Sailors of the HMS Hermione in 1941 surrounding their sleeping cat, Convoy.
I’m going to begin with some good news today.
Binx, the cat who was trapped on the ninth floor of the collapsed Mami condo has been found!
Binx, a cat that lived on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South Condo, was found safe two weeks after the building collapsed and has been reunited with its family, an animal rescue organization said. https://t.co/VW7FLphQva
Binx, a cat that lived on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South condo, was found safe two weeks after the building collapsed and has been reunited with his family.
The black cat was found near the rubble and was taken to Kitty Campus, an organization that cares for community cats in Miami Beach.
A volunteer feeding cats in the area was the one who found him, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a news conference late Friday. Binx was reunited with his family Friday.
“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the life of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” Levine Cava said.
After nearly a week missing, Massachusetts native and two-time Olympian Aly Raisman says her missing dog has been found….
Raisman tweeted last Saturday night that her dog, Mylo, was terrified of the fireworks and ran off in the area of the Seaport District. She says the dog had a tag on, as well as a leash.
Raisman asked people not to actively search for Mylo — yelling his name or running around looking for him — because the organization Missing Dogs Mass advised her that scared dogs will make bad decisions if they are pressured.
The Needham native was a member of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams, both of which won the gold medal. With two team and four individual Olympic medals, Raisman is the second-most decorated Olympic gymnast in American history.
HEROES!!!! MYLO IS SAFE. I HAVE HIM 😊😊😊😊 THANK YOU Carla, Gayle & her sweet dog.
A bit more good news on the political front. Social Security activists have been pushing Biden to fire the two horrible men that Trump put in charge of the Social Security administration, and he has finally done it.
President Biden on Friday fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, a holdover from the Trump administration who had alienated crucial Democratic constituencies with policies designed to clamp down benefits and an uncompromising anti-union stance.
Saul was fired after refusing a request to resign, White House officials said. His deputy, David Black, who served as the agency’s top lawyer before his appointment by former president Donald Trump, resigned Friday upon request.
Biden named Kilolo Kijakazi, the current deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy, to serve as acting commissioner until the White House identifies a permanent nominee to lead the agency.
As the head of an independent agency whose leadership does not normally change with a new administration, Saul’s six-year term was supposed to last until January 2025.
The White House said a recent Supreme Court ruling, followed by a Justice Department memo on Thursday affirming the president’s authority “to remove the SSA Commissioner at will,” gave the president power to treat the position like that of other traditional political appointments.
Making friends with the locals in Afghanistan
Saul says he plans to keep doing his job as if nothing has changed.
But Saul said in an interview Friday afternoon that he would not leave his post, challenging the legality of the White House move to oust him.
“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” he said, adding that he plans to be back at work on Monday morning, signing in remotely from his New Yorkhome. He called his ouster a “Friday Night Massacre.”
Saul, a Trump appointee, had triggered fierce criticism from Democrats and advocates, who said he gummed up the speedy distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks to disabled Americans and applied union-busting tactics with labor unions representing federal employees….
Saul is a former GOP donor who served on the board of a conservative think-tank that advocated for cuts to Social Security benefits. Advocates said the Social Security Administration delayed releasing information to the IRS for stimulus checks earlier this year.
They also argued the SSA under Saul made it much more burdensome for disabled people to reestablish their eligibility for benefits.
Congressional Democrats and activists cheered Friday’s firings. Alex Lawson, president of Social Security Works, told Insider it was “great news” Saul and Black are no longer in charge of the agency.
“They were put in place by former President Trump to sabotage Social Security and no one but Wall Street is sad to see them go,” he said. “Their attacks on seniors and people with disabilities will be their shameful legacy.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also praised the move. The Banking committee chair said in a statement Saul “tried to systematically dismantle Social Security as we know it from within.”
“Social Security is the bedrock of our middle class that Americans earn and count on, and they need a Social Security Commissioner who will honor that promise to seniors, survivors, and people with disabilities now and for decades to come,” Brown said.
I’m one of the people who had to wait weeks for a stimulus check. I’m celebrating these firings.
The CATS program originated during World War II and was instrumental in the invasion of Normandy.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced “door-to-door outreach” in communities that have low rates of vaccination.
“It’s a year of hard-fought progress. We can’t get complacent now. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family and the people you care about the most is get vaccinated,” Biden said.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) panicked over the efforts to protect Americans from the pandemic during an interview conducted by Right Side Broadcast Network at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gathering in Texas.
