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.
Thursday ReadsPosted: 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 18 Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: November 14, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: 2020 presidential election, coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump, Doug Burgum, health-care workers, hospitalizations, Joe Biden, Kristi Noem, North Dakota, South Dakota, Trump Death Cult, Trump denial of election results, vaccines 20 Comments
The coronavirus pandemic is worsening by the day, and the Trump administration refuses to do anything about it. Yesterday, the defeated “president” emerged from his hidey hole for an appearance in the former Rose Garden. He proceeded to falsely claim credit for the Pfizer vaccine and pretend that the election is still undecided.
Maeve Reston at CNN thinks Trump is beginning to accept reality: Trump wavers between reality and election fiction with eye on his legacy during Rose Garden vaccine address.
President Donald Trump had an eye on his legacy as he strode to the microphone in the White House Rose Garden Friday and touted the administration’s “unequaled and unrivaled” efforts to help produce a coronavirus vaccine through Operation Warp Speed. Then, for a brief moment, he seemed close to acknowledging the reality that his presidency is almost over.
“I will not — this administration will not be doing a lockdown,” Trump said, speaking for the first time in a week as coronavirus cases in the US shatter records and hospitalizations are surging. “Hopefully whatever happens in the future — who knows which administration it will be — I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”
It was a fleeting shift in tone suggesting that the reality of President-elect Joe Biden’s substantial win is seeping into Trump’s psyche even as he and his advisers publicly deny it.
The Democrat now has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 as a result of wins in two longtime Republican states, Arizona and Georgia, CNN projects — far above the 270 threshold that Biden needed to clinch the presidency. But the indisputable math has not prevented the President from continuing to try to whip up outrage among his supporters on Twitter with unfounded accusations that the election has been stolen from him.
Friday’s speech in the Rose Garden was a portrait of a President clinging to power as his legal challenges to the election results crumble around him, mindful that he ought to show Americans what he’s been doing with the power of government as he spends his days tweeting conspiracy theories about lost or deleted votes in the midst of a pandemic that is coursing through the United States.
Except he isn’t really doing anything about the most pressing problem facing the country–the pandemic. Philip Bump at The Washington Post: Trump also refuses to admit he lost the fight against the coronavirus.
“Case levels are high, but a lot of the case levels are high because of the fact that we have the best testing program anywhere in the world,” he said. “We’ve developed the most and the best tests, and we test far more than any other country. So it shows obviously more cases.”
This is false for a variety of reasons. The most obvious misstatement is that the current surge in new cases, leading to 1 in every 350 Americans contracting the virus in the past week, is solely a function of more testing. In reality, the number of new cases during this surge (which began around Sept. 12) has easily outpaced the increase in the number of tests being conducted. The rate at which tests are coming back positive is more than 9 percent at the moment, twice what it was a month ago.
It’s also important to remember that the United States has conducted so many tests because we’ve had to. Countries like South Korea effectively contained the virus and therefore didn’t have to keep testing hundreds of thousands of people a week. It’s our failure to contain the virus that necessitates a broad deployment of testing….
“The federal government has 22,000 beds immediately available for states and jurisdictions that need additional capacity,” Trump said Friday. “But we think that it’s going to start going down possibly very quickly. We’ll see what happens. But with the vaccine, you’ll see numbers going down within a matter of months. And it’ll go down very rapidly.”
There’s no indication that the need for hospital capacity is going to go down quickly. It’s also not clear where that federal capacity is or how states can access it. It may be the case that the vaccine will drive down new infections and hospitalizations, but even limited distribution of the vaccine is weeks away. For most Americans, it’s months away, and cases are surging now.
Read more at the WaPo.
As I wrote in a comment yesterday, I think Trump should be prosecuted for negligent homicide. At Alternet, via Raw Story, Cory Fenwick writes: The Trump plan for mass death is unfolding before our eyes.
On Friday, the COVID Tracking Project reported that the number of positive coronavirus infections in the last day had reached 170,000, the highest record ever and a number that was, just a few months ago, hard to imagine. It’s now our daily reality, and it’s likely to only get worse.
Other figures are just as frightening. Hospitalizations — one of the clearest signs of the seriousness of the out break —have reached a new high at 69,000, according to the project. Deaths are at a disturbing 1,300, though that rate is almost certain to spike in recent weeks following the more recent spike in cases. And as the newest and largest wave yet engulfs the country, reports have begun to appear of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients, which is almost certainly a precursor to a spike in the case fatality rate.
It’s our horrifying new status quo, and one that experts and observers have been warning would unfold this fall for months. But the ming-boggling truth is that for the Trump administration, everything is pretty much going as planned.
