Lazy Caturday Reads

Vicky Mount

By Vicky Mount

Good Afternoon!!

I’m getting a late start today. The news this week has been so awful; I feel really exhausted and drained of energy.

Using the computer has gotten more difficult for me as I’ve gotten older. I can’t believe I just turned 74. Reading on the computer really bothers my eyes now; fortunately I have a tablet with a large screen as well as a Kindle. I can still read things with those and my phone. I use computer glasses and have turned down the brightness on my laptop, but I still can’t stay on the computer for more than a couple of hours without getting eyestrain and a headache. That’s why I don’t comment as much as I used to.

I still love writing these posts. It helps me to deal with all the bad news by trying to organize it a bit in my mind. It also helps to be able to share the frustration with you guys. We have gone through so much together since 2008. It’s hard to believe all that has happened. Things are still really awful in our politics, but we have to hang in there and keep hope alive. What other choice do we have?

In Today’s News

Today is the anniversary of the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by the Chicago Police in 1969. The murders were part of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI COINTELPRO program, which infiltrated and undermined social justice groups–civil rights, feminists, anti-war, you name it. Hampton and Clark were members of the Black Panther Party. This is from the Equal Justice Initiative calendar for December 4: Chicago Police Assassinate Black Panther Party Leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Pre-Dawn Raid.

Around 4:30 am on December 4, 1969, plainclothes officers from the Chicago Police Department armed with shotguns and machine guns kicked down the door of the Chicago apartment where several Black Panther Party members were staying and opened fire on them. Though the Party members were asleep at the time and posed no threat, the officers fired over 90 bullets into the apartment, killing Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22—two leaders of the Black Panther Party—and critically wounding four other Party members. Mr. Hampton had been asleep next to his fiancé, who was eight-months-pregnant when he was killed.

White Cat Golden Pears, Tatiana Gorshunova

White Cat Golden Pears, Tatiana Gorshunova

Following Mr. Hampton and Mr. Clark’s assassinations on December 4, seven Panthers at the apartment that night, who had allegedly wounded two officers, were charged with attempted murder. In a statement released after the shooting, Edward Hanrahan, the Cook County state’s attorney who had ordered the violent raid, said: “The immediate, violent, criminal reaction of the occupants in shooting at announced police officers emphasizes the extreme viciousness of the Black Panther Party.”

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in Oakland, California, in 1966. Spurning civil rights tactics of marches, sit-ins, and boycotts, the Black Panther Party was inspired by the self-determination philosophy of Malcolm X and the “Black Power” speeches of Kwame Ture (born Stokely Carmichael). The Party founded youth centers and free breakfast programs, organized legally-armed patrols to guard against police brutality in Black neighborhoods, and became popular among Black urban youth as chapters spread throughout the country. In the 1968-69 school year, the Black Panther Party fed as many as 20,000 children.

Despite their goals of community empowerment and self-help, the Party was condemned by President Lyndon B. Johnson and other national leaders. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called the group “the most dangerous threat to the internal security of the country” in the late 1960s. The FBI also launched an aggressive counter-intelligence program aimed at dismantling the Black Panther Party through misinformation, infiltration, and by facilitating violent attacks against the group.

Just four days after the Chicago shooting, on December 8, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) violently raided the Black Panther Party’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California. In 1968, as urban riots were spreading across the country in response to police brutality, the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party formed to help combat the growing threat. The Party established monitoring patrols in Black neighborhoods and worked to ensure police accountability.

Read more at the link. If you would like to know more about the Black Panther Party and their work, I highly recommend Bobby Seale’s autobiography Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton. You can learn a bit more about Mark Clark from his sister at HBCU.org: 50 Years After His Death, Mark Clark’s Sister Shares His Story With Peoria And the World. Both these men were only in their early 20s when they were murdered.

The parents of Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley were located early this morning after they fled involuntary manslaughter charges, leaving their deeply troubled 15-year-old son to fend for himself. Detroit Free Press: James and Jennifer Crumbley caught, arrested after vehicle is found in Detroit.

James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the teen charged in the Oxford High School shooting, were located and arrested early Saturday in Detroit after a citizen saw their vehicle and called police.

Diane Ulmer Pedersen2

Girl with Cat, by Diane Ulmer Pedersen

“Yes, they are both in custody and will be on the way to the Oakland County Jail soon,” said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe. “Kudos to Detroit PD and all the other agencies that assisted.”

Police arrived at the scene, in the area of the 1100 block of Bellevue near E. Lafayette, about 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., Detroit Police Chief James White told reporters about 3 a.m. Saturday morning.

It’s believed the Crumbleys — facing charges of involuntary manslaughter connected to the Oxford High School mass shooting in which their son is accused — were let into a commercial building by someone, White said. 

Police know who that someone is and those who aided the couple could face criminal charges, White said.

The Crumbleys were found hiding inside and were “distressed” White said. They were unarmed.  

He said security video had helped officers by revealing one of the Crumbleys entering the building.

Authorities had been searching for the Crumbleys most of the day Friday after they were charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths at the high school in northern suburban Detroit. Their son, Ethan Crumbley, is charged with terrorism and first-degree murder in the case.

The Crumbley parents did not show for their arraignment Friday afternoon in Rochester Hills and the U.S. Marshals Service offered a reward for information leading to their arrests. 

Of course they are Trump supporters. What kids have to go through in school these days is horrible. What kind of a country and world are we leaving them with? Republicans are ruining this country with their refusal to do anything about guns, the environment, and anything else that helps make life worth living.

