COVID’s New Variant, Omicron, Causing Concern

11-28-21
   I know we are all tired of COVID and are anxious to get back to more normal lives. But the blunt reality is that COVID in all likelihood is here to stay. The best case scenario (realistically speaking) is that it will become endemic as opposed to the current pandemic. But even once it is considered endemic, there will be periodic surges (some local and some worldwide). It will wax and wane with some areas having larger outbreaks than others.
   There are multiple reasons why COVID is here to stay. For one thing, there are too many people refusing to get vaccinated even though the vaccines have been proven to be quite safe and effective, especially against severe disease. There is also growing evidence that people’s immune resistance from previous infection and vaccines may decrease over time. This is why boosters have now been authorized. Another factor is how the virus has been mutating so quickly. As the virus mutates, new variants of it are created. Sometimes, a variant will fizzle out without getting very far, and other times a variant will spread rapidly to become the dominant form of the virus for a period of time. We recently saw this with the Delta variant. And now we have a troubling new one called Omicron.
   Omicron is concerning because it has a large number of mutations which could affect how transmissible it is and potentially how severe it is. The mutations might also impact how well people’s immune resistance (from previous infections or vaccines) may be able to fight it. There is a chance that Omicron could be so different because of its mutations that people’s immune resistance won’t work well in battling it. At this time, it’s too soon to tell the full impacts of this new variant. Some preliminary data is raising the possibility that with Omicron, the risk of reinfection for people who already had COVID via an earlier variant, may be elevated. Research is ongoing. Hopefully, within a few weeks, we will have some idea how well people’s current immune resistance will work against it.
   Another concern for the Northern Hemisphere with regards to Omicron is the onset of winter. Some viruses, like the flu, survive better in cold, dry environments. We can’t say for sure whether COVID is like this or not, but there was already concern about a winter surge due to the fact that in cold weather, people are more likely to be gathering indoors where there is less ventilation. There’s also the fact that people are getting out more and fewer are wearing masks/social distancing when they should. This combination of factors is creating great concern about what is going to happen during the next few months.
   People should wear masks and social distance when they are inside public places or in outdoor crowds that are large and concentrated. Individuals who are unvaccinated need to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and vaccinated people need to get boostered when eligible.
   We must all do our part in fighting COVID. It’s more than just protecting ourselves; it’s about doing the right thing for the greater good.

The Hans Island Whiskey War

11-16-21
   Have you ever heard of the Hans Island Whiskey War?
   No?
   Well, let me tell you about it.
   First, you’re probably wondering where the hell Hans Island is. It’s a 1.3 square kilometer, uninhabited island with no known reserves of oil, natural gas, valuable minerals, or the like. There are no trees and very little loose soil. It’s located in the cold waters of the north between Ellesmere Island of Canada and Denmark’s autonomous territory of Greenland in the middle of a waterway called the Nares Strait. The strait is 22 miles wide here, and since Hans Island is in the middle, it technically lies within 12 mile territorial waters of both Canada and Greenland.
   Thus the conflict because neither side has been able figure out which country actually owns it!
   In 1880, it appears that Hans Island got overlooked when Britain turned over it’s North American possessions to Canada. The use of outdated maps probably contributed to this, and some years went by before the mistake was recognized. In 1933, an international court awarded Hans Island to Greenland, but after the court was dissolved, many considered the ruling invalid. In 1973, an agreement was reached between Canada and Denmark regarding the maritime borders of their lands in that part of the world, but they were not able just settle the Hans Island dispute. They decided that it would have to be resolved later on.
   There may be some question on the details of how the Hans Island Whiskey War itself actually started. But as one version of the story goes, in 1984, a group of Canadian soldiers arrived on the small island and erected a flagpole upon which their nation’s colors was raised. The story goes on to say that on a lark, the soldiers also left behind a bottle of Canadian whiskey as an entertaining in your face to their Danish rivals.
   Well, Danish authorities could not let that stand! So a contingent of Danes was dispatched to the island in response, whereupon they raised the Danish flag to fly over the island. They also left behind a bottle of Danish schnapps and a letter aimed at the Canadians saying “Welcome to the Danish Island.”
   This rather comical war of flags and liquor continued for some years as each side would periodically show up on the island to raise their flag and apparently leave behind a bottle of their nation’s distilled spirits. There are reports that in 2005, the governments of Canada and Denmark decided to cease this phase of the conflict and stop raising their corresponding flags on the island. They were supposed to conduct serious negotiations in order to finally settle the issue of Hans Island once and for all.
   But as of 2021, it has not been settled. So in some form or fashion, the rather polite conflict over Hans Island continues.

