How Close We Came

Protect Voting in Michigan

The attack on Michigan voting rights continues.

We expect to see the ballot committee “Secure MI Vote,” led by politicians and special interest groups, begin collecting signatures for their anti-voter petition as early as October 1.

And just yesterday, the Michigan House voted to advance two more extreme anti-voter bills that will make our elections more partisan, chaotic, and challenging.

Voters Not Politicians isn’t the only organization that opposes the anti-voter movement growing in Michigan. This week, the bipartisan Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks issued a statement saying the “Secure MI Vote” petition “restricts the right to vote by placing an unjustified burden on voters … and will result in voter disenfranchisement, voter suppression and an increased number of provisional ballots issued and ultimately not counted.”

The intent of the so-called “Secure MI Vote” petition is clear: To make it harder for eligible Michigan voters to exercise their freedom to vote and to create chaos in our state’s elections.

Voters Not Politicians has launched our own ballot committee to fight back against this anti-voter petition drive and to protect the freedom to vote. Our people-powered organization has already made incredible progress. We sent thousands of text messages to voters alerting them that this anti-voter petition drive was happening and we are actively recruiting thousands of volunteers across the state.

We can’t slow down. We need to continue building momentum behind our campaign to protect the freedom to vote and these first few weeks will make all the difference.

That’s why we are setting an ambitious fundraising goal to raise $22,000 before the end of the month to fuel our campaign and to support hundreds of volunteers who are already working to spread awareness and educate voters before they sign this anti-voter petition.

Will you stand with Michigan voters today by chipping in toward our goal to raise $22,000 from grassroots supporters like you to fund this first month of our campaign to protect the freedom to vote?

Each dollar we raise goes towards mobilizing an entire army of volunteers all over the state. Here is how your contribution today can make a difference:

Your contribution will help fund our volunteer recruitment efforts so we can text, recruit, and train new volunteers
Your contribution will help VNP refine our digital system for spotting “Secure MI Vote” circulators and to identify if they are spreading misleading information or lying to potential signers
Your contribution will help VNP print literature and signs to spread awareness
Your contribution will help VNP hire regional organizing staff who support volunteers and volunteer leaders across the state
Voters Not Politicians is working to directly fight back against this anti-voter petition and to protect voting rights in Michigan. If you support Michigan voters, please make a contribution today to make a critical impact during the first month of our Freedom to Vote campaign.

Our freedom to vote is under attack by a group of extreme politicians and political operatives, but together, we will get to work and stop this anti-voter effort in its tracks.

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Get The Dam Shot



Biden Is Right: Vaccine Refusal ‘Has Cost All of Us’

Sept. 10, 2021

Credit…Kristian Thacker for The New York Times

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

As Americans contemplate the prospect of a second winter trapped in the grip of Covid-19, remember that it didn’t need to be this way. Vaccines were developed in record time, and have proved to be both incredibly safe and stunningly effective. Nearly two-thirds of eligible Americans have accepted these facts and done their part by getting fully vaccinated.

Yet tens of millions more have not, allowing the more contagious Delta variant to sweep across the country, where it is now killing more than 1,500 people in the United States daily. Right now, the list of the very sick and the dead is made up almost entirely of the unvaccinated. But as long as the virus continues to spread widely, it can and will evolve in ways that put everyone at risk.

Faced with this avoidable catastrophe, President Biden is right to order tighter vaccine rules, which he did for roughly two-thirds of the nation’s work force on Thursday. “We’ve been patient,” Mr. Biden told vaccine holdouts. “But our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”

The president moved to require all executive branch employees, federal contractors and millions of health care workers to be vaccinated. Workers at private businesses with 100 or more employees will have to either get vaccinated or take a weekly Covid test. Any business covered by the order must offer its employees paid time off to get their shots or recover from any side effects.ADVERTISEMENTnull

As incursions on bodily autonomy go, this is pretty mild stuff. No one, the Times columnist David Brooks wrote in May, is being asked to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima.OPINION CONVERSATIONQuestions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and its rollout.

Yet vaccine resisters carry on about violations of their freedom, ignoring the fact that they don’t live in a bubble, and that their decision to stay unvaccinated infringes on everyone else’s freedom — the freedom to move around the country, the freedom to visit safely with friends and family, the freedom to stay alive.

The Supreme Court made this point more than a century ago, when it upheld a fine against a Massachusetts man who refused to get the smallpox vaccine. In a majority opinion that echoes powerfully today, Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, “Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

Refusers’ hollow appeals to “freedom” are especially hard to take considering that Americans already accept countless restrictions in the name of safety: We are required to wear seatbelts, for example, and to get vaccinations to attend public school.ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking of school vaccination requirements, they’ve proven wildly effective. Thanks to vaccines, measles and the mumps were essentially eradicated in children, at least until vaccine opponents opened the door for them to return.

A small number of people have a legitimate reason to decline the vaccine — say, those with an allergy. Others, particularly racial minorities, are mistrustful because of their personal experiences with the health care system, or because the vaccines are relatively new. Still others have struggled to get time off work or have worried (mistakenly) about the cost.