Ever since the first wave in the spring, President Donald Trump has seemed increasingly drawn to the so-called (and, indeed, misleadingly named) “herd immunity” approach to the pandemic. On this approach, you reject government restrictions meant to stop people from getting the virus. What advocates of this strategy believe is that it’s best that more people get the virus, because eventually, enough people will have had it, they’ll immune, and life will return to normal.
Click the link to read the rest.
This piece by Ed Yong at The Atlantic is a must read: ‘No One Is Listening to Us.’ More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.
In the months since March, many Americans have habituated to the horrors of the pandemic. They process the election’s ramifications. They plan for the holidays. But health-care workers do not have the luxury of looking away: They’re facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two. In the U.S., states now report more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point this year—and 40 percent more than just two weeks ago.
Emergency rooms are starting to fill again with COVID-19 patients. Utah, where Nathan Hatton is a pulmonary specialist at the University of Utah Hospital, is currently reporting 2,500 confirmed cases a day, roughly four times its summer peak. Hatton says that his intensive-care unit is housing twice as many patients as it normally does. His shifts usually last 12 to 24 hours, but can stretch to 36. “There are times I’ll come in in the morning, see patients, work that night, work all the next day, and then go home,” he told me. I asked him how many such shifts he has had to do. “Too many,” he said.
Hospitals have put their pandemic plans into action, adding more beds and creating makeshift COVID-19 wards. But in the hardest-hit areas, there are simply not enough doctors, nurses, and other specialists to staff those beds. Some health-care workers told me that COVID-19 patients are the sickest people they’ve ever cared for: They require twice as much attention as a typical intensive-care-unit patient, for three times the normal length of stay. “It was doable over the summer, but now it’s just too much,” says Whitney Neville, a nurse based in Iowa. “Last Monday we had 25 patients waiting in the emergency department. They had been admitted but there was no one to take care of them.” I asked her how much slack the system has left. “There is none,” she said.
The entire state of Iowa is now out of staffed beds, Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of Iowa, told me. Worse is coming. Iowa is accumulating more than 3,600 confirmed cases every day; relative to its population, that’s more than twice the rate Arizona experienced during its summer peak, “when their system was near collapse,” Perencevich said. With only lax policies in place, those cases will continue to rise. Hospitalizations lag behind cases by about two weeks; by Thanksgiving, today’s soaring cases will be overwhelming hospitals that already cannot cope. “The wave hasn’t even crashed down on us yet,” Perencevich said. “It keeps rising and rising, and we’re all running on fear. The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question.”
There’s much more at the link. I hope you’ll take the time to read it.
It’s so sad to see North Dakota, my birthplace and the state where my parents were born and raised, experiencing such a terrible health emergency. USA Today: The Dakotas are ‘as bad as it gets anywhere in the world’ for COVID-19.
South Dakota welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to a massive motorcycle rally this summer, declined to cancel the state fair and still doesn’t require masks. Now its hospitals are filling up and the state’s current COVID-19 death rate is among the worst in the world.
The situation is similarly dire in North Dakota, with the state’s governor recently moving to allow health care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 to continue working if they don’t show symptoms. It’s a controversial policy recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a crisis situation where hospitals are short-staffed.
And now — after months of resisting a statewide mask mandate — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum changed course late Friday, ordering masks to be worn statewide and imposing several business restrictions.
“Our situation has changed, and we must change with it,” Burgum said in a video message posted at 10 p.m. Friday. Doctors and nurses “need our help, and they need it now,” he said.
Both North and South Dakota now face a predictably tragic reality that health experts tell USA TODAY could have been largely prevented with earlier public health actions.
Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota is still resisting. Sioux Falls Argus Leader: If Joe Biden enacts mask mandates, lockdowns, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem won’t enforce them.
The office of Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement to the Argus Leader Friday that the first-term governor, who’s risen to stardom in the Republican party for her hands-off approach to managing the pandemic, has no intention of using state resources to enforce any federal COVID-19 orders.
“It’s a good day for freedom. Joe Biden realizes that the president doesn’t have the authority to institute a mask mandate,” said Ian Fury, communications specialist for Noem. “For that matter, neither does Governor Noem, which is why she has provided her citizens with the full scope of the science and trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones.”
Famous last words?
More stories to check out today:
The New York Times: It’s Traumatizing: Coronavirus Deaths are Climbing Again.
Katlyn Polantz at CNN: Trump had a very bad Friday in court with his election cases. They’re headed for more action next week.
Politico: ‘Purely outlandish stuff’: Trump’s legal machine grinds to a halt.
