Monday Reads: Are We Headed For Civil War?

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Good Morning!!

The news this morning is full of stories about corruption by Trump and his cronies; but even more horrifying, Trump himself spent the weekend ranting on Truth Social–his own social media company–and he seemed to suggest that he wants a civil war in the U.S.

Business Insider: Trump reshares post on Truth Social that appears to suggest or predict a civil war in America.

Trump re-posted a suggestion from a Truth Social user called “MAGA King Thanos,” who commented on a screenshot of a tweet from El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele.

In the tweet, Bukele wrote: “The most powerful country in the world is falling so fast, that it makes you rethink what are the real reasons. Something so big and powerful can’t be destroyed so quickly, unless the enemy comes from within.

Bukele’s remarks came in response to a Bloomberg tweet on coping with inflation in the US if one earns under $300,000 a year.

The post that Trump re-shared captured the Truth Social user’s comment on Bukele’s tweet, which read “Civil war.”

Here’s the post Trump shared:

More from Business Insider:

Bukele is El Salvador’s millennial president — a controversial figure who once switched up his Twitter bio to call himself “the coolest dictator in the world.”

Trump’s re-post was picked up on by conservative political activist George Conway, the husband of former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway.

“Nothing to see here. Just a former president of the United States sharing a social media post advocating or predicting civil war in the United States. No biggie,” he tweeted.

Trump’s comment was also swiftly rebuked by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of Trump’s staunchest critics in the GOP.

“Any of my fellow Republicans wanna speak out now?” Kinzinger tweeted. “Or are we just wanting to get through ‘just one more election first…?”

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell also weighed in on Trump’s post, tweeting: “Donald Trump is calling for Civil War. Of course, like Vietnam and the walk to the Insurrection, he won’t be man enough to fight it.” 

In January, Barbara F. Walter published a book called How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them. I believe I put something in a post about it at the time. Here are some articles from the time the book came out.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: ‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe,’ new study says.

A startling new finding by one of the nation’s top authorities on foreign civil wars says we are on the cusp of our own.

Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego, serves on a CIA advisory panel called the Political Instability Task Force that monitors countries around the world and predicts which of them are most at risk of deteriorating into violence. By law, the task force can’t assess what’s happening within the United States, but Walter, a longtime friend who has spent her career studying conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Rwanda, Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere, applied the predictive techniques herself to this country.

Her bottom line: “We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.” She lays out the argument in detail in her must-read book, “How Civil Wars Start,” out in January. “No one wants to believe that their beloved democracy is in decline, or headed toward war,” she writes. But, “if you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America — the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast or Venezuela — you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely. And what you would find is that the United States, a democracy founded more than two centuries ago, has entered very dangerous territory.”

Indeed, the United States has already gone through what the CIA identifies as the first two phases of insurgency — the “pre-insurgency” and “incipient conflict” phases — and only time will tell whether the final phase, “open insurgency,” began with the sacking of the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

Things deteriorated so dramatically under Trump, in fact, that the United States no longer technically qualifies as a democracy. Citing the Center for Systemic Peace’s “Polity” data set — the one the CIA task force has found to be most helpful in predicting instability and violence — Walter writes that the United States is now an “anocracy,” somewhere between a democracy and an autocratic state.

Dropping five points in five years greatly increases the risk of civil war (six points in three years would qualify as “high risk” of civil war). “A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy,” Walter writes. “A country standing on this threshold — as America is now, at +5 — can easily be pushed toward conflict through a combination of bad governance and increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions.”

The Boston Globe published an interview with Walter by Shannon Larson: Q&A with Barbara F. Walter, author of ‘How Civil Wars Start,’ on the prospect of open civil conflict breaking out in the US.

Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego, has spent over three decades studying civil conflict. In her new book, “How Civil Wars Start: and How to Stop Them,” Walter examines the rise of violent extremism on a global scale and warns of the increasing likelihood of a second civil war breaking out in the United States.

“January 6, 2021 was a gift to the American people,” she tweeted on the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the Capitol. “It made it impossible for the country to ignore or deny the cancer that has been growing out of the public eye for years. We can fix this!”

From the interview:

1) In your book, you write that the United States is “closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.” How did you reach that conclusion?

“I’m a quantitative social scientist who studies civil wars. That means that I don’t study just one civil war in one country. I study all civil wars that have occurred over the last 80 years (and there have been over 200 of them). There has been an enormous amount of data collected by scholars on the factors that lead to civil war — so we know what things tend to put countries at greater risk of civil war.

“In addition, between 2017 and 2021, I served on the Political Instability Task Force run by the US government. The Task Force included political scientists, economists, anthropologists, and data analysts. The task of the Task Force was to put together a predictive model that would help the US government predict where around the world political instability and political violence was likely to break out. The Task Force included over 50 variables in the model — variables that the experts thought might matter, like poverty, income inequality, the ethnic diversity of a country, the size of a country, etc. Only two factors turn out to be highly predictive: anocracy and ethnic factionalism.”

2) What is an anocracy? What does it mean when a government is defined as such?

“Anocracy is a term that political scientists use for a government that is neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic, it is something in between. You can think of it as a partial democracy, weak democracy, illiberal democracy. It turns out that it is in this middle zone — between democracy and autocracy — that most civil wars occur. The second factor was whether a political faction had emerged in an anocracy that was based on ethnic, religious, or racial identity, and that faction then had the goal to gain power in order to exclude everyone else.”

3) What are some of the more notable examples in recent history demonstrating that the country is heading down the path toward a civil war?

“The US’s democracy has been weakening since 2016. It was downgraded first in 2016, then again in 2019, and then finally again after the January 6th attack on the Capitol, when it was classified as an anocracy for the first time since 1800.

“And then, one of America’s two big parties — the Republican Party — has become a faction based on race. As late as 2008, white Americans were equally likely to be a Democrat as a Republican. Today, 90 percent of the Republican Party is white, and it is doing everything possible to disenfranchise those who don’t vote Republican.” [….]