Have you heard the latest from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis? He wants to start a state militia at taxpayers’ expense that would answer to him alone. Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: The Disgusting Reality Behind Ron DeSantis’ New ‘Army.’

As governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis is understandably big on gators.

He had a gator logo along with the words “Don’t Tread on Florida” stenciled onto a sign he unveiled in October when calling for a special session of the legislature to counter federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

And his office had that gator’s twin on another sign with the words “Let Us Alone” affixed to the podium at a national guard armory in Pensacola on Thursday. The staging was completed with a huge American flag and a dozen national guardsmen who stood at attention as DeSantis entered.

Unknown artist, 19th Century

Unknown artist, 19th Century

“At ease,” he quietly told them.

The soldiers immediately obeyed, for they are under his command unless nationalized by presidential order. He was there to announce increased funding for the Florida National Guard.

But he also made known a plan to revive a state military unit whose uniforms will say FLORIDA rather than U.S. ARMY like those worn by the soldiers who stood at ease behind him as he now took to the podium. No matter what the president might want, the Florida State Guard will answer only to the governor—meaning DeSantis.

Call it Ron’s army.

“The Florida State Guard will act as a civilian volunteer force that will have the ability to assist the national guard in state-specific emergencies,” DeSantis said.

Like what? Beating up protesters? DeSantis has already signed a law that allows people to drive their cars into protests without punishment. A bit of history:

Back at the start of World War II, the federal government authorized the states to form military units to fill in for the National Guard, which had been incorporated into the U.S military to fight in Europe and the Pacific. The Florida Guard was formed in 1941. Its motto, “Let Us Alone,” invoked fealty to Florida, not to America, even though this was a time that called for national unity against a common enemy.

Those same three words had appeared on a flag that Florida’s first governor, William Moseley, flew at his inauguration in 1841. But, perhaps because Florida’s leading business people were actively engaged in trade with folks from beyond its borders, the state senate took exception to the words and never officially approved the flag.

The words reappeared on April 8, 1861, when members of the Florida militia took control of Fort Clinch in Fernandina Beach. That was four days before the Battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina marked the start of the Civil War.

“Hurrah for Florida, Let Us Alone,” this banner read.

There’s much more at the link. 

Diane Ulmer Pedersen

By Diane Ulmer Pedersen

Vladimir Putin has been busy. The Washington Post: Russia planning massive military offensive against Ukraine involving 175,000 troops, U.S. intelligence warns.

As tensions mount between Washington and Moscow over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. intelligence has found the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive as soon as early next year involving up to 175,000 troops, according to U.S. officials and an intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post.

The Kremlin has been moving troops toward the border with Ukraine while demanding Washington guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO and that the alliance will refrain from certain military activities in and around Ukrainian territory. The crisis has provoked fears of a renewed war on European soil and comes ahead of a planned virtual meeting next week between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders,” said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. “The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment.”

The unclassified U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Post, which includes satellite photos, shows Russian forces massing in four locations. Currently, 50 battlefield tactical groups are deployed, along with “newly arrived” tanks and artillery, according to the document.

More Stories to Check Out

Louis Wain, Cat in Garden Room

Louis Wain, Cat in Garden Room

Jill Lawrence at USA Today: Guns, abortion and COVID in America: Life, death and differences too stark to bridge.

The New York Times: Fearing a Repeat of Jan. 6, Congress Eyes Changes to Electoral Count Law.

Paul Waldman at The Washington Post: Opinion: It’s time to say it: The conservatives on the Supreme Court lied to us all.

John Nicols at The Nation: Ted Cruz is the Disease.

CNN: A blizzard warning is in effect for Hawaii as the lower 48 contends with a snow drought.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof.

The New York Times: How a Cream Cheese Shortage Is Affecting N.Y.C. Bagel Shops.

I hope you all have a nice weekend. We are all in this together.


Thursday Reads: Back To the 1950s (Which Were Not ‘Happy Days’ for Women)

Detail from a marching banner for the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Banner, by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon and Breda Mayock.

Detail from a marching banner for the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Banner, by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon and Breda Mayock.

Good Morning!!

There are plenty of interesting news stories out there today, but all I can think about is that the right wing Supreme Court is poised to reverse Roe v. Wade and attempt to return American women to the second class status we inhabited when I was a girl in the 1950s and early 1960s.

We fought for control over our own bodies and now they plan to take it away again. We won’t stand for it! I’m too old to march in the streets now. Younger women who are the ones whose lives are endangered will have to take up the fight. We can’t let the forces of fascism take destroy U.S. democracy–and there is no doubt that taking away women’s control over their own bodies and lives is a big step in that direction.

The GOP control of the courts is all part of the right wing effort to turn our country into a theocratic autocracy. Returning pregnant women to effective slavery status is an important part of their effort. You could hear the triumph in the voices of right wing “justices” yesterday during the public argument in the Mississippi abortion case. Read the transcript at CNN: Transcript of Supreme Court oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

In 2018, Irish women fought and won the right to choose whether to bear a child in a country long dominated by the the Catholic Church. We should be ashamed that the U.S.–supposedly a land of liberty and freedom–is now on a path back to the dark days when women frequently died from back alley or self-administered abortions.

Recommended Reads

Satirist Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post: Opinion: Woman savoring last few hours before getting turned back into vessel.

It was hard to believe the time was running out. Maybe it would not, after all. It had been so long — nearly 49 years, with a few scares along the way — that the illusion had held, that she was a citizen, a person with rights to be respected in her own right. That not merely her life was worthy of protection, but also her ability to make choices for her own future. That she was just as good as any state legislator, and possessed certain rights they could not abridge!

