Posted: January 1, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Bernard Kerik, Betty White, caturday, conflicts of interest, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Golden Girls, Happy New Year 2022, January 6 insurrection, Joe Biden, John Roberts, Major General Paul Eaton, Mary Tyler Moore Show, notable deaths 2021, SCOTUS, Ukraine, Unite the Right rally, Vladimir Putin
Well, 2021 is in the rearview mirror and 2022 lies ahead. Will this year be better than the last two? We can only hope. Every year, we look back at the notable people who have left us, and there were many of those last year. To cap a terrible year, the last living member of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls–Betty White–died yesterday.
The New York Times: Betty White, a Television Golden Girl From the Start, Is Dead at 99.
Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99.
Her death, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday, was confirmed by Jeff Witjas, her longtime friend and agent.
Ms. White won five Primetime Emmys and one competitive Daytime Emmy — as well as a lifetime achievement Daytime Emmy in 2015 and a Los Angeles regional Emmy in 1952 — in a television career that spanned seven decades and that the 2014 edition of “Guinness World Records” certified as the longest ever for a female entertainer.
But her breakthrough came relatively late in life, with her work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1973 to 1977, for which she won two of her Emmys.
As Sue Ann, the host of a household-hints show on the television station where Ms. Moore’s character worked, the bedimpled Ms. White was annoyingly positive and upbeat, but also manipulative and bawdy — the sexpot next door, who would have you believe she slept with entire Army brigades during World War II.
Once, when someone asked her how she was feeling, Sue Ann replied cheerfully: “I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I feel wonderful.”
She won another Emmy in 1986 for an entirely different kind of character: the naïve, scatterbrained Rose on “The Golden Girls,” which revolved around the lives of four older women sharing a house in Miami. Whereas Sue Ann knew everything there was to know about getting a man into bed, Rose got to the same place innocently, and by being just a wee bit off center.
Ms. White was the last surviving member of the show’s four stars. Estelle Getty died in 2008, Bea Arthur in 2009 and Rue McClanahan in 2010.
Read the rest at the NYT.
In 2021, we also lost Cloris Leachman (January 27, Gavin MacLeod (May 29), Ed Asner (August 29).
Read about more notable people who died in 2021 at The New York Times: Deaths in 2021: Headline Names Against the Backdrop of Pandemic.
In the news today, the pandemic rages on. CBS News: The world welcomes 2022 with muted celebrations as COVID-19 cases surge.
The world rang in 2022 with muted celebrations for another year, as the coronavirus pandemic — now fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant — continues to upset daily life across the globe. The new variant, which is now driving record case numbers in the U.S., forced many cities to tone down celebrations or cancel them altogether.
New York City’s Times Square still held an event, but it only allowed a small fraction of the typical crowd, and all attendees over the age of 5 who do not qualify for an exemption were required to be fully vaccinated and wear face masks. Cities such as Atlanta and San Francisco canceled typical celebrations.
In New Zealand, one of the first cities to kick off the new year, a light display replaced the traditional fireworks show. Australia proceeded with its seven-minute fireworks display over the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House, but limited access to downtown Sydney, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans not to attend large gatherings on New Year’s Eve.
“What I would suggest people do not do, is to go to very large 50-to-60-person parties where people are blowing whistles and all that sort of thing, and celebrating, and you don’t know the vaccination status of the people in that environment,” Fauci said.
President Biden spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday night. The Washington Post:
WILMINGTON, Del. — President Biden said Friday that he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a call that there would be “a heavy price to pay” if Russia invades Ukraine again.
Biden said he “made it clear” that any further military action by the Kremlin would result in “severe sanctions” but did not go as far as to say that Washington would respond to Russia’s continued military presence near the border with Ukraine.
“I’m not going to negotiate here in public,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del., where he is spending New Year’s Eve. “But we made it clear he cannot, I’ll emphasize, cannot invade Ukraine.”
Following his call on Thursday with Putin, Biden plans to speak by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday amid growing alarm over Russia’s military buildup near its border with Ukraine.
Biden will “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House official, previewing the call to reporters on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House. Biden is also expected to review preparations with Zelensky for the upcoming diplomatic talks.
Senior U.S. and Russian officials will meet in Geneva on Jan. 9 and 10, before a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on Jan. 12 and negotiations at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna on Jan. 13.
Biden told reporters Friday that ahead of those conferences, Putin “laid out some of his concerns about NATO and the United States and Europe, and we laid out ours. And we said we’d begin to negotiate some of those issues. But I made it clear that they only could work if, in fact, he de-escalated, not escalated, the situation there.”
Party Cat, by Cindy Thompson
Chief Justice John Roberts issued his laughable year-end report. The New York Times: Chief Justice Roberts Reflects on Conflicts, Harassment and Judicial Independence.
Amid a drop in public confidence in the Supreme Court and calls for increasing its membership, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary on Friday to a plea for judicial independence.
“The judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and coequal branch of government,” he wrote.
The report comes less than a month after a bipartisan commission appointed by President Biden finished its work studying changes to the federal judiciary. While that panel analyzed proposals like imposing 18-year term limits on justices and expanding, or “packing,” the court with additional justices, much of the chief justice’s report was focused on thwarting less contentious efforts by Congress to address financial conflicts and workplace misconduct in the judicial system. Both issues are the subject of proposed legislation that has drawn bipartisan support.
Gabe Roth, the executive director of Fix the Court, a nonprofit group that has called for stricter ethics rules for the Supreme Court, said the chief justice faced an uphill battle.
“Chief Justice Roberts is taking a page from his old playbook: acknowledging institutional challenges in the judiciary but telling the public that only we judges can fix them,” Mr. Roth said. “Yet the problems of overlooked financial conflicts and sexual harassment are serious and endemic, and there’s no indication they’re going away. So Congress has every right to step in and, via legislation, hold the third branch to account, which I expect to happen in 2022.”
Chief Justice Roberts addressed at some length a recent series of articles in The Wall Street Journal that found that 131 federal judges had violated a federal law by hearing 685 lawsuits between 2010 and 2018 that involved companies in which they or their families owned shares of stock.
“Let me be crystal clear: The judiciary takes this matter seriously,” the chief justice wrote. “We expect judges to adhere to the highest standards, and those judges violated an ethics rule. But I do want to put these lapses in context.”
Hahahahaha! I’ll take him seriously when he address the many conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court, beginning with Clarence Thomas and his wife.
We are approaching the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol insurrection. In the news today:
The latest Trump/Giuliani pal to release documents to the January 6 committee is Bernard Kerik. Politico: Bernard Kerik provides batch of documents to Jan. 6 select committee.
A key adviser to Donald Trump’s legal team in their post-election quest to unearth evidence of fraud has delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators describing those efforts.
Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also provided a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide to the committee.