6) What would a modern civil war look like?

“The next civil war will look nothing like the last civil war. 21st-century civil wars tend to look much more like insurgencies — often fought by multiple factions, militias, and paramilitary groups — sometimes working together, sometimes competing. And they tend to use unconventional methods such as terrorism and guerilla warfare. It will look more like Northern Ireland and the 1st and 2nd intifada than Gettysburg.”

I’ve quoted quite a bit of the article, because it is behind a paywall.

This piece by Stephen Marche at The Guardian is also an important read. The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it.

The United States today is, once again, headed for civil war, and, once again, it cannot bear to face it. The political problems are both structural and immediate, the crisis both longstanding and accelerating. The American political system has become so overwhelmed by anger that even the most basic tasks of government are increasingly impossible.

The legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government at all levels is in freefall, or, like Congress, with approval ratings hovering around 20%, cannot fall any lower. Right now, elected sheriffs openly promote resistance to federal authority. Right now, militias train and arm themselves in preparation for the fall of the Republic. Right now, doctrines of a radical, unachievable, messianic freedom spread across the internet, on talk radio, on cable television, in the malls.

The consequences of the breakdown of the American system is only now beginning to be felt. January 6 wasn’t a wake-up call; it was a rallying cry. The Capitol police have seen threats against members of Congress increase by 107%. Fred Upton, Republican representative from Michigan, recently shared a message he had received: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your family dies.” And it’s not just politicians but anyone involved in the running of the electoral system. Death threats have become a standard aspect of the work life of election supervisors and school board members. A third of poll workers, in the aftermath of 2020, said they felt unsafe.

Two things are happening at the same time. Most of the American right have abandoned faith in government as such. Their politics is, increasingly, the politics of the gun. The American left is slower on the uptake, but they are starting to figure out that the system which they give the name of democracy is less deserving of the name every year.

An incipient illegitimacy crisis is under way, whoever is elected in 2022, or in 2024. According to a University of Virginia analysis of census projections, by 2040, 30% of the population will control 68% of the Senate. Eight states will contain half the population. The Senate malapportionment gives advantages overwhelmingly to white, non– college educated voters. In the near future, a Democratic candidate could win the popular vote by many millions of votes and still lose. Do the math: the federal system no longer represents the will of the American people.

The right is preparing for a breakdown of law and order, but they are also overtaking the forces of law and order. Hard right organization have now infiltrated so many police forces – the connections number in the hundreds – that they have become unreliable allies in the struggle against domestic terrorism.

I’ve focused this post on civil war, because I think this is where the Trumpists and the rest of the Republicans who cower in fear of their base are taking us. And I don’t think the Democrats are taking this seriously enough. I hope I’m wrong about that.

More stories to check out today:

The New York Times: Kushner’s and Mnuchin’s Quick Pivots to Business With the Gulf.

Crew: The Secret Service spent nearly $2 million at Trump properties.

The Guardian: Capitol attack panel to hold six public hearings as it aims to show how Trump broke law.

Just Security: Prosecuting Trump for the Insurrection: The Well-Founded Case f.or Optimism.

The Daily Beast: How Trump’s Fear of Getting Pied in the Face May Come Back to Cream Him.

The Washington Post: Russian diplomat resigns protesting Putin’s ‘aggressive war.’

The New York Times: U.S. Military Airlifts Baby Formula From Europe.

CNN: Biden says US would respond ‘militarily’ if China attacked Taiwan, but White House insists there’s no policy change.

Melissa Murray at The New York Times How the Right to Birth Control Could Be Undone.

Politico: State Democrats, abortion-rights activists ‘incredibly frustrated’ with federal inaction.

Have a nice Monday, Sky Dancers!!


Sunday Reads: Recalls and Control

First off…there has been a recall of Jif peanut butter:

My daughter is feeling better now, but there is a big stink about the recall..because Jif and Smuckers is telling people to throw out the tubs of peanut butter, no mention of refunds being given. I don’t know…anyway.

Cartoons via Cagle:

Check out this quick video:

It’s a list of the 192 PLUBs that voted against starving babies…live birthed ones that is.

Now for some links.

Here’s a few other things via instagram…I hope you can see them.

Hope this post does not give and format issues. This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Ophelia Redpath2

By Ophelia Redpath, British artist

Good Morning!!

Just a short time ago, I knew almost nothing about Tesla owner Elon Musk; and now I wish I’d never even heard his name. This man is another Donald Trump–narcissistic, childish, completely self-involved, and devoid of empathy. What. An. Asshole.

Obviously, Musk’s bid to buy Twitter was a desperate ploy for attention. He’s gotten it, but much of the attention has been negative. Now both Tesla and Twitter stock are losing value and he has been credibly accused of sexual harassment. According to Business Insider, Musk exposed himself to a Space X flight attendant and asked her to perform a sex act, then paid her $250K for her silence when she refused. Even more shocking, the BI story said that Space X flight attendants were required to provide massages to Musk and other passengers and it was suggested that they get professional massage training and pay for it themselves. On top of that, yesterday Musk began baselessly attacking Hillary Clinton.

Jack Ewing at The New York Times: Tesla’s Aura Dims as Its Plunging Stock Highlights the Risks It Faces.

Investors are reassessing the premise that justified Tesla’s astronomical stock price and made its founder, Elon Musk, the richest person in the world.

Tesla’s $1 trillion valuation made sense only if investors believed the electric car company was on a path to dominate the auto industry the way Apple rules smartphones or Amazon commands online retailing.

But Tesla’s shares have declined more than 40 percent since April 4 — a much steeper fall than the broad market, vaporizing more than $400 billion in stock market value. And the tumble has called attention to the risks that the company faces. These include increasing competition, a dearth of new products, lawsuits accusing the company of racial discrimination and significant production problems at Tesla’s factory in Shanghai, which it uses to supply Asia and Europe.