Beyond these, it’s hard to understand any arguments against getting the shot. The vaccine made by Pfizer is now fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and the one by Moderna is expected to be shortly.

Mr. Biden’s vaccine rules are not simply about protecting lives, but rebuilding the economy — a goal one would think would be shared by those who spent 2020 railing against shutdowns. Instead, politicians like Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas have come out against the new rules, calling them an “assault on private businesses.” Mr. Abbott neglected to note that many of the nation’s largest private businesses are already requiring their employees be vaccinated, and a recent survey found that a majority of private businesses plan to do so by the end of the year.ADVERTISEMENT

Hopefully, the new vaccine rules will give the private sector cover to do the right thing and avoid political fights with state governments unwilling to protect their own residents, even as I.C.U.s swell to bursting.

Will there be a backlash? It’s already here. But there’s already a growing rage at those recalcitrant Americans unwilling to do their small part to end this pestilence. The anger is justified. All the lives put on hold in an effort to buy time for the vaccine to be developed. All those essential workers and health care workers who perished or were irrevocably harmed by the disease. Was all that heroic suffering for nothing?

That collective sacrifice is one reason there is overwhelming national support for many forms of vaccine mandates. One Republican pollster found that 2-to-1 majorities of residents in five swing states favor employer mandates.

The Biden administration has already done just about everything in its power to encourage people to get vaccinated, from putting out targeted advertisements, offering financial incentives and reminding people that the shots are free. Carrots haven’t been enough. That’s why Mr. Biden’s actions Thursday were courageous: If the goal is not to pander but to lead, tighter rules ensuring more people are vaccinated were the only meaningful option left.

In an ideal world, vaccine requirements (or weekly testing) wouldn’t be necessary. Americans would see that the coronavirus has already killed more than 4.6 million people worldwide. They would understand that vaccines are the single best tool we have to protect lives and restore the economy. They would be racing to the nearest pharmacy and consider themselves fortunate to be living in one of the few nations in the world where that’s possible.

If 2020 was agonizing — watching millions of our fellow citizens get sick and hundreds of thousands die — a replay in 2021 is infuriating. Ingenuity and investment have produced a rare medical miracle that could end this brutal pandemic, and yet millions of Americans are snubbing their noses at it, forgetting that being part of a society means looking out for one another.

Despite Mr. Biden’s actions this week, most public-health powers reside with states, so it’s essential that governors step up and issue their own mandates, particularly for eligible schoolchildren. The vaccine rules should have been extended to air travel as well.

To those who are still holding out on getting a vaccine: Spare us the appeals to freedom. If you are fed up with masking and distancing and shutdowns and all the other intrusions of a global pandemic, show some patriotism and humanity and get the shot.

Harvard Says No

Harvard Says It Will Not Invest in Fossil Fuels

The announcement is a major victory for the climate change movement, and marks a striking change in tone for the university.

Climate change activists had recently succeeded in getting four pro-divestment candidates elected to Harvard’s Board of Overseers.
Climate change activists had recently succeeded in getting four pro-divestment candidates elected to Harvard’s Board of Overseers.Credit…Tony Luong for The New York Times
Anemona Hartocollis

By Anemona HartocollisSept. 10, 2021Updated 4:52 p.m. ET

Harvard University has announced that it “does not intend” to make any future investments in fossil fuels, and is winding down its legacy investments because, the university’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, said in an email to the Harvard community, “climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity.”

The announcement, sent out on Thursday, is a major victory for the climate change movement, given Harvard’s $42 billion endowment and prestigious reputation, and a striking change in tone for the school, which has resisted putting its full weight behind such a declaration during years of lobbying by student, faculty and alumni activists.

Since last year, the activism has succeeded in getting four pro-divestment candidates elected to Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the first candidates elected through a petition campaign since 1989, when anti-apartheid activists seeking divestment in South Africa put Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the panel, which helps set strategy for the school.

Divestment battles are based on the idea that university endowments, being tax-free, have an obligation to pay attention to the public good, and that huge endowments like Harvard’s may be instruments for change.ADVERTISEMENT

Harvard activists hope that other institutions might follow the university’s lead.

“People do pay attention to what Harvard does,” said Danielle Strasburger, a 2018 Harvard graduate who co-founded Harvard Forward, an alumni divestment movement, with a classmate, Nathán Goldberg Crenier.

Climate Fwd  A new administration, an ongoing climate emergency — and a ton of news. Our newsletter will help you stay on top of it. Get it sent to your inbox.

“The fact that Harvard is finally indicating that it is no longer supporting the fossil fuel community is a large domino to fall,” she said. “Hopefully this will encourage other universities to put the pressure on those who haven’t yet.”

Many other universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Brown and Cornell, have committed to divesting from fossil fuels. But many others have not, and similar divestment movements have spread through universities across the country.Extreme Weather ›

Latest Updates

Updated Sept. 10, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ETSept. 10, 2021Sept. 10, 2021

In his announcement, Mr. Bacow said the Harvard Management Company had been reducing its exposure to fossil fuels for some time.ADVERTISEMENT

“H.M.C. has no direct investments in companies that explore for or develop further reserves of fossil fuels,” Mr. Bacow said. “Moreover, H.M.C. does not intend to make such investments in the future.”