Those 49 years had flown by. But when the court’s clock struck, her run would in all likelihood begin to end. She would stop being a person with autonomy over her own body that the law was bound to respect. She would go back to being a vessel that might potentially contain a person, a vessel whose rights ended once that possibility was considered.

It had been so nice, thinking that she could go anywhere in the United States and the laws would have to acknowledge her right to decide whether she wanted to be pregnant, that any doctor who treated her could give her correct information about what risks she faced, that if her life were threatened, her life would carry weight.

But no. Her rights were all the alienable kind, it turned out, and she was nothing more than a sort of empty clay jar into which, if she were sufficiently blessed, a person might one day be deposited. Her mistake!

I know I shouldn’t post so much of this piece, but I’m going to because this really says it all, as far as I’m concerned. Women are people! People endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

She pondered what to do while the Supreme Court heard arguments about Mississippi’s abortion law and deliberated upon them and formed an opinion. There were so many person things she had liked getting to do. She was glad she had gotten some voting in, earlier in the month….

My Body is Not Mine, by Dearbhla Ní Fhaoilleacháin Ryan

My Body is Not Mine, by Dearbhla Ní Fhaoilleacháin Ryan

There were so many choices that were wonderful if you made them for yourself and nightmarish if others forced them upon you….

She sat on a bench and watched the leaves fall. It had been nice while it lasted, being a person. Getting turned back into a vessel would be unfortunate. But maybe she would not stay a vessel long.

It was a little surprising they thought they had the power to do it.

She could see them salivating already at the prospect of having so many people transformed so quickly, and overnight. They seemed to think it was a real possibility.

As if they got to decide. As if she would not fight.

Women will have to fight. We can’t count on male legislators to stand up for us. Some may try, but women will have to win this battle.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: SCOTUS Will Gaslight Us Until the End.

Perhaps it would be refreshing if the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court no longer felt the need to lie to us. The lying, after all, is becoming nearly untenable—especially for an institution that relies on public confidence. After confirmation hearings in which they promised that stare decisis was a deeply felt value and that Roe v. Wade was a clear “precedent of the court” and “the law of the land.” there’s something sort of soothing about knowing the lying to our faces will soon be over. They were all six of them installed on the Supreme Court to put an end to Roe v. Wade after all, and that is exactly what they intend to do. There will be no more fake solicitude for women making difficult choices, no more pretense that pregnant people really just need better medical advice, and no more phony concerns about “abortion mills” that threaten maternal health. There is truly something to be said for putting an end to decades of false consciousness around the real endgame here, which was to take away a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy—rape, incest, abuse, maternal health no longer being a material factor. At least now we might soon be able to call it what it is….

If you want to pretend the Constitution has nothing to say about bodily autonomy even when it does, by all means. If you want to insist that equal protection is irrelevant to a discussion of forced maternity, do it. But if you really want to regulate women’s bodies, while claiming this is a teensy little issue, do, please, respect us all enough to call it what it is.

The Anatomy of Autonomy, by Róisín Blade

The Anatomy of Autonomy, by Róisín Blade

They won’t. Instead, they will fashion themselves heroes and champions as they make this decision—and the way they will do this was made apparent when both Kavanaugh and Alito decided to compare Roe v. Wade to Plessy v. FergusonPlessy isthe case that mandated separate but equal and was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education—to be clear, in this analogy, Roe is Plessy and Dobbs is Brown. Overturning Plessy was justified because it was wrong, Kavanaugh argued, a sentiment that is surprising from him and others because given the opportunity to compare Roe to Plessy at their confirmation hearings, none of these justices obliged. At their hearings, Roe was settled law, the precedent of the court. But now Roe is Plessy, which is why when the justices whisper softly that Lawrence v. TexasObergefell, and Griswold are not under threat today, you might wonder why you should trust them. They are all settled law—until they are not. They told us as much at their confirmation hearings and assured us today they were lying then, but aren’t lying now.

Please go read the whole thing.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: ‘Roe’ is dead. The Roberts Court’s ‘stench’ will live forever.

The six Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court left no doubt in oral argument Wednesday that they would end the constitutional right to abortion that American women have had for nearly half a century. The court will either overturn Roe v. Wade outright or cripple the landmark ruling by eliminating the “fetal viability” standard at its core. Both would return us to a time before most people living ever knew, when state legislatures controlled women’s reproductive decisions.

Public opinion hasn’t changed. The science hasn’t fundamentally changed. No new legal theory has been promulgated. The only difference is the court now has a majority hellbent on settling scores in the culture wars. “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked her colleagues. “I don’t see how it is possible.”

There’s good reason, Justice Elena Kagan said, why the Supreme Court has given great weight to precedent — and particularly to “super precedent” such as the 1973 Roe decision, affirmed by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. It’s “to prevent people from thinking that this court is a political institution that will go back and forth depending on what part of the public yells the loudest.”

You’re Pregnant, by Clare Foley

You’re Pregnant, by Clare Foley

Before Kagan spoke those words, I had spent the morning outside the court, watching abortion foes literally shout down the other side. Police used metal barricades to split First Street NE in front of the court into equal sections for the opposing sides, each with a soundstage. Not content with that arrangement, a group of antiabortion demonstrators invaded the other side and took turns drowning out the speakers there with a pole-mounted bullhorn at ear-shattering volume:

“Maybe some of you should have been aborted, you wicked, nasty disgusting, ungodly — I don’t even want to call you women! You are bloodthirsty animals!”

“This is what happens when you allow women to emasculate men! God hates you!”

“In the name of Jesus Christ, shut your vile, sick mouth!”

Irin Carmon at New York Magazine: This Is How Roe Ends.

