PODCAST: New ‘Mu variant’ of coronavirus detected in Colombia (BCNN1 09.03.21)

This is the Black Christian News Network One podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to Deadline, Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday said U.S. public health officials are “keeping a very close eye” on a new variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in Colombia. Known as B.1.621 or the “Mu variant” according to the World Health Organization nomenclature, it has “a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” according to a WHO report released on Monday. “Preliminary data presented to the Virus Evolution Working Group show a reduction in neutralization capacity of convalescent and vaccinee sera similar to that seen for the Beta variant, but this needs to be confirmed by further studies.” Today, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced the Mu variant, for the first time, has been identified in the region. The numbers are still small; Only 167 Mu variants have been ideantified in L.A. County thusfar. “These specimens were sequenced between June 19 and Augusts 21, with the majority of Mu specimens sequenced in July,” according to a statement from county public health officials. Speaking of Mu Fauci said, “This variant has a constellation of mutations that suggests that it would evade certain antibodies, not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine- and convalescent serum-induced antibodies…But there isn’t a lot of clinical data to suggest that. It is mostly laboratory in-vitro data.”

According to CNBC, The U.S. is heading into Labor Day weekend with just over four times as many Covid-19 cases and more than twice as many hospitalizations as at this time last year — despite having vaccinated 62% of the American population with at least one dose. The U.S. and the world are nowhere near where health officials hoped, and thought, we would be 20 months into the pandemic — and more than eight months after vaccines that boasted efficacy rates around 95% were rolled out. Though the outbreak is significantly worse by most measures than 2020, setting the U.S. up for a tough fall season, the delta variant, vaccines and open schools make it hard to predict how the pandemic will unfold, doctors and scientists say. “There is a lot more uncertainty right now. The dynamic interplay between variants and vaccine and particularly people unvaccinated, and the sort of game changer of the delta variant leads to a lot of uncertainty in terms of what the fall holds,” said Dr. Barbara Taylor, an assistant dean and infectious disease specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised unvaccinated Americans against traveling over the holiday weekend, worried the festivities could kick off another surge in cases.

According to ABC News, The remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped flooding rain, spawned tornadoes across the Northeast and caused dozens of deaths in areas where the storm landed. So far in the Northeast, at least 49 deaths have been attributed to the storm. Overall, there have been at least 63 deaths across eight U.S. states related to Ida. President Joe Biden approved New York and New Jersey emergency declarations due to the storms and spoke on Ida’s damage in the Northeast Thursday afternoon, citing that New York recorded more rain Wednesday “than it usually sees the entire month of September.” “People were trapped in the subways. But the heroic men and women of the New York Fire Department rescued all of them. They were trapped,” Biden said. He said he’s made it clear to East Coast governors that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is “on the ground” and ready to provide assistance. A flash flood emergency was declared for the first time in New York City as subway stations were turned into waterfalls and Midtown streets became rivers. The state of New York and New York City each declared states of emergency.

According to the Daily Mail, A former Georgia prosecutor was indicted on Thursday on misconduct charges alleging she used her position to shield the men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery from being charged with crimes immediately after the shootings. A grand jury in coastal Glynn County indicted former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson on charges of violating her oath of office and hindering a law enforcement officer. Arbery was killed on February 23, 2020, after a white father and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood outside the coastal city of Brunswick. A neighbor, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun. The McMichaels said they believed Arbery was a burglar and that he was shot after attacking Travis McMichael with his fists. Police did not charge any of them immediately following the shooting, and the McMichaels and Bryan remained free for more than two months until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case. All three were charged with murder in May 2020 and face trial this fall. Greg McMichael had worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office and left her a cellphone message following the shooting. The indictment says Johnson showed ‘favor and affection’ toward Greg McMichael in the investigation and interfered with police officers at the scene by ‘directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.’ Johnson has insisted she did nothing wrong, saying she immediately recused herself from the case because Greg McMichael was a former employee.

According to Religion News Service, Staccato Powell touted himself as an innovator who would bring a “new paradigm” after his 2016 election as an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church bishop, assigned to oversee the western U.S. congregations in the predominantly Black denomination. He was the first to set up a bishop’s residence in the Western Episcopal District, seeking to supervise church affairs and enhance church growth while living in the district, instead of traveling in and out of the six-state region. But was he a pioneer or a swindler? Was he an entrepreneur who, as he said, used “sophisticated financing of church property” to enhance congregations and support their pastors? Or, as the remaining AME Zion bishops said, did he inappropriately use churches’ mortgages in a manner that led some of them to receive foreclosure notices? A month after he was “disrobed” in a church trial as a bishop of the denomination that dates to 1796, the answers depend on whom you ask and whose perspectives you believe. In an interview after the trial, in which Powell was found guilty of 20 counts against him, the former bishop told Religion News Service he intends to continue to use the title of “bishop” though he no longer holds that rank in the denomination of his birth. Under his leadership, he said, the number of churches in the Western Episcopal District grew from 35 to about 50 and he encouraged those congregations to turn over a tenth, or tithe, of their collections to support the denomination’s connectional structure. This was a departure from the traditional assessment method. “We ushered in a new paradigm of growth and expansion, which as a bishop we are mandated to do by the Book of Discipline,” he said. But AME Zion bishops say Powell violated that AME Zion rule book by altering church deeds and conveying them to the entity he incorporated to handle district business.

According to Politico, The Supreme Court early Wednesday let a Texas state law take effect that allows private citizens to sue to uphold a ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, potentially creating a new template for states to impose strict restrictions on the procedure. The court’s decision to not act on an emergency petition from Texas abortion clinics comes as the justices prepare to more broadly reconsider the right to an abortion it established almost 50 years ago. In May, justices agreed to review Mississippi’s ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy — a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Those arguments are expected later this year, with a ruling in 2022. “This is a de facto overturning of Roe before the Supreme Court has time to hear the Mississippi case,” said Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson. “And Texas will now go back to being a pre-Roe state, turning the clock back 50 years.” Beyond outlawing abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the Texas law, signed in May, would deputize citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers or anyone who helps facilitate the procedure after six weeks, such as a person who drives a pregnant person to the clinic. Individuals found to have violated the law would have to pay $10,000 to the person who successfully brings such a suit — a bounty abortion rights advocates warn will encourage harassment, intimidation and vigilantism.

According to the Daily Mail, Twins Bryson and Brayden McDaniel, 20 months, were found dead in an SUV outside of Sunshine House Early Learning Academy in the Columbia suburb of Blythewood on Wednesday. The Richland County Coroner’s Office told a press conference Thursday that a parent had placed the children in rear-facing car seats of the SUV at around 7.30-8am, before driving to another location for the day. The parent later arrived at Sunshine House at 5.30pm, where the children were enrolled and had been due to spend the day. Richland County EMS was dispatched at 5.40pm and arrived at the scene at 5.54pm. At 5.55pm the twins were pronounced dead. The Coroner’s Office declined to identify the parent who was driving, or the secondary location they traveled to, as the investigation is ongoing.

You can read these stories and more at BlackChristianNews.com .

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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