Time and again — as social distancing, families forced to stay apart and economic upheaval battered morale — the nation has shown it’s ready for the nightmare to end. But the virus doesn’t work on human or political timetables. Now there are warning signs that troubling days are ahead, threatening to escalate the political tensions of a period that has torn at bitter ideological divides.
It all adds up to a serious problem for the White House, which has touted its competence in managing the vaccine rollout and handling the Covid crisis it inherited.
On Thursday, Pfizer reported that protection from its vaccine appeared to be waning over time and that it was developing a booster that should be taken between six and 12 months after recipients got their second doses, in order to restore full effectiveness. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration followed up that announcement with one of their own, in an effort to assure Americans that they don’t need to get booster shots yet and that those agencies will make the decision on when or whether those shots are needed.
The good news is that the vaccine still has an extraordinarily high rate of preventing serious illness and death. So the miracle of Covid-19 vaccines remains intact, as there had long been expectations that boosters would be needed. But the latest development does suggest it will be imperative to extend a huge government inoculation effort into the future.
That will further complicate the task facing the White House at a moment when millions of skeptical Americans are balking at a first round of injections despite the success of the vaccine rollout.
“It is hard to imagine we are going to be able to immunize 200 to 300 million people every year to this,” Dr Zeke Emanuel, a former health policy adviser to President Barack Obama, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“That would be a huge challenge. We are already having difficulty immunizing people in the States just for the first round; imagine having to do it every year.”
There is increasing data to show that vaccine holdouts are disproportionately in states that voted Republican in the last election, underscoring the difficulty the Democratic White House has in boosting vaccination rates. A cluster of hot spots, meanwhile, in the Southern and Southwestern US threaten to not only increase cases among unprotected people but also to act as breeding grounds for new variants that could compromise the effectiveness of existing vaccines.
Rising cases in nearly half of the states
In another sign of the pandemic’s enduring threat, the quick-fire spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has thrown a blanket decline in cases into reverse, with 24 states now suffering upward trends. The more transmissible properties of the variant mean that it is even more dangerous to the unvaccinated than previous incarnations of the virus.
Given rising cases in the summer, experts worry that the colder fall and winter months could see a further surge in cases, deaths and overloading of already exhausted hospital staff. While a new national crisis remains unlikely, severe regional outbreaks could revive the need for shutdowns, masking and social distancing — and bring all the political tensions that come with such measures.
“By the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall, some of those places with well-below-average vaccination rates are going to be in full surge mode,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN’s John King on “Inside Politics.” “Other parts of the United States are going to look like no more pandemic.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 briefing Thursday that “99.5% of deaths from Covid-19 in the United States were in unvaccinated people.”
“Those deaths were preventable with a simple, safe shot,” Walensky said.
Perceptions that millions of Republican voters are risking what West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice calls a “death lottery” were given fresh credence by a new report released on Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which showed a widening discrepancy in vaccination rates between counties that voted for Biden and ones that voted for Republican then-President Donald Trump last November.
In April, Trump country had an average vaccination rate of 20.6%, compared with 22.8% in Biden territory. By July, corresponding rates stood at 35% and 46.7%, a 9.5 percentage point jump in the gap.
The message of such data is clear: The nation’s hopes of eradicating Covid-19 may increasingly rest on the willingness of Republicans to change their minds about the vaccines.
This group is the least likely to be convinced by Biden’s appeals to take the shot and has an ingrained distrust of government. It is also more likely to be influenced by misinformation about the vaccine program that proliferates on conservative media and social media networks.
Biden pleads with holdouts to get vaccinated
The White House has announced new approaches to reach those unwilling to get vaccinated, including a greater reliance on general practitioners and pediatricians to reach young people older than 12, who are eligible to be vaccinated. It has also sent rapid response teams into areas where the virus is particularly widespread and where vaccine reluctance is high.
In recent days, officials — including Biden and the government’s top infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci — have been on television pleading with people to get their shots.
“Please get vaccinated now. It works. It’s free. And it’s never been easier, and it’s never been more important,” Biden said on Tuesday.