More People Need To Get Information From Varied, Independent, Reputable Sources

10-9-21
   What happened to people’s ability to think for themselves clearly, fairly, rationally, and accurately?
   I’d really like to know.
   The thing that makes it so ironic is that we live in an age where people have more access to incredible amounts of information than ever before in human history. Think about it. With just our smartphones, devices which literally fit in our pockets, we can access vast amounts of information. News sites, online encyclopedias, a vast array of other websites, and multiple television news channels are all literally at our fingertips. Never in human history has so much information been so readily available to an everyday individual. It’s quite amazing when you think about it.
   As a result, it’s easier than ever to obtain information from a variety of different sources and get different points of view in order to be as accurate as possible. The problem is that millions and millions of people don’t do this. Instead, they focus on sites and people that only tell them what they want to hear. They connect with others online who agree with them and shun those who don’t. Many only get their news from extremely biased, one sided sources that frequently twist information around, exaggerate, and sometimes flat out lie. And when reputable news sites tell them accurate information that they don’t want to hear, they often call it “fake.” They seem to prefer deluding themselves over facing the truth.
   There are plenty of examples of this these days. With all due respect, Donald Trump lost the 2020 election fair and square. There is overwhelming evidence proving this. Every single state certified the election. There were Republican, Democrat, and Independent officials in all the ballot counting rooms in all the states overseeing the vote tallying process. There were even international observers from multiple countries monitoring the election. When the Trump campaign tried to spread their false claims of fraud in the courts, they lost over 60 times. And many of the judges who ruled against them were conservatives themselves. Yet tens of millions of Americans continue to believe the false claims of fraud as they only listen to Trump, other select Republican figures, and conservative websites about the election. They’re ignoring the vast amount of evidence showing that there was no widespread fraud and that Trump legitimately lost.
   Another example is how millions of people are ignoring the scientific evidence regarding the COVID pandemic in terms of the need for getting vaccinated, mask wearing inside public places, and social distancing. Instead of listening to the scientists on reputable sites, they ignore them and follow misinformation which is resulting in too many people not getting vaccinated and refusing to wear masks/social distance in situations where they should. This in turn is making the pandemic much worse and is undoubtedly costing lives to be lost tragically and unnecessarily.
   People need to open their minds and get information from varied, independent, reputable sources. They should strive to learn different points of view, try to verify information, be as objective as possible, and avoid only listening to those that tell them just what they want to hear. Doing these things would help more people get closer to understanding the real truth than has been happening thus far, and this in turn would help make the world a better place in the long run.