Mr. Musk has not helped the stock price by turning his bid to buy Twitter into a financial soap opera. His antics have reinforced the perception that Tesla lacks an independent board of directors that could stop him from doing things that might damage the company’s business and brand.

“From a corporate good governance perspective Tesla has a lot of red flags,” said Andrew Poreda, a senior analyst who specializes in socially responsible investing at Sage Advisory Services, an investment firm in Austin, Texas. “There are almost no checks and balances.”

Even longtime Tesla optimists are having doubts. Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, has been one of the most steadfast believers in Tesla on Wall Street. But on Thursday, Wedbush lowered its target price for Tesla — the firm’s estimate of the shares’ fair market value based on future earnings — to $1,000 from $1,400. Mr. Ives cited Tesla’s problems in China, where lockdowns have throttled the supply of crucial parts and materials and demand for cars.

Dick and Puffin, by Nan Youngman, 1931, British

Dick and Puffin, by Nan Youngman, 1931, British artist

This is from Business Insider, via Yahoo Finance: 3 years after SpaceX is said to have paid a former employee $250,000 over Elon Musk’s sexual misconduct, women at Musk’s companies continue to complain about inappropriate behavior.

Even after SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to a contract worker flight attendant so that she wouldn’t sue its billionaire chief Elon Musk over sexual misconduct….three years since that settlement, female employees continue to raise sexual harassment issues at Musk’s companies, SpaceX and Tesla.

“In the past year alone, I have had to bring multiple different incidents of sexism to HR,” former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said in an essay published in December on Lioness. Kosak said she started as an intern in 2017 and became an engineer in 2019.

But “nothing was done” after she flagged these incidents to HR, she said. The company promised mandatory training about sexual harassment, but “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators,” according to Kosak.

“Ultimately, the stress that had mounted from my years of working at SpaceX broke my health down in ways I had never previously experienced,” said Kosak, and she left the company in late November….

SpaceX is not the only company founded by Musk that faced allegations of sexual misconduct and harsh work conditions.

At Tesla, at least 24 women have sued the carmaker in the past five years, alleging that they were sexually harassed, groped, or even physically assaulted, according to an Insider report in March. Some said they were denied pay raises and promotions, the article added.

In late 2021 alone, Tesla was hit by at least eight lawsuits alleging sexual harassment at the company by female workers, according to reports from Insider and The Washington Post.

Jiří Petr

Painting by Jiří Petr

Six women filed individual lawsuits on December 14 alleging that Tesla fostered a culture of sexual harassment at its factories, The Post reported.

A few days prior, on December 8, an employee alleged that the carmaker failed to stop “a pattern of continuous and pervasive” sexual harassment and retaliating against her at its Fremont factory, Insider reported.

And in November, a worker sued the company for operating like a “frat house” by subjecting female employees to “rampant sexual harassment.”

Perhaps in response to the NYT report yesterday or knowledge of the upcoming sexual harassment story, Musk posted a Trumpian tweet suggesting he planned to begin suing people who dared to insult him. Raw Story: ‘There will be blood’: Elon Musk seeks to hire ‘hardcore streetfighters’ as Tesla stock tanks.

“Tesla is building a hardcore litigation department where we directly initiate & execute lawsuits. The team will report directly to me,” Musk posted to Twitter, which he is seeking to acquire.

He included an email address and asked people to “please send 3 to 5 bullet points describing evidence of exceptional ability.”

“Looking for hardcore streetfighters, not white-shoe lawyers like Perkins or Cooley who thrive on corruption,” he explained.

“There will be blood,” the billionaire added ominously.

Musk was roundly mocked on Twitter for this; some tweeters suggested Musk had tried to hire high-profile attorneys who weren’t interested in his childish games. Kind of like Trump–I wonder if Musk pays his legal bills?

And then there’s this from psychologist John Gartner:

Yesterday, Musk actually replied approvingly to a tweet by Jim Jordan and attacked Hillary Clinton for a tweet she sent in 2016. The right wingers are trying to lock Hillary up again because she approved giving information to a journalist about a possible connection between the Trump organization and Alpha Bank.  The last I heard, giving a tip to a reporter is not a crime.

Business Insider: Elon Musk called out Twitter over 2016 Hillary Clinton tweet linking the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

Elon Musk has accused Twitter of allowing “disinformation” on its platform by failing to act on a 2016 tweet by Hillary Clinton that linked the Trump Organization to a Russian state-owned bank.

Musk, who is in the process of buying Twitter, was prompted by a user who said they had reported the tweet — a screengrab of a statement from her policy adviser in response to a Slate article — to “the powers that be” at the social media giant for “misleading disinformation.”

Musk replied: “You are absolutely correct. That tweet is a Clinton campaign hoax for which their campaign lawyer is undergoing a criminal trial.” Musk linked to a BBC article from May 18 about a trial in which Michael Sussmann, Clinton’s lawyer, has been accused of trying to “manipulate” the FBI in the run-up to the 2016 election.

There’s more stupid stuff at the link if you’re interested. How is this guy any different from Trump?

One more Musk/Trump-related story from The Washington Post: Oracle’s Larry Ellison joined Nov. 2020 call about contesting Trump’s loss.

Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder and chairman of the software company Oracle and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call shortly after the 2020 election that focused on strategies for contesting the legitimacy of the vote, according to court documents and a participant.

Sasha Bassari (166)

Painting by Sasha Bassari

The Nov. 14 call included Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.); Fox News host Sean Hannity; Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Donald Trump; and James Bopp Jr., an attorney for True the Vote, a Texas-based nonprofit that has promoted disputed claims of widespread voter fraud.

Ellison’s participation illustrates a previously unknown dimension in the multifaceted campaign to challenge Trump’s loss, an effort still coming into focus more than 18 months later. It is the first known example of a technology industry titan joining powerful figures in conservative politics, media and law to strategize about Trump’s post-loss options and confer with an activist group that had already filed four lawsuits seeking to uncover evidence of illegal voting….