Teatime Cats, A Celebration! by Isabelle Brent
Among the withheld documents is one titled “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS.” Kerik’s attorney Timothy Parlatore provided the privilege log to the panel, which said the file originated on Dec. 17, a day before Trump huddled in the Oval Office with advisers including former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, where they discussed the option of seizing election equipment in states whose results Trump was attempting to overturn.
Trump ultimately opted against that strategy, but his consideration of the option is one of the key questions the panel is probing as part of its broader investigation into attempts to overturn the election.
It’s unclear whether the letter is related to the same plan and if Trump knew of its existence. Kerik withheld it, describing it as privileged because of its classification as “attorney work product.”
Another document provided by Kerik to the panel included emails between Kerik and associates about paying for rooms at the Willard Hotel. Kerik had been subpoenaed by the panel on Nov. 8 as part of its investigation into the so-called war room at the Willard Hotel, where Trump allies met to strategize about preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory. The panel had originally sent a letter accompanying the subpoena that had incorrectly suggested Kerik was in the war room on Jan. 5, leading Kerik to demand an apology.
Read more at Politico.
More on Kerik from Raw Story: Trump’s Twitter and the Freedom Caucus were key to overturning the election: Bernie Kerik documents.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has obtained new documents showing how Donald Trump’s Twitter account and the far-right House Freedom Caucus could be used to help overturn the 2020 election.
“A key adviser to Donald Trump’s legal team in their post-election quest to unearth evidence of fraud has delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators describing those efforts,” Politico reported Friday. “Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also provided a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide to the committee.”
Kerik — who was pardoned by Trump 11 months before the insurrection — is not an attorney but has claimed his work under Giuliani was covered by attorney-client privilege. Giuliani has had his law license suspended in New York and Washington, D.C.
“Another 22-page document, titled “STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – GIULIANI PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM,” describes a 10-day blitz aimed at Republican House and Senate members to pressure them to vote against certifying the 2020 election results,” Politico reported. “The document says its primary channels to disseminate messaging on these efforts included ‘presidential tweets’ as well as talk radio, conservative bloggers, social media influencers, Trump campaign volunteers and other media allies. A list of ‘key team members’ supporting the effort included ‘Freedom Caucus Members’ — a reference to the group of hardline House conservatives, some of whom backed Trump’s effort to overturn the election.”
Cats Birthday Party, by Andrew Osta
More January 6 news from Raw Story: ‘Unite the Right’ set the stage for Jan. 6 — and helped launch some of the biggest players in the Capitol riot.
Days after neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. murdered antiracist activist Heather Heyer in a horrific car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, Va., the Daily Caller, a website founded by Tucker Carlson, quietly removed articles by contributor Jason Kessler.
Kessler was the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally, which saw neo-Nazis chant, “Jews will not replace us,” as they carried torches to the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11, 2017 and again the following day as they marched through Charlottesville.
More than four years later, the ideas that galvanized the Unite the Right rally are no longer considered too radioactive for mainstream conservative media. Carlson himself embraced the Great Replacement theory — responsible for fueling massacres in Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; Poway, Calif.; and El Paso, Texas — on his Fox News show in April 2021. He accused Democrats of “trying to replace the current electorate” in the United States “with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.”
There are distinct differences in messaging between Unite the Right, in which white supremacists used Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi aesthetics to nakedly promote white nationalism, and the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which Trump supporters filtered similar aims through QAnon, paranoid anticommunism, and a perverted version of patriotism.
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America — the nonprofit that won the civil lawsuit against the organizers of Unite the Right — is among those who see distinct similarities between the two events.
“The four years in between have shown us how much of this extremism has moved into the mainstream,” she said. “If you look at the tools and tactics, there are many, many parallels, from the use of social media to plan the violence to explicit discussion of the use of free speech instruments like flagpoles as weapons, to the immediate finger-pointing to ‘antifa, blaming them for the violence that far-right extremists were responsible for to even some of the ideology.
“While Charlottesville was explicitly white nationalist with holocaust imagery, and with KKK and Nazi paraphernalia like the tiki torches that are meant to evoke dark periods of our history, on January 6th when you think about ‘stopping the steal,’ it also speaks at its core to this same idea: There’s a plot to steal the country from largely white Christians,” Spitalnick continued. “That idea that Jews will not replace us is at the core of Unite the Right, but it’s also at the core of Jan. 6. We’ve seen how these ideas have been mainstreamed, from Tucker Carlson giving replacement theory a home on Fox News every night to Republican politicians talking about it.”
Read the rest at Raw Story.
Major General Paul Eaton issued a chilling warning in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly: Retired general warns the U.S. military could lead a coup after the 2024 election. (Eaton co-authored an op-ed at The Washington Post with two other retired generals that warned the military to prepare for another insurrection in 2024). Some exerpts:
How could a coup play out in 2024?
The real question is does everybody understand who the duly elected president is? If that is not a clear-cut understanding, that can infect the rank and file or at any level in the U.S. military.
And we saw it when 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the 2020 election. We’re concerned about that. And we’re interested in seeing mitigating measures applied to make sure that our military is better prepared for a contested election, should that happen in 2024.
How worried is he on a scale of 1 to 10?
I see it as low probability, high impact. I hesitate to put a number on it, but it’s an eventuality that we need to prepare for. In the military, we do a lot of war-gaming to ferret out what might happen. You may have heard of the Transition Integrity Project that occurred about six months before the last election. We played four scenarios. And what we did not play is a U.S. military compromised — not to the degree that the United States is compromised today, as far as 39% of the Republican Party refusing to accept President Biden as president — but a compromise nonetheless. So, we advocate that that particular scenario needs to be addressed in a future war game held well in advance of 2024….
What should the military do?
I had a conversation with somebody about my age, and we were talking about civics lessons, liberal arts education and the development of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution. And I believe that bears a reteach to make sure that each and every 18-year-old American truly understands the Constitution of the United States, how we got there, how we developed it and what our forefathers wanted us to understand years down the road. That’s an important bit of education that I think that we need to readdress.
I believe that we need to war-game the possibility of a problem and what we are going to do. The fact that we were caught completely unprepared — militarily, and from a policing function — on Jan. 6 is incomprehensible to me. Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the U.S. and that is a position that we need to reinforce.
Sorry this post is so long and so late. I hope you all have a nice, relaxing weekend.
Posted: November 23, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: abortion, Bob Dylan, CIA, Darrell Brooks Jr., Jefferson Morley, JFK assassination, National Archives and Records Administration, Roe v Wade, SCOTUS, Waukesha parade
Le Petit Dejeuner, by Jacque Denier
Yesterday was the 58th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. After all this time, the CIA is still concealing their records of that awful day. Joe Biden went along with their excuses last month. This is from Jefferson Morley, a journalist who has published three books about the CIA and the JFK assassination and has another coming out next year on the CIA and Watergate.