This is how Roe v. Wade ends — without pretense or pretext, the conservative movement’s tireless dream of forced birth, brought to fruition through the naked promises of Donald Trump, who said if he could put “another two or perhaps three justices on,” Roe would be overturned “automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the Court.” On Wednesday, all three of Trump’s justices hearing a case challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban seemed ready to prove him right. Even John Roberts’s feeble attempts at describing, if not actually finding, a compromise would mean overturning all the prior Supreme Courtdecisions that have made abortion legal….

By Supreme Court standards, the session was unusually blunt and at times heated. Stephen Breyer crankily noted that anyone could see it was the arrival of “new members” that had emboldened the right, perhaps hoping the justices Trump nominated might not want to be pawns. As Roberts noticed aloud, the solicitor general of Mississippi had technically been defending a 15-week abortion ban, a stalking horse for overturning Roe, but in later briefs had abruptly pivoted to openly asking for Roe to be overturned. Roberts didn’t say it, but the only thing that changed in between was that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed. “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” Sonia Sotomayor asked pointedly.

It seemed obvious that only Roberts, who vainly tried to focus on the 15-week line even when everyone else made clear it was all or nothing, cares for such appearances….

Shackled, by Dearbhla Kelly

Shackled, by Dearbhla Kelly

Kavanaugh nattered on about how divisive abortion is and how neutral the Constitution is on it, and how, by golly, it’s a big country — “There will be different answers in Mississippi and New York, different in California or Alabama,” he said — with the implication that dominion over one’s body and future is just blue-state elitism.

Barrett did exactly what she was nominated to do, which was to say that forced pregnancy and birth are no big deal because, as she kept repeating, “safe haven” laws allow parents to relinquish their rights and surrender babies to be adopted by others. The concerns the pro-choice side expressed about the effect abortion bans would have on women’s equality, she said, were “focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy. Why don’t the safe-haven laws take care of that problem?”

As Carmon notes, Barrett even had the nerve to compare the effect on bodily autonomy on pregnant women with vaccine mandates!

So it’s essentially over. Right wing “justices” will try to force women back to second class status. In my lifetime, we will have gone full circle. This will just be another step in the GOP/Trumpist dream of “making America great” by turning it into a fascist state. We can’t let it happen!

NOTE: The images in this post were created by Irish women artists during the fight to make abortion legal. Read more at these links:

The Irish Times: ‘Motherhood is a choice’: artists respond to ‘Repeal the Eighth.’

The Guardian: The hateful Eighth: artists at the frontline of Ireland’s abortion rights battle.

That’s all I have energy for today. I could barely sleep last night. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.


Tuesday Reads: Omicron, Trump, and Cuomo

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, there isn’t a lot of good news out there to talk about. The media is still “freaking out” about the Covid omicron variant, and we still don’t actually know much about it. Trump and his goons are still threatening U.S. democracy, and the DOJ appears to be doing nothing to stop them. Finally, in another media issue: CNN’s top talking head, Chris Cuomo needs to go, but the network is still dithering.

From Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post:

The media freaked out during Thanksgiving weekend over the discovery of the omicron variant. The New York Stock Exchange dropped 900 points. Both were irrational, exaggerated responses based on little information.

The World Health Organization on Friday put out a balanced statement, advising, “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other [variants of concern].” The WHO promised to keep member countries updated about this “detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology.” That was it.

Columbia Journalism Review recounted with a hint of exasperation:

Despite the massive uncertainty, the world’s media instantly swelled with content: “What we know about the Omicron variant”; “The Omicron Variant: We Still Know Almost Nothing”; “Opinion | The Omicron Variant Is Creating a Lot of Anxiety,” and so on and so on. Over the weekend, a debate took shape, among experts and journalists, as to whether all the coverage was too much. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, accused fellow scientists of shamefully overselling fears about Omicron despite the paucity of hard data on the variant; Erin Biba, a freelance science journalist, tweeted that it is “completely and utterly exhausting” when “doomsday headlines and uninformed reporters create mass hysteria before we even have any details or information.”

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top coronavirus adviser, patiently explained in TV interviews over the weekend that we really did not know a lot about the variant. It would take a couple of weeks, they said, to answer questions about its severity and ability to spread. The WHO on Sunday also explained that we did not know much about the variant’s transmissibility, severity and the degree of protection afforded by existing vaccines.

Such nuance and caution were shoved aside. The cable TV news, mainstream news headlines and social media devolved into wild speculation and near-hysteria. Nations “scrambled” and “panicked,” we were told. The variant “stoked fear,” others relayed. Breathless reporting announced each new country in which omicron appeared.

It now looks like the omicron variant didn’t originate in South Africa. NBC News: Omicron COVID variant was in Europe before South African scientists detected and flagged it to the world.

Dutch health authorities announced on Tuesday that they found the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in cases dating back as long as 11 days, indicating that it was already spreading in western Europe before the first cases were identified in southern Africa. The RIVM health institute said it found Omicron in samples dating from November 19 and 23.

Those findings predate the positive cases found among passengers who came from South Africa last Friday and were tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

“It is not yet clear whether the people concerned [in the earlier cases] have also been to southern Africa,” the RIVM said, adding that the individuals had been informed of their Omicron infections and that local health services had started contact tracing.

“In the coming period, various studies will be conducted into the distribution of the Omicron variant in the Netherlands,” the institute said, noting that it would also re-examine more samples from previous COVID test results.

In any case, travel restrictions aren’t likely to keep the variant out of the U.S. On the other hand, according to the doctor who identified omicron, the people she saw who were infected had very mild symptoms.