CNN: Federal election official blasts Trump’s false election claims as ‘laughable,’ ‘baffling’ and ‘insulting’
The Washington Post: Federal prosecutors assigned to monitor election malfeasance tell Barr they see no evidence of substantial irregularities.
NBC News: QAnon’s Dominion voter fraud conspiracy theory reaches the president.
The Daily Beast: How Trump’s Voter Fraud War Room Became a Fart-Infused ‘Room From Hell’
Reuters: President-elect Biden, denied classified intel briefings, to bring in national security experts.
Susan Rice at The New York Times: Here’s How Trump’s Stalling Risks Our National Security.
The Washington Post: Defense secretary sent classified memo to White House about Afghanistan before Trump fired him.
The New York Times: Christopher Krebs Hasn’t Been Fired, Yet.
Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!
Friday Reads: NOLA Daily No More and Elusive Escaped Penguin is CaughtPosted: May 25, 2012 Filed under: 2012 elections, abortion rights, American Gun Fetish, China, Congress, court rulings, Foreign Affairs, Fox News, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Japan, legislation, Main Stream Media, Media, morning reads, Myanmar, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Republican politics, the GOP, the internet, The Media SUCKS, torture, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: Aung San Suu Kyi, Campaign Ads, Chen Guangcheng, Department of Defense’s Military Health System, digital media, Free Press, Japanese Penguin, Newspapers, newsprint, NOLA, Shaheen Amendment, South Dakota, Times/Picayune, waterboarding 17 Comments
JJ here, while Dakinikat is off seeing her oldest daughter get married, I’ve got the honor of taking her place on this morning’s reads!
Over the past few weeks you have seen that I have a fondness for cartoons. Not just the political/editorial ones, but all cartoons. I have hundreds of yellowed and crinkled newsprint cartoons stashed away in drawers, boxes, plastic bags and the few that are very special, I still have taped to my fridge. Some have little messages scribbled on them, maybe an extra doodle drawn to represent something specifically funny, like an inside joke within the family.
I did not limit it to cartoons, there were many times an article would pop out at me, begging for it to be clipped. Of course, I would make my little editorial comments in the borders…And it wasn’t just me who would do this, my mom would do it too. Sometimes I would get a surprise letter in the mail, and in it would be a newspaper clipping of a cartoon or an article that she thought I would laugh like hell at, for example say….about some group of midgets in drag, robbing a Burger King….I am not kidding on that one!
And lets not forget clipping obituaries or recipes…or historic moments. (The attic of our hundred year old house in Newtown, Connecticut had a newspaper from when the Titanic sunk, when FDR was elected for his first term, and when FDR died.)
So when I moved nine years ago from the big city to Banjoville, I expected to have our newspaper, the “legal organ” of Union County published once a week, on Tuesdays. Except for Election Day…that always means a Wednesday delivery.
Since then I have been able to print out a cartoon here or there, but is isn’t the same thing. There is something magical in the feel and look of newsprint, am I right? If you are “lucky” it will smudge your fingers a bit, and as the time goes by, the edges start to curl up…and the dirt and grease marks get darker and darker…the paper gets yellower and yellower. It is a way to mark the passage of time.
The reason I am waxing romantic about newspapers is they are becoming a thing of the past. Like the big dinosaurs, one day they will all become extinct. Yes, in small towns, the weekly is the main form of local news, but in huge cities, residents are finding that they will no longer receive that daily pile of newsprint.
New Orleans is now possibly the only major city in the US without a daily newspaper. The Times/Picayune has stopped its daily print news…opting for the “digital” version. (You can still get a print paper a few days a week, but there is no guarantee it won’t disappear all together.)
Late Night: The Latest Casualty
Another newspaper died today. Not just any paper; the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which has been publishing since 1837. Officially, it is merely cutting daily print editions to Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, but what with letting over a third of the staff go, NOLA.com will be something, but it won’t be a newspaper, despite the absurd claims from its publisher that this was some sort of “adaption to the digital era.” Really? In the digital era I know, the only thing lame about papers is that they only come out once a day; will letting them sit in the box for three days make them somehow more appealing, as keepsakes, perhaps?
If the newspaper industry were serious about going digital, rather than just reaping larger profits and putting yet another squeeze on its long-suffering employees, it would not be leaving in place any of the absurdly costly and wasteful process of printing and delivery, which will continue to be massive and now underutilized investments. No, what the bloated and mismanaged conglomerates that now own our newspapers want is slow death and golden parachutes for all concerned, and the less any actual journalism gets involved, the better.
