Are Republican leaders and Fox News finally accepting the need for vaccinations?

With the rapid spread of the Delta variant of covid-19 that now makes up 83% of the cases, Republican opposition to the vaccines may be wavering. House minority leader Steve Scalise, who had refused to get the vaccine before, has just announced that he got the first shot.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) got his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine Sunday, calling it “safe and effective,” Nola reports.

Driving the news: Scalise said that his decision to get vaccinated was driven by the spread of the Delta variant, which he noted was “aggressive” as well as a recent spike in case numbers.

Why it matters: A number of public opinion polls have shown Republicans have been among the most vaccine-hesitant group in the country, and some have urged public officials to more publicly encourage constituents to get inoculated.

Fox News has been one of the biggest purveyors of misinformation about the extent and threat of covid-19 and has played a central role in increasing vaccine skepticism. This is appallingly irresponsible behavior given the risk to people’s lives. But it appears that reality may be finally sinking in with at least some of its show hosts.
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Abdul Latif Nasser is finally released from Guantanamo

The Biden administration yesterday released Abdul Latif Nasser from Guantanamo and sent him back to his family in his home country of Morocco. That torture camp once housed 800 people and still has 39 people. The 56-year old had been held without trial for 19 years and had never even been charged with any crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union celebrated Nasser’s transfer but called on the Biden administration to “urgently … negotiate and implement similar decisions for other cleared prisoners.

“Bringing an end to two decades of unjust and abusive military detention of Muslim men at Guantánamo is a human rights obligation and a national security necessity,” the ACLU said in a statement.

I wrote about his case back in April after listening to a six-part podcast by the public radio program Radiolab about his story. Here is what I wrote then.
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It is easy to prank these nutcases

Nutty congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and congressman Matt Gaetz, who is being investigated for possibly engaging in sex with underage women, are on a joint tour to satisfy Republicans who like their craziness in extra strong doses.

While in California they were pranked by one guy who realized that all you have to do is dress up in American flag regalia and you are assumed to be a right wing nutcase ally.

Bernie Sanders shows how to talk to a vapid journalist

One of the distinguishing features of Bernie Sanders is his relentless single-mindedness. In speeches and interviews, he refuses to waver from discussing the issues he considers important, such as health care, living wages, income inequality, child care, and the like. Oddly enough, some of the best interviewers he has faced are those on comedy shows, like Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah, because those shows actually deal with serious topics, using humor to make their points. While he may share a quick passing joke with his host, he quickly gets back to business and those hosts let him do so, only interjecting with humorous asides in order to emphasize a point.
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One Republican governor in the south is promoting vaccinations

Asa Hutchinson is the governor of Arkansas, a deeply Republican state in which vaccine rates are low and covid-19. infections are correspondingly high. But unlike many of his Republican colleagues, he is urging people to get vaccinated and has been on a tour of his state, holding meetings with local communities but he is facing deep resistance. Thanks to Fox News, other right wing media, and Republican leaders who have demonized the federal government and Anthony Fauci in particular, some people seem to think that anything that emerges from the government has to be opposed.
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The ethics of using AI voices for dead people

There is a new documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain about the food and travel writer who died by suicide in 2018. In the documentary, at one point they have him reading an email he sent to a friend. Why would he read an email aloud? Well, he didn’t. What the filmmakers did was to use AI to synthesize a voice that closely resembled his, a technology that could be used to have any text seem to emanate from him. (I first learned about this technology when Marcus Ranum had a post on it back in 2016.)

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The global appeal of Shakespeare

The radio program On The Media aired a superb program about the appeal of Shakespeare that transcends his English origins and conquered the world.

In the first part of the show, host Brooke Gladstone discussed with James Shapiro, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and author of Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, about how and why Shakespeare became so central to US literature that America now considers him as their own and how the political, social, and cultural dimensions of his work resonates so widely. Shapiro is a droll speaker and his anecdotes made for riveting listening. (32 minutes)


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For how long can you ignore this evidence?

I know that I keep coming back to the topic of the folly of opposing vaccinations but I simply cannot wrap my mind around this willful blindness. A host on the the extreme right wing station Newsmax argued that vaccines ”go against nature”, as if countering debilitating illness and early death is somehow a bad thing.

Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt cavalierly suggested on Friday night that vaccines are “against nature” because some diseases are just “supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people” since that’s just the “way evolution goes.”

In recent weeks, right-wing media has seamlessly shifted from casually pushing vaccine hesitancy on its viewers to outright advocating for vaccine resistance, culminating in a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas this weekend cheering at the fact that the federal government hasn’t met its vaccination goals.

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The joy of watching Foley artists

What goes on behind the scenes in films has as much fascination for me as the story I see on the screen. And some of those people whom I find particularly fascinating are the Foley artists, who provide almost all the ambient sounds that we hear, such as footsteps, water flowing, doors opening, keys clicking, and pretty much everything other than the spoken words of the actors.

I have written about Foley artists previously and came across this video of a group of three people in the profession who walk us through the steps of how they do what they do, which involves collecting what looks like a whole lot of junk and having a sharp ear for the sources of sounds and then being able to exactly synchronize the sounds they create using this junk with the action they see on a screen.