Everyone Needs To Work Together To Defeat The COVID Pandemic

9-25-2021
   We are still in the COVID Pandemic folks. This is a fact. The Delta Variant is much more contagious than earlier variants and is spreading very quickly. This is also a fact. Many hospitals around the country are filling up again with COVID patients. We are at the point now where people who need ICU beds aren’t always able to get them, and as a result, some of these individuals have died when they likely could have been saved if they had gotten into ICU. Now consider that of the COVID patients who are in ICUs, the significant majority are unvaccinated individuals.
   Think about that. We have safe vaccines available that we know are very effective in decreasing the chances of getting severe disease from COVID, yet millions of Americans are still refusing to get vaccinated even when they could. Hospitals are getting overwhelmed and people are dying who could have been saved otherwise because so many people are refusing to get vaccinated. This is a cold, hard fact.
   On top of this is how so many people in the United States refuse to wear masks when they should. Masks work. They decrease the chances of people spreading and catching the virus.
   Masks are most effective when everyone is wearing them, particularly inside spaces with less ventilation. Consider this: you have a room full of people. If one of those individuals has COVID, that person is shedding the virus as they breathe and talk. The virus then spreads on small water droplets (>5 microns) and probably also in the form of much smaller aerosolized particles. The droplets fall into the ground quicker, whereas aerosols can linger in the air for hours. There is evidence that COVID can be spread via both methods. If someone with COVID is in such an environment without a mask on, then everyone right around that individual will be at risk of breathing in virus laden droplets that the person is breathing out. The longer these people are in close quarters to the COVID individual, the greater the chance they will become infected, especially if they’re not wearing masks. Individuals who are inside the room but a little farther away may also be at risk via breathing in virus containing aerosols. This risk obviously goes up if they are in the room for extended periods of time and aren’t wearing masks. But if everyone, including the individual with COVID, is wearing a mask, then the risk of other people getting infected significantly goes down. This is because masks help decrease the amount of virus that is breathed out into the atmosphere of the room by the COVID individual while also decreasing the amount of virus the uninfected people might breathe in.
   Now imagine this room is full of your kids and their teacher at school.
   This is why mandatory mask wearing in schools is so vitally important right now. We are seeing a significant rise in the number of minors catching COVID (and going to the hospital) right now. These kids who are getting infected can then in turn spread the virus to others in their household, some of whom might be at greater risk of getting severe disease.
   In order to get a better handle on this pandemic and defeat it, everyone needs to work together like happened during World War II. During that conflict, people worked together to achieve victory. Everyone from civilians to soldiers. But this is not happening during the current COVID Pandemic, even though we are at war with a virus. According to Johns Hopkins University, as of September 25, 2021, 687,572 human beings have died in the United States alone from this virus (418,500 Americans died in WW2). Too many people are not wearing masks / social distancing when they should and too many are still refusing to get vaccinated even though they could. These individuals are being extremely irresponsible and frankly selfish. They are the major reason why hospitals are getting overwhelmed with COVID patients.
   It’s time for everyone to do their part for the greater good, like occurred during WW2. People who are able, need to get vaccinated immediately, and everyone should wear masks (and social distance as much as possible) when inside public places or in concentrated outdoor crowds. If enough people would do this, we would get a much better handle on the COVID Pandemic, which in turn would save lives.

Opposing School Mask Wearing Mandates During This Surge Is Grossly Irresponsible

8-26-21
   What is wrong with people? Hmm? I’d really like to know!
   We are still in the COVID Pandemic and are experiencing a serious surge. The Delta Variant, which is now the predominant form of the disease, is multiple times more contagious than earlier variants.  We know this. We also know how mask wearing and social distancing help significantly decrease spread of the virus. It’s also clear that to gain the maximum effect, everyone inside a public space should be wearing a mask. This is because masks decrease the amount of virus that is exhaled into the air by someone (who may have COVID and not realize it) while also providing protection for other people in the room who would be exposed to what virus is able to escape into the room’s atmosphere. Think about it. It makes perfect sense.
   Now consider how schools are trying to return to in-person learning in the middle of a rising surge. It should be abundantly obvious that everyone inside a school should be wearing a mask. Everyone. Kids and staff are going to be inside rooms in close proximity to each other for hours. We’re also seeing how in this current surge, a growing number of young people are getting infected with some going to the hospital due to having severe cases that are potentially life threatening. This is that much more reason why everyone should be wearing a mask inside schools.
   It’s not rocket science folks.
   Yet many people are fighting against mask wearing mandates in schools claiming that not wearing a mask should be their individual right. The problem with their argument is that we are dealing with a pandemic and with public health. This means that wearing a mask inside a school is not just about protecting the well-being of the wearer. It’s also about protecting everyone else in that school.
   It’s about doing what’s right for the greater good.
   This is why when people are vehemently opposing mask wearing mandates in schools, they are being grossly irresponsible and are endangering the lives of not just their own children, but those of other people as well. This sort of selfishness is sickening and abhorrent on so many levels.
   In times of crisis, everyone needs to pull together and do their part for the greater good and let go of some of their selfish desires and demands. This is what happened during World War II when everyone did their part to defeat Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan. The problem is that right now millions of Americans are refusing to do their part in that they’re not wearing masks and social distancing when they should and many are refusing to get vaccinated despite the fact they are medically able to do so.
   So I ask again: what’s wrong with people? Why are so many being ruthlessly selfish to the point of endangering the lives of not just themselves and their own children, but those of other innocent people as well?
   What happened to doing what’s right?
   What happened to fighting for the greater good?
   I’d really like to know.

