🇺🇸 Strained and Confused
November 29, 2021

Good morning and happy Monday! We hope everyone had a relaxing few days with family and friends. As we enter the final stretch, it’s that time of year again where we would love to get your feedback about this newsletter. What do you like? What don't you like? How can we make it better? Click here to take our bi-annual survey and enter for your chance to win Flag Swag including the dad-hat pictured below.

Plus, North Korea just banned leather coats. Here’s why.

Flag Polls

ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 11/27: Biden Job Approval, The Hill/HarrisX Disapprove 45%
ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 11/24: Biden Job Approval, NPR/PBS/Marist  Disapprove 50%
ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 11/24: Biden Job Approval, Economist/YouGov Disapprove 50%
ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 11/24: Congressional Job Approval Disapprove 60%

Trending On The Left

CNN: Analysis: How anti-Donald Trump conservatives have fled Fox News

New York Times: The Disconnect Between Biden’s Popular Policies and His Unpopularity

BI: The organizer of the 'Stop the Steal' rally said he will comply with a congressional subpoena.

Rolling Stone: Trump Was ‘Fact Free’ During Briefings, Says Former National Intelligence Director

Trending On The Right

Washington Examiner: Rand Paul: Dr. Anthony Fauci's hubris is showing

Fox News: Biden clams up when Nantucket business owner asks him to name his favorite chowder

New York Post: Biden seen flouting mask-wearing rule at Nantucket store

National Review: ‘Guard for news crew dies after being shot in attempted robbery’


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Strained and Confused

Just days after being identified in South Africa, the new and potentially more contagious (keyword "potentially") omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in more European countries over the weekend. "Many countries have slapped restrictions on various southern African countries over the past couple of days, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Thailand, and the United States, in response to warnings over the transmissibility of the new variant," Pan Pylas reports from London for the Associated Press. "Despite the banning of flights, there are mounting concerns that the variant has already been widely seeded around the world." In fact, on Saturday Dr. Anthony Fauci said he "would not be surprised" if the variant is already in the United States. Here's how multiple media outlets reacted to the emergence of the new strain.


Mixed About Travel Restrictions. Need to Get People Vaccinated

Left-leaning commentators are mixed. Some believe the travel restrictions are necessary so US officials can learn more about the virus. Others think they will discourage developing countries from sharing early data about the virus out of fear of being cut off economically from the rest of the world. Either way, they believe we need to keep getting people vaccinated.

"Scientists sharing Omicron data were heroic. Let’s ensure they don’t regret it" Jeffrey Barrett, The Guardian Opinion: "While scientists around the world are scrambling to understand Omicron, and national governments are making response plans, we must also find ways to reward the critical early warning provided by South Africa. ... Some restrictions may have been unavoidable to buy time to understand this new threat, but travel bans come with serious consequences for people and economies in affected countries. ... The pandemic has emphasised that we are a single global community and our policy responses must reflect that reality. It would be a disaster if the global response to this heroically open science sent the message that the reward for such bravery is isolation. ... The teams in Africa who detected the new Covid genome moved quickly. Their actions should not result in economic loss.”

"Keep Calm and Carry on Vaccinating" Therese Raphael, Bloomberg Opinion: "Wherever omicron is seeded, it’s likely we’ll need the now familiar range of detection and mitigation measures — mask mandates in public places, more frequent testing and work-from-home guidance. ... South Africa’s transparency and the early response suggests we’re at least learning the first lesson of pandemic management: that 'wait and see' is a losing strategy. ... Omicron was a statistical probability long before it actually turned up. With a 24% vaccination rate, it’s hardly a surprise it first appeared in South Africa. The Hong Kong case was in a vaccinated traveler; the Belgian in an unvaccinated one. The longer it takes to vaccinate whole populations, the faster we’ll cycle through the Greek alphabet with new variants; the only way to prevent that is to vaccine more people faster."

"The new Omicron variant is a pandemic gut check" Jacqueline Howard, CNN Opinion: "The emergence of the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant feels like a pandemic gut check. ... Even as the pandemic nears its end and the coronavirus becomes endemic -- meaning, it could have a constant presence but not affect an alarmingly large number of people -- it's still likely that new variants will continue to emerge." Keep reading


Mixed. Some Think Travel Restrictions Are Good. Others Think We Need to Calm Down Until We Know More.

Right-leaning outlets are mixed. Some believe travel restrictions are a good start. Others think that the Twitter-sphere and media are overreacting to a variant that we don’t know much about yet. 

"The Omicron Variant Panic" Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: "The frantic response by governments and markets may be overwrought given how little we still know about Omicron and how much we’ve learned during the pandemic. Omicron’s mutations appear to make it more transmissible and may allow it to evade some of the vaccine immune response. But this has also been true of other variants. ... Travel restrictions didn’t stop the Delta, Alpha or the original Wuhan strain from spreading around the world. ... If Omicron is found in more countries—as invariably it will be—will governments shut down their borders and lock down again? ... One clear lesson from the pandemic is that lockdowns do more harm than good. ... Americans and the rest of the world need to learn to live with an ever-mutating virus. So do our politicians."