Despite the fact the federal government goes door-to-door during the Census, Cawthorn painted a dystopian vision of what could happen if the government knocked on doors to tell Americans about the COVID vaccines, which have proven safe and effective.
“The thing about the mechanisms they would have to build to be able to actually execute that massive of a thing — and then think about what those mechanisms could be used for. They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could then go door-to-door to take your Bibles,” he argued.
LOL! The U.S. Post Office also goes door to door, and I don’t think they have ever taken anyone’s bibles away.
Over 30 million people are under heat alerts across western states as temperatures are forecast to soar well into the triple digits this weekend.
Nearly the entire state of California will be impacted by this heat wave, in addition to major metro areas in the Southwest. Numerous daily temperature records will be broken and some all-time records may also be in jeopardy.
Simon, the ship’s cat on the HMS Amethyst, with Dickin Medal, awarded for catching rats in wartime.
“High pressure will continue to dominate the southern Great Basin and Mojave Desert, producing a major heat wave into early next week,” the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Las Vegas said. “All-time record high temperatures will be rivaled or exceeded in some areas.”
While the Southwest may be known for its hot temperatures, these numbers are extreme.
A “Very High” heat risk, the highest level (4 of 4), has been issued for much of California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. This includes cities such as Sacramento, Bakersfield and Palm Springs, California, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
“Very High” simply means that the entire population, not just elderly or people who are ill, will be at a very high risk of heat-related illness due to the long duration of heat and the lack of overnight relief.
Utah’s current state temperature record is 117 degrees. The town of St George may meet or exceed that record on Saturday.
Las Vegas has the potential to set a new all-time high temperature record this weekend. The current all-time high is 117 degrees and the National Weather Service is forecasting at least that temperature for Saturday and Sunday.
Sacramento also has the chance to break their all-time high temperature of 114 degrees this weekend.
Dead mussels and clams coated rocks in the Pacific Northwest, their shells gaping open as if they’d been boiled. Sea stars were baked to death. Sockeye salmon swam sluggishly in an overheated Washington river, prompting wildlife officials to truck them to cooler areas.
The combination of extraordinary heat and drought that hit the Western United States and Canada over the past two weeks has killed hundreds of millions of marine animals and continues to threaten untold species in freshwater, according to a preliminary estimate and interviews with scientists.
“It just feels like one of those postapocalyptic movies,” said Christopher Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia who studies the effects of climate change on coastal marine ecosystems.
To calculate the death toll, Dr. Harley first looked at how many blue mussels live on a particular shoreline, how much of the area is good habitat for mussels and what fraction of the mussels he observed died. He estimated losses for the mussels alone in the hundreds of millions. Factoring in the other creatures that live in the mussel beds and on the shore — barnacles, hermit crabs and other crustaceans, various worms, tiny sea cucumbers — puts the deaths at easily over a billion, he said.
The Trump administration began separating migrant families along a remote stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border months earlier than has been previously reported — part of a little known program coming into view only now as the Biden administration examines government data.
In May 2017, Border Patrol agents in Yuma, Ariz., began implementing a program known as the Criminal Consequence Initiative, which allowed for the prosecution of first-time border crossers, including parents who entered the United States with their children and were separated from them.
From July 1 to Dec. 31, 2017, 234 families were separated in Yuma, according to newly released data from the Department of Homeland Security, almost exactly the same number as were separated in a now well known pilot program in El Paso that year. Because the Yuma program began in May, and the existing data on family separations begins only in July, the number of separations there was likely higher than 234, a prospect the Biden administration is now investigating.
Some of the parents separated under the Yuma program still remain apart from their children four years later. Others are missing — lawyers and advocates have been unable to locate them since they were deported alone. The children separated in Yuma in 2017 were as young as 10 months old, according to government data.
The greatest threat to American democracy today is not a repeat of January 6, but the possibility of a stolen presidential election. Contemporary democracies that die meet their end at the ballot box, through measures that are nominally constitutional. The looming danger is not that the mob will return; it’s that mainstream Republicans will “legally” overturn an election.
In 2018, when we wrote How Democracies Die, we knew that Donald Trump was an authoritarian figure, and we held the Republican Party responsible for abdicating its role as democratic gatekeeper. But we did not consider the GOP to be an antidemocratic party. Four years later, however, the bulk of the Republican Party is behaving in an antidemocratic manner. Solving this problem requires that we address both the acute crisis and the underlying long-term conditions that give rise to it….