The South African doctor who first identified the omicron variant that is spreading in the country and abroad has described the symptoms as she observed them in her patients, stating that the strain is so far producing “very, very mild” effects in them.

Dr Angelique Coetzee told BBC News that she had first noticed the symptoms in a young, male patient around the age of 30 whom she normally knew to be very healthy. He was “extremely tired” as well as having “body aches and pains with a bit of a headache,” a “scratchy” rather than sore throat, and no cough or loss of taste or smell, she said. The doctor was speaking about her experience of a small group of patients, and not making general comments about how all patients will experience it.

Coetzee tested the man for covid-19 and found him to be positive, then tested his family and found them all to have the virus, despite showing only “very, very mild symptoms,” she said. For the rest of the day, people kept presenting at her surgery with similar symptoms, and all tested positive. Noticing that the symptoms seemed to differ from the delta variant, which had hitherto been the most prevalent form of covid globally, she alerted the country’s vaccines committee, of which she is a member. They announced their resultant discovery of the omicron variant a few days later.

Perhaps reassuringly for those who are worrying about this new development, Coetzee noted that none of the cases she knew of were serious. “What we are seeing clinically in South Africa, and remember that I’m at the epicenter, that’s where I’m practicing, is extremely mild…We haven’t admitted anyone [to hospital]. I spoke to other colleagues of mine: The same picture,” she told the BBC.

Obviously, that could change, but it’s not time to panic yet.

The latest on Trump’s coup attempt at The Guardian: Trump called aides hours before Capitol riot to discuss how to stop Biden victory.

Hours before the deadly attack on the US Capitol this year, Donald Trump made several calls from the White House to top lieutenants at the Willard hotel in Washington and talked about ways to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win from taking place on 6 January.

The former president first told the lieutenants his vice-president, Mike Pence, was reluctant to go along with the plan to commandeer his largely ceremonial role at the joint session of Congress in a way that would allow Trump to retain the presidency for a second term.

But as Trump relayed to them the situation with Pence, he pressed his lieutenants about how to stop Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January, and delay the certification process to get alternate slates of electors for Trump sent to Congress.

The former president’s remarks came as part of strategy discussions he had from the White House with the lieutenants at the Willard – a team led by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Trump strategist Steve Bannon – about delaying the certification.

Multiple sources, speaking to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, described Trump’s involvement in the effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.

The former president’s call to the Willard hotel about stopping Biden’s certification is increasingly a central focus of the House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack, as it raises the specter of a possible connection between Trump and the insurrection.

Trump also called the “command center” at the Willard multiple times on January 5.

Trump’s call to the lieutenants came a day after Eastman, a late addition to the Trump legal team, outlined at a 4 January meeting at the White House how he thought Pence could usurp his role in order to stop Biden’s certification from happening at the joint session.

At the meeting, which was held in the Oval Office and attended by Trump, Pence, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and his legal counsel, Greg Jacob, Eastman presented a memo that detailed how Pence could insert himself into the certification and delay the process.

The memo outlined several ways for Pence to commandeer his role at the joint session, including throwing the election to the House, or adjourning the session to give states time to send slates of electors for Trump on the basis of election fraud – Eastman’s preference.

The then acting attorney general, Jeff Rosen, and his predecessor, Bill Barr, who had both been appointed by Trump, had already determined there was no evidence of fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.

There’s a court hearing going on today about Trump’s attempts to exert executive privilege over his communications about the planned coup when he was “president.” From the CNN article:

A federal appeals court posed tough questions for lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, as Trump attempts to convince the court that he should be able to keep records from his presidency from the House select committee that’s investigating the January 6 US Capitol riot.

“This all boils down to who decides. Who decides when it is in the best interest of the United States to disclose presidential records? Is it the current occupant of the White House or the former?” said Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

The arguments are likely to be an uphill battle for the former President. The Biden administration and the House are aligned against him in wanting transparency about communications in the West Wing as Trump sought to overturn the 2020 election result and his supporters raided the Capitol. Trump lost his first round in court in the case, more quickly and resoundingly than his losses when he tried to claim broad protections from investigations while he was President.

Yet by raising major, unsettled questions about the power of former presidents to control information from their time in office, the case appears to be on a path to the Supreme Court.

Read more at the link.

3000Finally, CNN must fire Chris Cuomo. That link goes an Atlantic piece by David A. Graham. Yesterday, The New York Times published a shocking story on how Cuomo tried to help his brother Andrew escape accountability for his treatment of women: Chris Cuomo Played Outsize Role in Ex-Gov. Cuomo’s Defense.

Thousands of pages of new evidence and sworn testimony released on Monday show the extent to which former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo relied on a group of allies, including his younger brother, the CNN host Chris Cuomo, to strategize how to deflect and survive a cascade of sexual harassment charges that eventually engulfed him.

Beginning last December with the first public accusation by a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, the records lay out in unvarnished detail how the tight-knit group of advisers discussed a series of increasingly drastic steps to manipulate the press, discredit his accusers and retain a grip on power that became less and less tenable.

After debating the legality of the move, they agreed to pass Ms. Boylan’s personnel file to reporters, portraying her as politically motivated and unhinged. They sought — and failed — to rally dozens of former female aides and supporters to pen an op-ed defending him.

Chris Cuomo pressed to take on a greater role in crafting his brother’s defense, including phoning into strategy calls and using his media contacts to keep tabs on reporters pursuing stories about the governor. At one point, he even ran down a secondhand tip that another woman accusing the governor of unwanted advances at a wedding was lying. (She was not.)