Tragedy In Afghanistan

8-17-21
   Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban as the entire world has seen with tragic images and stories of fear, despair, and horror unfolding before us.  On TV, we saw Afghans clinging to planes as they desperately tried to escape the victorious Taliban. Women have virtually disappeared from Kabul’s streets as they hide in their homes fearful of what the Taliban may do to them. There is serious concern that a horrendous humanitarian disaster is in the making.
   So what happened? How did things come to this?
   There is no simple, easy answer.
   Afghanistan is not like many other countries around the world. It’s still a very tribal society with powerful warlords and chieftains who hold great power over their own territories. It has never been a strongly united nation. It has also been a very male dominated society for ages, especially in the rural areas. Men run the villages and have the power. For many generations, severe limitations have been placed on women in terms of education, jobs they are allowed to do, clothing they must wear (particularly in public), and so on.
   When the Taliban were in power before, they enforced an extremist, draconian form of Sharia law where men were in control. TV, movies, and most music were banned as was media, photography, or art that showed people or other living things. Girls were not supposed to go to school over the age of 10, and women were not allowed to hold almost any job outside of health care (the only reason they were allowed in this area is because male doctors were not supposed to directly treat women). People who committed adultery could be publicly executed, and individuals who stole might have a hand cut off.  Men were required to have beards, and women had to wear a burka (that covered their head and most of their body) when in public.
   The United States got directly involved in the Afghanistan conflict after 9/11 (the Taliban had harbored Al-Qaeda terrorists including Osama Bin Laden). With US involvement, the Taliban were swept from power pretty quickly, but the war did not end. The Taliban retreated to the countryside and continued fighting. The US attempted to establish a democracy in Afghanistan in the hopes of creating a more stable ally in the war on terrorism. Efforts were made to try to improve women’s rights and opportunities in life. But the conflict dragged on.
   Thing is: it’s very difficult to establish a stable democracy in a society that has no real history of it. And when you consider the tribal nature of Afghanistan, warlords, much of the population lacking the opportunity for education, poverty, and so on, the chances of establishing a strong democracy get even worse. It’s a safe bet that many of the warlords and other tribal leaders had no desire for true democracy since it could decrease their power. The Taliban certainly didn’t want democracy with their extreme version of Sharia law. And many of the everyday people were just trying to survive. There has been conflict and war in Afghanistan for decades. As a result, many people will switch sides quite readily depending on who has the most power in their area because folks are trying to survive. A consequence of all this is that the elected Afghan government was weak and many people were hesitant to fully commit to it. There was also a significant amount of corruption going on. Whereas the Taliban combined politics with a twisted, extremist, often barbaric version of religion so that many of their soldiers thought they were fighting a holy war and were more willing to die for their cause. 
   The United States (with NATO involvement at times) spent 20 years trying to train and build up a strong Afghan security force to help keep the Taliban in check and uphold the Afghan government. But due to the situation I just described, Afghan security soldiers were not as committed to their cause as Taliban troops were committed to theirs. So with the US pullout, the morale of the Afghan forces disintegrated.
   The Trump Administration had talks with the Taliban and signed an agreement with them that committed the US to pull out of Afghanistan by May 1st, 2021. The Taliban agreed to stop attacking American forces and promised to separate from Al-Qaeda. While they seemed to uphold the first provision, they likely did not honor the second. Once Biden came into office, he decided to go along with the agreement, though he did extend American presence beyond May 1st.
   Then we all saw how quickly things unraveled. The Taliban had clearly been planning for this. As a result, once enough American forces were out, the Taliban launched large scale attacks on Afghan security forces, and the latter fell apart. The Taliban seized control in less than 2 weeks.
   As to the blame game, there is plenty of blame to go around. Trump is the one who set this final American withdrawal in motion by signing an agreement directly with the Taliban in February of 2020. The Afghan government was left out which seriously weakened it and led to further plummeting of security force morale since they felt abandoned by the United States. Biden inherited this situation and then decided to go along with the agreement. The Biden Administration also seemed to seriously underestimate how quickly the Taliban would overrun the country. This likely played a role in why thousands of people (many of whom are Afghan allies who had helped the United States and NATO) are currently trapped in Afghanistan with unknown futures. Another factor in why so many Afghan allies didn’t get out in time is that the special visa program used to get them to the United States was mired in bureaucracy and staff shortages. It appears the Trump Administration made no effort to fix the issues so that almost a year was wasted. This had to have strongly contributed to why far too few of our Afghan allies got out. Biden did try to improve the program’s quagmire so that the number of approved visas rose from 100 per week in March of 2021 to 813 a week more recently. Plus, don’t forget that this war involved 2 other American presidents as well. There are also the factors of Afghanistan itself (that I’ve already described) which played major roles in the tragedy that is unfolding before us.
   So, what will the future hold? We’ll have to see. Will America be able to get our Afghan allies out of the country? Will the lot of women and LGBTQ people become as bad as last time? Will Afghanistan become a training site for terrorists like before?
   Time will tell.