HMS Warspite asleep with the ship’s mascot kitten in its hammock, 1944.
Last year, for the first time in U.S. history, a sitting president refused to accept defeat and attempted to overturn election results. Rather than oppose this attempted coup, leading Republicans either cooperated with it or enabled it by refusing to publicly acknowledge Trump’s defeat. In the run-up to January 6, most top GOP officials refused to denounce extremist groups that were spreading conspiracy theories, calling for armed insurrection and assassinations, and ultimately implicated in the Capitol assault. Few Republicans broke with Trump after his incitement of the insurrection, and those who did were censured by their state parties.
From November 2020 to January 2021, then, a significant portion of the Republican Party refused to unambiguously accept electoral defeat, eschew violence, or break with extremist groups—the three principles that define prodemocracy parties….
As we argued in How Democracies Die, our constitutional system relies heavily on forbearance. Whether it is the filibuster, funding the government, impeachment, or judicial nominations, our system of checks and balances works best when politicians on both sides of the aisle deploy their institutional prerogatives with restraint. In other words, when they avoid applying the letter of the law in ways contrary to the spirit of the law—what’s sometimes called constitutional hardball. When contemporary democracies die, they usually do so via constitutional hardball. Democracy’s primary assailants today are not generals or armed revolutionaries, but rather politicians—Hugo Chávez, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—who eviscerate democracy’s substance behind a carefully crafted veneer of legality and constitutionality.
This is precisely what could happen in the next U.S. presidential race. Elections require forbearance. For elections to be democratic, all adult citizens must be equally able to cast a ballot and have that vote count. Using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of this principle is strikingly easy.
I hope you’ll head over to The Atlantic and read the whole thing.
This is getting way too long, so I’ll sign off for now. I hope you all have a great weekend!
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
The information the IRS needs to send out the payments was finally delivered on Thursday morning after threatening letters sent to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and his Deputy David Black by leaders of the House Ways and Means and Oversight Committees. There is still no word on when the deposts/checks will go out. The latest estimate is that those of us in these categories will still have to wait at least 10 days to see the money.
Meanwhile, calls on Biden to fire Saul and Black are growing louder.
Weeks after the American Rescue Plan had been signed into law, while many Americans had already received payments, the Social Security Administration’s inaction was standing in the way of millions of beneficiaries receiving desperately needed cash aid. After escalating pressure on Saul to no avail, the letter gave him 24 hours to remedy the holdup. A few hours later, the SSA announced that they’d be sending the information the next day.
This delay is just the latest in an array of extremely troubling decisions under the leadership of the Social Security Administration’s commissioner Saul, and his deputy David Black….
Commissioner Saul and Deputy Commissioner Black were appointed by President Trump, alongside Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy Mark Warshawsky, to self-fulfill the Republican promise about the failure of government, and destroy the departments they were tasked with managing. Warshawsky, a veteran of the American Enterprise Institute, was pegged as an early candidate to be fired by the Biden administration for his work undercutting the program; he retired from the post in late January.
The Biden administration has set to work rolling back some of those Trump appointees’ designs on Social Security, including a proposed rule that would have subjected disability insurance recipients to even more frequent and stringent eligibility reviews, which would make an already challenging process even more difficult for people with disabilities to secure and maintain cash benefits. That move was widely celebrated among advocates. But President Biden has not heeded the call from those same advocates to fire Saul and Black, who have clear track records of working against the very department they’ve been tasked to head up, and against Democratic ambitions on Social Security.
Now, a growing number of congressional Democrats are joining the chorus calling for Saul and Black’s ousters. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for their resignation as his first act as chair of the Social Security and Pensions Subcommittee, and has since urged Biden to fire them. He’s joined House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson, Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis, and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Bill Pascrell Jr. in demanding Saul’s immediate removal. Both Saul and Black are serving terms that don’t expire until 2025….
On the campaign trail, Biden insisted (straining against historical fact) he had never and would never vouch for cuts to Social Security. He, and the Democratic Party broadly, have made protecting and expanding Social Security a main plank of the party’s policy platform going forward.
