More than a year has passed, and the world continues diving deep into the land of the unknown, hands clasped with a deadly virus. With the delta variant dominating most cases around the world, precautions against the pandemic can no longer afford to be tolerant. Thus, even though experts have previously laxed the mask policy for the vaccinated population, they are now urging everyone to wear masks again.
Since it first emerged, most experts agreed the COVID-19 delta strain is one of the fastest transmissible strains up to date. It is also one of the most dangerous variants. “The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and be an opportunist,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing Tuesday. “In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
New reports prove that fully vaccinated individuals can still transfer the delta variant at the same rate as non-vaccinated people spreading the original coronavirus strain. Many reports even argue that the delta variant’s spreading rate is as fast as chickenpox in the unvaccinated population. “If you have a vaccinated individual who is in a place with substantial or high transmission – and they’re contacting a lot of people – 1 in 20 or 1 in 10 could possibly lead to a breakthrough infection” even with a vaccine that’s 90 to 95% effective,” Walensky said.
Between the risk and the vaccine
Even with the vaccine, some risk remains. Sure, the virus is less deadly, but that doesn’t deem it any less serious. According to the emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Dr. Leana Wen, “Risk is cumulative.”
Wen describes the vaccines as a very potent raincoat. And just like with any ordinary raincoat, results can vary considering the environment. In cases of mere drizzling, the coat can shield the individual, so is the case with normal to down hard rain. However, if you choose to go out into the rainstorm every day without extra precautions, chances are you might end up getting wet.
She further explains that if individuals receive multiple encounters with a huge chunk of the unvaccinated population while living in a high-level transmission area, chances of a breakthrough infection will increase.
The specific circumstances of vaccinated people wearing masks
Though masks are still required for the entire population in airports, trains, and hospitals, there are factors to consider in non-mandatory settings, even when vaccinated. First of all, a person should be aware of the vaccination status of all the people living in his household. Thus, if they live with immunocompromised or unvaccinated young or elderly, they should highly consider wearing masks in high-risk indoor environments. Though vaccination lowers the transmission rate of the virus, it does not eliminate them.
Wen explains that the rate of coronavirus infection and vaccination in one’s area is another factor to consider. “These two are generally correlated: The areas with higher rates of vaccination also tend to have lower levels of infection,” she stated.
“If you’re living in an area where over 80% of adults are vaccinated, and the Covid-19 rates are very low, your chances of encountering an unvaccinated, infected person is greatly reduced. You are probably safer going without a mask there compared to, say, if you’re living in an area with less than 30% of adults vaccinated and where the Delta variant is surging.”
A more reason for vaccination
Despite all these alerting new findings, the COVID-19 vaccine is reducing the levels of transmission, albeit less effectively with the Delta strain. Moreover, the vaccine is what’s keeping people out of hospitals and overwhelming the health sector once again. According to the CDC, most coronavirus vaccines have the ability to decrease the risk of severe disease or death by ten times.
The new CDC study suggests that “even jurisdictions without substantial or high COVID-19 transmission might consider expanding prevention strategies, including masking in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.”
COVID-19 Vaccination. (2021, July 27). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.htmlEpisode #23 – I am vaccinated, what next? (2021). WHO. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/science-in-5/episode-23—i-am-vaccinated-what-next?gclid=CjwKCAjwxo6IBhBKEiwAXSYBswTp-HTKqXgyMv1dC1xRmizcBZnqtlzavblffOfuzsDICQKQH-Dc-RoC9RcQAvD_BwEHetter, K. C. (2021, July 8). When should vaccinated people wear masks now? An expert weighs in. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/08/health/indoor-mask-wearing-coronavirus-vaccine-wen-wellness/index.htmlNedelman, M. C. (2021, July 30). CDC shares “pivotal discovery” on Covid-19 breakthrough infections that led to new mask guidance. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/30/health/breakthrough-infection-masks-cdc-provincetown-study/index.htmlRodriguez, A. U. T. (2021, July 27). “New science is worrisome”: CDC recommends wearing masks indoors, again. What that means for vaccinated Americans. USA TODAY. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/07/27/covid-vaccinated-americans-advised-wear-masks-again-what-that-means/5385279001/
Rasmus Baludan is racist, Ignoramus, provocateur, and liar
Seeking to become a publicity hound before contesting elections in Sweden, scheduled for September, the right-wing Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Baludan has apparently decided to recruit supporters and fans by resorting to an unlikely and un-classical method: Setting copies of the Holy Quran on fire.
Rasmus Baludan, the racist hoodlum, hoped and probably still hopes that by showing off his Islamophobia by provoking Muslims and offending their religious sensibilities, he would woo supporters and potential voters in Sweden. To his chagrin, the vast majority of people in Denmark and Sweden ignored him. In the Swedish city of Jonkoping, A priest named Reverend Fredrik Hol drowned out an inflammatory anti-Islam rally by Baludan by ringing his church bells.