“Do it now — for yourself and the people you care about; for your neighborhood; for your country. It sounds corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do.”
But some public health experts now think a more coercive approach might be needed — even if the slightest suggestion of mandating vaccines would inflame conservative opinion. Right-wing pro-Trump Republicans like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado have already this week compared Biden’s vaccine teams to Nazis.
Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, told CNN on Thursday that the administration should try changing its tone — and start to stress that collective vaccination in personal and professional settings represents the best route to staying healthy.
“The federal government should be clear that vaccines are not just about the individual right now. There seems to be this messaging coming from the Biden administration that if you are vaccinated you are protected,” she said, noting that such a line did not take into account people who remain immunocompromised or the possibility of breakthrough infections.
Such an adjustment might convince more businesses, schools and workplaces to put their own vaccine mandates in place and to encourage the wider effort to inoculate as many Americans as possible, Wen said.
Her argument gets to the most challenging aspect of this new phase of a crisis that, while far less severe than it once was, is also a long way from ending.
“Our problem at the moment is not, ‘Can Pfizer produce a vaccine?’ ” Emanuel said. “The problem is, ‘Will Americans take it?’ “
Sky Q users are being treated to an update today with the satellite TV firm announcing the launch of another new app on its set-top box. Now, before you start rushing to switch on this device in the hope that Apple TV+ is finally coming to Sky Q we have some bad news for you. Despite recent rumours that this latest streaming service is set to join Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video on Sky’s Q service this latest news isn’t about watching movies or endless episodes of Ted Lasso.
Instead, it’s all about golf. Yes, Sky is launching something called GolfPass on its platform which is aimed at helping customers improve every aspect of their game. This app, which can be found by simply saying “GolfPass” into your Sky Q voice remote, has been created by legend Rory McIlroy and includes top tips and hundreds of exclusive videos.
In fact, there are more than 4,000 hours of golf lessons and instructional content from the world’s best players and coaches all available at the press of a button.
The app is divided into two sections; WATCH and LEARN and gives GolfPass members access to a raft of golf content on their TVs.
If you fancy giving it a try then you will have to reach for your wallet with GolfPass costing £4.99 a month or £49 if you pay upfront for a year. Sky VIP members can get £20 off the price meaning it costs just £29.
There is a 7-day free trial of the service which lets you try before you buy.
Speaking about the service, Four-time Major Champion and GolfPass Founder Rory McIlroy said: “We’re thrilled that GolfPass has launched on Sky Q, giving aspiring players top tips from pros and leading coaches from across the world. Over the last year we have seen a large uptake in the game from a grass-roots level which is great to see – and it’s fantastic to be able to provide golfers old and new with tips to improve their game from their living room”.
And Fraser Stirling, Group Chief Product Officer, Sky added: ”Perfect for anyone golf obsessed like me, GolfPass joins some great fitness entertainment apps already on Sky Q and is packed with tips and exclusive content to help you improve your technique, so you can say goodbye to Duffs and keep it on the Fairway.”
GolfPass now joins a swath of other apps on Sky Q including FiiT, Peleton and ROXi.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here
Spare a thought for critical race theory. It wasn’t always a conservative bogeyman.
Especially over the past several months, Republican leaders have distorted CRT — an academic frame that scholars such as Kimberlé Crenshaw have been using in graduate-level courses for decades to interrogate how the legal system entrenches racism — into a catchall to describe things they don’t like.
In this bastardized telling, CRT is whatever Republicans want it to be; it comes in many guises. “Black Lives Matter” is one name for CRT. “Social justice” is another. “Identity,” yet another. “Reparations.” “Ally-ship.” “Diversity.”
But to linger on what CRT is, or isn’t, is to miss the more pressing concern: Why have Republicans latched onto a decades-old academic term?
Because so many Americans don’t know what CRT is, it’s the perfect tool for scaring White conservative voters with made-up problems — for mobilizing them against the racial awakening of the past year. Here’s how we got here:
The backlash to CRT echoes the 1960s
The panic over CRT is hardly the first time that the US has seen such ethnonationalist fearmongering.