That ambition is irreconcilable with a leadership regime that has, as was reported by Yahoo News, put “illegitimate political pressure on Administrative Law Judges to reduce the rate of Social Security disability case approval,” as one such judge recently claimed. That alone should be scandal enough to imperil Saul and Black’s positions at the agency, and give the Biden administration the space to fire them for cause. But the Trump years have built up a tolerance for scandal, which means that the incident hasn’t even deterred them.
Meanwhile, Saul and Black have openly pursued a number of reforms aimed at aggressively curtailing benefits. Their attempted rule change, which the Biden administration rolled back, was a Reagan-era reform that would have led to tens of thousands of people losing benefits. When President Reagan enacted it, it led to a rash of suicides, and was deemed so cruel that it led to a unanimous Senate ruling to overturn it. Elsewhere, they’ve sought to deny benefits for older and severely disabled non–English speakers, resulting in an estimated 100,000 people being denied more than $5 billion in benefits.
See my Thursday post for more about Saul and Black’s efforts to destroy Social Security on Thursday.
Pressure is also building for Biden to get rid of Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
A group of House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require it to adhere to present service expectations. They named the bill the Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act, or DEJOY Act.
Carl Larsson: Brita, Cat and Sandwich
One House aide involved in postal reform legislation introduced in February said some members of the caucus are leery of proceeding with efforts to address the Postal Service’s financial obligations given that DeJoy’s 10-year plan includes sharp reductions in service, including slower timetables for mail delivery and reduced post office hours.
Separately, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) threatened to take legal action to block the service cuts. His office said in a statement Friday that it was encouraged that DeJoy recognizes the legal obligations to secure limited regulatory approvals, but said it remained concerned about timely mail delivery….
DeJoy hopes to save the Postal Service $160 billion over the next decade through a combination of austerity measures, postage price increases and projected package volume growth. But the largest single piece of his plan is dependent on Congress repealing its pre-funding mandate for retiree health care costs, which runs about $5 billion a year. Instead, the agency wants to wind down those payments and enroll future retirees in Medicare, a proposal worth $44 billion.
A bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chair of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, includes both components.
But DeJoy’s designs to slow the mail — even as the Postal Service attempts to rebound from generationally poor service metrics in recent months — and perceived animus toward lawmakers in recent hearings have made those prospects more difficult.
Sometimes America’s legacy of white supremacy is hiding in plain sight, literally. When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a hastily passed voter suppression law that many are calling the new, new Jim Crow on Thursday night, surrounded by a half-dozen white men, he did so in front of a painting of a plantation where more than 100 Black people had been enslaved.
Lady reading with cat-Albert Roosenboom
The fitting symbolism is somehow both shocking and unsurprising. In using the antebellum image of the notorious Callaway Plantation — in a region where enslaved Black people seeking freedom were hunted with hounds — in Wilkes County, Ga., as the backdrop for signing a bill that would make it a crime to hand water to a thirsty voter waiting on Georgia’s sometimes hours-long voter lines, the GOP governor was sending a clear message about race and human rights in the American South.
The portrait of the plantation was the starkest reminder of Georgia’s history of white racism that spans slavery, Jim Crow segregation, the rebirth of the modern Ku Klux Klan, and today’s voter purges targeting Black and brown voters — but it wasn’t the only one. At the very moment that Kemp was signing the law with his all-white posse, a Black female Georgia lawmaker — Rep. Park Cannon — who’d knocked on the governor’s door in the hopes of watching the bill signing was instead dragged away and arrested by state troopers, in a scene that probably had the Deep South’s racist sheriffs of yesteryear like Bull Connor or Jim Clark smiling in whatever fiery hellhole they now inhabit.
Indeed, Twitter was on fire Thursday night with posters drawing the straight line from notorious past segregationists like George Wallace to the 2021 actions of Kemp and the GOP-led Georgia Legislature in passing — at great speed and with little debate — a lengthy bill that also limits easy-access drop boxes for ballots and places onerous voter-ID restrictions on voting by mail, and which the New York Times reports “will have an outsized effect on Black voters.”
On one level this new voter-suppression law — “voter integrity,” in the modern GOP’s Orwellian branding — is inspired by the current and possible future events of ex-President Donald Trump’s Big Lie about fraud in the 2020 election, the narrow upset wins in Georgia for President Biden and two new Democratic senators, and the threat that voting icon Stacey Abrams poses to Kemp in the 2022 election. But there’s also a powerful pull back to Georgia past. That link is made clear by the history hanging right behind Kemp on Thursday.