The parent company of the Times-Picayune is Newhouse, and they have decided to forgo the paper’s paper, and of course, a number of their employees…
As revenue began to dry up from all three of these previously reliable sources, the corporate leadership of virtually every major daily decided to tackle the problem the same, self-defeating way: cutting staff, eliminating departments, and turning once-useful functions over to the sales side; most notably car reviews. Each false economy eroded the only intrinsic value of the legacy newspaper: its credibility, stability, and connection to the community. To maximize “shareholder value” in the short term, newspapers casually threw away the very things that readers actually valued. To no one’s surprise, a decade or two of essentially selling pink slime and calling it hamburger did end up causing plummeting circulation, which is now used to justify yet further cuts in the product quality. What, pray tell, is worse than pink slime?
Sadly, a lot. Fox News viewers have once again been found to be less informed than the comatose, and back in the days after Hurricane Katrina, the Times-Picayune heroically countered their malevolent misinformation even when its presses were literally underwater. When I was in New Orleans a year later, the local reverence for the paper was still apparent; until dark, papers littered the tables of every corner pub and coffeehouse. But all the Newhouse executives could see in this improbable renaissance was declining margins, grabby unions, and a daily torrent of comment abuse from the (white) readers outside the city. So they canned it, but just partly, for show.
Yeah…what about that. I know lots of people who do not have internet, or iPads or SmartPhones…or e-readers. WTF (where the fuck) will they get their news?
I will quote the last paragraph of this excellent post on FDL:
The death of the Times-Picayune is unremarkable, I suppose, given the recent deaths of papers from Seattle, Denver, and elsewhere. But those papers left at least one daily community voice in their wake. New Orleans is now the only major American city that I can think of that’s lost its only daily paper. Journalism is dying in America, by a thousand cuts of Bain-style “creative destruction,” and it’s no great leap to think that on some level it’s being done deliberately. I think it was Jefferson who said he’d rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers, but it seems our corporate overlords have decided they’d like to try it the other way around.
And sadly, NOLA is not the only city losing a print paper. Alabama Media Group, a new digitally focused company, will launch this fall with expanded online coverage and enhanced three-day-a-week newspapers
Wow, it’s an epidemic!
A new digitally focused media company — the Alabama Media Group, which will include The Birmingham News, the Press-Register of Mobile, The Huntsville Times and al.com — will launch this fall to serve readers and advertisers across the state, according to Cindy Martin, who will become president of the new organization.
The change is designed to reshape how Alabama’s leading media companies deliver award-winning local news, sports and entertainment coverage in an increasingly digital age. The Alabama Media Group will dramatically expand its news-gathering efforts around the clock, seven days a week, while offering enhanced printed newspapers on a schedule of three days a week. The newspapers will be home-delivered and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only.
(You see what is happening, no more newspapers, post office or social security, don’t laugh, it is coming!)
A second company, Advance Central Services Alabama, will handle production, distribution, technology, finance and human resources, and will be led by current Birmingham News President and Publisher Pam Siddall. Both companies are owned by Advance Publications, Inc.
Driving these changes are rapid advances in how readers engage with news content across all platforms, print and digital, said Martin, who is currently the President and CEO of al.com.
Eventually the only form of “news” will be the kind of crap we see on the “cable networks” or online, which will be bought and paid for by corporations…aka people…who will put their own spin on things. No…wait a moment, that is the way it is now!
(emphasis mine BTW)
The change in organizational structures across all departments will lead to a reduction in the overall size of the workforce. Details are still being worked out, Martin said.
“There are always painful choices when you begin a process that will lead to people losing their jobs,” Martin said. “But at the same time, we must position ourselves to be sustainable businesses going forward. The new companies we launch in the fall, we believe, not only achieve that, but will serve our growing audiences and advertisers better than ever before.”
Yup, you bet your ass it will…serve up the latest news, in style! (Or cloaked in whatever shade your advertisers prefer.)
Tailor your news to fit your audience, right: Daily Caller Doling Out Guns To Its Readers Now Through Election Day
The Daily Caller, the proudly racist and rabidly right-wing website of adult Pee-Wee Herman doll and epic media failure Tucker Carlson, is no longer going to pretend that it cares about decency and decorum. The website that set of many alarms following the Trayvon Martin murder and the racist responses that its users plastered all over the place, is now offering one handgun per week from now until election day.
Here’s the actual announcement:
The Daily Caller will be giving away one gun per week until Election Day – November 6, 2012. The FMK9C1 is an American-made high capacity 9mm designed by Jim Pontillo and manufactured in California. Each gun is engraved with the Bill of Rights and comes in one of three colors.
To enter this week’s contest, simply sign up below to receive updates from The Daily Caller. Our DC
Morning emails are an informative and amusing way to keep up with the latest news. To enter the giveaway you must complete the form below agreeing to all terms and conditions associated with the contest.