Politico: What Biden is keeping secret in the JFK files.
President Joe Biden has once again delayed the public release of thousands of government secrets that might shed light on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“Temporary continued postponement is necessary to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure,” Biden wrote in a presidential memorandum late Friday.
He also said that the National Archives and Records Administration, the custodian of the records, needs more time to conduct a declassification review due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision, which follows a delay ordered by President Donald Trump in 2017, means scholars and the public will have to wait even longer to see what remains buried in government archives about one of the greatest political mysteries of the 20th century. And the review process for the remaining documents means Biden can hold the release further if the CIA or other agencies can convince him they reveal sensitive sources or methods.
Fifty-eight years later? As Biden likes to say, “C’mon man!”
Public opinion polls have long indicated most Americans do not believe the official conclusion by the Warren Commission that the assassination was the work of a single gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who once defected to the Soviet Union and who was shot to death by a nightclub owner Jack Ruby while in police custody.
A special House committee in 1978 concluded “on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”
By Antonella Lucarella Masetti
But longtime researchers almost uniformly agree that what is still being shielded from public view won’t blow open the case.
“Do I believe the CIA has a file that shows former CIA Director Allen Dulles presided over the assassination? No. But I’m afraid there are people who will believe things like that no matter what is in the files,” said David Kaiser, a former history professor at the Naval War College and author of “The Road to Dallas.”
His book argued that Kennedy’s murder cannot be fully understood without also studying two major U.S. intelligence and law enforcement campaigns of the era: Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s war on organized crime and the CIA’s failed efforts to kill communist dictator Fidel Castro in Cuba (with the Mafia’s help).
Still, Kaiser and other experts believe national security agencies are still hiding information that shows how officials actively stonewalled a full accounting by Congress and the courts and might illuminate shadowy spy world figures who could have been involved in a plot to kill the president.
Yesterday, Morley posted this interesting piece at Literary Hub: What Bob Dylan Does—Or Doesn’t—Know About the Assassination of JFK. Jefferson Morley Revisits the Nobel Laureate’s Recent No. 1, “Murder Most Foul.”
Also yesterday, Michael Bechloss posted Jack Kennedy’s final words from a speech he intended to give on the night of November 22, 1963. These words are relevant to our situation today.
We now have more information about the man who drove through a parade In Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday, leaving 5 dead so far and many more injured. He had been let out of jail on a very low bond after a “domestic violence” incident in which he drove over the mother of his child in a gas station, where he followed her after they had a fight. Police say he “intentionally” drove into the parade.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Darrell Brooks is the suspect in the Waukesha Christmas Parade incident. The Milwaukee man has been charged with crimes 10 times since 1999.
The driver who plowed through a Christmas parade in downtown Waukesha, killing five people and injuring nearly 50, did so intentionally and is expected to face first-degree homicide counts and other charges, police said Monday.
The suspect, Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, recently had been released from custody in a strikingly similar case, in which he was accused of driving over a woman during a domestic dispute, sending her to the hospital and leaving tire marks on her pant leg.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting that case, said Monday it was launching an internal review of a prosecutor’s “inappropriately low” $1,000 bail recommendation. The bail amount was signed off on by a court commissioner.
Woman Reading, Henri Matisse
The horrific scene Sunday evening tore at the heart of the Waukesha community and rippled outward from the Norman Rockwell-style parade that has been a six-decade tradition. At least 18 children were among the injured, 10 of whom remained in Children’s Wisconsin’s intensive care unit….
Investigators learned Brooks was involved in a “domestic disturbance” before he drove into the parade route, the chief said. There was a report of a knife being involved, but police were unable to confirm that as of Monday afternoon, he added.
Thompson said a police chase did not lead to the driver’s actions but Thompson said he would not be providing more details about the suspect’s motivations at this point. The chief said there was no sign the event was an act of domestic terrorism. Waukesha prosecutors expect to file formal charges Tuesday.
Courts never seem to take “domestic” violence seriously, and so often that attitude leads to death and destruction. Read about the victims of the tragic incident in this Journal Sentinel article: What we know so far about the five victims of the Waukesha Christmas Parade.
On December 1 the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the Mississippi abortion law that could end Roe v. Wade.
William Saletan at Slate: Republicans Will Be Sorry If the Supreme Court Overturns Roe.
Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. The suit, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, about two months earlier than states can currently prohibit abortions under Roe. The statute’s defenders have suggested that a 15-week ban would enjoy wide public backing. In an amicus brief, for instance, 44 senators and 184 members of the House assured the justices that “two-thirds or more of Americans support limiting abortion after twelve weeks’ gestation.” And some scholars have argued in op-eds that a “moderate ruling,” upholding the Mississippi law and setting a 15-week limit, could establish a “new equilibrium.”
Don’t count on it. Many Americans would support a law like Mississippi’s, but they’re not a majority. If the court uses this case to overturn Roe, it’s likely to trigger a voter backlash next year.
The Mississippi case has been overshadowed in recent months by Texas’ law banning abortion after six weeks….most Americans think a six-week limit is too severe. They reject it even when they’re told that by six-to-eight weeks “a fetal heartbeat is detectable.” [….]
Woman Reading, by Rada Vucinic
Saletan cites multiple polls to show that the majority of Americans would not support a ban on abortion.
….In Economist/YouGov polls, the Texas law loses by about 13 points, but respondents are almost evenly divided on the Mississippi law, with support and opposition in the low 40s. In A Yahoo! News/YouGov poll, respondents opposed the Texas law, 50 percent to 33 percent, but they tilted in favor of the Mississippi law, 39 percent to 33 percent. A Marquette University Law School poll found almost the same gap, with respondents in favor of upholding a 15-week ban, 40 percent to 34 percent.
If you look closely at these numbers, however, you’ll see something missing. While more than 50 percent of Americans say abortion should be illegal at three months, only about 40 percent endorse Mississippi’s ban at 15 weeks—which is later than three months. A crucial segment of the public, about 10 percent to 15 percent, flinches when the question stops being hypothetical and gets real. Why?
The simplest explanation is that many Americans are uncomfortable with banning abortion, even when they are personally opposed to it. They don’t like the procedure, but they don’t like the government getting involved, either. Two weeks ago, in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 75 percent of voters said abortion decisions should be “left to the woman and her doctor” rather than “regulated by law.” In a Data for Progress survey, 66 percent of likely voters chose a pro-choice statement—“The government should not interfere in personal matters like reproductive rights”—while 26 percent chose the pro-life alternative: “The government should be able to make decisions about reproductive rights, especially when it involves protecting the sanctity of human life.” In a Navigator poll, 33 percent of voters identified themselves as pro-life, but 60 percent identified themselves as pro-choice.
If abortion is banned, writes Saletan, there will be a serious backlash and the “political energy” on the issue “will shift to the left.”