“Things have changed dramatically” in the South, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in 2013 when he authored the majority opinion gutting the Voting Rights Act, ruling that states with a long history of discrimination no longer needed to have changes to their voting procedures approved by the federal government.
Voter suppression in Georgia is Exhibit A for why he is wrong.
After Joe Biden carried the state in November and Black voters turned out in record numbers in the January runoffs to elect Democrat Raphael Warnock as the state’s first Black senator and Democrat Jon Ossoff as the state’s first Jewish senator, Georgia Republicans passed a sweeping rewrite of the state’s election laws on Thursday to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote and have their ballots counted.
Though some Georgia Republicans, most notably Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, defended the integrity of the 2020 election, the “Election Integrity Act of 2021” heavily restricts mail ballot drop boxes, adds new ID requirements for mail-in voting, throws out ballots cast in the wrong precincts, and makes it a crime to give voters food and water while they’re waiting in line.
In addition to making it harder to vote, the new law allows the GOP-controlled legislature to appoint a majority of members of the state election board and gives the board the power to take over county election boards, making it easier for Republicans to challenge election results, take over election administration in large Democratic counties, and even decline to certify the results if Democrats win close races—which Trump tried and failed to get the state to do in 2020.
One of the small, rueful truths that many Americans held in the back of their minds throughout the pandemic year was that, for all of its horrors, it had at least reduced, or even eliminated, the spectacle of the gun massacre. School closings had momentarily ended school shootings; curbside delivery had, it seemed, halted in-store assaults. It is true that gun fatalities were disturbingly trending upward in big cities, for reasons that are as yet as mysterious as those for the great decline that preceded them, and that, according to the Gun Violence Archive, last year saw the highest number of shooting deaths in decades. In fact, keyed, perhaps, by a general sense of panic marked by the pandemic and a bizarrely unsettled election year—with that strange American certainty that they’re coming for you—gun sales soared, even amid groups that are not normally associated with buying firearms in numbers.
The gun massacre, however—five or twenty or fifty people murdered at a time—had, briefly, vanished. Yet, alongside the knowledge that mass shootings had gone stood the knowledge that they would, inevitably, reëmerge. And here they are, right on schedule, as the country “opens up,” and with a vengeance: seven in the past seven days, with eight people killed in three shootings in Atlanta, and ten in a grocery store in Boulder. With those shootings come back all the usual, understandable, and all-too-human reactions—above all, our urge to give them some kind of meaning by making them an index of a larger issue. Violence this blankly nihilistic needs a point projected into it, to redeem it as a subject of discussion….
Countries that resemble ours in every way except for the availability of guns have much lower levels of gun violence and far fewer gun massacres. Yet these truths, demonstrated again and again, meet the same resistance, over and over. The Second Amendment guarantees private ownership of even military-style weapons. (It doesn’t, or rather, until very recently, not even conservative Justices imagined that it did.) Guns are essential for self-protection. (They aren’t.) The way to stop mass shootings is to arm more people, such as teachers. (A “colossally stupid idea,” according to the co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.)
All this, even as the sheer psychic damage done by the omnipresence of guns in America is self-evident (no healthy society should have to train its children in active-shooter drills), while the social damage extends far beyond the immediate casualties. A reason for the prevalence of police shootings in America is that the police go about armed, in levels unique to our society, in order to deal with the uniquely over-armed civilians they fear encountering, with the frequently fatal results, we know too well, for the unarmed and the innocent.
Sorry this isn’t a more cheerful post. I’ll probably be up for something more upbeat if I finally get that promised $1400. What’s on your mind today?
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
President Biden is going to have a press conference this afternoon, and I wish someone would ask him why around 30,000,000 people on Social Security, disability, veterans, and railroad pensions haven’t gotten their stimulus payments yet. Furthermore, why hasn’t he fired two Trump holdovers at the Social Security Administration who are holding up the payments and who are trying to destroy Social Security?
Social Security hasn’t handed over payment information that the Internal Revenue Service needs to send the coronavirus relief checks to nearly 30 million people receiving retirement or disability benefits, Democrats said.
“We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service,” House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul.
Several Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), had previously urged President Joe Biden to fire Saul, a Donald Trump appointee whose term doesn’t expire until 2025. Biden has hesitated to do so even though he’s fired other Trump holdovers in other agencies before their terms have ended.