The feat succeeded in shutting up the racist harangue for some time. On behalf of nearly 1800 million adherents of Islam, I would like to salute Reverend Hol and thank him for his sublime gesture and noble behaviour.
Moreover, a special expression of gratitude goes to our Christian brothers and sisters in Sweden and Denmark who refused to allow the good name of Jesus Christ to be besmirched by the germ of bigotry, racism, and fanaticism. Jesus wouldn’t stir up fitna ( tumult and turmoil) to attract voters and get elected.
Baludan reportedly intends to run in the upcoming Swedish elections, scheduled for next September. However, he seems to have failed to secure enough signatures to run for office, prompting observers to suggest that he may have taken the provocative act of burning copies of the Holy Quran, in order to woo Swedish voters.
In the 2018 elections in Denmark, Rasmus Baludan’s party “Straam Cox”,failed to win a single seat in Parliament, He was imprisoned in 2020 in Denmark for one month reportedly after being convicted of racism.
Also Read: Combating Racism – Lived Experiences
I believe setting the religious scripture of Islam on fire, besides being an uncivilized and outrageous act, is an expression of extreme ignorance and intolerance.
After all, there is absolutely nothing in the Quran that denigrates Jesus and his immaculate chaste mother, Mary.” The opposite is true, Jesus is celebrated in the Quran as one of the five greatest messengers of God, who include beside him, Noah, Abraham Moses and Muhammed.
Interestingly, the fool of Copenhagen or Stockholm invoked the mantra of freedom of expression to justify his repulsive misdeed.
Well, what about the right to be free from being insulted and offended?
Doesn’t one’s freedom end, when another person’s freedom begins? In Matthew 5:29 we read “If thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out and cast it away from you.”
Thus, freedom of speech and expression is not absolute, otherwise, words soon morph into bullets and bombs, and bloodshed is the inevitable outcome of this folly.
Furthermore, life is not a straightforward mathematical equation. Besides the proscribed rights and privileges, there are other paramount values in life that are not recorded in a law book, such as respect, humility, kindness, tolerance, love, and wisdom.
Rasmus Baludan, instead of behaving like Peter the hermit who incited Europe against the Muslim near East, about a thousand years ago, causing the death of millions of people in the infamous Crusades, should behave like a messenger of love and peace. The Prophet Muhammed (may the peace and blessing of God be upon him) said in the authentic Hadith: You will not be able to win the hearts of people with your money, so win them with your love, kindness, and sound morality.
Finally, a few words to my Muslim brothers and sisters
Don’t be provoked by fools like Rasmus Baludan. Don’t lose your calm and composure, for this is his exact aim. This is because once you lose your mental equanimity, you let Satan take over you.
Remember this Aya “And do not insult those who invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.” [6:108]
I am not suggesting that we should succumb to apathy and passivity and do nothing. But we should do much more than just vent our frustration and indignation. For the sake of Islam, and in order to triumph over such fanatic ignoramuses, we often need to suppress our frustration.
More to the point, we must exhaust all efforts to cooperate with people of goodwill regardless of creed and ethnicity. Needless to say, this is undoubtedly a vital and crucial dimension for our
Moreover, remember that every people under the sun has their own bran, and Rasmus Baludan should be viewed as the bran of his people. And yes, we are not perfect ourselves as we do have people like him or even worse!
In fact, it is absolutely unwise and immensely damaging for Muslims, especially Muslim expatriates in the West, to erupt in fury every time an anti-Islam villain provokes Muslims by making a stupid, offensive slur, or desecrating Islamic symbols, or even burning a copy of Islam’s Holy Book. The Quran is preserved in our hearts, and no idiot or little man can extricate the word of Allah from a believer’s heart. Indeed, instead of displaying convulsive rage, and shouting meaningless and pugnacious slogans, we should behave with serenity, calm, and dignity lest we inadvertently convey to the world a damaging message about ourselves and about our great religion. And if we don’t behave, we will have only ourselves to blame, since the vast majority of non-Muslims don’t distinguish between what Islam says and what some Muslims do.
Also Read: Islam in 2075: World’s Largest Religion!?
So, let the dogs keep barking, and the caravan keep going. For if stones are thrown at the barking dogs, they will only bark more loudly and become more aggressive and ferocious.
Remember, nothing, absolutely nothing would hurt and disappoint these hoodlums more than your self-composure and non-violent reactions, and nothing would please them more than your screams and indulgence in violence, verbal and otherwise.