"The Post says: Don’t let the Omicron bug in, Joe!" Editorial Board, New York Post: "Joe Biden ran for president saying he was the best person to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. His performance has been middling at best, and he needs to step up to face the most important challenge of his term so far — a dangerous new strain of the virus dubbed Omicron. He’s right to restrict flights from eight countries, including South Africa. Restrictions, though, are not enough. Testing stations should be set up at international airports ... Any plan that doesn’t include the southern border is irresponsible. Placating those on the left, Biden has thrown the border wide open, waving people in without any checks, including COVID. ... Until now, Biden’s answer to COVID has been to lecture Americans in his whispery way to get vaccinated. ... He’s got to get tough and prevent Omicron from coming to America, to prevent the societal disasters that were lockdowns. You said you could do better, Joe. Prove it."

"Experts: Calm down. There's almost no chance the new variant will completely evade the vaccines." Allah Pundit, Hot Air: "Some doomsayers worried that the new variant would put us back to 'square one' in the pandemic, with the world’s vaccinated population defenseless against it. [This is] pure nonsense. ... Scientists don’t know yet how transmissible the new variant [is] Or how virulent it is. Or how good it is at punching through immunity generated by vaccines. ... [This weekend was] for worried experts to indulge in worst-case scenarios about the new B.1.1.529 variant. Today’s the day for more optimistic types to rhetorically slap them around and tell them to pull themselves together." Keep reading


A Downward Trend

According to a Nov. 7-10 Washington Post-ABC News poll, 47 percent of Americans approve and 49 percent disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of the pandemic. In a June survey, 62 percent approved and 31 percent disapproved highlighting that Americans’ approval of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic — one of his most positive assets early in his presidency — has continued on a downward trend in recent months, a quartet of authors report for the Washington Post

Flag Poll: Do you approve or disapprove of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic? Click here to share your thoughts.


Syrup Shortages, Maxwell & Smollett's Trials Begin, Iran Nuclear Deal Talks Resume 

CNN: Amid shortages, Canada is tapping into its strategic reserves. This time, for maple syrup. The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, a leading trade group, said it is releasing roughly 50 million pounds from its strategic maple syrup reserves, almost half of the stockpile.

NPR: Opening arguments in the highly anticipated trial of Ghislaine Maxwell begin today in a Manhattan federal court. Maxwell is being tried on several felony counts, including trafficking underage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse. Here's what you need to know as the trial starts.

WSJ: Actor Jussie Smollett’s criminal trial on charges from his allegedly staging a hate crime against himself is set to begin today after three years of delays and an investigation into the district attorney’s handling of the case.

The Guardian: Talks between world powers and Iran on salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal will resume in Vienna today after a five-month hiatus, but expectations of a breakthrough are low.

The Verge: Online sales during Black Friday took a bit of a tumble this year, marking the first time that spending has dipped lower than the previous year, as noted in a holiday shopping report by Adobe Analytics. Online shoppers reportedly spent a total of $8.9 billion this year, falling a little short of the $9 billion that was spent in 2020.

DW: The Swiss public firmly rejected a plan to abolish the country's COVID certificate, final results showed after a referendum Sunday. Sixty-two percent of voters said 'Yes' to keeping the health pass, which was introduced in September, and not seek major amendments to Switzerland's COVID law.

The Guardian: Israel is barring entry to all foreign nationals and Morocco is suspending all incoming flights for two weeks, in the two most drastic of travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world in an attempt to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Hollywood Reporter: While moviegoing over the long 2021 Thanksgiving corridor didn’t come close to reaching pre-pandemic levels, Hollywood feasted on gains for family fare and adult dramas. Walt Disney Animation’s original musical adventure Encanto topped the domestic chart with a Wednesday-Sunday opening of $40.3 million, the best start of the pandemic era for an animated title. 


First Flight Over the South Pole, The Pigeon Puzzle, Smart Toasters

On November 29, 1929, American explorer Richard Byrd and three companions make the first flight over the South Pole, flying from their base on the Ross Ice Shelf to the pole and back in 18 hours and 41 minutes.

The Walrus: The Pigeon Puzzle: How Do They Figure Out Their Impossibly Long Routes Home?

Inc: Want to Build Unbeatable Mental Toughness? Here Are 5 Surprisingly Effective Ways.

The Verge: Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today.

Today I Learned that Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the automatic machine gun, spent so much time test-firing his guns that he became completely deaf. His son Hiram Percy Maxim eventually invented the silencer, but too late to save his father's hearing.

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