging part is fitting a gripping pitch into just one tweet.


#PitMad is the original twitter pitch event, where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts.

Agents and editors make requests by liking/favouriting the tweeted pitch.

This year, in an effort to amplify Black voices, they have added a #BVM (Black Voices Matter) hashtag, which you can include in your tweet if you are a black author.


Pitmad is an online event which occurs quarterly, the upcoming dates are listed below:

December 3, 2020 (8AM – 8PM EST)
March 4, 2021 (8AM – 8PM EST)
June 3, 2021 (8AM – 8PM EST)
September 2, 2021 (8AM – 8PM EST)
December 2, 2021 (8AM – 8PM EST)

The rules, as stated on the Pitch Wars website, are stated below:

Your manuscript should be completed, polished, unpublished, and ready to query.
Your pitch must fit inside one tweet. Do not thread tweets. You don’t have to include the title of your book in the pitch.
Include the #PitMad hashtag and an age category sub-hashtag.
You may include multiple genre or additional hashtags as they apply.
You can pitch more than one manuscript throughout the day.
You may only tweet three pitches for each manuscript throughout the day. They can be the same pitch or different pitches.

Do NOT attach pictures unless it’s an illustration for a Picture Book, Graphic novel, or other material that includes illustrations.

Do NOT include links. Many agents use search filters that will render tweets with links invisible to them.
If an industry professional favorites/likes your tweet, check their recent tweets for submission preferences

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