The IRS has sent more than 127 million payments so far. Neal and other members of his committee earlier this week asked Social Security and the IRS to explain the delayed payments to Social Security beneficiaries.
In Wednesday’s letter, Democrats said they became “aware that the IRS asked SSA to start sending payment files two weeks before the American Rescue Plan became law on March 11, 2021” ― and that Social Security still hasn’t provided the information.
People in these categories are the poorest of the poor, including Social Security recipients who don’t have enough income to file tax returns.
We are giving the trump-appointed heads of the Social Security Admin **24 Hours** to get off their backsides and stop delaying sending stimulus checks to 30,000,000 Americans. pic.twitter.com/zsx7t9vKvC
President Biden is facing increasing pressure to remove two Social Security Administration officials appointed by his Republican predecessor, a standoff that could test the limits of his ability to undo Donald Trump’s legacy.
The brewing controversy surrounds Andrew Saul and David Black, the agency’s commissioner and deputy commissioner, whom Trump appointed to fixed-term positions that don’t end until 2025. As term appointees, they can’t be removed by Biden except for cause, but unions and Capitol Hill alike are demanding that Biden find a way to remove them, accusing them of creating a toxic work environment, contributing to low morale due to staff cuts, and sidelining the agency’s administrative law judges.
The continued presence of the Trump appointees underscores the difficulties the Biden administration faces when trying to roll back some of the previous administration’s efforts to reshape the federal government. While traditional political appointees must resign or face being fired when a new administration comes in, presidents are also able to install fixed-term employees to boards and other government positions that can outlast their administration.
Saul, a New York businessman and Republican donor, and Black, a former Bush administration staffer, have been in their positions since 2019. According to critics, the two officials have engaged in “no-holds-barred union busting” and eliminated the agency’s pre-pandemic telework program, forcing over 10,000 employees to commute to work — a rule change that continues despite the onset of COVID-19. (That did not apply to Saul, who reportedly continued to work from home as thousands of his employees commuted during the onset of the pandemic.)
There’s more at the Yahoo News link.
Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and his Deputy David Black "are sabotaging the Biden administration by delaying relief checks."
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday unveiled the largest rollback of consumer mail services in a generation, part of a 10-year plan that includes longer first-class delivery windows, reduced post office hours and higher postage prices.
DeJoy presented his long-awaited strategic vision for the U.S. Postal Service during a Tuesday webinar. Portions of the initiative already made public have raised alarms from postal advocates, who say they could further erode agency performance. Mailing industry officials warn that substantial service cuts could drive away business and worsen its already battered finances.
But DeJoy has cited the need for austerity to ensure more consistent delivery and rein in losses. The agency is weighed down by $188.4 billion in liabilities, and DeJoy told a House panel last month that he expects the Postal Service to lose $160 billion over the next 10 years. Without the plan, Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom said, the agency’s future was “profoundly threatened.”
DeJoy’s plan to make up that projected shortfall largely depends on Congress repealing a retiree health care pre-funding mandate and allowing postal workers to enroll in Medicare. The agency also will ask President Biden to order a review of how much the Postal Service should have paid into its pension funds, and credit the mail agency with any overpayments.
DeJoy projected these steps would save the agency $58 billion over the next decade, and the agency could make up the rest through postage rate increases ($44 billion in new revenue), “self-help” cost cutting in mail processing, transportation and administrative efficiencies ($34 billion), and revenue from package volume and price increases ($24 billion).
Presidents get to decorate the Oval Office any way they want, and it’s usually telling. Joe Biden for example, requested that five portraits be hung around the fireplace. There’s George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and one of the greatest Americans who never became president: Alexander Hamilton.
And in the middle of this esteemed group is a fifth portrait in a place of honor over the fireplace: Franklin D. Roosevelt. Biden, who will be the last president who lived during FDR’s momentous era, deeply admires our 32nd president, and it shows in both his style and way of governing.
No president since Roosevelt inherited the kind of mess that confronted Biden, and he has responded as FDR did: By throwing big money at problems. The ink on the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan is barely dry, and now the White House is set to unveil a $3 trillion infrastructure plan.
There’s also talk of reforming the biggest federal program of all: Social Security, which Roosevelt launched in 1935, and which is now paying out more cash than it’s bringing in. In Washington, the word “reform” is usually a code word for more spending.