Could we really be headed back to the way it was when I was a young woman? Reuters: In Supreme Court abortion case, the past could be the future.
OXFORD, Miss., Nov 23 (Reuters) – Just months before she was set to start law school in the summer of 1973, Barbara Phillips was shocked to learn she was pregnant.
Then 24, she wanted an abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court had legalized abortion nationwide months earlier with its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. But abortions were not legally available at the time in Mississippi, where she lived in the small town of Port Gibson.
Phillips, a Black woman enmeshed in the civil rights movement, could feel her dream of becoming a lawyer slipping away.
Kenne Gregoire, Book
“It was devastating. I was desperate,” Phillips said, sitting on the patio of her cozy one-story house in Oxford, a college town about 160 miles (260 km) north of Jackson, Mississippi’s capital.
At the time of the Roe ruling, 46 of the 50 U.S. states had some sort of criminal prohibitions on abortion. Access often was limited to wealthy and well-connected women, who tended to be white.
With a feminist group’s help, Phillips located a doctor in New York willing to provide an abortion. New York before Roe was the only state that let out-of-state women obtain abortions. She flew there for the procedure.
Now 72, Phillips does not regret her abortion. She went on to attend Northwestern law school in Chicago and realize her goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer, with a long career. Years later, she had a son when she felt the time was right.
“I was determined to decide for myself what I wanted to do with my life and my body,” Phillips said.
More interesting stories to check out:
The New York Times: Four Black Men Wrongly Charged With Rape Are Exonerated 72 Years Later.
Politico: Rep. Louie Gohmert announces he’s running for Texas AG.
CNN: New January 6 committee subpoenas issued for 5 Trump allies including Roger Stone and Alex Jones.
Margaret Carlson at The Daily Beast: John Kennedy Went From a Democrat to the GOP’s Discount Joe McCarthy.
Robert Mann at The Washington Post: Opinion: Our Foghorn Leghorn Republican senator little resembles his former Democratic self, but in Louisiana we know the type.
CNN: Private SCOTUS files that could reveal what happened in Bush v. Gore remain locked up.
Science Alert.com: The Most Common Pain Relief Drug in The World Induces Risky Behavior, Study Finds. [Tylenol? Really?]
Have a nice Tuesday, Sky Dancers!!
Posted: November 2, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Annissa Essaibi-George, Boston Mayor, Brad Raffenspurger, Glenn Youngkin, Michelle Wu, National Guard, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Governor
MIchelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi-George are running for Mayor of Boston.
Today is election day in states across the country. The is the deadlocked race between gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin is getting the most attention, but there’s also a historic election in Massachusetts, where a woman of color most likely will be elected Mayor of Boston today. 7News Boston: Boston voters heading to the polls for historic mayor’s race.
BOSTON (AP) — Boston voters are heading to the polls Tuesday not only to choose between Democrats Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George for mayor, but to mark a turning point in the city’s history, for the first time electing a woman and person of color to helm Boston.
The choice of Wu and Essaibi George for the top political post is just the latest marker of how much the Boston of not-so-long-ago — known for its ethnic neighborhoods, glad-handing politicians and mayors with Irish surnames — is giving way to a new Boston.
Throughout its long history, Boston has previously only elected white men as mayor.
Despite the groundbreaking nature of the candidates, the campaign has turned on familiar themes for the city’s 675,000 residents, including public education, policing, public transportation and the skyrocketing cost of housing.
Among the newer issues facing Boston residents is the effect of climate change on the costal metropolis.
One of the thorniest issues in the campaign is whether Boston should pursue a form of rent control or rent stabilization, something supported by Wu and opposed by Essaibi George. In 1994, Massachusetts voters narrowly approved a 1994 ballot question banning rent control statewide.
Both candidates have spent the final hours of the campaign urging their voters to get to the polls.
Nearly 40,000 ballots have already been cast in early voting. Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin told reporters Monday he estimates about 135,000 ballots will be cast in Boston — about 30% of the city’s 442,000 registered voters.
Both candidates are children of immigrants.
The 36-year-old Wu, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, grew up in Chicago and moved to Boston to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
Essaibi George, 47, a lifelong Boston resident and former public school teacher, describes herself as a first-generation Arab-Polish American. Her father was a Muslim immigrant from Tunisia. Her mother, a Catholic, immigrated from Poland.
The contest could also be a test of whether voters in a city long dominated by parochial neighborhood politics are ready to tap someone not born and raised in the city like Wu, who grew up in Chicago.
In Virginia, McAuliffe and Youngkin are running neck and neck, and observers are speculating about how the result with impact the midterm elections in 2022. Bloomberg: Virginia Race Offers Hint of 2022 Fight to Control Congress.
Virginia’s gubernatorial contest Tuesday between Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin will offer the clearest picture yet of how much momentum Republicans have heading into 2022 elections that will decide control of Congress, while President Joe Biden struggles to advance his agenda in Washington.
Polls show the Virginia race essentially deadlocked as Democrat McAuliffe’s lead during the summer evaporated along with Biden’s approval ratings. In the final weeks of the campaign, Republican Youngkin, the former co-chief executive officer of the Carlyle Group Inc., has capitalized on voter frustration with national Democrats and local education issues.
The election comes a day after Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, slammed the door on Biden’s wish for Congress to take quick action on his $1.75 trillion tax and spending package, the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Virginia, a state Biden won by 10 percentage points a year ago, is a bellwether for the Congressional midterms. A McAuliffe loss would be the biggest omen for Democratic prospects to hold onto their slim majority in Congress.
Longtime Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said that Virginia is often an “early-warning system” for the party in power as to how it will do in the midterms, especially because of the diversity of the state, which includes rural, suburban and urban areas; military, farming and technology workers; and White, Hispanic and Black voters.
“Virginia allows you for a dry run of the arguments you’re going to make in the midterms, to see how different parts of the electorate respond,” Ferguson said.
Read more at the link.
Peter Saul, Donald Trump in Florida, 2017.
At The Atlantic, Virginia resident Michael Tolhurst writes that a Youngkin win in Virginia could lead to a Constitutional crisis. That’s because governors control the National Guard. I can only provide a brief excerpt, so I hope you’ll read the entire article at The Atlantic.
…[i]n addition to the substantive policy disagreements or politics as pastime, people across America should be monitoring the outcome of this race for another reason: Governors command the National Guard, and after the January 6 riot, the country saw the National Guard defend our constitutional order.
at the outbreak of the Civil War, the prompt arrival of the 6th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia in Washington, D.C., in April 1861 helped secure a capital precariously close to the battlefront. Later forces arrived, building up the defenses around the city in the Northern Virginia towns of Arlington and Alexandria. This included, a century and a half before I came to live in the area, Connecticut’s 22nd Regiment in which my many-greats-grandfather Edwin Tolhurst served. (His military experience was unromantic—he dug ditches in the red mud of Northern Virginia for nine months, caught consumption, and died shortly after he was discharged.)