In a recent Twitter thread, Pomona College politics professor Omar Wasow argued that one way to understand the anxiety over CRT is as “a reactionary counter-mobilization.”
Wasow, who was previously at Princeton University and whose research focuses largely on protest movements, said that he was struck by how the present-day backlash to CRT echoes the dynamics of the 1960s.
“What we saw in some cases in the ’60s was that, as the civil rights movement was able to capture the moral high ground in a national conversation on race, that knocked pro-segregation forces on their heels,” he told CNN. “There was a period of trying to regroup and find an issue to mobilize around when, nationally, being pro-segregation became highly stigmatized.”
Republicans sought to reframe the world. For instance, they heeded the cruel logic of “law and order,” a dog whistle used against the civil rights protests of the era. This maneuvering was part of what University of Arkansas political science professors Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields call the “Long Southern Strategy,” a series of decisions on race, religion and feminism that Republicans made starting in the ’60s to court White conservative voters in the South.
In the year since the murder of George Floyd and the renewed demands for racial justice, Republicans have once again detected a need to reposition themselves, to turn a cultural shift into a sense of crisis that they can use to their advantage. (Republicans are doing something similar in their war against transgender students, as The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer keenly pointed out.)
“We saw Donald Trump try to run on ‘law and order’ and lose. It didn’t seem to have the same punch that it did in the ’60s, when Nixon invoked ‘law and order’ and won the White House. So, there’s been this process of searching for a new issue,” Wasow said. “There was a period when leading Republicans were complaining about ‘cancel culture,’ how Dr. Seuss was supposedly being canceled. But it never seemed to stick. So, I think that we’re seeing this kind of elite process of trying to find an issue to mobilize around for the 2022, and maybe even 2024, elections. And CRT is one that’s really hit a nerve.”
“Instead of debating CRT’s merit, right-wing talkers have simply sought to demonize it,” CNN’s Oliver Darcy wrote for the Reliable Sources newsletter. This conscious obsession with CRT has helped it leap “from the TV screen into state legislatures and local communities.”
The outrage over CRT is also about White identity politics
It makes sense to situate the controversy around CRT not only within the history of race and racism in the US but also within the larger arc of demographic change.
One crucial dimension of this change: the country’s ballooning racial diversity and its effect on White identity politics, which Duke University political science professor Ashley Jardina describes as White Americans’ increasingly active identification with their racial group.
“Various studies find that when White people are exposed to information about social change — demographic change, in particular — they express more politically conservative views,” Wasow told CNN. “So, there’s a larger conversation happening right now about whether the US is going to be a multiracial democracy — in which there’s no dominant group — or hold onto what has historically been a kind of ethno-racial majority, a White Christian-dominant majority.”
It’s no exaggeration to say that the assault on the US Capitol on January 6 — when insurrectionists waving Confederate flags and pledging their allegiance to Trump tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election — was a deadly manifestation of a White nationalist vision.
Wasow added that such dueling visions are at the core of the contest between Trump and his ilk on the one hand and figures such as Barack Obama and Joe Biden on the other.
In publicly advocating for the birther conspiracy theory about a decade ago, Trump wasn’t merely slandering one of his political opponents. He was attempting to delegitimize the multiracial coalition that installed Obama in the White House.
This battle over a country in transition continues today.
“I think that the panic over CRT can be seen as part of this underlying anxiety about the status of White Americans in a changing country. That fear is sharper in moments like the aftermath of a protest movement calling for things like reforming policing and thinking harder about race in schools and hiring,” Wasow said.
These demands unsettle the status quo. Anti-CRT mobilization, then, is really a means of reaffirming the perceived legitimacy of the status quo.
But let’s give Crenshaw the final word on the controversy. After all, she’s one of the pioneers of CRT.
Gary Neville says Gareth Southgate’s England deserve their shot at Euro 2020 glory after a “mesmerising” night at Wembley and admits Gareth Southgate’s crop of 2021 has gripped him.