This Pandemic Is Not Over Folks!

8-13-21
   Ok, I know: people are sick and tired of the COVID Pandemic.
   I get it. I am too. We want are lives back. Dream about things being normal. Doing things we used to do. I hear you.
   But folks, this thing is not over.
   The Delta Variant of COVID is much more contagious than earlier variants and is now the dominant form in the United States and much of the world. Case numbers are quickly rising so that almost the entire country is now rated by the CDC as having substantial or high rates of transmission. We are seeing increased numbers of younger people getting severe COVID cases that are sending them to the hospital.
   Thing is: there have been too many people refusing to get vaccinated and not wearing masks when they should. Earlier in the summer, too much of the population started acting like the Pandemic was over. They stopped wearing masks and quit social distancing. This allowed the virus to spread faster. The more a virus spreads, the more mutations occur. These mutations lead to new variants. Add in the fact that many people had not been vaccinated, and you have a recipe for disaster.
   Well, the disaster is here.
   So, everyone needs to buckle down and do their part in battling COVID-19. Practice social distancing and wear masks when inside public places or in large crowds. And unless your doctor has legitimate medical reasons not to, get vaccinated! If everyone would do their part, we could get through this much faster, and that would help people get back to more normal lives quicker and safer. But more importantly, it would save lives.
   So please do your part.
   Practice social distancing!
   Wear masks inside public places and in large crowds!
   And unless your doctor has legitimate medical reasons not to, get vaccinated!