“You need to trust me,” Chris Cuomo pleaded with Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s secretary, at one point in March, arguing that she should rely on him and other outside advisers like the political consultant Lis Smith and the pollster Jefrey Pollock.

He added: “We are making mistakes we can’t afford.”

Yet Cuomo appeared in his usual time slot last night.

An even more pointed headline from CNBC: CNN host Chris Cuomo used his media sources to find out info on brother Andrew’s accusers, records show.

CNN host Chris Cuomo used his sources in the media world to seek information on women who accused his brother Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, of sexual harassment, according to documents released Monday by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

While Chris Cuomo has previously acknowledged advising his brother and his team on the response to the scandals, the records show that his role in helping the then-governor was much larger and more intimate than previously known.

Chris Cuomo was actively in touch with Melissa DeRosa, who was the then-governor’s top aide, about incoming media reports that detailed alleged sexual harassment by Andrew Cuomo, according to exhibits from the Attorney General’s probe and a transcript of his interview with the state’s investigators. He also lobbied to help the governor’s office as it sought to weather the storm of accusations, and he dictated statements for the then-governor to use.

“Please let me help with the prep,” Chris Cuomo said to DeRosa in one message in early March. Then, three days after the New York Times reported in March about how Andrew Cuomo attempted to kiss a woman, Anna Ruch, in an unwanted advance at a wedding, Chris Cuomo texted DeRosa: “I have a lead on the wedding girl.”

CNN says they are “conducting a thorough review of the documents.”  Frankly, it’s difficult to understand why CNN kept Cuomo on after the initial revelations. If they don’t get rid of him now, they will lose all credibility as a news organization.

There are plenty of other stories out there. Which ones have caught your interest?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Black Cat by Russian artist Tatiana Gorshunova

Black Cat by Russian artist Tatiana Gorshunova

I wanted to try to find some good news to post today, but there just isn’t much of it out there. I guess it’s sort good news that a Republican associated with Mitch McConnell has criticized Rep.Loren Boebert for her grotesque attack on Rep. Ilian Omar. Raw Story: ‘Absolute garbage rhetoric’: Mitch McConnell adviser hammers Lauren Boebert on CNN.

On CNN Friday, former Mitch McConnell adviser Scott Jennings slammed Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) for her comments joking that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was a suicide bomber.

“Scott, was it just another day at the office and they got these folks in the far right in certain parts of the caucus that they just can’t control?” asked anchor Jim Acosta.

“Senator McConnell serves in the Senate,” said Jennings. “I guarantee you, I know what he’s thinking. It’s a garbage comment from a garbage politics. I’m as anti-Squad as the next [Republican], but there’s plenty of ways to debate these folks without stooping to this garbage rhetoric. I noted, by the way, that Boebert has been forced to apologize. I assume that didn’t happen in a vacuum, but she’s of course committed the ultimate sin, which is the people she’s being performative for here would sRaway you never should apologize.”

On the other hand, no Republicans in the House have done anything to rein Boebert in. Raw Story: ‘Absolutely spineless’: CNN panel thrashes GOP leadership’s silence on Lauren Boebert’s ‘MAGA open mic night.’

A CNN panel on Friday thrashed House Republican leadership for remaining silent about Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) bigoted attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Host Jim Acosta started off by asking former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent what he made of House Republicans’ reaction to what he described as Boebert’s “MAGA open mic night” in which she made disparaged Omar by likening her to a suicide bomber.

Dent said that the way the party has mishandled Boebert has been the same way it’s mishandled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was stripped of her committee assignments over her remarks about executing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Paul Gosar more recently, when they make these statements, it’s important for the Republican leaders to crack down, to deal with it internally,” he said. “Republicans should have taken her off the committees. They should not have let that go to the House floor, as an example, but they didn’t.”

Simerenya

By Simerenya

I know there are plenty of racists here in Massachusetts, but still when I read a story like this, I feel ashamed. MassLive: Disabled Vietnam veteran Eugene Brice finds service to country doesn’t shield him from racism.

Eugene L. Brice survived the Vietnam War, the 1968 Tet Offensive and 29 years in the U.S. Army, but he is struggling to emotionally survive a recent trip to the grocery store.

“It was pretty dramatic. It’s destroyed me,” said Brice, a member of the Springfield chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans and a man who wheels around in a motorized scooter, volunteering 50% of his time to help veterans.

On Oct. 30, Brice found that duty, honor and service are not shields from racism. Weeks later, he is struggling to get his post-traumatic stress disorder and a related speech impediment back under control — and reminding himself that more than 50 years of service to the country should not be ruined by one hellish moment in a parking lot.

“I pulled into the handicapped spot at the Big Y in East Longmeadow. I do my own shopping and for my wife,” Brice explained. “A woman pulled beside me and crossed halfway over the lines. I asked her to move so I could use my ramp to get out of the car.”

The woman did move, but too little to provide Brice room to get out of his car. When he asked her again, he said she told him, “Mind your own business.”

Brice told her the ability to get out of the car was his business. At first, she ignored him, he recounted.

What happened next still brings Brice to tears — and provides a graphic, stomach-churning example of why people of color insist that at any turn and at the most innocent moments, they may encounter hatred and racism.

“The woman said, ‘N—-, just keep on moving.’ She said that several times,” Brice said.

The woman also threatened physical harm, he said, prompting him to back away for fear she might be armed.

“I was sitting in the scooter, and I was very vulnerable. I was scared and afraid if I said something, it might escalate,” Brice said.

Brice said that was the first time he had ever been called the “n” word. This is an elderly man who was disabled in service to the country and has spent his life working to help other disabled veterans. I wish there was a way to identify that woman and make her understand the damage her vicious racist attack caused. 