England came from behind against Denmark on a night of high drama and tension as Harry Kane’s extra-time goal – a rebounded shot after his penalty was saved – sent the team through to their first major final for 55 years.
Neville admits England’s new date with destiny is a day he thought might never come but believes Southgate’s players deserve their chance to end decades of hurt against Italy on Sunday.
“It’s incredible,” Neville told Sky Sports News.
“It’s a day that you sometimes never think will come through all the pain and dismay we’ve had in tournaments over the years, but we’ve finally got to a final.
“The atmosphere at Wembley was absolutely amazing. Gareth Southgate said it was the best atmosphere he’s seen at the new Wembley.
“Obviously, he was at Euro 96 for that Holland game where we beat them 4-1 and it was special against Holland, special against Spain in the quarter-finals, but last night it seemed more special.
“Maybe it was because I was in the crowd and I was up on that second tier. You were in amongst it and also the fact we’ve had no real fan presence in stadiums for 18 months, it just felt like it was a massive outpouring of emotion.
“It was mesmerising at points in the game and even pre-match. I’m not surprised that in the first half an hour the players were a little frantic and didn’t really demonstrate composure in their performance.
“They were a little bit affected but you couldn’t not be. The noise around you was just absolutely incredible.
“It’s okay to say football players should remove themselves from the atmosphere and the emotion but they had been feeling it for the last two or three days. They’ve had families and friends ringing them and they’ve obviously got into the stadium and they are down there by the pitch, and you can just feel it.
Then, they did settle down after half an hour, but the crowd were an absolute joy and a dream.”
‘The players deserve this’
Neville says he was blown away by the “mesmerising” atmosphere at Wembley and admits the current version of this England side has moved him.
“I’ve watched England many times over the last 10 years and I’m normally quite cold about football. Sometimes I’ll get a bit worked up about Man Utd games, but I watched the England vs Germany game last Tuesday and I felt quite emotional during that match.
“Maybe it was just the fact that 25 years ago I was sat there in the crowd. I didn’t play in the semi-final because I was suspended and watching the team I was thinking about how many times we had come out on the wrong side of these types of matches and how many times is it us that have the bad headlines the morning after.
“Just seeing those lads overcome Germany last week, I did feel quite emotional. Then, [against Denmark], it was honestly mesmerising. It was spine-tingling being in that stadium.
“I grew up adoring Manchester United and loved playing for England. So, for me, I always loved my country. I loved playing for England but never really got to the point whereby it gripped me like this has in the last seven to 10 days.
“I loved watching the team in Russia, but this is obviously completely different being in England. It’s so special, especially with the fans not being in the stadiums in the last 18 months.
“I just think it’s the way the team and the players have conducted themselves and the way in which they have behaved over a period of time now and performed.
“Last night, like everyone else, I am absolutely overjoyed and delighted that we won but it actually wasn’t the most important thing.
“It’s the fact I genuinely trust the manager that we’ve got. I genuinely think the players are a good bunch of lads who love playing for England, who have removed all the cynicism and cliques that I was part of for many years with England.
“So, credit to them. They deserved what they got because of the way in which they have handled themselves. Not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.”
‘Never a penalty in a million years, though!’
Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand was very critical of the decision to give England a penalty for a foul on Raheem Sterling in the first half of extra-time.
Neville agrees it was a harsh decision – but thinks England would have gone on to win the match anyway.
“Never a penalty in a million years,” said Neville.
“I always think, what would the headlines be, how would we feel this morning, if we were on the other end of that penalty?
“We’d be absolutely devastated.
“But I genuinely think that team would have succeeded without that penalty. I think it would have done something different and got that goal.
“When (Kasper) Dolberg and (Mikkel) Damsgaard went off for Denmark, the game changed completely, and they lost their legs.
“I think the goal would have come.
“It was never a penalty, it was really soft, but I’m glad we got it!”
‘Southgate made right call on Grealish; The players trust him’
Jack Grealish came off the bench in the second half, before being replaced but Neville says the decision was typical of Southgate’s ability to make tough calls.
“It was a tough decision because of the stigma that goes along with a subbed sub.