Hmmm….I hope that will involve lifting the cap on the payroll tax so that rich people have to contribute more to Social Security and Medicare.
Biden’s style — specifically how he communicates with the American people — is also a page from the FDR playbook. Two months into his presidency, he has been surprisingly disciplined and economical with his words and appearances. The verbal gaffes that dogged him throughout his long career in Washington are nowhere to be seen. I’m sure he’ll make a boo-boo eventually (he’s Joe Biden, after all) but after four years of a president who lied about everything, a gaffe on Biden’s part these days will be seen as an honest mistake, humanizing, even charming to a certain degree.
Roosevelt is remembered for his famous Fireside Chats. Forgotten, however, is how infrequently he gave them. During his 12 years in office — bookended by America’s greatest 20th century crises, the Great Depression and World War II — he took to the airwaves just 30 times. Just two or three times a year. The rarity of his appearances amped up the drama and attention when he did speak.
But, unlike Biden so far, FDR gave lots of press conferences, Brandus writes. He recommends that Biden make his first formal appearance before the D.C. press corps as boring as possible.
The news media is trying to gin up the drama for this, and Biden will certainly be asked about tough issues that already are challenging his smooth operation — including immigration problems at the southern border and the mass shootings in the Atlanta area and Boulder, Colorado. But he knows this and will be prepared.
If Biden’s lucky, his first news conference will be a dull affair. It will also likely be a rare one. Why? Here’s the deal. With platforms like Twitter, Facebook and all the rest at their fingertips, modern-day presidents need reporters and the press less than ever. We saw this during the campaign, when Biden gave individual interviews but rarely held news conferences. The pandemic was a good excuse to pull back even further.
In other news, There’s been an attempted copycat supermarket shooting in Georgia; fortunately it was short-circuited.
Just two days after a mass shooting left 10 people dead at a Colorado supermarket, Atlanta police arrested a 22-year-old man who walked into a Publix at Atlantic Station with six guns and body armor.
Police were called to the grocery store on Atlantic Drive just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and met with a manager who told them a man came in with a rifle and headed straight toward a bathroom, authorities said.
“A witness observed the male and alerted store management, who then notified police,” Atlanta police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Officers at the scene spotted the man leaving the bathroom and quickly took him into custody. According to police, his weapons included two long guns and four pistols, all of which were concealed.
Police identified the man as Rico Marley. He was booked into the Fulton County Jail on multiple charges of criminal attempt to commit a felony and weapons possession. Marley is scheduled for a first appearance before a judge Thursday morning.
The witness who saw 22 y/o Rico Marley in the bathroom with the AR-15 told us tonight he may have helped prevent a mass shooting. Charles Russell says the tragedy in Boulder was definitely on his mind. https://t.co/gMZBvbwWT8pic.twitter.com/3fdUm4u7Om
Xiao Zhen Xie, the 75-year-old woman who was punched by a white man in San Francisco — and then fought back by smacking him with a board — will not keep the nearly $1 million that has been donated for her medical expenses. Her grandson says Xie insists on donating the money to help defuse racism against the Asian American community.
“She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than Her,” John Chen wrote in an update on the fundraising site GoFundMe.
Xiao Zhen Xie, 75, is recovering after she was punched by a man in San Francisco. Her family says that despite being hurt, she fought back to defend herself. Dennis O’Donnell/Screenshot by NPR
Xie was attacked on San Francisco’s Market Street last Wednesday, the morning after six women of Asian descent were killed in a shooting rampage in the Atlanta area — the worst incident in a broader spike in incidents that have targeted the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Xie, who is originally from China, had been waiting to cross the street when she was suddenly hit in the face. San Francisco Police say the suspect, Steven Jenkins, punched Xie minutes after he assaulted an 83-year-old Asian man. The suspect was being chased by a security guard when he hit Xie.
In the moment, her instinct was to fight back, her family told TV station KPIX. They said that Xie, while badly hurt, responded by grabbing a wooden board and hitting the man.
Jenkins, 39, was left with a bloody mouth and is facing charges of assault and elder abuse.
I’ll end with this argument that violence against women is a hate crime. Click the link to read the article at The Atlantic.
Many are outraged that officials appear hesitant to classify the Atlanta shootings as a hate crime. But the call for hate-crime prosecution would be better served by an understanding that such designations are often purely symbolic, @saigrundy writes: https://t.co/kx84Rqosnh
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.