Tokuhiro Kawai ”

By Tokuhiro Kawai

Dakinikat wrote about the latest coronavirus variant yesterday. It may not be as dangerous as some are portraying it. The New York Times: New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work.

The W.H.O. said the new version, named Omicron, carries a number of genetic mutations that may allow it to spread quickly, perhaps even among the vaccinated.

Independent scientists agreed that Omicron warranted urgent attention, but also pointed out that it would take more research to determine the extent of the threat. Although some variants of concern, like Delta, have lived up to initial worries, others have had a limited impact.

“Epidemiologists are trying to say, ‘Easy, tiger,’” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “This could be bad. This could be very bad. But we don’t know enough to roll that tape forward.”

Dr. Hanage and other researchers said that vaccines will most likely protect against Omicron, but further studies are needed to determine how much of the shots’ effectiveness may be reduced.

As the coronavirus replicates inside people, new mutations constantly arise. Most provide the virus with no new advantage. When worrisome mutations do emerge, the World Health Organization uses Greek letters to name the variants. The first “variant of concern,” Alpha, appeared in Britain in late 2020, soon followed by Beta in South Africa.

Omicron first came to light in Botswana, where researchers at the Botswana Harvard H.I.V. Reference Laboratory in Gaborone sequenced the genes of coronaviruses from positive test samples. They found some samples sharing about 50 mutations not found in such a combination before. So far, six people have tested positive for Omicron in Botswana, according to an international database of variants.

Reuters: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna expect data on shot’s protection against new COVID-19 variant soon.

BioNTech SE said on Friday it expects more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its vaccine produced with partner Pfizer Inc would have to be reworked.

Dee Nickerson

By Dee Nickerson

Pfizer and BioNTech said that if necessary they expect to be able to ship a new vaccine tailored to the emerging variant in approximately 100 days.

“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529,” BioNTech said in a statement when asked to comment.

“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally,” it added.

Moderna Inc said in a statement it is working to advance a booster candidate tailored to the new variant and has also been testing a higher dose of its existing booster and to study other booster candidates designed to protect against multiple variants.

“A booster dose of an authorized vaccine represents the only currently available strategy for boosting waning immunity,” Moderna said in the statement.

Escape variants are those that elude the targeted immune response brought about by vaccination. Pfizer and BioNTech would be able to redesign their shot within six weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days, BioNTech added.

Meanwhile, the anti-vaxers are getting crazier by the day. Tom Porter at Business Insider: Conspiracy theorists are pushing toxic bleach and other harmful treatments they claim can ‘de-vaccinate’ people.

In a video hosted on Bitchute, a platform known for its extremist content, a man applies electrodes, a strong magnet and “55 percent Montana whiskey” in the hope of removing a COVID-19 vaccine from a US military veteran.

In another, a gory variant of the “cupping” technique to draw blood from an injection site, a man makes extra incisions with a razor to extract a significant amount. (Insider is not linking to the footage due to its graphic nature.)

Neither method had any hope of working. It is impossible to undo vaccination, a process which works by teaching the body to fight infection itself, and which doesn’t rely on substances that can be isolated or removed.

Karl Kahler

By Karl Kahler

But, with millions of people now vaccinated against COVID-19, some anti-vaccination advocates are pivoting to a new narrative aimed at those who took vaccines and regret it.

They claim it is indeed possible to “de-vaccinate” people, recommending a host of methods which range from quaint to potentially dangerous.

The “de-vaccination” movement is spreading in Telegram groups with thousands of members, as well as other fringe platforms used by extremists, which Insider monitored while researching the trend.

Users repost videos, like the ones referred to above, beaming them to large audiences not reflected in view counts on the sites where they are hosted.

Advocates have also established a presence on mainstream platforms that purport to restrict such activity, such as Facebook and TikTok, experts told Insider.

Click on the link to read the rest.

Jonathan Karl, author of the new Trump book “Betrayal” is offered a warning to fellow journalists in an interview with Deadline. A summary from HuffPost: ABC’s Jonathan Karl Issues Stark Warning About Covering Donald Trump 2024.

If Donald Trump eventually decides to run for president again in 2024, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl warned it may be “the greatest challenge ever facing campaign reporters.”

Karl posed multiple questions on the problems of reporting on a possible third Trump presidential campaign in a lengthy interview with Deadline published Friday.

Such as, “How do you cover a candidate who is effectively anti-democratic?”

And, “How do you cover a candidate who is … also running against the very democratic system that makes all of this possible?”

Karl, the author of “Betrayal: The Final Act Of The Trump Show,” said reporting on Trump would be “tremendously challenging” because “now, more than ever” he “is just saying things that are not true, that are designed to misinform, that are designed to erode credibility and belief in our electoral system.”

Tokuhiro-Kawai-Cherubs-and-Cat

Cherubs and Cat, by Tokuhiro Kawai

According to The Washington Post, Trump made more than 30,000 false or misleading claims during his presidency alone….

How to tackle Trump’s debates, speeches and interviews were “really difficult questions,” acknowledged Karl, because he’s “been demonstrated to be a candidate that is trying to destroy the very system that makes this election possible.”

“It is a very difficult, precarious situation, and I don’t know how it is going to play out, to be honest,” he added.

You can read the full interview by Ted Johnson at Yahoo News: Q&A: Jonathan Karl On ‘Betrayal’ And Why Campaign Reporters Face Their “Greatest Challenge” If Donald Trump Runs Again.

This story by Ron Elving at NPR offers some hope: Trump, tough issues and personal rivalries test the GOP’s reputation for unity.