“It wasn’t a tough decision in terms of the football call or the tactical call. It was the absolute right thing to do. Grealish has been absolutely outstanding the whole way through this season and I love him to bits, but he was the right player to take off.
“He was struggling to get into the game from an attacking perspective and from a defensive point of view over on the left, he’s not as strong as the rest of them.
“It wasn’t a difficult call from a football point of view, but it was from an emotional point of view. But Gareth has proven many times during this tournament that he will make the tough decisions for the better of the team.
“And because he’s got the trust of the players and the respect of the players, there’s no nonsense. He made the right call for the group; he made the right call for the country and he made the right call for Gareth Southgate and his job because he had to get a win.
“He would have been criticised heavily if we hadn’t beaten Denmark, so he had to make the right calls and he’s proven he’s ruthless and clinical.”
England had to come from a goal down after Mikkel Damsgaard’s free-kick but Neville’s fellow Sky Sports pundit, Jamie Carragher believes their triumph after that setback will be character-building.
He said: “When the Denmark goal goes in it creates panic. It was a great goal and the first free-kick we have seen in the tournament, but England were always going to need to go through some adversity, whether it was in the semi-final or the final because it’s almost been a perfect progression.
“Either conceding the first goal, having to go to a penalty shootout or even getting a player sent off, there are difficult things you have to overcome if you want to win a tournament or a title or a cup competition.
“Italy have been through it with Spain and also the game against Austria. They were very fortunate with an offside decision as well so you need these things to go for you and I always felt something would happen that England would have to overcome.
“I think that it is a really big hurdle they’ve overcome and I wasn’t too nervous when [the Denmark goal] went in because I just felt England would have to do this either against Denmark or in the final on Sunday.
“You’ve got to come through tough moments if you want to win things and that was a big one for England.
“How quickly England got the equaliser was important too. If Denmark had got in at half-time with a lead, then worry would have set in.”
Carragher admits England’s progression to Sunday’s showpiece has surprised him.
“It’s massive because I didn’t think England were capable of getting to the final.
“I thought getting to the semi-finals would be a great achievement for this squad before the tournament, and that was looking at the draw and who we were pitted against in the last 16.
“I thought it was going to be really difficult, whether we faced Germany, France or Portugal, and not since 1966 has an England team not just got the final but beaten a major nation in a knockout game.
“That’s what we did against Germany and we’ll have to do it again to lift the trophy against Italy.”
Redknapp: Southgate has surprised me with selections
Jamie Redknapp says Southgate has been strong enough to make some surprising calls during his tenure – and it has paid off so far.
The pair were team-mates in the England squad who reached the Euro 1996 semi-finals – and Redknapp says even then Southgate was showing some of the traits which have made him such a success as a manager.
“He was always the sensible one in that Euro 96 squad but that wasn’t hard, if I’m honest!” said Redknapp.
“He’s certainly a thinking man, not necessarily more than anyone else but, let’s put it this way, he wasn’t in the dentist chair. He was one of the players that stayed behind and was pretty sensible.
“Gareth was a great trainer and a good footballer. He knew his strengths, knew his limitations, but was always a thinking man and that’s why he’s done so well with this squad.
“He’s lucky he’s got some really good young players because it doesn’t matter how good a manager you are, if you haven’t got the tools to work with, you’ve got no chance, and I think this is a really strong generation of players. There are a lot of good young players that are wanting to learn.
“I think we also have to give a lot of respect and almost a bit of gratitude to the managers that these players are working with.
“A lot of them work every day with Pep Guardiola [at Manchester City], Thomas Tuchel [at Chelsea] and managers that have so much success, so they are learning from some of the best coaches in the world.
“Gareth is reaping the rewards for that and we are lucky we have got this group of players.
“But we’ve also got a manager who is so calm and sound of mind that he knows what he is doing.
“He’s surprised me with how strong he’s been with some of the decisions he has made.
“Some of the teams he has picked I’d have never picked them, never, and a lot of football people that know the game inside out would say the same.
“So, you have to say you’ve got everything right, so far. So, fingers crossed he can do that again in the final.”
