Comments

  1. says

    Wonkette: “FDA Permanently Lifts Pointless Ban On Abortion Pills By Mail.”

    After months and months and years and years of nothing but bad news for people who don’t want to be forced to give birth against their will, we finally have some good news: The FDA has officially approved abortion pills to be prescribed through telehealth providers and mailed to anyone living in the 31 states where doing so is legal.

    Medication abortions are a combination of the drugs mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) and misoprostol (brand name Cytotec). They’re a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy up to 70 days after the first missed period — and are in fact the most popular method of abortion in early pregnancy. The FDA has long prohibited mifepristone, the first of the two pills, from being prescribed through telehealth and sent by mail, but these restrictions were temporarily lifted during the COVID pandemic. Given that there is no actual scientific or health-related reason for these regulations, the Biden administration has decided to lift them permanently.

    This means that people in areas with few abortion clinics or those who for some other reason are not able to make it out to a clinic or see a doctor in person will have more access to the pill early on in their pregnancy, while it is most likely to be effective. This is a very big deal in terms of expanding access to reproductive health.

    Via the New York Times:

    The F.D.A. did not issue a formal statement on Thursday, but it updated a web page to reflect the decision and sent letters about the change to the two companies that make mifepristone and to medical groups that had sued over the requirement.

    “The agency conducted a comprehensive review of the published literature, relevant safety and adverse event data, and information provided by advocacy groups, individuals and the applicants to reach this decision,” an F.D.A. spokeswoman said.

    The FDA has decided to keep two other restrictions on the pill — one requiring that patients sign a form saying their provider has given them information about the drug, and another requiring that they only be prescribed by a specially certified health provider. The latter is another regulation that makes no actual medical sense, as physicians, physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners have long been prescribing the pills in Canada with no ill effects whatsoever […]

    The Susan B. Anthony List, a group of anti-choice zealots who claim to be “feminists” and yet for some reason have absolutely no interest in any feminist issues beyond using Susan B. Anthony’s name to promote their anti-choice nonsense, suggested that lifting this restriction could possibly lead to people abusing the medications.

    “The Biden administration today moved to weaken longstanding federal safety regulations against mail-order abortion drugs designed to protect women from serious health risks and potential abuse,” said a statement from the group Susan B. Anthony List. “The Biden administration policy allows for dangerous at-home, do-it-yourself abortions without necessary medical oversight.”

    Does the Susan B. Anthony List think people are getting high off of abortion drugs? Or that teenagers are going to run out and get pregnant just for the thrill of having a medication abortion? What do they imagine would be occurring here?

    Most drugs that the FDA prohibits from being prescribed via telehealth or sent through the mail are prohibited for actual health-related reasons, i.e., they’re drugs that can be addictive, that can be overdosed on, or that can have negative interactions with other medications. This is not the case with medication abortions, and despite what the Susan B. Anthony List might like people to believe, people are not regularly OD’ing on Mifeprex. That’s not a thing.

    […] regulations on medication abortions have been entirely political in nature, and exist only because people who don’t like abortion want it to be as difficult as possible for people to get abortions. However, it should not be the FDA’s job to regulate things based on what people want politically. That is not their job. It is their job to determine whether or not something is safe and people’s very special personal feelings about abortion really should not enter into it.

  2. says

    Hello, Readers,
    I see that the previous chapter of this thread reached its limit of 500 comments. The thread automatically rolled over to begin again at comment #1.

    For your convenience, here are a few links back to the previous chapter:

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/10/16/infinite-thread-xxi/comment-page-2/#comment-2115168
    Melania Trump’s new NFT is the perfect holiday g(r)ift.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/10/16/infinite-thread-xxi/comment-page-2/#comment-2115165
    Josh Marshall discusses the “explosive growth” of the Omicron variant.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/10/16/infinite-thread-xxi/comment-page-2/#comment-2115064
    Remembering The Visionary bell hooks.

  3. says

    Following offensive comments, Trump accused of anti-Semitism (again)

    As president White House squatter, Donald Trump took a series of steps he considered to be pro-Israel, though by [his] own admission, he didn’t necessarily understand his own policies. Trump nevertheless seemed to assume that he was currying favor with Jewish voters, who’d help with his re-election campaign.

    He thought wrong: President Joe Biden received more than 75 percent of the Jewish vote in 2020, improving on Hillary Clinton’s totals from four years earlier.

    Predictably, Trump responded with bitterness and resentment, and started lashing out at those who dared to disappoint him. Over the summer, for example, Trump whined, “Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough.” The former president’s proof, of course, was that Jews didn’t vote for him in large enough numbers.

    […] CNBC reported:

    Former President Donald Trump, in a newly aired interview, told an Israeli journalist that “the Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel.”

    Trump told Barak Ravid, “There’s people in this country that are Jewish no longer love Israel…. I’ll tell you, the evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country.”

    In case that weren’t quite enough, the former president kept going.

    “It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress, and today I think it’s the exact opposite…. And I think [former President Barack] Obama and Biden did that,” he added. “And yet in the election, they still get a lot of votes from the Jewish people. Which tells you that the Jewish people, and I’ve said this for a long time, the Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel.

    For good measure, the former president went on to say, “I mean, you look at The New York Times. The New York Times hates Israel. Hates ’em. And they’re Jewish people that run The New York Times, I mean the Sulzberger family.” (For the record, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. is not Jewish.)

    So to recap, according to Trump, Jews run the nation’s largest newspaper, and Israel used to have control over Congress, but now, thanks to Democrats, Jewish voters are hostile toward Israel — unlike him and his evangelical allies.

    Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii responded soon after, “This is overtly anti-Semitic and it’s disgusting. Every American Jew of every political affiliation must denounce this.”

    […] It was two years ago this week when the then-president spoke at the Israeli American Council’s national summit, where he suggested Jewish people are primarily focused on wealth, which is why he expected them to support his re-election campaign.

    Four months earlier, Trump used some highly provocative rhetoric about Jews and what he expects about their “loyalties.”

    As we discussed at the time, these were not isolated incidents. Several months into his presidential campaign, for example, Trump spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition and said, “You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians.” He added, “I’m a negotiator — like you folks.”

    Several months later, the Republican promoted anti-Semitic imagery through social media. In the closing days of the 2016 campaign, Trump again faced accusations of anti-Semitism, claiming Hillary Clinton met “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.”

    In March 2019, at a speech to RNC donors, Trump reportedly said, “The Democrats hate Jewish people.” It was ridiculous at the time, and it seems just a little worse now.

  4. says

    The glass-half-full view:

    […] as political observers take stock of the first year of Biden’s presidency*, it’d be a mistake to see 2021 as a failure.

    The American Rescue Plan was a breakthrough success, not just for Democrats, but for the country. It helped fund a robust vaccination program; it lifted millions of children out of poverty; and it helped create a robust economic recovery and millions of jobs.

    The ARP was such a triumph that Republicans who tried to kill it now want credit for it.

    Months later, the president signed an impressive infrastructure package — the kind of thing many in Congress wanted to pass for a decade, but didn’t until this year.

    Though the bills are often overlooked, it’s also worth emphasizing that in 2021 Biden signed into law a worthwhile hate-crimes bill and created a new federal holiday honoring Juneteenth. The Senate has also had some success in confirming progressive judicial nominees.

    The president finally withdrew U.S. troops from Afghanistan, too.

    Yes, the Build Back Better package is the heart of the White House’s domestic policy agenda. And yes, voting rights is a defining issue for the modern Democratic Party. If both fall short — and right now, the odds aren’t great — it would be a dramatic setback and a missed opportunity for the ages.

    But as Capitol Hill prepares to get quiet until the new year, those who argue that 2021 was a failure are overstating the case.

    * Clarification: It’s not entirely fair to make an assessment of Biden’s first year since he hasn’t quite been in office for 11 months. That said, we’re all mindful of calendars, and 2021 is obviously nearing its end.

    Link

  5. says

    Republican candidate for Senator from Georgia indulges in lies: Herschel Walker’s campaign claimed the former athlete graduated from the University of Georgia. That’s not true.

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution link

    Republican Herschel Walker’s campaign deleted a false claim that he graduated from the University of Georgia hours after it was posted on a website promoting his U.S. Senate bid.

    The former football star’s campaign removed the reference that he “graduated from UGA with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice” late Thursday after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution inquired about the claim.

    It’s a falsehood that has proliferated elsewhere, including in an online biography advertising Walker’s book, at a campaign rally for his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, and even during his introduction this year at a congressional hearing.

    Walker released a statement to the AJC acknowledging he did not graduate from college.

    “I was majoring in Criminal Justice at UGA when I left to play in the USFL my junior year,” Walker said, referring to the professional football league. “After playing with the New Jersey Generals, I returned to Athens to complete my degree, but life and football got in the way.”

    The false claims about Walker’s degree are lodged in a range of webpages, including his Amazon author site, his Speaker Booking Agency page and his New Georgia Encyclopedia entry. […]

  6. says

    Another Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate indulges in lies: ‘Mehmet Oz Says He Has ‘Scars’ From Taking On Big Pharma. What He Really Has Is Money’.

    HuffPost link

    Mehmet Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon running in Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, says he can’t be bought by the lobbying interests that wield power in Congress, including one he knows well as a doctor: Big Pharma.

    But Oz, who’s traded his TV show and surgery scrubs to run for office in a state he hadn’t lived in since attending the University of Pennsylvania, has a history of embracing both Big Pharma and, alternatively, quack science that eschews drug companies and their products.

    […] “Big Pharma, Big Tech, agrichemical companies — I’ve taken these guys on. I have the scars to prove it, and I can’t be bought.”

    […] Oz established a medical career as a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon with 11 patents and an appointment on Columbia University’s faculty. Drug companies pay doctors like Oz handsomely to give promotional talks and to do consulting.

    Oz’s business ventures show he has welcomed money from the pharmaceutical interests he claims he has “taken on.” At the same time, he’s gotten rich while promoting bogus weight loss products and bizarre alternative cures that even Oz himself conceded don’t pass scientific muster. […]

  7. says

    Republicans are proving to be such a bunch of suckers, and Donald Trump never had it so good.

    For decades, Trump personally profited through corrupt and potentially illegal business practices that are now the subject of multiple probes in New York state. The Republican Party has reportedly agreed to help defend Trump against those probes, paying as much as $1.6 million in legal fees, according to The Washington Post.

    Campaign finance filings show the Republican National Committee already shelled out $121,670 in October, and a party official told the Post the party had coughed up another $578,000 in attorney fees in November.

    […] Although the party’s executive committee approved up to $1.6 million in funding at a meeting earlier this year, they still might decide to approve more funds.

    […] Both probes center on whether Trump and the Trump Organization committed financial fraud by wildly deflating and inflating the valuation of their properties to alternately pay lower taxes and secure more favorable loans.

    But what’s most striking about the arrangement is both the size of the GOP’s investment and the fact that the party is defending what Trump did as a private citizen, having nothing to do with his tenure in public office.

    […] The Republican Party is now emptying GOP coffers in order to defend potentially illegal practices that Trump engaged in in his private capacity, to his personal benefit. Party officials can tell themselves whatever they want, but what a bunch of idiots.

    “To pay the legal fees for someone who isn’t a candidate, and isn’t an employee — I’ve never seen that happen,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign lawyer at the firm Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg. […]

    Link

    What do all the donors think?

  8. tomh says

    @ #7
    “What do all the donors think?”

    They probably think Trump is going to be reinstated as president any day now.

  9. says

    JFC.

    The sheriff of eastern Idaho’s Bingham County has been charged with a load of felonies after a November 9 incident in which he waved a gun at a group of girls and their youth group leader, pulling the leader out of a car by her hair, then cursing and threatening to shoot the lot of them. The girls were on a pre-Thanksgiving crime spree in which they left paper turkey cutouts on people’s doors, then knocked and ran away giggling like the 12- to 16-year-olds they are. Sheriff Craig Rowland was charged Tuesday by the Idaho Attorney General’s office with “aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and exhibition of a deadly weapon.”

    Well damn. You hold a gun in the face of one Mormon youth group leader …

    Boise teevee station KTVB describes the incident that provoked Rowland to spring into action, ready to bring down deadly vengeance upon the marauding band of wilding LDS girls:

    According to a probable cause affidavit, the seven girls, ages 12 to 16, were delivering paper “thankful turkeys” to people around the neighborhood as part of a youth group activity.

    The girls would deliver the turkey thank-you notes by taping them to a recipient’s door, ringing the doorbell, and running away before the person inside could see who had left the note.

    The girls apparently thought that maybe Blackfoot, Idaho (population not quite 12,000), is a safe place for youthful high jinks and japery, but the sheriff, no doubt keenly aware that crime is out of control everywhere, went immediately into Cop Freakout Mode when his Yorkie started barking a bit after 8 p.m. and he saw two suspicious figures running from his house into the inky darkness.

    According to the affidavit, the girls returned to their youth leader’s car giggling, and told her they had tried to leave the turkey, but had nearly been caught by Craig Rowland so had been unable to deliver it. The group delivered another “thankful turkey” to a house nearby, then returned to the sheriff’s home to try again.

    Rowland told police that a few minutes after he had seen people running away from his house, his Ring doorbell activated and he heard his front door rattle.

    The sheriff said he got his gun, and stepped outside wearing long johns and socks.

    Soon, those potential committers of hoopla learned a thing or two about messing with the Long Johns Arm of the Law:

    In Ring doorbell footage, Rowland is shown looking at the turkey and can be heard saying, “Thank you,” and “That’s frickin bulls***.”

    Rowland said he saw a vehicle driving down the road, which he stopped. Rowland said the car did not look familiar and the driver of the car stopped and opened the driver’s side door.

    “I reach in and pull the driver out by the hair,” Rowland told investigators, according to court documents. “I say, ‘Who the f*** are you?’ And I do have a gun in my hand, but I still have my finger on the slide.”

    Rowland told investigators he pointed the gun at the woman’s head. The woman later identified herself as a neighbor and family friend for over three decades.

    To be fair, it is a well-known fact that Antifa terrorists can be anyone, even a neighbor who thinks they’ve known you for years.

    Rowland said he didn’t recognize her, but that after holding his gun on the woman for a while, he ascertained that the danger had subsided and he allowed the suspicious individuals to continue on their way (we are assuming he framed it that way, at least).

    And because “Rural Idaho,” yes, there was alcohol and gratuitous racism, too!

    Rowland told investigators that he had had a single alcoholic drink that night, but he was clear-headed. He told investigators about several threats that had been made against him and his wife in recent months that caused them to be concerned about people at their home.

    “I have been doing this job for 36 years,” Rowland said. “I have had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac. I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door. I live just off the reservation, we have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people.”

    Oh, yes, he also told investigators that the recent switch from daylight savings to standard time had “really messed me up,” which is perhaps a point in favor of discontinuing the time shift, since apparently it turns some people into raving racist assholes.

    The statements from the youth group leader and the girls differed only slightly from Rowland’s account:

    The woman said when Rowland pulled her out of the car, he reportedly lifted his gun then pointed it inches from her forehead, according to court documents. The woman said Rowland told her to never do this again, that he could shoot her, and that she needed to “get the f*** out of here.”

    The girls who were in the car described Rowland getting upset, having a gun and saying the “f-bomb” multiple times. Several of them recall Rowland pointing the gun at the leader’s head and saying “I will f***ing shoot you.”

    Rowland has taken a leave of absence from his job, but remains the elected county sheriff, at least for now.

    Devon Boyer, spokesperson for the Shoshone-Bannock tribe, called Rowland’s comments about Native people “extremely offensive” and called on Rowland to resign and issue a public apology to members of the Fort Hall reservation community.

    We hope the woman and the children involved will be able to heal from this traumatic incident. This incident should not have occurred but proves racism still exists. We need major relationship building between our communities.

    The tribe noted (pointedly, we hope) that no tribal members were involved in the incident. We’d like to think Boyer’s comments might trigger some kind of review of his office’s handling of past cases involving Bannock-Shoshone people, but then we remember we are in Idaho. Still, sounds like a really eager civil rights attorney might want to look at some records, huh?

    This isn’t Rowland’s first brush with infamy for general assholishness; KTVB notes that in 2016, he said a state bill aimed at more efficient processing of rape kits, and of tracking possible matches, wasn’t needed because he believed most reports of sexual assault are made up.

    Under Idaho law, Rowland could face up to five years in prison on the count of aggravated assault, and/or 15 years on the aggravated battery charge. Also under Idaho politics, he was able to get reelected with 85 percent of the vote last fall, even after those 2016 comments about rape.

    We’re going to assume that coming close to shooting a nice LDS lady and some cheery teen girls may be a bridge too far for Bingham County residents, even for a manly man who might have gotten away with it if he’d claimed he was standing his ground against a less sympathetic victim.

    Link

    Idaho! What the bloody hell?

  10. says

    He did it. He lied about the details. Now he is in jail.

    A man who watched and cheered the Capitol riot, then moved to the front of the mob and hurled a fire extinguisher, a plank and a long pole at officers, was sentenced Friday to more than five years in federal prison, the longest sentence given so far to someone charged in the Jan. 6 attack.

    Robert S. Palmer, 54, of Largo, Fla., pleaded guilty in October to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon, and his original plea agreement called for a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months. But after his plea, and his entry into the D.C. jail, Palmer arranged to make an online fundraising plea in which he said he did “go on the defense and throw a fire extinguisher at the police” after being shot with rubber bullets and tear gas.

    That was a lie, Palmer admitted Friday. He had thrown a fire extinguisher — twice — a large plank and then a four- to five-foot pole at police before he was struck with one rubber bullet. The falsehood indicated a failure to accept responsibility for his actions, prosecutors argued, and when U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan agreed, she increased his sentencing range to 63 to 78 months, ultimately imposing a 63-month term. […]

    Washington Post link

  11. says

    NBC News:

    The Biden administration unveiled a new strategy Friday using increased Covid-19 testing to keep children in the classroom. The move comes as some school districts are once again going virtual in an attempt to avoid the worst of the omicron variant. […]

    Link

  12. says

    NBC News: “Trump White House made ‘deliberate efforts’ to undermine Covid response, report says.”

    The Trump administration engaged in “deliberate efforts” to undermine the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic for political purposes, a congressional report released Friday concludes.

    The report, prepared by the House select subcommittee investigating the nation’s Covid response, says the White House repeatedly overruled public health and testing guidance by the nation’s top infectious disease experts and silenced officials in order to promote then-President Donald Trump’s political agenda.

    In August of last year, for example, Trump hosted a White House meeting with people who promoted a herd immunity strategy pushed by White House special adviser Dr. Scott Atlas. The subcommittee obtained an email sent ahead of that meeting in which Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Covid response coordinator, told the vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, that it was “a fringe group without grounding in epidemics, public health or on the ground common sense experience.” Birx also said in the email that she could “go out of town or whatever gives the WH cover” on the day of the meeting.

    A few months later in October, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins called for “a quick and devastating published take down” of the herd immunity strategy, according to emails obtained and released by the subcommittee.

    In an interview with the subcommittee, Birx said when she arrived to the White House in March 2020 — more than a month after the U.S. declared a public health emergency — she learned that federal officials had not yet contacted some of the largest U.S. companies that could supply Covid testing.

    Birx also told the panel that Atlas and other Trump officials “purposely weakened CDC’s coronavirus testing guidance in August 2020 to obscure how rapidly the virus was spreading across the country,” the report said. The altered guidance recommended that asymptomatic people didn’t need to get tested, advice that was “contrary to consensus science-based recommendations,” it said, adding, “Dr. Birx stated that these changes were made specifically to reduce the amount of testing being conducted. […]

    More the link.

  13. says

    Republicanism claims more victims: Pandemic deaths among pregnant Americans are now ‘surging’

    You can chalk up more deaths for the “pro-life” crowd: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that COVID-19 is now claiming the lives of more pregnant Americans and resulting in more stillbirths. Poynter reports that deaths in pregnancy “rose sharply” in the last two months, and that 40% of such pandemic deaths have happened since August, when delta began surging in the United States.

    Pregnant people have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms due to poorer immune responses and other factors, and the CDC is urging those who are pregnant or are planning pregnancy to get vaccinated immediately.

    That 40% of such deaths have happened just since August is telling, because by August vaccines against COVID-19 were already widely available and the United States was well on its way to getting the population fully vaccinated. But it also marked a new surge of COVID-19 cases based, once again, in Republican-voting states and counties where pandemic safety measures like masking, social distancing, and vaccinations have been mocked or intentionally blocked by state and local Republican leaders. […]

    the self-absorbed and virulently cruel Republican base is now murdering pregnant Americans and causing a new wave of stillborn births because, as a culture war issue, they are unwilling to wear a strip of cloth over their noses or be vaccinated against the pandemic that has already killed 800,000 Americans. This is a very mean way to phrase it, to be sure, but it is absolutely true. Every nonmasking bully who believes that “freedom” requires them to ignore and belittle safety measures is responsible for spreading a virus that is causing these deaths […]

    The “freedom” to not wear a mask during a pandemic is more important than the lives of the vulnerable, we are repeatedly and insistently told; that pregnant Americans are more vulnerable is not mentioned because not a single damn person cares.

    This is the newest Republican Party and Fox News legacy. Tucker Carlson and Ron DeSantis have a new class of victims, and they do not care. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his muddle of Texas theocrats have done their level best to escalate the dangers associated with pregnancy at every turn, either claiming a religious mandate to do so (by dictating the forms of health care available) or an ideological mandate to do so (by sabotaging the pandemic safety measures of others).

    […] The Republican Party has caused a new wave of pandemic deaths—a new surge that, county-by-county data shows, could have been far more controllable if Republican blusterers had the bare human decency of their Democratic neighbors—and they are responsible. The nonmaskers are responsible. Those spreading vaccine conspiracy theories are responsible. The Murdoch family is responsible. The Republican National Committee, now fully comprising pro-Trump sycophants willing to support anything from attempted coup to widespread corruption to a million pandemic deaths, should be ponying up the funeral costs.

    […] Would-be parents are losing their babies and their lives and as we speak around the country. Angry but hollow-headed fascists are marching into stores and restaurants and demanding that everyone around them respect their “right” to spread a plague in service to Dear Bungling Leader and his aspiring minions.

    […] If someone tells you they are “pro-life,” they are a liar. The term has become one used exclusively by sociopaths to justify claims that whatever tics are rolling around inside their own brains are so unfathomably important that abiding by them is worth killing others. American conservatism has been erased and replaced with a fascist shudder that glorifies murder in all its forms. Use a gun to kill, become a new fascist hero. Refuse to abide the safety measures meant to keep the country’s “essential workers” a bit safer and the hospitals less overrun—you will be praised as a new fascist patriot. Kill a pregnant would-be mother because you would not wear a mask while passing her in a supermarket aisle during a pandemic, and Republicans everywhere will celebrate how boldly you stuck to your own principles, no matter who else died because of it.

  14. says

    Texas Republicans use prison gerrymandering to boost GOP power

    One of the most alarming things about a recent Dallas Morning News analysis of how Texas’ state prison and jail populations factor into redistricting lies in a brief paragraph under the “corrections” section. The paper does a stunning job of illustrating how, by counting incarcerated people as residents of the prisons they’re detained in, Texas Republicans have been able to amass even more power. […] “Additionally, a previous version of this story stated that 29 House districts might need to be redrawn if prisoners were not counted. In fact, that number is 35; the corresponding chart has been updated accordingly.”

    This correction and the Dallas Morning News’ ensuing report shows that over 23% of the state’s House districts are impacted by the way Texas counts those behind bars as voters. Incarcerated people make up less than 1% of Texas’ entire population, yet by counting them as residents at the places they’re locked up, lawmakers have fundamentally changed representation in the state. Incarcerated people account for 1 in 10 residents in 24 counties across the state, a majority of whom are represented by Republicans. Yet many are unable to vote and don’t plan on residing in the same area as where they’ve been incarcerated.

    The state bars anyone convicted of a felony from casting a ballot while they are incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. Only once they’ve completed those terms will they be eligible to re-register to vote. That includes paying fines and fees tied to their incarceration. According to a 2019 study released by by Campaign Legal Center and Georgetown Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, unpaid fines and fees barred nearly 333,000 people from being able to vote in the 2016 election in Texas alone. Yet many areas with jails and prisons are reaping the benefits of a large population of incarcerated people despite their disenfranchisement. […]

    A suit was filed last month on behalf of Damon James Wilson, who is incarcerated at William P. Clements Unit in Amarillo. In reality, he lives more than 350 miles away in Grand Prairie—and wants to be counted among the population at his home rather than where he’s being detained.

    Texas’ present redistricting maps dilutes power in metropolitan areas and boosts power in what the Dallas Morning News deemed “prison towns,” to say nothing of the way GOP lawmakers have disenfranchised voters of color. […]

    Republicans are pulling every tricky maneuver they can think of to make sure that Trump voters prevail in Texas.

  15. says

    A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, a measure that impacts tens of millions of workers across the country.

    The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit comes after the Biden administration asked the Cincinnati-based court in late November to reinstate its workplace vaccine mandate that was blocked by a court order.

    The appeals court said in its Friday ruling that “based on the wealth of information” in its 153-page preamble that explains why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard, “it is difficult to imagine what more OSHA could do or rely on to justify its finding that workers face a grave danger in the workplace.”

    A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, a measure that impacts tens of millions of workers across the country.

    The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit comes after the Biden administration asked the Cincinnati-based court in late November to reinstate its workplace vaccine mandate that was blocked by a court order.

    The appeals court said in its Friday ruling that “based on the wealth of information” in its 153-page preamble that explains why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard, “it is difficult to imagine what more OSHA could do or rely on to justify its finding that workers face a grave danger in the workplace.”

    Link

  16. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 1

    Or that teenagers are going to run out and get pregnant just for the thrill of having a medication abortion?

    Knowing the right wing as I do, YES that’s exactly what they think. Growing up in conservative, anti-abortion family that was deluged in fascist talk radio, I’d often hear how women deliberately get pregnant and abort just to stick it to men. I heard how feminism is a blasphemous, heathen religion and that abortion is its most holy sacrament. Any story that casts abortion providers and those seeking their services as selfish murderers out for money, sexual kicks, or even devotion to demonic forces was told, heard, and believed.

  17. raven says

    Idaho again.
    Whenever Idaho is in the news, it is rarely for anything positive. The tl;dr version
    “According to the National Education Association, the $7,705 Idaho spent per student in the 2019-2020 school year ranked it last in the nation.”
    and
    “One Republican lawmaker said he opposed anything making it easier for mothers to work outside the home.” Open misogyny is a pervasive feature of the Idaho GOP.
    And yet the far right wingnut kook who is lieutenant governor is Janice McGeachin, a woman.

    War on public education in Idaho causes businesses to rethink locating, expanding there, leaders say
    AP Updated: Dec. 16, 2021, 5:28 a.m. | Published: Dec. 16, 2021, 5:28 a.m.
    According to the National Education Association, the $7,705 Idaho spent per student in the 2019-2020 school year ranked it last in the nation.

    By The Associated Press
    BOISE — Political hostility to public education in the Republican-dominated Idaho Legislature is causing some businesses to doubt the wisdom of moving to or expanding in a state that ranks at or near the bottom in what it spends on K-12 students and has one of the nation’s worst graduation rates.

    The Legislature also targeted higher education earlier this year when it cut $2.5 million from universities despite a budget surplus. An influential libertarian group that wants to abolish public education entirely says it will push for a $20 million cut to universities in 2022.

    “The message the Legislature is sending to businesses is very discouraging,” said Rod Gramer, president of Idaho Business for Education, an advocacy group. “I think it’s very harmful to our state. Not just our business community, but for our future as a state and our economy and our quality of life.”

    For preschoolers, lawmakers earlier this year rejected a $6 million early childhood learning federal grant from the Trump administration.
    One Republican lawmaker said he opposed anything making it easier for mothers to work outside the home.

    Those actions have a chilling effect, business leaders say, that raise doubts about whether Idaho can produce a skilled workforce. It also causes potential employees to question the education opportunities for their children.

    The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences for the 2018-2019 school year said only five states and the District of Columbia had worse high school graduation rates than Idaho’s 81%.

    According to the National Education Association, the $7,705 Idaho spent per student in the 2019-2020 school year ranked it last in the nation. The association also estimates the average national classroom teacher salary at $65,000. Idaho ranks 39th with an average salary of just under $53,000 and 35th in average starting salary at $38,000.

    Boise-based computer chip maker Micron Technology, one of Idaho’s largest employers, earlier this month announced plans to build a 500-worker, memory design center in Georgia. The company is the nation’s second-largest semi-conductor maker, with product development sites in five other states and eight countries. continues

  18. says

    Akira @16, such a twisted way of thinking. But I think you are right. And, of course, thinking that way turns other people into evil-doers that must be controlled. It’s like a sickness.

    raven @17, yeah, Idaho does not have enough problems. Republicans consistently want to make it worse. Spiraling down the drain.

  19. says

    ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer’s testimony reveals clear links to sedition-minded House members

    Criminals aren’t always the brightest bulbs on the marquee, but even the least savvy of these fiends do what they can to cover their tracks. The ambulatory TruckNutz who planned the Jan. 6 Capitol coup, on the other hand? They’re like if Jeff Dahmer showed up at the church basement potluck with a seven-layer salad, and one of the layers was just feet.

    The latest agitator under the microscope is Ali Alexander, the founder of the Trumpian “Stop the Steal” movement and one of the key figures behind the Big Lie and its big holiday.

    Even better? He remembers having “a few conversations” with Rep. Paul Gosar and a text exchange with Rep. Mo Brooks, two of Donald Trump’s lappiest lapdogs, prior to the events of Jan. 6. And he also spoke directly with Rep. Andy Biggs. Hmm. Lots of “upstanding” citizens were up to their goofy necks in this egregious shit, huh?

    [from Politico] Alexander’s testimony underscores the degree to which the select committee continues to probe the roles of their Republican colleagues in efforts to promote former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud — and their potential support for fringe figures who helped gather people in Washington on Jan. 6, the day Congress was required to certify the 2020 election results.

    The panel hasn’t formally requested testimony from any of the GOP lawmakers yet but has continued to ask witnesses about Gosar, Biggs, Brooks and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who helped push a strategy to use the Department of Justice to promote the fraud claims.

    I feel like the world has been turned on its head just a bit. Didn’t we used to hold elected members of Congress to higher standards than we do random dipshits who are trying to overthrow free and fair elections for funsies?

    Alexander said in a since-deleted video that he worked with Gosar, Biggs and Brooks to attempt to use Congress’ Jan. 6 session certifying Biden’s victory as a chance to pressure lawmakers to overturn the electoral results.

    In that video, by the way, Alexander stated that “we four schemed to put maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.”

    “Schemed.”

    Jesus Donkey-Surfin’ Christ, why are these assholes still in Congress?

    The fact that 147 members of Congress voted—in a highly undemocratic, deviant, and dangerous publicity stunt—to overturn a free and fair election is bad enough. But some of them apparently thought their efforts would yield their intended rotten fruit. That’s way beyond the pale. Forget about Congress. Why are they still walking free?

    One dude who might be asking that same question today is actor Jay Johnston, who was recently 86’d from the animated Fox comedy Bob’s Burgers, for his far less high-profile role in Donald Trump’s bumblefuck putsch. […]

    Photo at the link

    [From The Daily Beast] One of these alleged Jan. 6 participants who has paid some sort of price for the violent events of that day is none other than Jay Johnston, an actor and comedian whose credits include beloved TV series and movies such as Mr. Show, Arrested Development, and Anchorman.

    According to two people familiar with the matter, top staff at the long-running animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers are no longer allowing Johnston to voice his recurring character—Jimmy Pesto Sr.—on the critically lauded Fox show. One of the sources described it as a “ban.” The other individual familiar with the matter described the situation similarly, adding that the Bob’s Burgers cast and crew, as well as Fox, were not looking to make “a big deal” about the current blacklisting of the apparent insurrection-attendee.

    Some corroborating information:

    “I’m no detective, but I do know Jay. He said he was there. And that’s him in the picture. So…” Cassandra Church, an actress who worked alongside Johnston on the show Harmontown, tweeted in March. Spencer Crittenden, another former Harmontown colleague of Johnston’s, wrote that the actor’s “also a craven Trump supporter and was there at the time” in a since-deleted tweet.

    Summary:

    […] I have very little sympathy for folks like Ali Alexander and Jay Johnston, but they’re patsies and stooges in Donald Trump’s grand plan to prevent his ego from suffering anything as uncomfy as a paper cut. And as we all know, the future of American democracy is far less important to Trump than his delicate feelings.

    So, yeah, let’s put the screws to these bit players, but if the real sinners have no reason to squeal in the end, I fear we will have learned nothing at all. And our country will be in for a world of hurt.

  20. says

    Wonkette: “Of Course The Magic Anti-5G Pendants Conspiracists Are Wearing Are Radioactive”

    For a while now, conspiracy theorists and new age weirdos (frequently one and the same) have been freaking out about 5G technology and 5G towers and how Bill Gates is going to use 5G to make them sick and control their minds and what have you. Unsurprisingly, this has led to the creation of a small cottage industry of things meant to ward off all of the scary 5G badness out there. Like the company that sold believers a $350 magic 5GBioShield USB Key that turned out to be a regular USB that you can get for $5 anywhere.

    Some of the more popular items have been the “Anti-5G Quantum Pendants” and “negative ion” jewelry and sleep masks that are currently for sale at a variety of price points all across the internet. These kind of pendants and charms have been around for a while, but have surged in popularity recently due to the 5G nonsense.

    Most of this particular brand of bullshit originated with Deepak Chopra and his book “Quantum Healing,” but like every form of bullshit, each believer tends to add a bit of their own flair to it […] As a rule, people who believe in stupid things love anything with the words “quantum” or “ion” or the prefix “nano” involved, because they think that makes said stupid things seem more legit and sciencey […]

    The websites that sell them (which I’m not going to link to) frequently label them as “Japanese Technology” and claim that they use “scalar energy” to not only provide protection from 5G and electromagnetic fields, but help people sleep better, improve stamina, “slow down the aging process,” “neutralize positive energy” (is that good?) and “re-charge the body’s energy field,” which really does not sound like a thing that is real.

    As is frequently the case with products marketed towards the tin foil hat set, these pendants do absolutely none of the things they claim and, unlike 5G, are an actual threat to the health to the wearer. A study commissioned by the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) in the Netherlands has found that they are in fact radioactive.

    The consumer products tested contain radioactive materials and therefore continuously emit ionizing radiation, thereby exposing the wearer. Exposure to ionizing radiation can cause adverse health effects. Due to the potential health risk they pose, these consumer products containing radioactive materials are therefore prohibited by law. Ionizing radiation can damage tissue and DNA and can cause for example a red skin. Only low levels of radiation have been measured on these specific products. However, someone who wears a product of this kind for a prolonged period ( a year 24 hours a day) could expose themselves to a level of radiation that exceeds the stringent limit for skin exposure that applies in the Netherlands. To avoid any risk the ANVS calls on owners of such items not to wear them from now on.

    In response to the study, the “quantum pendants” and “negative ion” jewelry and other accessories are now banned in The Netherlands, and any attempt to sell them will be considered a violation of the Nuclear Energy Act. They are not messing around.

    Unfortunately, it’s not hard to guess how those who believe in this crap will respond to this news — they will, no doubt, consider it a validation of their beliefs and a “psy-op” meant to discredit them and get people to stop wearing the magic necklaces so Bill Gates can turn them into Cybermen or something. And that’s a bummer, because people don’t deserve to get sick just because they believe stupid things.

    I think we should consider combatting this by starting rumors that wearing oven mitts all of the time everywhere or sticking cotton balls soaked in cod liver oil in one’s ears can protect people from 5G, as those things would be relatively innocuous to them and endlessly amusing to the rest of us, which seems like a better, kinder alternative to these people just walking around wearing radioactive pendants all of the time.

  21. raven says

    Republicanism claims more victims: Pandemic deaths among pregnant Americans are now ‘surging’

    That is for sure.
    We now know that pregnancy is a major risk factor for dying from the Covid-19 virus. Getting infected by the Covid-19 virus makes pregnant people 22 times more likely to die.

    There are a large number of cases where pregnant people ended up with emergency C-sections followed by ending up on a ventilator and often then dying.

    Study finds pregnant women with COVID-19 have higher risk of complications, death
    The global study involved 2,130 pregnant women in 18 countries.
    ABCnews By Meredith Deliso April 22, 2021, 4:54 PM

    Pregnant women with COVID-19 had a higher risk of complications and death than those who did not contract the virus, adding further evidence to the increased risks the virus poses during pregnancy, according to a new study.

    The global study, published Thursday in JAMA Pediatrics, found that pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 were 22 times more likely to die than pregnant women who did not contract the virus. They also were found to have an increased risk of severe pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, preterm birth and intensive care unit admission. Individuals who were symptomatic or had comorbidities, such as diabetes or were overweight, had a greater risk of complications and death, researchers said.

  22. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 19

    The fact that 147 members of Congress voted—in a highly undemocratic, deviant, and dangerous publicity stunt—to overturn a free and fair election is bad enough. But some of them apparently thought their efforts would yield their intended rotten fruit. That’s way beyond the pale. Forget about Congress. Why are they still walking free?

    Because the Dems are naive cowards who are so afraid of starting another civil war by punishing the insurrectionists, they are will to let the America fall to fascism.

    “Well, Donald Trump Jr. is going to be declared president-for-life, but at least we took the moral high ground by making sure there was no bloodshed.”

  23. raven says

    Well, since it is the Holidays, there must be some good news somewhere. Right?
    Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen just died. Died from the Covid-19 virus infection.
    He was an antivaxxer, far right wingnut loon, Global Warming Denialist, and lobbyist favorite.
    Seattletimes: “Ericksen had been an outspoken critic of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders and mandates, intended to fight the spread of the virus. He had introduced legislation intended to protect the rights of people who won’t get vaccinated and had repeatedly called on Inslee to resign.”

    Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen dies at 52
    by KOMO News Staff Saturday, December 18th 2021

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Whatcom County) has died.

    The Washington State Senate Republican Caucus said the senator passed away on Friday. He was 52 years old.
    The Ferndale Republican’s death came weeks after he said he had tested positive for the coronavirus while in El Salvador, though his cause of death wasn’t immediately released.

    He leaves behind two daughters and a wife.
    “We are heartbroken to share that our husband and father passed away on Friday, Dec. 17. Please keep our family in your prayers and thank you for continuing to respect our privacy in this extremely difficult time,” his family said in a statement.
    Last month Ericksen tested positive for COVID-19 in El Salvador.

    He was taken to a hospital in Florida where it was reported that he was in stable condition and on the road to recovery.

    Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement in response to the senator’s death saying, “Trudi and I send our deep condolences to Doug’s family, friends and colleagues. Our hearts are with them.”

  24. says

    Some treats appropriate for the season, different versions of “My Favorite Things”:

    Betty Carter performing with Bennie Green on piano, Tarik Shah on bass, and Winard Harper on drums.

    Al Jarreau’s smooth and versatile version, first recorded in 1965.

    Johnny Hartman, from “for Trane” (The only singer record with John Coltrane.)

    A live version, recorded in Belgium in 1965, by saxophonist John Coltrane and his quartet.

    Coltrane magnificently transforms “My Favorite Things” in many ways. The piano introduction by McCoy Tyner and cymbal crashes by Elvin Jones immediately establish a majestic feeling. Coltrane’s modal arrangement featuring soprano saxophone instills the song with an eastern quality and the lovely piano soloing by McCoy Tyner adds to the joyous, hypnotic feeling.

    ‘Tis the season for a few of my favorite things

    Scroll down at the link to see the videos and to listen to these remarkable versions of the song.

  25. says

    SNL scraps show and sends cast home amid coronavirus fears; Tom Hanks and Tina Fey pitch in.

    Washington Post link

    In a first for “Saturday Night Live,” hours before an episode was set to air, producers scrapped the planned show and sent most of the cast home.

    “Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of ‘Saturday Night Live’ and the show will have limited cast and crew,” read a statement posted to the show’s Twitter account on Saturday afternoon. Charli XCX, the musical guest, tweeted that she was told she would no longer be able to perform due to coronavirus pandemic precautions.[…]

    Instead, as the show kicked off at 11:30 p.m., none other than Tom Hanks strolled out in front of a mostly empty, eerily quiet studio. “Thank you, surviving crew members,” Hanks said, as a few people applauded.

    He noted that SNL planned to do its big Christmas show and induct host Paul Rudd into the “five timer’s club” — celebrities who have hosted the show five times — but because of the surge of coronavirus cases and in the interest of safety, that would not happen. (Before the show, the New York Post and Variety reported that multiple cast members tested positive for the coronavirus, though that was not mentioned on the air.)

    “But I came here from California,” Hanks continued. “And if you think I’m going to fly 3,000 miles and not be on TV, well, you got another thing coming. And I am not alone! Isn’t that right, Tina?”

    With that, former SNL star and head writer Tina Fey joined him. “Yes, I am here,” she announced. “And this is not the smallest audience I have ever performed before, because I have done improv in a Macy’s.”

    Hanks noted that Fey was also a five-timer. “Thank you for joining me,” he said. “As you know, I started the five-timers club.”

    “Oh, like you started covid!” Fey shot back
    .
    They declared that no matter what, they were going to welcome Rudd to the stage. The actor bounded out wearing a suit. “Thanks for coming!” he said to both stars. “I’m extremely disappointed.”

    They enlisted Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member, to honor Rudd with his five-timer jacket. Steve Martin and Martin Short were beamed in with a simultaneous congratulatory and insulting message.

    Thompson assured viewers that they were still going to air a great show, though it would be composed of pretaped sketches, while Fey added that they would show their personal favorites from earlier episodes.

    “It’s going to be a little bit like that new Beatles documentary,” Rudd explained. “A lot of old footage but enough new stuff that you’re like, ‘Okay, I’ll watch that.’”

    The stars stuck around to introduce various sketches, including one taped Thursday night with Rudd, Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, about how all moms want for Christmas is grandchildren; another about the life of Pete Davidson; an Andy Samberg-Justin Timberlake classic; one featuring Eddie Murphy playing an elf amid a Santa scandal; Steve Martin’s “Holiday Wish” sketch […]

    However, “Weekend Update” persisted: Michael Che arrived to host with Fey subbing for Colin Jost (“It’s not what you think … he’s having work done”) before an audience of only Hanks, Rudd and Thompson, who did seem to enjoy jokes such as:

    “Time Magazine has made Elon Musk person of the year. You can read more about it on your phone while your Tesla is self-driving you into a lake.”

    “It was revealed that on Jan. 6, three Fox News hosts all texted Mark Meadows to urge him to get Trump to call off his supporters. And you know you’ve gone too far when Fox News is like, ‘Somebody better calm these White people down.’”

    “German police have broken up a plot by anti-vaxxers to kill a local official over vaccine mandates. It’s a classic conflict between Germany’s two favorite things: Violence and rules.” (Fey pointed out that Hanks really cracked up at that one.)

    Hanks, Fey, Thompson, Che and Rudd gathered at the end, all wearing masks, to bid viewers farewell. Rudd also gave a shout-out to Charli XCX for rehearsing so much for a performance that never happened.

    “I know it wasn’t the Christmas show that you expected, but that’s the beauty of this place. Like life, it’s unpredictable,” Rudd said. “As my good friend Tom Hanks once said in a movie: ‘Life’s like a big weird chocolate bar. Sometimes it’s delicious. Other times, it’s got that orange cream filling in it and it’s like, okay, it’s not what I would have chosen — but it’s better than nothing.’”

    YouTube link to the cold open.

  26. says

    Joe Manchin is doing his yes-I’m-for-it and then his no-i-don’t-support-it bit again and again concerning President Biden’s Build Back Better bill. Manchin’s latest WTF was delivered on Fox News Sunday: “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.”

    Supposedly, Manchin is still in negotiation over an amended bill he would support.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times that the media has reported that “Manchin, a crucial Democratic holdout, dealt a fatal blow to the centerpiece of Biden’s domestic agenda.” I think we should just ignore him for awhile.

    For one thing, Manchin stated that he can’t explain the bill to his constituents in West Virginia, and that if he can’t explain it, he can’t vote for it. I’m sure his fellow Democratic Senators would be glad to go to West Virginia and explain it for him.

  27. says

    Followup to comment 26.

    Representative Omar:

    “We all knew that Senator Manchin couldn’t be trusted. The excuses he just made, I think, are complete bullshit.

    Posted by readers of various articles talking about Joe Manchin’s perfidy:

    There is no reason why Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski shouldn’t easily supply the two votes needed for BBB to pass.

    Collins was just re-elected and could retire after her term ends, and Murkowski could easily sell the bill in Alaska as a huge win for the state and flummox her Trump-approved primary challenger. She’s already shown she can win as a write-in without even winning her GOP primary election as she has powerful crossover appeal in her state.
    ———————
    “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.” The reasonable inference is that Senator Manchin just doesn’t know much.
    ———————
    “We’re gonna make Joe Biden successful.” Joe Manchin said on 1/29/21
    ———————
    It’s kind of funny, or sickening, to see the Dems (the Republicans no longer participate) falling all over themselves over $1-2 trillion, when they just passed an EIGHT TRILLION DOLLAR defence bill.

    Yes, $8T. If we’re doing everything in ten year spans, that’s what it comes to. Nearly $800 billion in a year, compared with $100-200 billion a year for BBB.
    ————————
    his best efforts consisted of a meeting with fellow coal barrons
    ———————–
    Bernie Sanders on Manchin: “We cut childhood poverty by over 40%, an extraordinary accomplishment. Manchin doesn’t want to do that? Tell that to the struggling families of West Virginia and America.”
    ———————-
    Manchin is there only to kill that bill or water it down so it’s useless. Because if it passes it takes money away from wealthy people. Full stop.
    ———————–
    Here’s a pretty great group of people working for change in WV. Clearly, this group is actually trying their hardest in Bringing a Better West Virginia Back. But here’s what they have found in their polls:

    When asked about specific provisions included in the Build Back Better Plan, respondents had favorable responses to:

    Rebuilding America’s water infrastructure to have cleaner, safer water, delivered more efficiently, and removing hazards like lead in water pipes, while creating good-paying jobs (77%).

    Ensuring that major public investments include requirements that the products, technology, and materials used are made in America and the jobs provide good pay and benefits (80%).

    Strengthening and supporting America’s human services workforce, including care providers, front-line healthcare workers, and educators (73%).

    Rebuilding and retooling American manufacturing and modernizing our factories to build more products and clean technology here in the United States (74%).

    Prioritizing investments to communities that need it most, including energy workers and miners most affected by the transition to clean energy (66%).

    https://www.bluegreenalliance.org/the-latest/new-survey-of-west-virginia-voters-reveals-support-for-provisions-in-build-back-better-plan/

  28. KG says

    Good news from Chile. Leftish Gabriel Boric defeated far-right “populist” José Antonio Kast by around 10 percentage points to become Chile’s next President in yesterday’s run-off. To give credit where due, Kast has conceded defeat. Replacement of the country’s Pinochet-written constitution, which entrenched huge economic inequality, can now go ahead.

  29. blf says

    Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity completed its 18th(!) flight on the 17th, after the data and images from the 17th flight was finally downloaded on the 10th. As the previous interrupted telemetry about the 17th flight had indicated, that flight and landing was successful — and the full download confirms Ingenuity has then flown for slightly over 30 minutes in total. The 18th flight means Ingenuity has now landed at 10 different airfields on Mars (and almost 33 minutes).

    The team is warning as there will probably continue to be communications interrupts for the next several flights, for the same reason — line-of-sight issues. For the newly-completed 18th flight, a slower data rate was planned to try and reduce the possibility of a complete drop-out (which apparently worked, and/or no hill got in the way this time).

  30. says

    blf @29, Ha! Thanks, that was a good one.

    In other news that is not really news: Sarah Palin Will Get Vaxxed Over Her Dead Body, Or Maybe Some Other People’s

    […] for real, Sarah Palin was an exciting celebrity guest at some Turning Point USA cool kid party fest, and she made some news:

    Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin swore on Sunday she would only get vaccinated against COVID-19 “over my dead body.” […]

    “Enough is enough,” the Republican firebrand said, “especially when it comes to government telling us what we have to inject in our own bodies. No.”

    Yeah, OK, whatever.

    “I will not do it. I won’t do it, and they better not touch my kids, either,” she told Kirk.

    Four out of Sarah Palin’s five children are legal adults. Sarah Palin’s really not a part of the legal discussion about whether or not they’ll be vaccinated. But here’s what Palin thinks about schools requiring vaccinations, in case you were curious:

    “If enough of us, though, rise up and say, ‘No, enough is enough’ — There are more of us than there are of them! You need to all look around and… realize that those around you, as you stiffen your spine, their spines, too, will stiffen! And there is an empowerment in a group like this where you all can feed off each other, and really be strong.”

    There’s that delusional white Republican magical thinking we all love so much. The kind that says Donald Trump could actually be voted in by a majority of Americans, or that everybody’s a secret anti-vaxxer, because “there are more of us than there are of them!”

    Here’s the video if you hate yourself enough to listen to Sarah Palin talking: [video is available at the link]

    […] The New York Daily News notes that Palin had COVID earlier this year, and that her son Trig did also. According to whatever fake science Republican brain wizards believe in, this means the entire Palin family has been granted super-immunity against COVID until long after their descendants’ descendants die. It is possible pandemics don’t work this way.

    The thing is, with all these new variants developing, it’s likely true that Palin’s vaccine refusal is happening over a number of people’s dead bodies, if not her own. Because in case you haven’t noticed, everybody is getting COVID right now, including vaccinated people. […] This Omicron shit? Seems crazy contagious. But so far, based on what we have read and heard, it seems like vaxxed and boosted people who get breakthrough cases are still just getting mildly sick, while among the unvaxxed, it’s still just killing people left and right.

    That’s why the White House is releasing statements like this, which literally say that if you’re unvaxxed, get ready for your self-inflicted winter of sickness, loss and death. [statement available at the link]

    […] Winter is coming is the message. Omicron is “raging through the world,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    Unfortunately, all over the country, encouraged by people like Sarah Palin and Tucker Carlson, people are refusing to get vaccinated, and it’s indeed happening over their own dead bodies and their parents’ dead bodies and their cousins’ dead bodies and their sisters’ dead bodies and their brothers’ dead bodies and the dead bodies of … what? Is it mean to type these things?

    But again, we’re talking about unvaccinated people. But hey, sure, if white Republicans want to literally keep making this a culture war touchstone and die of preventable diseases to own the libs, we literally cannot stop them. That would be tyranny, after all.

  31. says

    Quoting Joe Biden:

    For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death — if you’re unvaccinated — for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm.

    But there’s good news: If you’re vaccinated and you had your booster shot, you’re protected from severe illness and death — period.

    Number two, booster shots work.

    Three, boosters are free, safe, and convenient.

    About 60 million people have one — have been boosted. So, go get your shot today. Go get boosted if you’ve had your first two shots. If you haven’t, go get your first shot. It’s time. It’s time. It’s past time.

    And we’re going to protect our economic recovery if we do this. We’re going to keep schools and businesses open if we do this. And I want to see everyone around enjoy that. I want to see them enjoy the fact that they’re able to be in school, that businesses are open and the holidays are coming.

    So, get your booster shot. It’s critically important.

    So, yeah, that’s all true. Meanwhile, Fox News is calling Biden “the angel of death.”

    […] The VRY SRS journalists at Fox included a helpful linkroll from such thought leaders as campaign coffee boy George Papadopoulos and professional victim Todd Starnes, whom Fox itself fired after he said Democrats don’t worship a Christian God. Surprise, these guys blame Joe Biden for the 1,200+ daily COVID deaths in the past week, consisting almost entirely of people who refused to get vaccinated!

    “We are all in this together unless you’re in the outgroup in which case you gonna die,” tweets John McCain’s son-in-law.

    Oh, the “fuck your feelings” crowd has thoughts? That’s precious.

    Look, we are very sorry that young children and some immunocompromised people are not yet able to get vaccinated. And we are sorry when anyone is hospitalized or, God forbid, dies of coronavirus. But we are not in the least sorry that the president and his team are saying mean, true words about the risk differential between vaccinated and unvaccinated people as the wildly contagious omicron variant races across the country. Particularly when Fox is sending push notifications about Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker getting COVID despite being fully vaxxed and boosted, and Wingnutistan is pointing to breakthrough infections as evidence that vaccines don’t work.

    Of course the president should be out there reassuring the responsible portion of the American public that we will be okay and that we are not about to go back into hard lockdown. Of course he should be encouraging Americans to get a booster shot, which will likely help your body knock out the Omicron variant in a few days if and when you get a breakthrough infection. And of course it sucks that vast swathes of this country are about to get slammed because they believed a bunch of psychotic charlatans who pretend that literally any quack treatment is better than an FDA approved vaccine.

    […] we are all out of patience for these fucking snowflakes whining that we’re offending their delicate sensibilities by acknowledging reality. Suck it up, buttercup!

    Link

  32. says

    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki put out an official statement calling Manchin out on his bullshit:

    On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted — to the President, in person, directly — a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.

    Senator Manchin claims that this change of position is related to inflation, but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better — the Penn Wharton Budget Institute — issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures. Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better.

    Psaki also noted some things he’s going to have to explain to his constituents:

    In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need. Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone — we cannot.

    Commentary:

    Joe Manchin desperately wants people to think that he is the one being the voice of reason here. He’s not. He makes no sense at all and he’s a selfish, greedy [dunderhead] who simply likes money and likes the idea of being even more powerful than the president. That is the beginning and the end of it.

    https://www.wonkette.com/f-ck-joe-manchin-part-187383

  33. says

    Trump reveals he got a coronavirus booster shot, prompting boos from crowd.

    Washington Post link

    Over the weekend, former president Donald Trump revealed that he has gotten a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

    At a joint event in Dallas, conservative political commentator Bill O’Reilly noted that both he and Trump had been vaccinated.

    “Both the president and I are vaxxed and — did you get the booster?” O’Reilly asked Trump.

    The former president paused slightly before responding, “Yes.” [video available at the link]

    Some in the crowd began booing, prompting Trump to wave his hand disapprovingly.

    “No, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t … ” Trump said. “That’s all right. It’s a very tiny group over there.”

    The crowd’s reaction reflects the political divide over the response to the pandemic and to vaccines. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found last month that, of U.S. adults who said they have not gotten a coronavirus vaccine, 60 percent identify as Republican or Republican-leaning, vs. 17 percent who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning.

