The Balance of Power Comes Down to Georgia
As former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump wait for the dust to settle on the election, Georgia is in the throes of a run-off to secure two U.S. Senate seats. Republican Kelly Loeffler faces Democrat Raphael Warnock in one race, and incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue faces Democrat Jon Ossoff for the second. These two Senate seats could potentially alter the balance of power in the upper chamber.
In the run-up to the January 5 election in the Peach State, the area’s contribution to the recent presidential election has been fraught with accusations of voter fraud. President Trump held a rally to drum up support in the state while millions of dollars poured into Warnock and Ossoff’s coffers.
But the real spectator show seems to be the candidate debates held recently. The media chastised Kelly Loeffler for not calling presidential candidate Joe Biden the “president-elect.” Technically, Loeffler is correct, as Biden is not the president-elect until he is elected by the members of the Electoral College – a vote that won’t happen until December 14. In the Ossoff and Perdue debate, the young challenger was forced to debate an empty podium: Senator Perdue declined the invitation.
Political candidates must receive 50% or more of the vote to be declared the winner in Georgia. If that requirement is not met, state law means the top two finishers have to face off in a special election.
COVID Passports – For Real?
America has been hit with a pandemic that has altered the freedoms we are all used to enjoying. Since the onset of COVID-19 nearly one year ago, Americans have been asked to wear masks, stay away from family and friends, and wash hands repeatedly. Whether or not this has worked as a strategy remains for health experts to decide in the long term. Now, in an effort to keep people safe, with a rushed vaccine that has yet to be delivered to the general public, there is talk of distributing health papers for those who will take the vaccine.
They are called Immunity Passports, and the nation of Hungary already requires them for its citizens. The policy only allows travel across the border to people who can provide evidence that they’ve recovered from COVID-19. And that proof is a current negative test and a positive test within the last six months. Iceland has a similar policy that will begin next week and gives citizens who have been infected and recovered from the virus permission to ignore wearing face coverings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cautions against the idea of Immunity Passports. In an electronic briefing, it warned, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
Will this type of policy come to the United States? Already there is talk of a 100-day mask mandate from former Vice President Joe Biden, and several states have implemented curfews and lockdowns. In an article published by The Conversation, a legal professor penned a clear warning about Immunity Passports: “Not only could their use violate U.S. disability protections, but they could also enable discrimination and foster a two-tiered society in which many are left behind … their use will create an underclass and a societal rift between those who are immune to COVID-19 and those who are not.”
In a rush for a vaccine, perhaps politicians and elected officials have not thought much about unintended consequences.
An Unexpected Find in the Amazon
In a remote spot of the Amazon jungle, a group of archeologists stumbled upon a cliff wall with elaborate decorations believed to be made around 12,500 years ago. Calling it the Sistine Chapel of the ancients, the British-Colombian team has documented an eight-mile stretch of paintings depicting a life not familiar to today’s rainforest: Images include now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, ice age horses, giant sloths, and an extinct camelid called palaeolama.
José Iriarte, professor of archaeology at Exeter University, is a leading expert on the Amazon and pre-Columbian history. He led the group to the almost inaccessible location near Serranía de la Lindosa. Iriarte describes the breathtaking paintings: “When you’re there, your emotions flow … We’re talking about several tens of thousands of paintings. It’s going to take generations to record them.”
Another team member, palaeo-anthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi, described the four-hour trek’s dangers. “We did keep our wits about us with snakes,” she said. She added that a deadly snake – a huge Bushmaster – blocked their travel back to the vehicles. “You’re in the middle of nowhere,” Al-Shamali said, adding that they would not make it to a hospital if attacked. About 80% of people bitten by this snake die, but she said it was worth the risk to see the paintings. And she reminded us that exploration and discovery were far from over: “Scientific discovery is not over, but the big discoveries now are going to be found in places that are disputed or hostile.”
Much like this one in the isolated expanse of the Amazon jungle, which has long been considered uninhabitable.