“This is yet another example of unscrupulous fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets.
“We all hope that the summer brings some enjoyment after what has been a period of unprecedented challenges for everyone, but scammers want to ruin that. It is vital that we not only avoid these scams, but also report them to Action Fraud.
“More data received means that the authorities can build a richer picture and identify the full scale of this serious issue.”
Police in Derbyshire, where thousands of people were targeted, said: “It appears scammers are already trying to use this scheme as part of a bid to trick people out of cash.
England will face Italy in the final of Euro 2020 on Sunday after beating Denmark in the semi-finals after extra-time.
The game at Wembley will kick-off at 8pm.
It will be the first time England have played in the final of a European Championship and it will be England’s first tournament final since the 1966 World Cup.
More than 60,000 fans will be allowed into Wembley after the ground’s capacity was permitted to increase to 75 per cent for the final three games of the competition.
Remember when topping Group D seemed like a bad idea?
While the ‘risk’ of topping Group D was, from the outset, that England were likely to face a powerhouse opponent in the last 16, the longer-term advantage of progressing as winners was that England were now in the other half of the draw to Italy and Spain.
Victory over Germany meant England knew they would face either Ukraine or Sweden in what would be their only game of the tournament outside of Wembley and following their emphatic defeat of Ukraine in Rome, they returned to Wembley to defeat Denmark with Harry Kane scoring the winning goal in extra-time.
Speaking about the update Stephen van Rooyen, Executive VP & Chief Executive, UK & Europe at Sky said: “We know how much Sky customers love Channel 4’s content so it’s great that we’ve secured an extension, and expansion, to our existing agreement.
“The expansion of Channel 4’s content, alongside Sky’s existing partnerships, and the impressive slate of Sky Originals planned for this year, makes it even easier for Sky customers to access everything they love, in one place.”
And Alex Mahon, Chief Executive at Channel 4 added: “ I’m delighted to have agreed this deal which extends a longstanding and incredibly successful partnership between Channel 4 and Sky.”
News of this content boost from Channel 4 comes as Roku has also just announced that it is adding a swathe of new shows and movies to its popular Roku Channel.
At Xbox, we’re always looking for ways to give our fans even more choice in how to jump into the next generation of gaming—and to have some fun doing it. Whether you’re upgrading to the newest consoles or joining the Xbox family for the first time, Xbox All Access gives you everything you need to get playing — an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — from just $ 24.99 a month for 24 months with no upfront cost.^
As gamers begin the next generation of play on Xbox Series X|S, we do so remembering the great experiences we had before with excitement for what’s to come. And no one knows how to navigate the waters of love, loss and love again than 90s R&B singers. So, we thought, what better way to celebrate the reimagining of how you can join Xbox with the all-inclusive offer of Xbox All Access than with the ‘90s R&B sensation, All-4-One, reimagining “I Swear,” their 1994 ballad?
In the music video, shot and edited in a nostalgic ‘90s-style, the band takes us on a journey from reminiscing about our favorite gaming experiences and memories of years past to those waiting for us on Xbox Series X|S with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Aptly narrated by the band with custom lyrics centered on Xbox All Access, “It’s All There” highlights the benefits and ease of your all-inclusive pass to Xbox.
“It’s All There” speaks the heart and truth of Xbox All Access. It’s all there. Xbox All Access gives you everything you need to get into gaming with Xbox – not only an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console, but also a library of over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, phones, and tablets with 24-months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate included. Plus, you get all new Xbox Game Studios titles the same day they release, including Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, and so many more. All-4-One low monthly price! And don’t worry about leaving the favorite gaming experiences behind, with backwards compatibility on Xbox Series X|S you can enjoy 1000s of your favorite Xbox games from across four generations.
Xbox All Access is available in twelve countries around the world and will come to more partners in more countries over the next year. Click here to learn more about Xbox All Access and look out for more nostalgic Xbox All Access ‘90s themed content in the coming days.
Author: Bogdan Bilan, Sr. Marketing Manager, Xbox All Access
Read more here >>> Xbox Wire