    The same poll found that Republicans were far more likely than Democrats to say that the seriousness of the pandemic is exaggerated, and that getting a coronavirus vaccine was “a personal choice” rather than “everyone’s responsibility to protect the health of others.”

  34. says

    Moderna booster shot should provide ‘good level of protection’ against omicron.

    Washington Post link

    Vaccine manufacturer Moderna said Monday that a booster dose of its coronavirus vaccine significantly raised antibody levels against the omicron variant, amid growing concerns about its rapid spread in the United States.

    A booster dose of Moderna’s vaccine — half the dose used in the original shots for adults — increased antibody levels against omicron by 37 times, the company said in a statement, citing preliminary data.

    Those antibodies “should provide some good level of protection as we go into the holiday season,” Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview.

    Federal health officials warned this weekend, ahead of Christmas and New Year’s gatherings, that the United States could face record levels of coronavirus cases in the coming days. New York state has for three straight days reported record case numbers, and officials said the country could soon face the same fate.

    About half of coronavirus cases nationally are of the omicron variant, Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, said Sunday on CNN. Because of omicron, the United States could soon reach 1 million new cases each day, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS on Sunday.

    “The big question is, are those million cases going to be sick enough to need health care and especially hospitalization?” Collins said. “We’re just holding our breath to see how severe this will be.”

    […] the vaccine is highly effective at preventing infection, hospitalization and death due to covid.

    Moderna is still pursuing an omicron-targeted vaccine, though its statement said that given the variant’s rapid spread, the company’s “first line of defense against omicron” would be a booster of its existing vaccine. Its omicron-specific vaccine candidate will advance to clinical trials early next year, the company said.

    The current vaccine, Burton said, is “what we have right now, as we’re heading into the eye of the storm of omicron.”

    Moderna also announced that a dose double the size of a normal booster, equivalent to that used in the main shots and in the third dose given primarily to immunocompromised people, raised antibody levels by 83 times.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this third, “primary shot” of the vaccine for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, taking immunosuppressing medication, or living with advanced or untreated HIV. Other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and people who work in high-risk settings, were instead among the first to be eligible for booster shots. […]

  35. says

    Trump is projecting again. It’s funny in a way.

    One of the many oddities of Donald Trump’s presidency was his habit of calling for the criminal prosecution of his perceived political foes. It’s one thing for presidents to criticize their opponents; it’s something else for presidents to routinely and falsely accuse their opponents of felonies.

    And yet, Trump couldn’t seem to help himself. Over the course of four years, the Republican voiced support, for example, for prosecuting Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. He has called for criminal investigations into former Secretary of State John Kerry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy, and former FBI Director James Comey.

    That was while Trump was in office. Now that he’s out of office, he’s issuing unintentionally amusing written statements like these:

    “All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and Radical Left thugs. They are destroying people’s lives, which is the only thing they are good at. They couldn’t get out of Afghanistan without disgracing our Country. The economy and inflation are a disaster. They’re letting thugs and murderers into our Country — their DA’s, AG’s, and Dem Law Enforcement are out of control. This is what happens in communist countries and dictatorships, and they don’t think they’ll be held accountable for rigging the 2020 Presidential Election. The Jan. 6 Unselect Committee is a coverup for what took place on November 3rd, and the people of our Country won’t stand for it.”

    There’s obviously no point in trying to fact-check each of these absurd claims. Needless to say, there’s nonsense in literally every sentence of the written statement.

    But stepping back, the larger question is why Trump felt compelled to issue the statement in the first place. Why lash out at law enforcement, district attorneys, attorneys general, and the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack?

    Is it possible that the former president recently received an unpleasant briefing from his legal team?

    Let’s not forget that Trump is currently facing a criminal inquiry, multiple civil suits, criminal charges against his private business, and a grand jury investigation into his financial practices.

    Meanwhile, two Republican members of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack have separately raised the prospect of the former president possibly having committed crimes, and their bipartisan panel is pursuing this line of inquiry. […]

    Link

  36. says

    Chuck Schumer heard what Joe Manchin had to say, but the Democratic Senate leader is moving forward on Build Back Better and voting rights anyway.

    […] In a new letter to his Democratic colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer […] said he and his colleagues must persevere “despite moments of deep discontent and frustration,” Schumer added:

    “These are just some of the major issues the Build Back Better Act would immediately address. We were elected to address these many needs and we will not stop fighting until we do. Therefore, Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television. We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act — and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”

    The “not just on television” line was hardly subtle — Manchin told Fox News about his rejection of the BBB package before he told Schumer — but also note the majority leader’s reference to a vote on a “revised version” of the legislation.

    […] As for the recent momentum behind voting rights, the Democratic leader also made his intentions clear in his correspondence this morning. From the “Dear Colleagues” letter:

    “We all agree that the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. With that in mind, I would ask you to consider this question: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same? If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation.”

    Until now, Schumer has not been quite this direct about his plans to advance voting rights through possible rule changes.

    The majority leader’s letter added, “I believe our constituents deserve to know which Senators choose to hide behind ill-conceived and abused rules and which Senators prefer to restore Senate floor procedures to better align with the Founders’ intentions. As Former Senator Robert C. Byrd said in 1979, Senate rules that seemed appropriate in the past ‘must be changed to reflect changed circumstances.'”

    It was a pointed reference: Byrd was a political giant in West Virginia, and Manchin has said many times he looks up to the late senator and tries to honor Byrd’s legacy.

    Schumer knows that. It’s almost certainly why he quoted Byrd this morning.

    The letter concluded with news that Senate Democrats will “hold a virtual Special Caucus” tomorrow night. It’s bound to be interesting.

  37. tomh says

    Eight challenges brought to high court over vaccine-or-test mandate at OSHA
    KELSEY REICHMANN / December 20, 2021

    WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court received eight new emergency applications on Monday morning challenging the federal mandate for businesses with over 100 employees to require Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing.

    Enforced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the mandate was reinstated on Friday when a Sixth Circuit panel overturned what had been pause on the nationwide rule imposed by a federal judge. It is set to take effect on January 4.

    The groups challenging Biden’s mandate include conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation, 27 states, business associations like the National Federation of Independent Business and the Job Creators Network, BTS Holdings, religious groups like the Word of God Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and companies like Phillips Manufacturing. Most of the groups are challenging OSHA’s authority to enforce the mandate while others are also alleging violations of the First Amendment and religious freedom.

    Without a stay from the high court, the mandate would affect about 84 million workers and require unvaccinated employees to wear face masks and be subject to weekly testing for Covid-19.

    Ohio is at the helm of the pack of 27 Republican-led states claiming that the mandate is unprecedented and that OSHA does not have the authority to enforce it because Covid-19 is not an occupational danger that the agency can regulate, the virus does not present a “grave” danger, and the mandate does not satisfy the emergency provision requirement.
    […]

    The National Federation of Independent Business claims the mandate will cause “irreparable harm” on hundreds of thousands of businesses and will cause a devastating labor upheaval.
    […]

    The religious organizations are challenging the mandate because it does not offer accommodations required by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
    […]

    Some of the organizations — like BTS Holdings — say Congress did not grant OSHA the powers to authorize the mandate and if it did it would be violating the constitution.
    […]

    Friday’s majority opinion by U.S. Circuit Judge Julia Smith Gibbons said that the mandate was “not a novel expansion of OSHA’s power” and that the agency had the authority to regulate infectious diseases not unique to the workplace.

    “Vaccination and medical examinations are both tools that OSHA historically employed to contain illness in the workplace,” the Bush appointee wrote.
    […]

    The administration has other vaccine mandates that are being challenged in court, and the high court has seen multiple challenges on vaccine mandates come across their docket this year already.

    So far, the court has turned down relief for workers seeking religious exemptions. Last week the Fifth Circuit overturned an injunction on a vaccine mandate for health care workers in federally funded facilities.

    The specious arguments of the various organizations have been snipped, but can be perused at the link.

  38. blf says

    Speaking of vaccines and boosters, I’ve finally made an appointment for my booster. I tried to do it earlier (as soon as I became eligible), only to discover the village’s vaccination centre had closed at the end-of-October-ish, due to lack of demand. When I first checked, the only(?) available slots within a sensible time-frame were all in places like Marseilles, and traveling when Omicron is surging about (especially with this area now having 5G coverage 📡🧲😀) during a crowded season wasn’t appealing. Today, a local site was listed — just one, a health clinic — so I made an appointment immediately for as soon as possible, about four weeks from now🙁.

    Whilst I was jabbed with Pfizer-BioNTech, I was given a choice of the two mRNA vaccines as a booster, and went for Moderna, because of things like the report in Lynna@35, and especially the earlier (pre-Omicron) Cov-Boost trial (Covid booster shots significantly strengthen immunity, trial finds): “The most potent booster in the study was a full dose of the Moderna vaccine, which raised antibody levels 32-fold in the AstraZeneca group and 11-fold in the Pfizer group”; however, “While the findings show that both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are highly effective boosters, scientists cautioned about comparing their performance as people started with different antibody levels. For example, antibody levels tend to remain high a few months after a Pfizer vaccination, so a booster would not be able to drive them much higher.”

    What was annoying was locating just where the clinic is (and hence how to get there (e.g., which bus)) was amazingly difficult! Generalissimo Google™’s map insisted the address didn’t exist, the thumbnail-sized map at the booking site put it in the middle of the road, and the clinic itself doesn’t have a website. After some increasingly frustrated hunting, I got a slightly more plausible location, bus route information, etc., albeit I’m still not entirely certain where it is or which bus stop is closest. Or, for that matter, the phone number or e-mail, the only known means of contact is via the booking site (maybe). From what I can work out, the clinic’s usual clientele are disadvantaged residents of the area, which does seem to be a medical desert (basically, just(?) apartment blocks, albeit several parks and schools).

  39. blf says

    This is hair furor, so doubting what he said — despite it being quite sensible — is automatic; however, he known to be a germaphobe, so it’s plausible… Trump Admits Getting Covid Vaccine Booster — After Earlier Saying He ‘Probably’ Wouldn’t:

    Former President Donald Trump[Wacko House squatter hair furor] revealed at an event Sunday night that he’s received a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot — after previously saying he “probably” would not — leading to a small chorus of boos from some of his supporters that the ex-president[squatter] quickly denounced.

    ● Trump told a crowd of his supporters in Dallas that he’s received a booster, speaking to former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on the final leg of the two’s History Tour speaking series[bellowing lieathons] (O’Reilly also said he’s received a booster).

    […]

    ● A small number of jeers came from the crowd at American Airlines Center afterward, which appeared to annoy Trump.

    ● “Don’t, don’t, don’t,” Trump told the crowd, pointing out those who booed as a “very tiny group.”

    Polling on Covid vaccine hesitancy has consistently shown Republicans and Trump voters at the top of the list of groups most opposed to getting vaccinated, even though vaccines were researched and rolled out during Trump’s presidency and he’s hailed the vaccines as a “miracle.” According to a vaccine tracker from the Mayo Clinic, 16 of the 17 states with the lowest vaccination rates went for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Critics have slammed the president[squatter] for not being more vocally supportive of vaccines, given many of his supporters are adamantly against the shots. […]

    Highly unusually, I’ve not set most of hair furor’s quoted bellows in the above excerpt in eejit quotes since what he’s quoted as bellowing is surprisingly sensible.

  40. says

    Pettiness and stupidity on display:

    We’re getting a bit more sense here of the final blow up that led to the demise of the BBB. Apparently the real blow up was that the White House put out a statement last week in which the President said he believed he was making progress on finalizing a Build Back Better deal with Joe Manchin. The key apparently was that he named Manchin specifically rather than Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema or Manchin and the rest of the caucus or whatever else.

    In other words, in what was actually a positive and cordial statement, Biden pointed to Manchin by name, kinda sorta implicitly saying that Manchin was the hold up but that he was optimistic they’d get to a deal. This apparently set Manchin off and led him to torpedo the negotiations and basically the President’s whole domestic agenda. How do we know this? Steven Clemons goes into the details here and Clemons is very close to Manchin.

    As Clemons explains, Manchin saw his being named in the statement as “a breach of process, a breach of spirit, a breach of Joe and Joe working this out.” He seems to believe it was Biden’s staff rather than the President himself who committed the lapse. This is what Manchin was apparently referring to this morning when he told a West Virginia talk radio station: “They drove some things, they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable.”

    The level of pettiness on display here may be difficult to comprehend or believe. But as far as it goes I do believe it.

    But the big picture is the important one to understand. For almost a year Manchin has strung his caucus and President Biden along, changing his positions, changing his rationales, being cagey about what he supported or what he would do. He’s strung them along and forced them to play the fool, repeatedly, while being entirely indifferent to the impact of his own actions on the political standing of his colleagues or their deeply held views.

    […] someone in his position owes the members of his caucus and a President of his own party a strong good faith effort to get to yes, to be candid, not to embarrass or humiliate his colleagues. He failed to do any of those things. And in his mind it was basically fine to put everyone through the wringer. But the first time the White House gave even the most delicate push back Manchin went berserk and blew everything up. That’s petulant and petty and just pathetic. And yet he has the vote. It’s in his power to do.

    Manchin has been stringing this out intentionally for months. The deadlines and urgency were meaningless to him. As the President’s popularity dimmed he became more recalcitrant, throwing up a parade of contradictory and often nonsensical objections. The alternative to this was perpetual and indefinite coddling with no end in sight.

    None of this changes the reality of the demise of serious climate action or a refundable child tax credit or universal pre-K or a bunch of other things. But it does illuminate the last year and makes clear that “getting tough” on Manchin wasn’t really a tool the White House had in its arsenal. Just putting out a press release that named him and made him feel bad and somehow made him think people would blame him for what was happening made him go postal. The only real argument here is whether the process of coddling Manchin starting in the first weeks of Biden’s presidency helped nurture and fructify the tender sapling of clinical thin-skinnism that has grown into this tall and broad oak tree of snowflakery we see on display today.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/prime/inside-the-manchin-blow-up

    Goodness! Joe Manchin sound like he gets his feelings hurt as easily as Trump.

  41. says

    The ugly:

    Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was in her element at the Turning Point USA’s “AmericaFest” rally on Sunday. Using her moment on stage to in part call out the diversity of the attendees, the “Black people, brown people, white people, and yellow people” only to highlight that the event can’t possibly be racist.

    Oh, okay. Who uses the words “yellow people?” Racists. That’s who, you QAnon-believing, anti-vaxxing, gun-toting blockhead racist.

    In addition to her comments on race, she waxed poetic about former one-term President Donald Trump and a nice Jewish boy from Palestine named Jesus.

    “And then there’s talk of freedom and loving America, and conservative principles, some crazy people in here were talking about how much they love this guy named Jesus. And I heard — someone I really like — I think I heard that a lot of people here like a guy named Donald J. Trump. And then I said, ‘Oh, oh, I know exactly what this is: the left calls this a white supremacist party.”

    Yes, she was chumming the waters of her base bigly.

    It didn’t take long before people began calling out her xenophobic and bigoted comments.

    “I honestly haven’t heard someone use ‘yellow people’ for decades,” tweeted George Takei, the famed Star Trek star and activist. […]

    The term “yellow people” stems from “yellow peril,” a racist ideology dating back to the 19th century used to misrepresent people from Asia, painting them as a group to be feared and reduced to something less than white Europeans.

    After her racist comments, Greene moved on to her usual swipes at fellow lawmakers, like GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for “making a deal with Chuck Schumer” over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over “completely eras[ing] gender this year.”

    “No male, female, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, he, she, him, her, all of those words are forbidden in Congress,” Greene said. “I’m kind of one of those gender people, I’m all about the male and the female.” […]

    Link

  42. blf says

    ‘Extraordinary’ restoration of Roman rock crystal jar from Galloway hoard:

    […]
    When the Galloway hoard was unearthed from a ploughed field in western Scotland in 2014, it offered the richest collection of Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. But one of the artefacts paled in comparison with treasures such as a gold bird-shaped pin and a silver-gilt vessel because it was within a pouch that was mangled and misshapen after almost 1,000 years in the ground.

    Now that pouch has been removed and its contents restored, revealing an extraordinary Roman rock crystal jar wrapped in exquisite layers of gold thread by the finest medieval craftsman in the late eighth or early ninth century.

    About 5cm high, it may once have held a perfume or other prized potion used to anoint kings, or in religious ceremonies. It had been carefully wrapped in a silk-lined leather pouch, reflecting its significance.

    The hoard, which included about 100 objects, was buried around AD900 and contained artefacts from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Ireland and as far away as Asia. […]

    Dr Martin Goldberg, [National Museums Scotland]’s principal curator of early medieval and Viking collections, described the jar as “really beautiful” and all the more exceptional because his research has led him to conclude that the rock crystal carving was in fact Roman. It was perhaps 600 years old by the time it was transformed into a gold-wrapped jar.

    [… more details…]

    Goldberg said that silk was then a particularly luxurious and exotic material: “It’s come from Asia, so it’s travelled thousands of miles. It’s an example of how precious they thought this object inside was,” he said.

    […]

    The rock crystal design resembles the capital of a Corinthian column, with carved lobes that look like foliage, he realised. “It’s almost a perfect model of a Corinthian column, but the scale is minute,” he said.

    There is the possibility that this jar still bears trace elements of the potion it once held and that its precise chemicals can be revealed.

    […]

    Images (plural) at the link.

  43. says

    blf @43, wow. That is beautiful. What an amazing find.

    In other news: Michael Cohen is suing Donald Trump, Bill Barr, and the Bureau of Prisons in a civil suit that’s a lot more important than you might think.

    After several years of drama surrounding Michael Cohen and his former ties to Donald Trump, the lawsuit that Cohen filed last week wasn’t taken too seriously in some circles. That’s a shame, because this civil case is actually quite important. The Associated Press reported:

    Michael Cohen claimed in a new lawsuit Thursday that Donald Trump retaliated against him for writing a tell-all memoir, saying his abrupt return to federal prison last year endangered his life and amounted to punishment for criticizing the president…. The new lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks damages for “extreme physical and emotional harm” and violations of Cohen’s First Amendment rights.

    […] And why is this a case worth watching? In part because Cohen’s argument appears to have merit, and in part because of the core allegation he’s raised in the civil case.

    […] It was in May 2019 when Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, was ordered to report to prison after helping his former client cover up illegal campaign contributions to alleged former mistresses.

    About a year later, Cohen was released on a medical furlough, which was not altogether unusual given the pandemic. Like many non-violent prisoners at the time, Cohen received home confinement.

    It did not last. Just weeks into home confinement, the lawyer arrived at a New York courthouse, expecting to complete some routine paperwork. What he encountered instead was probation officers asking him to sign a document that would prevent him from publishing a book or speaking to the media during the remainder of his sentence.

    Cohen, working on an anti-Trump book, balked, insisting that the request was a violation of his free speech rights under the First Amendment. About 90 minutes later, Cohen was in handcuffs. The Bureau of Prisons had decided to revoke home confinement and sent him back to prison.

    By all accounts, this was not normal for released prisoners, and it raised some unsettling questions. Was federal law enforcement punishing Cohen because he’d worked on a book critical of the then-president? Was there a special rule being applied just to him?

    In July 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein agreed that it appeared federal officials were trying to silence Cohen. “I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people,” the federal judge said. “How can I take any other inference but that it was retaliatory?”

    He proceeded to return Cohen to home confinement, and the book was released as planned.

    And now Cohen is suing over what transpired, which is important for reasons that may not be immediately obvious.

    As Rachel explained on Friday night’s show, we can’t have a system in which a corrupt president can use the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice to retaliate against a political critic. Imprisoning Cohen because he wrote a book Trump didn’t like, as is alleged in this case, appears to be indefensible in a country that takes the rule of law seriously.

    […] “The personalities here can get distracting, but take the personalities out of this,” Rachel explained. “A president being a bad guy is one thing. A president being a bad guy and then being able to use the Bureau of Prisons and the Justice Department to go pluck his enemies out of their homes, shackle them and throw them in jail without legitimate cause, that is a blaring red siren — not just for what it means to have a bad person in power, but for what it means to have a government that is bent to that person’s will, for what it means to have a government that is insufficiently independent and governed by ethics and law that an unscrupulous leader can employ the U.S. government in that way for their own purposes.”

  44. says

    The Daily Beast has dispatches from Bannon World, and they are fuckbonkers as ever.

    On December 7, Steve Bannon’s lawyers flipped their shit at a status conference trying to convince the court that their client, who stood on the courthouse steps and livestreamed himself promising to turn his contempt of Congress case into “the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden,” had no intention of posting court documents online. No, your honor, he would never use his podcast to paint a target on the back of some poor House staffer, honest!

    In the event, US District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, wasn’t biting. He issued a protective order for the evidence as requested by the government. But, as the Beast’s Jose Pagliery reports, losing this motion was actually great news for Ol’ Three Shirts.

    Bannon’s team is interpreting the judge’s order as a green light to dig into the Biden administration and expose what they find, according to a person familiar with Bannon’s case.

    “Was this a politically motivated prosecution? The communications will show that… we’re going to ask for specific documents,” said the source, who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. “The judge will allow us behind the curtain.”

    That’s a stretch akin to sticking your right foot behind your head and scratching your left ear with it. The court imposed a bog standard protective order, regularly accepted by litigants in DC. There’s zero indication that Judge Nichols is gearing up to allow Bannon to run the Michael Flynn play and dig so deeply into prosecution work product that it casts a pall over the entire proceeding.

    And not for nothing, but Bannon’s legal team includes Trump impeachment lawyer David Schoen and Bannon’s old lawyer Robert Costello, the guy who told Bannon it was a great idea to give the House January 6 Select Committee two middle fingers and shout EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE, MOTHERFUCKERS. And if his name sounds familiar, it’s because Costello is the one who tried to dangle a presidential pardon to Michael Cohen via a mangled Garth Brooks lyric.

    […] Meanwhile, the Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo took another one for Team Sanity and watched Bannon’s War Room podcast again. Apparently Poppy Gin Farts thinks he’s king of American elections now.

    “We are going to get it decertified,” Bannon said, referring to the 2020 presidential election, which the hotly contested MAGA character erroneously insists Trump won. “And hey, all they want to talk about all day long is Omicron and 6 January. And we love it,” he continued. “Cuz nobody cares. We care because we care about the legitimacy of our process. We are a constitutional republic. And guess what, we are going to take over the election apparatus.” Bannon further noted that “American citizens” will aid him in the proposed election system takeover.

    “I understand you don’t think that’s democracy because the globalists have done the misdirection plays and had everyone looking the other way,” he added, speaking to MSNBC producers he thinks breathlessly watch his daily War Room: Pandemic podcast.

    UH HUH.

    Well, on the one hand, LOL. But on the other hand, as ProPublica has reported, Bannon is mobilizing his supporters to get themselves put in charge of local and state elections as well as volunteering to be poll watchers in hopes of catching supposed fraudsters. Which is fucking terrifying.

    On the plus side, Bannon’s loyal followers are even less competent than his lawyers […].

    Link

  45. says

    NBC News:

    A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated President Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large companies, handing a legal victory to the White House in efforts to implement a key component of its Covid strategy.

  46. says

    Here’s some of the pathetic stuff Trump said:

    The investigations commenced by James [New York attorney General Letitia James] are in no way connected to legitimate law enforcement goals, but rather, are merely a thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates. Her mission is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent.

    Tell Letitia that she is not dealing with the Cuomo brothers, a corrupt Governor in a corrupt state, including your office and others, and Fredo, who did the Governor’s dirty work for him.

    Commentary:

    Trump’s statement went on to brag that he endured “many years of investigation that nobody else could have survived.” He must have forgotten that he was impeached twice; his phony “university” was found guilty of fraud and forced to pay out $25 million to his victims; his crooked “charity” was shuttered and he and his family strictly constrained in running any other non-profit in New York for five years. And there is still pending litigation against him by women alleging that he sexually harassed and/or assaulted them. […]

    Link

    And here is New York Attorney General Letitia James’ reply:

    The Trump Organization has continually sought to delay our investigation into its business dealings and now Donald Trump and his namesake company have filed a lawsuit as an attempted collateral attack on that investigation. To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions. Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.

    Trump is going to have to sit for depositions. Letitia James is not going to be bullied by Trump.

  47. says

    Coal miners’ union urges Manchin to reconsider opposition to Biden plan

    The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), which represents West Virginia coal miners, urged Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday to revisit his opposition to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

    The labor union noted that the bill includes an extension of a fund that provides benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease, which expires at the end of the year. The UMWA also touted tax incentives that encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields that would employ thousands of miners who lost their jobs.

    “For those and other reasons, we are disappointed that the bill will not pass,” Cecil Roberts, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.” […]

    As countless interest groups call on Manchin to reverse course, the statement from the mine workers’ union might be the most impactful. Manchin was born into a coal mining family and for decades has worked closely with the UMWA, which named Manchin an honorary member last year.

    “Standing alongside the UMWA members while they fought tooth and nail to secure the pension and healthcare benefits they rightfully earned has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Manchin said in a statement at the time. […]

  48. says

    OMFG.

    Joe Manchin Killing Child Tax Credit Because Parents Would ‘Just Spend It On Drugs’

    […] The Huffington Post reports several sources say Joe Manchin […] had been going around for the past several months telling his colleagues that he thought the Child Tax Credit was bad because poor people might just take that money and spend it on drugs.

    We assume he is talking about street drugs, as parents would have to have at least three kids to be able to afford the $650 EpiPens from which his daughter made millions.

    “They’ll just spend it on drugs” is a common refrain we’ve all heard over and over again from the Right as the reason why we can’t have nice things and why people have to live in poverty. This is a convenient belief for people who neither want to pay higher taxes nor feel bad about hoarding vast amounts of wealth while other people are barely scraping by. It’s easier to assuage any errant feelings of guilt by telling yourself that poor people are poor because they are morally deficient and would spend money on drugs before spending it on their children.

    It’s not, however, an argument we usually hear from Democrats, which Manchin is technically supposed to be.

    It also does not seem like an argument that is going to be very popular with West Virginians, who might even feel a tad insulted by it. […]

    According to these sources, Manchin also claimed that people would abuse a proposed sick leave policy by pretending to be sick and then going hunting or something — which is a luxury only those in the middle class and above ought to be able to do on occasion. Surely, it’s much better that people go to work sick and possibly infect their co-workers and customers than run the risk of something like this happening […] Besides, those sick people could always just take the day off and not get paid, and then run the risk of not being able to afford their rent that month or being fired for not coming in.

    One of the few who went on the record saying they had heard Manchin was making these remarks was Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. […] “The stories I hear the most, if you put it in categories, are child care, school supplies, college fund, phone bills,” Brown told HuffPost last week. “My focus is getting this program — which is the best thing Congress has done in 25 years — making sure it continues.”

    Well, that would be nice. In July alone, the first month the child tax credit was implemented, three million children were lifted out of poverty. That is actually astounding when you consider that the credit is only $300 a month for children under six and $250 a month for those between six and 17. That’s a small amount of money for such a big impact. Some might say that’s a really good thing, and worth every penny. Though not, apparently, Joe Manchin.

    If the things Joe Manchin believed about people were true — if poor people were poor because they were morally deficient lazy jerks who only ever wanted to take advantage of others and would do so given any opportunity, if people actually were able to live off of the minimum wage — many of his positions actually would make a certain amount of sense. The problem is, they’re not.

    […] increasing child benefits led to a decrease in tobacco and alcohol consumption. People raising their kids with less stress can be healthier and happier, and their kids can be healthier and happier. Thanks, science! […]

  49. raven says

    The Omicron variant is coming into focus.
    It is a lot more transmissable than Delta. Delta is on its way to irrelevance.
    It is also a serious partial immune escape variant.

    The third big question is, “is it more or less pathogenic than Delta”.
    We still don’t know.
    There have been claims both ways.
    This article references the latest study.
    “Infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus do not appear to be less severe than infections from Delta, according to early data from the UK.”
    I wouldn’t call this the last word by any means. We will know more in a week or two.

    The vaccines don’t work so well against Omicron. You really need that third shot.
    “For vaccines available in the UK, effectiveness against symptomatic Omicron infection ranged from 0% to 20% after two doses, and from 55% to 80% following a booster dose.”

    Omicron infections appear no less severe than Delta; COVID-19 lowers sperm count, motility By Nancy Lapid December 20, 2021 Reuters

    Dec 20 (Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

    Omicron infections no less severe based on early UK data.
    Infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus do not appear to be less severe than infections from Delta, according to early data from the UK.

    Researchers at Imperial College London compared 11,329 people with confirmed or likely Omicron infections with nearly 200,000 people infected with other variants. So far, according to a report issued ahead of peer review and updated on Monday, they see “no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection.”

    For vaccines available in the UK, effectiveness against symptomatic Omicron infection ranged from 0% to 20% after two doses, and from 55% to 80% following a booster dose.

  50. says

    NBC News:

    The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot is turning its attention to a fellow lawmaker for the first time, with a request for information from Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

    Commentary:

    […] the bipartisan panel has extended a request to Perry, not a subpoena […]

    But it’s also clear that the select committee’s interest in the Pennsylvania Republican is quite serious, and is focused on the plot to install Jeffrey Clark as the acting attorney general in the closing weeks of the Trump administration in order to further undermine the transfer of post-election power.

    “We have received evidence from multiple witnesses that you had an important role in the efforts to install Mr. Clark as acting Attorney General,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the Jan. 6 committee, told Perry in a letter yesterday. Thompson added, “We are also aware that you had multiple text and other communications with President Trump’s former Chief of Staff regarding Mr. Clark — and we also have evidence indicating that in that time frame you sent communications to the former Chief of Staff using the encrypted Signal app.”

    In case that weren’t quite enough, the committee chair went on to write, “In addition, we have information indicating that you communicated at various relevant times with the White House and others involved in other relevant topics, including regarding allegations that the Dominion voting machines had been corrupted.”

    At first blush, this may seem like a minor step. A congressional committee sent a polite request for information to a fellow lawmaker. High drama it isn’t.

    But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: The committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has collected all kinds of documents and materials, and it’s taken all kinds of depositions while conducting all kinds of interviews, but this is the first time it has specifically reached out to a member of Congress — suggesting Perry is in a relatively unique position with regards to the larger anti-election scheme.

    All things considered, Perry, a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, doesn’t appear to have the kind of public profile some of his more notorious colleagues have, but the Pennsylvania Republican is, and has been, at the center of this scandal for much of the year. It was Perry, for example, who first introduced Clark, a relatively obscure Justice Department official, to Trump. It was also Perry who shared bogus voter-fraud claims directly with the Justice Department after Trump’s defeat.

    As recently as October, a Senate Judiciary Committee report put Perry at the center of the efforts to overturn the election results. Politico reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee urged “other congressional investigators to further probe [Perry’s] involvement in the runup to the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

    Evidently, the Jan. 6 panel is doing exactly that.

    Link

  51. says

    Josh Marshall:

    These numbers almost beggar belief. But here they are. According to a Monday CDC report, 73% of COVID infections in the US are now Omicron. Specifically, that was the percentage for the week ending December 18th. The rate of growth of new cases in the New York City metropolitan area has been mind-boggling. So extremely high percentages of Omicron here don’t surprise me at all. (I’ve heard informally that the rates here are roughly 90%.) But nationwide it almost beggars belief, even though we’ve seen comparable trajectories in the UK and Denmark.

    Here’s the chart from the CDC [chart available at the link]

    So over the first two and one half weeks of December, the percentage of new Covid cases caused by the Omicron variant rose from the very low single digits to 73%. This is what exponential growth looks like. But the US is a big, big country. The analog to the continental US is Europe as a whole not one or two medium sized or small nation-states. There’s certainly regional variation in the US […] But it’s still a staggering rate of spread. It’s already dominant in most regions. It’s seems almost certain that Delta will be close to extinguished in the US by the end of the month.

    […] the sheer scale of this wave will land tens of thousands in hospitals and kill a lot of people. So at a population level it’s still a big deal even if the threat to people individually, especially if they’re vaccinated and boosted, is much less.

    We should remember that this strain was only identified about six weeks ago. We should be skeptical of anyone who claims a high level of confidence about predictions for the future.

  52. says

    Disgusting: Rittenhouse Given A Hero’s Welcome At TPUSA Griftcon

    Hooray You Killed People

    Right-wing darling Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted on all charges last month after fatally shooting two people at a Black Lives Matter protest, was a special guest who got his own theme song at conservative group Turning Point USA’s conference in Phoenix Monday night. [video available at the link]

    A conservative journalist got booted from the event for asking Rittenhouse why he claimed to support Black Lives Matter [video available at the link]

  53. says

    House Select Committee considering recommending charges of wire fraud and obstruction of Congress

    […] Over the last three weeks, information released from the select committee has made it clear that there was more to Republicans in the House and Senate moving to object to the counting of electoral votes than just blind loyalty to Trump. Among other things, Republican members of Congress were briefed on a plan by which their objection could help create an excuse to overturn the results of the election. That included a lengthy PowerPoint presentation given to Republicans by conspiracy theorist Phil Waldron. As more information appears, it increasingly looks as if a large number of Republicans were active participants in a unified scheme to overthrow the United States, making obstruction of Congress seem like a mild charge.

    The other big charge pending is wire fraud—and that’s the one that may be most likely to land on Trump.

    Even before the election, Donald Trump was fundraising off claims that there was going to be election fraud. […] Trump voters were bombarded by claims that Trump needed more money so they could fight election fraud. However, those claims went into high gear following the 2020 election when Trump begged repeatedly for funds for his legal team.

    In the end, Trump supporters handed over millions supposedly so that Trump could follow through on dozens of losing lawsuits and appeals. However, there’s little evidence that this money was actually spent on that effort. […]

  54. says

    Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Tuesday called on Fox News to fire host Jesse Watters for targeting him with violent rhetoric at a conservative conference earlier this week.

    “That’s awful that he said that. And he’s going to go, very likely, unaccountable,” Fauci told CNN of Watters’ remarks. “I mean, whatever network he’s on is not going to do anything for him. I mean, that’s crazy. The guy should be fired on the spot.”

    Speaking on Monday at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest conference, Watters encouraged attendees to “ambush” Fauci with dubious questions about the National Institutes of Health allegedly funding “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    “Now you go in for the kill shot. The kill shot? With an ambush? Deadly. Because he doesn’t see it coming,” Watters said.

    Fauci — who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and has served for 37 years as director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — on Tuesday described Watters’ remarks as “horrible.”

    “The only thing that I have ever done throughout these two years is to encourage people to practice good public health practices: to get vaccinated, to be careful in public settings, to wear a mask,” Fauci said. “And for that, you have some guy out there saying that people should be giving me a kill shot to ambush me? I mean, what kind of craziness is there in society these days?”

    Fox News declined to comment on the record on whether it endorses Watters’ remarks or plans to take disciplinary action against him. Fox News also did not respond to a request for comment on Fauci’s critique of the network.

    Fox News hosts, as well as Republican congressional lawmakers, have repeatedly targeted Fauci throughout the coronavirus pandemic with inflammatory and personal attacks. Lara Logan, a Fox News personality and host on its streaming service, compared him to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele earlier this month.

    In response to those remarks, Fauci rebuked Fox News for not taking disciplinary action against Logan, telling MSNBC: “What I find striking … is how she gets no discipline whatsoever from the Fox network — how they can let her say that with no comment and no disciplinary action. I’m astounded by that.”

    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/12/21/fauci-fox-525826

  55. says

    Wonkette:

    If you follow media watcher types on Twitter, you are probably aware that Charlie Kirk’s young creeper group Turning Point USA is throwing some kind of gathering this week for young creepers, and that all the biggest white celebrities in the conservative movement are addressing it. That’s where we got Sarah Palin saying you betcha she’s not takin’ no vaccines, over her dead body.

    That’s where we got this James O’Keefe video that … we can’t even describe it. It’s like if evangelical Christian aliens came to earth and tried to do an impression of what cool college kids who have sex are like. [video available at the link]

    And speaking of things that are almost like regular human things but end up missing the mark entirely, here is Donald Trump Jr. and his face, talking about faith and how, just FYI, it’s no more Mr. Nice Christ for him these days. [video available at the link]

    Well then.

    In that video, Junior explains, like a reject who has finally found a peer group that doesn’t make fun of him […] how excited he was to fly all the way out to talk to the Turning Point USA kids.

    In that video, Junior says the well-adjusted kids in that room are the “front line of freedom” and the “front line of liberty.”

    In that video, Junior shakes his hands in the air and says “THEY CAN’T CANCEL US ALL!” He explains that for a “half century,” his side has been playing “teeball,” while the libs have been playing “hardball and cheating.”

    And that’s when he says conservatives just can’t be Christlike anymore, LOLOL the way LOLOL they’ve always LOLOL been.

    “I understand sort of the Biblical reference, I understand the mentality, but it’s gotten us NOTHING,” said Junior, whining that he sort of gets, you know, “Bible” or some such shit, he understands that “mentality,” but guess what, SUNDAY SCHOOL SUCKS AND IS BORING.

    Is the Bible even relevant to the challenges white conservatives like Junior and the other unfuckable deplorables at TPUSA’s convention face every day? Is there any story in there about Jesus flipping over tables and flipping his shit because they’re teaching critical race theory in the elementary schools of Nazareth? […]

    These people are not OK.

    Link

  56. says

    Brony @56, it’s funny to think that it might explain why Joe Manchin makes those moves.
    :-)

    Followup to comment 51: The Jan. 6 committee sought information from Rep. Scott Perry, but the Republican is pretending it’s not a real committee.

    It was late yesterday when the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack requested information from Rep. Scott Perry. It took the Pennsylvania Republican about half a day to say no. CNBC reported this morning:

    Rep. Scott Perry, the first lawmaker to be asked to answer questions from the investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, on Tuesday said he would refuse to cooperate with the probe. The Pennsylvania Republican in a pair of tweets called the congressional select committee “illegitimate” and “not duly constituted” under the rules of the House. “I decline this entity’s request,” Perry tweeted.

    In a pair of tweets, the GOP congressman, who’s also a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, went on to add some gratuitous rhetoric about inflation, Afghanistan, and the U.S./Mexico border.

    Distractions aside, there are three key elements to this that are worth keeping in mind.

    First, Perry may want to pretend that the bipartisan Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is “illegitimate” and “not duly constituted,” but reality tells a very different story. There is a process through which House members create select committees, and it involves the full chamber approving a resolution to create a panel and give it the legal authority to issue subpoenas.

    The House held such a vote in June, approved the creation of the committee, and members from both parties were seated in accordance with the resolution. In the months that followed, several federal judges — from district and circuit courts — have recognized the legitimacy of the investigatory committee and its work.

    […] by refusing to cooperate voluntarily, the far-right congressman is inviting a highly unusual intra-chamber dispute. While the Jan. 6 committee politely requested information yesterday, it did not formally approve a subpoena. […]

    We don’t yet know how or whether the committee’s members will respond to Perry’s declaration this morning, but some striking questions hang overhead. Would the Republican congressman defy a subpoena? Would the chamber consider holding him in contempt? Would the Justice Department consider prosecution?

    There’s no modern precedent for anything like these circumstances.

    And third, the questions the committee has for Perry — and perhaps other GOP members in the near future — are highly relevant to the larger investigation. As we discussed this morning, the committee claims it has evidence of the Pennsylvania Republican playing a role in post-election, pro-Trump schemes. […]

  57. says

    Followup to Brony’s comment 56, sort of.

    Dr. Francis Collins is now in is last week as director of the National Institutes of Health, (he had announced in October that he was stepping down). In a response to a question from PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff, Dr. Collins said yesterday:

    You know, maybe we underinvested in research on human behavior. I never imagined a year ago, when those vaccines were just proving to be fantastically safe and effective, that we would still have 60 million people [in the United States] who had not taken advantage of them because of misinformation and disinformation that somehow dominated all of the ways in which people were getting their answers. And a lot of those answers were, in fact, false. And we have lost so much as a result of that.

  58. says

    How Black Communities Become ‘Sacrifice Zones’ for Industrial Air Pollution

    Every time Pam Nixon drives along Interstate 64, she sees the Union Carbide plant. Wedged between a green hillside and the Kanawha River, the sprawling facility has helped define West Virginia’s “Chemical Valley” for the better part of a century, its smokestacks belching gray plumes and fishy odors into the town of Institute, population 1,400. To many West Virginians, the plant is a source of pride — it was a key maker of synthetic rubber in World War II — and a source of hundreds of jobs. But to Nixon and others in Institute’s largely Black community, it has meant something else: pollution. The plant reminds Nixon of leaks, fires, explosions — dangers she’s dedicated most of her adult life to trying to stop.

    Now, on a warm September evening, the 69-year-old retiree was at it again.

    Surrounded by files, documents and reports in her cluttered home office, she turned on her computer around 6 p.m. and logged on to Zoom. On the screen were U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials from Washington, D.C., and state regulators from the capital, Charleston. She had spent weeks calling and emailing residents to convince people to attend. Her goal: show officials that her community was watching them. “You have to be persistent,” she said. Nixon watched approvingly as the audience grew to nearly 300.

    The threat this time: ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing chemical that facilities like the Union Carbide plant, now owned by Dow Chemical, make and that helps produce a huge variety of products, including antifreeze, pesticides and sterilizing agents for medical tools. The regulators, their Zoom backgrounds set to photos of pristine pine forests and green fields, shared a map of the area, a short drive west from Charleston. Institute, one of just two majority-Black communities in the state, is home to West Virginia State University, a historically Black college whose alumni include Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician made famous by the film “Hidden Figures,” and Earl Lloyd, the first Black player in the NBA. Blocks on the map were shaded green, yellow or red, from lowest to highest cancer risk. Much of Institute was bright red.

    Institute is representative of Black communities across the country that bear a disproportionate health burden from industrial pollution. On average, the level of cancer risk from industrial air pollution in majority-Black census tracts is more than double that of majority-white tracts, according to an analysis by ProPublica, which examined five years of emissions data. That finding builds on decades of evidence demonstrating that pollution is segregated, with residents of so-called fence-line communities — neighborhoods that border industrial plants — breathing dirtier air than people in more affluent communities farther away from facilities.

    The disparity, experts say, stems from a variety of structural imbalances, including racist real estate practices like redlining and decades of land use and zoning decisions made by elected officials, government regulators and corporate executives living outside these communities. That means that these areas, many of which are low-income, also lack the access that wealthier areas have to critical resources, like health care and education, and face poorer economic prospects.

    All of the concentrated industrial activity in these so-called “sacrifice zones” doesn’t just sicken the residents who happen to live nearby. It can also cause property values to plummet, trapping neighborhoods in a vicious cycle of disinvestment. In Institute, for example, West Virginia State, starved of state funding for years, has struggled to expand and recruit students. The school is now suing Dow Chemical, the plant’s owner, and arguing that contaminated groundwater beneath the campus inhibits the school’s development plans and harms its national reputation. Dow has sought to dismiss the case, and an appeals court is considering whether the matter belongs in state or federal court. […]

    More at the link.

  59. says

    Yikes. Trump aide admits he was behind meeting with Kanye West publicist and Georgia election worker

    According to new reporting […] the man behind arranging a now-infamous meeting, captured on video, between Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman and Kanye West’s publicist Trevian Kutti is Harrison Floyd, a former Trump campaign aide.

    Floyd worked on Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and was the executive director of Black Voices For Trump, a group designed to help the one-term, twice-impeached president gain a modicum of traction with the Black vote. […]

    Freeman, a 62-year-old grandmother, and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, 37, were falsely accused by Trump of attempting to manipulate ballots. The result has been an onslaught of racist harassment from Trump and his sycophants. This includes messages calling for Freeman’s lynching, one urging people to “hunt” her, and even threats against her teenage grandson.

    Floyd, who briefly ran for Congress in Georgia in 2019, claims that one month after the election, he began hearing that Freeman “needed immunity” and “wanted to get a message to the president.”

    “Lawyers and different people from all across the country were asking me … if I had heard anything,” Floyd said. “They were saying, ‘Well, if she wants immunity let her know that I would be able to give it to her.’”

    […] “I’m a Black guy, I’m from Georgia, and I know how they do Black folks down in Georgia,” Floyd explained […] “The conversation was based around her getting immunity.”

    But, since Floyd is based in Washington, D.C., and wasn’t able to get to Georgia, Kutti and another man who is only known as “Garrison” met with Freeman in person.

    Floyd [said] he did not know whether Kutti was working for West when she and Garrison went to Freeman’s home unannounced and uninvited.

    Kutti and Garrison eventually spoke with Freeman at her request at a Cobb County police station. Body camera video of the meeting obtained by Reuters showed Kutti telling Freeman she “was in danger” and had “48 hours” before “unknown subjects” would turn up at her home.

    “I cannot say what specifically will take place,” Kutti is heard telling Freeman in the recording. “I just know that it will disrupt your freedom,” she adds, “and the freedom of one or more of your family members.

    “You are a loose end for a party that needs to tidy up,” Kutti continued. She added that “federal people” were involved, without offering specifics. [video available at the link]

    Growing suspicious, Freeman told Reuters that she jumped up from her chair and told Kutti: “The devil is a liar,” before calling for an officer.

    The following day, Freeman says an FBI agent pushed her to leave her home of 20 years. Far-right extremists were discussing her on the social app Parler, talking about murdering her. “She will go missing very soon,” one post said. Another said she would be “suicided with 2 bullets to the back of the head.” Yet another said: “Time for Ruby to die for what she believed in.”

    The next day was Jan. 6, and just as Kutti had warned, an angry gaggle of Trump supporters surrounded her home.

    Floyd [said] he knew Kutti through the campaign. He’d met her at a Trump rally.

    “Trevian Kutti was not associated with Kanye West or any of his enterprises at the times of the facts that are reported in various articles or since these facts occurred,” Pierre Rougier, a spokesperson for West, wrote in an email to The Uprising.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Seems making specific threats is battery. Someone needs to investigate Kutti.
    —————
    Someone needs to pay for this, they terrorized Ruby Freeman.

  60. says

    If you were under the impression that QAnon was just a belief in a guy called Q, you’d be wrong. It’s fast become an official cult—you know, the drinking-toxic-chemicals-from-a-punchbowl kind of cult.

    According to the Dallas Observer, several members of the Leek family report that their relative, a woman who abandoned her spouse and children to follow QAnon leader Michael Brian Protzman to Dallas in November to wait for the return of assassinated President John F. Kennedy and his late son, JFK Jr., is now drinking a cocktail containing chlorine dioxide (industrial bleach) and distributing it to other cult members.

    “She was proud to tell us that she was the one mixing it up and giving it to everybody,” a family member said.

    The woman’s son, Sean Leek, says his mother joined QAnon in 2018.

    “She’s always been into, you know, natural remedies, getting aluminum out of deodorant, things like that,” Leek said in a Dec. 10 interview. “But that led to anti-vaxxing, and anti-vaxxing led to QAnon.”

    QAnon began forming in 2017 with online forums such as 4chan, by 2018, the conspiracy took hold and attached itself like a cancerous tumor to conservative, right-wing politicians, and media figures.

    Q’s followers believe in a string of conspiracies, the central one being that former President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a shadowy elite cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, millionaires, and celebrity pedophiles. A December 2020 poll by NPR and IPSOS found that 17% of Americans shared the belief.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued a warning letter regarding chlorine dioxide saying it has “not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including COVID-19, but these products continue to be sold as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and flu, among other conditions, despite their harmful effects.”

    It remains unclear why the group is drinking the concoction, but according to Mike Rothschild, author of The Storm is Upon Us, documenting the rise of the QAnon movement, the chemical punch bowl scenario “feels like a progression.” He tells the Dallas Observer: “It immediately evokes images of Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate.”

    Over 900 people died in a mass murder-suicide at the Jonestown commune in Guyana in 1978 and 39 followers of the Heaven’s Gate cult died in 1997 in Rancho Santa Fe, a toney neighborhood located just outside of San Diego.

    “A group of people in a cult drinking a communal substance is definitely not something to mess around with and is extremely concerning,” Rothschild says.

    Leading the Dallas punch bowl party is Protzman, 58, aka Negative48 to his tens of thousands of followers. He’s a QAnon “influencer,” and a known, vocal Holocaust denier.

    […] As great grifters before him, Protzman claims twists on history to fit his ideology. In his view, Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had four children with her. This gave rise to a bloodline that went on to create many famous people today, notably the Kennedys.

    He also claims that blood-type O is a marker for the Christ bloodline and that the “New World Order” is trying to hunt down that bloodline by DNA testing COVID-19 PCR swabs.

    By the way, JFK failed to materialize in Dealey Plaza as predicted. So Protzman and his followers went to a Rolling Stones concert instead, where they claim to have met Michael Jackson in disguise. […]

    Link

  61. says

    Pompeo is still spouting propaganda about Trump’s mistakes, trying to turn them into victories. It’s pathetic.

    Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke this week at the Zionist Organization of America’s 2021 virtual gala, and as JNS reported, [Pompeo] tried to defend the Trump administration’s abandonment of the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

    “We were told in the administration, ‘You can’t end the terrible Iran deal because it will make it more likely that there’d be war and that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon.’ But we ended our participation in that terrible deal,” said Pompeo. “We applied maximum economic pressure to Iran and to its leadership. We brought Iran to its knees.”

    No. That’s not what happened.

    First, the Iran deal wasn’t “terrible,” it was a striking success that froze Iran’s nuclear program and created an unprecedented system of monitoring and verification. Even as Donald Trump abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), his own foreign policy and national security team told him it was working exactly as intended.

    Second, Pompeo’s pitch was so weak, it’s hard not to wonder whether he thought it through. The way the former cabinet secretary boasted this week, he and Trump were specifically warned that exiting the JCPOA would create new national security threats for the West, at which point the Republican administration did it anyway. This is worth bragging about, why?

    And third, the idea that Pompeo helped bring Iran “to its knees” would be more compelling if it were in any way true. What the Trump administration’s policy actually did was bring Iran to its feet — at which point it walked to its equipment and started enriching uranium again.

    In other words, Pompeo thought it’d be a good idea this week to pat himself on the back for both failing and making the United States less safe.

    None of this escaped Pompeo’s successor. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held an end-of-year news conference yesterday and explained, with regards to Iran’s nuclear program, “[W]e are where we are because of what I consider to be one of the worst decisions made in American foreign policy in the last decade, and that was getting out of the Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA, an agreement that had put Iran’s nuclear program in a box.”

    Unfortunately for everyone, cleaning up this specific mess is proving to be incredibly difficult. Late last week, the seventh round of talks between JCPOA participants ended in Vienna with no obvious signs of progress, and no scheduled eighth round.

    Rob Malley, the United States Special Envoy for Iran, told CNN yesterday, “At some point in the not-so-distant future, we will have to conclude that the JCPOA is no more, and we’d have to negotiate a wholly new different deal, and of course we’d go through a period of escalating crisis.”

    That’s a crisis that would not exist were it not for the Trump/Pompeo failure.

    As for Pompeo’s audience, the Washington Post reported earlier this month that a growing number of former Israeli security officials not only believe Israel was wrong to oppose the Iran deal in 2015, they’re also acknowledging the seriousness of Trump’s mistake in 2018.

    Trump’s policy enabled “Iran to accumulate a lot more material, work on advanced centrifuges, and maybe other things that we don’t know about, all which brought Iran closer than ever before” to acquiring a nuclear bomb, said Yoel Guzansky, former head of the Iran desk at Israel’s National Security Council. “The nuclear deal was flawed, but at least it put a lid on Iran’s advancement, which we don’t have now.”

    Instead of boasting, maybe Pompeo ought to try apologizing?

    Link

    I hope others do not repeat Pompeo’s nonsense. Rightwing media outlets probably will. Sickening.

  62. says

    This holiday season, the consumer catastrophe never materialized

    Consumers were told to expect empty store shelves, supply-chain hassles, delivery delays, and a systemic breakdown. But that’s not what happened.

    With 10 weeks remaining before Christmas, Politico published an unsubtle headline: “White House scrambles to address looming Christmas crisis.” In early October, this was hardly the only talk about a prospective consumer catastrophe this holiday season.

    For many, a disaster appeared all but inevitable. American families would soon face empty store shelves, supply-chain hassles, delivery delays, and a systemic breakdown.

    As The New York Times reported, the “Christmas crisis” never materialized.

    Global supply chain problems that have led to long delays in manufacturing and shipping could ripple outward, slowing package deliveries to millions of Americans in the weeks and days before Christmas, experts warned. The prospect even became a talking point in conservative attacks on President Biden’s policies. Despite early fears, however, holiday shoppers have received their gifts mostly on time.

    The Times’ report added that while some big-ticket items, such as new cars, are still delayed, “at least when it comes to items that are in stock, delivery companies have given consumers little to complain about. By some measures, in fact, they have done a better job this holiday season than even before the pandemic.”

    This is not because consumers are shopping less. On the contrary, according to the National Retail Federation, holiday season sales are up considerably compared to last year.

    There are a variety of factors that contributed to the averted disaster. Major retailers and delivery companies planned ahead, for example, as did many consumers who shopped early.

    It didn’t hurt that the Biden administration has prioritized addressing supply-chain delays.

    As a matter of politics and media coverage, I’m mindful of the fact that averted disasters receive a small fraction of the attention paid to actual disasters. Readers probably clicked on Politico’s “White House scrambles to address looming Christmas crisis” headline, but there doesn’t appear to be a follow-up report with a headline that reads, “White House succeeded in helping prevent a Christmas crisis.”

    […] But the fact remains that the consumer catastrophe we were warned about didn’t happen. It’s hard to blame White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain for taking a little victory lap this morning, tweeting, “Merry Christmas to all, and to this over-hyped narrative, a Good Night.”

  63. says

    One Shot to Rule Them All, by Josh Marshall

    Back on December 9th we discussed the quickening hunt for a Sarbecovirus vaccine. This is basically a vaccine that wouldn’t target this or that variant but the whole class of SARS-related coronaviruses. Basically the idea is you go upstream in the viral family tree to cover the whole class of contagions and potential future ones. Last night Army researchers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research say they’ve developed just such a vaccine, or at least one that cover all current and potential variants of COVID19.

    I was a bit confused by this when I read it last night since this is, to put it mildly, pretty big news if it bears out. And it ran first in a military trade publication, Defense One. Defense One is a highly respected publication. But I’d expect to hear news of such magnitude in like the Times or the Post. The article says Walter Reed researchers plan to make a full announcements “within weeks.” It’s also not ready to be used. It still has two levels of clinical trials to go through. But they say the initial trials show it is effective.

    According to the article, these initial trials took longer than expected because they had to find a population of people who were both unvaccinated and had never had COVID. There’s not a huge population of those people. But they found them.