He added that Harvard did not believe such investments were “prudent,” implying that there were financial as well as ethical arguments for the decision. The management company has legacy investments, as a limited partner in a number of private equity firms with holdings in the fossil fuel industry, amounting to less than 2 percent of the endowment, Mr. Bacow said.

The evangelical tone of Mr. Bacow’s announcement this week was different from 2019, when he confronted protesters demanding divestment from fossil fuels and prisons. Mr. Bacow told the protesters he would respond to “reason” rather than “pressure.”

In April 2020, as the overseers election approached, Mr. Bacow said that divestment “paints with too broad a brush.”

In this week’s announcement, he boasted that Harvard had appointed its first vice provost for climate and sustainability, and that it was “building a portfolio of investments in funds that support the transition to a green economy.”

The movement to influence the board of overseers gained support from more prominent climate change advocates, like former Vice President Al Gore. But some Harvard alumni leaders wrote an open letter saying that Harvard Forward was trying to “buy” the election by fund-raising to support its campaign. The group responded that it was just “trying to democratize it.”

The campaign for fossil fuel divestment at Harvard followed a playbook very similar to the one used in 1986, when Gay Seidman, a Harvard alumna who is now a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ran by petition on an anti-apartheid platform and was elected.

Other anti-apartheid candidates were elected in subsequent years, like Archbishop Tutu. Harvard argued that divestment might make things worse for Black people in South Africa but began gradually divesting from its South Africa-related stock.

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.Correction: September 10, 2021

An earlier version of this article misstated the surname of a leader of Harvard Forward. He is Nathán Goldberg Crenier, not Nathan Goldberg.

Anemona Hartocollis is a national correspondent, covering higher education. She is also the author of the book, “Seven Days of Possibilities: One Teacher, 24 Kids, and the Music That Changed Their Lives Forever.” @anemonanyc

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Unvaccinated Are 11 Times More Likely To Die Of COVID According To CDC

A day after President Biden issued broad vaccine mandates aimed at propelling American workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, federal health officials released a handful of studies highlighting how effective the shots are at preventing infections, hospitalizations and deaths — even while the highly contagious Delta variant has been dominant.

Three studies that drew data from different U.S. regions evaluated the protective power of the vaccines. One looked at more than 600,000 virus cases in 13 states, representing about one quarter of the U.S. population, between April and July, and concluded that individuals who were not fully vaccinated were far more susceptible to infection and death from the virus.

They were 4.5 times more likely than vaccinated individuals to become infected, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the coronavirus, the study found.

Vaccine protection against hospitalization and death remained strong even when the Delta variant was the dominant form of infection. But the vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing infection dropped from 91 percent to 78 percent, the study found.

The studies underscore a series of similar findings in recent weeks.

“As we have shown, study after study, vaccination works,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a White House Covid briefing on Friday.

As more and more Americans become vaccinated, experts always expected that immunized people would represent a greater percentage of hospitalized patients. “What I want to reiterate here is it’s still well over 90 percent of people who are in the hospital who are unvaccinated,” Dr. Walensky said.

“We still have more than 10 times the number of people in the hospital who are unvaccinated, compared to vaccinated,” she added.

Two other studies published on Friday detected waning protection from the vaccines among older adults.

One study, conducted at five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, found that protection against hospitalization declined with age, to 80 percent for those aged 66 and older, down from 95 percent for adults aged 18 to 64. A second study found vaccine effectiveness dropped off at age 75.

The findings could help identify populations who may be in need of additional doses or booster shots. In August, the Food and Drug Administration authorized giving third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines for some people with weakened immune systems, including organ transplant patients.

But officials have said there is insufficient data on whether the vaccines’ effectiveness declines over time to recommend boosters for healthy adults.

The data also suggests that the Moderna vaccine may be slightly more effective at preventing infections and hospitalizations with the Delta variant, compared with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Both of the mRNA vaccines had higher efficacy rates than the Johnson & Johnson shot, but the studies were not originally designed to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of different vaccinations.

In the study of 33,000 medical encounters in nine states between June and August, the Moderna vaccine had an effectiveness rate of 92 percent against infection, compared with 77 percent for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting from Washington.

Roni Caryn Rabin

Get The Vaccine Shot And Stop The Attack On Women’s Health Care Decision Making–qchxv0V0di-4LE9Z0KfdbZfoG8dtkcxUUcd1jMT9j7dzIU-lWvzmq_dOL4jMVVaK9f_fuu3_5bH1b17_0GZftkWBo0fROHl9Lg4tt-KdBrsmn66lNvf65OX3T9efjx9sGGpE7fzbzeBZrfikcJRmhGCCVTPC3A95RFOClQnOeYMVJQNkMwQ7JgM8UmEWpK8k9PAsvLti7M4K6NN5c3Wnfdw0r93QxGuzEFk-U1qAdH95iGO9m0BAPWT4lKM8fxLMSEUpRQhuIHNw86wjgKo4QEPrFqfZTh_2P1B6bWzzk

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