One More Chance

Groundhog Election

Following what now seems like the 10th time Joe Biden has won the 2020 Presidential election, he gave another acceptance speech calling for unity. The Electoral College voted Joe Biden in as the next president of the United States yesterday. President-elect Biden said:

In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And now it is time to turn the page, as we’ve done throughout our history. To unite. To heal.

Let’s hope this is the last time Biden has to “accept” the outcome of the presidential election aside from inauguration day. 

Propaganda World

Ok, crazy is definitely back in town. Apparently, Disney World theme parks have been altering guests’ on-ride photos by adding digital masks. Nobody knows when this started but last weekend Disney announced it would end. Really! 

When Disney parks reopened in July, they had new COVID protocols, including a mask requirement at all times. However, this is America, and people didn’t listen. So, when guests were found to not be wearing masks on rides, Disney’s rule was you could not receive your on-ride Photopass, the candid photos taken during rides that are later available for purchase. But, in true American hissy fit, entitled fashion, people that were wearing their mask complained that it wasn’t fair they couldn’t get their picture because other people broke the rules. Disney’s solution? We’ll just photoshop masks on the other people so you can get your picture. WHAT!  Another complaint from guests: The digital masks added processing time to PhotoPass ride pics. So, I want my photo and I want it now. 

The picture above was posted on the Facebook group Disney World Junkies by Tony Townsend. It’s a picture from the DINOSAUR ride and everyone in the front row really did have on masks but the riders in the back did not. In Disney’s official statement they said:

In response to guest requests, we tested modifying some ride photos. We are no longer doing this and continue to expect guests to wear face coverings except when actively eating or drinking while stationary.

This entire thing is stupid. I do not understand why removal from the park wasn’t an option. I know the company was worried about photos getting out of people not wearing mask, but photoshopping was a bad idea.

Lowering the Barr

William Barr is out of there. In order to draw focus from Biden’s election win by the Electoral College, Trump tweeted that William Barr is stepping down as attorney general. Everyone knows this comes because Barr did not lie for Trump (this time). Barr recently announced that his office found no widespread fraud in the 2020 Election. Barr also knew and did not release (prior to the election) that Hunter Biden was under investigation by the Justice Department. Thus, this day was inevitable. The Washington Post reports that behind the scenes Trump and Barr’s relationship is volatile, but insider’s insist Barr resigned and was not fired. Which begs the question after all this time and all the things Barr has backed, why now? Why is this the last straw?

Tech Under Fire

FTC sent a demand for information to 9 tech companies inquiring about how they gather and use information. The companies:  Amazon, Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, YouTube, Discord, and TikTok owned by ByteDance, a Beijing based company.

Next step? The companies have 45 days to respond. This demand for information will not have any immediate penalties. The information gathered, however, could lead to future action.

“Critical questions about business models, algorithms, and data collection and use have gone unanswered. Policymakers and the public are in the dark about what social media and video streaming services do to capture and sell users’ data and attention,” FTC Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Slaughter, and Christine Wilson said in a statement. “It is alarming that we still know so little about companies that know so much about us.”

The commission wants to know how many users each company has, how active they are, and what else they know about their users.  They are also asking that social media and video streaming companies give up information on how they process the data collected and how advertising and engagement practices impact young, underage users.

I think they will all have something to say about this. This is information that these companies have held close for so long. I don’t think they’ll just hand over all the company secrets. 

Vaccine Corner

America First. Vaccine administration has begun with more vaccines arriving, today, at 400 more hospitals and other sites. The first 3 million shots are being closely monitored and only given to front-line health workers and elder-care patients. The FDA received briefing documents today for Moderna’s vaccine, with the advisory committee likely to publish its analysis soon.  The same committee that gave Pfizer the green light  is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the risks and benefits of Moderna’s vaccine, getting us one step closer to a second vaccine to join the fray.

Canada. Canada also started vaccinations this week. Canada was the third country to approve the vaccine and they received their first shipment Sunday night. Their first dose was given to 14 sites across the country and was given to people from nursing homes, health care workers in Toronto, and residents in both Montreal and Quebec City.

Race continues. Germany is now pressuring the European Medicines Agency to approve a vaccine before Christmas. Get it done!

Poor Countries. America, Canada, and Britain are vaccinating people, but what about the poor countries? COVAX is a collaboration between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO. Their goal? To accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines for every country. COVAX set a goal of securing 2 billion vaccines. So far, they have a confirmed a contract for 200 million does from the Serum Institute of India and lots of non legally binding agreements for another 500 million. Because so few are confirmed many poorer countries are worried and looking for other ways to secure the vaccine. While it’s still very early in the vaccine game, it looks like this will shake out like most things, with rich nations getting what they need first and fastest, and the poorer countries last. According to Amnesty International, in 67 developing countries most of them in Africa, only 10% of the population is set to get vaccinated in 2021.