    In any case, it puts me a bit on guard that I still haven’t seen write ups on this in the big publications, even following the Defense One piece. I think that suggests a healthy caution about just what’s being reported. But it’s like it’s fake. I hadn’t been aware of this Walter Reed project. But even a cursory review shows it’s been a subject of rather low key reporting since relatively early in the pandemic. I suspect reporters are trying to get a clearer read of just what they’ve been able to demonstrate in those early clinical trials.

    Certainly bears keeping an eye on.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/one-shot-to-rule-them-all

  64. says

    Gleeful McConnell Keeps Trying To Woo Manchin Into Joining GOP

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is trying to coax Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) into ditching the Democratic Party after the West Virginia lawmaker tanked President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan on Sunday.

    McConnell openly lobbied Manchin to join the GOP during an interview with right-wing radio commentator Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday.

    “I think what Manchin is discovering is that there just aren’t any Democrats left in the Senate that are pro-life and terribly concerned about debt and deficit and inflation. So he feels like a man alone,” the Republican leader said. “If he were to join us, he’d be joining a lot of folks who have similar views on a whole range of issues.”

    McConnell also dangled the possibility of Manchin keeping his seat as the chair of the Senate Energy Committee if the West Virginia lawmaker were to switch sides.

    […] during a New York Times interview he painted Manchin as a besieged victim of his fellow Democrats and President Joe Biden.

    “Why in the world would they want to call him a liar and try to hotbox him and embarrass him?” the Republican leader asked. “I think the message is, ‘We don’t want you around.’ Obviously that is up to Joe Manchin, but he is clearly not welcome on that side of the aisle.”

    […] “Obviously we would love to have him on our team,” he said.

    No kidding; not only would the GOP regain control of the Senate if Manchin were to defect from the Democrats, McConnell would become the chamber’s majority leader again.

    McConnell also gave a shout-out to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), another major roadblock to passing Democrats’ agenda thanks to her refusal to get rid of the filibuster.

    “Kyrsten Sinema has been quite unequivocal that she is not going to break the Senate and eliminate the legislative filibuster,” the GOP senator said. “Thank goodness for that.”

    […] Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also revealed during an interview with local outlet Nexstar on Tuesday that he had texted Manchin that morning telling him that “Joe, if they don’t want you we do.”

    Manchin joining their ranks would be “the greatest Christmas gift I can think of,” Cornyn said.

    For his part, the West Virginia Democrat has publicly rebuffed calls to defect to the GOP. There was some chatter about him switching to being an independent, but Manchin bluntly shot down the rumors as “bullshit.” […]

  65. says

    The U.S. economy is beating the world, thanks to Joe Biden, but you wouldn’t know it from the media

    The U.S. economy is expanding at a 7% rate over the last three months, up by 5% from the beginning of the year. That number isn’t just three times the expected growth rate in Europe, it almost doubles the rate of growth in China. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. economy is genuinely a world-beater. It’s doing so well that for the first time in years, “The force of the American expansion is also inducing overseas companies to invest in the U.S., betting that the growth is still accelerating and will outpace other major economies.”

    Less than two months into his presidency, Biden pushed through the American Rescue Plan. That plan provided emergency payments to every American, an increase in the Child Tax Credit, extended unemployment payments for those nearing the end of their benefits, lowered the cost of health care subsidies, picked up 100% of COBRA costs, and offered a host of benefits for small businesses that included outright grants. It took the better part of a year to get the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act through Congress, but by that point the economy—bolstered by Biden’s policies, a renewed confidence from business leaders, and a robust rollout of vaccines against COVID-19—had cut unemployment numbers by a full 2%.

    Rolling into the holiday season, America is enjoying record low levels of unemployment and levels of economic growth that exceed the wildest unfulfilled promises of Donald Trump. But at the same time, CNN reports that President Biden’s approval levels for handling the economy are at record lows. The best economy in 50 years enjoys just a 44% approval rating.

    Because a disaster-addicted media will find disaster, even if it has to create it.

    The front page of Wednesday’s New York Times contains nothing about the record pace of the economy. It does contain dire warnings about supply chain issues affecting Christmas gifts and what seems to be an obligatory feature on the threat posed by inflation. Cost of baguettes is up in Paris! Sacré bleu! CNN offers up the story about Biden’s bad economic ratings but nothing on the booming economy. The Washington Post is economy-free when it comes to their front page—either on paper or internet.

    For most of the year, the Times has led the way pounding on the drum about inflation. It doesn’t matter if the focus was the cost of burritos or the end of the $1 pizza slice, the Times has been there to keep the inflation hysterics running at an extra-high pitch. The New York Times even hosted an online chat so that people could share how they were “victims” of rising inflation. That story about $1 pizza? A phenomenon that largely existed only in New York City to begin with? That was page one.

    CNN and other outlets have certainly not been slackers on the economic doom front. Every penny increase in the price of gasoline became a screaming headline. And repeatedly—repeatedly—outlets ran stories in which they quoted people making outrageous claims of 30% or 40% inflation without bothering to correct those claims.

    There are no headlines to report that gas prices are down. There are no headlines to report that America is enjoying the best economy in 50 years under Biden.

    […] The economy is not just booming under Biden because Biden’s policies are good—even though those policies are good. The economy is booming under Biden because the economy was repressed under Trump, squashed under a weight of fear and uncertainty spawned by Trump’s erratic, spite-based approach. Trump handed out money to companies that had no evidence of potential, and he denied to it industries that he saw as aligned with his enemies.

    […] For the moment, the swelling omicron wave is satisfying the need to fill the page with legitimately downbeat articles. But don’t worry. There are Times reporters hard at work gathering unverified anecdotes to explain why inflation is going to make your next meal require a mortgage.

    In the meantime, America is enjoying an economy that’s the envy of the world. And a press … that isn’t.

    And when it comes to that issue with supply chains, here’s a part that isn’t getting much coverage:

    Major U.S. ports are processing almost one-fifth more container volume this year than they did in 2019, even as volumes at major European ports like Hamburg and Rotterdam are roughly flat or lag behind 2019 levels. The busiest U.S. container ports are leaping ahead of their counterparts in Asia and Europe in global rankings as volumes surge.

  66. says

    @Lynna 58
    True. It applies to the rest of us too.
    Now I’m thinking in terms of the group searching the decision space for the best alternatives because as individuals we don’t have all of the possible options. And how that relates to things with more than two potential choices. Often an old dichotomy are the ends of a spectrum of a range.

  67. says

    Fascism: Republican candidates are now near-unanimous in backing the Big Lie

    Republicanism is now fully a fascist movement. The hoax claims that our current elections have been “rigged” against Republicans—claims that continue to be provably false—continue to be used to stoke the convenient fear and outrage of a base that now increasingly believes the party is justified in taking control of the government through the erasure of future election results or, as happened on Jan. 6, through violence. The party is not just anti-democracy: It is demanding adherence to a lie that has already resulted in deaths and will result in more, and purging anyone unwilling to go along.

    This is the behavior of a cult. It is also the behavior of fascist movements throughout history, movements in which false propaganda is used to rally support for the violent “remaking” of nations.

    […] If at any point Republican officeholders pushed aside their cowardice and told the base that Trump was lying to them, the lie would have evaporated. Donald Trump himself is a delusional, decompensating narcissist who has claimed “fraud” every single time one of his schemes hasn’t worked out throughout his business, entertainment, and political “careers.” It is his go-to excuse for his own failures; he not only openly broadcast that he would be using it again in the months before the election, there are plenty of quotes from the bumbling oaf over the decades to show that the gutless preener responds to countless defeats by claiming his plans only didn’t work out because everyone else was working against him. It is what he does.

    At any point during Trump’s new delusional claims, Republicans could have taken the decent, noncrooked, patriotic path of cutting him loose to wallow in his failed authoritarian dreams by himself. Instead, the party went with him. From raised-fist Josh Hawley to the co-conspiring Lindsey Graham’s efforts to throw Georgia, the party decided to boost Trump’s delusions as a new party platform, seek to overturn the election results based on provable fictions, and assist in—or at least overlook—an attempted coup.

    […] It is very interesting, to be sure, to tick down the list of Republican candidates for state and national office and see that nearly to a person, all of them are either loudly promoting the Big Lie that led to an insurrection or are attempting to toe the line of neither overtly endorsing the hoax nor objecting to it. But it is not a campaign question. It is an ongoing act of sedition.

    […] If they are still pursuing the same hoax, almost to a person, then it is intended as sedition. Stoking violence, seeding contempt for democratic elections, urging the base to reject those elections and replace them with new versions the party can be more sure of winning—these are the acts of traitors. […]

    A fascist coup. It is not a coup “in slow motion”—it is being carried out with the same speed that past versions were. A first attempt, an evaluation of what didn’t work, a purge of those unwilling to go along, new laws passed wherever the coup supporters have enough power to do it, in order to dismantle the specific roadblocks that held things up, an absolutely rabid demonization campaign against whichever public officials foiled the attempt, and an unrelenting campaign to drill the same pro-coup hoaxes even deeper into the public brain. This is how it’s done.

    […] There is no excuse for promoting, defending, or even staying silent on a hoax of this magnitude. The only reason to do it is a belief that your own political career is of more value than the peaceful transfers of power that America once held sacrosanct. Not a goddamn one of those people has any business in a position of power, and there is no version of journalism that should present spreading a dangerous anti-democratic hoax intended to mislead an entire nation as anything but the acts of corrupt, dangerous thugs.

  68. says

    Cruise ships … still petri dishes for viruses:

    Fifty people tested positive for COVID-19 aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that departed from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday.

    Royal Caribbean spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro confirmed to USA Today that 47 crew members and three passengers aboard the Odyssey of the Seas tested positive.

    The ship, which is carrying 3,587 passengers and 1,599 crew members, is on an eight-day trip but briefly returned to port Sunday to disembark a passenger who had COVID-19, according to USA Today.

    The passengers and crew members who tested positive after that stop are in isolation. […]

    Link

  69. says

    Wonkette:

    During his appearance at Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA conference — which just won’t stop giving! — Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina promoted the benefits of remaining white, young, and incurably ignorant.

    Here’s the video evidence if you wish to torture yourself by listening to him speak: [video available at the link]

    First, Cawthorn whines that people consider him a “radical” just because his only “policy ideas” are that everyone should be Christian, marry young, and have as many (white) children as possible.

    CAWTHORN: I genuinely care about dining room politics. I care about that young family sitting around the dining room table and what they’re thinking about as they’re watching their children eat.

    This young family is probably thinking that their kids are splitting a single pea five ways because they’re broke, and Republicans like Cawthorn will happily keep them in poverty until they die.

    Cawthorn’s fantasy couple was also worried about sending their kids to a “good school.” This led to the predictable dig at public education. He recommended that parents home school their kids, because that is something parents with five jobs between them can do. Also, weren’t conservatives complaining that schools were closed during the pandemic?

    CAWTHORN: I think you should home school. I was home schooled all the way through.

    Fair enough. How did that work out for the congressman?

    CAWTHORN: I am proudly a college dropout.

    OK.

    CAWTHORN: If you are not becoming a doctor or lawyer or engineer, I highly encourage you to drop out.

    Nice that Cawthorn respects the academic credentials necessary for at least three professions. Personally, I think home school proponents should go all in and only seek treatment from “home” doctors. That’s sort of already happening among the “do their own research” crowd. […]

    Cawthorn declared higher education a “scam,” […]

    Look, Cawthorn would’ve been an asshole even if he’d completed college. I don’t think college dramatically changes a person, despite what conservatives fear, but rather reveals and enhances their true self. Education is like the super soldier serum.

    It’s also reasonable to advocate for other pathways to success than a college degree, but Cawthorn and Rep. Lauren Boebert specifically argue against college education. There’s no respect for personal choice. If you go to college, you’ll get warped into a liberal […]

    Boebert randomly tweeted a few weeks ago: “20 percent of the population is trying to indoctrinate the other 80 percent to believe that 2000 years of history, structure, cultural norms, and philosophy is suddenly wrong because they took a liberal arts course in college once and their neo-Marxist professor told them so.”

    This fool’s denouncing college based on shallow rightwing stereotypes. She also seems to think college history only covers the past 2000 years. It’s also hilarious that she thinks there’s a “liberal arts” course, like Liberal Arts 101 or Intro to Liberal Indoctrination.

    Donald Trump famously said during the 2016 GOP primaries that he “loves the poorly educated,” but while his administration was staffed with morons, a good number of them had Harvard degrees. This includes working-class heroes Stephen Bannon, Jared Kushner, Mike Pompeo, and Kayleigh McEnany.

    But this isn’t about choosing to go to college or not. Republicans like Cawthorn and Boebert want to limit your options so the only path you can follow is theirs. You don’t need a college degree to know that sucks.

  70. says

    Biden takes a victory lap as ACA enrollments reach record highs

    The Affordable Care Act’s record-breaking enrollment total is fresh evidence that the ACA is quietly having an excellent year.

    Seven years ago, when consumers were first able to sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, 8 million Americans enrolled. The Obama White House and health care advocates saw it as a victory, which it most certainly was […]

    President Joe Biden took a victory lap this morning, boasting about the ACA’s record-breaking enrollment totals.

    “From November 1st to December 15th alone, more than 13.6 million Americans signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov and the state-based marketplaces — an all-time high. That includes 1.8 million new enrollees, a significant accomplishment that builds on the success of our earlier Special Enrollment Period.”

    That special enrollment period was an underappreciated policy. […] it was just one week after his inauguration when Biden did what his predecessor would not: He issued an executive order creating a new enrollment period, citing a need created by the pandemic. Donald Trump was expected to do something similar last year, but the Republican refused because he didn’t want people turning to “Obamacare” for help during a crisis.

    Biden’s policy worked, and nearly 3 million consumers took advantage of the special six-month period. When we add that total to the new consumers who’ve signed up for coverage during the regular enrollment period, 4.6 million Americans have gained health insurance this year who were previously uninsured.

    What’s more, these totals will almost certainly grow: The current enrollment period doesn’t end until Jan. 15, and many consumers have a habit of waiting until the last minute.

    […] Not only did the U.S. Supreme Court shield the ACA from its latest Republican attack in June, but the open enrollment data coincides with expansive new benefits included in the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan. Some have seen their premiums cut in half, while many have seen their premiums fall to nearly or literally zero, thanks entirely to the investments in the Democrats’ Covid relief package.

    […] the ACA-related benefits included in the American Rescue Plan are, at least for now, temporary. The White House and Democratic leaders want to make the current benefits permanent, and it’s a central pillar of the Build Back Better package, but it’s an open question as to whether the legislation will survive.

  71. says

    Augusta Chronicle:

    […] officials in Lincoln County, Georgia, are trying to close all but one polling place for the 2022 election cycle, shrinking seven local precincts to one. The move was made possible by a Republican voter-suppression bill approved earlier this year.

    More:

    […] “Lincoln County is a very rural county. Some people live as far as 23 miles from the city of Lincolnton,” said Denise Freeman, an activist and former Lincoln County school board member. “This is not about convenience for the citizens. This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.”

    […] Multiple public interest groups including the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Augusta’s Interfaith Coalition are taking a stand against the effort.

    Aunna Dennis, executive director for Common Cause Georgia, said the move is an extension of Senate Bill 202, which tightened restrictions on voting and gave the state the authority to take over elections boards. […]

  72. says

    Biden Signs Bill Giving Capitol Police Unilateral Authority To Request National Guard Assistance

    President Biden on Wednesday signed into law a bill that would give the chief of the Capitol Police unilateral authority to request support from the National Guard. The bill easily passed both the House and Senate.

    Prior to the President’s signing of the bill into law, the chief was required to get the consent of the Capitol Police Board to request assistance in the event of an emergency.

    Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed their belief that the previous protocol for requesting support from federal law enforcement is what led to a delayed response when a mob of former President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Last March, Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the DC National Guard, detailed the hours-long delay in the Trump Defense Department’s approval of a request for the DC National guard to provide assistance on Jan. 6 while testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees.

    Although he had National Guard troops ready to go, Walker testified that the troops sat idly for hours before he was given authorization to send them out. Walker said that he could have gotten personnel into the Capitol building within 20 minutes of getting approval, but instead, support from the Guard did not arrive until the evening.

    On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that her office will hold a series of events next month to commemorate the one year anniversary of the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a letter to the Democratic caucus on Monday, Pelosi said that despite the House not being in session during the first week of next month, some members “have expressed interest in being involved in commemoration activities.”

    As part of a “full program” of events commemorating the Capitol insurrection, which will also be live-streamed, Pelosi asked Democrats to fully prepare for a “solemn observance” of Jan. 6. […]

    Comments posted by readers of the article:

    Seems pretty plain by now that the Guard was initially supposed to be deployed against counter-demonstrators who never appeared, as a pretext for Trump declaring some sort of national emergency or the Insurrection Act or whatever. They seem to have gotten cold feet when it was just the MAGA mob assailing the Capitol.
    ———————
    a number of Republicans claim that the change is necessary only to relieve wait times when lines of peaceful tourists wanting to enter the Capitol grow too long
    ————————–
    I’m sure the Deplorables also plan to commemorate Jan. 6 with the raising of festive flags and random firing of semi-automatics from coal-rollers. Should be a jolly day for all!
    ————————–
    Pence making it clear the day before that he wasn’t going to play along by rejecting ballots left Trump flailing, and the only tool he really had left was unleashing the mob against the Capitol in hopes that it might accomplish something. The Pentagon was clearly concerned that Trump might order them to do some of the dumb shit MAGA people were chattering about, but it’s highly unlikely anybody was ever instructed to side with the insurrectionists because that would have given away the game.
    —————————
    Michael Fanone, among the most severely injured fighting the Capitol mob on Jan. 6 and later one of the most outspoken against those playing down the riot, said he resigned from the D.C. police force Monday. Fanone is with the Metro police, not the Capitol police.
    ————————-
    Just shortens the request process, would do nothing about a Jan 6th bit if the Pentagon says “nope”.

  73. says

    Jan. 6 Committee Presses Jim Jordan For Information

    The panel wants to know about Jordan’s conversations with Trump.

    The House Jan. 6 Committee asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to provide information about the Capitol insurrection in a Wednesday letter — the second demand to a sitting member of Congress this week.

    The panel wants to learn about conversations that Jordan had with President Trump on Jan. 6.

    Jordan has gone back and forth on whether he had any conversations with Trump on the day of the insurrection and, if he did, when they occurred and how many times they occurred.

    “We understand that you had at least one and possibly multiple communications with President Trump on January 6th,” the committee wrote in its letter. “We would like to discuss each such communication with you in detail.”

    The panel also wants to know about any other comms that Jordan had with Trump, his legal team, “or others involved in organizing or planning the actions and strategies for January 6th.”

    Jordan is the second member of Congress to receive an information request — not a subpoena — from the committee, which asked Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) to help with its investigation on Monday. Perry, who purportedly helped with Trump’s scheme to install Jeff Clark as acting attorney general in a bid to have the DOJ intervene in the election outcome, said he would not comply.

    In the letter, the panel also said that it wants to learn from Jordan about his role in the period from November 2020 to January 2021, when Trump groped frantically for a way to subvert the election results while sowing doubt about the fairness of the election.

    But most intriguingly, the panel wants to know about whether Trump held out pardons in connection with Jan. 6th – truly, an example of the art of the deal.

    That, the committee says, includes “discussions involving the possibility of presidential pardons for individuals involved in any aspect of January 6th or the planning for January 6th.”

    It was Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), another member in good standing of the insurrection caucus along with Jordan, who, Rolling Stone reported, dangled a “blanket pardon” to potential rally organizers.

    The letter also references Jordan’s suggestive preening in October that he’d be happy to comply with the panel.

    After being asked if he would cooperate with the inquiry, Jordan said at a Rules Committee hearing, “I have nothing to hide. I’ve been straightforward all along.”

    House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who had his own Jan. 6 phone call with the former president, tried to put Jordan on the committee in July.

    But Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blocked Jordan from taking that position, denying the auctioneer-talking representative the ability to thwart the inquiry from within.

  74. says

    One of the items that Wonkette thinks might be found in the time capsule located on the grounds where the Robert E. Lee statue used to stand: “A collection of all the Confederate states’ Articles of Secession, most of which explicitly stated they had left the Union to preserve the institution of slavery.”

    The Hill link to a more straightforward story about opening the capsule and evaluating its contents. “The time capsule was so far found to contain multiple books, an envelope, a coin, and documents.” Examining the contents is a painstakingly slow process, so we will know more later.

  75. blf says

    Delusional… People Got Sick at a Conspiracy Conference. They’re Sure It’s Anthrax:

    […]
    A group of unvaccinated people who attended a huge conspiracy conference in Dallas earlier this month all became sick in the days after the event with symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. Instead of blaming the global COVID pandemic, however, the conspiracy theorists think they were attacked with anthrax.

    This far-right conspiracy claim began after a dozen people spent time together in a confined space at the ReAwaken America tour event in Dallas over the weekend of Dec 10. […]

    The anthrax claim was first made by Joe Oltmann on his Conservative Daily podcast earlier this week. In a video recording of the podcast, Oltmann can be seen coughing and sneezing on camera, symptoms often associated with COVID-19 […]

    […] The conference, run by Tulsa businessman Clay Clark, was headlined by figures like disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Eric Trump, the son of former President Donald Trump, also spoke at the event.

    There’s a 99.9% chance it’s anthrax, Oltmann said on his podcast, even though no one had tested positive for anthrax poisoning and none of the other 3,500 attendees have so far reported suffering the effects of anthrax.

    […]

    Jovan Pulitzer, an election conspiracist who was also at the conference, apparently experienced more severe symptoms.

    Pulitzer […] was heavily involved in the bogus Arizona recount, consulting for the Cyber Ninjas and promoting the idea that box of ballots had been flown into Arizona on election night from Asia to swing the vote in Biden’s favor. [Pulitzer was also behind the magical machine(s?) that could magically detect fraud by looking at the ballet paper folds, or by finding traces of bamboo, or by shouting ouuga ouuga frauda frauds fraudity fraud fraud three times in a dalek voice –blf]

    […]

    After Oltmann made the claim about anthrax — without providing a shred of evidence — the conspiracy was boosted by other election fraud conspiracists like former New Mexico State University professor David Clements, and Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne [known(? probable?) source of the data Lindell claimed proved fraud].

    [… N]o one involved in the event has publicly entertained the idea that these illnesses could have been caused by COVID-19.

  76. johnson catman says

    re blf @77:

    [… N]o one involved in the event has publicly entertained the idea that these illnesses could have been caused by COVID-19.

    Well, that is because an anthrax attack is WAY more plausible than the virus that has spread throughout the world and none of them are vaccinated against.

  77. says

    Nineteen states approved new restrictions on voting in 2021. Unless Senate Democrats intervene, things are likely to get worse in 2022.

    More than once this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to his party’s voter suppression efforts by pretending they didn’t exist. “States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever,” the GOP leader told reporters in March. “The biggest lie being told in American politics in recent weeks has been that the states are involved in a systematic effort to suppress the vote,” the Kentuckian added months later.

    The truth was more crushing. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law issued a report in the fall explaining that too many state legislatures “have proposed and enacted legislation to make it harder for Americans to vote, justifying these measures with falsehoods steeped in racism about election irregularities and breaches of election security.”

    In all, against a backdrop of Donald Trump’s Big Lie, 19 states approved 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to participate in their own democracy in 2021.

    That’s a brutal tally, which may yet get worse in 2022. NBC News reported:

    So far, Republican legislators in four states — Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire and South Carolina — have pre-filed at least 13 bills that the organization says would make it harder to vote. Nine other states will carry over 88 restrictive bills from the last legislative session. Legislators in five states — Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Tennessee — have also filed six bills to initiate or allow partisan ballot reviews. Four would initiate such reviews for the 2020 election results, according to the Brennan Center.

    The New York Times recently published a related report, highlighting a “new wave of Republican legislation to reshape the nation’s electoral system,” which is planned for next year. The article added, “The Republican drive, motivated in part by a widespread denial of former President Donald J. Trump’s defeat last year, includes both voting restrictions and measures that could sow public confusion or undermine confidence in fair elections, and will significantly raise the stakes of the 2022 midterms.”

    […] Federal policymakers are not powerless on this issue. There are two worthwhile bills pending on Capitol Hill — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — which would make an enormous difference in protecting the franchise.

    Senate Republicans not only oppose both, they’ve already vowed to use filibusters to block the chamber from holding up-down-votes on either bill.

    This leaves Democrats with two choices. First, they could do nothing as GOP officials aggressively chip away at democracy.

    Second, they could create a voting-rights exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules. There’s been evidence of meaningful momentum along these lines in recent weeks, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to make strides, endorsing a plan this week to advance the Freedom to Vote Act by majority rule.

    […] Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona continues to stand in the way of progress, and it’s an open question as to what Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia intends to do, but as we discussed yesterday, Schumer is clearly determined to push forward anyway.

    Update: President Joe Biden is on board with making the change. “If the only thing standing between getting voting rights legislation passed and not getting passed is the filibuster, I support making the exception of voting rights for the filibuster,” he told ABC News yesterday.

  78. says

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Lauren Boebert separately released new online videos this week. The differences spoke volumes about the major parties.

    It hasn’t necessarily been an easy year for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In May, for example, the New York Democrat was accosted by one of her right-wing colleagues, while in November, a different one of her right-wing colleagues released an animated video in which he was depicted killing her.

    […] HuffPost noted:

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday gave her constituents an early stocking stuffer, listing Team AOC’s accomplishments for the year in a Twitter video. In a clip she called “21 wins for 2021,” the progressive lawmaker breathlessly recounted her victories in the face of challenges. Ocasio-Cortez exuberantly noted that she reintroduced her Green New Deal legislation with new co-sponsors, raised millions for victims of the winter storm in Texas and passed, with Congress, nearly $7 million in community project funding for her district in the Bronx and Queens.

    The four-minute video appears to have been well received: As of this morning, it’s been viewed on Twitter more than 2 million times.

    Watching it, one of the unstated takeaways is AOC’s intense focus on substantive policy gains. The Democratic congresswoman didn’t spend four minutes complaining about her critics or political opponents, she celebrated specific areas of governing where she’s either succeeded or made meaningful gains.

    I couldn’t help compare it to a different congresswoman —Republican Lauren Boebert — who released a year-end video of her own a day earlier.

    The [Boebert video] was a collection of video excerpts in which people criticized her on television. In the video’s closing moments, Boebert is seen sipping from a mug with the words “Liberal Tears” printed on it.

    It comes on the heels of a video making the rounds in which Boebert boasted to an audience, “I’m having the time of my life there [in Congress], because every single day I get to troll liberals.”

    […] if the Republican had been elected to annoy people for sport, instead of serving as a federal policymaker, this might be worth bragging about.

    On the surface, Ocasio-Cortez and Boebert may seem like mirror images. One is a 30-something congresswoman from the left, the other a 30-something congresswoman from the right. Both are relative newcomers to Capitol Hill — the New Yorker is in her second term, while the Coloradan is in her first — who receive more media attention than many of their colleagues.

    But those similarities are trivial upon further inspection. As their videos this week helped demonstrate, Ocasio-Cortez’s focus is on substantive accomplishments, while Boebert’s focus is on “trolling liberals.” […]

    Link

  79. tomh says

    Justices will hear arguments on Jan. 7 in challenges to Biden vaccine policies
    Amy Howe / December 23, 2021

    …In an unusual move, the justices announced on Wednesday night that they will hear oral arguments on Jan. 7 on two federal policies: a vaccine-or-test mandate for workers at large employers, and a vaccine mandate for health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding.
    […]

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the vaccine-or-test mandate on Nov. 5. It requires all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate that those employees be either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly and wear masks at work. Several challenges to the rule were filed around the country…..The justices on Wednesday night set two of those requests for oral argument – one filed by a group of trade associations and the other by a group of states, led by Ohio – on a highly expedited basis.
    […]

  80. says

    Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6

    One of the most vexing questions about Jan. 6 is why the National Guard took more than three hours to arrive at the Capitol after D.C. authorities and Capitol Police called for immediate assistance. The Pentagon’s restraint in allowing the Guard to get to the Capitol was not simply a reflection of officials’ misgivings about the deployment of military force during the summer 2020 protests, nor was it simply a concern about “optics” of having military personnel at the Capitol. Instead, evidence is mounting that the most senior defense officials did not want to send troops to the Capitol because they harbored concerns that President Donald Trump might utilize the forces’ presence in an attempt to hold onto power.

    According to a report released last month, Christopher Miller, who served as acting Secretary of the Defense on Jan. 6, told the Department’s inspector general that he feared “if we put U.S. military personnel on the Capitol, I would have created the greatest Constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War.” In congressional testimony, he said he was also cognizant of “fears that the President would invoke the Insurrection Act to politicize the military in an anti-democratic manner” and that “factored into my decisions regarding the appropriate and limited use of our Armed Forces to support civilian law enforcement during the Electoral College certification.”

    it’s now clear that such concerns were shared by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as former CIA Director and at the time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Before Nov. 3, Milley and Pompeo confided in one another that they had a persistent worry Trump would try to use the military in an attempt to hold onto power if he lost the election, the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reported. “This military’s not going to be used,” Milley assured Pompeo.

    After Trump issued a Dec. 19, 2020 call to action to his supporters to come to DC to protest the certification of the electoral college vote on Jan. 6 (“Be there, will be wild!”), “Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military,” […]

    Milley, according to multiple reports, “feared it was Trump’s ‘Reichstag moment,’ in which, like Adolf Hitler in 1933, he would manufacture a crisis in order to swoop in and rescue the nation from it.”

    The top officials’ fears were warranted: Donald Trump, his close aides and a segment of Republican political figures had openly discussed the possibility of invoking the Insurrection Act or using the military to prevent the transfer of power on the basis of false claims that the election was “stolen.” But the Pentagon’s actions with respect to the National Guard suggest a scenario in which, on the basis of such concerns, a potentially profound crisis of command may have played out on Jan. 6.

    Close observers of the events of Jan. 6 have mainly posited two reasons for the delay in mobilizing the Guard. The first explanation is one of bureaucratic failures or managerial weaknesses in the military’s procedures that day. A second explanation is that the military was deliberately serving Trump’s effort to interfere with the election by withholding assistance.

    We identify a third explanation: that senior military officials constrained the mobilization and deployment of the National Guard to avoid injecting federal troops that could have been re-missioned by the President to advance his attempt to hold onto power. [That makes sense. Sounds right.]

    […] This third scenario, if true, raises fundamental constitutional questions about the transfer of power:

    Under what conditions might the U.S. military try to subvert the will of the President […]

    What information did senior officials have concerning President Trump’s potential use of the military to hold onto power and who else did they believe was participating in such a scheme?

    […] What was at stake was the prospect of an illegal order from the President and thwarting a potential scheme to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. Ultimately, the outcome of the Pentagon’s decisions may have been best for the nation, even if it extended the period of time during which Congress was in harm’s way. […]

    Yikes! Yikes and yikes again.

  81. says

    An attempt in court by former President Donald Trump’s onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn, to block Jan. 6 investigators from obtaining his phone records and testimony, has failed—for now.

    U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven issued the ruling against Flynn from Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday. The hammer dropped on Flynn quickly; the former White House official and reported QAnon adherent only filed his lawsuit against the Jan. 6 Committee on Dec. 21.

    The committee initially issued a subpoena to Flynn on Nov. 8, asking him to provide records spanning over two dozen categories to investigators by Nov. 23. He was expected to sit for deposition during the first week of December. After he was served, Flynn began “engaging” with the committee, according to a spokesperson. He received a slight postponement of his deposition until this Monday.

    But just before his expected appearance, the committee announced it would delay Flynn’s hearing until “a date to be determined.” Flynn says he told lawmakers that he intended on asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and that he preferred to duke it out in court.

    As expected, he sued the committee, claiming the investigation was unconstitutional and that access to his phone records was a bridge too far, Judge Scriven neatly shot Flynn down. […]

    To stop the committee, Flynn needed to prove that he was injured by their deadlines or that the committee was unfairly hastening the deadlines. Flynn proved neither, according to Judge Scriven.

    The ex-White House official did not offer any evidence showing his attempts to comply with the committee nor, Scriven wrote, did he provide any information showing how congressional investigators were imposing upon him. He also has not “provided any information about the alleged subpoena to telecommunications provider, specifically whether such a subpoena imposes any imminent deadlines for production of documents,” the six-page ruling states.

    “Thus, on this record, there is no basis to conclude that Flynn will face ‘immediate and irreparable’ harm before Defendants have an opportunity to respond,” Scriven wrote, pointing to the ‘date to be determined’ meeting with Flynn requested by the committee after his initial waffling. […]

    Link

  82. says

    Wonkette:

    This is a dumb thing — I mean this is REALLY a dumb thing — but you know how sometimes INCREDIBLY MEAN women and people of color and particularly women people of color will make fun of mediocre white men for being so mediocre and simultaneously demanding they get shit that ACTUALLY belongs to other people? […] They (we) are all like “lord grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man,” […]

    Well I regret to inform you we found another one, and it is a Democrat white man, and his name is Harley Rouda and you probably gave him some money that time he won his race for Congress in Orange County, California […]

    Harley Rouda, who is no longer in Congress, thinks it is pretty rich that Congresswoman Katie Porter, who is still in Congress, is trying to steal his district, i.e. the district she represents, lives in, and … no, that’s it. Just those two. She represents the district and she lives in the district, and he thinks she should leave. So now you see what we are dealing with here. […]

    Here, have his dumb statement. […]

    Let’s transcribe that for you!

    Redistricting in California is now complete. On one hand, the district I live in, ran in for years, and most importantly represented, is still about 70% intact. And when we look at Orange County as a whole, the opportunity to pick up two additional seats on the Democratic side of the ledger was clear and never more achievable. By doing so, we would have our best chance of holding our majority in Congress, while stopping the radical right from controlling the government they sought to overthrown on January 6th.

    However, this chance to flip the county back entirely is no longer the case. I learned via Twitter that Representative Porter has left the district that includes 70% of her constituents, and is now running in my coastal district.

    I believe this district’s voters want moderate, pragmatic leadership, and I firmly believe that I am the most electable Democrat in this district; but I am also a realist, whose goal has always been to put my constituents and our country first.

    Towards that end, my family and I will be taking this opportunity to spend the holidays together, and evaluate all the options laid before us.

    Here’s Politico on California’s redistricting map; it says Katie Porter’s district will get “slightly friendlier,” presumably because it’s more Irvine (where Katie Porter lives) and Orange and less Laguna Niguel, but you know what it doesn’t say? That it is Harley Rouda’s district, because it is Katie Porter’s district […] [image available at the link]

    But sure, Katie Porter, Congresswoman, should move to Rancho Santa Margarita (where all the Real Housewives of Orange County live) or Oceanside, or fuck it, Camp Pendleton, because dude who is not in Congress thinks she took something that is his :(

    LOL fucking white men.

    Merry Christmas!

    https://www.wonkette.com/lol-white-men

  83. says

    Followup to comments 77 (blf) and 78 (johnson catman.

    Conspiracy theorists flocked to the ReAwaken America Tour in Dallas earlier this month. The guests of no honor at what Newsweek euphemistically calls a “QAnon-friendly event” included Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Theoretically more prominent speakers were Roger Stone, Mike Lindell (pillow Mike!), Michael Flynn (traitor Mike!), and Eric Trump, who also exists.

    Dozens of attendees became ill shortly after the event. Their symptoms are familiar — coughing, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, and fever — so it’s obvious what happened: They were victims of an anthrax attack.

    Or COVID-19. We are smack dab in a global pandemic. The attendees weren’t just unvaccinated but made a special trip to hear anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. They spent time in enclosed spaces together. They probably didn’t wear masks (that “probably” was us being hilarious). […]

    anthrax better serves the QAnon-er’s persecution complex. They didn’t step into a COVID rake. No, the deep state sicced a biological weapon on their asses. [Scary video available at the link. People in the audience laughed at this stupidity.]

    […] From The Daily Beast:

    “South Florida peeps. I have a [sic] urgent need! I have been sick with what could be an anthrax attack it turns out. More later on this,” he wrote on Telegram, a messaging app beloved by the extreme right. The ambiguous message was viewed by more than 130,000 people.

    Oltmann posted on Monday that fellow Big Liar “Jovan Pulitzer is in a bad place right now. Please pray for him. Bring the spirit of healing upon him. In Jesus name, Amen.” Then he added, “Might be Anthrax.” Don’t think you’re supposed to have postscripts after “Amen.”

    According to Oltmann, Pulitzer reached out to him on Wednesday: “In and out of the hospital. Getting tested. Negative for Anthrax. Weird symptoms so no idea what he has. But, he is alive and kicking so there is that.”

    Probably should’ve asked for a COVID-19 test. That might’ve explained the so-called “weird symptoms.” Pulitzer tweeted this deranged update yesterday:

    To my friends tried to keep this underwraps until we knew what we were dealing with but Evidence suggest that several of us were targeted by biological agents at an event. This has wreaked havoc on my system [with] all of the most dangerous symptoms appearing. Scary to say the least.

    Sweet Christ. The “evidence” clearly suggests that he has COVID-19. I think it’s been in the news recently. The evidence for anthrax is lacking. Does he remember touching a white powder or handling visibly ill animals?

    He went on:

    From rashes to blistering, passing blood to 2 solid days of haculicinations. (he means “hallucinations,” which I also don’t recommend. — SER) Massive fever storms drenching me and not abating BUT STILL NO definitive diagnosis yet. All I know is zombie symptoms would be easier than these symptoms.

    […] Clay Clark, ReAwaken America Tour’s lead organizer, disputed the batshit theory that fog machines were used to infect people with anthrax. (If that had happened, everyone would be deader than fried chicken.) Clark demanded that the people pushing these rumors provide “physical evidence,” which is hilarious when you consider who he’s talking about here. […]

    “All I know is that we have done seven events of these so far, and at each event, people have claimed they have been attacked by a bio-weapon,” [Clark] said. “This is actually normal for me.”

    That’s a generous definition of “normal.” Clark added that he’s considering banning people from future events who’ve spread the anthrax attack hoax. Conspiracies that reach too close to home aren’t good for his bottom line.

    Link

  84. says

    Two weeks ago, Donald Trump said he has “nothing to hide” about Jan. 6. Today, he asked the Supreme Court to help him hide Jan. 6 materials.

    A couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News and was asked about the investigation into the Jan. 6 attacks. “Honestly, I have nothing to hide,” the former president said. “I wasn’t involved in that.”

    […] NBC News reported this afternoon:

    Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block the National Archives from turning over White House records to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. In a petition filed with the high court, lawyers for Trump said the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals erred in its ruling earlier this month directing the records to be turned over, and urged the Supreme Court to intervene.

    […] it was two months ago when the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack requested extensive materials from the White House, prompting Trump to demand absolute secrecy.

    In fact, the former president and his team have tried to exert “executive privilege” to block the select committee’s requests. As NBC News recently noted, as a matter of tradition, sitting presidents have shielded White House materials at the request of their predecessors. But not this time: President Joe Biden and his team concluded that there are “unique and extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

    Trump and his team sued both the committee and the National Archives, which houses presidential records.

    In November, a federal district court ruled against [Trump], reminding him, “Presidents are not kings.” Two weeks ago, a unanimous federal appeals court came to the same conclusion.

    As regular readers may recall, the ruling was unsparing in its rejection of the former president’s arguments. “President Trump bears the burden of at least showing some weighty interest in continued confidentiality that could be capable of tipping the scales back in his favor…. He has not done so,” the three-judge panel wrote. “He has not identified any specific countervailing need for confidentiality tied to the documents at issue, beyond their being presidential communications. Neither has he presented arguments that grapple with the substance of President Biden’s and Congress’s weighty judgments. Nor has he made even a preliminary showing that the content of any particular document lacks relevance to the Committee’s investigation.

    “He offers instead only a grab-bag of objections that simply assert without elaboration his superior assessment of Executive Branch interests, insists that Congress and the Committee have no legitimate legislative interest in an attack on the Capitol, and impugns the motives of President Biden and the House. That falls far short of meeting his burden and makes it impossible for this court to find any likelihood of success.”

    It’s this ruling that Team Trump wants the conservative-dominated Supreme Court to overturn.

    […] Whether the Supreme Court will take up the case — and how quickly the justices might consider the appeal — remains to be seen. […]

    If, on the other hand, the Supreme Court doesn’t agree to hear the case, the former president will have effectively run out of options.

    Link

  85. says

    Senate hopeful Herschel Walker was asked about the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. It really didn’t go well.

    After Herschel Walker launched his Republican U.S. Senate campaign in Georgia, his team didn’t seem especially eager about sending him out on the campaign trail. For months, the retired athlete avoided public interactions with voters and turned down interview requests with mainstream journalists.

    Describing his curious strategy of running for office while hiding, CNN noted in September, “Walker’s schedule keeps him largely behind closed doors.”

    The first-time candidate is starting to speak out a bit more, however, and Raw Story highlighted Walker’s latest media appearance this week.

    Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker doesn’t think the late Rep. John Lewis would be a fan of the voting rights legislation named in his honor. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the civil rights icon helped inspire with his activism, but Walker somehow believes the late Georgia congressman would oppose.

    Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Stephen Fowler posted an audio clip this week, from an interview in which Walker was asked about Sen. Raphael Warnock — the Georgia Democrat whom Walker hopes to replace — and his support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

    “You know what’s sad about that — to use the name of a great man to brand something that is so bad, I think it is terrible to do,” Walker replied. “Senator Lewis was one of the greatest senators that’s ever been and for African Americans that was absolutely incredible. To throw his name on a bill for voting rights I think is a shame.”

    He added that the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act “just doesn’t fit what John Lewis stood for, and I think [Democrats] know that. And I think that it’s sad for them to do this to him.”

    Oh my.

    First, John Lewis wasn’t a senator. Second, the legendary congressman and hero of the civil-rights movement devoted much of his adult life to the cause of voting rights. It’s why his fellow Democrats honored Lewis by naming the bill after him.

    Not even the most far-right members of Congress, who are staunchly opposed to the legislation, have tried to argue that the bill is somehow at odds with Lewis’ legacy. Walker obviously had no idea what he was talking about.

    As for Walker’s own views on voting rights, in the same interview, the Georgia Republican added:

    “[L]et’s go to the voting rights, if you want to talk about voting. First of all, if you want to get people to vote, if they’re legal to vote, you want to try to encourage people to vote — that’s the most precious thing that you have — not encourage, but encourage. And what I mean by that is, you get things done now — don’t talk about it after or talk about it during, but get it done right now. And no one is not legal to vote, why don’t we go in and get the IDs and get everything done right now instead of waiting until it’s time to vote and start talking about it. And I think that’s what people got to remember.”

    Well, that ought to clear things up.

    I imagine some may see this and think it’s unfair to expect Walker to have a meaningful understanding of complex issues like voting rights. After all, he played football and struggled as a businessman, but he doesn’t have a background in public service or political debates.

    The fact remains, however, that in less than a year, Walker expects Georgians to elect him to the U.S. Senate, whether he’s ready for the job or not.

    Link

  86. says

    Infamous anti-vaxxer Marjorie Taylor Greene owns stock in the three major vaccine companies

    Perhaps it will come as no surprise to you that despite the fact that Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene rails against the COVID-19 vaccine, she doesn’t mind making money from it.

    In fact, the infamously unvaccinated congresswoman holds stock in three of the major vaccine-making pharmaceutical companies—AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson.

    According to financial disclosure filings analyzed by Insider, each of Greene’s stocks are worth about $1,000 and $15,000 to $50,000 respectively as of her Aug. 14, 2020 filings.

    […] In a November town hall, Greene claimed she wasn’t vaccinated because “the government has no business to tell Americans that they should take the COVID vaccine or not,” CNN reported.

    […] On Sunday, Greene spoke at the Americafest conference, a far-right conservative event organized by Turning Point USA, vowing never to get vaccinated. “And they’re going to have a hell of a time if they want to hold me down and give me a vaccine,” she said.

    On Nov. 2, the representative appeared as a guest on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, where she said “vaccine Nazis” are “ruining our country.”

    So, I guess getting the vaccine is one thing, but making money from them is a totally different issue.

    Greene also used her time onstage at the Americafest to call out the diversity of the attendees, the “Black people, brown people, white people, and yellow people” only to highlight that the event can’t possibly be racist.

    Oh, okay. Who uses the words “yellow people?” Racists. That’s who, you QAnon-believing, anti-vaxxing, gun-toting blockhead racist.

    Greene is also likely to be subpoenaed for her part in the terrorist attack on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

  87. says

    Followup to comment 87.

    The Supreme Court will resume its session earlier than initially planned to hold a special hearing on Friday, Jan. 7, on the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-testing mandates for large employers and a vaccine requirement for certain healthcare workers. The court had planned on returning the following Monday.

    The two cases had been on the court’s “shadow docket,” where time-sensitive emergency applications are decided on an expedited basis, without full briefings and arguments. That’s been how the court has ruled on multiple controversial issues from the shadows. That includes effectively ending abortion rights in Texas, though they eventually heard that case. It’s how the court struck down the government’s eviction moratorium.

    It’s what the court used to overthrow longstanding precedent that kept the court away from what has been seen as the executive branch’s domain, foreign policy, to force President Biden to keep Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy.

    So at least this time, they’ll actually have to go through the motions of having a regular hearing before the five, possibly six, conservatives decide to interfere in policy-making in the executive branch. One of the mandates requires businesses with 100 or more employees to either impose a vaccination or testing mandate for those employees. The second requires health care workers at hospitals receiving federal funding to be vaccinated. The question for the court on Jan. 7 is whether the policies should remain in force while the lawsuits against them proceed in lower courts.

    […] It’s somewhat encouraging that the court is responsive enough to criticism of its shadow docket rampage to hear this case. Following the announcement from the court, the Biden administration said it would defend the orders vigorously. […]

    Link

  88. says

    Kim Potter guilty of manslaughter in Daunte Wright death

    The mostly white jury deliberated for about four days before finding former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter guilty of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter.

    […] Jurors on Thursday convicted a suburban Minneapolis police officer of two manslaughter charges in the killing of Daunte Wright, a Black motorist she shot during a traffic stop after she said she confused her gun for her Taser. […]

  89. says

    Falsifying vaccination card now a crime with possible 1-year jail sentence in NY

    New legislation has made falsifying a COVID-19 vaccination card a crime punishable with one year in jail in the state of New York.

    New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) late Wednesday signed a law dubbed the “Truth in Vaccination” law, which makes faking a vaccination card a class A misdemeanor and tampering with computer records related to vaccinations a class E felony.

    Under the law, New Yorkers convicted of falsifying a vaccination card could face up to one year in prison or three years of probation, NBC4 reported. Class E felonies, meanwhile, can be punished with up to four years in prison.

    […] “These new laws will help us improve our response to the pandemic now, crack down on fraudulent use of vaccination records, and help us better understand the areas of improvement we need to make to our health care system so we can be even more prepared down the road,” the statement continued.

    Hochul added that individuals who misrepresent their vaccination history “not only jeopardize their own health, but the health of all those they come into contact with.” […]

  90. says

    The United States has surpassed its summer peak of COVID-19 infections, with a seven-day average of more than 168,000 cases, according to New York Times data.

    Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slightly delayed, but is on track to surpass the summer in the coming days.

    The nation was already struggling to bring cases under control due to the delta variant, and on Sept. 1 the seven-day average peaked at more than 164,000 cases.

    However, the numbers don’t distinguish between the mild infections of people who have been vaccinated and the unvaccinated who have severe infections.

    Infections were rising as people traveled and gathered indoors for Thanksgiving. But the recent spike is driven at least in part by the omicron variant, which has proven even more transmissible than delta.

    The latest surge is the second-largest wave of the pandemic so far, but is still far behind the spike from November 2020 to January 2021, before vaccines were widely available. During the highest point of that period, cases averaged close to 250,000 a day. […]

    Link

  91. says

    Wonkette: “Union Wins Kellogg’s Strike, No Scabs In Your Cornflakes!”

    Just in time for families to gather near the ol’ Festivus Pole and perform Feats of Physical Prowess, the strike against cereal giant Kellogg’s came to an end Tuesday as workers voted to approve a new five-year contract. 1,400 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union had been out for 11 weeks, and the company had threatened earlier this month to fire and replace the strikers, leading President Joe Biden to remind the company that would be a real dick move, even if technically legal. Happily, that did not happen, because the union insisted on airing its grievances and getting a better deal for workers.

    Spokespeople for the union and for management heralded the agreement — we think all union contract news should require the verb “heralded” — as a very good thing, as you’d expect. As the New York Times explains, the company’s two-tiered pay system, which provides better wages and benefits to longtime workers than to newer employees, will be significantly adjusted. Experienced employees didn’t like the system because it put downward pressure on their wages and benefits overall, and drove a wedge between veteran and newer workers.

    The new agreement make it easier for new workers to get into that higher-paid tier, immediately moving all existing workers with four years of experience to the “Legacy” level of pay and benefits, and ensuring that newer hires will get to that level within six years. It’ll also include cost-of-living adjustments for all employees in each year of the contract, keep existing healthcare benefits as they are, and add a new dental benefit for newer employees, plus a new vision benefit for all employees. […]

  92. says

    Followup to comments 87 and 90.

    Gorsuch’s Crusade Against Vaccine Mandates Could Topple a Pillar of Public Health

    First, the good news: It does not appear that a majority of the Supreme Court is prepared to find that religious liberty claims require an exemption to COVID vaccine mandates everywhere and anywhere. This is profoundly good news given that COVID rates appear to be spiking yet again as we prepare to enter the holiday season. Twice now, in six weeks, a six-justice majority has flicked away claims from religious health care workers who assert a First Amendment right to refuse vaccination against the coronavirus. Two of these justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, have certainly left the door open to changing their minds. For the time being, though, these two junior justices appear to be unwilling to exacerbate the pandemic in the name of religious liberty.

    Now the bad news: Three justices, led by Neil Gorsuch, say there is a First Amendment right to refuse the vaccine on religious grounds. Worse, they are defending this position with dangerously broad and overheated rhetoric that undermines the constitutional foundation of all vaccine mandates. Gorsuch, along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, has rejected the principle that preventing the spread of communicable diseases qualifies as an inherently compelling state interest. And he is fighting to transform litigation over religious exemptions into an elaborate game of chutes and ladders the government will always lose. These radical and polarizing arguments may have alienated Kavanaugh and Barrett for now. But they are swiftly gaining purchase among extremist lower court judges, who are seizing on Gorsuch’s dissents to swat down mandates—all while toppling a pillar of public health in the process.

    […] Gorsuch’s most alarming argument is more fundamental: He openly scorned the notion that the government’s interest in halting the spread of a lethal global virus is always “compelling.” While the justice begrudgingly acknowledged that limiting COVID is a compelling interest today, he added that it “cannot qualify as such forever.” Pointing to the development of vaccines and treatments, he suggested that state efforts to fight COVID will no longer qualify as “compelling” in the very near future because if these treatments work, people won’t get sick and die. “If human nature and history teach anything,” he concluded with a grandiose flourish, “it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.”

    As Northwestern University law professor Andrew Koppelman has explained, this logic is terrifying on its face.*

    The Supreme Court has increasingly applied the highest standard of judicial review, known as “strict scrutiny,” to any infringement on free exercise rights, forcing the government to prove again and again that it has a “compelling” interest in burdening religion. The government automatically flunks this test any time the court determines that it lacks such an interest. So Gorsuch, along with Thomas and Alito, are preparing to rig the game against COVID restrictions: With every passing day, goes the logic, the government’s interest becomes less compelling. With every life saved, the urgency of saving future lives diminishes.

    If all this sounds like the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision because it successfully suppressed racist voting laws, it’s because the logic is the same. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out then, scrapping a law because of its success is “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Throwing out an umbrella for keeping you dry is bad enough. Now Gorsuch seems to be suggesting that the more effective those umbrellas are, the less government interest there can be in requiring them. As Koppelman notes in his piece, Gorsuch seems to be floating the principle that we can soon achieve some acceptable rate of unnecessary death, such that the state will no longer have a compelling interest in preventing these deaths at all.

    And his logic extends far beyond this pandemic. Gorsuch seems to think that unless a disease is actively killing tens of thousands of Americans a month, the state cannot curb its spread in a manner that hampers “religious liberty.” Under this theory, mandatory vaccination laws for all kinds of diseases—polio, smallpox, measles—would be suspect, particularly if those diseases no longer ravage the population. (Never mind that these diseases have been largely eradicated in the United States because of vaccine mandates.) And states like California and New York could no longer refuse religious exemptions to school vaccination rules. In his dissent, Gorsuch felt no compunction about accusing New York Gov. Kathy Hochul of anti-religious hate. Condemning Hochul for declaring that “God wants” everyone to get vaccinated, the justice proclaimed that this comment “exudes suspicion” and “animosity” toward “those who hold unpopular religious beliefs” in violation of the First Amendment.

    Gorsuch’s theory may not have won over a majority of the Supreme Court just yet. But it is already blazing its way through the lower courts as a clarion cry on behalf of religious dissenters who believe they are being singled out for hostile treatment by state officials seeking to do nothing more than save lives. Three different judges appointed by Donald Trump have already approvingly cited this passage in decisions halting federal vaccines mandates. Their opinions are also bristling with hostility toward government efforts to slow down the spread of a disease that has now claimed 800,000 American lives, as well as unscientific skepticism toward the very efficacy of vaccines. (“One could query how an ‘emergency’ could prompt such a ‘deliberate’ response,” wrote one Trump judge; “if boosters are needed six months after being ‘fully vaccinated,’ then how good are the COVID-19 vaccines, and why is it necessary to mandate them?” asked another.)

    One lower court judge has taken Gorsuch’s ideas a step further. Dissenting this week from a decision allowing United Airlines’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees to remain in place, Judge James Ho of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made Gorsuch sound almost reasonable. In a six-page dissent, Ho, a Trump appointee, described United’s vaccine mandate as proof of a “calloused approach to” and “apparent disdain for” people of faith. Ho’s dissent was full of his usual Newsmax flourishes: “To hypothesize that the earthly reward of monetary damages could compensate for these profound challenges of faith is to misunderstand the entire nature of religious conviction at its most foundational level.” He noted that “as if all this weren’t enough, to top it all off, United is forcing this crisis of conscience on the eve of Christmas—one of the holiest times of the year, the season when Christians cherish devoting their hearts and souls to both faith and family alike, not to choosing between the two.”