Details of the November 2020 call and questions about Ellison’s role in it were revealed in new filings made in litigation brought against True the Vote and its representatives by Fair Fight, a political action committee associated with the voting rights organization founded by Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

“Jim was on a call this evening with Jay Sekulow, Lindsey O. Graham, Sean Hannity, and Larry Ellison,” True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, wrote to a donor on the night of the call, referring to Bopp, her organization’s lawyer. “He explained the work we were doing and they asked for a preliminary report asap, to be used to rally their troops internally, so that’s what I’m working on now.”

Ellison’s participation in the call was confirmed by a participant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private matters. This person said Ellison, as a technology executive, may have been enlisted to assess claims about voting machines made by Sidney Powell, a onetime member of Trump’s legal team. And the person said the GOP megadonor was probably looped in by Graham, as part of a discussion about whether the Trump campaign had assembled an effective legal team.

Did Ellison urge Musk to buy Twitter to either help Trump get his account back or help right-wingers get control of the platform in preparation for 2024?

In other stupid right-wing news, check out this story at NBC News: Laws restricting lessons on racism are making it hard for teachers to discuss the massacre in Buffalo.

Two days after a white gunman opened fire and killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, teacher Elizabeth Close began her high school ethnic studies class in Austin, Texas, by reminding her students about a new state law that requires her to provide balanced perspectives on “widely debated and currently controversial issues.”

Oscar Wilde, by Theo Daamen

Oscar Wilde, by Theo Daamen

Close told her students that under the law, one of several recently implemented across the country that limit the ways teachers can discuss racism and current events, she was obligated to inform them that there’s more than one way to view Saturday’s mass shooting.

On one hand, she explained that authorities are investigating the killings as a racially motivated hate crime carried out by an 18-year-old who reportedly wrote of his belief in a conspiracy theory that white Americans are being “replaced” by people of color through immigration, interracial marriage and integration.

“But I’m also supposed to tell you that that’s just one perspective,” Close recalled telling her students. “Another perspective is that this young man was out defending the world — or his kind — from being taken over.”

Close waited for her comment to fully register with her students, then added: “If you guys want to know why I’m thinking about quitting at the end of the year, it’s because of these types of policies — the fact that I have to have this conversation with you.”

Unbelievable.

I might as well stick with the stupid right-wingers theme. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy is getting a lot of attention for a racist remark about high rates of deaths of women in childbirth. Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy: Our Maternal Death Rates Are Only Bad If You Count Black Women.

Louisiana, which has a…trigger law that will go into effect upon Roe being reversed, maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation. But according to GOP senator Bill Cassidy, the rate at which women die during pregnancy or shortly after is not as bad as it seems—if you subtract the deaths of Black women, which apparently don’t count.

In an interview with Politico, the following words came out of Cassidy’s mouth: “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.” There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the idea that Cassidy—who wants to defund Planned Parenthood is all, Yes, on its face, our maternal mortality rates are abysmal, but if you only count white women, they’re not that bad!

Then there’s the phrase “for whatever reason.” In fact, there is one very big reason in particular— perhaps you can take a guess? “It’s no mystery why maternal mortality rates are so high among Black women,” Michelle Williams, the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health said in response. “They are high because of the devastating impacts of structural racism and individual bias.”

Ophelia Redpath

By Ophelia Redpath

One more from The Daily Dot about the right-wing Georgia rep who was asked by the January 6 committee to explain what he was doing showing a group of people around the Capitol building on January 5: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Loudermilk gave a radio interview that blows up his denials about hosting Jan. 6 protesters in his office.

The Daily Dot has obtained a radio interview from Jan. 6, 2021, from WBHF in Cartersville, Georgia, in which Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) says, “about a dozen” people were present in his congressional office in Washington, D.C. the day before the Capitol riot.

Yesterday, Loudermilk said in a statement that “a constituent family” visited him the day before the Capitol riot. That is an updated version of a previous statement by Republicans on the Committee on House Administration—which Loudermilk is a member of—that originally stated “there were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” given by him or other Republicans in advance of the Capitol riot.

But in the interview—given as the riot was winding down—Loudermilk made it clear that he met with people who were planning to protest on Jan. 6, and that he discussed how they wanted to be in the crowd that day to protest the results of the 2020 election.

Yesterday, the January 6th Select Committee sent a letter to Loudermilk, requesting his testimony. In the letter, they noted that “Republicans on the Committee on House Administration … claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days preceding January 6th and determined that ‘[t]here were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.’ However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial.”

That’s it for me today. Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!


Finally Friday Reads: Into the Woods

Girl in White in the Woods, 1882, Vincent van Gogh.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Things keep getting weirder this week. News broke last night that would be stunning if it was just one story. But, it wasn’t just one story. It is story after story after story including a shooting at a university I taught at while I was ABD.

I’ve been grading and working on my earth mother vibe to try to stave off that feeling that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. My neighbor drove me to get a sourdough starter. I used to work this into bread weekly when my girls were quite little. Well, I think it went bad around the time I had cancer and couldn’t keep up with anything and that would make baby daughter an actual baby daughter. This starter actually comes from Sandor Katz about 20 years ago. So it must have radical power!

This brings me to the formula shortage and the behavior of the Nasty Nine Republican Congress Critters in the House. My first daughter never had formula at all but the littlest one got weaned early because my milk just dried up at the shock of my cancer diagnosis. She was like 5 months at the time and we had to get her on soy formula because, like me, she had issues with the regular stuff. Fortunately, the soy alternative was around for her. I can’t imagine it being absent from shelves. It hurts thinking about it.

