May of 2021: From Amazon to zombie fires

Thanks to the vaccine and plateauing COVID cases, the economy has been slowly reviving…

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Bill & Melinda Gates

In a surprise announcement, Bill & Melinda Gates announced their divorce. It was not immediately clear what, if any, impact this decision would have on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – the largest foundation in the world.

Later developments showed Melinda Gates’ concerns about Bill’s time spent with accused sex-trafficker Jeffery Epstein. Epstein, though now dead, is still a continuing toxic presence to many leaders and celebrities including at least two former presidents.

Amazon eats MGM

For about $8.5 billion, Amazon acquired the MGM company and, of course, its legendary film catalog of 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows to help bolster Amazon Studios. This deal is the second-largest acquisition in Amazon’s history, behind its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods in 2017.

On the news, shares of Amazon barely moved.

In cyber-crime

Cyber-hackers crippled a major pipeline that runs from Texas to New York City (carrying almost half of the oil for the East Coast).

A criminal group with ties to Russia was the primary suspect.

As expected, this led to a fuel supply problem, and an associated increase in prices, first along the East Coast and then reverberating across oil markets.

The stockmarket responded accordingly – with a triple digit drop.

And in pointless local crime

Rural Pierce County seems to hold the record for clumsy attempts at crime, but the burglary of a dental office in Purdy marks a new point in low achievement.

200 vials of COVID vaccine were stolen. One has to ask why anyone would bother to steal something given away in public settings.

The vaccine was later found discarded. The suspect was quickly found and charged.

COVID news

COVID cases (and multiple variants) have expanded dramatically in India, with thousands of new cases daily.

Here in Washington state, every four year college, except one, has announced a requirement that all students have a vaccination for entry for fall quarter admission.

Supply chain glitch of the month

Each month seems to have its own supply chain problem. It might be garden furniture or toilet paper.

May, of course, is no exception. Besides a fuel supply problem because of the ransomware hacking of the Colonial Pipeline, we already had an accumulating lumber supply problem with standard prices being about triple what they were a year ago – if you could find it at all.

Gas prices on the East Coast hit record highs, and at one point over 80% of gas stations were literally running on empty.

The economy

Thanks to the vaccine and plateauing COVID cases, the economy, especially the retail and hospitality sectors have been slowly reviving.

I see “Help wanted” signs almost everywhere.

The first quarter of 2021 looks good, but in April the jobs numbers were not as high as expected.

This recovery, like every recovery perhaps, will be rougher and will take longer than most of us would like.

They walk among us

Yes, there were multiple confirmations of non-terrestrial aircraft (formerly known as UFOs) by military and government sources – and these, under normal circumstances, would constitute the largest and most long term threat to all of humanity.

No one knows where they come from, what they want or what they are capable of.

You can see an extended news segment on these other worldly visitors here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ufo-military-intelligence-60-minutes-2021-05-16/.

Congress is having regular briefings on UFOs (also known as UAP – unidentified aerial phenomena).

These are obviously a race of advanced intelligence and technology.

In contrast to these potential aliens with super intelligence, we on earth have, among our own species, an even greater threat – people who live and work among us all who exhibit an astounding lack of awareness and intelligence that creates untold hazard and threat for them as well as all of us.

For whatever reason, many of these acts of inconceivable stupidity emerged in May of 2021.

What could surpass the astonishing cluelessness that would lead to the final (sometimes literally) act of filling plastic bags with flammable and potentially explosive gasoline?

Every step of this process, to filling the bags, putting them in a vehicle, shaking them on the journey home, storing them at home, and, presumably, getting the fuel into a more solid container or another vehicle is a near-constant toxic, explosive and flammable exposure.

Fly the unfriendly skies

But that’s not the only place we saw stupid and destructive behavior in May.

Virtually every airline has reported a dramatic increase in unruly and disruptive behavior on the part of airline passengers.

More than 4,000 passengers have been banned for life from several US airlines.

Much of this behavior is a threat to everyone on the flight as well as those on the ground, and yes, for many of these events, “alcohol may have been a factor.”

Several airlines have stopped in-flight alcohol sales until fall – or when sanity returns, whichever comes first.

In summary, in case your parents didn’t raise you right, don’t put gasoline in plastic bags and don’t act like a drunken lout on a 30,000 foot transoceanic flight.

Wear/don’t wear that mask

The CDC relaxed its face mask requirements in public places for those who have had the vaccine.

The problem is that this policy relies on the honor system; not everyone has, or is willing to get, the vaccine or use basic safety protocols.

Like everything else from semi-conductors to rental cars, honor is in short supply in these times.

As we all emerge back into the public sphere, the economy is beginning to perk up and, we can only hope that our COVID numbers do not also rise.

Zombie fires

If murder hornets and jumping worms weren’t unsettling enough for you, consider zombie fires.

These are fires that smolder underground, even under ice and snow, and when conditions are right, burst into flame and start a whole new forest fire. These are increasingly common across the Arctic. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-arctic-wildfire/overwintering-zombie-fires-may-become-more-common-as-climate-changes-idUSKCN2D01UW

Tacoma in the national news – again

Tacoma is rarely in the national news for good reasons, and the Tacoma news stories that flashed across the national news media were no exception.

The killing of Manuel Ellis by Tacoma police was not the video Tacoma civic boosters wanted the world to see.

The last weekend in May

The final weekend was Memorial Day weekend, with the holiday falling on the final day of the month – which also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre which led to the deaths of over 300 Black American citizens and the destruction of a 35 square block center of the city.

No prosecutions, insurance payments or compensation occurred.

Memorials of various aspects of our shared history took many forms.

The last weekend in May was also the busiest travel weekend in decades.

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