    It seems that the one thing as contagious as a lethal virus is a quotable, inflammatory piece of judicial hyperbole. In each of their vaccine rulings, the judges tasked with balancing two competing interests—that of the state in quelling a deadly disease, and the religious liberty of religious adherents—opt to reduce the former interest to a cartoonish version of evil. In their worldview, the state actors proposing the vaccine mandates exult in shaming the faithful. Such characterizations are not only inflammatory and irresponsible, but they also serve to normalize a dangerous narrative about state public health actors while whipping up religious animus where none exists. This narrative has deadly consequences: More Americans may die as a result of the idea that religious liberty is paramount. It also means that more people may die because powerful jurists are infecting the public discourse with fact-free, medically discredited analysis that pits people of faith and their religious liberties against the health of everyone else.

    The article is written by Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern.

  93. says

    Supply chain congestion down 50 percent, says Commerce secretary

    Supply chain congestion has dropped by 50 percent in the past month, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said on Thursday, crediting the Biden administration’s actions in clearing up bottlenecks.

    “The gifts will be on the shelves, your packages will be arriving on time in the mail and it’s really a fantastic story,” Raimondo told CNN’s John Berman. “So the congestion is down by 50 percent since you and I last spoke. So it’s really smooth sailing and Santa will arrive on time.”

    Earlier this year, the Biden administration issued new measures to alleviate supply chain issues, including operating ports 24/7. Despite the disruptions seen this year, it was reported last week that 2021 was a record year for the Port of Los Angeles in terms of cargo volume.

    President Biden on Wednesday celebrated the progress made on addressing supply chain disruptions after meeting with industry leaders.

    “Earlier this fall, we heard a lot of dire warnings about supply chain problems leading to a crisis around the holidays. So we acted,” he said, “And the much-predicted crisis didn’t occur. Packages are moving, gifts are being delivered, shelves are not empty.” […]

  94. says

    Interesting, and clarifying, statement from a New Yorker essay titled, “What We Get Wrong About Joan Didion”:

    Atomization and sentimentality exacerbate each other, after all: you break the bridges of connection across society, and then give each island a fairy tale about its uniqueness.

    New Yorker link

  95. lumipuna says

    Re 93:

    The United States has surpassed its summer peak of COVID-19 infections, with a seven-day average of more than 168,000 cases, according to New York Times data.

    Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slightly delayed, but is on track to surpass the summer in the coming days.

    Finland has been roughly at the same per capita level this week, rapidly rising past 2,000 and now 3,000 confirmed infections per day. This is well beyond all earlier pandemic peaks here, as true number is likely much higher. Testing capacity is overwhelmed for the first time since spring 2020, when said capacity was an order of magnitude smaller.

    Hospitalizations haven’t yet caught up with the Omicron wave, for various reasons. It takes some time to develop severe illness, and thus far the infected have been mostly younger people. Also, Omicron seems to be less severe than Delta at least for the unvaccinated, who are a major risk group.

    Until recently, Finnish authorities were reluctant to recommend widespread use of home covid tests due to their limited accuracy. Now, people with mild symptoms are advised to not seek a PCR test, but take a home test if possible (they’re often sold out as retailers struggle to keep up with rising demend) and isolate at home (without legally binding order) if the result is positive. Somewhat confusingly, people with symptoms are also advised to “avoid contacts” if the result is negative or no test is available, because they might still be positive. Obviously, it’s very difficult to communicate how exactly people should adjust their risk management in different situations.

  96. says

    Business Insider:

    Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is set to leave office next week without bringing criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.

    But Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg, has indicated that he’ll keep up the pressure on Trump, and there are other signs that the investigation isn’t slowing down any time soon.

    Carey Dunne, who currently serves as general counsel to Vance and who’s spearheaded the DA’s arguments related to the Trump investigation in both federal court and the Supreme Court, has agreed to stay on the case, according to CNN. Bragg also wants Mark Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor who tackled organized crime cases and whom Vance hired to work on the Trump investigation, to stay on.

    “This is obviously a consequential case, one that merits the attention of the DA personally,” Bragg told CNN in a recent interview.

    He added, referring to Dunne and Pomerantz: “It’s hard for me to evaluate not knowing the facts, but just having worked on lots of investigations that are complex, I can say that you’ve got two very good lawyers that have been looking at it for a while. I think it would be a disservice to Manhattan to lose them.”

  97. says

    Pro-Trump anti-vaccers showed up at Trump Grill in NYC today after he said he was against vaccine mandates. They were denied service and the police were called. “Trump is a fraud if he’s enforcing this!”

    https://twitter.com/RonFilipkowski/status/1474160897430016005

    Video at the link.

    Commentary on the video:

    “They have to prove to us that we’re a threat. […] They’re asking us for proof of medical records! So the burden of proof goes on them because they’re assuming we’re a threat because we don’t have a vaccine. So prove to me that we’re a threat.”

    […] enjoy the cop laughing in their faces that “restaurant reservation” is not a constitutional right and enjoy that Fox News has created an army of zombies that won’t even listen to Trump and we’re all gonna die.

    Some backstory, as presented by Wonkette:

    Yesterday we told you about poor dumb Candace Owens trying to interview the President, just kidding she was trying to interview Donald Trump, and she had such an agenda! “Explain us how Joe Biden murdered everyone with vaccine,” she said (paraphrase), and Donald Trump was like “vaccines protect you, they’re great, I invented them” (verbatim quote sort of mostly). Whatever you think of Trump, his saying the vaccines are good is a good thing that we should be happy about. […]

  98. says

    Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley earlier this month tweeted a photo of himself holding a dish of food at a luncheon he said he hosted. “Pork chop potatoes green beans apple crisp & of course ice cream,” he wrote, boasting that senators were “getting a treat 2day for lunch” because of him […]

    I have no doubt Grassley hosted this lunch. Nevertheless, an advocate had an important reminder about some people that went unthanked in Chuck’s tweet […]

    “Pretty sure most of that food came from immigrant farm workers,” Immigration Hub chief political and communications officer Beatriz Lopez tweeted at Grassley. And that’s long been in the case in farming and meatpacking states like Iowa.

    “In a report from the National Immigration Forum, 70% of the farming workforce is made up of undocumented immigrants, and their contribution to the fruit and vegetable industry is worth nine billion dollars,” Iowa Starting Line reported in 2021. “Six thousand migrant workers come to Iowa on a yearly basis to support the industry.” […]

    Iowa is in fact the site of one of the most devastating immigration raids in American history. The Bush administration’s Postville raid in 2008 “led to hundreds of deportations, untold numbers of separated families, and one devastated community,” America’s Voice noted in May 2013.

    During the five-year anniversary commemoration that year, Iowans attempted to deliver a letter to Grassley, “rallying in support of immigration reform, and asking people to never forget the lessons of Postville.” But Grassley would vote against a comprehensive immigration reform package that passed the Senate by a wide bipartisan margin just weeks later.

    Now in 2021, nearly 2022, Grassley is still enjoying the fruits of immigrant labor while denying these essential workers their deserved relief. Hypocrite? Yes. But also shameless. “Wanna be a great host?” Lopez continued. “Stop blocking immigration reform, deliver protections instead.”

    Link

  99. says

    The James Webb Space Telescope begins its journey across space and time

    We are less than 24 hours from the much-awaited launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, now scheduled for Saturday Dec 25 at 7:20 a.m. ET. from Arianespace spaceport in French Guiana.

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared space telescope, a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, developed jointly by NASA, ESA and CSA.

    JWST will be the most powerful telescope in space. It will be able to observe some of the most distant objects in the Universe, beyond the reach of current ground and space-based instruments; it will help understand the formation of galaxies, stars, exoplanets, black holes and search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe after the Big Bang.

    The JWST sports a 6.4 m primary mirror made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch. A tennis court sized five-layer sunshield helps maintain the ultra low operating temperature below −220 °C. The telescope’s four instruments – cameras and spectrometers – have detectors that are able to record extremely faint signals. One instrument (NIRSpec) has programmable microshutters, which enable observation up to 100 objects simultaneously. JWST also has a cryocooler for cooling the mid-infrared detectors of another instrument (MIRI) to a very cold 7oK.

    The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland managed the development effort, and the Space Telescope Science Institute (also in Maryland) will operate Webb after launch.

    JWST is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program. [video available at the link]

    […] The JWST will be located near the second Lagrange point (L2) of the Earth-Sun system, which is 1.5 million km from Earth, directly opposite to the Sun. The JWST will circle about the L2 point in a half year period, 0.8 million km radius, halo orbit, around the Sun-Earth line. The halo orbit avoids the shadow of the Earth and Moon, and helps maintain a constant environment for the sunshield and the solar arrays. Since L2 is just an equilibrium point with no real object at its center, a halo orbit is not an orbit in the usual sense: the spacecraft is actually in orbit around the Sun, and the halo orbit can be thought of as controlled drifting to remain in the vicinity of the L2 point. Two sets of thrusters will be used to make periodic adjustments to maintain the halo orbit.

    By comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope is in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at an altitude of ~570 km. The Sun-Earth distance is ~150 million km. [illustration available at the link]

    More technical details, animations and illustrations are available at the link. For example:

    JWST’s optical design is a three-mirror anastigmat, which makes use of curved secondary and tertiary mirrors to deliver images that are free of optical aberrations (spherical aberration, coma, and astigmatism) over a wide field. In addition, there is a fast steering mirror for image stabilization.

    […] The mirror construction consisted of several steps, performed across 11 different locations around the US —
    Beryllium ore mining and purification

    Pressing of Beryllium and cutting of mirror blanks

    Shaping and polishing of mirrors, to accuracies of less than one millionth of an inch.

    Cryogenic cooling and testing at -240 degrees Celsius. Needed since materials change shape with temperature.

    Gold plating, to improve the mirror’s reflection of infrared light. Typical thickness of the gold is 1000 Angstroms (100 nanometers). A thin layer of amorphous SiO2 (glass) is deposited on top of the gold to protect it from scratches in case of handling or if particles get on the surface and move around (the gold is pure and very soft). […]

  100. snarkrates says

    Lynna@24
    Yeah, I’ve worked 21 years of my life on JWST, off and on. If it works, it’ll be amazing, but there are a lot of things that could go wrong–the first of which is failure of the launch vehicle. And once it makes it to L2, the deployments of the huge sunshield and mirror are going to be nerve wracking. And out at L2, there will be no way to carry out a servicing mission of the kind that saved Hubble.
    We get ONE SHOT.
    I REALLY HOPE IT WORKS!

  101. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Snarkrates #105
    The JWST is on its way to the Lagrange point after nominal launch. The last pictures from the second stage showed the solar panel deploying. So far, so good.

  102. raven says

    This is good news for a change.
    The Omicron may well be less pathogenic than Delta.

    These results are all in vitro which means they may not translate to in vivo results.
    Omicron is:
    .1. Less able to enter lung cells.
    .2. Less able to fuse lung cells, a process known as syncytia formation. (Syncytia is formed by fusion of an infected cells with neighboring cells leading to the formation of multi-nucleate enlarged cells. )
    .3. It is more efficient in replicating in upper airway cells, which might explain why it spreads more easily.
    .4. It is a serious partial immune escape variant.

    Happy Holidays, Merry Xmas, and have a safe and healthy New Years.

    Omicron may cause milder disease. A lab study hints at why.
    By Nicoletta Lanese published about 4 hours ago Live Science edited for length
    Omicron appears to be less efficient at entering lung cells.

    The omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 may be less efficient at infiltrating the lungs and spreading from cell to cell, compared with other versions of the coronavirus, early studies of human cells in a lab dish suggest.

    This may help explain why some early data from countries such as South Africa and England suggest the strain causes less severe disease. But although omicron may not invade lung cells efficiently, the new study, posted Tuesday (Dec. 21) to the preprint database bioRxiv, confirmed that the variant dodges most of the antibodies made by fully vaccinated individuals.

    The research has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, but the findings hint “that omicron’s mutations present the virus with a double-edged sword: it’s got better at evading the immune system, but it might have lost some of its ability to cause severe disease,”
    To probe how these spike mutations might change how the virus interacts with cells, the researchers engineered synthetic viruses, called pseudoviruses, that carry the omicron spike protein.

    They found that, despite its concerning PBCS mutations, omicron entered the lung cells and organoids less efficiently than delta and instead more closely resembled Wuhan-1.

    Delta also outperformed omicron in a second experiment. Upon entering a cell, the delta pseudoviruses triggered cell fusion, a phenomenon that sticks neighboring cells together and allows the virus to quickly spread between them. Widespread cell-cell fusion in the lungs is often seen in the context of severe COVID-19, the researchers noted in their report. However, in their experiments, omicron initiated cell fusion less efficiently than delta, and this seemed to hinder the virus’s ability to replicate in lung cells.

    (A separate study, also not peer reviewed, found that omicron replicated much more efficiently than delta in upper airway cells, but less efficiently than even the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 in lung cells.)

    “We speculate that the more efficient the virus is at infecting our cells, the more severe the disease might be,” Gupta said in the statement. “The fact that omicron is not so good at entering lung cells and that it causes fewer fused cells with lower infection levels in the lab suggests this new variant may cause less severe lung-associated disease.”

  103. says

    A Christmas story with depth.

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1975/12/29/christmas

    “Christmas” by Vladimir Nabokov

    Excerpts:

    […] The following morning, after a night spent in nonsensical, fragmentary dreams totally unrelated to his grief, as Sleptsov stepped out into the cold veranda, a floorboard emitted a merry pistol crack underfoot, and the reflections of the many-colored panes formed paradisal lozenges on the whitewashed cushionless window seats. The outer door resisted at first, then opened with a luscious crunch, and the dazzling frost hit his face. The reddish sand providently sprinkled on the ice coating the porch steps resembled cinnamon, and thick icicles shot with greenish blue hung from the eaves. The snowdrifts reached all the way to the windows of the annex, tightly gripping the snug little wooden structure in their frosty clutches. The creamy white mounds of what were flower beds in summer swelled slightly above the level snow in front of the porch, and farther off loomed the radiance of the park, where every black branch was rimmed with silver and the firs seemed to draw in their green paws under their bright, plump load.

    Wearing high felt boots and a short fur-lined coat with a caracul collar, Sleptsov strode off slowly along a straight path, the only one cleared of snow, into that blinding distant landscape. He was amazed to be still alive, and able to perceive the brilliance of the snow and feel his front teeth ache from the cold. He even noticed that a snow-covered bush resembled a fountain and that a dog had left on the slope of a snowdrift a series of saffron marks, which had burned through its crust. A little farther, the supports of a footbridge stuck out of the snow, and there Sleptsov stopped. Bitterly, angrily, he pushed the thick, fluffy covering off the parapet. He vividly recalled how this bridge looked in summer. There was his son walking along the slippery planks, flecked with aments, and deftly plucking off with his net a butterfly that had settled on the railing. Now the boy sees his father. Forever lost laughter plays on the boy’s face, under the turned-down brim of a straw hat burned dark by the sun; his hand toys with the chain of the leather purse attached to his belt; his dear smooth, sun-tanned legs in their serge shorts and soaked sandals assume their usual cheerful widespread stance. Just recently, in Petersburg, after having babbled in his delirium about school, about his bicycle, about some great Oriental moth, he died, and yesterday Sleptsov had taken the coffin—weighed down, it seemed, with an entire lifetime—to the country, into the family vault near the village church.

    […] In the desk he found a notebook, spreading boards, supplies of black pins, and an English biscuit tin that contained a large exotic cocoon which had cost three rubles. It was papery to the touch and seemed made of a brown folded leaf. H’s son had remembered it during his sickness, regretting that he had left it behind but consoling himself with the thought that the chrysalid inside was probably dead. Sleptsov also found a torn net; a tarlatan bag on a collapsible hoop (and the muslin still smelled of summer and sun-hot grass).

    Then, bending lower and lower and sobbing with his whole body, he began pulling out one by one the glass-topped drawers of the cabinet. In the dim lamplight the even files of specimens shone silklike under the glass. Here, in this room, on that very desk, his son had spread the wings of his captures. He would first pin the carefully killed insect in the cork-bottomed groove of the setting board, between the adjustable strips of wood, and fasten down flat with pinned strips of paper the still fresh, soft wings. They had now dried long ago and been transferred to the cabinet—those spectacular Swallowtails, those dazzling Coppers and Blues, and the various Fritillaries, some mounted in a supine position to display the mother-of-pearl undersides. His son used to pronounce their Latin names with a moan of triumph or in an arch aside of disdain. And the moths, the moths, the first Aspen Hawk of five summers ago!

    […] The clock ticked. Frost patterns overlapped on the blue glass of the window. The open notebook shone radiantly on the table; next to it the light went through the muslin of the butterfly net, and glistened on a corner of the open tin. Sleptsov pressed his eyes shut, and had a fleeting sensation that earthly life lay before him, totally bared and comprehensible—and ghastly in its sadness, humiliatingly pointless, sterile, devoid of miracles.

    At that instant there was a sudden snap—a thin sound like that of an overstretched rubber band breaking. Sleptsov opened his eyes. The cocoon in the biscuit tin had burst at its tip, and a black, wrinkled creature the size of a mouse was crawling up the wall above the table. It stopped, holding on to the surface with six black furry feet and started palpitating strangely. It had emerged from the chrysalid because a man overcome with grief had transferred a tin box to his warm room and the warmth had penetrated its taut leaf-and-silk envelope; it had awaited this moment so long, had collected its strength so tensely, and now, having broken out, it was slowly and miraculously expanding. Gradually the wrinkled tissues, the velvety fringes unfurled; the fan-pleated veins grew firmer as they filled with air. It became a winged thing imperceptibly, as a maturing face imperceptibly becomes beautiful. And its wings—still feeble, still moist—kept growing and unfolding, and now they were developed to the limit set for them by God, and there, on the wall, instead of a little lump of life, instead of a dark mouse, was a great Attacus moth like those that fly, birdlike, around lamps in the Indian dusk.

    And then those thick black wings, with a glazy eyespot on each and a purplish bloom dusting their hooked foretips, took a full breath under the impulse of tender, ravishing, almost human happiness.

  104. says

    Housed for the holidays: A fresh start — and new struggles — after D.C.’s streets (That’s a Washington Post link.)

    After years of homelessness, these three people will spend Christmas in their own apartments. Here’s what that means to them.

    Emmanuel Johnson doesn’t believe in Christmas.

    After a largely loveless childhood in which he was “moved around like a chess piece,” and more than two decades in and out of prison and on the streets, his holiday spirit vanished a long time ago.

    Even so, Johnson says he’s received a miraculous gift: his first apartment at the age of 43 — a bright, one-bedroom shotgun flat in Southeast Washington.

    After his last release from prison, Johnson spent three years on the streets […] His outdoor struggles ended this fall, along with those of 32 other people in the NoMa underpass tent encampments, after the District announced that, as part of clearing the enclave and two other large encampments, it would partner with nonprofit agencies to find housing for those residents.

    […] Even as he remembers — fondly, painfully — some of his friends on the street, Johnson said he’s grateful to have survived long enough to find a home. During an interview, he lounges on his brand-new green sofa before a large open window glowing with sunshine, the whoosh of traffic from the nearby highway buffered by a thicket of trees along the dead-end street. On the small deck in the back, Popeye, Johnson’s sandy Staffordshire terrier service dog, playfully shakes a fallen tree branch.

    “I have my own place. No one can tell me what to do,” said Johnson, a tall, slim, tattooed man with an emotive face. He sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and takes in his new surroundings — the lack of loud street noise, the warmth, the solitude — and, he said, “I have to pinch myself.”

    Johnson’s indoor struggles, however, have just begun. He needs to finish a math course to earn his GED, find a job despite a felony record, stick to the medicines for his mental health conditions and weather the stresses already coming his way. Yet having a home has boosted his ambitions “to be a better person,” he said, starting with the holiday.

    […] “Housing ends homelessness,” Respress said. “Then lots of other hard work comes … the hard work of connecting with family and finding a career for some people, reconnecting with faith communities, addressing long-standing mental health needs or physical health or substance issues. But housing gives you a safe place to start to do those things.”

    As of Thursday, 89 of the 111 people who had been living in the three targeted encampments — NoMa; New Jersey and O streets NW; and E and 20th/21st streets NW — have either been housed or are working with nonprofit organizations to find places to live. The rest have either so far refused help or are no longer living there […]

    The 33 newly housed people from the NoMa encampment include Christina Giles, 42, and William Dove, 48, who together with Johnson demonstrate the humanity behind homelessness and the significance of a stable home.

    […] During the 1980s crack epidemic, Giles’s mother became hooked on the drug and would disappear for long stretches. Giles herself became pregnant at 12 and went on to birth three more children by the time she was 25. She spent time in foster care and, perpetually angry, ran away before turning 18.

    At 22, she was convicted on federal charges of possession of more than five grams of cocaine, she said. But she had already begun the work to turn her life around, and the judge, impressed, granted time served and gave her five years’ parole.

    She labored long hours at customer service and waitressing jobs, often two gigs at once, to pay market rent and keep her children housed and fed. She volunteered at her son’s school, becoming a parent leader in the Head Start program and then a delegate in the national organization. She earned a high school diploma and took classes for two years at Strayer University, before lack of steady work and rising D.C. rents began to shake her life.

    On the cusp of 40, Giles left what she described as an abusive marriage to a truck driver in New Jersey and found herself back in D.C. with nowhere to live. Her mother had died, her father was old and faltering, and her grown children were also overwhelmed. Sometimes she would rent a room, “but if you pay under $1,000, people treat you like you’re living there for free.” The landlords sexually harassed her, verbally abused her and tried to extort her to make up the difference, she said.

    The threat to homeless women was ever-present. Once in the encampment, she witnessed a man beating a transgender woman with a golf club. She ran over and wrested it away, she said. “I didn’t know I was that strong.”

    She connected her unhoused neighbors with nonprofit workers who would help them get housing vouchers. And yet she didn’t seem to meet the criteria herself. She had no mental health, substance abuse or gender issues, she says, and her efforts on her own behalf failed. Then the pilot program began, and on Oct. 5 she moved into a tiny apartment she chose herself on North Capitol Street NE — in the same NoMa neighborhood where she lived as a child and survived on the streets as an adult. Two of her children and six of her grandchildren live nearby. […]

    William Dove stands in the neat white kitchen of his Columbia Heights studio as the light through the window behind him begins to wane with the setting sun.

    He moved in just before Thanksgiving, and with Christmas now a week away, he’s been too busy with HVAC-repair job training to meet the people sent from Pathways to bring his bed and sofa. The room is empty, save for an air mattress covered with a brown blanket on the floor, although he sleeps undisturbed in his own home.

    […] His lack of fear is an unexpected benefit of living a hard and dangerous life, he thinks. He once sold drugs in the city’s public housing complexes, and spent years hopped up on PCP, cocaine, you name it. He fought in a gang, partied unhoused for two decades far from his native Largo, Md., on the streets of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, while working construction jobs or not working at all. He’s been stabbed and run over by a car, whose driver then backed up and rested a wheel between his shoulder blades, he says. He woke up in the hospital; a scar now wriggles its way across his bald scalp. As he describes it all, he opens up, shuts down, opens up. He feels much older than 48.

    […] Dove eventually landed on the streets in the NoMa encampment. After Pathways found him housing, he began relying on his own power, including the construction and repair skills his father and a mentor had taught him as a boy and young man.

    The day before, he had graduated from the job-training program at Project Empowerment and was chosen to give the speech.

    In his apartment, he sifts through the contents of his closet to show a visitor the dark blazer and tie that he wore on the stage, where he thundered affirmations for his fellow graduates. “I got this applause and I was like, ‘Wow,’” he said. He tilts his chin up with laughter in the dim light.

    In the week before Christmas, Johnson’s newfound stability begins to quiver. His girlfriend’s father died, and shortly after, an old friend passed away, too. His voice trembles on the phone with a reporter.

    “Miss Sydney,” he said, “I’m sad.” He suffers from, among other things, bipolar disorder and tried twice this year to kill himself when he was living on the streets, he said.

    He is easily thrown off balance and is trying to better manage his emotions, he said. […]

    To fill his days, he helps a neighbor deliver goods for charities, works on preparing for his GED exam through Khan Academy and goes with his girlfriend, Natasha, and his pup, Popeye, by bus to pick up her three children from school. His early and brief experience of love from a stepmother and the genuine affection he feels from the children keep him going.

    […] On Christmas Eve, the kids would spend the night at his place. He hoped he could afford something that would brighten their faces in the morning.

    He doesn’t believe in Christmas, but he was home for the holidays and glad of it.

  105. says

    I’m finding some interesting things on a “tourette syndrome” search in pubmed.
    Language evolution: examining the link between cross-modality and aggression through the lens of disorders”
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33745319/

    I see patterns in non-literal language in argument. But it’s more of an advantage because I can dissect the meaning from the sensory/anatomical objects used to convey the meaning. I agree that the conditions cited involve different feel of language, and that is also compatible with these things being personality. Oh well, I can use this anyway.

  106. Pierce R. Butler says

    Apropos de tout, my deep thanks to Lynna for keeping this thread alive this year and all the others!

  107. Paul K says

    I read this thread multiple times per day. I’d be kind of lost without it. Thanks to all who contribute, but especially to those who keep it worth reading multiple times per day!

  108. blf says

    An opinion column by Al Jazeera correspondent Andrew Mitrovica, We must thank the white-coat army for saving us and the world, quoted in full:

    If it were not for the selfless dedication of nurses, doctors and scientists, many of us would not be around.

    I should be dead.

    Since the start of this stubborn, life-sapping pandemic, I have, perhaps like you, taken precautions to ward off being infected and killed by an ever-mutating virus.

    Given my age and medical history, I am at particular risk. Still, unlike so many others, in so many other places, I have been able to work from home and head out only when necessary.

    I suppose my diligence, privileges and a large dose of luck have combined to keep COVID-19 at bay — for now.

    But I know that if the white-coat army of nurses, doctors, and scientists — working in anonymity — had not engineered and dispensed vaccines that blunt the lethal aspects of a raging, indiscriminate virus, chances are, given my seniority and pathological troubles, I would not be writing this column.

    Much more urgently, my daughters would have lost their father. My wife would have lost her husband. My family would have lost a brother and an uncle.

    I am sure of this.

    So, at a time of year that encourages us to reflect on the near and distant past and to consider future hopes and possibilities, I am compelled to offer my sincere thanks and abiding gratitude to the white-coat army who have not only saved my life, but the lives of people in my orbit whom I admire and love.

    They have saved a dear friend’s life. A career diplomat, father, husband and cancer survivor, my good mate is fast approaching retirement after spending more than 30 years trying to make life better for people in often poor, faraway countries using the influence and opportunity his position and diplomatic passport afforded him.

    Without the vaccines, my friend — his natural defences weakened by a malignancy he defeated some time ago — would likely be facing a more precarious fate.

    I am grateful to the white-coat army for saving his life — twice.

    They have saved my doctor’s life. A woman of singular grace and integrity, my GP has never let a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis early in her studies prevent her from achieving her calling to tend to the legion of patients who know that she is more saint than physician.

    Hobbled, but not vanquished, by an incurable disease that has drained her of strength and a reassuring measure of stability, this born healer continues to heal people whose minds and bodies require healing, confident that she is protected against the vagaries of a virus that haunts the world.

    They have saved my sister’s life. Another cancer survivor, wife and mother of three, my older sister has devoted herself to caring for others in need — young men and women whose bodies grow older, but whose intellects do not. My sister looks after her vulnerable charges with a limitless well of kindness and generosity.

    Without the vaccines, my sister — her natural defences also diminished by a scarring bout with an insidious tumor — would not be able to do what she was always destined to do — help people.

    In spite of the white-coat army’s herculean efforts, there are, of course, countless sad stories of children, women and men who have succumbed to a rampaging virus that does not respect ages, borders or nationalities.

    We have watched — humbled and amazed — as the white-coat army have gone about their hard work, despite the constant danger, exhausting every tool and means available to save lives.

    We have watched — humbled and amazed — their dedication and persistence in the face of the kind of grinding loss and grief that test in ways that only they understand.

    We have watched — humbled and amazed — their astonishing patience with, and care for, the selfish vaccine vagrants who, today, make up most of the residents in intensive care units, riddled with an adept virus that exploits such ignorance and arrogance with devastating ferocity.

    These me-first-the-rest-of-you-do-not-matter dolts reject the pleas and advice of the white-coat army until it is too late. Then, in death-bed epiphanies, they curse the slick peddlers of lies and conspiracy theories who told them to forgo masks and vaccines in favour of toxic potions and bravado.

    Unlike me, the white-coat army avoid passing judgement on these callous cretins. Instead, they follow their oaths and do their duty to mend human pain and suffering — whenever and wherever they can.

    In return, populist charlatans, masquerading as prime ministers and premiers, acknowledge their sacrifices in sweet-sounding speeches, while skirting the very rules meant to stem the COVID-19 tides and denying the white-coat army the pay, respect and respite that they have earned many times over.

    Worse, populist charlatans, masquerading as journalists in search of a burst of ephemeral attention, have not only smeared selfless scientists like Dr Anthony Fauci but encouraged their audiences to ambush the renowned immunologist and deliver the kill shot.

    These fame-hungry buffoons have prompted Dr Fauci to be accompanied on his daily walks with his wife by armed bodyguards.

    Through it all, Dr Fauci and accomplished company have retained their dignity and humanity, while the charlatans — on and off TV — have forfeited what remains of theirs.

    Finally, it is not an exaggeration to say that without their indispensable, curative contributions and discoveries, an already anxious global community would, I suspect, teeter on a full-blown and destructive panic that would spread quickly and take tenacious root.

    During the pandemic, we have witnessed, in disquieting spams, some of the consequences of this different type of contagion: despair and hopelessness fuel anger and resentment that inevitably turn to violence.

    I am convinced that our political “leaders” are quietly preoccupied with the potential costs and possible expressions of this brewing, unspoken undercurrent, but only the white-coat army can truly address and forestall the looming chaos.

    It is an extraordinary burden and responsibility.

    You and I must thank the white-coat army of nurses, doctors and scientists for volunteering to confront this existential challenge with the poise, skill and intelligence these awful, disheartening times demand.

  109. says

    blf @116, thanks for posting that. It’s a good essay. The phrase “grinding loss” really captures both the relentless nature of the pandemic and the way it just keeps going on an on. I am grateful to the “white coats” that continue to stand up to the onslaught.

    Also, the phrase “to forgo masks and vaccines in favour of toxic potions and bravado” succinctly describes the doofuses that are far too numerous.

    Paul @115, thank you for reading!

  110. says

    NBC News notes that Putin is starting to sound desperate, which is what I though when I watched part of his 4-hour “news conference.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to turn the tables on the West at his annual end-of-year news conference Thursday, blaming the United States and its allies for soaring tensions over Ukraine and suggesting ‘the ball is in their court’ to respond to Moscow’s demands.

    Putin said it was up to the U.S. and NATO to swiftly provide the security guarantees Moscow demanded last week, although he insisted he doesn’t want an armed conflict.

    “The ball is in their court,” Putin told more than 500 Russian and foreign reporters at the marathon event. “They need to respond to us with something.”

    Russia has massed 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, prompting fears of an invasion as early as next month, but it has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to attack its neighbor.

    […] Offering an aggressively Russian view of history to back up his security concerns, Putin said Ukraine was “created” by Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. He also accused NATO of having “fooled” Russia with five waves of expansion since the Cold War and scorned the U.S. for inching closer to Russia’s “doorstep,” adding that it sometimes seems Moscow and the West live in “different worlds.”

    “You are demanding guarantees from me,” Putin said. “You should be giving guarantees. And immediately, now. ”

    […] Before Putin addressed the media Thursday, Russia’s Covid death toll passed 600,000, according to a Reuters tally. The country has struggled to contain cases, and it has the third-highest death toll in the world, with low vaccination take-up harming its ability to emerge from the pandemic.

    In the last year, the country has also faced the largest crackdown on the free press and political dissent since the Soviet era. A growing number of opposition political figures and media outlets face “foreign agent” designations, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been imprisoned on what his supporters say are trumped-up charges after he was poisoned with a nerve agent.

    Link

  111. says

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation that bans imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labor, the White House said. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is part of the U.S. pushback against Beijing’s treatment of the China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, which Washington has labeled genocide. […]

  112. says

    Scroll down to watch/listen to two videos: Bo Diddley on the Ed Sullivan show, and Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” recorded in 1955. “I’m a Man” is one of my favorites. Link

    From the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, Missouri:

    Bo Diddley is much more than a name; rather, Bo Diddley is a legacy and musical style that has impacted the world’s take on music. Bo Diddley began to solidify his unique sound after picking up the guitar by reconstructing his musical equipment, such as his amplifier and his tremolo unit, which he made from various car parts and other household mechanisms. These adjustments complemented his violin-like techniques that featured distorted and muted string sounds.

    This sound was first featured on the song recording “Bo Diddley,” and it uses a combination of maracas and guitar. Coined by Ellas McDaniel, the Bo Diddley Beat is a two-measure, syncopated pattern. This beat was similar to “ham boning,” also known as “Pattin’ Juba,” a traditional African American slapping rhythm. This musical technique allowed musicians to create different rhythms by hitting different body parts to create various sounds and tones. It can also be found in the roots of African-Cuban music.

    […] We can often identify this sound in songs by Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Buddy Holiday, Johnny Otis. Bruce Springsteen, U2, and many more. […].

    About one of Bo Diddley’s female band members:

    Peggy Jones was just 16 when she met Bo Diddley while walking by the Apollo Theater. By the next year, Peggy, or Lady Bo as she’d later be known, was a member of Diddley’s band and one of the first female lead guitarists in rock.

    https://twitter.com/WFMU/status/1106184966617083904
    Photo at the link.

  113. raven says

    Strangely enough, here it is two years into the Covid-19 virus pandemic and we still don’t know a whole lot of really basic biology about the virus infection. Part of that is that medical research just takes time. It can take weeks to culture the virus from a biopsy or necropsy and characterize it.
    Part of it is…I don’t know why.
    Since this virus will be around forever, I suppose we will be studying it forever.

    The tl;dr version of the article below.
    The Covid-19 virus can go systemic early on, infect the entire body, and may persist for months.
    This could explain some features of the long hauler syndromes.
    “The coronavirus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, can spread within days from the airways to the heart, brain and almost every organ system in the body, where it may persist for months, a study found.”

    Prognosis Coronavirus Can Persist for Months After Traversing Entire Body
    By Jason Gale December 26, 2021, 12:10 AM PST Bloomberg
    NIH scientists release findings of comprehensive autopsy study
    New research may inform understanding of long Covid symptoms

    The coronavirus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, can spread within days from the airways to the heart, brain and almost every organ system in the body, where it may persist for months, a study found.

    In what they describe as the most comprehensive analysis to date of the virus’s distribution and persistence in the body and brain, scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health said they found the pathogen is capable of replicating in human cells well beyond the respiratory tract.

    The results, released online Saturday in a manuscript under review for publication in the journal Nature, point to delayed viral clearance as a potential contributor to the persistent symptoms wracking so-called long Covid sufferers. Understanding the mechanisms by which the virus persists, along with the body’s response to any viral reservoir, promises to help improve care for those afflicted, the authors said.

    “This is remarkably important work,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the clinical epidemiology center at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System in Missouri, who has led separate studies into the long-term effects of Covid-19. “For a long time now, we have been scratching our heads and asking why long Covid seems to affect so many organ systems. This paper sheds some light, and may help explain why long Covid can occur even in people who had mild or asymptomatic acute disease.”

    The findings haven’t yet been reviewed by independent scientists, and are mostly based on data gathered from fatal Covid cases, not patients with long Covid or “post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2,” as it’s also called.

    Contentious Findings
    The coronavirus’s propensity to infect cells outside the airways and lungs is contested, with numerous studies providing evidence for and against the possibility.

    The research undertaken at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, is based on extensive sampling and analysis of tissues taken during autopsies on 44 patients who died after contracting the coronavirus during the first year of the pandemic in the U.S.

    Read more: Covid Deaths Are in the Millions But Autopsies Only in Hundreds
    The burden of infection outside the respiratory tract and time to viral clearance isn’t well characterized, particularly in the brain, wrote Daniel Chertow, who runs the NIH’s emerging pathogens section, and his colleagues.

    The group detected persistent SARS-CoV-2 RNA in multiple parts of the body, including regions throughout the brain, for as long as 230 days following symptom onset. This may represent infection with defective virus, which has been described in persistent infection with the measles virus, they said.

    In contrast to other Covid autopsy research, the NIH team’s post-mortem tissue collection was more comprehensive and typically occurred within about a day of the patient’s death.

    Culturing Coronavirus
    The NIH researchers also used a variety of tissue preservation techniques to detect and quantify viral levels, as well as grow the virus collected from multiple tissues, including lung, heart, small intestine and adrenal gland from deceased Covid patients during their first week of illness.

    “Our results collectively show that while the highest burden of SARS-CoV-2 is in the airways and lung, the virus can disseminate early during infection and infect cells throughout the entire body, including widely throughout the brain,” the authors said.

    The researchers posit that infection of the pulmonary system may result in an early “viremic” phase, in which the virus is present in the bloodstream and is seeded throughout the body, including across the blood-brain barrier, even in patients experiencing mild or no symptoms. One patient in the autopsy study was a juvenile who likely died from unrelated seizure complications, suggesting infected children without severe Covid-19 can also experience systemic infection, they said.

    Immune Response
    The less-efficient viral clearance in tissues outside the pulmonary system may be related to a weak immune response outside the respiratory tract, the authors said.

    SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in the brains of all six autopsy patients who died more than a month after developing symptoms, and across most locations evaluated in the brain in five, including one patient who died 230 days after symptom onset.

    The focus on multiple brain areas is especially helpful, said Al-Aly at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System.

    “It can help us understand the neurocognitive decline or ‘brain fog’ and other neuropsychiatric manifestations of long Covid,” he said. “We need to start thinking of SARS-CoV-2 as a systemic virus that may clear in some people, but in others may persist for weeks or months and produce long Covid — a multifaceted systemic disorder.”

  114. says

    Immigrants in detention have been at heightened risk throughout the pandemic. They have been confined to environments where social distancing is impossible, at times without adequate prevention and sanitation measures and with limited access to vaccines and information about them.

    Now they’re even more vulnerable as the highly transmissible omicron has become the most common coronavirus variant in the US — and advocates say it’s another factor that adds to the already compelling case for releasing them from detention.

    Since the outset of the pandemic, more than 31,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, with an infection rate more than three times as high as the overall US infection rate. Cases peaked in May 2021 at around 2,000 cases at a given time and have since declined to just under 300 active cases among 21,000 people in detention as of December 20. Some of the worst outbreaks have occurred in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.

    An ICE spokesperson [said] a total of 46,772 people in detention have received Covid-19 vaccinations. But it’s not clear what share of the detained population over time that number represents given that people are constantly being booked in and released. It’s also not clear what kind of vaccine those people have received and whether they have received one or two doses or a booster shot. (ICE does not release that information publicly and did not respond to a request for that data.) That makes it hard to measure the efficacy of the agency’s vaccination campaign.

    Absent an aggressive vaccination and booster campaign and efforts to reduce the population in immigration detention, it’s only a matter of time before omicron spreads through ICE facilities. […]

    Link

  115. says

    raven @121, thanks for posting that. I know that there is still some disagreement about this, but the closing sentence makes a lot of sense to me: “We need to start thinking of SARS-CoV-2 as a systemic virus that may clear in some people, but in others may persist for weeks or months and produce long Covid — a multifaceted systemic disorder.”

    A multifaceted systemic disorder that may change as the virus mutates.

  116. blf says

    Lynna@118, quotes “Putin is starting to sound desperate”. The Grauniad had an analysis just a few days ago, Why Putin is acting like a man who has run out of time (“As Ukraine drifts from the control he desires, disdain for potential negotiating partners leaves the option of force”). A snippet:

    From Putin’s perspective, he may look to recent events in Ukraine and believe it’s all downhill from here. His attempt to force Ukraine to reintegrate the eastern Donbas region, a poison pill that could give him a veto over the country’s geopolitical path, has failed as the Minsk agreements that would have steered it come close to collapse. His proxies may control a sliver of Ukraine’s south-east but the rest of the country has drifted further from his control.

    At the same time, Putin is alarmed by growing military cooperation between Ukraine and the west, including military assistance and prospective arms sales […]. He argues that the country is de facto becoming an “unofficial” member of Nato, an anti-Russia that he claims could one day host western troops or even missiles.

    […] Putin […] has demanded a new treaty with Nato to roll back its expansion by removing troops and infrastructure from countries that joined after 1997, a non-starter in much of eastern Europe. At the same time, Putin has made it clear he is impatient to obtain his “security guarantees” immediately and has treated his potential negotiating partners with open disdain.

    That anti-Russia nonsense reminds me Putin is very much of teh cold war (so is Biden and too much of his relevant team), during which the Soviet Union, quite paranoid, maintained they were being encircled as a prelude to something nasty (another invasion?). Admittedly, that rather distorted view wasn’t helped in the slightest by the Nato, etc., policy known as Containment, “a Cold War foreign policy of the United States and its allies to prevent the spread of communism after the end of World War II.”

  117. KG says

    raven@121,
    That’s alarming work if confirmed – we could be facing an epidemic of dementia or other neurological problems in the coming years – and decades.

  118. blf says

    Lynna@118 & raven@121, A relevant snippet from the Grauniad, Omicron: bleak New Year or beginning of the end for the pandemic?, “Scientists are cautiously optimistic that the variant may be a sign the virus is losing its power, despite the high infection figures” (minor changes for formatting reasons (not marked)):

    Is the virus likely to lose its power to cause severe illness?
    Many[?] scientists believe evidence is now suggesting that this idea may be correct. Recent studies in Scotland, England and South Africa all point in this direction. “My gut feeling is that this variant is the first step in a process by which the virus adapts to the human population to produce more benign symptoms,” says Dr Julian Tang, Professor of Respiratory Sciences at Leicester University. “In a sense, it is to the virus’s advantage if it affects people in a way that that they don’t get too sick — because then they can walk around and mingle in society and spread the virus even more.”

    So will Covid-19 end up behaving like flu?
    Some health officials have predicted that Covid-19 could end up behaving like influenza, which requires a new vaccine to deal with new strains that appear every year. However, Professor Martin Hibberd, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, argues that coronaviruses — like those that already cause common colds — do not behave this way: “They do not appear as new strains every year. The reason we get colds in winter is because our immunity to coronaviruses does not last very long. And this virus seems to be more similar to those that cause common colds. In other words, we may still need to think about giving vaccines to protect against Covid-19 every year because immunity will always slip.”

    It must be emphasized the above SARS-Cov-2 / Covid-19 are all speculation, albeit informed.

  119. says

    Brony @128, PZ @129 and KG @130, thank you all so much. That brightens my day. We had a blizzard here yesterday and I have to shovel snow today —so nice to start out with warm feelings.

    In other news: Voters often like doctors and celebrities, and Dr. Mehmet Oz checks both boxes. His history of “dispensing dubious medical advice” remains a big problem.

    […] Dr. Mehmet Oz, a physician and television personality, saw an opportunity to fill the vacuum and launched a political career, despite not actually living in the Keystone State. […] leading Pennsylvania Republicans were “baffled” by the idea […]

    Time will tell, of course, whether Pennsylvanians are impressed, but as The New York Times reported over the weekend, one of Oz’s most important strengths as a candidate — his ostensible credibility as one of the nation’s most recognized physicians — is also a potential vulnerability. The newspaper specifically referenced [Oz’s] history of “dispensing dubious medical advice” and making “sweeping claims based on thin evidence.”

    Over the years, Dr. Oz, 61, has faced a bipartisan scolding before a Senate committee over claims he made about weight-loss pills, as well as the opposition of some of his physician peers, including a group of 10 doctors who sought his firing from Columbia University’s medical faculty in 2015, arguing that he had “repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine.”

    Oz also promoted hydroxychloroquine on Fox News in 2020 as a possible Covid-19 treatment, which impressed Donald Trump, but which wasn’t ultimately supported by scientific evidence.

    Unfortunately, the list doesn’t end there. The Times’ article added:

    He has warned parents that apple juice contained unsafe levels of arsenic, advice that the Food and Drug Administration called “irresponsible and misleading.” In 2013, he warned women that carrying cellphones in their bras could cause breast cancer, a claim without scientific merit. In 2014, the British Medical Journal analyzed 80 recommendations on Dr. Oz’s show, and concluded that fewer than half were supported by evidence.

    My MSNBC colleague Hayes Brown recently noted that there’s “a long tradition of doctors turned senators who don’t display the best medical practices,” adding, “[F]or all his questionable practices, Oz may not be the worst doctor to ever sit in the Capitol — although he’s probably up there.”

    For his part, the doctor-turned-host-turned-candidate has questioned his critics’ motives and denied any wrongdoing. As for his suspect medical claims, Oz has acknowledged his use of “colorful language.

    Looks like Oz will fit in well with the trumpian contingent of Republicans. He is a fraud, a scam artist and a con man.

  120. says

    NBC News:

    […] Trump praised the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines in a new interview just days after being booed by an audience for revealing he received a Covid booster shot.

    Commentary:

    […] “The vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind,” Trump told conservative commentator Candace Owens in an interview on Wednesday. When the host started to push back a bit, the former president quickly added, “Oh no, the vaccines work. The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine…. If you take the vaccine, you’re protected.”

    He added, “I came up with a vaccine, with three vaccines all are very, very good,” he said in the interview […]

    Trump expressed disapproval of vaccines unrelated to Covid because he didn’t develop them. He questioned the utility of masks, because he couldn’t take credit for them, either. But as far as the former president is concerned, the three main Covid-19 vaccines are his.

    He may not have been directly involved in their development — that credit obviously belongs to scientists — but for Trump, the scientific breakthrough happened on his watch, so the lifesaving vaccines are an extension of his awesomeness.

    But more interesting is that the former president’s search for self-glorification is the likely impact of his rhetoric. Republican pollster Frank Luntz said last week, “This is significant. Trump telling people to get the vaccine right now will have a better, a bigger impact than anyone else, because it’s Republicans who aren’t vaccinated.”

    […] voters tend to have a religious-like reverence for the former president; so it stands to reason that Trump’s rhetoric might have beneficial effects as we try to end the pandemic.

    But just below the surface, there’s reason for some skepticism […]

    Trump is losing his grip on trumpism, so it may not matter much what he says about vaccines:

    […] [Trump’s] recent rhetoric on Covid vaccines isn’t entirely new. In early March, as public access to the vaccines became more common, Trump appeared at a far-right gathering and said, “So everybody, go get your shot.”

    About a week later, the Republican issued a related statement that meandered, and was annoyingly whiny, but which was nevertheless pro-vaccine: Trump called the shots “beautiful” and suggested that “everyone” would be receiving them.

    Many of his supporters ignored him. In the months that followed, Trump was even booed by his own supporters when he touted the free, safe, and effective miracle vaccines.

    Alex Jones told his audience that the former president’s rhetoric on vaccines was “nothing but a raft of dirty lies.” Other notable voices from Trump World have reacted in a similar way.

    […] Trump’s acolytes adore him, just so long as he’s saying what they want to hear — and at this point in the pandemic, they don’t want to hear the truth about vaccines. […]

    He doesn’t lead his supporters, so much as he reflects their id.

    As Philip Bump put it last week, what we’re seeing is a conflict between Trump and Trumpism, and the latter is winning.

    Link

    Is it possible that Trump’s supporters will continue to insist on being even more stupid and more truculent than he is?

  121. says

    Details emerge on some of the grift behind Trump’s months-long preelection voter fraud claims

    The past squatter in the Oval Office spent months and months sowing seeds of distrust in our election system, trying to make sure that he had laid the groundwork to challenge the election—or have an insurrection if the legal route to challenging it failed. He was open to anything, as were some of his well-heeled supporters. The Daily Beast has reports on the fundraising campaign that one of those groups, the Liberty Center for God and Country (LCGC), ran ahead of the election and what they did with that money.

    Remember the former police captain who ran an innocent air conditioner technician off the road and held him at gunpoint, convinced that the man was transporting 750,000 fraudulent ballots? Mark Aguirre, that former cop, was indicted last week for aggravated assault in that attack. It was that attack and the subsequent criminal charges that outed the LCGC, which paid Aguirre more than $200,000 to investigate voter fraud. Newly released documents show the depth of LCGC’s planning and the money they raised to fight the election in the event of a Trump loss.

    Aguirre started a GoFundMe campaign in September 2020, launched the day after he signed an affidavit in a lawsuit brought by Texas Republican activist Steven Hotze declaring he had knowledge of a vast Houston Democrats voter fraud scheme. “We are private investigators in the State of Texas who have uncovered an illegal ballot harvesting operation in Harris County,” Aguirre said on his new fundraising site. [snipped more bluster and lies]

    The “we” included Aguirre and Hotze, who had formed the LCGC in August 2020, supposedly to provide spiritual support to Trump. The group launched its web presence by calling for Trump to declare a period of three days “for national repentance, fasting, and prayer.” Hotze is a long-standing anti-LGBT activist in Texas Republican politics who went full-on conspiracy theory in the months before the election. “The Socialist Democrats know that Harris County, where Houston is located, is ground zero for the upcoming general election in Texas and nationwide,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was shared by the LCGC. His LCGC raised about $70,000 in the fall of 2020.

    Some of that money seems to have been poured into creating a post-election website called Every Legal Vote, which manufactured “evidence” of Trump’s supposed win. […]

    The Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG) is financially tied to LCGC as proved by a fundraiser it ran on an election denial website this year. “ASOG urgently needs your help to continue their vitally important research,” the group pleaded, but asked donors to write the checks they were sending in to LCGC, saying ASOG “will get them to LCGC and insure your donation receipt.” You might remember ASOG for its founder, Russell Ramsland Jr., who filed an affidavit in a Lin Wood lawsuit claiming fraud in Michigan using data from towns in Minnesota. [Yep. Brilliant minds. Not.]

    […] “Texts from officials involved in the Maricopa County audit reveal that ASOG was also working with Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel credited with distributing a now-infamous PowerPoint presentation on how lawmakers could invalidate the 2020 election and install Trump as president.”

    LCGC is a registered nonprofit, giving it all the dark cover it needs to exploit—and generate—election denial through Every Legal Vote and any other grift machine. It’s just all one big, interconnected, conspiracy theory-loving bunch of crooks. […]

  122. says

    Some airlines continue to cancel flights following holiday meltdown

    Sunday’s schedule was a mess; dozens of Monday’s flights have already been canceled.

    U.S. airlines are expected to cancel more flights into the early part of this week following a tumultuous holiday weekend in which passengers were stranded or delayed following massive cancellations.

    Major carriers such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and American Airlines, among others, collectively canceled nearly 700 flights for Sunday and delayed thousands more […]

    Dozens more have already been canceled for Monday after some airlines reported staff shortages amid the Omicron surge. It’s unclear whether delays will continue en masse into the week amid reports of the limited crew availability. […]

  123. says

    Covid testing, an update:

    […] “Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do. We’re doing it,” Biden said on a White House COVID-19 response team call with the governors to discuss the administration’s response to the omicron variant.

    “I know the lines have gotten very long in some states,” he said, adding that he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up pop-up sites in places with high demand such as New York City, where six new sites were stood up in the last five days.

    […] “We worked with Google so you can now search ‘COVID test near me’ on Google.”

    […] eight at-home tests are now on the market and another was cleared last week.

    […] The president pointed to an announcement last week that the federal government would purchase 500 million tests to send to Americans free of charge, which will be ready for delivery in January, and another recent announcement that Americans with private health insurance will be able to get reimbursed for tests next month.

    “But we have to do more,” he said.

    “[…] because we have so many vaccinated and boosted, we’re not seeing hospitalizations drive as sharply as we did in March of 2020 or even this past fall. America has made progress, things are better,” he said. “But we do know that with a rising cases, we still have tens of millions of unvaccinated people and we’re seeing hospitalizations rise.” […]

    Link

  124. tomh says

    Sarah Weddington, lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, dies at 76
    ASSOCIATED PRESS / December 26, 2021

    DALLAS (AP) — Sarah Weddington, a Texas lawyer who as a 26-year-old successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, died Sunday. She was 76.
    […]

    Raised as a minister’s daughter in the West Texas city of Abilene, Weddington attended law school at the University of Texas. A couple years after graduating, she and a former classmate, Linda Coffee, brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman challenging a state law that largely banned abortions.

    The case of “Jane Roe,” whose real name was Norma McCorvey, was brought against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade and eventually advanced to the Supreme Court.

    Weddington argued the case before the high court twice, in December 1971 and again in October 1972, resulting the next year in the 7-2 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
    […]

    While that case was before the court, Weddington also ran to represent Austin in the Texas House of Representatives. She was elected in 1972 and served three terms as a state lawmaker, before becoming general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later working as advisor on women’s issues to President Jimmy Carter.
    […]

  125. says

    January 6 Committee Wants Trump’s Perfect Call To His Coup Buddies At Willard Hotel

    On January 5, the night before the MAGA mob stormed the Capitol, Donald Trump called his goons at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, as part of a last-ditch effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee investigating the attack, has announced that the panel will look into just how legal and cool Trump’s call really was:

    The chairman said the select committee intended to scrutinize the phone call – revealed last month by the Guardian – should they prevail in their legal effort to obtain Trump White House records over the former president’s objections of executive privilege.

    “That’s right,” Thompson said when asked by the Guardian whether the select committee would look into Trump’s phone call, and suggested House investigators had already started to consider ways to investigate Trump’s demand that Biden not be certified as president on 6 January.

    Trump’s evil scheme was to overrule the voters and steal a second term. Several Trump lawyers reportedly insist that they “only considered delaying Biden’s certification at the request of state legislators because of voter fraud,” but the Trump campaign’s claims of voter fraud were repeatedly rejected and laughed out of court. There was no legal way for Trump to remain president. Period.

    Trump reportedly told his cabal, which included Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Steve Bannon, that former Vice President Mike Pence wasn’t playing along, and he pressed his democracy-smashing squad to come up with a way to stop Biden’s certification on January 6, which would buy them time to send Congress an alternate slate of phony Trump electors.

    As I mentioned when we first reported on the fateful Willard call, what matters is motive and intent. Trump was delusional enough to believe stopping the electoral vote count would help him hold onto power. The objective was to delay, delay, delay, and what could’ve been more conducive to that goal than a MAGA mob storming the Capitol?

    Over the past few months, the January 6 committee has looked hard at Trump’s pals who were hanging at the Willard hotel. Bannon and Eastman have both been subpoenaed. It’s believed that Giuliani will be next to receive a subpoena stocking stuffer.