I still can’t believe anyone serving in Congress couldn’t get themselves to vote for a program to help put baby formula on shelves. Most voted to get some flexibility on formula brands for WIC recipients. But, 200 of them evidently decided that it wasn’t time for government spending on live babies. They seem to have their whitie-tighties in a bunch over the President getting the military to bring some in from Switzerland too. It’s the continuation of that forced birth notion where we forget the actual children once they’re out of the birth canal. So, this is the good and horrid news yesterday for families with fertile mothers.

The good news is that the baby formula shortage may come to an end rather quickly. From WAPO: “Baby formula plant may be open within a week, FDA commissioner says.” Maybe, I’m obsessed with this because I have two granddaughters on formula right now but it just seems like something that shouldn’t happen in a highly developed country. It’s mostly because we’ve let the industry get way too concentrated and have done a lot to stop the importation from foreign sources. The last one was when NAFTA was renegotiated and Trump was having his milk wars with Canada. I guess the one good thing is my kids are close to Canada and have resources since both are Doctors.

Congress on Thursday passed a measure aimed at helping low-income mothers more easily get baby formula, as lawmakers intensified their scrutiny of failures at the Food and Drug Administration, failures that led to a nationwide shortage of a critical food source for infants and medically fragile children.

The bill, which President Biden is expected to sign, passed unanimously in the Senate and with bipartisan support in the House. It would allow mothers in the Women, Infants and Children program — who buy half the formula in the United States — a broader choice of formulas during supply-chain crises that threaten baby food and formula.

The votes came on a day when FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf was grilled by members of a House appropriations subcommittee about failures at his agency that contributed to the shortage. The members criticized the FDA for moving too slowly to investigate a whistleblower complaint last year at a baby formula plant in Sturgis, Mich., that makes much of the U.S. supply of powdered formula. The plant was inspected and shuttered only this year after two infants were sickened and two infants died after consuming contaminated formula. Abbott Nutrition, which operates the plant, has said there isn’t clear evidence the contamination came from the factory.

Let’s hope this ends shortly before any more babies get sick or die.

Asleep In The Woods, Jules Breton, 1877

This, however, keeps going on and I hope we get some frog marches before we all die of advanced age. This is from Politico: “Eastman provides new details of Trump’s direct role in legal effort to overturn election. The court filing describes the direct role of Trump himself in developing strategy, detailing “two hand-written notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.”

John Eastman, the attorney who architected Donald Trump’s last-ditch legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election, revealed Friday that he routinely communicated with Trump either directly or via “six conduits” during the chaotic weeks that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

In a late-night court filing urging a federal judge to maintain the confidentiality of his work for Trump, Eastman provided the clearest insight yet into the blizzard of communications between Trump, his top aides, his campaign lawyers and the army of outside attorneys who were working to help reverse the outcome in a handful of states won by Joe Biden.

The filing also describes the direct role of Trump himself in developing strategy, detailing “two hand-written notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.” Those notes are among the documents Eastman is seeking to shield via attorney-client privilege. Eastman said he would also speak directly with Trump by phone throughout his legal challenges to the election.

Eastman described these contacts and records as part of an effort to prevent the Jan. 6 select committee from accessing 600 emails that describe his efforts to build Trump’s legal gambit to reverse the 2020 election outcome — and, when that failed, urge state legislatures to simply overturn the results themselves. He argues that the documents are protected by attorney-client and attorney work product privileges that Congress has no business probing, even as the panel investigates the circumstances that led a mob of Trump supporters to attack the Capitol.

Well, that’s what lawyers call “proof of intent”. (Lock him up!)

Okay, deep breaths and a poem before I go on …

How I go into the Woods

by Mary Oliver

Ordinarily I go to the woods alone,
with not a single friend,
for they are all smilers and talkers
and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree.
I have my ways of praying,
as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone
I can become invisible.
I can sit on the top of a dune
as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me,
I must love you very much.

“Walking at the forest edge”, Ferdinand Hodler, 1885

Well, it had to come to pass, and turn off the TV for the weekend unless you want to be driven nuts by tales of Hunter Biden’s laptop. I think it was leaked as a distraction because unless we get to hear about Donald Jr, Ivanka, and Jared’s forays into shaking down nations, I do not give a fuck about this. However, here’s the NBC take. (Hint: he went on a drug-fueled bender as he mentioned in HIS BOOK.) Analysis of Hunter Biden’s hard drive shows he, his firm took in about $11 million from 2013 to 2018, spent it fast. The hard drive and documents from Senate Republicans indicate few of Biden’s deals ever came to fruition and shed light on how fast he was spending his money. ” Just so, you remember, this is like Benghazi, it never goes away.

NBC News obtained a copy of Biden’s laptop hard drive from a representative of Rudy Giuliani and examined Biden’s business dealings from 2013 to 2018 based on the information available on the hard drive and the scope of the documents released by the Senate.

The Republicans on the Senate Finance and Homeland Security committees, then chaired by Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, respectively, issued their first report on Biden’s business dealings in September 2020. The 87-page report said Biden had “cashed in” on his name, but Johnson said in an interview before its release that the report included “no massive smoking guns.”

Now in the minority, the Republicans from the two committees are still reviewing and analyzing several hundred pages of financial and business documents tied to Biden and his business associates, according to a person familiar with the committee’s work.

But of course, his LAPTOP!!

And, here’s the only twist of interest to me:

I have to admit, it’s somewhat like watching two trains wreck at once. Trust Fund Tuckums just surely can grovel just as well as throw utter bull crap to an audience.

Tucker Carlson and his wife were looking to get their son a leg up in his college application to Georgetown University when they turned to a well-connected Washington friend who had an even better-connected father.

“I realize you don’t really know Buckley,” Susie Carlson wrote via email in 2014 to Hunter Biden, a Georgetown graduate and the son of the then-vice president. “Maybe you could meet or speak to him and he could send you a very brief resume with his interests and grades attached.”

Tucker Carlson offered that his son was a good squash player and an excellent fly fisherman. “He loves Washington for all the right reasons, I think,” Carlson added, “and really wants to go to school here.” When Biden agreed to write a letter of recommendation, Susie Carlson added a heap of praise: “Tucker and I have the greatest respect and admiration for you. Always!”