I swear, the country is going to hell in a big ass hand-basket. Actually, that is not true anymore, who the hell carries a hand-basket now a days? The country is going to hell in a touch screen…made in China…and brought to you by the Koch Brothers.
Now, since I wrote so much about the end of an era…let us have the rest of today’s links in a news dump…
Chen Guangchen is talking about his horrific ordeal: Chen Guangcheng Sits Down With Anderson Cooper: ‘My Suffering Was Beyond Imagination’
And, another former house arrest activist is finally giving her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize she won, over two decades ago: Suu Kyi to give Nobel speech, 21 years late
On the war on women front: Senate Armed Services Committee Votes to End Military Ban on Insurance Coverage of Abortion Care for Rape and Incest
The amendment was introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). In November 2011, anti-choice senators refused to allow the Shaheen amendment to come to the floor, so the 2012 NDAA was signed into law with the ban in place. Today’s vote affects the FY 2013 NDAA.
There are some 400,000 women in the United States Armed Forces; they and their families receive health care and insurance through the Department of Defense’s Military Health System. The department currently denies coverage for abortion care except when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered. Unlike other federal bans on abortion coverage, the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape and incest.
As a result, those seeking safe abortion care after rape or incest must pay out-of-pocket for such care at a military facility. But because physicians on military bases are prohibited from providing abortion care, it is not actually available to military women in need even under the narrow conditions technically allowed. As a result, servicewomen are often forced to choose between taking leave and traveling far distances to an American provider, seeking services from a local, unfamiliar health care facility (if abortion is legal and they are not in a combat zone), having an unsafe procedure, or attempting to self-induce an abortion.
The Shaheen Amendment, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, would address one of these issues by bringing the military’s health insurance policy in line with the policy that governs other federal programs, such as Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program and as a result enable servicewomen to receive insurance coverage for abortion care.
The amendment is strongly supported by military leaders, physicians, and servicewomen themselves.
“Women who put their lives on the line fighting for our freedom shouldn’t be denied reproductive health care services,” said Gale Pollock, Major General, US Army (Ret.).
Well, lets see what those Conservative Women do to support their fellow women…place your bets!
(And I said the rest of this post was going to be a link dump.)
Waterboarding got another pass this week, state secrets must be protected: A Court Covers Up – NYTimes.com
Secretary of State had some words about Iran: Clinton: Significant Differences Remain Over Iran’s Nuclear Program– VOA
Some guy is taking the flea circus to another dimension, well it is actually not fleas, but ants. BBC News – Artist Ollie Palmer on staging an ‘ant ballet’
Some other guy in South Dakota is running for office, and his credentials are quite extensive: ‘I’ve Ridden An Ostrich. I’ve Done Lots Of Stuff.’: SD Congressional Candidate’s Amazingly Bizarre Campaign Ad | Mediaite
Jeff Barth’s ad:
…features Barth talking to the camera as he walks down a long path. The first thing you’ll notice is that the way the camera backs away from him makes the whole thing seem like the viewer is desperately trying to get out of a conversation with a crazy person. The second thing you’ll notice is that Barth has done a lot of weird stuff in his life. As he walks, he lists such accomplishments as having “learned chess in Iceland,” being in Germany to watch the Berlin Wall get built, and having daughters with “straight teeth and husbands.”
And lastly, remember that penguin that escaped from its cell? (No this is not a nun story.) BBC News – Tokyo keepers catch fugitive Penguin 337
A young penguin which escaped from a Tokyo aquarium has been caught after more than two months on the loose in the Japanese capital.
The Humboldt penguin scaled a wall and slipped though a fence at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in March.
It has since been spotted several times swimming in a rivers running into Tokyo Bay, but had eluded keepers.
The one-year-old fugitive was finally recaptured on Thursday evening.
Two keepers went to a river after a sighting of the penguin was reported in the morning. They managed to catch it later that day on the river bank, a spokesman for Tokyo Sea Life Park told the BBC.
At least the little bugger is back safe. I don’t know about you, but I am curious…how the hell does a penguin scale a wall?
Please…can somebody explain that to me?