We’re not, of course, in a civil war. But law professors and public intellectuals have seriously discussed the possibility of secession or a “national divorce.” A recent University of Virginia study revealed that 41 percent of people who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and 52 percent of Donald Trump voters “at least somewhat agree that it’s time to split the country.” The same study revealed that significant numbers on both sides wish their preferred president wouldn’t have to be constrained by Congress or the courts.
Given this tinderbox, we unfortunately have to revisit the question of what role the present-day state militias—the National Guard—and the governors who command them might play in a constitutional crisis. As the writer Andrew Sullivan put it, there is an “increasingly nihilist cult on the right among the GOP” that has shown an “increasingly menacing contempt for electoral integrity and a stable democracy.” Will all elected governors rush to the defense of the constitutional order when necessary, as did the 6th Massachusetts and the 22nd Connecticut? Or will they fight for a separatist movement? This is not a happy thought, but as even previously respectable institutions are being coy about the possibility of such a conflict, it must be considered.
It’s difficult to accept that the situation is getting that serious, but you just have to look at how completely the Republican Party has been captured by the Trump/Q-Anon cults to understand that we need to be prepared for the worst. I still need to finish reading the powerful Washington Post series on the January 6 insurrection, but I hope to do so this afternoon.
The Barbarians by Max Ernst, 1937
Harking back to the 2020 presidential election, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenspurger has written a book. AP: Georgia official: Trump call to ‘find’ votes was a threat.
Donald Trump was threatening Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when he asked him to help “find” enough votes to overturn his loss in Georgia to Democratic President Joe Biden, Raffensperger writes in a new book.
The book, “Integrity Counts,” was released Tuesday. In it, Raffensperger depicts a man who defied pressure from Trump to alter election results, but also reveals a public official settling political scores as he seeks to survive a hostile Republican primary environment and win reelection in 2022.
An engineer who grew wealthy before running for office, Raffensperger recounts in his book the struggle in Georgia that followed Biden’s narrow victory, including death threats texted to his wife, an encounter with men who he says may have been staking out his suburban Atlanta home, and being escorted out of the Georgia capitol on Jan. 6 as a handful of right-wing protesters entered the building on the same day many more protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The book climaxes with the phone call, which was recorded and then given to multiple news organizations. Raffensperger — known as a conservative Republican before Trump targeted him — writes that he perceived Trump as threatening him multiple times during the phone call.
“I felt then — and still believe today — that this was a threat,” Raffensperger writes. “Others obviously thought so, too, because some of Trump’s more radical followers have responded as if it was their duty to carry out this threat.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating potential attempts to improperly influence Georgia’s 2020 election. Raffensperger said in an interview with The Associated Press that Willis’ investigators have talked to some employees in his office, but that he hasn’t been interviewed.
Read more about the book at USA today: Brad Raffensperger, GOP target of Trump ire in Georgia, warns of potential for more election violence.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Bijou Karman
Another extremely important issue we face is that “conservatives” have taken over the Supreme Court. Linda Greenhouse at The Atlantic: What Can Liberals on the Supreme Court Do Now? They’re outnumbered, but they’re not powerless.
By the time the Supreme Court started its new term on the first Monday of October, a tumultuous summer of midnight orders and unsigned opinions had left no doubt about who was in charge. A five-member conservative bloc, anchored by three Trump-appointed justices, had largely stripped Chief Justice John Roberts of leverage and the three remaining liberals of any hope of striking a meaningful alliance with him. The best the liberals can hope for now, even with the chief justice on their side, is a 5–4 loss.
What path is open to them? Can they play a weak hand in a way that can make a difference? Is building bridges worthwhile, or has the time come to burn them all down? These are the questions hovering over the opening of a term that is likely to produce major decisions on abortion, religion, and the Second Amendment.
Perhaps some answers can be found in the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September 2020 and was replaced with astonishing speed by Amy Coney Barrett. Powerless in her later years to change minds on the increasingly conservative Court, Ginsburg used the tool at her disposal: her voice. The purpose of her blunt and quotable dissenting opinions was not only to call out the majority when she believed it was wrong but to shape how the public understood the Court’s actions.
It’s easy to forget that this was not always Ginsburg’s way. For most of her years on the public stage, there was nothing flamboyant about her. Quite the opposite: A woman of few, precisely chosen words, she seemed content to fade into the background. During her years on the federal appeals court in Washington, she was so well known for her friendship with that court’s conservatives, particularly Antonin Scalia, who moved up to the Supreme Court in 1986, that many leaders of the women’s movement didn’t quite trust her when Bill Clinton chose her to fill his first Supreme Court vacancy, in 1993. In a lecture Ginsburg delivered months before her nomination, she emphasized the importance of dialogue and said that the “effective judge … strives to persuade, and not to pontificate,” and “speaks in a moderate and restrained voice.”
She didn’t become the “Notorious RBG” until much later; the bestselling biography Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out in 2015. By then, Ginsburg had been on the Court for 22 years. It wasn’t so much that Ginsburg had changed as that the Court and the culture had changed around her.
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
Today will be a busy news day. What stories are you following? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.
Posted: August 28, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Afghanistan drone strike, Afghanistan terrorist attack, caturday, Enhanced unemployment ends, Evictions, Hurricane Ida, hurricane katrina, ISIS-K, Joe Biden, Louisiana, Major Biden, NBC clickbait, New Orleans, SCOTUS, U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan
Gathering Storm, by Karen Comber
Hurricane Ida is bearing down on Louisiana on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, the seawall protections are better now and Joe Biden is president instead of George W. Bush.
AP News: Ida aims to hit Louisiana on Hurricane Katrina anniversary.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Ida struck Cuba on Friday and threatened to slam into Louisiana with devastating force over the weekend, prompting evacuations in New Orleans and across the coastal region.
Ida intensified rapidly Friday from a tropical storm to a hurricane with top winds of 80 mph (128 kph) as it crossed western Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center predicted Ida would strengthen into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, with top winds of 140 mph (225 kph) before making landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast late Sunday.
“This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren’t prepared,” National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said during a Friday news conference with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The governor urged residents to quickly prepare, saying: “By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to be to ride out the storm.”
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered a mandatory evacuation for a small area of the city outside the levee system. But with the storm intensifying so much over a short time, she said it wasn’t possible to do so for the entire city. That generally calls for using all lanes of some highways to leave the city.
Orange Cat, by Vicky Mount
“The city cannot order a mandatory evacuation because we don’t have the time,” Cantrell said.
City officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours.
Other areas across the coastal region were under a mix of voluntary and mandatory evacuations. The storm is expected to make landfall on the exact date Hurricane Katrina devastated a large swath of the Gulf Coast exactly 16 years earlier.