And speaking of weasely wipipo gone wild, this is from Michael Tomasky’s “Fighting Words, a weekly newsletter about what got me steamed this week. ” You may get this newsletter from TNR. It perks up my Fridays for sure!

Item two: Who is Barry Loudermilk?

Thursday afternoon on MSNBC, Nicolle Wallace asked Charlie Sykes, What do you know about Barry Loudermilk? Sykes offered that all-too-rare cable TV response: Not much, really.

Who is he? He’s a congressman from Georgia, from the 11th district, north and west of Atlanta. He co-sponsored legislation to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. He seems to be in the pocket of the credit-rating agencies, whittling away at consumer protections. He voted not to certify the presidential election results. And so on. A run-of-the-mill right-wing backbencher: hence Wallace and Sykes’s lack of information. Nothing of particular interest.

But now, the January 6 select committee has hit upon something quite interesting indeed. Loudermilk gave a tour of the Capitol to constituents on January 5, 2021. That’s, uh, one day before January 6, as you have no doubt already sussed. The Capitol was closed. He was caught on closed-circuit showing some people around.

The long-held suspicion, of course, is that some GOP members gave “reconnaissance tours” before the riot to people who’d come to town to storm the Capitol. Loudermilk insists that he did nothing wrong—that it was just one family, and they never ventured into the areas that were breached. If so, that family got a pretty crappy tour, considering that the breached areas included the halls directly surrounding the House chamber, the House gallery upstairs, and the magnificent Rotunda, the showcase of any Capitol tour, with its impressive statuary and its eight large canvases depicting scenes of the early republic.

We shall see what we shall see. But one increasingly gets the feeling from the leaks that have come out from the committee that these people know stuff. A lot of stuff. Which the rest of us will know soon enough.

As you can see, I’m trying some new tricks today to distract me from all the mass shootings, the Elon Musk Tweets, etc. But I will say that Elon Musk is such a supreme sociopath and narcissist that he could give Donald Trump a run for his money.

Okay, some pretty music before you’ll need to take another morning shower on the next one. I got to hear Bernadette Peters in concert so that’s my happy place right now. My oldest daughter wore the tape out on this one. When I was living in Minneapolis, we went to see it live at the Circle Theatre! What a treat!

Okay, I warned you.

WAPO’s Emma Brown has this headline: “Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice, pressed Ariz. lawmakers to help reverse Trump’s loss, emails show.” Can we PULEEZE get some FROGMARCHES in this country?

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory and choose “a clean slate of Electors,” according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.

The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear.

Just days after media organizations called the race for Biden in Arizona and nationwide, Thomas urged the lawmakers to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure.” She told the lawmakers the responsibility to choose electors was “yours and yours alone” and said they have “power to fight back against fraud.”

In the Woods, 1855 Asher Brown Durand

But her EMAILS! But his LAPTOP! Lock her up!

It seems like nearly every Republican candidate is trying to outdo each other in selling out women’s bodies to the state. This is from HuffPo: “Trump-Endorsed Candidate Backs Banning Birth Control. Jacky Eubanks, who is running for Michigan state Senate, said “sex ought to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage.” Yes, it’s another Phyliss Schafly wannabe.

Donald Trump’s pick for a Michigan state Senate seat is promising to ban all birth control if she gets the chance.

“I guess we have to ask ourselves, would that ever come to a vote in the Michigan state legislature? And if it should, I would have to side with it should not be legal,” Republican Jacky Eubanks said in a recent interview with the site Church Militant.

“People believe that birth control — it’s better, like you said, oh, because then you won’t get pregnant and you won’t need to have an abortion,” she added. “But I think it gives people the false sense of security that they can have consequence-free sex, and that’s not true and that’s not correct. Sex ought to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage.”

Eubanks’ comments are some of the most explicit from a conservative candidate about going after contraception. But some other Republicans have made clear that with abortion rights likely to be struck down this summer, they’re starting to eye contraception restrictions as well.

Republican politicians have started talking about Griswold v. Connecticut as another case they’d like to see the Supreme Court overturn after Roe v. Wade. That 1965 decision said married couples have a right to contraception access based on the constitutional right to privacy. That decision could set the stage for future decisions that further restrict birth control protections, abortion and marriage equality.

Okay, I’m going to go water the squash. Set yeast. Go grade. If this country comes to a vile end then I at least want to go out with a good dinner. Church Militant? WTF is a church militant? This certainly can’t have anything to do with the Jesus of the Beatitudes. As my grandfather used to say when he cursed “Jesus wept!”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Rainy Day Boston, Frederick Childe Hassam

Rainy Day Boston, Frederick Childe Hassam

Good Morning!!

Here’s what I see as the major topics in the news today: world events stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine; the ongoing Trumpist attack on U.S. democracy; and the new wave of Covid-19 cases.

Outgrowths of Ukraine War

Fascism and totalitarianism expert Timothy Snyder at The New York Times: We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist.

Fascism was never defeated as an idea.

As a cult of irrationality and violence, it could not be vanquished as an argument: So long as Nazi Germany seemed strong, Europeans and others were tempted. It was only on the battlefields of World War II that fascism was defeated. Now it’s back — and this time, the country fighting a fascist war of destruction is Russia. Should Russia win, fascists around the world will be comforted.

We err in limiting our fears of fascism to a certain image of Hitler and the Holocaust. Fascism was Italian in origin, popular in Romania — where fascists were Orthodox Christians who dreamed of cleansing violence — and had adherents throughout Europe (and America). In all its varieties, it was about the triumph of will over reason.

Because of that, it’s impossible to define satisfactorily. People disagree, often vehemently, over what constitutes fascism. But today’s Russia meets most of the criteria that scholars tend to apply. It has a cult around a single leader, Vladimir Putin. It has a cult of the dead, organized around World War II. It has a myth of a past golden age of imperial greatness, to be restored by a war of healing violence — the murderous war on Ukraine.