Presenting a united front has been an even greater imperative for the GOP when Democrats were in the White House and especially when Democrats also had majorities in Congress.

That may be changing. Heightened tensions within the GOP have been increasingly visible in recent weeks, driven by the still-divisive personality of former President Donald Trump — but also by issues such as vaccines and mandates and by the prospect of big Republican gains in the elections of 2022 and 2024.

This week’s focus has been on Republican governors declaring their independence not only from the former president but from present party leaders in Washington.

In some cases, the governors are reacting to Trump’s meddling in their home state politics. Here we have Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is term-limited but has backed a candidate to succeed him. Trump has endorsed someone else, adding that Hogan himself is “toxic” and “a Republican in name only [who] has been terrible for our country and against the America First Movement.”

Karl Kahler, Austrian, 1856-1906

Karl Kahler, Austrian, 1856-1906

Asked about Trump taking sides, Hogan replied: “I’d prefer endorsements from people who didn’t lose Maryland by 33 points,” referring to Trump’s blowout loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the state last year.

This particular feud is not new. Hogan has been critical of Trump for years and condemned him for inciting the crowd that marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

But eyebrows were raised over the weekend when a big name Republican, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, criticized Trump and his claque in Congress. Sununu was especially disturbed at the so-called “MAGA Squad,” the hardcore Trump acolytes who have tried to ostracize their in-party House colleagues who voted for the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this month — or who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year.

“I think they’ve got their priorities screwed up,” Sununu said on CNN Sunday. “That kind of social media mob mentality that’s built up in this country … culturally, those tactics are ruining America.”

I’m not sure I buy it, but it’s a long story; check out the whole thing at the link.

That’s all I have for you today. I wish I could have found more happy news. What stories are you following?


Thanksgiving Reads

Thanksgiving, by Doris Lee

Thanksgiving, by Doris Lee

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope you all have a very pleasant day with family and friends or alone if that’s what you prefer. I have spent many Thanksgiving Days by myself and have been grateful to be able to do so. I usually get really stressed out over “the holidays,” and I guess that’s beginning for me today. I’ve been stressing for a couple of hours about getting this post up, and I’ve finally decided to just post some links to interesting articles.

I’ll just say that I’m very grateful today for my sobriety. I got sober on May 10, 1982, and it turned my life around. After a few years, I decided I didn’t want to work as a secretary any longer and took a big risk by leaving my job at M.I.T. without any definite plans for the future.

I went into therapy and dealt with some difficult issues. In time, I was able to return to college and finish my undergraduate degree. I’ve never been happier than when I went back to school and immersed myself in the joys of learning. I loved it so much that I decided to apply to graduate school. I was accepted to a PhD program at Boston University and eventually got a doctoral degree in psychology.

Now I’m retired and struggling with some health issues, but basically I’m quite happy with my life. I still enjoy writing for this blog even though we aren’t as active as we once were. I still feel connected to the people I’ve interacted with here over the years. Writing these posts gives a bit of structure to my days.

I’m grateful to have a nice apartment in subsided senior housing and I’m so grateful that now I can spend so much time reading–something I’ve loved doing ever since I was a young child. I’m grateful to have some family nearby–my brother and sister-in-law and my two nephews. Those boys gave a purpose to my life and I will always be grateful that I was able to spend a lot of time with them and watch them develop into fine young men.

There’s much more that I’m grateful for in my life, and I trace it all back to that long ago day when had a true “spiritual awakening” (as they call it in A.A.) and I “just knew” that I would never drink again. At the time, no one who knew me believed it, but I was right.

Happy Thanksgiving, Sky Dancers! I love you all.

Lilla Cabot Perry

By Lilla Cabot Perry

Now for some interesting reads:

Arthur C. Brooks at The Atlantic: How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful.

Liza Featherstone at The New Republic: America, Rediscover Thanksgiving’s Radical Past. “Gratitude” has become a vapid buzzword, but being grateful can be a revolutionary act. Just look to Lincoln and FDR.

Mediaite: Molly Jong-Fast Had to Call the FBI Due to Death Threats After Joking About Reporting Relatives to FBI on Thanksgiving.

The New York Times: Three Men Are Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery.

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: The System Only Worked Because It Was Pushed. The most surprising aspect of the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers is not the verdict, but the fact that it happened at all.

Raw Story: Georgia prosecutor booked into jail for mishandling Ahmaud Arbery case.

Guest essay by Dante Stewart at The New York Times: I Was With Family. Suddenly, a White Man Appeared with a Gun.

The Washington Post: How the events unfolded at Waukesha parade.

The Daily Mail: EXCLUSIVE: Waukesha massacre suspect Darrell Brooks was convicted for threatening to bomb Nugget Casino in Nevada and is STILL wanted after failing to appear in court.

CBS46: Man who drove though Christmas parade has arrest record in Georgia

The New York Times: Trump Investigation Enters Crucial Phase as Prosecutor’s Term Nears End.

Dan Vergano at Buzzfeed News: Murder Is A Leading Cause Of Death In Pregnancy In The US. [Warning: Vergano refers to “pregnant people” in the first paragraph]

Axios: Scoop: Centrist Dems sink Biden’s nominee for top bank regulator.

The Washington Post: Rep. Greene introduces bill to award Congress’s highest honor to Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men.

Rolling Stone: ‘Bitter,’ ‘Angry,’ ‘Enraged’: Reality Winner Blasts the Intercept After 4 Years in Jail.

I wish the news were more cheerful, but that’s the world we’re living in. I’m still choosing to have an attitude of gratitude today.