More from CNN: Gulf Coast braces for Sunday arrival of Hurricane Ida, potentially a Category 4 storm.
Ida is anticipated to reach at least Category 4 strength before landfall, the National Hurricane Center said, maintaining its earlier forecast.
“Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday,” National Hurricane Center forecasters said Saturday morning. At 8 a.m. ET, the storm sustained winds of 85 mph.
Officials throughout the state implored people to evacuate, with some issuing mandatory orders to do so.
A dangerous storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River on Sunday as Ida makes landfall, the NHC said.
Hurricane conditions are likely in areas along the northern Gulf Coast beginning Sunday, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin by late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. These conditions will spread inland over portions of Louisiana and Mississippi Sunday night and Monday.
Rainfall can amount to 8 to 16 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 20 inches possible across southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi through Monday– which will likely lead to significant flash and river flooding impacts.
A hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River and includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.
In Louisiana, a hurricane watch is in effect from Cameron to west of Intracoastal City and the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Tropical storm warnings and watches are also issued stretching east to the Alabama-Florida border.
The city is anticipating impacts from damaging winds of up to 110 mph, according to Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
I found this article at Yahoo News interesting: EXPLAINER: Is New Orleans protected from a hurricane?
Storm has passed, by Robert Tracy
New Orleans finds itself in the path of Hurricane Ida 16 years to the day after floodwalls collapsed and levees were overtopped by a storm surge driven by Hurricane Katrina. That flooding killed more than 1,000 people and caused billions in damage. But Ida arrives at the doorstep of a region transformed since 2005 by a giant civil works project and closer attention to flood control.
The system already has been tested by multiple storms, including 2012’s Isaac, with little damage to the areas it protects….
The federal government spent $14.5 billion on levees, pumps, seawalls, floodgates and drainage that provides enhanced protection from storm surge and flooding in New Orleans and surrounding suburbs south of Lake Pontchartrain. With the exception of three drainage projects, that work is complete.
“The post-Katrina system is so different than what was in place before,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Matt Roe.
Starting with a giant surge barrier east of the city, the system is a 130-mile (210-kilometer) ring built to hold out storm surge of about 30 feet (9 meters). The National Hurricane Center on Friday projected Ida would bring a surge of 10 feet to 15 feet (3 to 4.6 meters) on the west bank.
At that level, it could come over the levees in some areas, said emergency manager Heath Jones of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District.
“They’re designed to overtop in places” with protections against worse damage, including armoring, splash pads and pumps with backup generators, he said.
“We’ve built all that since Katrina,” and they’re designed for a worse storm than the Ida is expected to be, he said.
Governments as of Friday were not ordering people protected by the levees to evacuate, showing their confidence in the system.
A number of floodgates are being closed as the storm approaches. That includes massive gates that ships can normally sail through, such as ones that close off the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal near the Lower 9th Ward. That has reduced the risk of flooding in an area long viewed as among the city’s most exposed. At least one smaller floodgate on land has been removed for maintenance, though, with officials planning to close the gap with sandbags.
Read more at the Yahoo link.
The Guardian: Afghanistan drone strike targeted Islamic State ‘planner’ in car, US says.
The US drone strike in Afghanistan targeted a mid-level “planner” from the Islamic State’s local affiliate who was travelling in a car with one other person near the eastern city of Jalalabad, US official sources said on Saturday.
The strike came two days after Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport, as western forces running the airlift braced for more attacks.
The US president, Joe Biden, has promised to hunt down those responsible, striking in a place and time of his choosing.
The drone strike is likely to be in part aimed at reassuring a shaken US public that its government’s counter-terrorist capabilities in Afghanistan remain intact despite the chaotic withdrawal.
There is no indication that the target of the drone was involved in Thursday’s blast, which killed around 180 people, including 13 US marines.
The attack focused attention on ISKP, which had previously been seen as only a minor actor in Afghanistan and one of the weaker IS affiliates around the world.
The group was founded in 2014 by a few dozen disaffected Taliban commanders and defectors from other militants from the region and made early gains in districts close to the border with Pakistan in the eastern Nangarhar province, where the drone strike occurred around midnight on Friday night. The name Khorasan was given by medieval Islamic imperial rulers to a region including modern Afghanistan.
Read more about ISKP at the Guardian link.
The Washington Post: The 13 U.S. service members killed in the Kabul airport attack: What we know so far.
The U.S. toll from Thursday’s terrorist attack in Afghanistan came into sharper focus Friday, as the identities of 13 U.S. service members who were killed began to surface.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Kabul airport gate where U.S. troops were searching evacuees rushing to depart the country. At least 18 other troops were wounded in the bombing that killed at least 170 people and the 13 U.S. service members. The attack was the single deadliest enemy strike against U.S. forces in Afghanistan since August 2011, when militants shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 U. S. troops on board.
Woman with cat soul, Madalena Lobao-Tello
The Pentagon has yet to release the names of American service members killed. In a Friday briefing, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did not say when the remains of the service members will arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the first transit place for U.S. service members killed overseas.
But names began to emerge in news reports, as family members confirmed the identities of the dead. Many of the slain service members were in their infancy in 2001, the year the 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered the U.S. war in Afghanistan, bookending their lives as the American effort comes to a close.
This story will be updated as more names are confirmed.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyo.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Mo.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Tex.
Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Riverside County, Calif.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, of Utah
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Knoxville, Tenn.
Read personal details about these young men at the WaPo link.
What SCOTUS Has Wrought
The Washington Post: Millions of Americans face financial cliff as eviction ban, unemployment aid lapse amid Washington inaction.
The clock is now ticking for millions of Americans who are set to face a series of stinging financial hardships in a matter of days, with the loss of federal protections against eviction and looming cuts to their weekly unemployment checks.
The two developments arrive at a moment of great tension in Washington, where the White House and Congress have grappled over the state of the country’s pandemic aid — and confronted their limited ability to authorize more of it — even as the economy shows potential signs of strain in the face of a resurgent coronavirus.
Feeding the Tortoise with Siamese Cat Looking On, by Beryl Cook
The first blow arrived Friday, as landlords now can more easily begin removing tenants who have fallen behind on their monthly payments. The potential wave of evictions comes after the Supreme Court found the Biden administration’s recent eviction moratorium to be unconstitutional, leaving the White House powerless to issue its own new directive protecting as many as 6.4 million households that are not current on their rents, according to federal survey data. Many Americans also have struggled to obtain federal rental aid from state and local programs that were allocated tens of billions of dollars in past stimulus packages.
Ten days later, some of those same families could face additional financial peril as enhanced unemployment insurance benefits are set to lapse. Congress repeatedly has extended these weekly checks, but President Biden and some of his congressional allies have not sought to renew them ahead of their planned expiration Sept. 6. That could threaten 7.5 million people with the loss of much-needed income, according to a recent estimate from the Century Foundation.