You’ll need to read the whole essay to get the full impact of Snyder’s argument, but here’s a bit more:

We understand more about fascism than we did in the 1930s. We now know where it led. We should recognize fascism, because then we know what we are dealing with. But to recognize it is not to undo it. Fascism is not a debating position, but a cult of will that emanates fiction. It is about the mystique of a man who heals the world with violence, and it will be sustained by propaganda right to the end. It can be undone only by demonstrations of the leader’s weakness. The fascist leader has to be defeated, which means that those who oppose fascism have to do what is necessary to defeat him. Only then do the myths come crashing down.

Paris Street in the rain, by Gustave Caillebotte

Paris Street in the rain, by Gustave Caillebotte

As in the 1930s, democracy is in retreat around the world and fascists have moved to make war on their neighbors. If Russia wins in Ukraine, it won’t be just the destruction of a democracy by force, though that is bad enough. It will be a demoralization for democracies everywhere. Even before the war, Russia’s friends — Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, Tucker Carlson — were the enemies of democracy. Fascist battlefield victories would confirm that might makes right, that reason is for the losers, that democracies must fail.

Had Ukraine not resisted, this would have been a dark spring for democrats around the world. If Ukraine does not win, we can expect decades of darkness.

The Economist: The coming food catastrophe. War is tipping a fragile world towards mass hunger. Fixing that is everyone’s business.

By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will destroy the lives of people far from the battlefield—and on a scale even he may regret. The war is battering a global food system weakened by covid-19climate change and an energy shock. Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. Together, the two countries supply 12% of traded calories. Wheat prices, up 53% since the start of the year, jumped a further 6% on May 16th, after India said it would suspend exports because of an alarming heatwave.

The widely accepted idea of a cost-of-living crisis does not begin to capture the gravity of what may lie ahead. António Guterres, the un secretary general, warned on May 18th that the coming months threaten “the spectre of a global food shortage” that could last for years. The high cost of staple foods has already raised the number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat by 440m, to 1.6bn. Nearly 250m are on the brink of famine. If, as is likely, the war drags on and supplies from Russia and Ukraine are limited, hundreds of millions more people could fall into poverty. Political unrest will spread, children will be stunted and people will starve.

Mr Putin must not use food as a weapon. Shortages are not the inevitable outcome of war. World leaders should see hunger as a global problem urgently requiring a global solution.

landscape-with-rain-wassily-kandinsky

Landscape with rain, Wassily Kandinsky

Russia and Ukraine supply 28% of globally traded wheat, 29% of the barley, 15% of the maize and 75% of the sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400m people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odessa.

Even before the invasion the World Food Programme had warned that 2022 would be a terrible year. China, the largest wheat producer, has said that, after rains delayed planting last year, this crop may be its worst-ever. Now, in addition to the extreme temperatures in India, the world’s second-largest producer, a lack of rain threatens to sap yields in other breadbaskets, from America’s wheat belt to the Beauce region of France. The Horn of Africa is being ravaged by its worst drought in four decades. Welcome to the era of climate change.

The Trumpist Attack on U.S. Democracy

This is from The Washington Post news analysis by Leigh Ann Caldwell, Theodoric Meyer: Trump uses Pa. primary to continue effort to undermine electoral system.

Donald Trump‘s continued effort to discredit or manipulate the electoral process is playing out in two distinct but related ways in the wake of Tuesday’s primary contests in Pennsylvania.

First, he is casting doubt on the result of the Senate GOP primary by once again making baseless claims that mail-in ballots are causing problems and suggesting his preferred candidate, Mehmet Oz, should just declare victory.

“It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find,’” Trump said, providing no evidence, on his social media platform Truth Social, our colleague Colby Itkowitz reports.

Second, the nominee he backed for governor, Doug Mastriano, won the primary and if he wins the election in November, Mastriano would have considerable influence over how the state’s presidential election results are handled in 2024 when Trump may be on the ballot as our colleague’s Rosalind S. HeldermanIsaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey explain.

Mastriano has been one of the staunchest backers of Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and the steps he wanted officials to take to deny Joe Biden victory.

Rain swept street, by Mike Barr

Rain swept street, by Mike Barr

“As governor, Mastriano would have the opportunity not just to speak, but to act,” Roz, Isaac and Josh write. A possibility that is “worrying experts already fearful of a democratic breakdown around the 2024 presidential contest.”

“Those concerns are made especially acute in Pennsylvania by the fact that the governor has the unusual authority to directly appoint the secretary of state, who serves as chief elections officer and must sign off on results. If he or she refuses, chaos could follow.”

Read more at the WaPo link.

Reid Epstein at The New York Times: Midterm Stakes Grow Clearer: Election Deniers Will Be on Many Ballots.

Republican voters in this week’s primary races demonstrated a willingness to nominate candidates who parrot Donald J. Trump’s election lies and who appear intent on exerting extraordinary political control over voting systems. The results make clear that the November midterms may well affect the fate of free and fair elections in the country.

In Pennsylvania, Republican voters united behind a nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano, who helped lead the brazen effort to overturn the state’s 2020 election and chartered buses to the rally before the Capitol riot, and who has since promoted a constitutionally impossible effort to decertify President Biden’s victory in his state.

In North Carolina, voters chose a G.O.P. Senate nominee, Representative Ted Budd, who voted in Congress against certifying the 2020 results and who continues to refuse to say that Mr. Biden was legitimately elected.

And in Idaho, which Mr. Trump won overwhelmingly in 2020, 57 percent of voters backed two Republican candidates for secretary of state who pushed election falsehoods, though they lost a three-way race to a rival who accepts Mr. Biden as president.

The strong showings on Tuesday by election deniers, who have counterparts running competitively in primaries across the country over the coming months, were an early signal of the threat posed by the Trump-inspired movement.