Display Islam’s glorious message, and never act on your primitive impulses and defensive reflexes for revenge.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine: Will more states seek to acquire Nuclear weapons?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is prompting many states around the world to reconsider their national defence strategies. Governments have privately and openly voiced their apprehension about the growing fragility of the post-WWII international order, especially the utter inability of the UN and its Security Council to prevent powerful hegemonic nations, such as Russia, from attacking and occupying and annexing large territories of less powerful neighbours, such as Ukraine.
Some leaders and diplomats have warned that, in light of the clear impotence of the UN in tackling the Ukrainian crisis, and in the absence of a nuclear deterrent of their own, some vulnerable non-nuclear states will be forced to either acquire Nuclear weapons to achieve a semblance of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) vis-à-vis potential predators or seek a military alliance with some established nuclear powers for the same purpose.
Zelensky: “Ukraine will be like a Big Israel”
Speaking to reporters a few days ago, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters that post-war Ukraine would be like “a big Israel.”
He didn’t clarify what he exactly meant by drawing the Israeli analogy.
However, it was amply clear that he was alluding to the contemplated acquisition of a sizeable Nuclear weapon, like that of Israel, in order to deter a future possible Russian invasion. Ukraine had given up its Nuclear weapons to Russia following the downfall of the former Soviet Union.
However, experts argue that Ukraine could fairly quickly renew its Nuclear weapon since the country already possesses the technical and scientific infrastructure which it inherited from the Soviet era.
Hence, Ukraine wouldn’t have to begin from scratch in case it decided to renew its nuclear weapon program. Moreover, Ukraine could start producing enriched uranium for military purposes in a few days, depending on the decision of the political leadership. Shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine 11 months ago, Ukraine’s defence officials voiced their deep remorse for having given up their former nuclear arsenal. In light, it is almost certain that the current leadership in Kyiv will decide to revive the nuclear option as soon as an opportune time arises.
Medvedev: Russian defeat in Ukraine would trigger a nuclear war
This weak, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO of nuclear war if Russia was defeated in Ukraine.
Medvedev, an ally of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, warned that a Russian defeat in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war. “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war,” Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Putin’s powerful security council, reportedly said in a post on the Telegraph.
“Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends,”.
Warning should be taken seriously
Undoubtedly, Medvedev’s warnings contain an important element of rhetorical sabre-rattling and psychological warfare. However, this writer believes the West ought to take the warnings quite seriously.
There are sufficient reasons that should make us think twice before dismissing the above doomsday warnings as hot air. Indeed, a Russian defeat in Ukraine would have far-reaching global consequences and ramifications.
Indeed, a decisive and humiliating Russian defeat in Ukraine would very likely be the most important strategic international game-changer not only since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1989 but also since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Russia would morph into a boiling cauldron of anger and furious indignation.
Thus, the demand for the use of nuclear weapons to avert a possible Russian defeat in Ukraine would gain massive popularity throughout Russia. The galvanization of Russia’s 145 million population would be the penultimate step leading to the kremlin’s decision to press the nuclear button.
Nuclear is futile if not used when needed
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Advocates for the nuclear option would convincingly argue that nuclear weapons would lose their raison detre if they failed to protect the possessor country, the motherland, when needed most, e.g., when the country faces the prospect of defeat and humiliation in war. The question of who is the aggressor and who is the victim would be almost irrelevant in such an atmosphere. Moreover, the US, which used the first ever and last nuclear weapon against Japan in 1945, would not be in a moral position to lecture Russia on the evils of using nuclear weapons.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine: Gigantic Dilemma
A Russian victory or defeat in Ukraine would cause the current international order, instated after WWII, to collapse. A decisive Russian defeat in Ukraine, which seems unlikely at least now, would likely irreversibly paralyze or effectively terminate the UN and its Security Council. The UN would virtually become completely at the US beck and call.
On the other hand, a decisive Russian victory, which is also unlikely, would turn the international order upside down and transform the world into a real jungle.
A Russian victory would probably encourage certain states to emulate Russia and carry out naked aggressions of their own against militarily weaker foes or neighbouring states. Certain possible scenarios come to the mind in this regard.
China might be emboldened to invade and occupy Taiwan if Russia emerged as winner.
Israel might well decide to seize the opportunity and wage an all-out war on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the purpose of liquidating the Palestinian issue once and for all. In the process, Israel might carry out huge massacres of Palestinians and embark on the demolition of Islamic holy places in Jerusalem especially the Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. Moreover, Israel might also decide to carry out massive airstrikes on Iranian cities or even drop nuclear bombs under the rubric of destroying the Iranian nuclear program and preventing the recurrence of the Holocaust!
Other possible scenarios would probably include a possible all-out war by North Korea against South Korea, and a naked aggression by Russian-backed Serbia against Bosnia and Kosovo.