    According to the Guardian, Trump called lawyers and non-lawyers at the Willard separately, because Giuliani — a real Wile E. Coyote genius lawyer — claimed this would preserve attorney-client privilege on “sensitive calls.” However, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the select committee, both scoffed at and mocked this legal theory.

    “The attorney-client privilege does not operate to shield participants in a crime from an investigation into a crime,” Raskin said. “If it did, then all you would have to do to rob a bank is bring a lawyer with you, and be asking for advice along the way.”

    It does seem as if Trump thought he could steal the presidency while invoking a laundry list of privileges (executive, attorney client) to save his skin.

    Although the select committee can’t ask the National Archives for records about specific calls, Thompson said, “if we say we want all White House calls made on January 5 and 6, if [Trump] made it on a White House phone, then obviously we would look at it there.”

    It’s probably wise to use a burner phone when plotting to overthrow the legally elected government, but I contend that Trump is a pretty stupid criminal, so it’s possible he used a White House phone. Unfortunately, calls placed from the White House residence, where Trump preferred to work, aren’t automatically stored and sent to the National Archives at the end of a presidential administration. So, even if the committee gains access to the records, they might only learn the time of the calls and the recipients, and Trump’s thugs are so far keeping quiet like classic Goodfellas.

  126. says

    In May, Mitch McConnell went out of his way to derail an independent Jan. 6 investigation. Now, his perspective is dramatically different.

    Shortly before members of Congress left Capitol Hill for their holiday break, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked what he hoped to learn from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. I assumed he’d dismiss the bipartisan panel and its relevance.

    But he didn’t. “I read the reports every day,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters, “and it’ll be interesting to see what [investigators] conclude.”

    As NBC News noted, McConnell went a little further later in the week.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday that he looks forward to seeing what the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol finds in its probe. “It was a horrendous event and I think what they are seeking to find out is something the public needs to know,” McConnell said in an interview with Spectrum News.

    In the same interview, he added, “I think the fact-finding is interesting; we’re all going to be watching it.”

    […] this was not at all predictable.

    Let’s not forget that the original plan was a for an independent, 9/11-style commission that would be responsible for investigating the attack. Democratic and Republican leaders negotiated the terms of how such a commission would be structured, and the expectation was that Congress would move forward in a bipartisan way after Democrats effectively endorsed all of the GOP’s requests.

    McConnell balked anyway. On May 19, the minority leader denounced the bipartisan plan, suggesting an independent investigation wouldn’t produce any “new facts.”

    A week later, McConnell told his members a Jan. 6 probe was likely to undermine the party’s midterm election message. By May 28, the top Senate Republican was reportedly telling his members he’d consider it “a personal favor” if they opposed the legislation to create an independent Jan. 6 commission.

    An unnamed GOP senator told CNN, “No one can understand why Mitch is going to this extreme of asking for a ‘personal favor’ to kill the commission.”

    Conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters the bipartisan plan was still likely to pass, adding that he hoped there were at least “10 good, solid patriots” among Senate Republicans. There weren’t: McConnell convinced the GOP minority to kill the bill and block the creation of a commission.

    And yet, he we are, seven months later, watching McConnell sing a very different tune. The minority leader who went out of his way to block an independent investigation is now publicly endorsing the House select committee’s probe, telling Americans that investigators “are seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

    What’s far from clear is why in the world the Kentuckian’s perspective has changed. Did McConnell learn important new intelligence as a member of the gang of eight? Is this a rhetorical shot across the bow at Donald Trump, who’s working desperately to replace McConnell as the top Senate Republican?

    I won’t pretend to know what the senator is thinking, but as a recent Washington Post analysis concluded, “[What McConnell is] saying is a departure from his party that significantly hamstrings efforts to undermine the committee. And it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.”

  127. says

    In the spring, Republicans were desperate to end jobless benefits. Now, they’ve changed their minds — but only for the unvaccinated.

    […] after congressional Democrats approved enhanced unemployment benefits, these GOP officials decided the smart move would be to cut off the extra assistance to the jobless, in the hopes that it would force people back to work faster.

    We now know, of course, that the idea was wrong, and the Republican policy didn’t have the intended effect. But the larger point remained unchanged: Leading GOP officials saw unemployment aid as a problem. The sooner jobless benefits could be curtailed, the better off we’d be as able-bodied Americans returned to the workforce. […]

    In recent months, many of those same GOP officials have changed their minds — but only for a small part of the population.

    In October, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds — one of the Republicans who rushed to get people off of jobless aid in the spring — acted quickly to make unemployment benefits available to those who lost their jobs for refusing to get vaccinated. A month later, a handful of other red states had done the same thing. The Washington Post reported yesterday, meanwhile, that the list is gradually growing.

    Workers who quit or are fired for cause — including for defying company policy — are generally ineligible for jobless benefits. But Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have carved out exceptions for those who won’t submit to the multi-shot coronavirus vaccine regimens that many companies now require.

    Conservative officials in Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Missouri are reportedly weighing similar policies.
    […] employers would rather have protected workforces than shoulder the UI costs — as do Biden administration officials desperately trying to expand the reach of their vaccination campaign. Public health experts, meanwhile, have noted that these red states are “incentivizing people to skip shots” that would help end the pandemic.

    […] under normal circumstances, Americans who voluntarily give up their jobs or are fired for cause aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. But thanks to Republicans in these five states, those who leave their jobs because they oppose vaccines can get checks from the government anyway.

    As Catherine Rampell recently explained, these red states are now effectively “paying people not to get vaccinated.”

    […] All of a sudden, government handouts to people who aren’t working are a good thing — just so long as GOP officials approve of the recipients’ political agenda.

    If these jobless benefits undermine the Biden administration’s efforts to get Americans vaccinated […] that’s a price these Republicans are willing to pay.

    It’s another detail to remember as Republicans try to blame the White House for the fact that the crisis is still ongoing.

  128. says

    Yikes! That’s a terrible home schooling plan.

    Ex-Arizona teacher peddles white nationalist home-school curriculum to fight ‘anti-white propaganda’

    Designed for ages 4 and up, the School of the West bills itself as an online educational resource for home-schooling families. White families, that is.

    The focus is on the study of “white wellbeing,” within a curriculum of history, math, science, and the arts designed for “Westernkind,” meaning white boys and girls, according to the site, to help them “develop self-esteem” and “the truth of their heritage.”

    The site was launched by a man who refers to himself only as “Brant,” but who The Daily Beast and Anti-Defamation League extremism researcher Mark Pitcavage identify as Brant Williams.

    Williams […] goes on to list the problems as “confusing gender roles,” “forced gender transgenderism,” “intentional misrepresentation of history,” and of course, “a ton of anti-white propaganda.”

    If you’re curious about what “white wellbeing” means, a video with the title “White Wellbeing” advocates pulling kids out of “government education,” […] The video goes on to add that “it’s time for our children to learn what makes the white race unique,” and for them to learn the history “they’re denied by the anti-whites that control our textbooks.”

    Finally, with what seems like a million photos of wintery snow scenes with a few of Roman soldiers mixed in while inspiring piano music plays in the background, a deep voice resonates, “It’s time there was a school made for our people.”

    The foundation of white wellbeing is “Going Free,” which is explained in eight slides.

    The slides include topics such as understanding why the anti-whites “want us to feel bad.” Because they don’t do as well in school or their jobs so they “blame us for their poor performance.” And “anti-white victimizers” who want white boys and girls to “to grow up and marry racial strangers [non-whites] because they will have non-white babies after they are married.” But after understanding the hatred of the “anti-whites,” the idea is that the Westernkind can “go free.”

    In the “Science” section, there’s a “Life Science” dropdown that takes you to six lectures including genetic, structural, physiologic, reproductive, disease predilection, mental behavioral, and psychological.

    Videos open with “Hello white families.” The “Genetic Differences” lecture teaches a dizzying array of misinformation. At one point it even names a group of people in the Black race as “mentally retarded,” and pointing out that there are “significantly” more “mentally retarded” people in the Black race than in the white, and whites have higher IQs.

    […] The school additionally links to the Institute of Historical Review, which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center published numerous antisemitic materials and hosted a Holocaust denial conference in 2004.

    It could be easy to ignore this obviously racist, homophobic, and xenophobic “school” as just another extremist with loony ideas of indoctrinating kids. But the reality is after a term under former President Donald Trump, this is a reverberation of his and his followers’ acceptance of white nationalist ideas gone mainstream.

    […] “White nationalists are interested in creating their own parallel society,” Sophie Bjork-James, an anthropologist who studies white nationalist communities, explains to The Daily Beast. “Educating children in white-supremacist values is part of this plan … White nationalists understand that exposing their children to multicultural curricula can lead to a rejection of their beliefs.”

    Look no further than the push to remove books by Black and brown authors in states such as Virginia and Texas.

    Indoctrinating kids via home-school isn’t new. Christian home-schooling has been on the rise going back to 1999. Since the pandemic, home-schooling has doubled with nearly 2.6 million kids leaving traditional education. According to census data, more than 11% of U.S. households are now home-schooling.

    “The Christian home school subculture isn’t a children-first movement. It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement. […]

    Cynthia Jeub writes a blog about growing up home-schooled, which she calls “a cult of sorts.” In a piece she wrote for HuffPost, she talks openly about what she learned while at home.

    “Democrats, I was told, just wanted to kill innocent babies waiting to be born in their mothers’ wombs,” Jeub says she was taught. And on her blog she writes: “I believed that I had received a better education than my peers. The truth was that I had been indoctrinated with propaganda to interpret everything in the world through a lens of fundamentalist teachings. Part of what I had to believe was that I was highly informed and educated, and the rest of the world was in fact being misinformed and indoctrinated to believe in falsehoods, like evolution.”

    Williams, founder of School for the West, recently explained in an interview his view of teaching children.

    “If I told them that aliens came down and made these people in Hollywood and now everyone in Hollywood is aliens, they’d go, ‘Yeah, OK, alright.’ When you develop trust with your students, they’ll believe pretty much everything you say.” That just about sums up his intentions.

  129. says

    Russia is shutting down its oldest human rights group

    “My mother always used to say: ‘It can’t get any worse than this.’ Turns out it can.”

    Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the closure of Memorial International, the nation’s oldest and arguably most prominent human rights group. It’s the latest of multiple recent actions taken by President Vladimir Putin to curb rights advocacy or political opposition.

    Memorial International, often abbreviated to Memorial, has studied “political repressions” by the former Soviet Union and present-day Russian government since 1992. […]

    Memorial’s objectives have included promoting the development of civil society and a democratic state that excludes the possibility of a return to totalitarianism. It has also worked to restore “historical truth” by publishing information on crimes and human rights violations committed by past regimes and by offering support to victims’ families.

    Prosecutors on Tuesday accused Memorial of violating Russia’s foreign agents law, which has been used to target human rights groups, activists, and journalists in the past […] The court ruled Memorial would be liquidated and its structural units abolished because of the group’s failure to add a foreign agent label to its materials.

    Memorial has said it has taken great care to meet the requirements of Russia’s law on foreign agents, and the court’s verdict represents something much more insidious than simply upholding legislation.

    “The real reason for Memorial’s closure is that the prosecutor’s office doesn’t like Memorial’s work rehabilitating the victims of Soviet terror,” the group’s lawyer, Tatiana Glushkova, told CNN. She said Memorial will appeal the court’s decision.

    The verdict also leaves the fate of Memorial’s archives and databases, containing the names of millions of victims, as well as files on thousands of people who worked for the Soviet secret police from 1935 to 1939, hanging in the balance.

    […] Human rights groups and advocates on Tuesday condemned the court’s verdict.

    In a tweet, Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, called the decision “heartbreaking” and “another blow to civil society.” […]

  130. says

    […] One hospital being overwhelmed isn’t a one-hospital problem, it’s an every-hospital problem. Even if your community is not awash with Covid-19 or if most people are vaccinated, a major outbreak in your broader region, plus all the other patients hospitals are treating in normal times, could easily fill your hospital, too. That makes it harder for the health system to treat you if you come to the ER with heart attack symptoms or appendicitis or any acute medical emergency.

    Already, because of existing staffing shortages, rural hospitals are finding it difficult to find room for their patients at larger hospital systems. With omicron spreading rapidly, increasing the number of patients seeking care while sidelining health workers who have to quarantine, systemic overload may not be far off.

    “When you have a Covid patient who needs ICU care, those hospitals are turning away patients,” Carrie Saia, CEO of Holton Community Hospital, located in a town of 3,000 people about 90 minutes east of the Kansas City metropolitan area, told me earlier this month. “We’re sending our patients farther away. Not because they’re full, they’re just out of staff.” […]

    Covid-19 surges spark chain reactions that strain US hospitals everywhere

  131. says

    Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin continues to not understand how vaccines work. Look, some people are just dullards and can’t grasp simple concepts, but Johnson keeps broadcasting his idiocy on national television.

    Monday night, Johnson appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with guest host Sean Duffy, a former congressman from Wisconsin who also had a hootenanny about men’s sperms last night. Johnson called the country’s COVID-19 response a “miserable failure,” and he blamed Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was apparently the president last year. Johnson pushed the Republican line that Dr. Fauci has flip-flopped on masks and mandates, when he actually has altered his views as facts develop. It’s a science thing that Johnson wouldn’t understand.

    Johnson denounced vaccine mandates as “divisive” before fully embracing pandemic nihilism.

    JOHNSON: Listen, we all hoped and prayed the vaccines would be 100% effective, 100% safe, but they’re not. We now know that fully vaccinated individuals can catch COVID, they can transmit COVID. So what’s the point? [AAARRRGGGHHH!]

    [video is available at the Wonkette link, and here:
    https://twitter.com/justinbaragona/status/1475651507475431424 ]

    Even a small child with a Fisher-Price science kit understood that vaccines are not 100 percent effective or safe. That’s not what was promised, and that’s not how anything works. The vaccines are objectively safer than dying from COVID-19. That’s the point Johnson insists on missing. Admittedly, many folks on the Left are also freaking out that fully vaccinated people can catch and transmit COVID-19, but the science is pretty clear: If you’re fully vaccinated, COVID-19 is far less likely to send you to the hospital or the morgue.

    Dr. Scott Gottlieb shared a slide showing 2021’s age-adjusted COVID-19-associated hospitalizations by vaccine status. The rate among unvaccinated people is exponentially greater than people who got the damn jab. [Chart available at the link, and it’s a good one.]

    Johnson claimed we’re not recognizing the benefits of natural immunity or the danger from “vaccine injuries.” I had a sore arm for a day after my booster but I’m not magnetic or anything. Serious adverse events from the Pfizer vaccine, for instance, are less than one percent.

    Studies have shown that if the Omicron variant can potentially evade vaccines, it will break the door of the hinges of your natural immunity. You also need to have caught and survived COVID-19 to have any natural immunity. That’s not a wise course of action.

    Johnson slandered Dr. Fauci some more, accusing him of lying to the American public about COVID-19. Duffy expressed concern about Dr. Fauci’s supposed “edicts and mandates” over when you can see people over the holidays. Dr. Fauci only provides scientific guidance, which Fox News viewers mostly ignore. It’s not like a Texas liberal can collect a $10,000 bounty for reporting their neighbors who had a mask-free New Year’s Eve party.

    DUFFY: Now you have to have a vaccine to travel on an airplane!

    Well, not yet, though Dr. Fauci has said he’d support a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel. Airplanes are already pressurized petri dishes. This seems a reasonable precaution. It’s hardly tyranny because you already need a photo ID to fly. It’s not a freewheeling process. However, Dr. Fauci has existed in America for the past couple years so he probably understands the challenge with such a mandate.

    “Right now, I don’t think people should expect that we’re going to have a requirement in domestic flights for people to be vaccinated,” he told CNN. “When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer. It’s on the table, and we consider it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I doubt if we’re going to see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future.”

    Duffy said he knows “scores of people who’ve been vaccinated and boosted and they’ve all got Omicron!” Yes, Omicron is highly transmissible, but the outcomes are vastly different, as New York City ER Doctor Craig Spencer detailed in a Twitter thread Sunday.
    [ https://twitter.com/Craig_A_Spencer/status/1475325903144161280 ]

    Senator Ron Johnson ended the interview saying that he doesn’t know why anyone would listen to Dr. Fauci about COVID-19. However, Dr. Fauci’s guidance has kept people alive. Johnson is promoting fact-free bullshit that will kill people dead.

    Wonkette link

  132. says

    https://twitter.com/justinbaragona/status/1475646578186760194

    Fox News guest Chadwick Moore: “I mean, why stop at the vasectomy? I think you just lop the whole thing off and become trans — that’s what you should do if you really love your wife and want to show her what a supporter of womanhood you are!”

    Oh, yeah, that’s really funny … or so Sean Duffy thinks as he laughs. Sean was substituting for Carlson Tucker, and carrying on with Tucker’s masculinity issues as prime time new fodder.

    “I hope these men get a free box set of Harry Potter when they go in for their snip, and some soylent… Fine, if that’s what you want to do, go for it! But [a vasectomy] does make you less of a man, I’m sorry.”

  133. says

    Followup to comment 146.

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    […] Moore adds that “of course we can laugh at these men who are doing this.” Because these guys think it’s funny when straight dudes and their wives can fuck without having to worry about getting pregnant. Ha ha!

    MOORE: Consequence-free sex is what drives the Left. It’s their religion. It fuels almost everything they do.

    What kinds of “consequences” does a gay conservative white man believe there should be for sex? We shudder to imagine.

    MOORE: And of course they believe in population control, they want fewer people on the planet. Of course, populations aren’t growing in rich, western countries except by illegal immigration.

    Casual racism and fearful confusion about the world? Check.

    MOORE: So I wonder how, if you were to take this to parts of the world where the population is exploding, like in, I dunno, sub-Saharan Africa, or Central America, I wonder how those men would react to being told that they should have a vasectomy to show how much they love their women.

    Note that he refers to such women as “their women.” Note that nobody is talking about forcing anybody to have a vasectomy. It’s all so weird.

    That’s when Sean Duffy refers to “men in bike shorts” who get vasectomies, comparing them to “conservative men like me who have nine kids!” […] the notion that there are “conservatives being born and liberals not having kids!” They think it’s so funny.

    And it is funny. But the real reason it’s funny is because every liberal and progressive reading this knows approximately 500 fellow liberals and progressives who escaped conservative families, or maybe they have cordial relationships with their conservative families, but don’t share their values. But virtually nobody knows anybody who ever went the other direction. […]

    So perhaps not the gotcha Duffy thinks it is? […]

    And that’s when Chadwick Moore says he hopes men who get vasectomies “get a free box set of Harry Potter when they go in for their snip, and some soylent,” before finally dropping his truth that “It does make you less of a man. Sorry.”

    Got it, bros with vasectomies? That guy says you’re less of a man now. […]

    Link

  134. says

    Nursing home staff shortages are worsening problems at overwhelmed hospitals.

    Washington Post link

    At the 390-bed Terrace View nursing home on the east side of Buffalo, 22 beds are shut down. There isn’t enough staff to care for a full house, safely or legally.

    That means some fully recovered patients in the adjacent Erie County Medical Center must stay in their hospital rooms, waiting for a bed in the nursing home. Which means some patients in the emergency department, who should be admitted to the hospital, must stay there until a hospital bed opens up. The emergency department becomes stretched so thin that 10 to 20 percent of arrivals leave without seeing a caregiver — after an average wait of six to eight hours, according to the hospital’s data.

    “We used to get upset when our ‘left without being seen’ went above 3 percent,” said Thomas Quatroche, president and chief executive of the Erie County Medical Center Corp., which runs the 590-bed public safety net hospital.

    Nursing home bed and staff shortages were problems in the United States before the coronavirus pandemic. But the departure of 425,000 employees over the past two years has narrowed the bottleneck at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities at the same time that acute care hospitals are facing unending demand for services due to a persistent pandemic and staff shortages of their own. […]

  135. says

    Turns out the experts defending cops in murder trials say exactly what they’re paid to say

    Police brutality doesn’t just happen. Despite popular Republican rhetoric, the spotlight cases of such brutality aren’t just exceptions to a rule of otherwise fair and humane policing—they are examples of a system that has long spun out of control, a system enabled by experts called to defend excessive force and the companies that profit from it.

    The New York Times found that in a 15-year time period, there were more than 100 examples of serious injury or death in which a select few experts were employed to defend police. These experts are physicians, scientists, lawyers, etc., and their work has often been with businesses that train officers, draft the polices that inform their work, and highlight studies used to criticize allegations of excessive use of force by officers. The first visible element in the web version of The New York Times’ story was a list of examples detailing allegations of police brutality juxtaposed with an expert’s translation of that brutality.

    An officer fired a Taser at Kevin Piskura’s chest for 11 seconds. He went into cardiac arrest and later died. A consultant working for Taser wrote: NOV. 1, 2011
    … there is no support for speculations that the minimal amount of current and charge delivered into a human body by an X26 ECD discharge … is likely, or even medically or scientifically possible, to directly cause clinically significant adverse effects …

    The family sued, and the case settled out of court.

    Officers in Phoenix held Miguel Ruiz in a neck hold. Asked in court about the possible dangers of this type of restraint, a doctor testifying as an expert witness for the city said: MAY 30, 2017
    There are no short-term or long-term effects. It doesn’t cause brain damage or brain injury.

    A jury found in favor of the officers.

    In 2019, deputies shocked Kevin Niedzialek twice with a stun gun and pushed him facedown into the ground. After he died, a doctor hired by the county wrote:JAN. 18, 2021
    … we have found no scientific evidence … that a restraint position in a prone, chest-down, or prone hobbled position causes or contributes to asphyxiation or associated death.

    The family sued, and the case is ongoing.

    I can add an even more widely known example in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. When Chauvin was filmed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, the white cop was convicted of murder despite testimony from Barry Brodd, a use of force expert called by the defense. Brodd testified that Floyd was “actively resisting” and “struggling against the officers” for several minutes when being held in the prone position.

    “A compliant person would have both their hands in the small of their back and just be resting comfortably versus like he’s still moving around,” Brodd said when shown a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

    Brodd claimed that holding the Black father in the prone position while he was handcuffed didn’t constitute a use of force because Floyd wasn’t in pain. “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” Brodd testified.

    He later changed his story, admitting that the position Floyd was held in could inflict pain and that Chauvin’s response did not align with the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy. […]

    So in short, experts defend police. Police pay companies for training and equipment. Companies pay to promote expert research, and experts defend police, and on and on. It doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the claim that police work mostly to protect and serve.

    More at the link.

  136. says

    Why the controversy surrounding Trump’s media venture matters

    Trump spent his term boasting about getting tough with China, and now he has partnered with a dubious Shanghai firm for his equally dubious media company. What a mess. I can imagine how foolish this looks to technical and managerial experts who maintain real media companies.

    After Donald Trump was forced from the major social-media platforms for violating their terms of service, the Associated Press reported in March he would soon launch his own site. Jason Miller told Fox News at the time that the former president was poised to “completely redefine the game” with his new tech initiative.

    […] Fox News reported in May that Trump and his team had launched a new “communications platform,” powered by a “digital ecosystem.” The phrases wildly oversold what was actually a rudimentary blog, utilizing technology that’s existed for many years.

    A month after its launch, the website was permanently scrapped — due to lack of reader interest. The game had not been “completely redefined.”

    [Trump] and his team made a related announcement the week before Halloween, launching the Trump Media & Technology Group, which apparently has multimedia ambitions — it says it intends to compete with both Twitter and Netflix — and even hired a high-profile CEO: Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he’d resign as a Republican congressman to lead the nascent company.

    And while that’s certainly of interest, what makes this story amazing is what we’re learning about the behind-the-scenes financing of the initiative. The New York Times published this report the week after the company’s launch.

    [The former president] agreed to merge his social media venture with what’s known as a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The result is that Mr. Trump — largely shut out of the mainstream financial industry because of his history of bankruptcies and loan defaults — secured nearly $300 million in funding for his new business. To get his deal done, Mr. Trump ventured into an unregulated and sometimes shadowy corner of Wall Street, working with an unlikely cast of characters….

    That cast includes a small Chinese investment firm with a curious record. (This may seem a little convoluted at first, but be patient, because this is going somewhere.)

    A few years ago, for example, the firm helped create a company called Atlas Technology International, and it claimed in its Securities and Exchange Committee filing to be a company that made cupcakes. Soon after, Atlas filed a new annual report, saying it had made the transition from cupcakes to touch-screen devices, which was a bit odd. [hahahahaha]

    The same folks behind that operation — a Chinese firm called Arc Capital — said they also ran a smart-phone sales company in south Florida, which did not appear to have ever sold anything to anyone at any time. They also claimed to have a drone software company, which somehow existed without any employees. [hahahahaha]

    The SEC took a closer look and came to the conclusion that these companies were, for all intents and purposes, fake — which is a problem, because in the United States, fake companies are not supposed to be publicly traded.

    The SEC intervened and took the unusual step of issuing a “stop order,” preventing the companies from selling public shares.

    And now, as The Washington Post reported, these same guys in Shanghai have partnered with the former American president and the Trump Media & Technology Group.

    A Chinese firm helping former president Donald Trump take his new media company public has been the target of investigations by federal securities regulators, who say the firm misrepresented shell companies with no products and few employees as ambitious, growing enterprises, documents and interviews show. Arc Capital, an investment advisory firm based in Shanghai, has repeatedly helped create or finance companies with little or no revenue, no customers and office locations that point to P.O. boxes, according to a Washington Post review of regulatory and court filings.

    It’s quite a marriage, isn’t it? On the one hand, there’s Trump, who’s been accused of running fraudulent operations such as Trump University and the Trump Foundation, while on the other hand, there’s a Chinese firm that’s also been accused of launching highly dubious operations.

    Keep in mind, the Trump Media & Technology Group, launched to great fanfare in October, does not appear to exist in any meaningful way, at least not yet. It has no products, no customers, and no sources of revenue. A securities lawyer told the Post, in reference to the partnership between the the former president’s operation and Arc Capital, “There’s a shell company basically merging with another shell company.”

    Nevertheless, [Trumps] friends in Shanghai are raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the public that will ostensibly go towards Trump’s media company that, again, still doesn’t exist.

    All of this has recently drawn the interest of investigators at the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which typically investigates things like insider trading.

    So, let’s recap. Trump, who spent his White House term boasting about getting tough with China, has partnered with a dubious firm in Shanghai, which doesn’t have any offices in the United States, but which is nevertheless financing his first — and for now, largely aspirational — post-presidency business venture. All of this is now facing federal investigations, in part because of the Chinese firm’s history of fake businesses.

    I can appreciate why expectations surrounding the former president are low, but this is farcical.

    Cupcakes! They should have just stuck with the cupcakes.

  137. says

    Dad Who Told Biden ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Now Pushing Big Lie On Steve Bannon’s Podcast

    Jared Schmeck, a father who went viral for trolling President Biden with the MAGA chant “let’s go Brandon” during a call into NORAD’s “Santa Tracker” on Christmas Eve, on Monday appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast to push the Big Lie of a “stolen” 2020 election.

    “Donald Trump is my president and he should still be president right now,” Schmeck said. “The election was 100 percent stolen. So, I just want to make that clear.”

    Over Christmas weekend, Schmeck made headlines when he blurted out “let’s go Brandon” at the end of a call with Biden. The origin of the slur used by Trump supporters comes from an NBC sportscaster making a curious observation during an interview with NASCAR driver Brandon Brown in October. Although spectators at the Talladega Superspeedway had actually chanted “F-ck Joe Biden” after Brown’s first Xfinity Series win, the sportscaster reported that the crowd chanted “let’s go Brandon.” It’s since been embraced by Trump fans as a kind of code to disparage Biden.

    On Monday, Schmeck, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, appeared on Bannon’s podcast. Schmeck defended his “let’s go Brandon” remark by saying that it was said in a “joking manner,” but that his distaste for the President is real.

    “Let’s Go Brandon — and I’ve said it in other articles — I am a Christian man,” Schmeck said. “For me, it’s God first and foremost. I don’t follow any one man blindly.”

    Schmeck then denied reports that he had claimed not to be a Trump supporter — he had reportedly told the Oregonian he was not a “Trumper” — before going on to push the former president’s bogus claims of election fraud.

    Then, he proceeded to explain that “Let’s go Brandon” was not simply a joke — it was a lifestyle.

    “‘Let’s go Brandon’ is more than ‘F Joe Biden,’” Schmeck declared. “‘Let’s go Brandon’ encompasses the entirety of our frustration with Joe Biden, the administration, the leftist mob, the cancel culture, the mainstream media — they are the ones who made this a thing.”

    Schmeck’s appearance on Bannon’s podcast is a dramatic turn from what he reportedly told The Oregonian a day after he drew widespread backlash for his rude remark to the President, who had been speaking with children about the gifts they wanted for Christmas.

    […] Schmeck at the time denied being a Trump supporter but described himself to the Oregonian as “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.” […]

    Video is available at the link.

  138. says

    Followup to comment 151.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I don’t think using a code word for “fuck you” is very Christian, but is on brand for being an asshole.
    ———————-
    I am a Christian man,” Schmeck said. “For me, it’s God first and foremost. I don’t follow any one man blindly.”

    His mandatory maga wardrobe says otherwise.
    ———————–
    What a really awful person. A bullshitter with the maturity of a 7 year old, a compulsive insulter, ignorant as dirt, using Jesus, popping up on Bannon’s crapfest with double talk. Eww. Your 15 minutes are over, Shmuck.
    ———————–
    Didn’t have the spine to admit up front that he’d told the president “fuck you” – in front of his kids and all of the children watching – when first asked, tried to play it off as a joke, but now that he’s becoming the next RWNJ cutie pie, he’s all in.
    ————————-
    What a schmeck!

    n. – possessor of poor, or bad taste. Alt – tasteless or foul tasting in certain context. noun. (also shmeck) ; slang. Any of several narcotic or intoxicating drugs, especially heroin
    ———————
    So, just in case the world didn’t know that Jared Schmeck was an asshole, he proceeded to guarantee that everyone knew he was.
    ———————-
    I would like to know if they’re going to give back the over $400K in payroll that they had gotten help with under the PPP program Works for daddy’s company, Winema Electric in Klamath Falls, OR] because after all, wasn’t this prick objecting to “Biden’s policies and inflation” and such.
    ———————-
    Our new “Joe the Plumber”. And he’ll last about as long – at least before the COVID gets him.
    ———————
    Schmuck is a classless coward. When he got pushback, he was only joking. When he’s in the friendly confines of Bannon’s white power hour, he goes full MAGA
    ———————-
    First the call; then the report that he supports Biden but is just frustrated and thought it was a funny thing to do; then whining about the backlash being an attack on his freeze peach (ok dear); and now, plot twist, he was MAGA trash all along!

    Above all, what type of ignorant asshole does this with what was supposed to be a Christmas thing with his kids?
    ———————
    Can’t wait till the media digs up why he’s now an ex-policeman. It’s coming and he only has himself to blame when he chose to make himself a part of the circus.

  139. says

    Oklahoma state Sen. Rob Standridge (R) this month proposed legislation that would enable parents to challenge books in public schools, setting a $10,000 bounty to be collected by parents for each day a challenged book remains on library shelves.

    A second piece of legislation would prohibit public Oklahoma universities from requiring students to enroll in courses addressing gender, sexual or racial diversity, or equality.

    Standridge is one of many lawmakers to propose bills targeting books considered inappropriate for children or young adults. Challenged books typically address race, gender and sexuality. […]

    Link

  140. says

    Wonkette: “Ohio Supreme Court To Decide How Badly GOP Can Rig Congressional Districts”

    In 2018, Ohio voters — who were damned well outraged by the 2011 Republican gerrymandering that had given Republicans veto-proof supermajorities in the state legislature despite only winning a little over half of the statewide vote — passed a constitutional amendment outlawing district maps being drawn in a way that “unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.” They might as well have called it the “STOP THE STEAL” amendment, except it was for a thing that existed in reality. And voters approved. Either the state lege would get a bipartisan three-fifths vote on any new legislative and congressional maps, or redistricting decisions would go to a “bipartisan commission” made up of five Republicans and two Democrats. (Bipartisan!)

    Oh, but the the 2020 Census was delayed, and the results were only released to states in August, so the Republicans who control the Ohio state legislature missed the September 30 deadline to pass a new congressional map, and then somehow the redistricting commission missed its October 31 deadline to draw a map, so the legislature instead rushed to pass, in one day, a redistricting plan that meant Republicans would have an advantage in 80 percent of the new congressional districts (11 seats out of the 15 available, with two safe Democratic districts and two toss-ups). For consolation, since the process skipped the first two steps mandated by the constitutional amendment, the new maps will only be good for four years, not the rest of the decade.

    Today, the Ohio state Supreme Court heard arguments in two lawsuits against the new maps, with the plaintiffs arguing that the maps were drawn in violation of the amendment’s ban on gerrymandering and that the maps are even more weighted in favor of Republicans than the 2011 maps that drove voters to pass that 2018 constitutional amendment.

    Republicans are, of course, shocked, shocked by such scurrilous accusations. They emphasize the statistical possibility that Democrats might conceivably field a winning candidate in some of the new districts, and also very sincerely point out that nothing in the amendment really defines what “unduly favors or disfavors a political party” even means, so the legislators are allowed to decide that, using their own special definitions of fairness. State Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Robert Cupp, both Republicans, proudly say with straight faces that the new maps are in fact “the most balanced and politically fair congressional plan in recent Ohio history.”

    The Ohio Capital Journal seems to think that is some bullshits:

    In an average of the last 16 statewide elections not including non-partisan judicial races, Republicans have won a 54% to 46% advantage.

    As of 2020, 1.9 million Ohioans were registered Republican while 1.6 million were registered Democratic, for a ratio also of 54% to 46%. More than 4.5 million voters remain unaffiliated.

    Nevertheless, the Republican majority said in a statement that because they’ve won 13 of 16 statewide elections they could be entitled to up to 81% of representation of the people, despite them only winning the average of 54% of the votes in those elections.

    It’s all very complicated, and made even more ridiculous by the detail that Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine, the son of Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine (who both sat on the commission and signed the maps into law but felt bad about it), refuses to recuse himself from the redistricting cases, even though dear ol’ dad is a defendant! The Cleveland Plain Dealer says such a move just might be unprecedented, which admittedly wouldn’t make it all that different from most Republican behavior these days, since norms ‘n’ conventions have become very rubbery things indeed.

    We’ll have a more detailed look at the legal questions in these cases soon, and we’ll be sure to let you know where this oil barge ends up dumping its toxic load, since it might be nice if this were resolved before the 2022 midterms.

  141. says

    […] Gushing like a fan girl, Greene [Marjorie Taylor Greene] tweeted that she’d just gotten off the phone with President McDreamy Trump, and they’d “discussed many issues, people, races in ‘22 as well as vaccines and mandates. We discussed #COVID19, how awful the virus from China has been, and how horribly it’s been politicized.”

    Scapegoating an entire nation for a global pandemic is, in fact, politicizing the virus. It’s like she doesn’t even listen to herself, which is what I’d recommend.

    Greene proudly declared that she has Not-President-Any-Damn-More Trump’s “permission to tell you all that he is 100 percent AGAINST the mandates but he still encourages everyone to get the vaccine and booster. That is his position.”

    It’s also not Greene’s position. She’s defiantly unvaccinated and Twitter briefly suspended her for spreading anti-vaccine lies. Last week, at Slayerfest 98 Americafest, she told a cheering crowd of young conservative fools: “I’m not vaccinated. And they’re going to have a hell of a time if they want to hold me down and give me a vaccine.” I’m all out of the 10-foot poles necessary for me to touch this woman, but there’s a good chance that doctors will soon have to hold her down and give her a ventilator.

    Now that Trump is relatively pro-vaccine, maybe Greene will stop claiming COVID-19 only kills fat people. Trump apparently told Greene if “he was President he would never mandate the vaccines, and no one would be fired.” Trump fired people for sport on “The Apprentice.” You’d think he could fire someone who directly jeopardized his business interests because they were a public health risk. At least Trump confirmed that more people would be dead now if he were still president. All he has to offer is a “Yell At China” policy, which is effective at promoting hate crimes but won’t stop the spread of the virus. […]

    Link

  142. says

    Talk about throwing people under the bus!

    Peter Navarro’s most recent book, In Trump Time, isn’t exactly burning up the charts. In fact, Amazon is currently offering the Kindle edition for all of $2.99. So perhaps the former Trump economics adviser was just grateful to Daily Beast reporter Jose Pagliery for actually reading the thing and thus agreed to an interview. But whatever the explanation, that blabbermouth has dropped his buddies Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar in the shit.

    “We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” he blabbed to the Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

    With friends like Peter Navarro, who needs enemies?

    Navarro recently blew off the House Coronavirus Select Committee, asserting executive privilege in a letter he apparently drafted without the aid of a lawyer. If there was a case to be made that his backroom negotiations to saddle the government with 63 million doses of hydroxycholoroquine were covered by privilege, his yapping about it in the aforementioned book probably waived it.

    Similarly, the on-the-record interviews boasting about his plan to overturn the election results will make it exceedingly difficult to claim privilege when the House January 6 Select Committee inevitably gets around to subpoenaing him.

    The plan, cahootsed up with moldering podcaster Steve Bannon and given the name “Green Bay Sweep,” was to use the allotted two hours of debate time in each house of Congress for every “contested” state, amping up pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors.

    “The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” Navarro told The Beast. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

    Because somehow the problem was that the media wasn’t covering their nonsensical claims of electoral fraud, not that they were patently ridiculous and had failed in every court in the land. NEEDZ MOAR Four Seasons Total Landscaping and Italian Space Lasers!

    Navarro told Pagliery that he worked up three reports for the White House with titles such as “Immaculate Deception” and “Art of the Steal.” Which certainly seems like campaign work performed using government resources, but which should anyway be in possession of the National Archives, to be turned over forthwith once Trump’s lawsuit runs its course.

    And he seemed entirely confident that the January 6 Committee would not subpoena him.

    “They don’t want any part of me. I exonerate Trump and Bannon,” he bragged, on the theory that the plan for 24 hours of breathless television coverage of their fantastical fraud claims were only thwarted because a few ne’er-do-wells took an unauthorized tour of the halls of Congress.

    Of course, this is the guy who talked Trump into levying disastrous tariffs on China because “trade wars are good and easy to win.” […]

    Never mind that Trump summoned the mob to DC, saying, “Be there, should be wild,” and Bannon promised on January 5 that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

    And not for nothing, but the Select Committee already wrote off Bannon’s testimony when they referred him for criminal prosecution. They know they’re not getting him under oath, so there’s nothing to “exonerate.” But if Navarro thinks the best way to play this one is to forego the advice of counsel and dummy up a “You ain’t mah daddy!” letter on his own account, who are we to complain?

    Link

  143. StevoR says

    In the off-chance and hope that some reading this are in South Australia and able to attend tonight :

    Different day – tonight Weds 29th Dec & start time – 4.45 pm but same location – the Gawler Place intersection near the Pigeon sculpture in Rundle Mall & same Weekly Vigil for the refugees wrongly imprisoned on Manus and Nauru here. Please join us and help try to end this needless, unjust torment of innocent people who did us no wrong and pose us no threat.

    Details from the Adelaide Weekly Vigil for Manus and Nauru facebook page :

    ***
    Event by Adelaide vigil for Manus and Nauru
    Rundle Mall
    Duration: 1 hr 15 min
    Public · Anyone on or off Facebook

    Adelaide Vigil members invite you to join us for this week’s vigil – a different day and slightly earlier time this week.

    A few months ago Australian Government announced its plan to abandon the 110 refugee men remaining in Papua New Guinea, having detained them there, illegally, since 2013. That is about to happen as of New Year’s Eve, in a few days, and is causing much anxiety. A new Memorandum Of Understanding has been signed with Nauru, enabling the continuation of Australia’s offshore human warehousing to continue there, into the future. Following an extensive Covid_19 outbreak in the Melbourne detention hotel where 46 medevac refugees are housed, this week there was a fire, and the resident prisoners were not even evacuated, merely moved around the building, despite their justifiable fears.

    This Wednesday, from 4.45pm, we will meet at the intersection of Rundle Mall and Gawler Place, to stand publicly in support of refugees now in their ninth year of detention or immigration limbo, prevented from achieving safe resettlement despite their ever increasing need for it.

    We will stand together for the following 75 minutes, distributing updated information about the situation of those who were originally taken to Manus and Nauru detention centres by the Australian government. We will maintain social distancing and Covid_19 awareness and safe practice.

    Please join us in standing for the freedom, safety and human rights of the refugees the Australian government wants us to forget, with hundreds still being held in inhumane conditions after 8 years of punishment on #Manus, #Nauru and now also PNG and Australian Immigration Detention.

    The only laws that have been broken in their seeking of asylum are those which Australia itself has an international obligation to uphold, through its signing of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

    FWIW This Refugee Vigil is a weekly event which is usually (but NOT this one week) held on Friday nights from 5 pm, same place In Adelaide city centre.

    PS. Thankyou PZ Myers for allowing me to post here again and apologies again for being a massive douchebag here many years ago. I promise y’all I will do better this time.

  144. says

    2021 ends as it began: GOP voters aren’t letting go of the Big Lie

    As 2021 got underway, a variety of independent polls shows many Republican voters embracing anti-election conspiracy theories, believing Donald Trump’s Big Lie, and questioning the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidency. As 2021 comes to a close, it’s discouraging to see the problem persist — and by some measures, intensify.

    U.S. News reported yesterday:

    A new University of Massachusetts Amherst poll released Tuesday highlights how partisanship has hardened in the year since the deadly Jan. 6 attack and the stark breakdown on how Democrats and Republicans view that day and the results of last November’s presidential race…. Of Republicans polled, an overwhelming majority of them – 71% – still contest the 2020 election results.

    The university’s national survey found only about one in five Republicans accepts the legitimacy of Biden’s victory.

    […] I initially hoped that reality would set in gradually over time. In fact, it seemed plausible to think that some of the early polling on this — during the presidential transition period, for example — was driven by more of an emotional reaction than a meaningful assessment of the facts. Many GOP voters were led to believe that Trump would win, so perhaps their initial rejection of Biden’s victory was a combination of reflexive surprise and anger.

    […] recounts, audits, and independent reviews made it painfully obvious that the Republicans’ anti-election conspiracy theories were baseless.

    And yet, here we are.

    […] A national CNN poll released in September found a similar number of GOP voters rejecting our electoral reality. Over the summer, the Associated Press and Monmouth also released separate poll results showing roughly two-thirds of Republicans coming to the same misguided conclusion.

    Last month, a national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll produced similar findings, with 75 percent of Republican voters embracing Trump’s Big Lie as if it were true. Rank-and-file GOP voters don’t know they’ve been deceived, and the result is widespread confusion about reality.

    Why should anyone care? In part because governing is already difficult, and the challenges become more acute when a major political party lives in a weird fantasyland. But also because of the degree to which the Trumpian party’s alternate reality can be weaponized by those eager to suppress Americans’ voting rights — and those willing to commit literal acts of violence.

    […] solutions are elusive. Republican voters have been told not to trust election results. Or election administrators. Or election lawyers. Or independent news organizations. Or political scientists. Or the courts. Rather, they’ve been told to trust easily discredited nonsense from a failed and corrupt former president, and conservative media outlets that profit from his propaganda.

    It’s a campaign against democracy, and its success undermines our entire system of government.

  145. says

    Blustering nonsense from Trump, nonsense that may affect the political landscape in Alaska:

    “Alaska needs Mike Dunleavy as Governor now more than ever. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement but, this endorsement is subject to his non-endorsement of Senator Lisa Murkowski who has been very bad for Alaska…. In other words, if Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect!”

    Commentary:

    […] Trump said he’s absolutely convinced that the incumbent governor, who’s facing a far-right primary rival, is the right person for the job — that is, unless he supports his own party’s incumbent U.S. senator, at which point Trump would immediately be convinced that Dunleavy is the wrong person for the job.

    To be sure, as long as there have been elections, there has been horse trading in campaign endorsements. But as a rule, these transactions are more direct: I’ll endorse you for office x, if you endorse me for office y. I’ll back you in this election cycle, if you back me in the next election cycle. And so on.

    I’m not aware of any modern examples of a national political figure trying to execute this kind of bank-shot: Trump wants Dunleavy to win, but only if the governor wants Lisa Murkowski to lose.

    It suggests that the former president is actually indifferent toward Dunleavy’s future. What he cares about is the Republican senator whose career he’s desperate to end.

    Yes, that last sentence is correct. Trump is focused on revenge.

    As for why Trump remains preoccupied with Murkowski, there’s no great mystery here. As we’ve discussed, the Alaskan has been one of Congress’ most interesting Republican members in recent years by repeatedly showing an independent streak most GOP lawmakers have taken pains to avoid.

    When her party tried to replace the Affordable Care Act with a far-right alternative, for example, the Alaskan balked. When her party rallied behind Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Murkowski was the only GOP senator to vote “no.” Nearly two years ago, Murkowski didn’t vote to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial, but she was one of a small handful of GOP senators to concede that the then-president’s Ukrainian extortion scheme was wrong.

    A year later, after Trump incited an insurrectionist riot and tried to overturn his election defeat, the Alaskan went even further, calling for his resignation and voting to convict in his second impeachment trial.

    “[I]f the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” she said two days after the Jan. 6 attack.

    It’d be an exaggeration to suggest Murkowski has been a center-left voice within her party — she did vote with the Trump White House more than 72% of the time — but more so than most Republicans, she’s been uncomfortable with her party’s radical descent.

    For the former president, the senator’s apostacy deserves punishment. Just as important, Trump wants to send a signal to other Republicans, warning them that he has the power to end their careers, too, if he’s unsatisfied with their displays of loyalty.

    Whether Dunleavy will embrace the bargain — accepting Trump’s support in exchange for denying Murkowski support — remains to be seen, though his spokesperson suggested overnight that the governor is likely to remain neutral in his state’s 2022 Senate race. […]

    Link

  146. says

    NBC News:

    Harry Reid, 82, a titan of the U.S. Senate and its former Democratic leader, died Tuesday, having rising from poverty to represent Nevada for decades and help usher in historic legislation, including the Affordable Care Act. His wife, Landra Reid, announced his death in a statement…. Reid was a senator from 1987 to 2017 and majority leader from 2007 to 2015.

    Commentary:

    […] For those who haven’t followed politics closely, it may not be immediately obvious what a political genius Reid was.

    In the wake of the 2004 election cycle, after South Dakota’s Tom Daschle lost, Senate Democrats needed a new leader. Reid was not an obvious choice.

    The senator represented a relatively red state — George W. Bush won Nevada twice — which meant he’d have to be cautious about pushing a progressive agenda. Complicating matters, Reid had earned a reputation as an opponent of gun control, and unlike practically every other Senate Democrat, he wasn’t pro-choice.

    His personal characteristics didn’t exactly help seal the deal. Reid was soft spoken and unassuming. He did not have a commanding presence; he was not an especially good orator; and he made no effort to be charming during his interactions with the media.

    But Reid was a genius when it came to politics and personal relationships. The senator — a consummate work horse, not a show horse — understood as well as anyone I’ve ever seen the value of having an inside game on Capitol Hill.

    It’s why he won the race for Senate Democratic leader after Daschle’s defeat in 2004. It’s why he was able to persuade Vermont’s Jim Jeffords to leave the Republican Party in 2001, handing Democrats a Senate majority. It’s why he was able to convince Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter to also leave the GOP eight years later.

    It’s why so many of the major legislative accomplishments of Barack Obama’s presidency — the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, ratification of the New START treaty — were able to pass. […]

    Link

  147. says

    The flags above the Capitol are flying at half-staff today to honor former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who passed Tuesday at the age of 82. Reid had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018; that he survived that diagnosis for three years is a testament to just how tough the kid from tiny Searchlight, Nevada, was.

    His life story is legendary: growing up dirt poor, seriously poor—no indoor toilet in a house built out of railroad ties, no medical care, his mother doing the laundry for whorehouses for the family’s income, his father taking what mining jobs he could find. Searchlight didn’t even have a high school, just an elementary school where Reid was one of six in his class. He hitchhiked the 45 miles to Henderson every week for high school, staying with family there and coming back home on weekends.

    In high school, he found a mentor in social studies teacher Mike O’Callaghan, who also taught him to box. O’Callaghan went on to become governor of Nevada for two terms. Reid went on to get a law degree from George Washington University. While attending law school, he worked full time as a U.S. Capitol police officer to support the young family he was raising with his wife (and high school sweetheart) Landra. When he graduated in 1964, the family returned to Nevada and Reid’s political star started rising—from State Assembly to lieutenant governor (serving with O’Callaghan), and then falling with failed runs for U.S. Senate and then Las Vegas mayor. Then in 1977, O’Callaghan put him in charge of the Nevada Gaming Commission. He made powerful enemies in the position and nearly got Landra killed when the family station wagon was rigged with a bomb. Thankfully, that bomb was a dud. In 1982, Nevada got a second U.S. congressional seat and Reid went to the House. In 1986 he moved up to the Senate […]

    As majority leader, up against the most unprincipled evil genius to rise to leadership—Mitch McConnell—Reid faced an all-out assault when President Barack Obama was elected with a Senate majority. Obama acknowledged Reid’s essential help in securing his legacy in a letter he sent at the request of Landra, when the end was nearing.

    Here’s what I want you to know. You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination …

    The world is better ‘cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight.

    […] In the summer of 2010, Reid was scheduled to come to Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. The negotiations on his appearance were fraught as we were in the middle of two big political fights: justice for Dreamers and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Clinton-era policy that forced LGBTQ service members to stay in the closet. We knew Lt. Dan Choi would be there, and we knew he was intent on making his point. […].

    At @Netroots_Nation in July 2010, Sen. Harry Reid promised Lt. Dan Choi that he would lead the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Lt. Choi gave Reid his West Point ring, agreeing that Reid could only return it when he succeeded.

    I was on that stage with Reid for that moment, and have to say that I have never seen a more real, genuine, emotional response from a politician on a public stage. I’ll never forget it.

    Reid went on to do much more, including besting McConnell in his blockade of Obama’s executive and lower court nominees. In 2014, Reid succeeded in marshaling the Democratic caucus—no small feat—in carving out a filibuster exception for those nominees. President Joe Biden right now is building a phenomenal judicial appointment record, installing the most demographically and professionally diverse set of lower court judges ever. That wouldn’t be happening without Reid’s acceptance of the reality of what the modern Republican Party had become, and his determination to oppose it. […]

    Link

    A lot of people blame Harry Reid for opening the door to the tactics Mitch McConnell used to put three Trump-appointed judges on the Supreme Court. I think that’s ridiculous. Mitch McConell was all set to do whatever it took to put Trump’s judges on the Supreme Court. He didn’t need any precedent from Harry Reid. McConell will always go the ruthless, power-grab route. Precedents do not matter to him.

  148. says

    Harry Reid’s most valuable advice to future Democratic leaders: “I think the biggest lesson is never trust Republicans,” says one of Reid’s former staffers.

  149. lumipuna says

    Re Lynna at 145, quoting rightwing some pundit via Wonkette:

    JOHNSON: Listen, we all hoped and prayed the vaccines would be 100% effective, 100% safe, but they’re not. We now know that fully vaccinated individuals can catch COVID, they can transmit COVID. So what’s the point? [AAARRRGGGHHH!]

    [video is available at the Wonkette link, and here:
    https://twitter.com/justinbaragona/status/1475651507475431424 ]

    Even a small child with a Fisher-Price science kit understood that vaccines are not 100 percent effective or safe. That’s not what was promised, and that’s not how anything works. The vaccines are objectively safer than dying from COVID-19. That’s the point Johnson insists on missing. Admittedly, many folks on the Left are also freaking out that fully vaccinated people can catch and transmit COVID-19, but the science is pretty clear: If you’re fully vaccinated, COVID-19 is far less likely to send you to the hospital or the morgue.

    IIRC, in early 2020 there was some uncertainty on whether it’d be even possible to develop a reasonably safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. The end result was apparently about as good as any expert had dared to hope for. Undoubtedly, many non-experts were hoping for a 100 % effective vaccine, but the ones we got would have been effective enough to control the primitive strains of SARS-CoV2 that were around in 2020.

    I think since the first vaccine was released, experts were mainly hoping and praying that the virus wouldn’t evolve to be much more contagious. In this regard, we have been unlucky. It was always somewhat predictable, but of course that uncertainty didn’t stop politicians everywhere from effectively promising that a few months of vaccine rollout would end the pandemic for good. Even after things started going wrong, it was extremely convenient to blame the people for not getting more vaccinated, while not acknowledging that new shit keeps hitting the fan and even universal vaccination wouldn’t stop the virus any more. Since most people are vaccinated and still shit keeps flying, it’s no wonder that some people get the impression that the vaccines have been oversold.

    Now, even relatively small number of unvaccinated people is truly a problem, because the Omicron variant is rapidly spreading to pretty much everyone, and the unvaccinated do very much unnecessarily contribute to hospital overloading. Since Omicron spreads relatively easily through vaccinated people, vaccination isn’t that helpful in protecting others from infection, but it does provide a good amount of personal protection and very much helps preserve collective access to healthcare.

  150. lumipuna says

    Should be “some rightwing pundit”.

    Speaking of my last point:

    Since Omicron spreads relatively easily through vaccinated people, vaccination isn’t that helpful in protecting others from infection, but it does provide a good amount of personal protection and very much helps preserve collective access to healthcare.

    I mentioned in October that Finland had just introduced a “covid passport” system, somewhat belatedly compared to certain other countries. It was carefully legally scrutinized, and justified with the idea that vaccinated or newly tested people are much less likely to be infectious than otherwise. Therefore, mandating vaccination or testing for the customers at various non-essential services would improve the safety of other customers and staff. Obviously, it was also widely hoped this would drive up the vaccine uptake (while keeping vaccination nominally voluntarily and non-coerced), as opposed to the alternative of unvaccinated people simply staying home and maybe getting severely ill anyway and restaurants having fewer customers. Over the next couple months, the covid passport system was increasingly used to substitute for limited restaurant opening hours, which would otherwise have been the primary go-to response to growing infection rates.

    Now, with Omicron, it is increasingly questioned whether a vaccine-based covid passport can be legally or ethically justified any more. The use of the passport in restaurants has been already partially revoked, as in opening hours are being limited even for places that do require the passport. Restaurant owners are extremely salty, because their best and last hope of doing business normally is crumbling to dust shortly after it was introduced. A purely testing-based covid passport has been proposed, but it wouldn’t be practically feasible enough for the masses to bail out the entire restaurant industry.