This story about what’s happening in Idaho was published before yesterday’s primaries, but it’s still an important read. Christopher Mathias at HuffPo: Living With The Far-Right Insurgency In Idaho.

IDAHO — White nationalist Vincent James Foxx had a new video for his nearly 70,000 subscribers on BitChute, one of the few tech platforms that hasn’t banned him. On Feb. 16, he appeared wearing a baseball hat emblazoned with the state’s outline tilted on its side so that it resembled a pistol.

“We are going to take over this state,” Foxx declared. “We have a great large group of people, and that group is growing. A true, actual right-wing takeover is happening right now in the state of Idaho. And there’s nothing that these people can do about it. So if you’re a legislator here, either get in line, or get out of the way.”

Foxx, 36, isn’t from Idaho. He only recently moved from California to Post Falls. But in the video, he showed off photos of himself posing with a string of prominent Republican politicians in the state as he explained who he’s supporting in the upcoming primaries, slated for May 17.

gregory thielker Rainy day in Washington DC

Gregory Thielker,, Rainy Day in Washington, DC

He was especially excited about a selfie he’d taken a week prior: It showed him and fellow white nationalist Dave Reilly, a recent Pennsylvania transplant also living in Post Falls, standing alongside Idaho’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin. All three were smiling.

“We’re supporting her,” Foxx said, bragging of his movement’s “deep connections” to McGeachin, whom former President Donald Trump endorsed in the GOP primary race for governor. Foxx then explained how his particular brand of Christian white nationalism is poised to conquer Idaho, then the country.

“The solution is local politics: Amassing power in these pockets of the country until it’s time to unify,” he said. “I’ve only been here for a couple of months and I’m tapped in the way that I am. You can do it too.”

Fascists like Foxx are famous fabulists, experts at exaggerating their influence and success. But Foxx wasn’t just talking shit.

He is one of many far-right activists who have flocked to Idaho in recent years, where a large and growing radical MAGA faction in the state’s Republican Party has openly allied itself with extremists to a shocking extent, even for the Trump era. This faction is accruing more and more power in Boise, the state capital: Imagine a statehouse full of Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Steve Kings. At the local level, they have seized seats on school boards and county commissions at a fast clip.

Please read the rest. This could easily happening in other small states.

New Covid Wave

The Washington Post: Top Biden health officials sound warning on rising covid infections.

Top Biden administration officials warned Wednesday that one-third of Americans live in communities experiencing rising levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and urged them to resume taking personal protection measures, including wearing masks.

The increase in new infections — nearing 100,000 a day — comes as the nation heads into Memorial Day weekend with its large gatherings and travel. That case count is almost certainly an undercount, officials said, given the widespread use of at-home tests for which results are often not reported to health officials.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strongly encouraged those living in communities designated yellow or orange, indicating they have large numbers of new infections and hospitalizations, to consider wearing masks in indoor public spaces and taking other steps to protect themselves.

“As we’re currently seeing a steady rise of cases in parts of the country, we encourage everyone to use the menu of tools we have today to prevent further infection and severe disease, including wearing a mask, getting tested, accessing treatments early if infected and getting vaccinated or boosted,”she said.

Wednesday’s warnings from Walensky and two other officials — Ashish Jha, White House coronavirus coordinator, and Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser — came on the same day the United States surpassed the grim milestone of 1 million covid-19 deaths, a toll that even the starkest predictions at the start of the pandemic in 2020 did not anticipate.

In the Rain, ,Franz Marc

In the Rain, Franz Marc

Also from The Washington Post: How big is the latest U.S. coronavirus wave? No one really knows.

Experts say Americans can assume that infections in their communities are five to 10 times the official counts.

“Any sort of look at the metrics on either a local, state or national level is a severe undercount,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist at the Pandemic Prevention Institute, housed at theRockefeller Foundation. “Everyone knows someone getting covid now.”

Hospitalizations nationally have increased 57 percent since bottoming out six weeks ago. But the roughly 23,000 covid patients in hospitals over the last week still represent nearly the lowest hospitalization levels of the entire pandemic.The recentincrease is led by the Northeast, where hospitalization rates are almost twice as high as in any other region.

Reported cases of covid have also tripled in the Northeast in just over a month, driving much of the growth nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The country has averaged about 100,000 new cases each day over the past week —more than three times as high as at the lowest point in March.

The latest uptick in infections is testing a new CDC alert system adopted by many local and state governments that categorizes community levels of covid-19 as “low” even with the number of new cases rising to a level once considered high.

More than two-thirds of Americans live in low-risk areas under these metrics. But 43 percent of residents in the Northeastlive in areas considered high-risk, compared with 9percent in the Midwest and less than 1 percent each in the South and West.

I recommend clicking the link and reading the entire article.

morning-on-the-seine-in-the-rain-1898, Claude Monet

Morning on the Seine in the rain, Claude Monet

CNBC: U.S. faces unnecessary Covid deaths if Congress fails to pass funding bill, top health official warns.

Top U.S. health officials on Wednesday reiterated their calls for Congress to pass funding for the nation’s fight against Covid-19, warning that failure to act now would result in an unnecessary loss of life in the fall and winter.

Their warning comes as new infections and hospitalizations are on the rise as the more transmissible omicron subvariants sweep the U.S.

The nation is reporting more than 94,000 new infections daily on average as of Monday, a 25% increase over the previous week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, hospitalizations have increased 18% over the past week with about 3,000 people admitted with Covid every day on average, according to CDC data.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the new White House Covid response coordinator, said the fact that many people are now taking at-home tests, results of which are not captured in the data, has to be taken into consideration.

“We know that the number of infections is actually substantially higher than that, hard to know exactly how many, but we know that a lot of people are getting diagnosed using home tests,” Jha said during a White House update on the pandemic Wednesday. “We’re clearly undercounting cases. There’s a lot of infections across America.”

Those are today’s top stories as I see it. What do you think? What stories are you following?