Not Having Mandatory Mask Wearing In Schools Will Cost Lives

8-10-21
   What has this country come to? Hmm? So many people are refusing to get vaccinated or wear masks even though it’s been proven that both are extremely important in fighting the COVID Pandemic. And it sure seems like a significant chunk of the Republican Party keeps sinking to greater and greater depths of irresponsibility which is endangering people’s lives as well as our democratic values.
   It’s bad enough how so many Republicans are trying to change the narrative of what really happened on January 6th and who was responsible. Too many continue to spread Trump’s lies about the election, and Republicans around the country are even trying to pass voting laws that a lot of experts feel would make it more difficult for many Americans to practice their constitutional right to vote. These actions are clearly undermining and threatening our democracy.
   But what is also sickening is how such a great number of people, many of whom are Republicans, are so willfully ignoring and mishandling the COVID Pandemic. They seem to be denying or avoiding scientific evidence and advice about how to fight COVID-19. A great number of individuals are not wearing masks when they clearly should and far too many are still refusing to get vaccinated despite the fact that vaccinations are vitally important in battling this deadly virus. Even before the current surge which is enveloping this country exploded, the CDC was recommending unvaccinated people wear masks when inside public places or in big crowds, yet many were totally disregarding this advice. A variety of people from different walks of life have been doing this sort of thing unfortunately, and it’s been a significant problem among Republicans. Polls and studies have shown that as a whole, Democrats and Independents have been more likely to take this Pandemic seriously when compared to Republicans. A higher percentage of Republicans say they will not get vaccinated as compared to Democrats. It’s been Republican states which have been having much lower vaccination rates and thus faster spread of the Delta Variant. Now we are in another surge as the Delta Variant, which is much more contagious than earlier forms of COVID, spreads rapidly around the country and the world. The CDC is recommending that in areas with substantial or high rates of transmission (which is most of the United States), everyone should wear a mask when inside public spaces. This includes those who have been vaccinated. Yet many people are ignoring this. And what makes matters even worse is the fact that there are Republican leaders such as the governors of Texas and Florida who are refusing to institute mandatory mask wearing for schools. Governor DeSantis of Florida is even going to the extreme of threatening the salaries of education officials who enforce mandatory mask wearing in their local school districts. This is beyond sickening!
   Mask wearing absolutely saves lives in that it decreases the chances of the virus spreading from person to person. The scientific evidence for this is beyond overwhelming. A significant majority of kids are not vaccinated, especially those under 12 because they’re not allowed to get one of the vaccines at this point. And we know kids can catch and transmit COVID. We’re also seeing in the current surge a greater percentage of young people ending up in the hospital because of COVID infections. So it’s blatantly obvious that everyone in schools should be wearing masks and that doing so would help limit the amount of spread that occurs. Yet Republican Governors DeSantis and Abbott are completely ignoring the scientific evidence and are opposing mandatory mask wearing in schools. This will absolutely cause lives to be lost needlessly and unnecessarily.
   What is wrong with such members of the Republican Party? How low are they going to sink, and how many innocent people have to die because of the irresponsible behavior of leaders such as DeSantis and Abbott (as well as that of everyday individuals who refuse to wear masks or get vaccinated)?
   When history looks back on this time, it’s going to treat a great many people, especially a significant number of Republicans, very harshly, and they’re absolutely going to deserve it!

Olympic Games Have Gotten Outrageously Expensive For Host Cities

   For many people, the Olympics is an amazing, magical time. Athletes all over the world train, sacrifice, and push themselves to their limits and beyond as they strive for a chance at Olympic Glory. But it goes beyond sports when you think about it, for nations, including those that are literally at war with each other, gather together for peaceful competition. It’s one of the few times where the world has some form of unity.
   But these days, a major problem is how exorbitantly expensive hosting Olympic Games has become. In Ancient Greece, city-states would send contingents of athletes to compete in the Games every 4 years at a permanent site in the southern part of the country, Olympia. Only men were allowed to compete, and there were also religious celebrations in addition to the athletic competitions. Artists were present looking for patrons and perhaps trying to sell some of their work as well as politicians on site trying to expand their influence. But it stayed peaceful, which was a significant accomplishment considering that the Ancient Greek city-states were often at odds with each other, and open warfare was not uncommon.
   Obviously, much has changed with regards to the Olympics. Thankfully, competition is not restricted to just men now, and the variety of events has vastly expanded. Also, modern Olympics include nations from all around the world as opposed to just the Greek world. Another major change is how the Olympics are held in different cities instead of being in one permanent location as was the case in the Ancient World.
   Having different cities host the Olympics is in many ways a noble idea. It helps uphold the concept that the Olympics are truly international and don’t belong to any one country or place. And while this lofty ideal has its merits, there are serious problems with it as well, one of which being the extreme cost that hosting the Olympics has become. Each time a new city is going to host the Olympics, that place has to build and expand infrastructure in order to meet demands of the Games and International Olympic Committee. This is no small feat considering how vast the Olympic Games have become in terms of numbers of athletes, supporting staffs, the variety of different events (some of which require very specialized facilities), and the growing need for increased security (both physical and cyber). The result is that host cities have to spend billions of dollars and frequently go into massive debt which can take them years, if not decades, to pay off.
   Here are some examples of the costs. According to Forbes.com, the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro cost approximately 13.7 billion dollars. The Sochi Winter Games of 2014 cost around 21.9 billion dollars, and the 2012 London Summer Games cost approximately 15 billion dollars. That is vastly expensive for something that will last only a few weeks. Another problem is how some of the facilities that have to be constructed are very specialized and often don’t have any use after the Games are over. There are numerous cases where such sites have literally just been abandoned, or more money needs to be spent revamping them or knocking them down to build something else that would be of use to the community. The result is that fewer cities are interested in hosting modern Olympic Games, and this is especially being seen amongst democratic countries. Fewer cities are competing to become future hosts, and what is likely to occur is that as time goes by, more and more of the host cities are going to be in countries that are run by dictatorships because dictators are less likely to worry about the financial costs. They tend to be more interested in using the Games as a way to try to expand their power and influence over their own people as well as other countries.
   So my thinking is that maybe it’s time to find permanent locations for the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. There could be one permanent site for each or one location that would host both. Countries around the world could contribute financially to building and maintaining the site so that the host doesn’t incur crippling debt. In terms of choosing such a location(s), I would recommend finding a place that is a stable democracy and is also neutral in terms of international affairs. Perhaps Switzerland or somewhere similar. This way, the spirit of the Olympic Games would live on and the financial burden would be lessened. The costs that would occur could be spread throughout the world instead of individual cities having to go into massive debt, debts that can easily take decades to get out of.
   Now, I realize that making this idea a reality would not be easy. There would be fights over where the permanent site(s) should be and battles over who pays what. But if it could be pulled off, I do think it could solve a lot of problems and help the Olympic Games thrive well into the future.
  