Earth to Corporate Media: We’re in the Midst of a War on WomenPosted: December 12, 2011 Filed under: fetus fetishists, Planned Parenthood, PLUB Pro-Life-Until-Birth, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, U.S. Politics, Women's Rights | Tags: abortion, Amanda Marcotte, anti-choice groups, fetal heartbeat bills, George Tiller, Griswold v. Connecticut, Kansas, Kathleen Sibelius, Leroy Carhart, Ohio, Roe v. Wade, South Dakota 16 Comments
Last week I read an op-ed at the NYT by Timothy Egan that annoyed the hell out of me. It was called “Goodbye to Gays, Guns, and God.” According to Egan,
This trio is usually trotted out in big swaths of the West, in rural or swing districts and in Southern states at the cusp of the Bible Belt. The proverbial three G’s was the explanation in Thomas Frank’s entertaining book “What’s the Matter With Kansas” for why poor, powerless whites would vote for a party that promises nothing but tax cuts for the rich.
But this year I think we’ve reached a tipping point on these heartless perennials. When George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, political sophisticates were stunned by a national exit poll in which 22 percent of voters picked “moral issues” from a list of things that mattered most — more than any other concern. This was heralded as the high-water triumph for evangelicals.
There was no mention of the war on women’s reproductive rights in the early paragraphs of the piece, but I figured it would be included under the “God” discussion. Egan was celebrating the results of a NYT/CBS poll that showed for Iowa Republicans:
Topping the list of voter concerns was the economy and jobs — picked by 40 percent of respondents, followed by the budget deficit at 23 percent. Social issues came in a distant third, with 9 percent. And the candidate who polled highest as the one who “most represents the values you try to live by,” Michele Bachmann, has nothing to show for that rating in the overall race, where she is in fifth place.
The final paragraphs of the op-ed discussed Rick Perry’s anti-gay ad and the fact that Obama has defused the “Guns” issue by doing absolutely nothing to limit access to firearms or deal with gun violence. That’s when I blew my top. Here Egan was discussing the issues favored by right-wing Evangelicals, and he made absolutely no mention of the recent wave of anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws passed in a number of states through pressure from ultraconservative “religious” fetus fetishists!
The war on women’s control of their own bodies isn’t just confined to red states either. Not long ago, a women was arrested in NYC and charged with self-abortion. I never even knew such a crime existed until recently.
Who are these people, and why do they want to turn women in their childbearing years into indentured servants who are forced to bear children against their will? Fortunately we do have alternative media available to us on the internet, and yesterday Alternet posted an article by Amanda Marcotte that spells out what is going on in the anti-choice movement and names eight groups pushing a “scorched earth” policy against women’s right to choose whether to have a child or not.
Marcotte writes that there is a split in the anti-choice movement:
As reproductive rights activists have noted for a couple of years now, there’s a war breaking out between two anti-choice groups, the incrementalists and the absolutists. Both largely agree on the goals of the movement, which is a complete ban on all abortion, with severe restrictions and possibly bans on contraception as well. What they disagree about is tactics. Incrementalists view themselves the more mainstream branch of the movement, and they focus mainly on chipping away at abortion rights. They’re wary of taking the fight to the courts, who tend to routinely shoot down any legislation perceived as an out-and-out ban on abortion.
The absolutists, on the other hand, claim this is a failed strategy and want to come out of the closet as full-throated soldiers in the war on women and sex, by directly attacking Roe v. Wade and taking the fight beyond abortion to contraception. Absolutists have managed to go around the more mainstream anti-abortion movement, passing legislation and gaining ground in the Republican Party. They’ve even managed to make Democrats cower, as evidenced by the highly unusual decision of the HHS to overrule the FDA’s decision to make Plan B available over the counter.
She goes on to name and describe eight groups that fit into the “scorched earth” category. Please read Marcotte’s article for more details, but I thought I’d list the groups and provide links to their web sites.
1. Personhood USA is focused on getting legislation passed that defines a zygote as a person. As we have discussed at Sky Dancing previously, such legislation would essentially mean a death sentence for women with ectopic pregnancies or incomplete miscarriages and would probably outlaw some types of contraception.
2. Live Action supports the personhood agenda and attacks Planned Parenthood. This is the group founded by Lila Rose that Dakinikat wrote about some time ago. Rose was 15 when she started the organization.
3. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbies elected officials (even though they claim it’s not lobbying), hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw contraception. Laura Bassett had an excellent piece about the Catholic Bishops at Huffpo last month.
4. Ohio ProLife Action is working toward a bill that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill was presented in the Ohio Senate on December 7.
5. Susan B. Anthony List pressures legislators to sign a “pro-life presidential pledge.” They also work to defund Planned Parenthood and United Nations Population Fund because they provide contraceptive services and treat women who have had botched abortions.
6. Leslee Unruh with the Alpha Center in South Dakota. Unruh fought for and failed to get a bill passed that would have completely banned abortion in South Dakota. The legislature did pass a bill requiring women to obtain “counseling” at an anti-choice “crisis pregnancy center” before having an abortion. Unruh is also against contraception and works with teenagers to “awaken them to the truth about their sexuality.”