    You could still argue that some sort of vaccine mandate is necessary, and a public interest, in order to reduce pressure on the healthcare system. However, coupling this mandate with restaurant access would be ethically disingenuous and legally dubious, no matter how much it might save the restaurant industry.

  151. says

    In Wisconsin, ‘the beating heart of democracy is in danger’

    Democracy is facing serious threats in much of the country, but the conditions created by Wisconsin Republicans are … special.

    After disappointing results in 2016, Democrats had a good year in Wisconsin in 2018, with big wins up and down the ballot. As we discussed at the time, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic governor, re-elected a Democratic U.S. senator, re-elected a Democratic secretary of state, and elected a Democratic state attorney general. Even in the state legislature, Democratic candidates easily won the most votes.

    Republican officials in the state could’ve honored the results. Instead, they responded to the defeats in the most unhealthy way possible: They launched a radical power-grab to undermine the winning candidates’ governing options.

    […] GOP officials disagreed with the voters’ choices, so they felt justified in ignoring democracy. […]

    Political scientist Seth Masket wrote three years ago this month, “Wisconsin has been one of the best functioning democracies in the U.S. for at least a century. What’s going on in Wisconsin today shouldn’t be dismissed as just one state’s experience. If democracy can die there, it can die anywhere.”

    […] In 2020, Democrats had another good year in the Badger State — the party’s presidential ticket narrowly carried Wisconsin, reversing a defeat from four years earlier — at which point local Republicans grew even more brazen in their rejection of democracy.

    […] after the state Supreme Court affirmed President Biden’s victory in Wisconsin and electors met in the state capitol for an official ceremony, Wisconsin Republicans held a separate, fake ceremony — in the same capitol, at the same time — to cast electoral votes for Donald Trump, despite his defeat. [Delusional.]

    They then proceeded to forge the official paperwork and sent it to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if it were legitimate.

    […] Wisconsin Republicans, unsatisfied with the official results, the initial count, the statewide recount, and an audit, launched a bizarre “investigation” into the state’s 2020 elections. To lead the effort, GOP officials tapped former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman — a “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorist and former Trump appointee.

    […] Making matters quite a bit worse, Gableman appeared on a conservative radio show to compare The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to Nazi propaganda, complete with multiple Joseph Goebbels references. Gableman also showed up at a city council meeting in Green Bay, where he suggested an election investigation is warranted based on some unidentified stuff he saw online.

    He was soon joined by a Republican lawyer who fought to overturn the election, a Republican from Trump’s White House who sought out those perceived as disloyal to Trump, and a different Republican lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign. The entire crew, GOP officials agreed, would be paid with taxpayer money to conduct a “neutral” election examination.

    And then things got even worse. The Washington Post reported:

    Earlier this fall, the Racine County sheriff recommended that five of the six members of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission be criminally charged over rules they adopted last year — after hours of debate at public meetings — about how to handle absentee balloting at nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic…. Meanwhile, former state Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman, head of the legislative investigation, recently asked a judge to order a county sheriff to jail the elected Democratic mayors of Green Bay and Madison until they comply with subpoenas seeking interviews for his probe.

    […] Soon after, Wisconsin Republican legislators decided to give the partisan investigatory team more time and even more taxpayer money.

    Two weeks ago, state Sen. Kathy Bernier, a member of the Republican leadership and the chair of the chamber’s elections committee, condemned her party’s anti-election conspiracy theories and urged officials to end the sham process that’s weakened public confidence in a functioning electoral system. Choking back tears, the GOP legislator added that she fears “we’re in jeopardy of losing” our republic.

    Gableman, the one overseeing the sham process, responded by calling for Bernier’s resignation.

    […] Republican Sen. Ron Johnson went so far as to call for his state’s partisan allies to take over the federal elections process in Wisconsin and start ignoring the guidance of the state’s election agency.

    An editorial that ran in The Appleton Post-Crescent last week explained, “Voting is the beating heart of democracy, the way we claim control of this government of the people. But in Wisconsin, an infection in the bloodstream of the body politic is threatening our ability to be self-governing…. When leaders are so willing to put at risk the most successful democratic experiment in human history, the beating heart of democracy is in danger.”

    By all appearances, Republican officials in the state don’t care.

  152. says

    Sheesh! Not another one of those guys.

    Social media show Denver shooter is a ‘white supremacist and misogynist obsessed with masculinity’

    After keeping his identity secret for over 24 hours, the shooter in a deadly mass shooting in Denver, Colorado, on Monday was not only identified but said to have been previously criminally investigated both this and last year for undisclosed suspicions. But that’s not all: In addition to being on law enforcement’s radar, 47-year-old Lyndon James McLeod had also been described on social media as both a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer.

    Multiple posts back up these claims in which McLeod also signaled clear hatred toward women. The killings are speculated to be connected to his extremist views.

    According to the official Twitter account for Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, a group that is “exposing fascists and disrupting their organizing in so-called Colorado,” McLeod “was a white nationalist.” The group provided screenshots of tweets from McLeod’s account to back up its claim.

    “The Denver mass shooter was a white supremacist and a misogynist obsessed with masculinity, oppressing women, defending the white race, and shooting communists,” Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists said in a tweet. The organization also noted that McLeod often partook in right-wing extremist spaces under the pen name Roman McClay. […]

    More at the link.

  153. says

    FOX News and Their Partisan Shills Attack Rachel Maddow for Being Right About COVID Vaccines

    The COVID pandemic in America is surging again thanks to the Omicron variant that began circulating a few weeks ago. And the Omicron variant began circulating thanks, in large part, to Fox News. The network has been the most significant purveyor of coronavirus disinformation which has resulted in studies showing that viewers of Fox News, along with supporters of Donald Trump, “have seen much lower vaccination rates and much higher death rates from COVID.”

    The fact that watching Fox News is decidedly more life threatening than watching other news networks has not gone unnoticed at Fox. Unfortunately, they just regard it as a liberal media hoax and whine when they are righteously called out on it. Last week Fox News did a segment seething with hostility toward MSNBC’s Joy Reid because she accurately reported that Fox is killing off their own audience. This week it’s Rachel Maddow’s turn to be the victim of Fox’s misplaced fury. They posted an article on their website asserting that…

    “Social media users demanded apologies from Rachel Maddow and MSNBC over the liberal host’s insistence in March that the COVID-19 vaccine stops the virus dead in its tracks and prevents further transmission.

    “‘Now we know that the vaccines work well enough that the virus stops with every vaccinated person,’ Maddow said on her show the evening of March 29, 2021. […] ‘The vaccines,” she said, ‘will get us to the end of this.'”

    The gist of the article was a specious criticism that Maddow was mistaken when she reported that getting vaccinated was the best protection from the virus and would eventually lead to a return to normalcy. But she was right. And in her unedited commentary Maddow correctly noted that if enough of the population were vaccinated, the pandemic could be brought under control:

    “Instead of the virus being able to hop from person to person to person, potentially mutating and becoming more drug resistant along the way, now we know that the vaccines work well enough that the virus stops with every vaccinated person. A vaccinated person gets exposed to the virus, the virus does not infect them. The virus cannot then use that person to go anywhere else. It cannot use a vaccinated person as a host to go get more people. That means the vaccines will get us to the end of this, if we just go fast enough.”

    Naturally, Fox News deliberately misinterpreted Maddow’s remarks. Their dishonest spin contends that she was saying that merely the existence of the vaccines would eradicate the virus. But she clearly stated that in order for the virus to be defeated, people would have to avail themselves of the vaccine, and to do so quickly. Only then would the virus be prevented from spreading and mutating.

    […] Fox News was instrumental in discouraging people from getting vaccinated. So they are directly responsible for creating an environment within which the virus could evolve into a form that is better able to evade the protection of the vaccines. In short, the reason we haven’t gotten past this is the purposeful lies and misguidance of Fox News.

    That makes this article attacking Maddow all the more despicable. It’s Fox News battering Maddow for their own fatally bad conduct. And even the article’s principle claim that “Social media users demanded apologies from Rachel Maddow and MSNBC,” is brazenly biased and dishonest. They would have been more correct had they referred to “right-wing social media,” because every example they posted was a tweet by a conservative media figure:

    Clay Travis, right-wing radio host who replaced Rush Limbaugh said, “It’s wild how there are no consequences for all these vaccine lies. If you wonder why many are skeptical of the covid “vaccine” it’s because they remember what they were told about how effective the vaccine was. All that Rachel Maddow says here is untrue.”

    Dave Rubin, right-wing YouTuber said, “But she was so sure of it as she read the script off the teleprompter!”

    Rachel Campos-Duffy, Fox News host said, “Will she retract her statement and apologize?”

    Matt Birk, retired football player who thinks the CEO of Delta is more qualified than Dr. Fauci to shape public health policy said, “I’m sure she’s admitted that she was 100% wrong. After all, she’s part of the media and they have an obligation to the truth.”

    John Dennis, Republican politician who unsuccessfully challenged Nancy Pelosi said, “@maddow, you owe an update to this video, don’t you think?”

    Moms for Liberty, right-wing Twitter trolls said., “Declared with such certainty. Our children have suffered because of the hubris of media. #UNMASKOURCHILDREN.”

    As usual, Fox News provides only one side of the story – the moronic side. It’s what they do. And don’t expect them to apologize for maligning Maddow and MSNBC, because that would require that they have some some integrity and journalistic ethics.

  154. says

    Anti-vaxxers take over a Burger King, and yes, it’s even more ridiculous than it sounds

    What could be possibly more American than a group of cranky a-holes fighting for their God-given right to spread deadly diseases at fast-food restaurants? […]

    As much as I’d like to dump most Burger King food into Boston Harbor […], I don’t think this protest will have the historic impact these anti-vaxxers hope it will.

    This is neither a brave nor righteous stand, and the snowflakes involved appear to have melted faster than Frosty in that greenhouse. And bringing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into it—which, of course they did—is just sad.

    […]what really motivated this war on Whoppers? As the folks behind Patriot Takes note, they’re doing it for attention, and for street cred among Team Antivaxx.

    […] clearly not the same as being Jewish during the Holocaust.

    […] So (at least) one of these dudes is a Jan. 6 bumblefuck putsch rioter.[…] It’s one thing if your Waterloo is actually Waterloo or something similarly epic, but if it’s Burger King, you may need to burnish your badass bonafides.

    […] This spectacle would be super offensive if it weren’t so feckless and sad. Again, anti-vaxxers are nothing like Jews during the Holocaust or civil rights protesters navigating freedom marches. They’re public menaces, full stop. […]

    Videos are available at the link.

  155. says

    You may not have heard of him because you don’t listen to enough rightwing talk radio, but Dan Bongino is a big deal. You should know about this.

    Dan Bongino and the Big Business of Returning Trump to Power

    New Yorker link

    The Secret Service agent turned radio host is furious at liberals—so he’s trying to build a right-wing media infrastructure in time for 2024. The article is by Evan Osnos. Here are some excerpts:

    Dan Bongino, one of America’s most popular conservative commentators, lives in the seaside city of Stuart, Florida, less than an hour from Mar-a-Lago, where his friend Donald Trump bridles against a forced retirement. Every weekday from noon to three—the coveted time slot once held by the late Rush Limbaugh—“The Dan Bongino Show” goes live across the United States […]

    One day this fall, minutes before Bongino went on the air, he learned of an unfolding drama that offered prime material: in New York, a live interview with Vice-President Kamala Harris had been disrupted because two hosts of “The View” tested positive for breakthrough cases of covid-19. Bongino, who rails against vaccine mandates and calls masks “face diapers,” announced to his audience, “None of those seem to work on ‘The View.’ ” But, he said pointedly, he wasn’t gloating—“unlike insane leftists, who wish death on me and everyone else from covid, because they’re legitimately crazy satanic demon people.”

    Bongino draws an estimated 8.5 million radio listeners a week, making him the fourth most listened to host in America, ahead of Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, and other big names, according to Talkers magazine, which covers the industry. Though he came to broadcasting only after three unsuccessful runs for Congress, he now commands a Fox News program on Saturday nights, a podcast that has ranked No. 1 on iTunes, and a Web site that repackages stories into some of the most highly trafficked items on social media. In recent months, according to Facebook data, his page has attracted more engagement than those of the Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal combined.

    […] Bongino, at forty-seven, is six feet tall and muscle-bound, with a martial buzz cut and a trim goatee. Like others in his cohort—including the podcaster Joe Rogan and the Infowars host Alex Jones—he favors a wardrobe of tight T-shirts. He displays a tattoo on his left biceps, and he often broadcasts with a facial expression that resembles the angry emoji. […]

    After exhausting the Kamala Harris riff, Bongino turned to his main interest of the day: “rigged” elections. For years, he has claimed that “deep state” plotters and foreign entities sought to sabotage Trump in 2016, infiltrating his campaign and leaking allegations about his dealings with Russia. […] These days, his story line has expanded to encompass President Joe Biden—a “disgraceful, disgusting, grotesque bag of bones”—as well as his son Hunter. “The F.B.I. and the C.I.A., members of it, unquestionably tried to rig both the 2016 and 2020 election,” Bongino told his audience. In the latter, he explained, “they didn’t put out bad information on someone—they hid information about Joe Biden and his corrupt son.”

    In Bongino’s world, it matters little that Trump’s claims of rampant fraud were dismissed by his own top appointees at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, as well as by federal and state judges. To the true believer, the lack of solid evidence simply confirms how well hidden the rigging was. In the study of conspiracy theories (a description Bongino rejects), this is known as “self-sealing”: the theory mends holes in its own logic. “A corrupted intelligence community, in conjunction with a corrupt media, will eat this country like a cancer from the inside out,” Bongino told his audience, as he built to a takeaway. “This is why I’m really hoping Donald Trump runs in 2024,” he said. “He’s the best candidate suited to clean house. Because if we don’t clean house the Republic is gone.”

    Spend several months immersed in American talk radio and you’ll come away with the sense that the violence of January 6th was not the end of something but the beginning. […] As liberals argue over the algorithm at Facebook and ponder the disruptive influence of TikTok, radio remains a colossus; for every hour that Americans listened to podcasts in 2021, they listened to six and a half hours of AM/FM radio, according to Edison Research, a market-research and polling firm. […]

    At the state level, an unprecedented effort is sidelining Trump’s opponents and rewriting laws to give partisans control over the administration of elections. On America’s balkanized airwaves, his supporters are using their platforms to spread disinformation, undermine faith in governance, and inflame his followers.

    At the state level, an unprecedented effort is sidelining Trump’s opponents and rewriting laws to give partisans control over the administration of elections. On America’s balkanized airwaves, his supporters are using their platforms to spread disinformation, undermine faith in governance, and inflame his followers.

    […] Bongino’s most significant impact may not come from what he says on his broadcasts. “My goal is for my content to be the least interesting thing I did,” he told me. He has used his money and his influence to foster technology startups, such as Parler, Rumble, and AlignPay, that are friendly to right-wing views. These companies are intended to withstand traditional pressure campaigns, including advertising boycotts like the one that Media Matters prompted in 2019, based on old radio interviews in which the Fox host Tucker Carlson described women as “extremely primitive” and Iraqis as “monkeys.” Carusone said, “What scares me about Bongino is that this guy could end up owning or controlling or directly building the infrastructure that operationalizes a whole range of extremism.” […]

    suspicion is an appetite that is never fully sated. And, as any gun-shop owner knows, certain enterprises thrive when customers feel vulnerable. “The liberals are the Man,” Bongino told his audience in August. “They run big corporations. They run YouTube. They run Facebook. They run the government. We’re the real misfits, we’re the real rebels now.”

    […] Bongino discourages any doubt about whether he likes President Trump. During a Fox News segment in December, when his colleague Geraldo Rivera described the events of January 6th as “a riot that was unleashed, incited, and inspired by the President,” Bongino accused him of disloyalty, saying, “The backstabbing of the President you’re engaging in is really disgusting.”

    Jennifer Mercieca, a professor of rhetoric at Texas A. & M., analyzed the information warfare of the Trump era in her book “Demagogue for President,” and catalogued some of the ascendant patterns of communication. There was “paralipsis,” emphasizing something by professing to say little of it (“I’m not going to call Jeb Bush ‘low energy’ ”), and the ad populum appeal, flattering a crowd by praising its wisdom (“The people, my people, are so smart”). When possible, Trump turned to the power of “reification,” applying nonhuman sobriquets to his opponents (“disgusting animals,” “anchor babies,” “pigs”). Aldous Huxley recognized that tactic as long ago as 1936, writing, “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.”

    Mercieca describes Bongino as “an important node in the amplification of propaganda.” […]

    Nothing has proved more potent than the constant regeneration of fear. The day after Bongino riffed about the Arizona audit, he told podcast listeners that liberals are happy when conservative vaccine skeptics get sick. “These people want you dead,” he said, and offered a call to action. “The activism has to be dialled up times ten. These people are crazy. […]

    Repetition, as every cheerleader and every dictator learns, trains the neural networks to make some thoughts more durable than others. “The more we hear something, the more ‘sticky’ it becomes,” Mercieca said. “If we see something a lot, then it feels true.” […]

    One of the ads on Bongino’s show is for the Hidden Wealth Solution, a service that offers to help “boomers and retirees” learn “how to protect your retirement from Socialism.”

    […] I’m a contributor to CNN [Bogino] assumed that our interviews were a zero-sum proposition. In one of our calls, I asked why he was bothering to talk to me at all. “I at least get my say in there,” he said. “The reality is, I’ve got a bigger footprint than you guys by tenfold, if not twentyfold. I don’t want to be an asshole about it, but there’s nothing you can write that I can’t write back even worse. It’s asymmetric warfare. You’ll never win.”

    Later, when The New Yorker sent Bongino a memo to confirm facts for this article, he responded that it contained “obviously false material,” but declined to identify specifics. On his podcast the next day, he complained that I was portraying him as a hatemonger. “Maybe have a little bit of personal dignity,” he suggested, “you ass-kissing-Biden, surgically-attaching-your-lips-to-the-ass-of-the-Administration piece of garbage.”

    […] “Bongino understood that if you’re connected to the fever swamps you can pull together raw material that differentiates you and gets high engagement,” he said. “He takes the right kernel of highly charged, emotional content, with the right headline, and reaches a large enough platform.”

    The process is a kind of “narrative laundering,” Jennifer Mercieca said. “You start with a story from a tainted source, like Alex Jones, and then you process it through something that is more trusted. People may not have trusted Alex Jones and his information in 2015, but, when they heard a Republican nominee or a President say it, then it sounded way more legit.” It benefits the launderer, too, she added; when heavy Internet users hear him refer to the latest trend, they feel “dialled in to the cusp of the information wars.”

    […] Because Bongino has emerged so fast, and because so much of his activity occurs away from mainstream media, few Democrats have noticed that he exists.

    […] A headline in Politico declared, “Dan Bongino Leads the maga Field in Stolen-Election Messaging.” Like others, he often charged toward a red line—incitement, libel, bullying—and then veered away. On November 9th, in a podcast episode titled “Resist,” he said, “I’ve never been more fired up. We need a rally and we need the President at it.” Then it was time to hedge. “There will be no riots at that rally,” he went on. “The safest place on earth for police officers is at a Trump rally.” That day, Bongino’s podcast became No. 1 on iTunes.

    […] In May, he started the radio show in Limbaugh’s old slot. […] Bongino had an advantage: Trump, who agreed to be his first guest.

    […] During the summer, Bongino added a new topic to his rotation. After months of fanning listeners’ distrust about the election of 2020, he began prepping them to doubt the integrity of an election that was still more than a year away. “They’re hiding information from you now about what happened in Arizona and Georgia,” he said in July, in a riff about Silicon Valley. “They disrupted the 2020 election. And they want to do it in 2022.”

    […] On October 18th, Bongino issued a public ultimatum to Cumulus Media, the owner of the network that syndicates his program, threatening to part ways with the company if it continued to require employees to get vaccinated. “I don’t believe this is based on any science,” he said on his show. He called it “antithetical to everything I believe in.”

    […] Once Bongino picked the fight with Cumulus, his show went on hiatus. It did not go as he had hoped. […] After a week and a half, he declared a “stalemate” and returned to the airwaves, promising to put two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of his own money into a fund for Cumulus employees who had lost jobs for refusing to be vaccinated. […] his failure to make his network comply fortified his argument that conservatives needed their own platforms […] “I said to my audience years ago, ‘We have to find every single link in that chain and create an alternate company that believes in free speech.’

    [I snipped details of Bongino investing in Parler and then later promoting Rumble, which eventually announced a partnership with Trump Media & Technology. See comment 150 for the legal, financial and general stupidity problems associated with Trump Media]

    […] One morning in November, he posted to Facebook a video of himself in an especially grave mood. He wore a bright-red T-shirt from a sponsor: Bravo Company, a manufacturer of military-style rifles and accessories, which promotes itself with a Latin motto that translates as “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.” Hunched over the microphone, Bongino stared into the camera. “We are descending at an increasingly rapid rate into fascism,” he said. “Chaos. You’re seeing the evaporation of civil liberties in live time, the Bill of Rights being used like toilet paper, the Constitution being thrown out, the rapid spread of insane deadly ideas, like the defunding of the police and the abolition of our military.” […]

    In the next three weeks, Bongino’s video was watched on Facebook nearly six million times. It attracted comments from fans around the country, who heard in his words a case for belief and an argument to take action. A woman from Texas […] wrote, “I wonder when we will put our phones down and get out, face to face and shoulder to shoulder to stand against this?” Another follower celebrated the campaign against vaccine mandates and gloried in the prospect of vindication. “Seeing a rise in people turning to NOT getting so many jabs, quitting jobs, and telling govt. to screw off is the first sign of a revolt,” she wrote, and added, “Let the revolt happen.”

  156. says

    Washington Post:

    […] The Biden administration has deployed more than 13,000 National Guard members to 48 states to support vaccinations, testing and clinical care […]

  157. says

    New York Times:

    In a holiday season of extreme weather events, this one stands out: a 67-degree Fahrenheit reading in Alaska the day after Christmas. The reading on Sunday, from a tidal station on Kodiak Island, set a statewide temperature record for December, the National Weather Service reported.

    Meanwhile, with the windchill factored in, the temperature was -5 degrees at my house last night.

  158. says

    Jury finds Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five counts

    Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and longtime associate of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was convicted on five counts on Wednesday by a jury after about a week of deliberations.

    The Manhattan jury found Maxwell guilty on five out of six counts against her, The Associated Press reported, including enticing minors to travel to engage in sex acts, transporting minors with the intent of having them engage in criminal sexual activity and perjury.

  159. says

    Wonkette: “Court Drop-Kicks Oklahoma Guard Anti-Vax Suit Because BRO, DO YOU EVEN LAW?”

    Is it cool when a federal judge says your “arguments both misconceive and trivialize the Fourth Amendment”? Asking for the state of Oklahoma, which got whacked last night by a federal judge over its objection to a vaccine mandate for its National Guard troops.

    President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for the federal work force is headed for the Supreme Court, but challenges to his military mandate appear to be striking out on all fronts, as Judge Stephen Friot of the Western District of Oklahoma joined Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the DC district court in dropkicking the overhyped claims of active military members that Uncle Joe is forcing them into a “Hobson’s choice” between their jobs and their bodily integrity.

    On December 2, the state of Oklahoma raced into court demanding that the court restrain the federal vaccine mandate generally. It was not, to all appearances, a well-argued complaint. But what it lacked in competence, it more than made up for in volume.

    “The President unilaterally has issued this diktat without any semblance of a congressional authorization,” it screeched, vomiting out a litany of supposed illegality: “The federal government, it is clear, is without power to invade the police powers of the States concerning health, safety, and morals. In addition, the separation of powers and the non-delegation principle preclude this vaccine mandate both because it cannot be the product of a statute guided by an intelligible principle and, more broadly, because this vaccine mandate amounts to lawmaking, which rests within the exclusive preserve of Congress.”

    Which is all well and good, but unless you’re getting a Justice Gorsuch or Alito to fill in those anger Mad Libs, you’ll probably have to argue with more specificity than that to get relief from a trial judge.

    As Judge Friot noted, the Executive Order the State inveighed against had nothing to do with the military, active duty or reserve. So on Dec. 27, Oklahoma amended its complaint to accuse the federal government of “trying to disarm the State of Oklahoma from protecting itself, its territory, and its citizens” on the theory that all the Guardsmen would refuse to get the shots, leaving Oklahoma unprotected from the rapacious overtures of its Texas neighbors. Or … well, Oklahoma doesn’t say who it needs protecting from, but that’s the least of the problem here, as the court notes.

    In fact, the military routinely requires its members to undergo vaccinations, and has since the republic was founded.

    The COVID vaccination mandate should be understood against the backdrop of other military immunization mandates–which date back as far as General George Washington’s mandate that troops in the Continental Army be inoculated against smallpox. Nine vaccinations (now ten, with the COVID vaccination mandate) are required for all service members. This includes statutorily-designated reserve component service members such as members of the Guard. And as Secretary [of Defense Lloyd] Austin made clear in his August 24 memorandum, doc. no. 26-2, the entire gamut of exemptions potentially applicable to other vaccinations may be invoked with respect to the COVID vaccination mandate.

    […] And you can miss Judge Friot with that bullshit about the state of Oklahoma needing to protect its citizens from the vaccine, because the mandate “undermines the laws, public policy, dignity, and interests of the State of Oklahoma in governing the field of public health, including vaccinations.”

    Noting that “The State of Oklahoma has not shown any federal action that interferes with its exercise of ‘the power to create and enforce a legal code,'” the court writes:

    COVID-19 has killed over 800,000 Americans. Among active-duty service members, there have been more than 209,000 new and repeat cases of COVID. Since July 2021, active-duty service members who are not fully vaccinated have had a 14.6-fold increased risk of hospitalization due to COVID infection. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, more than 689,000 cases of COVID have been diagnosed in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s cumulative hospitalization rate for COVID-19 amounts to nearly 1 percent of the State’s population. More than 11,000 Oklahomans have died from COVID.

    Well, when you put it like that …

    Aside from preposterous constitutional arguments, specious claims about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and hyperventilating about the dangers to Oklahoma if too many troops quit the service rather than get jabbed, the state argument rested largely on a claim that the secretary of Defense is not the boss of Guard troops. The court rejects this in its entirety:

    The upshot of all this is that, however wide-ranging the command authority of the Governor and the Adjutant General may be within the four corners of their own state (and the court does not presume to define the extent of that authority other than as is strictly necessary for present purposes), it is unmistakably clear that the intent of Congress, as expressed in the text of its enactments, is that the Guard and its members will at all events be prepared, conformably to federal military standards, to be ordered into federal service, deploying alongside members of the active duty Army and Air Force, on little or no notice, anywhere in the world–which is exactly what the Oklahoma Guard and its members have done, with great distinction, on dozens of occasions. […]

    As for the individual Guardsmen who relied on the state’s appallingly bad legal advice, particularly those who attempted to sign onto this suit as anonymous plaintiffs, the court “strongly urges” the DOD to exercise forbearance against “the individual non-compliant Guard members [who] did not have the benefit of well-informed leadership at the highest level of the Oklahoma Guard.”

    OUCH.

    Link

  160. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… @ # 160 quoting Benem (I think): … Reid was a genius when it came to politics …

    I have to take this as routine immediate-post-mortem fluff. Consider, e.g., Obama’s “Recovery Act”, weakened repeatedly by Republican amendments, accepted by Reid & the Democrats (most boring band name ever) as part of the normal horse-trading in Congress. Except … not one of the Repubs pushing said dilution then voted for the package they had influenced so much.

    Unhobbled by Manchin or Sinema, Reid could have yanked the bill, torn out those amendments and left them dying on the cold tile floor, and passed a much better bill with the same votes he had before. But, as a Democrat, he of course swallowed that plateful of shit and came back for more, smiling.

  161. says

    snarkrates @175, funny!

    StevoR @176, yes it is scary. And he has 8.5 million listeners per week.

    In other news: Why the debate over crossbows in the UK should matter in the US

    On Monday, Americans learned of the latest deadly mass shooting in the United States. In Denver, a 47-year-old gunman shot several people, killing five, before ultimately dying during a gun fight with the police.

    The tragedy did effectively nothing to change the public debate over gun violence and access to deadly weapons.

    Two days earlier, and more than 4,000 miles to the east, a 19-year-old man was arrested on the grounds of Windsor Castle in the U.K, where members of the royal family had gathered for Christmas. Fortunately, no one was hurt, though police said the suspect, who’s received treatment for mental health issues, was carrying a crossbow.

    Almost immediately, British officials renewed a discussion about new safeguards surrounding crossbows.

    “We are considering options to strengthen controls on crossbows,” a spokesman for Britain’s Home Office said in a statement Tuesday, as part of a continuing review of rules on lethal weapons ordered this year by Priti Patel, the home secretary.

    Owning a firearm is already difficult in the U.K. — the process includes a background check and a police interview — and police departments maintain licensing records of who owns guns.

    But as the Times noted, British adults can buy crossbows over the counter or online without similar restrictions.

    In the interest of public safety, those regulations will probably soon change.

    It’s certainly possible that new safeguards will spark a massive public backlash — complete with Tory politicians posting “Come and take it” messages to Twitter alongside pictures of crossbows — but that seems unlikely. The more realistic expectation is that British consumers will simply adapt to new rules.

    In the United States, meanwhile, we’re left to wonder about our next mass shooting, confident in the knowledge that it will occur soon. As with Denver, it will generate very little public debate about restrictions on firearms.

  162. says

    Why the ‘No Surprises Act’ will soon make a difference for consumers

    Health care policymaking is hard, and when good ideas, such as a ban on surprise medical bills, manage to pass, it’s progress worth celebrating.

    […] what the policy does is protect Americans from surprise medical bills, and as The New York Times reports, as 2022 is poised to begin, so too are these new consumer protections.

    For years, millions of Americans with medical emergencies could receive another nasty surprise: a bill from a doctor they did not choose and who did not accept their insurance. A law that goes into effect Saturday will make many such bills illegal. The change is the result of bipartisan legislation passed during the Trump administration and fine-tuned by the Biden administration.

    […]The underlying issue is relatively straightforward: Americans often go to emergency rooms in a crisis and assume their visit will be covered by insurance. But as part of their emergency care, patients are often treated by out-of-network medical professionals, who don’t have contracts with the relevant insurer, which means consumers end up receiving “surprise” invoices, which can be quite expensive.

    Imagine, for example, a patient who receives emergency treatment from a surgeon who’s part of her network, but an anesthesiologist who isn’t. The former would be covered by the patient’s insurance plan, but the latter would generate an unexpected and costly bill.

    The phenomenon affected so many people — by some assessments, one-in-five emergency-room visits generated “surprise” medical bills — that lawmakers negotiated a legislative fix, which was included in a big economic passage approved late last year. It requires health providers to negotiate fair prices with insurers, relying on outside arbiters as needed. The Times’ report added:

    If you are having a medical emergency and go to an urgent care center or emergency room, you can’t be charged more than the cost sharing you are accustomed to for in-network services. This is where the law’s protections are the simplest and the most clear for people with health insurance. You will still be responsible for things like a deductible or a co-payment. But once patients make that normal payment, they should expect no more bills.

    There is, however, a catch. While the new ban will protect consumers from hospitals and physicians sending out surprise bills, the policy does not include ambulances.

    That’s far from ideal: Ambulatory care happens to be a significant part of the surprise-bill debate.

    So why were ambulances excluded? The Times had a related report last year, noting that policymakers cited “the diversity of providers, complex layers of state and local regulation, and a dearth of information about precisely what it costs to keep an ambulance stocked and running. Amid the bruising surprise-billing debate, many lawmakers saw it as one tricky issue too many.”

    That said, as the “No Surprises Act” takes effect this weekend, it is clearly a step in the right direction that will help a lot of people. It’s also a reminder of just how brutally difficult health care policymaking can be: Americans tend to hate these bills, giving lawmakers a strong incentive to help improve the system, but reforms faced major pushback from medical providers and private-equity firms that make a lot of money from these surprise invoices.

    When good ideas manage to overcome the opposition, it’s progress worth celebrating.

  163. says

    Update on the J&J booster shot:

    Two doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine provided up to 85 percent protection against hospitalization from the Omicron variant, researchers in South Africa reported on Thursday.

    The study from the South African Medical Research Council evaluated a second booster shot in 69,092 health care workers from November 15 to December 20. Researchers observed that effectiveness preventing hospitalization rose from 63 percent to 84 percent within 14 days and then 85 percent one to two months post-boost.

    The results mark the first evidence of the effectiveness of such a vaccine boost while Omicron is circulating and are important considering the increased reliance on the J&J vaccine in Africa […]

    Link

  164. KG says

    MOORE: So I wonder how, if you were to take this to parts of the world where the population is exploding, like in, I dunno, sub-Saharan Africa, or Central America – Lynna, OM@147 quoting Wonkette quoting Chadwick Moore (Trumpist arsehole)

    Worth noting that Central American population is not “exploding”, by any reasonable measure* – current growth rate is 1.14% p.a. and it’s been falling consistently for decades.

    *Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is still growing by about 2.6% p.a., and the growth rate hasn’t fallen much.

  165. StevoR says

    When it comes to population I like what Hans Rosling says in this – hour long sorry – doco :

    Wikisummary of it here for teh very short version : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Panic_%E2%80%94_The_Truth_about_Population

    Also some good points made by AJ’s Patrick Gathara here :

    https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/12/1/why-are-white-elites-afraid-of-black-babies

    FWIW I recall reading Ehrlich’s ‘The Population Bomb’ as a kid back in the 1980’s and being very worried by it too. Now I think that whilst somewhat important it isn’t as bad as Paul made it sound and hopefully – & I think he is – Rosling is right here.

  166. KG says

    StevoR@181,
    Danny Dorling’s Population Ten Billion? is also very good – I think he worked with Rosling.

  167. says

    2021 was not a great year for those looking to raise the federal minimum wage.

    The big minimum wage news in 2021 is that another year passed with a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the same as it has been since 2009. That means the minimum wage is now worth 21% less than it was at the time it went to its current level.

    The second biggest minimum wage story for 2021 is that President Joe Biden’s administration finalized a rule putting into place a $15 minimum wage for federal contract workers, which goes into effect on Jan. 30, 2022. That move will give around 390,000 people a raise, and could indirectly affect more. Additionally, the cities of Tucson, Arizona, and West Hollywood, California, raised their minimum wages. Tucson voters approved a measure to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, while the West Hollywood City Council approved a $17.64 minimum wage, the highest in the country.

    But there’s not a whole lot of other news, because after a string of years with minimum wage wins at the state level, […] the medium-hanging fruit has been picked. […]

    At this point, 30 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal level, with 18 states and Washington, D.C., having indexed their minimum wages to inflation so that they’ll continue rising without further legislation. Workers in that latter group of states should therefore be seeing the minimum wage rise at the beginning of 2022, along with workers in states where previously passed step increases will be going into effect (there’s some overlap between those groups of states). That means that, while 2021 was not a good year for new increases, 2022 will see the results of past years’ work playing out. [Good news for some minimum-wage workers.]

    […] But Congress will not act, thanks to the opposition of every Republican and a handful of Democrats. Congress will not act as the worth of the federal minimum wage erodes year by year, as the minimum wage falls short of what’s needed to rent an apartment in every single state, and as the voters of even conservative states show that raising the minimum wage is a popular move.

    Link

  168. says

    Wildfires burn hundreds of homes in Colorado, thousands flee

    Tens of thousands of Coloradans driven from their neighborhoods by wind-whipped wildfires anxiously waited to learn what was left standing of their lives Friday after the flames burned an estimated 580 homes, a hotel and a shopping center.

    At least one first responder and six other people were injured in the blazes that erupted outside Denver on Thursday morning, unusually late in the year […]

    Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said there could be more injuries — and also deaths — because of the intensity of the fast-moving fires, propelled by winds that gusted up to 105 mph (169 kph).

    “This is the kind of fire we can’t fight head-on,” Pelle said. “We actually had deputy sheriffs and firefighters in areas that had to pull out because they just got overrun.”

    Mike Guanella and his family were relaxing at their home in the city of Superior and looking forward to celebrating a belated Christmas later in the day when reports of a nearby grass fire quickly gave way to an order to leave immediately.

    Instead of opening presents, Guanella and his wife, their three children and three dogs were staying a friend’s house in Denver, hoping their house was still standing.

    “Those presents are still under the tree right now — we hope,” he said.

    As night fell, officials watched the behavior of the wind and flames to determine when crews could safely go in to assess the damage and search for any victims. […]

  169. says

    Hong Kong airline suspends cargo flights amid COVID-19 protocols, warns of supply chain issue

    Hong Kong’s flagship Cathay Pacific airline said on Friday that new quarantine guidelines may lead to further supply chain disruptions […]

    Beginning on Saturday, cargo air crews based in Hong Kong will need to quarantine for seven days upon returning to the city, up from the prior three-day requirement.

    […] Wong warned that this new policy would cause “dramatic disruptions to supply chains in the short-term” and threaten Hong Kong International Airport’s status as a “leading cargo hub.”

    All non-mainland flights going in and out of Hong Kong must also be operated by closed-loop aircrew who are required to spend two weeks in quarantine. The South China Morning Post noted that many crews will be operating for three weeks and then have to quarantine for two weeks before going home. This measure has also caused concerns for the mental health of crew members. […]

  170. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Followup to comment 159.

    Alaska GOP governor accepts Trump endorsement, Murkowski ultimatum

    Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) on Thursday accepted the endorsement of former President Trump, which came on the condition the governor does not, in turn, endorse Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in her reelection bid.

    Trump issued a statement Thursday evening saying that Dunleavy, who is running for a second term as governor, had accepted the endorsement.

    “Please tell the president thank you for the endorsement,” Dunleavy said in the statement. “With regard to the other issue, please tell the president he has nothing to worry about. I appreciate all 45 has done for Alaska and this country.”

    […] Trump had announced the condition of the Dunleavy endorsement in a statement released on Tuesday, explaining he supported the governor but his endorsement would be “null and void” if the governor were to endorse Murkowski. […]

    It was not clear that Dunleavy intended his “Please tell the president thank you for the endorsement” message to be made public, but of course Trump made it public.

  171. says

    COVID, specifically the omicron variant, is putting children in the hospital.

    […] More than 1,000 children have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized in the last few months alone.

    From Aug. 1 to Dec. 28, more than 76,000 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19. The omicron variant was first detected in the U.S. in early December but accounted for 59 percent of all cases last week.

    The American Pediatric Association estimates that in the past two weeks, there was a 5 percent increase in children testing positive for COVID-19, with 368,515 cases added from Dec. 9 to Dec. 23.

    Children ages 5 to 11 years are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, which is shown to be extremely effective at reducing serious illness, according to a CDC report released Thursday.

    About 14 percent of children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, while 53 percent of those ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.

    Link

    Not enough children in the USA have been vaccinated.

  172. says

    No one has ever accused Missouri Gov. Mike Parson of being an especially smart man, but he is at least capable of a low vegetable cunning. Back in October, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discovered an incredibly stupid security vulnerability on a state website. The site, which was designed so people could easily look up credentials and certifications for more than 100,000 public school teachers, counselors, and administrators, included a dumb error in its publicly viewable coding that inadvertently left the Social Security numbers of all those employees pretty much right out in the open for any bad person to steal.

    The Post-Dispatch reporter wrote up the story, alerted the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to the problem, and held off on publication to give the agency time to fix the security flaw. Then it went to press. The paper noted right up top, in the fourth brief paragraph, that it had delayed the story specifically so the state could protect the educators’ data, and so it could check other agencies’ webpages for similar problems.

    No good reporting goes unpunished, so Parson reacted to the story by demanding the reporter and the Post-Dispatch be investigated and prosecuted for “hacking” the state website.

    Thing is, there wasn’t any “hacking” involved, as Krebs on Security explained at the time, since the SSNs were almost right out in the open to be seen by anyone with specialized software, like a common web browser.

    The newspaper said it found that teachers’ Social Security numbers were contained in the HTML source code of the pages involved. In other words, the information was available to anyone with a web browser who happened to also examine the site’s public code using Developer Tools or simply right-clicking on the page and viewing the source code.

    […] In a Facebook statement announcing the vendetta against the reporter and the newspaper, Parson insisted that such “unlawful” access of teacher data had to be punished […]

    […] Parson then explained the full weight of Missouri law enforcement would be deployed against the sophisticated right-clicking hacking operation:

    This administration is standing up against any and all perpetrators who attempt to steal personal information and harm Missourians. It is unlawful to access encoded data and systems in order to examine other peoples’ personal information. We are coordinating state resources to respond and utilize all legal methods available.

    My administration has notified the Cole County prosecutor of this matter, the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Digital Forensics Unit will also be conducting an investigation of all of those involved.

    This incident alone may cost Missouri taxpayers as much as $50 million. This matter is serious. […]

    A hacker is someone who gains unauthorized access to information or content. This individual did not have permission to do what they did. They had no authorization to convert and decode the code. This was clearly a hack.

    Indeed, there’s clearly a hack here, but it doesn’t involve anything the reporter did. Worse, it’s like prosecuting a whistleblower, because if people worry reporting a security problem will get them jailed, they may stay quiet and leave the vulnerability in place.

    And now we have an update on the story, […] the Post-Dispatch informs us that yesterday, Parsons said he’s pretty sure the Cole County prosecutor will be charging the reporter for his crimes.

    Parson referenced a state statute on computer tampering, which says a person commits the offense if they “knowingly and without authorization or without reasonable grounds to believe that he has such authorization” modifies or destroys data, discloses or takes data, or accesses a computer network and intentionally examines personal information.

    Then Parson deployed a really bad metaphor, for which he should feel bad:

    “If somebody picks your lock on your house — for whatever reason, it’s not a good lock, it’s a cheap lock or whatever problem you might have — they do not have the right to go into your house and take anything that belongs to you,” Parson said.

    […] The Post-Dispatch reported earlier this month that in fact, emails obtained through a public records request showed the state education department was on the verge of thanking the reporter for alerting it to the vulnerability before Parson demanded vengeance. What’s more, an FBI investigator who looked at the reporter’s emails informing the department of the problem said that the incident was “not an actual network intrusion,” and that the FBI dude

    said the state’s database was “misconfigured,” which “allowed open source tools to be used to query data that should not be public.”

    […] In conclusion, this is extremely stupid […]

    Link

  173. says

    What does ‘rich’ mean to you?

    […] Exactly how sorry should we feel for people who make a mere $400,000 a year? On a policy level the basic debates over what income levels should be taxed more highly have to happen, but the way they play out is frequently noxious, and far distant from the lived reality of most people in the United States. […]

    In 2020, the median household income was $67,251, down from $69,560 in 2019. (Median is the midpoint—half of people are above it and half are below it.)

    In 2020, the median earnings of men who worked full-time year-round were $61,417. For women, the equivalent number was $50,982. The median earnings of all workers 15 and older with earnings was $41,535.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), ”Among households in the highest quintile, average income before transfers and taxes was $321,700 [in 2018], compared with $77,500 among households in the middle quintile and $22,500 among those in the lowest quintile.”

    […] that doesn’t tell the full story: “Moreover, income before transfers and taxes was skewed toward the very top of the distribution within the highest quintile. Average income before transfers and taxes among households in the 81st to 90th percentiles (the lower half of the highest quintile) was $172,400 in 2018, whereas income among households in the top 1 percent of the distribution (1.2 million households) averaged $2 million.” And the difference between those in the 99.9th to 99.99th percentile and those in the top 0.01% was even bigger. […]

    Link

  174. says

    Happy New Year everyone.

    Words of wisdom from Fran Lebowitz (also an indirect comment on consumerism):

    Welcome Mat (Seventeen Inches by Thirty Inches)
    I don’t like welcome mats.
    They set an expectation that a guest in my apartment will actually be welcome.
    Which isn’t always the case.
    Instead of “Welcome,” it should say “O.K. Fine. You’re here. I’m here. Let’s get this over with.”
    And there should be another mat for on the way out that reads “You see? Was this really necessary? I think a phone call would’ve sufficed.”

    Amazon Echo Show 8 (Smart Display with Alexa)
    I often think, There aren’t enough things spying on me. Let’s add another. But this time let’s cut out the middleman.
    I mean, it’s truly something. People are intensely private.
    And yet they will put a robot in their kitchen.
    With a camera. And a microphone.
    And talk to it.
    What can I say?
    Geniuses.

    Coasters (Set of Five)
    Listen, just by their name, they’re telling you they don’t do much.
    They hold your drinks. That’s it.
    Don’t expect anything more.
    They’re coasters. They coast.
    And, by the way, I endorse this as a general life style.

    Paper Shredder (Amazon Basics)
    Do you work for the C.I.A.? No?
    Then let me save you some time—keep your documents in one piece.
    Trust me. No one is rooting through your garbage. No one cares.
    Once you learn that, everything in life will make sense. No one cares.
    About you. Or about anything.

  175. says

    A few thoughts about NFTs:

    […] The digital certificates known as nonfungible tokens have come a long way since the beginning of the year, and an even longer way since the first NFT sale in 2014. In part that was because one NFT artwork sold for $69 million in March—and also because celebrities and prominent institutions got in the game. The NBA got fans to buy virtual copies of their favorite highlight reels. […] Even performance venues like New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club are offering up custom NFTs. (Given the woes of the live-music business, it’s hard to blame them.)

    If you’re concerned about NFTs’ side effects—a potentially speculation-driven bubble, value instability, the possibility of money laundering, encouraging cruddy art, profiting off another person’s likeness—this development bodes poorly. Perhaps especially if you’re concerned with an issue many, many celebrities claim they’re worried about: global warming.

    Crypto’s overall climate impact remains massive, with certain currencies swallowing up entire nations’ worth of processing power from individual computing units and data centers—much of whose power comes from fossil fuels. The most common form of cryptocurrency mining, proof of work, requires a massive amount of processing power. Alternative mining methods have a mixed track record so far, with some ostensibly “sustainable” mining systems still requiring significant amounts of dirty or clean power. And transacting any tokens across the blockchain, whether an NFT or a Litecoin, sucks up the collective energy feeding into the transaction, no matter the product at hand. One estimate claims that a single NFT trade across the much-used Ethereum blockchain uses enough energy that could power an entire house for several days. And this is all so the buyer can have bragging rights about “owning” an image.

    Celebrities who are selling NFTs and also claim to care about the environment: What are you doing? Whatever it is, there sure are a lot of you. […] luminaries who brand themselves as climate-conscious yet have been also hawking NFTs in some form or the other, ensuring this bizarre digital culture product will linger in the public discourse while possibly ruining the art world, the planet, and our collective sanity.

    Link

  176. says

    ‘Without facts, you can’t have truth’: Nobel Peace Prize winners warn of online misinformation

    Two investigative journalists, one from the Philippines and one from Russia, received a Nobel Peace Prize this year. The journalists, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, received their prize on Dec. 10 at a ceremony that Ressa was almost blocked from attending because of travel restrictions related to legal cases filed against her in the Philippines.

    But not only was Ressa able to attend, she also used her acceptance speech to criticize big tech companies and social media for spreading misinformation. “If you’re working in tech, I’m talking to you,” Ressa said. “How can you have election integrity if you don’t have integrity of facts?”

    Both Ressa and Muratov accepted their prize for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression” and for telling the truth.

    Muratov noted that investigative journalists are crucial to helping people understand current affairs and despite growing risks, they must continue to dig for facts.[…]

    Ressa and Muratov also noted the sacrifices journalists have made, especially those who work in authoritarian states. Both journalists are known for their extensive work in the field and have angered their respected countries, facing threats as a result. Multiple colleagues of Muratov have been murdered or persecuted due to their work. “I want journalists to die old,” Muratov said.

    “There are so many more journalists persecuted in the shadows with neither exposure nor support, and governments are doubling down with impunity,” Ressa said.

    She noted the importance of giving this reward to not one but two journalists.

    “By giving this to journalists today, the Nobel committee is signaling a similar historical moment, another existential point for democracy,” she said, pointing to the disruptive impact of social media in fueling the spread of misinformation and creating fertile ground for divisive, authoritarian leaders.

    “Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without trust, we have no shared reality, no democracy, and it becomes impossible to deal with our world’s existential problems: climate, coronavirus, the battle for truth,” Ressa said.

    This led the two to talk about social media and the spread of misinformation it contributes to.

    “Our greatest need today is to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that’s coursing through our information ecosystem, prioritized by American internet companies that make more money by spreading that hate and triggering the worst in us.”

    Ressa said: “Silicon Valley’s sins came home to roost in the United States on January 6 with mob violence on Capitol Hill. What happens on social media doesn’t stay on social media.”

    Muratov also had something to say regarding social media.

    “Manipulation leads to war,” he said. “We are in the middle of a post-truth period. Now, everyone is concerned about their own ideas and not the facts.

    “Social scientists have shown that, when even knowing what is the truth and what is a lie, 75 percent of people will consider the lie as truth as they like the lie better. This is happening already. We are at the very bottom of the manipulation of the human mind.”

    Their speeches follow recent announcements from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, in which a new feature that gives people more control over what appears in their news feeds is being introduced. The news follows criticism regarding not only the spread of misinformation over Facebook but recent crashes of the company’s communication app, WhatsApp. […]

    Video is available at the link.

  177. raven says

    There was another mass killing shooter incident again. The one in Denver. These happen so often, I’ve stopped paying attention to them.
    Turns out the shooter was a far right wingnut. A racist, misogynistic, anti-social guy.
    No surprise.

    Wonkette edited for length

    There Was A Denver Spree Killer Again. He Was A Racist Men’s Rights Asshole Again.
    Doktor Zoom December 29, 2021 01:04 PM
    I
    The gunman who killed five people and injured two in a Denver shooting spree Monday was a self-published author of racist murder fiction who really liked to quote himself on social media, and who believed that the very best alpha males should be free to use violence to keep inferior humans under control. Big surprise, he also was obsessed with women’s “purity” and thought that government suppression of completely natural “male Honor violence” would eventually result in disaster, as men had no choice but “blowing up catastrophically.”

    The Daily Beast reports that McLeod

    appears to have operated a plethora of Twitter and Instagram accounts under the alias Roman McClay, which he used for his three-book series Sanction.
    “[T]his book is packed full of rants on diversity, women, and globalization,” one reviewer wrote. “There are fantasies of killing people involved in the [Black Lives Matter] movement, and bizarre threats to Ben Shapiro/Sam Harris/and others.”

  178. raven says

    Happy New Year everyone.

    I’d like to thank all the people that keep this thread going.
    That would especially include Lynna.

    I don’t comment much but do read all the comments.

  179. says

    raven @195, thanks. I second all of that.

    Here’s some good news to start off our new year: Twitter permanently suspended Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal account. She was posting COVID-19 misinformation.

    […] The social network said in a statement that it took the action after “repeated violations” of the policy.

    “We permanently suspended the account you referenced (@mtgreenee) for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy. We’ve been clear that, per our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill in a statement.

    As of Sunday morning, Greene’s congressional account was still up. [Greene is a Republican who represents Georgia in the House of Representatives.]

    In response to the suspension, Greene insisted in a statement published on Telegram that she was telling the truth.

    “Twitter is an enemy to America and can’t handle the truth,” Greene said. “That’s fine, I’ll show America we don’t need them and it’s time to defeat our enemies.”

    Greene has previously been suspended by Twitter several times for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

    Last July, she received a 12-hour suspension from Twitter regarding two tweets she posted in which she falsely claimed that, for people who are under the age of 65 years old or are not obese, COVID-19 was “not dangerous.”

    In August, her personal account was suspended for a week after she claimed “these vaccines are failing and do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks.”

    The COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be effective against severe infections. The disease is severe and deadly especially among the elderly and the immunocompromised and has repeatedly overwhelmed hospitals. More than 820,000 Americans have died from the infectious disease since the start of the pandemic, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

    According to Twitter’s COVID-19 misleading information policy, tweets that violate those rules would need to include several components: advancing claims as facts, be knowingly misleading or inaccurate given existing information available and have a potential to cause harm. […]

    Link

  180. says

    Adhara Pérez started her life out by being bullied. At around 3, doctors told her mother she was on the autism spectrum, making life at school for the now-10-year-old a nightmare.

    Kids called her “weirdo,” and “oddball,” and her teachers said she fell asleep in class and acted as if she didn’t want to be there. The little girl fell into a deep depression. But Pérez’s mother knew her daughter was special.

    “At home, I saw that she knew the periodic table of elements and she knew algebra. I think she felt bored,” Pérez’s mother Nalley Sánchez tells Infobae.

    Sánchez decided to take her daughter to therapy, and it wasn’t long before the psychiatrist recommended Pérez go to the Center for Attention to Talent (CEDAT), a school for gifted children.

    Sánchez quickly learned that her daughter wasn’t simply gifted, she was a certifiable genius with an IQ of 162—higher than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

    The Sánchez family comes from Tláhuac, Mexico, one of the 16 boroughs into which Mexico City is divided. It’s one of the poorest in the city.

    When she was just 5, Pérez finished elementary school. At 6 she finished middle school, and at 8 she finished high school. Today, she’s studying two careers online—Industrial engineering in mathematics at UNITEC and systems engineering at CNCI. The University of Arizona has offered her a scholarship.

    Pérez was invited to study there personally by the university’s president, Robert C. Robbins, who sent her a letter with the news. “I was thrilled to read about your incredible story online and to find out that your dream school is the University of Arizona,” Robbins said in his letter. “We have many outstanding space sciences programs, you would have many opportunities to work side by side with the world’s leading experts … You have a bright future ahead of you, and I hope to welcome you on campus one day as a Wildcat.”

    However, with the challenges of the U.S. visa, she hasn’t been able to go.

    Forbes magazine named Pérez one of the 100 powerful women of Mexico, and she recently authored a memoir titled Don’t Give Up.

    “The most difficult thing was breaking the stereotype that children with autism cannot and are incapable of achieving things,” Sánchez told The Mazatlan Post.

    Pérez says her dream is to work at NASA. “I want to go to space to colonize Mars,” she told Infobae.

    She has even made a keynote presentation at her school on black holes at an event organized by the Institute of Art and Culture in Tijuana.

    “If you don’t like where you are, imagine where you want to be, I see myself at NASA, so it’s worth a try” the prodigy wrote on her Instagram page.

    Link

    Two videos are available at the link.

  181. says

    Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, said his panel has evidence of interactions between members of the House and the rioters that day but not necessarily of a significant nature.

    “We have a lot of information about communication with individuals who came,“ Thompson (D-Miss.) told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired Sunday.

    Thompson clarified that there was not evidence of House members participating in a conspiracy with rioters or offering substantial assistance — at least not yet.