The developments portend a potential shock to the economy, and they highlight the difficult political realities even in Democratic-dominated Washington. Biden has only so much power to act on his own to provide pandemic relief, and lawmakers in his party do not always see eye to eye about the need for additional economic stimulus.
Caught in the middle are millions of Americans who have relied on these generous but temporary federal programs to pay their bills since the coronavirus first swept the nation in March 2020. With fewer federal protections at their disposal, the financial hardships they face may only intensify, especially as new variants threaten to shutter businesses and schools — and overrun hospitals with patients — in communities already ravaged by the pandemic.
Major News from NBC
With all that is happening, this is what NBC is using as clickbait today: ‘Minor’ Major issues: Emails show Biden dog was nippier than White House said.
The Biden family dog was a bit more of a problem pooch than the White House initially acknowledged, according to Secret Service emails obtained by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch.
The White House said at the end of March that Major, the Bidens’ 3-year-old German shepherd, was involved in a pair of “nipping” incidents, but the emails show he was involved in several more.
“At the current rate an Agent or Officer has been bitten every day this week (3/1-3/8) causing damage to attire or bruising/punctures to the skin,” one of the emails said.
When asked on Friday why the administration had provided reporters with a misleading account of the dog’s difficulties, White House press secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped the question.
“As we’ve stated previously, Major has had some challenges adjusting to life in the White House. He has been receiving additional training as well as spending some time in Delaware where the environment is more familiar to him and he is more comfortable. I don’t have any additional specifics but I think that speaks to where Major is located, to be fully transparent in your ongoing interest in the dog,” Psaki said.
The emails were released after a FOIA request from right wing nut organization Judicial Watch. NBC is being mocked on Twitter for hyping this ridiculous story.
What’s happening in your neck of the woods? If you’re in the path of Ida, please stay safe!
Posted: August 26, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Afghanistan, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Donald Trump, Florida, foreign policy, immigration, ISIS, Ivermectin, Joe Biden, SCOTUS, South Dakota, Sturgis rally, vaccines
Man reading, by Franco Americano
News just broke of an explosion outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. The New York Times: An explosion is reported at Kabul airport, after warnings of a security threat.
An explosion rattled an area outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed, just hours after Western governments had warned of a security threat there.
Since the Taliban takeover of the city earlier this month, thousands of Afghan civilians and foreign citizens have gathered at the airport, which has a military and civilian side, desperate to be airlifted out of the country.
“We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport,” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a post on Twitter. “Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.”
A U.S. military official confirmed that at least one explosion had occurred at the Abbey Gate, a main entryway to the international airport. Early reports indicated that the explosion was caused by at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest. It was unclear how many people were injured or whether anyone was killed, but large crowds have been gathering at the gate in recent days.
I guess we’ll hear more details as the day goes on.
In other news, the Supreme Court’s conservative justices have decided to interfere with the U.S. President’s immigration powers. Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Opinion: Thanks to the Supreme Court, a federal judge in Texas is making foreign policy decisions.
It’s easy to miss amid the flood of other news, but thanks to the Supreme Court, a big chunk of our national immigration policy is now being run by a federal trial court judge in Texas. Oh, yes, also our foreign relations.
Not just any judge, by the way, but a Trump nominee named Matthew Kacsmaryk, who, before being named to the bench, described homosexuality as “disordered,” characterized being transgender as a “delusion” and “mental disorder,” and, of course, criticized Roe v. Wade.
My beef, though, isn’t with Kacsmaryk as much as with his superiors at the Supreme Court. In a brief order Tuesday evening, the justices — with the three liberals dissenting — refused to disturb Kacsmaryk’s ruling requiring the Biden administration to resume Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy at the southern border, first adopted in 2019.
That is bad policy. The Migrant Protection Protocols, as the program is officially named, have required tens of thousands of asylum seekers to stay in Mexico, often in squalid and dangerous conditions, as they awaited hearings. The Trump administration’s argument was that this approach would help speed up the process and reduce backlogs….
Santiago Rusiñol, Romantic Novel
But who has the better policy, Trump or Biden, isn’t the real issue here. It’s what role the federal judiciary should play in flyspecking that policy and, in particular, what should happen while the legal questions are being sorted out….
As acting solicitor general Brian H. Fletcher told the justices, the order “requires the government to abruptly reinstate a broad and controversial immigration enforcement program that has been formally suspended for seven months and largely dormant for nearly nine months before that.” David Shahoulian, assistant secretary for border security at the Department of Homeland Security, said complying would be “near-impossible.” State Department official Ricardo Zúñiga said that “mandatory and immediate re-implementation of MPP on a wide-scale basis would undermine the U.S. government’s flexibility and discretion, negatively impact U.S.-Mexico bilateral relations and subject already-vulnerable individuals to increased risks.”
And then there are layers of hypocrisy. The conservative justices were remarkably solicitous of the Trump administration’s unprecedented and frequent pleas for emergency orders, especially in the immigration context.
As University of Texas School of Law professor Stephen I. Vladeck noted, of 28 emergency stays that the court issued in response to Trump administration requests, 11 involved lifting district court injunctions against Trump administration immigration policies.
Too bad all those Hillary haters refused to vote for her in 2016.
I hate to write about the pandemic again, but it’s still dominating the news because it’s getting worse.
The Washington Post: Hospitalizations hit 100,000 in United States for first time since January.
More than 100,000 people are hospitalized with covid-19 in the United States, a level not seen since Jan. 30 — when coronavirus vaccines were not widely available — as the country grapples with the delta variant’s spread.
By Steve Christopher Seward
Hospitalizations are highest across the South, where every state in the region has a higher portion of its population currently hospitalized with covid-19 than the national level, according to a Washington Post database. More than 17,000 people are hospitalized with covid-19 in Florida, which has the most hospitalizations for covid-19 of any state in the country, followed by Texas, which has more than 14,000.
Amid a raging debate over mask requirements in schools, current pediatric hospitalizations for covid-19 have reached 2,100 nationally, topping 2,000 for the first time since August 2020.
New coronavirus cases are being reported across the country at similar levels to those seen in January. About 151,000 new daily cases were being reported on average on Jan. 30; on Wednesday, that figure was 148,000. However, even as many hospitals are under strain and report shortages of intensive care unit beds, overall deaths are far lower; the daily average of deaths at the end of January was 3,100 and about 1,100 as of Wednesday.
This is interesting, but not surprising from Joshua Green at Bloomberg News: Vaccinated Democratic Counties Are Leading the Economic Recovery.
With Covid-19 cases once again rising across the country, the U.S. is struggling to curb the latest, delta-driven surge, as hospitalizations and deaths have steadily climbed. But at least so far, the economy has proved highly resilient. There are many reasons for this, ranging from generous stimulus checks to the Federal Reserve’s commitment to buying bonds and holding interest rates low.