7. American Life League is an older organization that has worked for many years to overturn both Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut, which made birth control legal for married people. This one sounds really sick–just go read Marcotte and then their website.
8. Marcotte says the anti-choice movement in Kansas is completely given over to the most extreme anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-women’s health views. She mentions the Kansas Coalition for Life, which harassed Dr. George Tiller until he was murdered and are now harassing Dr. Leroy Carhart of Nebraska. Apparently they also harass Kathleen Sibelius, which could partially explain her cowardly decision not to make Plan B available over the counter.
It’s pretty clear that there is a war on women going on in this country. Congress couldn’t even get a health care bill passed without cowtowing to fetus fetishists like Bart Stupak. Kudos to Amanda Marcotte for pulling together all this information. I know some of you are probably familiar with these organizations already, but for me googling and looking at their web sites was a real eye-opener.
You’d think Timothy Egan could have mentioned some of this anti-woman fever in his article, but either he hasn’t noticed it or he didn’t want to ruin his feel-good narrative. But women are under attack from every quarter these days. Perhaps the NYT should hire a few women to write op-eds about it.
Late Night: What do the Brooklyn-based Der Tzitung and the South Dakota legislature have in common?Posted: May 9, 2011 Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Women's Rights | Tags: Der Tzitung, South Dakota, Stupakistan 38 Comments
So what do Der Tzitung and the SD legislature have in common?
Answer: Their fear of women!
Via the UK Daily Mail… Where did Hillary Clinton go? Hasidic newspaper edits Secretary of State out of Situation Room photo:
Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung printed a story this week with a subtly manipulated version of the historic image – all the men in the photograph remain untouched but the two women in the picture have been Photoshopped out.
Photoshopped: The Hasidic newspaper printed an altered version of the Situation Room photograph, with the women edited out
Spot the difference: Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason are missing
Original: The historic picture of White House staff in the Situation Room
Der Tzitung has since issued a non-apology apology, after Wapo called them out on a technicality (which doesn’t even make all that much sense, since all WH photos are public domain):
Update: Full statement by Der Tzitung.
The White House released a picture showing the President following “live” the events in the apprehension of Osama Bin Laden, last week Sunday. Also present in the Situation Room were various high-ranking government and military officials. Our photo editor realized the significance of this historic moment, and published the picture, but in his haste he did not read the “fine print” that accompanied the picture, forbidding any changes. We should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department.
The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office, is a malicious slander and libel. The current Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, was a Senator representing New York State with great distinction 8 years. She won overwhelming majorities in the Orthodox Jewish communities in her initial campaign in ’00, and when she was re-elected in ’06, because the religious community appreciated her unique capabilities and compassion to all communities. The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based on gender, race, etc.
We respect all government officials. We even have special prayers for the welfare of our Government and the government leaders, and there is no mention of gender in such prayers.
All Government employees are sworn into office, promising adherence to the Constitution, and our Constitution attests to our greatness as a nation that is a light beacon to the entire world. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. (See below.) That has precedence even to our cherished freedom of the press! In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.
We are proud Americans of the Jewish faith, and there is no conflict in that, and we will with the help of the Almighty continue as law-abiding citizens, in this great country of our’s, until the ultimate redemption.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This isn’t about the impression given or so-called intentions.
Going out of one’s way to photoshop two women out of a historic photo of the WH Situation room IS disparaging to women. Not publishing photos of women because of modesty laws IS disparaging to women.
And, now for the South Dakota tie-in…
Via Amanda Marcotte/RH Reality Check… South Dakota Banning Abortion Without Banning Abortion?:
How did South Dakota do it? The new law requires women seeking abortion to speak to the doctor, then wait 72 hours, then get counseled at an anti-choice propaganda station called a “crisis pregnancy center,” only after which would she be allowed to obtain an abortion. This law received quite a bit of attention for overt misogyny inherent in the implication that women are too stupid to be aware of what they’re asking for when they seek abortion, or that women are so ignorant and incurious that they can’t be expected to have considered anti-choice arguments unless forced. But it’s looking like this law may do more than that, and may actually make abortion impossible to get in South Dakota.
This works in two ways. Right away, it was clear that the 72-hour waiting period was an attempt to force the sole abortion provider in the state, a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, to drop the service. The doctor that performs abortions flies in to provide the service, and this requirement is obviously intended to push out any doctor who doesn’t work full time at the clinic by making the travel requirements onerous.
