The Grey Swan Guild News Wrap — The Week That Was January 29, 2021

These are a series of stories we are tracking in the Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers Newsroom. Here is the Great, Good, Bad, and Ugly of what we saw in the world this week.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

The Great 🤗

  1. World changers deliver. Bill and Melinda Gates released their Annual Letter, stating that the world has an important opportunity to turn the hard-won lessons of this pandemic into a healthier, more equal future for all. To date, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $1.75 billion in the fight against COVID-19. Most of that funding has gone toward producing and procuring crucial medical supplies. “We backed researchers developing new COVID-19 treatments including monoclonal antibodies, and we worked with partners to ensure that these drugs are formulated in a way that’s easy to transport and use in the poorest parts of the world so they benefit people everywhere.” — Gates Notes.
  2. The mRNA is the message. The technology behind the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is leading researchers to possible breakthrough in multiple sclerosis (MS). BioNTech, the German firm which together with Pfizer created one of the COVID-19 vaccines, says they used the same technology to create a vaccine which delayed the onset and reduced the severity of MS in mice. Clinical trials published in Science showed that not only was the progression of the disease halted, but some lost motor function was recovered in the mice. — Kaiser Health News.
  3. All dressed up with no place to go. Combinations of lockdown measures, drones, isolation, and winter don’t have to lead to riots and water cannons. These intrepid souls in Canada, in a very Canadian way, strapped on snow shoes and beat down massive acres of snow in snowshoe art that aliens from another planet would only see as beautiful and signs of intelligence. The pandemic turns out to be a creative opportunity with the rise of grand art in isolation. — The Weather Network.

The Good 😀

  1. No fooling around. Gaming was the great connector in 2020 and the market agreed. Gaming, whether it was Among Us, Animal Crossing, Call of Duty, or Scrabble Go, was what brought us back together. Pitchbook tracked over 1,500 transactions to a total deal value of $43 billion within entertainment software. — Venture Beat.
  2. It’s never ok. Intimate Partner Violence during Covid-19 has been qualified as a “Pandemic within the Pandemic”. Iran is about to pass new laws against domestic violence. January 3, a new bill protecting women against domestic violence has been drafted and approved by Iran’s cabinet. “The Protection, Dignity and Security of Women Against Violence Bill” has been in progress for over a decade and is largely attributable to the work of women’s rights advocates. — The Organization for World Peace.
  3. Your numbers will come in. Las Vegas will bounce back from the pandemic. For the first time since the pandemic started and the state shut down nonessential businesses last March, Nevada’s jobless rate dropped to 9.2 percent in December. A new study by the Las Vegas Convention found out that 91 percent of business travelers miss face-to-face meetings, 77 percent would prefer attending conferences, conventions, and trade shows in person, and 74 percent believe Las Vegas prepared to safely host in-person events in the second half of 2021. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, gaming generated a net income of $2.9 billion compared to $2 billion in 2019. — Eater Las Vegas.

The Bad 😬

  1. Dans la galère. Last week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex allowed first-year university students to start studying again on-site from January 25 in a bid to address a growing human crisis. According to the Observatory of Student Life, a third of France’s 2.7 million university students are suffering from depression, anxiety and loneliness, and run the risk of dropping out. This week, French schoolteachers and students staged nationwide strikes and protests to demand more government support amid the pandemic. “Sick of Zoom!” chanted university students, frustrated to be barred from campuses since October. — RFI, France 24.
  2. Not tonight, we’re socially distancing. The pandemic is leading to a baby bust, not a baby boom. The Brookings Institution estimated that the U.S. had 300,000 fewer births in 2020 than in 2019. In one survey by the Guttmacher Institute, it was revealed that 34 per cent of American women have “either delayed their plans to have a child or reduced the number of children they expect to have as a result of the pandemic”, while another survey found that nearly half of adults reported a decrease in their sex life amid the pandemic. — The Independent.
  3. You can’t eat anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. According to the National Restaurant Association (U.S.), restaurant and foodservice industry sales fell by $240 billion in 2020 from an expected level of $899 billion. As of December 1, 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking places were closed for business temporarily, or for good. The eating and drinking place sector finished 2020 nearly 2.5 million jobs below its pre-coronavirus level. — The National Restaurant Association.

The Ugly 😱

  1. America’s billionaires have grown $1.1 trillion richer during the pandemic. Forty-six people joined the ranks of billionaires since March 2020, the week after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, according to the report by progressive groups Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness. More than 8 million Americans fell into poverty during the final six months of 2020, according to real-time estimates published by the University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame and the Lab for Economic Opportunities. — CNN.
  2. In the UK, deaths resulting from COVID-19 surpassed the Great Plague, the AIDS pandemic, and every terror attack and war since 1945 combined. The grim milestone is also more than twice as many people who died during the Blitz during the Second World War, and represents the highest death toll in Europe. — The Independent.
  3. The war over vaccines has started and is taking place in multiple scales. The Wisconsin pharmacist who was arrested in December for intentionally causing the destruction of more than 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine, has pleaded guilty to federal charges, facing up to 20 years of prison. In Florida, a once named “Paramedic of the Year” faces charges for his alleged role in helping a supervisor steal doses of the Moderna vaccine. Louisiana gets reports that vaccine providers are discriminating in favor of their patients. At a larger scale, E.U. and U.K. are now fighting over scarce vaccines, as vaccine production falls behind schedule, and the European Union lags in inoculating people. — ABC, NBC, The New York Times.

Memes of the week.

To celebrate 2021, the Boston Dynamics team published the latest achievements of their robots —
“Mental health in France…” “I met your grandfather for the first time in a place with tables, glasses, plates…” “A restaurant?” “Exactly! How do you know?” — Plantu

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