    “Now, ‘assisted’ means different things,“ he said. “Some took pictures with people who came to the ‘Stop the Steal‘ rally. Some, you know, allowed them to come and associate in their offices and other things during that whole rally week. So, there’s some participation. We don’t have any real knowledge that I’m aware of of people giving tours. We heard a lot of that, but we’re still, to be honest with you, reviewing a lot of the film that the House administration and others have provided the committee.“ […]

    Link

  182. says

    Liz Cheney on Trump: He’s a threat to American democracy

    “He crossed lines no American president has ever crossed before,” she said.

    Rep. Liz Cheney said Sunday she fears that if former President Donald Trump were to become president again, it could be a lethal blow to American democracy.

    “He crossed lines no American president has ever crossed before,” the Wyoming Republican told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” days before the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

    “You know, we entrust the survival of our republic into the hands of the chief executive, and when a president refuses to tell the mob to stop, when he refuses to defend any of the coordinate branches of government, he cannot be trusted.“

    Cheney is one of nine House members serving on the committee chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) investigating the Capitol riot, including Trump’s role in it.

    “We watched what this president did from — throughout the election, the lies that he told, the extent to which he went to war with the rule of law,“ she said. “He completely ignored the rulings of over 60 courts, including judges he had appointed, and refused to send help, refused to tell people to stand down for multiple hours while that attack was underway.“

    Emphasizing her opposition to the policies of the Biden administration, Cheney said the opposition to President Joe Biden should come from “conservative, principled leadership,” not from Trump.

    “The Republican Party has to make a choice. We can either be loyal to our Constitution or loyal to Donald Trump, but we cannot be both,” she said.

    Cheney was responding to comments from Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 presidential opponent. She told MSNBC in an interview that aired Thursday: “If he’s not held accountable and he gets to do it again, I think that could be the end of our democracy.”

    Clinton added: “If he or someone of his ilk were to be once again elected president … you will not recognize our country.”

    Thompson echoed their remarks Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.“

    “As I have viewed the film, as I’ve toured the Capitol, as I’ve talked to the Capitol policemen, Metropolitan policemen, National Guardsmen, we came critically close to losing this democracy as we’ve come to know it,“ he said.

  183. says

    Looking back at Herman Cain and his journey toward death:

    April 2020, Cain tweeted:

    Don’t believe everything you hear on Fake news. I never had the Wuhan Flu, because it doesn’t exist. #maskoff #mybodymychoice

    June 2020, Cain tweeted:

    Ignore the outrage. Ignore the thugs. Defy the violence and the left-wing shaming! Tonight’s #TulsaTrumpRally will be one for the history books! #America is her tonight, and the #tulsaRally Crowds are unbelievable.

    Commentary:

    Trump insisted on doing this Tulsa rally despite being in the middle of a deadly global pandemic with no vaccine in sight. That rally was a hilarious bust, a total humiliation for Trump. But Cain wasn’t going to let reality get in the way of his enthusiasm for the event. Trump sure as hell didn’t care about anyone’s safety:

    […] Trump was positively giddy in the days leading up to the rally, especially after Parscale notified him that they’d passed the 1 million ticket threshold. The dire warnings from Oklahoma’s public health officials that the rally would worsen the pandemic in their state naturally failed to penetrate Trump’s Macy’s parade balloon of an ego.

    In fact, asked about the possibility that his rally could turn into a superspreader event, Trump had a characteristically sociopathic response: “As you probably have heard, and we’re getting exact numbers out, but we’re either close to or over one million people wanting to go. Nobody has ever heard of numbers like this. I think we’re going to have a great time.”

    About 6,200 people ended up showing up. The overflow areas and big screens set up outside were broken down before Trump even took the stage.

    Another tweet from Herman Cain:

    Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP.

    Commentary:

    Twelve days later, Cain’s people admitted that their guy was in the hospital battling COVID. We got repeated “he’s doing better!” tweets over the following four weeks […] COVID, which is a virus that actually does exist, won the round.

    Herman Cain’s team continued to post from his Twitter account as “The Cain Gang.” After he died, they posted this: “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.”

    Commentary:

    Cain was the first high-profile COVID-denier to die of the disease, but it didn’t give Republicans pause. They didn’t suddenly take masking seriously. Trump didn’t stop doing dangerous and irresponsible superspreader rallies ahead of the 2020 election. Instead, they doubled down. Maybe things would’ve been different if a WHITE prominent Republican had been felled by the virus instead. Or if Donald Trump himself hadn’t survived his COVID hospitalization. As is, Cain barely registered in the broader COVID debate, a mere blip that conservatives conveniently swatted aside.

    Their use for him and his “Black voices for Trump” negated, he was quickly forgotten. […]

    Link

  184. StevoR says

    @ 200. Lynna, OM :

    After he died, they posted this: “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.”

    After!? FFS. Wow.

    @182. KG : Danny Dorling’s Population Ten Billion? is also very good – I think he worked with Rosling.

    Thanks, I hadn’t heard of that.

    Intetresting BBC article here :

    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210112-heres-what-sex-with-neanderthals-was-like

    Something I didn’t know till now here :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/fierceroller/?p=6749

    Kelps and their relatives could easily be mistaken for plants, with their stemlike stipes, leaflike blades, and rootlike holdfasts. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are more closely related to a shiitake than a kelp is to a kale.

    FWIW Kale is also a moonlet of Jupiter :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kale_(moon)

    As well as a varuiety of the cabbage plant Brassica oleracea.

  185. snarkrates says

    Regarding Cain and the other Cain Award Winners. If they were capable of learning, they wouldn’t be Rethugs. They just presume that being wrong about everything is normal.

  186. tomh says

    Georgia’s Cobb County Republican Party Plans to Honor Insurrectionists on January 6
    January 3, 2022, 6:43 am
    Rick Hasen

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    The deadly events of Jan. 6 will mostly be marked around the country by solemn ceremonies to remember the day that the pro-Donald Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.

    But at the Cobb County [Georgia] GOP headquarters, a group of far-right activists will hold a two-hour long program Thursday to lionize the insurrectionists who stampeded into the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory.

    The 5 p.m. program will begin with a livestream of Trump’s press conference from Florida, and continue with a call to action for Cobb Republicans.

    It will conclude with a candlelight vigil for the “J6 Patriots” – the shorthand that extremists have created for the rioters who sought to overthrow the government, including at least 30 who are being held in a D.C. jail without bond awaiting court dates for the most serious crimes that day.
    […]

    As Cobb has turned into a Democratic stronghold in the Trump era, the local GOP that once embodied the mainstream conservative movement has become a hotbed for conspiracy theorists.

    That transformation will be on full display Thursday, as the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who came up in the Cobb GOP and built his career on working with political opponents, is laid to rest.

    Hours later, the Cobb GOP will start its program to honor the “J6 Patriots.”

  187. says

    Bits and pieces of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    Former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has officially resigned as a member of Congress. As of this morning, the House has two vacancies, and Democrats narrowly lead Republicans in the chamber, 221 to 212. This subtle shift means that House Democratic leaders can lose no more than four members on a given vote, up from three.
    ———————-
    Tech billionaire Peter Thiel and Donald Trump Jr. are helping raise money in Wyoming for congressional hopeful Harriet Hageman, perhaps best known as Rep. Liz Cheney’s 2022 primary rival.
    ———————-
    On the other hand, Larry Hogan, Maryland Republican governor, is helping raise money for Republican congressional incumbents who voted for Trump’s impeachment early last year.
    ———————–
    After gaining some national attention by uttering “Let’s Go, Brandon” during a Christmas Eve call with President Joe Biden, Oregon’s Jared Schmeck told conservative Christian broadcaster Todd Starnes last week that he’s considering a run for elected office. [Oh, FFS. See comment 151]

  188. says

    Why Trump’s endorsement of Hungary’s Viktor Orban matters
    Trump endorses authoritarians who chip away at their democracies. The latest is Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

    […] Before exiting the White House, Trump endorsed Polish President Andrzej Duda — four days before Election Day in Poland — despite the restrictions Duda had imposed on his country’s judiciary, media, and civil society. [Trump] specifically praised Duda’s “vigilant efforts to uphold the rule of law,” even as Poland faced fierce pushback from the European Commission over officials’ view that Duda was backsliding on adhering to the rule of law.

    Last fall, Trump also endorsed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, despite the foreign leader’s authoritarian efforts.

    This morning, [Trump] announced his formal support for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a written statement that read:

    “Viktor Orban of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people. He has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming Election. He is a strong leader and respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!”

    […] the right’s affection for Orban’s Hungarian government has unfolded slowly over the course of last year. It was this past summer when Fox News’ Tucker Carlson sang Orban’s praises, for example, prompting The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie to note, “To critics, Orban’s Hungary is corrupt, repressive and authoritarian, a place where democracy is little more than window dressing…. To Carlson, it’s a model for the United States.”

    Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin soon after praised Orban’s tactics. Now, Trump’s on board.

    Even by the contemporary GOP’s standards, this is indefensible. My MSNBC colleague Zeeshan Aleem explained several months ago:

    Orban’s nativist record is well-known on the right. He has been a fierce critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approach to allowing immigrants into the European Union, and he built a wall on Hungary’s southern border (sound familiar?) to keep refugees out of the country. His ethno-nationalist goal of keeping “Hungary for the Hungarians” is laden with antisemitic theories that Jewish financiers are destroying the country…. Orban’s appeal to the right extends beyond his ultra-nativism. He is also a social traditionalist who has banned gender studies at universities and shot down the legal recognition of trans people.

    Aleem’s report added that the Hungarian strongman has taken a series of steps in recent years to undermine democratic institutions, “through measures like consolidation of hundreds of media outlets under the control of political allies, [corrupting] elections and using emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic to dramatically expand executive power.”

    […] And yet, there’s Trump, gushing about the “powerful” job Orban has done in Hungary.

    You don’t need a doctorate in political science to recognize the common thread tying together the former president’s international endorsements: Trump likes authoritarians […]

    When Republicans tell you who they are, believe them.

  189. says

    Sheesh. Texas joins the parade of pointless Republican election ‘audits’

    Under pressure from Donald Trump, Texas Republicans launched an “audit” of their 2020 election results. Predictably, there’s no evidence of irregularities.

    In late September, Donald Trump pushed Texas Republicans to launch an unnecessary “audit” of its 2020 elections. Less than half a day later, GOP officials in the Lone Star State complied […]

    the review would focus on four counties — three of which were carried by the Democratic ticket, despite Republican victories in the state — none of which faced credible allegations of election irregularities.

    […] There’s no reason to question the validity of Texas’ 2020 election results. As the Texas Tribune reported on New Year’s Eve, the “audit” hasn’t turned up anything.

    The Texas secretary of state’s office has released the first batch of results from its review into the 2020 general election, finding few issues despite repeated, unsubstantiated claims by GOP leaders casting doubts on the integrity of the electoral system. The first phase of the review, released New Year’s Eve, highlighted election data from four counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin — that showed few discrepancies between electronic and hand counts of ballots in a sample of voting precincts.

    […] there’s still a second phase underway — but there’s nothing in the first phase to suggest there were any meaningful problems with Texas’ 2020 elections. The article added:

    The official overseeing the review, Secretary of State John Scott, previously helped Trump challenge 2020 election results in Pennsylvania. Appointed to the position by Abbott, Scott said in an October interview with The Texas Tribune that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and that he has “not seen anything” to suggest that the election was stolen from Trump.

    Part of what makes this notable is the familiarity of the circumstances. Arizona Republicans launched an election “audit,” and it came to an ignominious end. Michigan Republicans launched a review of their own, and all they found was a mountain of discredited far-right lies.

    […] these absurd investigations will continue — Wisconsin, I’m looking in your direction […]

    Making matters considerably worse are the practical effects. Texas Republicans spent part of 2021 making it even harder to vote in the state, banning drive-through voting, restricting voting by mail, banning voting in overnight hours, empowering partisan poll watchers, and restricting absentee voting. […] in the hopes of creating an electoral advantage that would keep them in power for the foreseeable future.

    […] Any chance Texas Republicans will examine the latest findings and undo their voter-suppression tactics?

  190. says

    Too many Republican officials take aim at vaccines, not mandates

    The Republican Party’s “pro-vaccine, anti-mandate” line is wrong. The GOP’s “anti-vaccine” line is worse.

    About a month ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered floor remarks that summarized what we often hear from Republicans about Covid-19 vaccines. The Kentucky senator offered his full support for the vaccines, touted their efficacy and safety, and shared his own experiences as a survivor of childhood polio.

    He then added the standard GOP caveat. “But here’s the thing,” McConnell added, “the United States of America is a free country.”

    To be sure, there’s no shortage of Republican officials who have actively tried to undermine public confidence in the vaccines themselves. But broadly speaking, the party apparatus has tried to walk a fine line for much of the last year: The GOP isn’t against vaccines, they say, the party is only against vaccine requirements.

    It’s long been a flawed argument for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that vaccine requirements have been common in the United States for generations, and the party didn’t seem to care until Covid-19 started killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

    But complicating matters is the fact that the argument is gradually being pushed aside, replaced with more overt Republican opposition to vaccines themselves. Yahoo News reported over the holiday weekend:

    Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination booster shots on Twitter on Thursday as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the US. “If the booster shots work, why don’t they work?” tweeted the official account of the 19 Republican members of the committee, whose ranking member is Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

    The tweet was eventually removed, but not before Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee published a follow-up tweet, pointing to rising Covid infections amidst the omicron surge — as if this were proof that somehow bolstered their other bogus claim. [JFC]

    To the extent that reality still has any meaning, rising infection rates do not mean that booster shots are ineffective. In fact, the committee had it backwards: If more Americans had received boosters, the threat posed by increased infections would be far less severe.

    […] It’s problematic enough to see random GOP officials peddle nonsense about vaccines, but this was an instance in which 19 Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee collectively issued a statement that falsely told the public that booster shots don’t work.

    […] New York magazine’s Jon Chait added in a column last week, “[T]he right is revealing once again that the abstract principle that is supposedly the bedrock of its position is not actually its main concern. The right’s anger with vaccine mandates wasn’t about the mandates. It was about the vaccines.” […]

  191. says

    Cheney on Jan. 6 probe: ‘The full picture is coming to light’

    “I don’t think there’s any area of this broader history in which we aren’t learning new things,” Liz Cheney said of the Jan. 6 investigation.

    […] there’s no shortage of conflicts, with key members of Donald Trump’s team ignoring subpoenas, suing the bipartisan select committee, or both. These clashes give the impression of a stymied probe, struggling to get necessary information in the face of partisan obstinance.

    But behind the scenes, the investigation has quietly advanced, collecting materials, conducting interviews, and preparing to share revelations with the public. The Associated Press reported overnight:

    In the coming months, members of the panel will start to reveal their findings against the backdrop of the former president and his allies’ persistent efforts to whitewash the riots and reject suggestions that he helped instigate them. The committee also faces the burden of trying to persuade the American public that their conclusions are fact-based and credible. But the nine lawmakers — seven Democrats and two Republicans — are united in their commitment to tell the full story of Jan. 6, and they are planning televised hearings and reports that will bring their findings out into the open.

    Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the co-chair of the bipartisan select committee, told the AP, “The full picture is coming to light, despite President Trump’s ongoing efforts to hide the picture. I don’t think there’s any area of this broader history in which we aren’t learning new things.”

    Such as? The Wyoming congresswoman also appeared yesterday on ABC News’ “This Week,” and told George Stephanopoulos investigators have “firsthand testimony” that the then-president was sitting in a dining room next to the Oval Office during the attack, watching the Capitol violence unfold on television in real time.

    Describing what could’ve happened in the West Wing on Jan. 6, Cheney added, “The president could have at any moment, walked those very few steps into the briefing room, gone on live television, and told his supporters who were assaulting the Capitol to stop. He could have told them to stand down. He could have told them to go home — and he failed to do so. It’s hard to imagine a more significant and more serious dereliction of duty than that.”

    The GOP lawmaker went on to say in the same interview that the committee also has “firsthand testimony” that Ivanka Trump “at least twice” asked her father to help stop this violence during the attack.

    […] As for document production, Politico reported on New Year’s Eve that Bernie Kerik, the disgraced former New York City Police commissioner who reportedly created “command centers” for the Trump campaign’s anti-election strategy, has begun cooperating with the probe — to a point.

    While Kerik has reportedly “delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators,” Politico also reported that he provided the committee with a “privilege log” describing materials he doesn’t believe he can disclose. From the article:

    Among the withheld documents is one titled “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS.” Kerik’s attorney Timothy Parlatore provided the privilege log to the panel, which said the file originated on Dec. 17, a day before Trump huddled in the Oval Office with advisers including former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, where they discussed the option of seizing election equipment in states whose results Trump was attempting to overturn. Trump ultimately opted against that strategy, but his consideration of the option is one of the key questions the panel is probing as part of its broader investigation into attempts to overturn the election.

    […] Kerik, after his release from prison, partnered with Rudy Giuliani. Kerik was reportedly a participant in a Jan. 5 meeting in which attendees discussed strategies to overturn the election results at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    He also received a presidential pardon from Trump in February 2020.

  192. says

    Schumer Sets MLK Day Deadline To Consider Filibuster Changes, Ties Urgency To Jan 6 Anniversary

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the chamber will debate and vote on rule changes to help pass voting rights legislation on or before Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

    Schumer had said before the holidays that the chamber would redouble its stalled efforts to pass voting rights bills upon its return, and has now tied that push to the one year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    “Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness — an effort to delegitimize our election process, and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration — they will be the new norm,” he wrote in a Monday letter to colleagues.

    “Given the urgency of the situation and imminence of the votes, we as Senate Democrats must urge the public in a variety of different ways to impress upon their Senators the importance of acting and reforming the Senate rules, if that becomes a prerequisite for action to save our democracy,” he added.

    The obstacles to voting rights reform are the same as they’ve been all term: opposition from every Republican senator (with the possible exception of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act), and insistence from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on preserving the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold.

    […] Democratic members have continued efforts to move their recalcitrant colleagues. Some hope that the emotional resonance of the Jan. 6 anniversary will have some effect. Others hope that the glaring dissonance of the chamber having just allowed a filibuster carveout to raise the debt ceiling will underscore its arbitrary nature. […]

  193. says

    Wonkette: “Texas Gov Greg Abbott Suddenly Remembers Joe Biden’s President, Begs For Help Against COVID-19 Surge”

    During the last crappy day of 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled against the Biden administration’s vaccine and mask mandates for Head Start programs, which provide education-related services to low-income children. Freedom is just another word for superspreader conditions during a pandemic.

    The Court ruled that the mandates are “arbitrary and capricious,” because this court has a curious grasp on grade-school science. How many graphs to do we have show people of COVID-19 curb-stomping the unvaccinated?

    Governor Greg Abbott boasted Friday that Texas had “just beat Biden again.” He doesn’t care about protecting vulnerable children, just scoring cheap political points.

    ABBOTT: Another of Biden’s vaccine and mask mandates was just halted by a federal judge in Texas. The Court writes: “‘It is undisputed that an agency cannot act without Congressional authorization.” That would apply to all of Biden’s orders.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who really shouldn’t be in office after his attempted coup efforts, also bragged about his legal victory before popping open the champagne on New Year’s Eve. […]

    PAXTON: I just halted another illegal fed vax & mask mandate. Thanks to my suit(first of its kind in the nation), Prez Brandon is barred from using the Head Start Program to force vax & masks in TX—both of which this Admin embarrassingly admitted don’t stop Covid anyway! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Yes, the Texas attorney general called the sitting president “Prez Brandon” like he’s an emotionally damaged 10-year-old child.

    The COVID-19 vaccine, as well as wearing a mask over your gross face, does in fact keep people from needlessly dying. We’ve been through all this, and I’m not posting any more graphs because people who think “Prez Brandon” is a clever zinger are usually graphically illiterate.

    The very same day, Abbott begged Biden for federal assistance dealing with the rising COVID-19 cases in his state.

    “Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus,” said Abbott in a prepared statement. “Testing sites, additional medical staff, and continued shipments of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

    The conservative position on almost any other issue is that the government shouldn’t bail out people who refuse to take personal responsibility. Mitt Romney once argued against providing health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions who waited too long to get insured […]

    The COVID-19 vaccine is free. Masks are also relatively inexpensive, compared to a lengthy hospital stay. We aren’t unfeeling monsters or hypocrites like Republicans so we support taking care of people when they’re sick, even if they’re dullards.

    Abbott has fought the Biden administration on vaccine and mask mandates, insisting that Texans can choose to do what’s right without government coercion. (*Offer does not apply to reproductive freedom.) Abbott also claims the Biden administration has “cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and testing kits when they are needed most.” There’s no direct evidence that Biden is doing this, certainly not out of spite as implied. Biden announced last week that the federal government would buy half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them free of charge for home usage. […]

    Texas Republicans want to exist as their own island but when the going gets tough, the morally weak start pleading for federal assistance. Now Abbott’s shouting, “Save me, Brandon!” and Biden won’t tell him to get fucked because he understands he’s president for all Americans, even the assholes.

  194. says

    Since Jan. 6, the pro-Trump Internet has descended into infighting over money and followers.

    Washington Post link

    The far-right firebrands and conspiracy theorists of the pro-Trump Internet have a new enemy: each other.

    QAnon devotees are livid at their former hero Michael Flynn for accurately calling their jumbled credo “total nonsense.” Donald Trump superfans have voiced a sense of betrayal because the former president, booed for getting a coronavirus immunization booster, has become a “vaccine salesman.” And attorney Lin Wood seems mad at pretty much everyone, including former allies on the scattered “elite strike-force team” investigating nonexistent mass voter fraud.

    After months of failing to disprove the reality of Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss, some of the Internet’s most popular right-wing provocateurs are grappling with the pressures of restless audiences, saturated markets, ongoing investigations and millions of dollars in legal bills.

    The result is a chaotic melodrama, playing out via secretly recorded phone calls, personal attacks in podcasts, and a seemingly endless stream of posts on Twitter, Gab and Telegram calling their rivals Satanists, communists, pedophiles or “pay-triots” — money-grubbing grifters exploiting the cause. [hahahahaha]

    The infighting reflects the diminishing financial rewards for the merchants of right-wing disinformation, whose battles center not on policy or doctrine but on the treasures of online fame: viewer donations and subscriptions; paid appearances at rallies and conferences; and crowds of followers to buy their books and merchandise.

    But it also reflects a broader confusion in the year since QAnon’s faceless nonsense-peddler, Q, went mysteriously silent.

    […] “In the absence of a president like Trump and in the absence of a figure like Q, there’s this void where nobody knows who to follow,” Aniano said. “At one point it seemed like Q was gospel. Now there’s a million different bibles, and no one knows which one is most accurate.” [None. None of them are accurate.]

    The cage match kicked off late in November when Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges after fatally shooting two men at a protest last year in Kenosha, Wis., told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that his former attorneys, including Wood, had exploited his jail time to boost their fundraising “for their own benefit, not trying to set me free.”
    Wood has since snapped back at his 18-year-old former client, wondering aloud in recent messages on the chat service Telegram: Could his life be “literally under the supervision and control of a ‘director?’ Whoever ‘Kyle’ is, pray for him.” […]

    To help cover their legal bills, the factions have set up online merchandise shops targeting their most loyal followers. Fans of Powell’s bogus conspiracy theory can, for instance, buy a four-pack set of “Release the Kraken: Defending the Republic” drink tumblers from her website for $80. On Flynn’s newly launched website, fans can buy “General Flynn: #FightLikeAFlynn” women’s racerback tank tops for $30. And Wood’s online store sells $64.99 “#FightBack” unisex hoodies; the fleece, a listing says, feels like “wearing a soft, fluffy cloud.”

    […] QAnon is “the easiest money that you could possibly make if you don’t have a conscience, but there’s only a certain number of people you can fleece. It’s not a renewable resource,” said Rothschild (who has no relation to the famous banking family targeted in antisemitic conspiracy theories).

    “The fact that they’re all mad at each other, that’s all a byproduct of the fact that they’re just desperate for money, and there’s only a certain amount,” he added. So now, he said, the us-vs.-them argument for many QAnon influencers is: “They’re the pedophiles, the Freemasons, the illuminati. I’m the truth-teller. I’m the one who’s trying to save the world.”

    […] In an anonymous poll posted to QAnon-boosting Telegram channels asking whether Trump’s receipt of a booster shot made them comfortable getting vaccinated, 97 percent of the more than 19,000 votes said no. Andrew Torba, the head of Gab, a social network popular with the far right, posted that Trump’s promotion of “his biggest ‘accomplishment,’ the death jab,” was “so cringe.” […]

    More details related to the convoluted infighting are available at the link.

  195. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 205

    When Republicans tell you who they are, believe them.

    I already know who the Republicans are. All I want to know is what the Democrats intend to do about them… other than kiss GOP ass while never losing another election. (NEWSFLASH: Democrats aren’t very good at that last part.)

  196. says

    Not sure what is going on here, but it is an interesting development:

    U.S. authorities now have in custody the highest-ranking Kremlin insider “in recent memory,” according to Bloomberg News. Vladislav Klyushin, 41, a Russian tech mogul with close ties to the Kremlin, was arrested in Switzerland in March 2021 and extradited to the U.S. on Dec. 18 after prosecutors charged him with committing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal insider trades using hacked corporate earnings information. U.S. officials unveiled those charges in Boston on Dec. 20 in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts.

    But the securities fraud case against Klyushin seems more a means to an end considering the tech tycoon received a medal of honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin just 18 months earlier. Russian intelligence has reportedly determined that Klyushin could access a trove of documents detailing the extensive effort by Russia’s GRU military intelligence to hack Democratic Party servers in 2016. If Klyushin decides to cooperate with U.S. authorities, it could provide a big breakthrough for what appears to be an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    “You may be seeing the signs that they are continuing to pursue this case, with real big implications for exposing in even greater detail what the Russians did to influence the outcome of our election,” said Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration.

    According to the insider trading indictment, Klyushin’s IT company, M-13, worked for the Russian presidency and governmental agencies. Also named in the indictment was Ivan Yermakov, a former military intelligence official who was indicted in 2018 as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in 2016.

    But the intriguing part of Klyushin’s capture in Switzerland may be that he traveled there at all.

    Bloomberg reports that Klyushin was “approached by U.S. and U.K. spy agencies in the two years before his exit from Russia and received heightened levels of security in Switzerland.” He also curiously failed to make a final appeal challenging his extradition to the U.S. after both U.S. and Russian officials had been competing to win his extradition from Switzerland following his arrest there.

    “It underscores the risk that anybody, billionaires or others close to the Russian state, face when they break American laws if they travel abroad,” McFaul noted.

    Link

  197. says

    Followup to comment 196. Facebook joins Twitter in suspending Marjorie Taylor Greene’s account.

    Facebook on Monday suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) account for 24 hours for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, just one day after her personal Twitter account was permanently suspended for the same reason.

    On her Telegram account, Greene shared a screenshot of a message from Facebook stating that she would be barred from posting anything for the next 24 hours.

    “Facebook has joined Twitter in censoring me. This is beyond censorship of speech,” Greene wrote. “I’m an elected Member of Congress representing over 700,000 US tax paying citizens and I represent their voices, values, defend their freedoms, and protect the Constitution.”

    Greene’s verified congressional Facebook account is still up.

    In a statement provided to The Hill, a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said, “A post violated our policies and we have removed it; but removing her account for this violation is beyond the scope of our policies.”

    On Sunday, Twitter permanently suspended Greene’s personal account, citing “repeated violations” of its policies. Greene’s congressional account is still active. After her account was taken down, Greene called Twitter the “enemy to America.”

    In a Telegram post on Monday, Greene stated that Twitter had accidentally suspended her account two other times and argued their claims that she had violated their policies five previous times was incorrect. She demanded that her personal account be restored immediately.

    Link

  198. says

    New York Times Editorial Board:

    One year after the smoke and broken glass, the mock gallows and the very real bloodshed of that awful day, it is tempting to look back and imagine that we can, in fact, simply look back. To imagine that what happened on Jan. 6, 2021 — a deadly riot at the seat of American government, incited by a defeated president amid a last-ditch effort to thwart the transfer of power to his successor — was horrifying but that it is in the past and that we as a nation have moved on.

    This is an understandable impulse. After four years of chaos, cruelty and incompetence, culminating in a pandemic and the once-unthinkable trauma of Jan. 6, most Americans were desperate for some peace and quiet.

    On the surface, we have achieved that. Our political life seems more or less normal these days, as the president pardons turkeys and Congress quarrels over spending bills. But peel back a layer, and things are far from normal. Jan. 6 is not in the past; it is every day.

    It is regular citizens who threaten election officials and other public servants, who ask, “When can we use the guns?” and who vow to murder politicians who dare to vote their conscience. It is Republican lawmakers scrambling to make it harder for people to vote and easier to subvert their will if they do. It is Donald Trump who continues to stoke the flames of conflict with his rampant lies and limitless resentments and whose twisted version of reality still dominates one of the nation’s two major political parties.

    In short, the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends. No self-governing society can survive such a threat by denying that it exists. Rather, survival depends on looking back and forward at the same time.

    Truly grappling with the threat ahead means taking full account of the terror of that day a year ago. Thanks largely to the dogged work of a bipartisan committee in the House of Representatives, this reckoning is underway. We know now that the violence and mayhem broadcast live around the world was only the most visible and visceral part of the effort to overturn the election. The effort extended all the way into the Oval Office […]

    We know now that top Republican lawmakers and right-wing media figures privately understood how dangerous the riot was and pleaded with Mr. Trump to call a halt to it, even as they publicly pretended otherwise. We know now that those who may have critical information about the planning and execution of the attack are refusing to cooperate with Congress, even if it means being charged with criminal contempt.

    For now, the committee’s work continues. It has scheduled a series of public hearings in the new year to lay out these and other details, and it plans to release a full report of its findings before the midterm elections — after which, should Republicans regain control of the House as expected, the committee will undoubtedly be dissolved.

    This is where looking forward comes in. Over the past year, Republican lawmakers in 41 states have been trying to advance the goals of the Jan. 6 rioters — not by breaking laws but by making them. Hundreds of bills have been proposed and nearly three dozen laws have been passed that empower state legislatures to sabotage their own elections and overturn the will of their voters, according to a running tally by a nonpartisan consortium of pro-democracy organizations.

    Some bills would change the rules to make it easier for lawmakers to reject the votes of their citizens if they don’t like the outcome. Others replace professional election officials with partisan actors who have a vested interest in seeing their preferred candidate win. Yet more attempt to criminalize human errors by election officials, in some cases even threatening prison.

    […] Thus the Capitol riot continues in statehouses across the country, in a bloodless, legalized form that no police officer can arrest and that no prosecutor can try in court.

    This isn’t the first time state legislatures have tried to wrest control of electoral votes from their own people, nor is it the first time that the dangers of such a ploy have been pointed out. In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison warned Congress of the risk that such a “trick” could determine the outcome of a presidential election.

    The Constitution guarantees to all Americans a republican form of government, Harrison said. “The essential features of such a government are the right of the people to choose their own officers” and to have their votes counted equally in making that choice. “Our chief national danger,” he continued, is “the overthrow of majority control by the suppression or perversion of popular suffrage.” If a state legislature were to succeed in substituting its own will for that of its voters, “it is not too much to say that the public peace might be seriously and widely endangered.”

    A healthy, functioning political party faces its electoral losses by assessing what went wrong and redoubling its efforts to appeal to more voters the next time. The Republican Party, like authoritarian movements the world over, has shown itself recently to be incapable of doing this. Party leaders’ rhetoric suggests they see it as the only legitimate governing power and thus portrays anyone else’s victory as the result of fraud — hence the foundational falsehood that spurred the Jan. 6 attack, that Joe Biden didn’t win the election.

    “The thing that’s most concerning is that it has endured in the face of all evidence,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of the vanishingly few Republicans in Congress who remain committed to empirical reality and representative democracy. “And I’ve gotten to wonder if there is actually any evidence that would ever change certain people’s minds.”

    The answer, for now, appears to be no. Polling finds that the overwhelming majority of Republicans believe that President Biden was not legitimately elected and that about one-third approve of using violence to achieve political goals. Put those two numbers together, and you have a recipe for extreme danger.

    Political violence is not an inevitable outcome. Republican leaders could help by being honest with their voters and combating the extremists in their midst. Throughout American history, party leaders, from Abraham Lincoln to Margaret Chase Smith to John McCain, have stood up for the union and democracy first, to their everlasting credit.

    Democrats aren’t helpless, either. They hold unified power in Washington, for the last time in what may be a long time. Yet they have so far failed to confront the urgency of this moment — unwilling or unable to take action to protect elections from subversion and sabotage. Blame Senator Joe Manchin or Senator Kyrsten Sinema, but the only thing that matters in the end is whether you get it done. For that reason, Mr. Biden and other leading Democrats should make use of what remaining power they have to end the filibuster for voting rights legislation, even if nothing else.

    Whatever happens in Washington, in the months and years to come, Americans of all stripes who value their self-government must mobilize at every level — not simply once every four years but today and tomorrow and the next day — to win elections and help protect the basic functions of democracy. If people who believe in conspiracy theories can win, so can those who live in the reality-based world.

    Above all, we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country. Countless times over the past six years, up to and including the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump and his allies openly projected their intent to do something outrageous or illegal or destructive. Every time, the common response was that they weren’t serious or that they would never succeed. How many times will we have to be proved wrong before we take it seriously? The sooner we do, the sooner we might hope to salvage a democracy that is in grave danger.

  199. StevoR says

    South Australia has not just a surge in cases but also some of our testing facilities have been overwhelmed and the private lab running them have them shut down – temporarily I hope. News here.:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-04/sa-pathology-says-covid-19-swabs-and-blood-samples-missing/100736868

    Experienced this first hand here since I’m not feeling the best and sought out a covid test this morning – hundreds of cars lined up for hours and found out it was closed from the radio news. No one from Clinpath told us or put any signs out. Grr.. Isolating at home now and looking to book a test online somewhere..

  200. raven says

    This is a historic day.
    The USA has set a world record for Covid-19 virus cases. Two years into the pandemic.

    I wouldn’t take the fact that we set this record too seriously though. AFAICT, most countries in the world outside of the First World aren’t even really counting their Covid-19 cases. In fact, even in the USA, we aren’t even counting all of our Covid-19 virus cases.
    For the Third World countries, it is likely that they can’t count their cases due to a lack of health care infrastructure.

    U.S. reports over 1 million new daily Covid cases as omicron surges
    Published Tue, Jan 4 20225:08 AM EST Updated 30 Min Ago CNBC.com
    Key Points
    The U.S. has reported a record single-day number of daily Covid cases, with more than 1 million new infections.
    A total of 1,082,549 new coronavirus cases were reported Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as the highly infectious omicron variant continues to spread throughout the country and beyond.
    The U.S. also has the highest seven-day average of daily new cases in any country tracked by Johns Hopkins.

    Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | Getty Images
    The U.S. has reported a record single-day number of daily Covid cases, with more than 1 million new infections.

    A total of 1,082,549 new coronavirus cases were reported Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as the highly infectious omicron variant continues to spread throughout the country.

    The new daily tally brings the total number of cases confirmed in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic to 56,189,547. In total, the virus has caused at least 827,748 deaths across the country.

    The record single-day total may be due in part to delayed reporting from over the holiday weekend. A number of U.S. states did not report data on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and many do not report data on weekends, meaning that some of these cases could be from positive tests taken on prior days.

    Nonetheless, as of Jan. 3, the seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases is 480,273, the highest such metric of new cases in any country tracked by Johns Hopkins.

    About 98,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a seven-day average of data from the Department of Health and Human Services as of Jan. 3, up 32% from a week ago. That figure is approaching peak delta wave levels when about 103,000 people were in hospital beds with Covid across the country in early September, but remains lower than last winter’s high mark of roughly 137,000 U.S. hospitalizations.

    The U.S. is reporting an average of about 1,200 daily Covid deaths for the week ended Jan. 3, Johns Hopkins data shows, well below the record numbers seen following last year’s holiday season when the daily average held above 3,000 for about a month starting in January 2021. The death toll tends to lag rises in case counts and hospitalizations, however.

    In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen the omicron variant starting to edge out the previously dominant delta strain of the virus.

    The latest available weekly data from the U.S. CDC, ended on Dec. 25, estimates that the delta variant accounted for around 41% of cases while omicron made up around 58.6% of U.S. infections.

    U.S. health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus given concerns over the new variant.

    Early studies suggested that Covid vaccines are less effective against the omicron variant compared with the delta strain and other variants. But the same studies have indicated that three vaccine doses — the two preliminary shots plus a booster — significantly increase the level of protection against omicron.

    Research has also suggested that the omicron variant causes less severe infections.

    The rise of the variant led to thousands of flight cancellations during the holiday season and has caused some businesses and schools to consider temporary closures. Several major Wall Street banks have asked employees to work from home for the first few weeks of January.

  201. raven says

    Many States Are Not Reporting The Latest COVID-19 Numbershttps://www.npr.org › 2021/09/06 › many-states-are-not-r…

    Sep 6, 2021 — Officials in Nebraska recently stopped publishing county-level coronavirus data — citing privacy concerns. Public health experts say that’s …

    The state of Nebraska stopped reporting much of their Covid-19 virus data.

    Citing privacy concerns which is nonsense.
    I don’t know a single person in Nebraska. This is true for most people in the USA. The fact that there were 100 cases in some county I never heard of isn’t going to be identifying data.

  202. KG says

    other than kiss GOP ass while never losing another election. (NEWSFLASH: Democrats aren’t very good at that last part.) – Akira MacKenzie@213

    In the 2020 Presidential election their candidate won considerably more votes than any other Presidential candidate in history, a margin of more than 7 million over the next candidate, and an absolute majority of the vote. Democrats also won an absolute majority of the House of Representative vote, and of the seats contested. They were able to prevent the Republican cadidates winning the majority they needed to retain Georgia’s Senate seats, and later won both those seats, giving them an (admittedly very tenuous) control of the Senate. The Democratic Presidential candidate has won a plurality of votes in every election bar one from 1992 onward.

    “OK, OK, but apart from that, when have the Democrats ever won an election???”

  203. Akira MacKenzie says

    KG

    And yet, every expert predicts that the Dems are going to lose the Congress in November, allowing the fascists to sweep in, reinstall Trump as dictator and complete what the Right started in 2016.

  204. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’d also point out that Biden may have one the highest amount of votes ever, Trump got the second highest in that very same election. In 2016 Trump got 62 million, in 2020 he won 72 million. Support for Trump and his fascist policies grew, not shrunk or stayed the same. Even if the future GOP Congress allows an election in 2024, there is no way a cowardly dotard like Biden will win reelection after how badly he’s handling the present one. Just look at the goddamn approval polls.

  205. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Just last month GOP activist and Orange County Deputy DA Kelly Ernby was speaking at an anti-vaccine rally put on by local Turning Point USA chapters in Irvine. “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,” she told the small but enthusiastic crowd. “Our government for the people and by the people is not going to exist without action of the people.” In 2020 Ernby had run unsuccessfully for a state Assembly seat as a Republican.

    This week Ernby died of COVID-19 at age 46.

    Unlike many COVID-era Republican activists, Ernby’s anti-vaccine and “medical freedom” activism predated COVID. Back in 2019 she opposed a new California law tightening school vaccine requirements: “If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?”

    At an August rally in support of the campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Ernby denounced the governor as a dictator. “I’m sick of watching Gavin Newsom, our dictator, shut down our schools, shut down our businesses, shut down our churches, and I’m really sick of the fact that criminals have more rights than law-abiding citizens,” Ernby told a cheering crowd.

    Todd Spitzer, Orange County District Attorney, mourned Ernby as “an incredibly vibrant and passionate attorney who cared deeply about the work that we do as prosecutors — and deeply about the community we all fight so hard to protect.” Ernby had worked at the DA’s office for ten years. “The Orange County district attorney’s office is utterly heartbroken by [her] sudden and unexpected passing.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-stories-are-endless

  206. says

    Wonkette: “Florida Surgeon General Says BACK AWAY FROM THE COVID TEST”

    Omicron cases are surging across the country, and last week, Florida had its highest number of positive COVID tests since the beginning of the pandemic, not to mention double the number of COVID inpatients it had the week before. Naturally, any responsible person with symptoms is testing, which has led to a shortage of rapid home tests. In response, the Biden administration has decided to ramp up the number of testing sites as well as purchase 500 million rapid home tests to be sent out to anyone who requests them.

    Why? Because we all know, and have known for some time, that testing is one of the best ways we can limit the spread of COVID. If we know we have it, we can take the proper precautions in terms of quarantining and staying the hell away from people so we don’t infect them.

    But Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has a different idea. A very different idea. [video available at the link]

    In a press conference on Monday, Ladapo stood at a podium with a big sign on it reading “early treatment saves lives” and explained that he believes we’ve all been testing too much and should make testing for COVID a “grandmas only” affair.

    My department’s goal is going to be to put out testing that doesn’t restrict access to testing, but reduces the use of low-value testing and prioritizes high-value testing. And what do we mean by that? High-value testing is testing that is likely to change outcomes. So if your grandmother gets a test, that’s a much more valuable test than the eight-year-old third graders Los Angeles County is sending in to get weekly testing, right? The first one is much more likely to change outcomes. So, we are going to be putting out guidance that puts more emphasis on that. And, so, we are going to be working to unwind the testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to, unfortunately, get most of the country in over the last two years.

    This seems to be the fundamental thing the Right can’t quite seem to grasp about the virus. Sure, a younger person is more likely to survive COVID than their grandparents are — but if the younger person doesn’t get tested and then goes to visit their grandparents, they’re going to spread it to them. And that’s not good!

    Ladapo has a history of COVID wackiness. He first sauntered into the national spotlight with “America’s Frontline Doctors,” a ragtag group of wacky COVID conspiracy theorists including Dr. Simone Gold and Dr. Stella “Demon Sperm” Immanuel, which is likely how he ended up being tapped by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to be the state’s surgeon general. From the beginning of the pandemic onward, his primary belief has been that if we all ignore it, it will just go away — a tactic about as likely to work with a deadly virus as it is with middle school bullies.

    In addition to opposing mask mandates and literally any official policy meant to keep people from spreading COVID-19, Ladapo has claimed that vaccines are not necessarily more effective against COVID than “losing weight, exercising, eating more fruits and vegetables.”

    Last week, Ladapo complained that the Biden administration had decided to pause shipments on certain monoclonal antibody treatments that aren’t effective against Omicron, because using them to try and treat Omicron when there is not an infinite supply of these treatments is pretty wasteful. Florida, along with seven other southern states, has been bogarting 70 percent of the country’s supply of monoclonal antibody treatments, which are very expensive, because many people in those states prefer doing that to masking and vaccinating. [aaarrrgggghhh]

    Without testing — without seeing where the virus is — we’re right back to March 2020. Then, Trump was president and he didn’t want testing because he liked the numbers “where they are.” Can you imagine wanting to relive that moment?

    Link

    Not sure we should call Joseph Ladapo a surgeon or a medical professional of any kind. He’s just another doofus. Now, thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis, the dunderhead has more power and attention … so he can cause the deaths of more Floridians.

  207. tomh says

    They must stay up nights thinking of new ways to grift.

    Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro is promoting an election fraud board game
    Morgan Keith / January 2, 2022

    Peter Navarro, who served as a trade advisor to former President Donald Trump, is promoting a board game created by Play 4 Fun that pushes baseless conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 election.

    In a promotional video, Navarro raves about “Election 2020, You Decide,” a board game which he says puts “a wealth of videos, news clips, and other documentation at your freedom-loving and truth-seeking fingertips.”

    “Want to know how the Democrats stole the 2020 election? Play the game. Want to know how Tony Fauci likely helped create a deadly virus in a communist Chinese bioweapons lab? Play the game. Want to get to the bottom of the Russia collusion hoax? Yep. Play the game,” Navarro says in the video.
    […]

    Some of the game’s features are “fake news” cards about media disinformation and “triggered” cards, which dole out consequences to either team. Players can also get trapped in designated quarantine areas or safe spaces, according to the game’s rules page.
    […]

    For only $49.95 you too can play.

  208. says

    Wonkette: “GOP Idiots Dan Crenshaw And Marjorie Taylor Greene Are Having A Big Fight”

    Before Marjorie Taylor Greene, as typical a Republican as ever lived, was perma-banned from Twitter on Sunday, she was fighting with GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

    “He needs to stop calling himself conservative, he’s hurting our brand,” Greene wrote on Twitter before her account was permanently suspended for spreading misinformation.

    His sin? He called on Fox News for President Joe Biden to use FEMA to boost COVID testing sites, and couched that as something that “happen[ed] during the Trump administration.” Republican messaging, to be sure, but not insane. But that goes against “our brand,” in the estimable estimation of Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose brand is waking up every day and being an even bigger mouthbreather than she was the day before.

    Here’s what Greene had said about that:

    “No FEMA should not set up testing sites to check for Omicron sneezes, coughs, and runny noses,” she wrote on Twitter. “And we don’t need FEMA in hospitals, they should hire back all the unvaccinated HCW they fired.”

    […] She also said it on Gab, where she is still allowed to exist.

    Now Crenshaw has responded to the idiot, in an Instagram story:

    “Hey Marjorie, if suggesting we should follow Trump policy instead of Biden mandates makes you mad, then you might be a Democrat – or just an idiot,” he wrote.

    Crenshaw also called out Greene for missing a key vote ― circling a picture of her “going out for a few drinks” instead of voting for the National Defense Authorization Act.

    Uh oh, fighting words!

    Marjorie Taylor Greene has also been complaining on Gettr, the social media site started by […] Trump idiot Jason Miller. She apparently thinks she got kicked off Twitter for … making fun of Dan Crenshaw? And not because she keeps lying about COVID?

    “All I said was NO, we don’t want FEMA doing any of that and hospitals need to hire back unvaccinated (health care workers),” she posted to GETTR, the social media platform founded by Jason Miller, an adviser to former President Donald Trump. “Then POOF! I’m kicked off Twitter!”

    […] It’s funny when they all fight. We particularly like watching people like Dan Crenshaw try so very hard to position themselves as smart and sane Republicans, as if they didn’t just spend these past years defending the world’s stupidest fascist, as if they didn’t help create this monster.

    To be sure, Crenshaw has been trying here and there to cram the crazy back into the bottle over the past year, significantly last month when he called members of the Freedom Caucus grifters and liars and performance artists. At the time, Greene responded that Crenshaw, who was a Navy SEAL, was “shooting with blanks,” which is not how the expression goes, but nobody ever accused Marjorie Taylor Greene of being a fluent English speaker, or anything else besides a mouthbreather.

    Point is we have sympathy for exactly zero people in this story and our New Year’s resolution for 2022 is to have more fun watching them eat each other.

    Link

  209. says

    Elizabeth Holmes’s fraud conviction adds another chapter to the history of white-collar crime.

    Washington Post link

    Blood testing start-up founder Elizabeth Holmes’s guilty conviction on four of the 11 fraud charges leveled against her has given some resolution to one of the highest-profile white-collar crime cases to get public attention in years.

    Her rapid rise and reputation as the future of Silicon Valley was boosted by the tech press and her roster of famous investors and advisers. Her fall from favor was just as swift, with her company eventually going bankrupt and most of her investors renouncing their ties to her when it became clear that Theranos’s machines couldn’t perform the number and quality of blood tests from finger pricks that the company had been striving to develop for several years.

    The more than three-month-long trial, which centered on whether Holmes purposely misled investors and patients about how effective her company’s blood-testing machines were, was swamped by reporters and curious onlookers, in much the same way other big white-collar criminal trials had been in the past.

    After seven days of deliberation, the jury found Holmes guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud against specific investors. She was found not guilty on four other counts including defrauding patients. The jury deadlocked on three more charges of defrauding specific investors. […]

    More at the link.

    Seems to me that the fraudsters are getting away with what they call “creative hyperbole,” and what I call lying.

  210. says

    A notorious judge undermines the Navy’s vaccine requirement

    Depending on where servicemembers may be deployed, American troops were already required to receive up to 17 different vaccinations, but after the FDA approved Covid-19 vaccines, the list climbed to 18.

    This was in keeping with American traditions, as well as common sense: The United States needs to be able to deploy military forces. The more troops are vulnerable to a deadly contagion during a pandemic, the more it undermines readiness. The Biden administration’s decision on this over the summer was hardly a tough call.

    Nevertheless, 35 Navy sailors refused to get vaccinated, claiming the protections were at odds with their Christian beliefs. As NBC News reported, the troops found a sympathetic judge.

    A federal judge on Monday barred the U.S. Department of Defense from punishing a group of Navy SEALs and other special forces members who refused COVID-19 vaccines on religious grounds. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, acting in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of 35 special forces service members, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Navy and Defense Department from enforcing the mandate.

    These Navy service members were facing a range of possible disciplinary actions for refusing to follow orders. Now, those actions are on hold, thanks to a conservative judge in Texas.

    Part of the problem with the court’s preliminary injunction is its highly dubious reasoning.

    “Our nation asks the men and women in our military to serve, suffer, and sacrifice. But we do not ask them to lay aside their citizenry and give up the very rights they have sworn to protect,” the court order read. It went on to say, “The Covid-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no Covid-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

    It’s a curious argument. Those who volunteer for service in the United States Armed Forces make a great many sacrifices, including giving up some of their constitutional rights during their service. This is not new, and it’s been bolstered by court rulings for generations.

    But nearly as notable was the judge who published this curious argument.

    It’s probably safe to assume most Americans have never heard of Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas. But in legal/political circles, this guy has earned a reputation.

    The week before Christmas in 2018, for example, a judge agreed to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, root and branch. Even many conservatives and ACA critics agreed that the ruling was indefensible, and reactions tended to include words and phrases such as “pretty bananas,” “embarrassingly bad,” and “absurd.”

    It was Judge Reed O’Connor who issued the ruling. The New York Times noted soon after that Republicans had a habit of bringing their cases to the Northern District of Texas, because of their confidence that O’Connor would give them what they wanted.

    He ruled for Texas in 2015 when it challenged an Obama administration measure extending family leave benefits to married same-sex couples…. He also ruled for Texas in 2016, blocking the Obama administration from enforcing guidelines expanding restroom access for transgender students.

    Then he ruled against the ACA, and this week, he issued a preliminary injunction against punishing troops that ignore vaccine orders.

    It probably wasn’t a coincidence when these Navy SEALs and other special forces members who refused Covid-19 vaccines brought their case to the Northern District of Texas. It’s called “judge shopping” for a reason.

  211. says

    Navarro Details How He And Bannon Lobbied Trump To Subvert The Election In The Run-Up To Jan. 6

    Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been going into great detail about his efforts, assisted by Steve Bannon, to get former President Trump’s election fraud falsehoods off the ground in late 2020 and January 2021. The latest comes in interviews with The Daily Beast and Rolling Stone.

    Navarro detailed his role in crafting a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep,” named after a daring football play run by the NFL’s Packers. The scheme, concocted by Navarro and Bannon, was partially realized — an effort to get Republican members of Congress to block the Electoral College vote count by calling on sitting members of Congress during the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to object to the counting of votes from six battleground states. Each state challenge, Navarro had theorized, would force four hours of debate in both chambers, with the aim of of creating a 24-hours GOP propaganda blitz that would’ve run the clock as long as possible for then-VP Mike Pence, who presided over the Senate, to delay the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory by sending the contested tallies back to the states.

    In his memoir, published last year, Navarro outlines his close contact with Bannon in the planning of the “Green Bay Sweep.” He detailed that effort further to the Daily Beast last month, saying that it involved coordination with GOP lawmakers such as Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

    “We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. […]

    The GOP lawmakers’ commitment to the plan played out when Cruz signed off on Gosar’s objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots during the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress.

    […] Navarro similarly detailed that plan to Rolling Stone in an interview published this week, revealing that he personally briefed Trump in the Oval Office on his so-called “research” of baseless theories boosting the Big Lie of a “stolen” 2020 presidential election. Navarro claimed that Trump directed Navarro’s findings to be distributed to all GOP lawmakers on the Hill.

    Navarro’s recent interviews offers more insight into his efforts to push the Big Lie, some of which were apparent in real time.

    In December 2020, Navarro circulated a report titled the “Immaculate Deception” that rehashed debunked Trump complaints about supposed election irregularities that, in the weeks before, judges had laughed out of court. Navarro also compiled other dossiers on boosting the Big Lie shortly after the election that were titled “The Art of the Steal” and “Yes, Trump Won.”

    Navarro also called for the delay of the Georgia Senate runoffs in January last year (which ultimately handed Democrats a functional Senate majority) in another effort to reinforce Trump’s election fraud falsehoods.

    Days before the Capitol insurrection, Navarro appeared on Fox News to further push the then-President’s voter fraud delusions by falsely proclaiming that Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 could be changed.

  212. says

    Omicron crushes past records for new cases as hospitals fill, schools close, and delta fades away

    On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins reported 1,082,549 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States in a single day, annihilating all past records in the U.S. or in any other nation. This record was assisted by belated recording of cases logged over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Looking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or WorldOMeters results brings up numbers about half those logged by the Johns Hopkins data. However, even these relatively smaller numbers are still massively higher than the 260,000 cases logged in a single day of January 2020, which had represented the previous record high.

    No matter what the source, the U.S. is flattening the curve—but only in the sense that it has become a near-vertical line.

    […] the idea omicron is “mild” may be one of the most dangerous impressions to emerge since the beginning of the pandemic. How “mild” omicron may be in relation to other variants is still in dispute. Early studies indicated that omicron is actually little different from delta when it comes to causing severe illness, but real-world data from some regions indicated that there were signs of reduced severity. However, even if omicron is many times less likely to cause severe illness, the sheer number of cases represents an enormous potential to overload health care systems, resulting in untold harm. And that’s exactly what seems to be happening. […]

    HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE ALREADY HITTING RECORD HIGHS, ESPECIALLY AMONG CHILDREN
    Whether omicron is 90%, 50%, or just 20% as likely to result in hospitalization as delta, that difference can be swamped by the massive flood of new cases coming in. […] New York surpassed all previous records on Monday, not just for new cases, but for the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus infection. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the same thing is true in Missouri. KXAN reported on Monday that Texas Children’s Hospital was seeing record levels of hospitalization resulting from COVID-19. […]

    It’s not actually clear that omicron is more serious for younger patients than previous variants. However, as with older patients, the rapidly rising number of cases is enough to overrun available beds in several locations. New admissions of pediatric patients are up by two-thirds over the last week, exceeding the highest counts of either the delta peak over the summer or the earlier peak that occurred in January 2020. [Graph available at the link]

    […] most doctors and hospitals lack an easy way to differentiate between patients infected with omicron and those infected with delta or other variants—and not knowing the variant has consequences. Both lab studies and real-world data suggest delta is much more likely to infect the lungs than omicron, meaning that patients infected by the two variants may benefit from very different treatment.