I am not a prophet of doom and gloom, but it is always safer to assume that the worse could happen. There is no doubt that a new world order would appear after the end of the Russian invasion of Ukraine regardless of the outcome of the war . There is also little doubt that the post-Ukraine war will witness more military and strategic polarization than ever. However, the gravest problem facing the post-war world order would, almost certainly, take the form of many states seeking actively to acquire nuclear weapons for their own national defence. Therefore, the nuclear proliferation issue would be the number-1 problem facing the world, with the chances of a nuclear accident or miscalculation reaching terrifying levels. (end)
BBC’s Modi Documentary Rattles Modi Government
BCC recently released a documentary on India’s controversial right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi rattling Modi and his ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The documentary’s first episode titled “India: The Modi Question” which was released in the UK on 17th January drew a sharp reaction from the Modi government.
Modi Government Blocks the Documentary in India
The Modi government moved swiftly to block the documentary in India. Proving right the critics of IT Rules, 2021, the Modi government’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting invoked emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 to order YouTube to take down all the videos that had published the first episode of the documentary. Orders were also issued to Twitter to take down all the tweets that had posted the link to the documentary. Both YouTube and Twitter complied with the orders, removing all the posts and videos flagged by the government.
The government alleged that the documentary was found to be “undermining sovereignty and integrity of India, and having the potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign states”, which allowed for the invocation of the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. The government also alleged that the documentary questions the credibility of the Supreme Court of India and attempts to sow divisions among different communities while also making unsubstantiated allegations regarding the activities of foreign governments in India.
Earlier India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson dismissed the documentary as a “propaganda piece that lacks objectivity and reflects colonial mindset”. The spokesperson also questioned the timings of the release of the documentary.
The documentary’s first episode produced by the BBC tracks Modi’s “first steps into politics”- his association with the right-wing Hindu extremist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), his rise through the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and further his appointment as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat in 2001 till 2014. As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi’s involvement in and his response to a series of communal riots in 2002 remains a source of controversy.
The documentary highlights a previously unpublished report, obtained by the BBC from the British Foreign Office, which raises questions about Modi’s actions during the religious riots. The report claims that Modi was “directly responsible” for the “climate of impunity” that enabled the violence.
The report cited by the BCC was part of an inquiry ordered by the then foreign secretary Jack Straw. The reports say that “the extent of violence was much greater than reported” and “the aim of the riots was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas”.
Jack Straw is heard in the documentary saying, “these were very serious claims that Mr Modi had played a proactive part in pulling back police and in tacitly encouraging the Hindu extremists. That was a particularly egregious example of political involvement to prevent police from doing their job to protect the Hindus and the Muslims.”
Modi’s Role in Gujarat Riots of 2002
It is the documentary’s highlight of the Gujarat riots of 2002 that has rattled the Modi government.
The Gujarat riots of 2002 claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people. Most of those killed were Muslims. Modi is alleged to have instigated the riots and further prevented the police and the army from taking any action to stop the riots. Most of the reports published on the Gujarat riots by the Indian media as well as the international media point out Modi’s direct role in facilitating the riots. It has been claimed that Modi gave a free hand to Hindu extremists to kill Muslims and the aim was to purge Hindu localities of Muslims.
Modi has rejected these accusations. Further, in 2013 an investigation approved by the Indian Supreme Court absolved Mr. Modi of complicity in the rioting. Based on that finding, a court in the state of Gujarat found that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.
Action Taken by Foreign Countries against Modi
Like the above-cited British Foreign Office report, there were many countries that were convinced of Modi’s role in the killing of Muslims during the riots. Concerned countries acted against Modi at different levels.
Modi was banned entry into the U.S. for more than a decade for his role in the riots. In 2005, Modi became the only person ever to be denied a U.S. visa under the 1998 law on violations of religious freedom. The U.S. State Department invoked a little-known U.S. law passed in 1998 that makes foreign officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for visas. The ban on Modi’s travel to the U.S. was revoked by the Obama administration in 2014 after he became the prime minister of India.
A Permanent Stain on Modi’s Career
Modi may have achieved great things in his political career, but the stain of the Gujarat riots is permanent on his career.
Modi loves the camera. He loves advertising and branding himself. Modi puts his picture on everything. He loves hearing his voice. However, ever since he became the prime minister of India, he has never given an unscripted interview to the media. He has also never held a press conference in India or abroad. It has been claimed that Modi does not want difficult questions about his attitude towards the Muslim minority of India thrown at him.
When Modi became the prime minister of India, Indian liberals were hopeful that Modi had changed. They were wrong in their assessment that Modi as a prime minister would be inclusive. However, after Modi’s eight years as a prime minister now, he has not changed his attitude towards Muslims. As of now, Muslims are increasingly persecuted by his government.
This author highly recommends that you watch the BBC documentary on Modi. Its first episode has been released here (if you are outside the UK watch it here or use VPN). The next episode will be available on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at 21:00.
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