https://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/sports/olympics/2021/07/22/abandoned-olympic-venues-around-world/8063114002/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports/tokyo-summer-olympics/images-show-abandoned-olympic-venues-around-the-world/2563311/%3famp

The Republican Party Has Gone Dangerously Off The Rails

7-20-21
   It’s really scary how off the rails so much of the Republican Party has become.
   Think about it. Really think about what’s going on.
   The Republican party in many ways is now controlled by one person, Donald Trump. That in itself undermines democracy and what democracy is supposed to be about. What makes it even worse in this case is how twisted, disturbed, and authoritarian Trump’s outrageous behavior is. He lies on a colossal scale which is made even more dangerous by the way his blind followers go right along with with these lies without question. They let him get away with it, which in turn encourages his terrible behavior even more.
   Let’s look at one example: the 2020 election. This election was free and fair. There was no widespread fraud. Every single state, including those run by Republican officials, certified the election because it was free and fair. International observers from multiple countries were present monitoring the election, and they stated the election was free and fair. There were Republican, Democrat, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms in every state. Add to all this the fact that Trump and his people went to court over 60 times trying to push their outrageous false claims of widespread fraud and lost. And many of the judges who ruled against Trump had been appointed by Republicans themselves. The reason Trump and his people lost over 60 court cases in connection to the election is because they have no case. They have no evidence that would stand up in a court of law. It is very clear that Trump lost the election fair and square. But Trump doesn’t like to lose and wants power, so he has continued making his false, dangerous claims about the election even though they are flat out lies. And despite the fact that his claims are totally false, his followers blindly go along with them spreading these dangerous falsehoods.  And we all saw how on January 6th, all these false claims about the election led to a mob of extremist Trump supporters assaulting United States Capitol Building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying this free and fair election. And yet despite all this, Trump and his supporters continue pushing their dangerous, undemocratic false claims about the election.
   This brings us to Republicans in elected positions, the majority of whom are bowing to Trump’s authoritarian leadership over the party. Some of these officials are blind followers of Trump themselves while others secretly may not like Trump but continue to bow to him because they are afraid of losing future primary elections. In other words, this latter group is putting their own desire for political power over American democracy. In Washington DC, only a few Congressional Republicans are willing to speak out against Trump.
   This state of affairs is quite scary and truly is dangerous to our democracy. We need to be aware of what is happening and stand up for our democratic values and speak out against authoritarianism in all its forms. We need to put pressure on more Republicans to break away from Trump’s extremist, undemocratic authoritarianism. And in future elections, we need to vote in people who stand for true democracy. Considering how much of the Republican Party is currently under the sway of Trump, in the next few elections, we need to vote in Democrats as much as possible in order to ensure our democracy endures. And I say this as an Independent (I’m not a Democrat). Right now, with so much of the Republican Party following an authoritarian leader, which is what Trump is, the Republican Party cannot be trusted with majority control over the government.