The “counseling” requirement seemed more condescending than truly burdensome at first, though it is true that many women seeking abortion really don’t have the flexible schedule to work in a few hours to be hectored by anti-choicers before obtaining their abortion, which pushes this requirement from being irritating and sexist to being truly an obstacle. But recent news indicates that something more devious is likely going on. As Robin Marty reported last week, not a single crisis pregnancy center has agreed to counsel patients seeking abortion so that those patients can fill their requirements to get their abortions. Not even the centers that lobbied to get the requirement pushed through. Without centers willing to say they saw the patients seeking abortion, patients could be caught in a red tape nightmare that makes getting abortions impossible.
It’s always possible that this is a paperwork oversight, but experience tells us that anti-choicers don’t play by the normal ethical rules of fair play (which comes with the territory when you’re organized around the immoral desire to force unwilling women to bear children), so we have to consider the alternative, that this was the plan all along. At the end of the day, the “counseling” requirement is using bureaucratic nonsense to create a situation where women who want abortions have to get consent from people who think that every woman should be forced to have a many children as possible, whether she likes it or not. Of course they’re going to refuse to give that consent. Through a paperwork shuffle, the state of South Dakota has given the power to control abortion access to anti-choicers, and their choice—surprise, surprise—is a ban.
Once again, the real news reads like the fake news.
This was from the Onion back in March — Oklahoma Doctors Can Now Legally Pretend To Give Abortions:
Talk about life imitating parody. The Onion byline on the video:
Doctors in the state will now be able to act like they’ve just given a woman an abortion and send her on her way.
Between Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn who are afraid of Hillary Clinton’s and Audrey Tomason’s presence in the WH Situation Room and state legislatures across this country trying to send women back into the backalleys, might as well legalize fake abortions. Things have gotten so ludicrous that I’m surprised someone in the He-Man Woman Haters Club hasn’t tried the faux abortion tactic already… it’s just one step removed from all these attempts to ban abortion through backdoors and red tape.
In other news on the War on Women front, I hear from Dakinikat that the “Defund Planned Parenthood” control freaks are at it in Louisiana, so I’d like to end on a more proactive and possibly hopeful note…
Via Laura Bassett reporting for Huffpo… Federal Court May Strike Down Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood:
Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) is on the verge of signing a bill that would bar Medicaid patients from receiving any kind of health care at Planned Parenthood clinics, and the family-planning giant is ready to retaliate in federal court.
Republican state lawmakers pushed the defunding bill in order to block taxpayer money to an organization that performs abortions (although the Hyde Amendment has blocked federally funded abortions for 30 years). But Planned Parenthood’s lead attorney says the law violates federal Medicaid rules as well as the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“We’re going to file a lawsuit in federal court as soon after the governor signs this bill as we can get into court,” said Roger Evan, director of litigation for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The funding ban is scheduled to take effect immediately, and we see Medicaid patients every day, so we will be seeking instantaneous relief against the law taking effect while we pursue the litigation.”
House Bill 1210, introduced by state Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) in January, would prohibit the state of Indiana from contracting with “any entity that performs abortions or … operates a facility where abortions are performed.” But federal Medicaid rules state that Medicaid beneficiaries can obtain health services from whichever qualified institution or agency — including Planned Parenthood — the person chooses.
Further, Evan said, since abortion is legal on a federal level, the bill violates the 14th Amendment by punishing those institutions that offer it.
“A very essence of something being a constitutional right is that the states cannot punish you for doing it,” he said. “The problem here is that Indiana is penalizing Planned Parenthood for providing women with access to abortion services — an obviously constitutional realm of conduct. They’re trying to cut off more than a million dollars worth of funds. It’s punishment in disguise.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said they never comment on pending legislation, but Indiana state officials have expressed concern in recent weeks that violating the federal Medicaid rule by discriminating against Planned Parenthood could cause the agency to cut off all $4 million in federal funds it gives to Indiana for family planning each year.
But Evan said Planned Parenthood is planning to stop the bill in its tracks before CMS has a chance to rule on it.
“If these contracts are canceled and Medicaid reimbursement is cut off, the consequences will be instantaneous to women in Indiana,” he said. “By the time the federal government goes through the process of levying a penalty, in a way, the damage would be done and irreparable.”
If Planned Parenthood is successful in court, the federal court will issue an injunction against the statute, and life will go on as normal at Planned Parenthood clinics. If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, the new law will take effect the minute Daniels signs it, ensuring that many Medicaid patients with appointments at Planned Parenthood over the next few weeks will have no way to pay for their services.
Here’s hoping the lawsuit goes somewhere… before the American Taliban omits women’s seats in any Situation Room altogether, sending us all off into the political back alleys (no photoshopping necessary.)