But some interesting new data on the overlap of electoral politics and economic dynamism suggest another reason: The geography of America’s economic engine is heavily concentrated in counties that Joe Biden won in 2020. These counties are much more heavily vaccinated than the rest of the country and thus better able to withstand the economic effects of Covid’s delta variant.
Read the rest at the link.
In the red counties and states, people are poisoning themselves rather than get vaccines. Miami Herald: Calls about animal dewormer as COVID treatment soar in Texas, poison center says.
The Texas Poison Center Network has received dozens of calls this month about people exposed to ivermectin, an animal dewormer some are using for COVID-19 treatment.
But the drug, which is flying off the shelves in many parts of the United States, is not a suitable treatment and health organizations are warning against its improper use….
Of the 150 people who have called the center this year regarding exposure to the drug, 54 said they intentionally misused it.
Common side effects of the drug are allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and hypotension, the center said.
“Patients who take concentrated forms that are used for large animals like horses and cows are more likely to experience severe side effects and toxicity,” Texas Poison Center said in a statement to McClatchy News. “Accidental poisonings in children may also occur when this medication is kept in the home and is improperly stored. As a result, the Texas Poison Center Network does not encourage the use of ivermectin outside of its intended use.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have all also advised against using ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 outside controlled clinical trials, McClatchy News reported earlier this month.
A large dose of ivermectin intended for a horse could cause a human to have complications that include “low blood pressure, rapid heart rates, seizures” along with damage to the liver and layers of skin falling off, Dr. Shane Speights, site dean at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, told KAIT8.
By Franz von Defregger
Some doctors in Idaho and Arkansas are even prescribing this stuff. For Christ sake, why won’t these idiots just get the vaccine and wear masks?
Florida has become the Coronavirus epicenter of the U.S. The New York Times: In Florida, the pandemic is worse now than it has ever been before.
More people in Florida are catching the coronavirus, being hospitalized and dying of Covid-19 now than at any previous point in the pandemic, underscoring the perils of limiting public health measures as the Delta variant rips through the state.
This week, 227 virus deaths were being reported each day in Florida, on average, as of Tuesday, a record for the state and by far the most in the United States right now. The average for new known cases reached 23,314 a day on the weekend, 30 percent higher than the state’s previous peak in January, according to a New York Times database. Across the country, new deaths have climbed to more than 1,000 a day, on average….
And hospitalizations in Florida have almost tripled in the past month, according to federal data, stretching many hospitals to the breaking point. The surge prompted the mayor of Orlando to ask residents to conserve water to limit the strain on the city’s supply of liquid oxygen, which is needed both to purify drinking water and to treat Covid-19 patients.
Even as cases continue to surge, with more than 17,200 people hospitalized with the virus across Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has held firm on banning vaccine and mask mandates. Several school districts have gone ahead with mask mandates anyway.
I wonder if DeSantis reads the newspapers or watches anything other than Fox News?
WFLA.com: Bodies stacked to the ceiling as COVID-19 surge creates backlog at Florida funeral homes, crematories.
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. (WESH) — At West Side Crematory in Winter Garden, they’re overwhelmed with the remains of people that need to be cremated.
There’s an influx of bodies like they’ve never seen, worse than the first wave of COVID-19. The area where bodies are stored prior to being cremated is stacked to the ceiling. The staff is working day and night to honor the dead.
By Arthur John Elsley
WESH 2 called 20 funeral homes and crematories and many were too busy to be part of our story. Some were too busy to even talk on the phone. One funeral director said that in a 30-minute period where he talked to his partner, four new cases came in.
Mike Marchetti, the area manager for Newcomer Funeral Homes, says as much as they don’t want to, sometimes they have to delay meetings with families and delay funerals because they only have so much staff.
“So the family comes in and they say we would like to have the funeral on Friday and we have to tell then ‘I’m sorry we can’t accommodate a funeral on Friday because our schedule is full,” Marchetti said.
A death care industry struggling to meet demands at a level they’ve never seen before, and families struggling to cope with grief at a level a community has ever seen before.
And then there’s South Dakota, where Governor Kristi Noem welcomed about 700,000 unmasked bikers to party in a a small town named Sturgis.
NBC News: South Dakota Covid cases quintuple after Sturgis motorcycle rally.
Two weeks after the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, reported Covid infections in the state have risen nearly sixfold.
South Dakota counted 3,819 new cases in the past two weeks, including seven deaths, up from 644 cases in the 14 days preceding it. That makes it the state with the largest percent increase in Covid cases in the past two weeks.
The state’s rate of Covid-19 infections per capita in the past two weeks is in the bottom half of the country, but it’s the sharp and sudden increase in case counts that sets it apart.
Meade County, home to Sturgis, has counted 330 new cases in the last two weeks, up from the 20 reported in the two weeks before the rally, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case count. The 1,550 percent increase comes after the motorcycle rally, which usually draws around half a million people, possibly had its biggest year ever, according to County Sheriff Ron Merwin.
By Richard Boyer
The Daily Beast: Warnings About the Sturgis Rally Have Come Tragically True.
In western South Dakota’s Meade County, more than one in three COVID-19 tests are currently returning positive, and over the last three weeks, seven-day average case counts have increased by 3,400 percent. This exponential growth in cases is likely attributable to the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which drew an estimated half a million visitors to Meade County and its environs from Aug. 6 through 15, potentially acting as a superspreader event….
…while Southern states have been the main drivers of this surge thus far, the recent spike in cases in South Dakota warrants special concern.
The state more broadly has witnessed a 686.8 percent increase in daily case counts over the past three weeks, currently more than 10 times the nationwide rate. Meade County’s post-Sturgis uptick is certainly a contributor to this state-level increase, but neighboring counties have experienced a sharp incline in cases, too—ranging from a 1,900 percent increase in the past three weeks in Butte to a 1,050 percent increase in Lawrence.
Those two counties are also key focal points for the rally, which is not, in reality, confined to Sturgis. And because the rally is widely attended by residents all across South Dakota, it’s not surprising that counties further away—like Charles Mix County, which saw a 1,500 percent increase—are experiencing an incline in cases, too.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally represents the perfect storm for a superspreader event across this region: a large gathering with no testing, no masks, and no vaccination requirements. Though many (but not all) of the goings-on occurred outdoors and thus offered more protection against SARS-CoV-2 transmission than if they hadn’t been, the South Dakota Department of Transportation reported that 525,768 vehicles entered Sturgis over the 10 days of the rally. The sheer number of people in attendance paired with a lack of additional precautions presented prime conditions for viral transmission.
There’s much more at the link.
Sorry about all the bad news. Take care and hang in there, Sky Dancers!!