    In addition, omicron has proven to be highly evasive of the benefits provided by monoclonal antibody treatments.
    […] Giving these antibodies to omicron patients is essentially wasting a costly, limited treatment that has much more value to patients with delta or other variants. […]

    But this problem may not be a problem much longer. That’s because the latest CDC numbers show omicron all but eliminating other players from the variant pool. One month after it first appeared in the U.S., omicron now accounts for approximately 95% of all new cases. Earlier estimates showing omicron rising even more sharply were revised, but these numbers are likely to remain close to the current projections. […]

    OMICRON PROTECTS AGAINST DELTA, BUT THE REVERSE IS NOT TRUE
    Reinfection has been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic. While earlier variants showed only a very small number of repeat cases of COVID-19, that wasn’t true when delta rolled around. Those who had been through an infection with beta, or one of the early variants, proved to have a level of protection against delta that was much lower than that provided by vaccines, and reinfections were relatively common.

    This is even more true with omicron. Multiple studies, as well as real world evidence, have demonstrated that cases of COVID-19 from delta or earlier variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus do little to protect against infection by omicron. […]

    However, a study from Africa Health Research Institute indicates that being infected with omicron could provide much higher levels of protection against delta. The levels of neutralizing antibodies against delta increased sharply in patients infected by omicron. […]

    This could help to explain how omicron isn’t just outpacing, but rapidly replacing delta. It’s not just infecting patients more rapidly, it’s blocking delta’s spread to the chunk of population that both variants are fighting to infect.

    Despite increased evasion by omicron, the latest data shows that the unvaccinated are still six times more likely to become infected by the new variants. With 62% of Americans overall being vaccinated, including 72.8% of adults, it’s the unvaccinated group that represents the primary source of potential new infections. […][Table summarizing results is available at the link.]

    SCHOOLS REMAIN AN ENORMOUS ISSUE, AND FORCING THEM OPEN SIMPLY ISN’T POSSIBLE
    As America sets new records for COVID-19 infections, schools across the nation are reopening following the holidays. Or at least, they’re trying to reopen.

    […] Some schools have already announced they are moving to virtual classes for a matter of days or weeks.

    […] Schools have been struggling with a substitute teacher shortage throughout the pandemic. That shortage grew worse during the delta surge, with more than 75% of school districts reporting difficulty finding sufficient substitute teachers by November.

    A classroom is not an office. When a teacher is absent, it means 30 or more kids, aged somewhere between 5 and 18, left in a room unsupervised. Schools have been forced to join classrooms together, sometimes across grade levels. The resulting classrooms have very little value for providing instruction … but they’re very good at spreading COVID-19.

    With the increase in the number of cases with omicron, schools are simply missing too many teachers to hold classes. […] The same thing applies with other staff, such as bus drivers.

    […] Republicans may scream death threats at school board meetings. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may threaten to rob schools of their payroll. Eric Schmitt may encourage parents to snitch on anyone who dares try to enforce a public health order. None of that matters. Schools are closed because teachers are sick. They’re also hampered by a lack of tests that means every cold-like symptom has to be treated as omicron, even for those who have been vaccinated. […]

  213. says

    Wonkette: ‘Pro-Choice’ NH Gov Sununu Signs Abortion Bounty Bill … LOOK OVER THERE!

    This week, New Hampshire welcomed a brand new abortion law to the family. The new Granite State “baby” will now proceed to jam an ultrasound wand in the vaginas of women seeking healthcare and wiggle it around for “science.” They have to do it, see, before deciding whether a woman is too pregnant to access her constitutional right to an abortion — and by “too pregnant,” they mean 24 weeks along. Why does a woman in early stages of pregnancy when an external ultrasound cannot detect a fetus need to “prove” that she’s not more than 24 weeks along by submitting to an assault with a medical instrument?

    Good question!

    Another good question: Why did New Hampshire’s supposedly pro-choice Governor Chris Sununu sign this legislation at all?

    Particularly since the statute contains an exception to protect the life or health of the pregnant person, but not for the fetus. So even if doctors detect a fetal anomaly which is incompatible with life, the good people in the New Hampshire legislature insist that the mother carry to term, go through labor, and watch her baby die.

    Family Values™ FTW.

    But wait, there’s more! Because the law provides no exception for rape or incest, and it provides criminal penalties for any doctor who violates the law. Also, this:

    I. The woman, the father of the fetus if married to the mother at the time she receives an abortion in violation of this subdivision, and/or, if the mother has not attained the age of 18 years at the time of the abortion, the maternal grandparents of the fetus may in a civil action obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff’s criminal conduct or, if brought by the maternal grandparents, the maternal grandparents consented to the abortion.

    II. Such relief shall include monetary damages for all psychological and physical injuries caused by the violation of this subdivision.

    So a man or the parents of a person who does not wish to be pregnant now have a right of recovery against a doctor who performs a wanted abortion by consent.

    Nevertheless, Sununu insists that he will always protect a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

    “I am pro-choice,” Sununu, a Republican, said this summer. “I have always supported a woman’s right to choose and never opposed late-term abortions.”

    And yet! When Republicans in the state legislature slipped the anti-choice provisions into the state’s budget, Sununu went right ahead and signed it anyway.

    “If they keep it in the budget, and I suspect they will, I will not veto the budget,” he told Fosters Daily Democrat.

    “First, it is not my bill,” Sununu said at a forum in June. “It is the Legislature’s proposal. And 43 other states have similar clauses, including Massachusetts and New York, who have almost the exact same law. No one is screaming at them. Do you want me to scrap a $13 billion budget for this one item? I will not do that.”

    Let me save you some time: Massachusetts and New York do not “have almost the exact same law.”

    Sununu expressed similar confusion about the law’s ultrasound provision, according to New Hampshire Public Radio:

    Asked in a radio interview last week about the ultrasound requirement, Sununu said he thought it applied to only months seven, eight, and nine, but then said he wasn’t sure, adding the abortion legislation was added to the budget bill at the last minute. (It was in the budget, which he signed in June, as early as early May.)

    In fact, Sununu seems to take a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to abortion in general.

    Or let’s just say that Sununu doesn’t really care, and he doesn’t really pay attention to the details because he is a relatively rich man.

    “That is not an overturning of Roe v. Wade,” he said in November when asked about Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which is being challenged at the Supreme Court. “It has to do with viability and all this kind of other stuff. So no, I’m not really paying attention to that case, and we’ll see where it goes, but that case does not decide Roe v. Wade.”

    Spoiler alert: HAHA, fuck you.

    Anyway, sorry about your bodily autonomy, ladies, New Hampshire’s got a budget to pass. But hey, Sununu’s up for governor again in November. Let’s remember this day and raise an ultrasound probe up to him then, shall we?

    Link

  214. says

    Rand Paul Vows to Fill Misinformation Void Caused by Twitter’s Ban of Marjorie Taylor Greene

    Calling it his “solemn duty,” Rand Paul vowed to fill the covid-misinformation gap created by Twitter’s ban of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    In an emotional statement, the U.S. senator from Kentucky said that those who have relied on Greene for covid-19 falsehoods “must not be forgotten.”

    “Twitter’s ban of Marjorie Taylor Greene left millions without a go-to source for reckless pandemic myths,” he said. “I am here to say, ‘I got this.’ ”

    Admitting that it would be challenging to mislead as many people about the virus as Greene did, Paul said, “I relish that challenge.”

    He also addressed what would happen if, like Greene, he is eventually banned from the social-media platform.

    “I will pass the baton to Matt Gaetz, Ron DeSantis, and Greg Abbott,” Paul said. “Let Twitter be warned: when it comes to misinformation, we Republicans have an extremely deep bench.”

    New Yorker link

  215. says

    Ivanka Trump Reportedly Begged Putin to Order Her Dad to Stop Capitol Attack

    Ivanka Trump begged Vladimir Putin to command her father to call off the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, new reports indicate.

    According to evidence collected by the House subcommittee investigating the insurrection, when Trump witnessed the rioting on television, she immediately placed a call to the Russian President.

    “You’ve got to talk sense to my dad,” Trump reportedly pleaded. “You’re the only one he listens to.”

    “Not Jared?” the Russian leader inquired.

    “He thinks Jared’s a joke,” she replied.

    According to the report, Putin politely declined her request. “If it got out that I was helping save American democracy, that would make me look bad,” he explained.

    Trump reportedly said that she “understood,” and then placed a call to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

    New Yorker link

  216. says

    NBC News:

    The United States has set a seven-day-average record for Covid cases every day over the last week, according to an analysis of NBC News’ case numbers and Department of Health and Human Services hospitalization data. In that time period, 33 states, Washington, D.C., and two territories have set records for cases, hospitalizations, or both.

    Also from NBC News:

    President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. will double its order for a pill from Pfizer to treat Covid infections so it has enough courses for 20 million people.

  217. says

    NBC News:

    Drivers along a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Virginia have been stranded in freezing temperatures for more than 24 hours after a crash involving multiple vehicles brought the roadway to a standstill and the first mid-Atlantic storm of the year dumped more than a foot of snow on the region.

  218. says

    Cross-posted with the Sense/Anti-Sense thread:

    TPM – “The Stories Are Endless”:

    Just last month GOP activist and Orange County Deputy DA Kelly Ernby was speaking at an anti-vaccine rally put on by local Turning Point USA chapters in Irvine. “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,” she told the small but enthusiastic crowd. “Our government for the people and by the people is not going to exist without action of the people.” In 2020 Ernby had run unsuccessfully for a state Assembly seat as a Republican.

    This week Ernby died of COVID-19 at age 46….

    Vice (from last month) – “A COVID-Denying Kickboxing World Champion Just Died From COVID”:

    A three-time world champion kickboxer died at his home in Belgium from complications caused by COVID-19 weeks after discharging himself from the hospital.

    Fred Sinistra, 40, was unvaccinated and would not even use the term COVID-19, his coach Osman Yigin told Belgian outlet SudInfo. Instead, he dismissed COVID-19 as “a little virus” and railed against government restrictions….

    BBC – “France’s Bogdanoff TV twins die of Covid six days apart”:

    Grichka and Igor Bogdanoff became France’s most famous twins, hosting a TV science and science-fiction show in the 1980s on a spaceship set.

    They died of coronavirus within days of each other in hospital, Grichka on 28 December and his brother on Monday.

    Aged 72, the brothers had not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

    Their friends said they were convinced their healthy lifestyle would protect them and they were admitted to hospital in mid-December.

    Although their families did not specify the cause of their deaths, their lawyer Edouard de Lamaze confirmed they had both contracted the virus.

    Asked why they had chosen not to have the Covid vaccines if they were not themselves anti-vaxxers, Luc Ferry said on Monday: “Like Igor, Grichka wasn’t antivax, he was just antivax for himself.

    “They were both athletic, with not an inch of fat, and they thought the vaccine was more dangerous than the virus.”…

    (Their story is chock full of WTF.)

  219. says

    CNN – “January 6 committee seeks cooperation from Fox News’ Hannity and releases texts between host and White House”:

    Fox News host Sean Hannity was concerned about former President Donald Trump’s strategy and conduct before, during and after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to a letter sent to him on Tuesday by the House select committee probing the insurrection.

    The committee asked Hannity for his voluntary cooperation with their investigation, noting it had received “dozens” of his text messages sent to and from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that indicate that he had “advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th.” It sought Hannity’s communications with Trump, White House staff and his legal team between December 31, 2020, and January 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

    The committee said it has text messages from Hannity pushing back on the plan to urge Congress to challenge the certification of the election on January 6 and urging Trump to prepare for his departure from office.

    On January 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.”

    “We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office,” wrote Hannity to Meadows on December 31, according to the committee’s letter. “I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”

    The committee said it appeared that Hannity might have talked directly with Trump on January 5 and on January 10, when Hannity wrote to Meadows and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan: “Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”

    On January 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours” and referred to then-Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the certification of the 2020 election, saying: “Pence Pressure. WH counsel will leave.”

    And on January 6, Hannity urged Meadows to tell Trump he should “ask people to peacefully leave the [C]apit[o]l.”…

  220. blf says

    This starts off as a slightly boring news story, but what it’s reporting gets wackier and wackier. Admittedly, the involvement of David “Reptilians are We” Icke much-more-than-less guarantees the wackiness. In teh “U”K (Wales), Covid: Cinema & Co flouted ban to show conspiracy film:

    A cinema that was ordered to close after breaking Covid rules flouted the ban to premiere a film by the son of conspiracy theorist David Icke.

    Swansea’s Cinema & Co was ordered to shut by a judge after boss Anna Redfern breached several Covid regulations.

    [… S]he admitted showing a film making serious unfounded allegations against the NHS after the first court order.

    Directed and produced by Mr Icke’s son Jaymie, it makes several baseless accusations against NHS doctors and nurses, including that they are deliberately killing elderly people in hospitals in order to boost the numbers of people dying of Covid.

    The film was described as “completely false”, “pernicious” and “dangerous” by the head of research for the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

    Redfern told BBC Wales: If the BBC has any concerns regarding the content of the documentary’s premiere we screened A Good Death? I suggest that they discuss them with the production company.

    Firstly, Cinema & Co does not practise censorship.

    Secondly, caring for my mother at the end of her life and reflecting upon my own mortality, I have given a great deal of consideration as to what constitutes a ‘good death’ and found the film very thought provoking.

    After this article was first published, the film’s director Jaymie Icke contacted BBC Wales to defend the film’s content.

    David Icke is infamous for his belief that he is the son of God and that the Royal family are shape-shifting lizards.

    Facebook, Twitter and YouTube suspended his accounts in 2020 for posting misleading claims about the pandemic.

    Before the second court hearing, which ended with her narrowly avoiding Christmas behind bars, Redfern was interviewed by another of Mr Icke’s sons, Gareth, on his video streaming service, and said it would be a pleasure to host the premiere of the eye-opening film and that she was doing it to disseminate real information.

    […]

    The cinema’s media spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Haley, who was at the screening, has shared articles on her Twitter and Facebook accounts — alleging with no evidence — that Covid is caused by 5G phone signals, vaccines have caused more deaths than the virus, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is responsible for murder due to deaths caused by the vaccines[, the Chicago Cubs did not win the 2016 World Series, the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars carries a nuclear-powered Gatling Gun to attack enemies of the Reptilians, and the famous Space Lasers are another depopulation tool of Bill Gates].

    She also said that if parents allowed their children to be vaccinated then you don’t deserve your children.

    In a video taken at the cinema after the film aired, Ms Haley implored people to watch the film and share it far and wide.

    Also present at the screening was Wesley Garner, from Morriston, Swansea, who was one of three people fined more than £2,000 earlier this year for travelling to Liverpool during lockdown to heckle staff at a school for getting tested for Covid.

    On his public Facebook page, Mr Garner makes unfounded claims that there is no pandemic, that the vaccine is made of 5G phone signals, and has compared the vaccine roll out to genocide.

    Vaccines are made from 5G ?! That’s a new one…

    In a Facebook [sigh… where else?] video filmed and broadcast live from the cinema by Mr Garner, Redfern is seen serving customers while Jaymie Icke explains their truth movement had been crying out for people like the Swansea businesswoman who refused to back down.

    [… the loon then tells the judge she’s backing down]

    Callum Hood, head of research at CCDH, said: “What is really dangerous about the film that the Icke brothers have put together and put on at this cinema in Swansea is that it is painting hardworking NHS doctors and nurses as deliberately setting out to murder patients strictly in order to push up the numbers of the Covid pandemic, which is a complete reversal of what’s actually going on in the NHS.”

    Mr Hood is an expert on the Icke family, having studied David Icke’s behaviour for decades.

    “I think this is a fairly typical piece of conspiracy theory propaganda about Covid, in that it took real moving stories about people who’ve lost loved ones during the pandemic, but then tried to turn it to the purpose of conspiracy theories by claiming that they have been deliberately killed in order to push up the numbers of people dying with Covid,” he said.

    “That was what was particularly pernicious and dangerous about it.”

    Redfern has received more than £61,000 in donations since she first received a closure notice after a crowdfunding page was set up by former Brexit Party and Abolish the Welsh Assembly candidate Richard Taylor.

    Redfern told the BBC she intended to use the funds [for more evil …]

    At the latest hearing, Redfern’s barrister Jonathan Gwyn Mendus Edwards told the court his client did not run the business for profit and was living off £30,000 in savings. District Judge Neale Thomas said he was “sceptical” of this claim.

    In May 2019, Cinema & Co went into insolvent liquidation and Companies House records show Redfern then incorporated a new company at the same address named “Cinema & Go Ltd”.

    Swansea council said last month that the cinema had also received more than £52,000 in Covid-related grants since the start of the pandemic.

    Officers are assessing whether any of the grant conditions have been breached and “whether any of the grants should be recovered”.

    On her public Facebook page, Redfern has previously shared anti-vaccine content, including one post which made unfounded claims that children were being coerced into being injected with an experimental vaccine, and that children had a 100% chance of surviving Covid-19.

    Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that up to 10 December there have been two deaths involving Covid in children under 14 — a boy and a girl — out of 9,102 in Wales. There is no evidence that vaccines have contributed to any death in Wales.

  221. blf says

    Entrata chairman accuses Jews of COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy in antisemitic email to Utah politicians:

    […]
    Entrata founder and chairman Dave Bateman sent an email to many Utah political leaders and elected officers early Monday morning calling the COVID-19 vaccine a plot to euthanize the American people, blaming the effort on the Jews.

    Bateman’s email, sent from his entrata.com account, cited an unhinged conspiracy theory that says the vaccines are an effort, pushed by global “elites” including Bill Gates and George Soros, to depopulate the planet.

    The software company chairman wrote in the first sentence that many of the email’s recipients “will think I’m crazy after reading it.”

    The spike protein in both the vaccine and the illness are attacking the reproductive systems of women, and will eventually erode the number of T cells in our bodies that can ward off infections, Bateman wrote. Don’t get the illness and don’t get vaccinated.

    There is no proof to back up any of Bateman’s claims. The conspiracy theory has been floating around in several different iterations since September 2020.

    Bateman attributes the former chief scientist at Pfizer as someone who believes genocide of our peoploe (sic) is underway.

    Bateman is referring to Dr[quack] Michael Yeadon, a retired British doctor who has opposed COVID-19 restrictions and believes vaccines are not needed to end the pandemic. Yeadon was a chief scientist of Pfizer’s allergy research unit. He has been spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation for more than a year.

    Bateman’s email included an antisemitic screed, blaming the Jews for the nefarious scheme, which involves secretly replacing the Pope with a member of the Jewish faith. He writes that happened in 2013 with the ascension of Pope Francis.

    I believe the pandemic and systematic extermination of billions of people will lead to an effort to consolidate all the countries in the world under a single flag with totalitarian rule, Bateman wrote.

    I pray that I’m wrong on this. Utah has got to stop the vaccination drive. Warn your employees. Warn your friends. Prepare. Stay safe, Bateman concluded ominously.

    Some of what Bateman says in his letter is not uncommon in far-right conspiracy communities according to Al Jones, founder of the Q Origins Project, which tracks conspiracy theories and extremism online. Jones is a pseudonym he uses online because of the threat posed by some of these groups.

    “It’s clear he (Bateman) is hanging out in some far-right communities online. The belief that the pandemic is actually a plan for mass genocide is extremely widespread in conspiracy communities. But, the belief that Pope Francis is a secret Jew is pretty rare,” Jones says.

    In 2019, Bateman made headlines when he extinguished the Utah Republican Party’s debt from numerous unsuccessful legal challenges to the state’s signature-gathering path for candidates. In 2018, Bateman accused Sen Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, of offering a woman $1 million to file false sexual harassment claims against him. The Lehi police concluded there was no proof to Bateman’s allegations.

    […]

    Entrata apparently makes software for property managementcooking the books. This loon would be a natural for hair furor, similar “business” and at least as delusional (and very probably a billionaire).

  222. says

    tomh @ #225:

    They must stay up nights thinking of new ways to grift.

    Indeed:

    France24 – “Melania Trump to auction off hat, NFT from Macron visit”:

    Former first lady Melania Trump announced Tuesday she will auction off a famed [?] white hat she wore in 2018, with accompanying physical and digitized NFT drawings.

    The three “important one-of-a-kind signed items” commemorate an April 2018 state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington — the first of the Trump presidency.

    Bidding for this lot called the “Head of State Collection” will be held online between January 11 and 25, using the cryptocurrency Solana (SOL).

    According to her website, where the auction was announced, bidding will begin at $250,000, currently equivalent to 1,416 SOL.

    The announcement states that a “portion” of the proceeds will go towards scholarships for children in foster care to learn computer skills.

    Trump’s office did not immediately respond to an email by AFP inquiring about the size of the portion that will be donated….

  223. says

    Fantastic piece by Kate Manne in the NYT – “Diet Culture Is Unhealthy. It’s Also Immoral.”:

    …I have lately wondered how much my self-directed fatphobia owes to my career as an academic philosopher. More than one author has remarked that there is a dearth of fat, female bodies in academia in general and in philosophy specifically. Philosophy, with its characteristic emphasis on reason, often implicitly conceives of rationality as the jurisdiction of the lean, rich, white men who dominate my discipline.

    We praise arguments for being muscular and compact and criticize prose for being flabby, flowery and, implicitly, feminine. When it comes to our metaphysics — our pictures of the world — we pride ourselves on a taste for austerity, or as W.V.O. Quine put it, “desert landscapes.” And what is the fat body in the popular imagination but excess, lavishness, redundancy?

    I struggle as a philosopher to reconcile my image of my body with its task in the world of being the emissary of my mind. I think of it, tongue in cheek, as my body-mind problem. Often, I cannot bear the idea of sending out my “soft animal” of a body, in the words of the poet Mary Oliver, to fight for feminist views that are edgy and controversial and to represent a discipline that prides itself on sharpness, clarity and precision. I feel betrayed by my soft borders.

    This false binary exists partly in my own head, yes, but also very much in others’: I was recently apprised of a caption on a portrait of David Hume, the 18th-century philosopher, in an introductory philosophy textbook: “The lightness and quickness of his mind was entirely hidden by the lumpishness of his appearance.” Thus have other fat philosophers been warned that our bodies may similarly mask our intellects.

    The cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker isn’t a philosopher, but his latest book, “Rationality,” handily demonstrates the worldview that equates thinness with reason. After bemoaning the fact that rationality is no longer considered “phat” (as in “cool”), he chides the irrational doofus who prefers the “small pleasure” of chowing down on lasagna now over the supposedly “large pleasure of a slim body” in perpetuity. They “succumb” to “myopic discounting” of future rewards — an (ableist) term for short-term thinking, illustrated with a fatphobic example.

    Such examples proliferate in philosophy too: The standard example of the much-studied phenomenon of akrasia, weakness of the will, is succumbing to a cookie. The natural human appetite for rich and sugary foods is thereby derided as not only contrary to reason but also something to be tamed, shunned, even shamed. The constant deprivation and, sometimes, sheer hunger of someone who sticks to a rigorous diet is envisaged as an unambiguously good thing and as an achievement, even a virtue.

    Is it, though? As someone who recently dieted with some success (“success”), it is obvious to me that I’ve set a bad example for my now 2-year-old daughter — one that will only become more problematic over time, as she becomes more and more aware of what I am or am not eating. I have contributed in a small way to a society that lauds certain bodies and derogates others for more or less arbitrary reasons and ones that lead to a great deal of cruelty and suffering. (The most common basis for childhood bullying is a child’s weight.) I have denied myself pleasure and caused myself the gnawing pain and sapping anxiety of hunger.

    These are all things we usually think of as straightforward ethical ills. Almost all versions of the family of moral theories known as consequentialism hold that pleasure is morally good and pain and suffering are morally bad. Even if this is not the whole truth of ethics, it is plausibly part of the truth.

    And it has the superficially surprising implication that dieting inflicts real moral costs, real moral harms, ones we largely impose on ourselves (albeit under the influence of potent social forces). If the chances of long-term weight loss (and the supposed benefits and pleasures that conveys) are vanishingly small, then why do we keep doing it? I suspect the answer is not only habit and a false sense of obligation but also the lure of aspiration: a dieter’s perpetual sense of getting somewhere, getting smaller and thus becoming more acceptable, more reasonable, as a body.

    But while philosophy in its current form may fetishize thinness, it also has within it the power to challenge these ideas and even to reconfigure our moral relationship to them entirely.

    We are at a moment during the year when many people will try, and even regard themselves as duty bound, to go on a diet. But if dieting is a practice that causes a great deal of harm — in the form of pain, suffering, anxiety and sheer hunger — and rarely works to deliver the health or happiness it has long advertised, then it is a morally bad practice. It is plausibly not only permissible but obligatory for individuals to divest from it, to condemn it and not to teach it to our children, either explicitly or by example.

    Instead, we might strive within ourselves to meet new and better “liberating duties,” to borrow a notion from Joseph Raz. In this case, the duty — for those of us fortunate enough to have the resources — is simply, or not so simply, to eat when we are hungry.

    Reminds me of the description of the two busts of Seneca described at the beginning of Dying Every Day:

    Pseudo-Seneca corresponded to what the Western world wanted to imagine about an ancient Stoic philosopher. Its leanness seemed to represent a hunger for truth and a rejection of wealth and material comfort. The discovery of the true Seneca in 1813 dispelled that fantasy. The world that gazed into that fleshy face realized that Seneca was not who he was thought to be….

  224. KG says

    Akira Mackenzie@221, 222,

    Bring those goalposts back!

    I don’t deny that the threat to what there is of democracy in the USA is extremely grave. My objection was simply to the ahistorical nonsense you posted @213.

  225. raven says

    Omicron Variant Symptoms: Latest COVID ‘Making People Really Sick in a Different Way’
    Symptoms of omicron variant COVID-19 are different than past waves of the pandemic, but hospitals across the country are filling up anyway

    Published January 4, 2022 • Updated on January 4, 2022 at 2:13 pm NBC Universal, Inc.

    In a grim warning amid near record-high hospitalizations across the state, Hochul reported that more than 9,000 New Yorkers are now hospitalized with COVID-19. NBC New York’s Romney Smith and Tracie Strahan report.

    As COVID-19 infections with the omicron variant of the virus surge out of control nationwide, emergency rooms are filling up again — and one well-known New York City doctor says what they’re seeing now is much different than the last two years of the pandemic.

    Manhattan emergency room physician Dr. Craig Spencer took to Twitter late Monday night to explain how the current surge is different — both in who’s coming to the ER and how they’re being affected by the highly contagious virus.

    “Today it seemed like everyone had COVID. Like, so many. And yes, like before, there were some really short of breath and needing oxygen. But for most, COVID seemed to topple a delicate balance of an underlying illness. It’s making people really sick in a different way,” Spencer wrote.

    Signs of Omicron in adults
    Spencer cited a few examples – diabetic being tipped into ketoacidosis, the elderly who were so weak from being ill that they couldn’t get out of bed, and etc.

    “What’s also different now is those COVID cases are often in beds next to patients who’ve done everything to avoid the virus, and for whom an infection might have a dramatic toll. The cancer patient on chemotherapy. Those immunocompromised or severely sick with something else,” Spencer said.

    He acknowledged, as studies around the world have concluded, that the omicron variant seems to cause milder disease than the delta variant that tore through the country last summer. But at the same time, with so many more people infected, for hospital purposes it ends up not really mattering.

    “But there’s just SO much of it and it’s impacting patients in different ways. So even if just a tiny portion of cases need to stay in the hospital, it can turn into a huge influx,” Spencer tweeted.

    We already know it is going to be a grim few months in the USA due to Omicron. Case numbers are setting records everywhere now.

    The consensus is now that Omicron isn’t quite as bad as Delta. The actual data on this is scarce though. I would like to see some numbers. Death rates, ICU rates, ventilator rates, and so on as well as transmissability rates.

    “But for most, COVID seemed to topple a delicate balance of an underlying illness. It’s making people really sick in a different way,” Spencer wrote.” What he doesn’t say is that some of those patients will end up dead.

  226. raven says

    More from Yahoo Voices.

    Symptoms according to vaccine status

    Elsewhere, Mucio Kit Delgado, assistant professor in Emergency Medicine at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center emergency department, said on Twitter on Monday that he had seen a “strikingly consistent pattern” in symptoms based on vaccination status.

    Delgado said that he “hardly saw anyone who had gotten a booster because if they caught COVID-19 they’re likely at home doing fine or having regular cold/flu-like symptoms.”

    Meanwhile, when people were vaccinated but not boosted, he said he found many patients were “wiped out, dehydrated and febrile.” Delgado said that people who were older than 55 or had other medical problems were often admitted overnight for intravenous fluids and “supportive care”, but usually went home within a day or two.

    Finally, Delgado said that in his experience, unvaccinated people were “the folks that get sick and had to be hospitalized because they need oxygen.” “Some even younger than me,” he said.

    If you are vaccinated and boosted, you are almost certain to be all right. A bad cold.
    If you are vaccinated only, you can get very sick but probably won’t end up in the ICU.
    If you aren’t vaccinated, you can end up dying on a ventilator.

  227. says

    CNN – “How a child’s kidnapping shone a light on an alleged plot to topple the French government”:

    Armed with homemade explosives, fueled by conspiracy theories and fermented during the pandemic, ​French authorities say “The Overthrow” was a potentially dangerous creation.

    According to documents seen by CNN from the DGSI, France’s internal intelligence agency, the group was a far-right network with diverse ideological roots but a single unifying aim: To topple the French government.

    The DGSI alleges that the mastermind behind the group was Rémy Daillet-Weidemann, a former regional councillor in France, who was “setting up a hierarchical structure whose objective was to overthrow the government” and attack the head of state.

    The alleged coup d’etat plot — nicknamed “Operation Azur” by its members, according to French news magazine Le Parisien — was first reported by the magazine’s Jérémie Pham-Lê on October 27.

    The alleged coup ​plan never came to fruition. French security services ​said they shut it down before the plotters could act. ​

    In October, Daillet-Weidemann was placed under formal investigation by French authorities — alongside 13 others — for ​allegedly planning violent actions, “association with terrorist wrongdoers” and “provoking a terrorist act by a third party through public telecommunications,” according to his lawyer Jean-Christope Basson-Larbi.

    The DGSI report stated that Daillet-Weidemann, who ​allegedly “envisages the use of violent action” to enact the coup d’etat, recruited members and exercised command over the cells in his network, including at least two men who planned to manufacture explosives.

    Daillet-Weidemann’s presence at the heart of these two cases highlights the startling melding of conspiracy theories during the pandemic and across the Atlantic.

    The most prominent of these conspiracy theories is QAnon — a far-right virtual cult that originated in the US and sees former President Donald Trump as a savior. A DGSI analysis of conspiracy groups in France that CNN has seen highlights how Daillet-Weidemann has become a unifying figure for such theories, including QAnon, with his network bringing together a broad church of conspiracies.

    Online, Daillet-Wiedemann expressed a desire to “find an urgent answer in order to stop the actions of a Satanist, pedocriminal elite infiltrated by the Freemasons,” according to a DGSI analysis.

    “The Daillet-Weidemann movement is a ‘catch-all’ movement, emerging from the extreme right-wing movement, allowing everyone to recognize themselves in what he proposes,” the DGSI documents said.

    ​The DGSI said “the pandemic had a real catalytic effect and contributed to the increase and spread of conspiracy theories,” and added: “Lockdown has also led to an increase in exchanges between conspiracy supporters as people spend more time in front of their screens.”

    Daillet-Weidemann is one of a number of high-profile conspiracy theorists in France stoking fears of government autocracy and state-organized pedophile rings. ​

    In a video he released following the kidnapping of Mia, in which he salutes the “brave Frenchmen” who remove children from “sordid networks,” Daillet-Weidemann said that his “organization … returns children kidnapped by the state” to their parents on demand….

  228. says

    Guardian – “The US military trained him. Then he helped murder Berta Cáceres”:

    When Roberto David Castillo graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, the Honduran cadet was confident he’d leave behind a legacy.

    “He will be remembered by all as being a fearless leader committed to God, his family and serving others,” read the caption under his yearbook portrait.

    Castillo is certain to be remembered: earlier this year, the Honduran high court found him guilty as the joint perpetrator in the 2016 assassination of the indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, then one of Latin America’s most prominent environmental defenders.

    Cáceres was killed by a team of hitmen after years of death threats linked to her opposition of the 22-megawatt Agua Zarca dam, approved by the government without permission from the local indigenous people.

    Castillo was the president of the company building the dam and the court concluded that he had used his military training to stalk her for years, while secretly helping coordinate the assassination.

    Some of that training came from West Point, where Castillo studied from 2000-2004.

    A Guardian investigation reveals how Castillo’s time at the prestigious military academy helped shape his career – and raises questions about the training provided by the institution to generations of Central American soldiers, some of whom later became involved with human rights abuses.

    As she rallied protestors and lobbied international groups to withdraw their backing for the project, Cáceres was spied on, tracked and threatened. According to her daughter Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres, Castillo played a central role in the harassment, constantly sending her text messages to remind Cáceres that he knew exactly where she was.

    By 2016, the mother of four was dead.

    “He used his military skills to order her murder – and not just to kill her, but to persecute her,” said Brigitte Gynther, a human rights advocate who worked with Cáceres.

    But after Castillo was arrested two years later, his former West Point roommate rallied the class in his defense. [Travis] Dent lobbied the US ambassador to Honduras and contacted colleagues working for lawmakers and federal agencies.

    “The vast majority of the entire class and everyone we talked to was up to help,” Dent said.

    That Castillo had support from an influential US network was not an accident. West Point’s International Cadet Program “was established as a foreign policy tool to provide a means for the United States government to improve relations and to foster stability with friendly nations”, said a 1997 report in the academy archives.

    And Central American cadets have been outsized fixtures of the program since it began in 1889. Since then, almost a fifth of the more than 500 international graduates have come from the seven small Central American countries.

    US taxpayers have covered some or all of international students’ costs – an expense that should be viewed as an investment – the author of the 1997 report argued. After being exposed to US democratic ideals, he posited, they would spread those principles at home.

    Similar arguments were made in support of the “School of the Americas”, a US Army program founded in 1946 to train Latin American soldiers – more than a hundred of whom have been accused of human rights abuse at home. Among them were two of the other seven men convicted in 2019 of participating in Cáceres’s murder.

    “US-trained military figures have caused immeasurable destruction and death in Central America over the past several decades and continue to do so today,” said Gynther, now a coordinator at School of the Americas Watch.

    Castillo is not the first example of a West Point graduate who failed to live up to the international program’s lofty ideals. After graduating from the academy in 1946, Anastasio Somoza Jr returned to Nicaragua where he became head of the national guard, then president and was accused of repeated human rights violations and the deaths of thousands. His son, Julio, was accepted by the academy in 1977, at the height of the regime’s war against Sandinista rebels.

    In a recent presentation, West Point’s admissions team included Somoza in a list of “prominent international graduates” – with no mention of his career as a despot.

    More Central Americans may have lived up to the ideals the program envisioned. But since the US army redacted the names of most previous international graduates on a list released to the Guardian and declined say how many former cadets have been accused of crimes, its effectiveness is difficult to measure.

    West Point declined a request for an interview, referring the Guardian to the state department, which the academy said is involved in choosing which countries may send cadets to the academy. The state department referred a request for an interview to the Department of Defense, which referred the reporter back to the state department.

    “This is a public institution that should be publicly accountable for what it does,” said Beth Stephens, a professor of international law and foreign relations at Rutgers Law School, adding that the onus should be on West point to demonstrate the program doesn’t lead to human rights abuses abroad.

    As the US government protects West Point’s international program from scrutiny, Honduran leaders continue to be linked to undemocratic actions and illicit activity….

  229. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 248

    Castillo is not the first example of a West Point graduate who failed to live up to the international program’s lofty ideals.

    But murdering poor, foreign people who stand in the way of Americans making a profit IS the program’s “lofty ideals.”

  230. says

    What’s up with those people who live in “The Villages”?

    4th resident of The Villages arrested for allegedly casting multiple ballots

    Charles Franklin Barnes was not affiliated with a political party when allegedly voted twice.

    […] Three other residents of The Villages have also been arrested recently for allegedly casting ballots in both Florida and their original home states.

    John Rider, Jay Ketcik and Joan Halstead have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    All three were registered as Republicans at the time of the 2020 election, voter records show.

    Anonymous emails sent to Florida’s Secretary of State in May by someone using the pseudonym “Totes Legit Votes” prompted the voter fraud investigation, court records obtained show.

    The self-described “citizen election integrity analyst” reportedly used publicly available voter registration data to identify numerous Florida voters who may have also cast ballots in other states.

    “I believe that if hundreds of people sign sworn affidavits that they saw election irregularities, people should at least try to check into it,” the anonymous tipster told News 6. “You can’t claim ‘the system is working’ if random internet people have to find the violations for you.”

    Mark Ard, a spokesperson for Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, has not answered questions submitted by News 6 last month inquiring about the state’s response to the anonymous emails identifying possible voter fraud.

    67.8% of the people in Sumter County, Florida are Republicans.

  231. says

    Why progress on the Electoral Count Act might be possible

    The good news is, there’s an ongoing effort to reform the Electoral Count Act. The better news is, it’s not necessarily doomed to fail.

    It’s no secret that John Eastman, a Republican lawyer on Donald Trump’s team in the aftermath of the former president’s defeat, wrote an infamous memo intended to help overturn the results. What’s less known is why Eastman thought his scheme would work.

    […] the GOP attorney was convinced that then-Vice President Mike Pence, rather than honor the results of the election, could exploit ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and set aside the Electoral College votes of seven states.

    Eastman’s scheme, obviously, didn’t work — but that doesn’t mean the Electoral Count Act’s ambiguities should remain unresolved.

    The good news is, there’s an ongoing effort to reform the 135-year-old election statute. […]:

    While broader federal voting rights legislation remains mired in the Senate as long as the 60-vote filibuster rule applies, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told Axios there’s “some interest” among Senate Republicans in reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887. The goal would be to clarify the role the vice president and Congress play in certifying presidential elections.

    The South Dakota Republican was quick to denounce Democratic efforts such as the Freedom to Vote Act. Thune added, “But with the Electoral Count Act, as we saw last time around, there are some things there that, I think, could be corrected.”

    […] The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who’s been banging the ECA drum for months, recently pointed to hypothetical scenarios in which a Congress led by one party could try to exploit Electoral Count Act ambiguities to reject the other party’s electors and/or accept a rogue set of electors. Clarifying the vice president’s ceremonial role in the certification process is equally important.

    In the Democratic-led House, progress appears likely — with at least some modicum of bipartisan backing. For example, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the Jan. 6 committee’s co-chair, has already endorsed reforms, and there’s no obvious reason for others in the GOP to balk. […]

    In the Senate, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic chair of the Rules Committee, recently said, “The antiquated law governing the Electoral College vote count is too vague and ripe for abuse, and it resulted in baseless objections that delayed the democratic process. It’s time to update this law to safeguard our democracy.”

    The fact that Thune, the #2 Republican in the Senate, is at least somewhat sympathetic to reforms, suggests the door to progress is open.

    But as the process moves forward, I’d recommend keeping an eye on two relevant angles.

    First, a lot of members are going to need to be educated. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, for example, told Axios yesterday that she doesn’t believe reforming the Electoral Count Act is necessary: “It seems to me we have a good system for the Electoral College to act and one of the important moments of January 6 was that we returned and finished our work under that law.”

    As a substantive matter, that really didn’t make sense, and it was a reminder that many senators may not know what the Electoral Count Act even is.

    Second, it’s important to separate reforming the Electoral Count Act and the Democrats’ voting rights efforts, including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal today suggested some kind of deal in which the parties reach a compromise on the Electoral Count Act and then discount the other elections-related legislation.

    I fear a couple of conservative Senate Democrats may find such an approach appealing, but reforming the Electoral Count Act won’t make the other bills any less necessary.

    Update: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added this morning, in reference to the ECA, “It obviously has some flaws. And it is worth, I think, discussing.”

  232. says

    Guardian – “Pope calls couples who choose pets over having children ‘selfish’”:

    Pope Francis risked the ire of the world’s childless dog and cat owners by suggesting people who substitute pets for children exhibit “a certain selfishness”.

    Speaking on parenthood during a general audience at the Vatican, the pontiff lamented that pets “sometimes take the place of children” in society.

    “Today … we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child,” he said. “Sometimes they have one and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality.”

    The practice, said the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity”.

    In 2014, Francis told Il Messaggero daily that having pets instead of children was “another phenomenon of cultural degradation”, and that emotional relationships with pets was “easier” than the “complex” relationship between parents and children.

    On Wednesday, while inviting couples unable to have children for biological reasons to consider adoption, he urged potential parents “not to be afraid” of embarking on parenthood. “Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child, in denying paternity,” he said.

    The pontiff has in the past denounced the “demographic winter”, or falling birthrates in the developed world….

    LOL. Says a dude with neither children nor pets.

  233. says

    Republican Senator Ron Johnson wants God to back him up as he continues to spout misinformation about vaccines.

    Huffington Post:

    During a familiar rant Monday on a conservative radio show about the merits of relying on the body’s “natural immunity” to COVID-19 after being infected with the virus, the senator asked, “Why do we assume that the body’s natural immune system isn’t the marvel that it is? Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease?”

    Commentary:

    […] First, when Johnson talks about “natural immunity,” he’s describing an approach to a public health crisis in which people get infected with a dangerous contagion and then develop immunity to the virus as a result of the infection. Part of the problem with this is that many people who get infected with the coronavirus die. That should be a strong incentive to avoid such a health care strategy.

    Another part of the problem is that there’s a safer solution: There are safe, effective, and free vaccines readily available. Instead of protecting yourself from Covid-19 by getting infected with Covid-19 — in the process, running the risk of serious illness or death — you can get vaccinated. Again, this really isn’t that complicated.

    Which leads to the second problem: As far as Johnson is concerned, the human body’s immune system is such a natural “marvel” that it’s foolish to believe scientists can “create something better than God in terms of combating disease.”

    Of course, this isn’t just an argument against vaccines, it’s also an argument against any medical treatments for any diseases.

    Making matters worse is the degree to which these bizarre public comments are the latest installment in the strange senator’s greatest-hits package. It was just last week when Johnson tried to argue that breakthrough infections prove there’s no “point” to getting vaccinated.

    A few weeks earlier, the Republican suggested that people should use mouthwash as a coronavirus treatment.

    […] Johnson was seen on the Senate floor without any facial covering. “I wear a mask when I go into grocery stores, that type of thing,” the GOP senator said. “I think around here, we probably won’t have to.” This, too, was wrong.

    In July 2020, Johnson argued that the United States “overreacted” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which was unfortunate at the time, and which is a perspective that looks much worse now.

    In late 2020, Johnson sunk lower, holding multiple Senate hearings to promote pseudo-science and conspiracy theories. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean at Brown University School of Public Health, appeared as a witness at one of the Senate hearings and was amazed by the Wisconsin senator’s apparent suspicion that there’s a “coordinated effort by America’s doctors” to deny patients hydroxychloroquine because of a corrupt scheme involving physicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

    In 2021, as vaccines and boosters became available to the public at large, Johnson — who claims he is not an opponent of vaccines — has gone to great lengths to discourage Americans from doing the smart thing, desperately trying to undermine public confidence in the vaccines.

    […] it’s a problem that a prominent public official — who actually led the Senate committee responsible for domestic security policy for six long years — keeps pushing false information about public health during a deadly pandemic. But the bigger problem is that many Americans won’t necessarily know that Johnson has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Link

  234. blf says

    KG@249, Excellent!
    Re: “I’d say they were undoubtedly guilty in law, but occasionally juries have the gumption to acquit despite this when the action leading to the case was morally right” — that’s known as a perverse verdict, “when members of a criminal trial’s jury believe that a defendant is guilty, but choose to acquit the defendant anyway.”

  235. says

    Conspiracy theorists hope to run state elections systems nationwide

    Nevada’s Jim Marchant, a former state representative who’s been accused of having QAnon ties, had a notable chat with Steve Bannon this week. The Nevada Republican boasted that there’s a “coalition” of GOP secretary of state candidates — each of whom are committed to an “America First” agenda — who are working “behind the scenes to try to fix 2020 like President Trump said.”

    Marchant is in a position to know: He’s running his own GOP campaign for secretary of state in the Silver State. If elected, he’ll oversee Nevada’s system of elections.

    In nearby Arizona, Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem has also been linked to QAnon. Reuters recently reported that he’s also a prominent advocate of election conspiracy theories, has called for Arizona to decertify President Joe Biden’s victory in the state, and was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Like Marchant, Finchem is running a GOP campaign for secretary of state this year. If elected, he’ll oversee the Grand Canyon State’s system of elections.

    These two may seem like extreme examples, but as NPR noted this week, they have plenty of radical company.

    An NPR analysis of 2022 secretary of state races across the country found at least 15 Republican candidates running who question the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 win, even though no evidence of widespread fraud has been uncovered about the race over the last 14 months. In fact, claims of any sort of fraud that swung the election have been explicitly refuted in state after state, including those run by Republicans.

    […] in the wake of the Republican Party’s Big Lie, and Donald Trump’s ongoing fixation on installing allies in key positions, secretaries of state — and this year’s campaigns to elect secretaries of state — have taken on extraordinary importance.

    Franita Tolson, an election law expert at the University of Southern California, told NPR, “The reasons why Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election failed is because there were state officials who refused to substantiate his claims of fraud. These folks really are gatekeepers.”

    […] there’s an organized effort underway to ensure that these offices are filled with radical conspiracy theorists — just in time for the 2024 presidential election.

    Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s former Republican secretary of state, added, “There’s a lot of crazy going around. You have people running for these offices where the most important duty is counting the votes and accepting the results even if you don’t like the outcome, and these folks don’t appear to be well-positioned to do that.”

    Donald Trump has already endorsed three extremists in secretary of state races, and the former president will likely continue to intervene in these contests in the coming months.

    Voters inclined to focus on top-of-the-ballot contests in this year’s elections need to rethink that perspective.

  236. says

    Excerpts from Attorney General Merrick Garland’s address to the Justice Department today:

    “As we prepare to mark a solemn anniversary tomorrow, it is a fitting time to reaffirm that we at the DOJ will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy,” he said, adding: “We will protect the cornerstone of our Democracy: the right of every eligible citizen to cast a vote that counts.”

    […] He notes that it’s the first time violence occurred during the transfer of power in U.S. history.

    He’s focusing in detail on the violence perpetrated on police officers defending the Capitol, so far the focus of federal prosecutions.

    “Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice,” Garland says.

    Here’s a bit of a peek into how federal prosecutors think about the January 6 cases.

    “We have followed well-worn prosecutorial practices,” Garland notes, emphasizing that prosecutors are building upwards.

    “In complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later offenses,” he says. “This is purposeful.”

    He adds that those who attacked police, or who “conspired with others to obstruct the vote count also face greater charges.”

  237. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 256

    This is what eventually happens when you leave national elections to the states.

  238. says

    ‘Dark money’ GOP group pours $1 million into convincing Manchin to support keeping filibuster

    One Nation, a 501(c)(4) group that describes itself as solving “America’s great problems,” has apparently found a new issue to zero in on: the filibuster. On Wednesday, the group released a series of radio, television, and digital ads calling on Sen. Joe Manchin’s West Virginia constituents to give him a call and urge him to keep his promise to not touch the filibuster. The ads include snippets of Manchin saying he does not want to remove the filibuster, which Democrats see as a major roadblock to being able to pass meaningful voting rights legislation. Manchin has held firm in his insistence that the filibuster must stay untouched, so it’s a little surprising a group that can legally spend its money lobbying any candidate has chosen to do so with the West Virginia senator. Less surprising is who’s behind One Nation, however.

    One Nation previously existed under a different name, Alliance for America’s Future, and was helmed by former GOP consultants like Barry Bennett (whose you may recognize as a Trump lobbyist) and Rep. Liz Cheney’s former chief of staff, Kara Ahern. Alliance for America’s Future did little until Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS took it over in 2015, likely eying its lucrative 501(c)(4) status as the main reason for Rove to put his all into what’s now known as One Nation. Crossroads GPS has been relatively quiet lately, though it did finally gain the same nonprofit status it had been lobbying for since 2010. One Nation has emerged as a major player in the “dark money” world, with campaign funding watchdog Open Secrets reporting that the group spent the most out of any “dark money” organization during the 2020 election, with One Nation spending around $125 million on ads and political contributions. […]

  239. says

    Peter Navarro gives yet another off-the-rails interview describing his Jan. 6 ‘plan’—and it’s a coup

    MSNBC primetime host Ari Melber called former Trump White House official Peter Navarro, to the carpet Tuesday, while Navarro appeared to indict himself repeatedly via his role in the coup on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and babbled on about “election irregularities.”

    Navarro appeared as delusional as usual, denying the simple premise that the 2020 presidential election was indeed won by President Joe Biden and that all the courts and lawyers in the land couldn’t make Trump president again.

    Navarro started the interview by alleging that his new book, In Trump Time, proves that Trump and loathsome snake and recently indicted Steve Bannon are innocent in the insurrection. His interview with Melber proved just the opposite.

    Navarro discussed in length the plan devised by himself and Bannon known as the “Green Bay Sweep.”

    Navarro described the plan as having “over 100 congressman and senators on Capitol Hill ready to implement ‘the sweep.” Explaining that the plan was simply designed “to challenge the election results in six battleground states–Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania [he forgets about Arizona].” Adding: “We believed that if votes were sent back to those battleground states, and looked at again, there would be enough concern from lawmakers that those states would decertify the election and throw the election to the House of Representatives.”

    Navarro then attempts to tell Melber that “the sweep” was legal and written into the Constitution.

    Melber, like a shark who’s just been chummed with bloody fish, attacks Navarro with biting precision saying, “Do you realize you are describing a coup?”

    Melber tries to speak rationally with Navarro about how it’s both “dangerous” and “dumb” for the losing side of an election to attempt to manipulate the outcome. But, Navarro insists that despite the loss in the Supreme Court and in every state that was challenged by the Trump administration, all was not lost and former Vice President Pence just didn’t do his part in the plan and “betrayed” Trump.

    ”The remedy was for Pence, as the quarterback in the Greenbay Sweep to remand the votes back to the six battleground states for ten days to see if there were any election irregularities,” Navarro said.

    Navarro blamed Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short for foiling the plan.

    Navarro says his vision of Pence was to “explain to him that as I documented in my three-volume report, that in all likelihood there was significant election fraud and irregularities across the six battleground states.”

    Melber responds, “It’s people like you that the Constitution is designed to stop. And it worked.”

    But just as he did in December during an interview with the Daily Beast, Navarro can’t help himself. He’s like a toddler who’s just scribbled on the wall with mommy’s lipstick—he continues to say the wrong thing.

    “The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” the ex-Trump trade adviser told the Daily Beast. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

    The funniest quote, out of all of the press interviews Navarro’s doing for his book was with Rolling Stone magazine. When asked whether or not Trump was in on the plan, at first he says he doesn’t know. Then he plainly contradicts himself.

    “You asked me whether he was read in on the Green Bay Packers Sweep plan, OK? He understood what was supposed to happen that day. All you need to do is listen to this speech from the Ellipse that morning. You know, ‘If Mike does the right thing’—you just have to listen to what he said.

    “My clear understanding, but not from speaking to him directly, is that he [Trump] understood what the strategy was. The strategy was to challenge the votes with the 100 plus-group of congressmen that day, send them back to the states and let the chips fall where they may. But it wasn’t me who sat down and said, ‘Hey, boss, we can run the Green Bay Packers Sweep, we do X, Y and Z.’ That wasn’t my role.”

    Video is available at the link.

  240. says

    Wonkette: “Washington Bible Mom Lady Running For Congress On Platform Of ‘Libraries Are Evil’ ”

    Meet Heidi St. John, a rightwing Christianist homeschooling blogger who’s running for Congress and would very much like to unseat incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Washington). Beutler faces several challengers from the Right this year because she voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the January 6 riots.

    St. John may not have much of a chance against her fellow primary candidate Joe Kent, an Army special forces vet; Trump endorsed Kent even though St. John likes to point out Kent used to live in Portland, Oregon, and is therefore barely an American. But like so many hopeless wingnut candidates, she certainly has the potential to at least make for good Wonkette stories.

    During an interview recorded backstage at the “ReAwaken America” event in Dallas in December — yes, the one where everyone caught COVID and insisted they were attacked with “anthrax” — St. John explained that public libraries are “evil organizations” that force little children to accept the transgender agenda: [video available at the link]

    The full 15-minute interview is a trip, but we aren’t masochists, so we skimmed. After an introduction in which she explained that the virus of liberal indoctrination from schools is far deadlier than anything children might be forced to wear a mask for, St. John explained that “something inside me just snapped” when Herrera Beutler voted to impeach Trump, so she knew she had to run.

    […] St. John told the tragic story of a woman she met at a conference years ago who explained that her own son became trans because of indoctrination by school books, and the poor deluded woman even believed that reinforcing that “delusion” was supporting her kid, when the right course of action would have been to make clear there are only men and women and nobody can change that, because God.

    Parents continuing to love their trans kids without forcing them to not be trans anymore, she explained, is a “spiritual attack on our children.” Then St. John veered off into a digression about how public libraries are also super evil promoters of evil because they stock horrible evil books saying trans people are not an abomination unto God. […]

    You can go down to any public library — the public libraries are disasters. They’re actually evil organizations now, because they’re run by the American Library Association, which is a wicked organization at its roots. And so I turned in my library card years ago, and for a homeschool mom to turn in her library card it has to be pretty serious, you know?

    But I went down there and said, “No. Your bathrooms are not safe for my children anymore. The books that you’re putting […] up on the shelves for little children to read are dishonoring to the children, and dishonoring to parents. And they won’t tell parents what’s inside these books, so the kids are sitting down and they don’t understand that they’re slowly being lulled into a completely backwards way of thinking.

    […] she was flabbergasted because, “I assumed that the American Library Association would be interested in protecting children.”

    Also in that podcast, St. John somehow seems to think the ALA’s annual “banned books” list was a list of books the ALA had banned. Yes really.

    By the way, in case you think that the American Library Association doesn’t ban books, you would be wrong! The American Library Association has a list of its “top most challenged books of 2017.” They basically do ban things! It’s amazing to me. […] They have “frequently challenged books,” you can shop the banned books merchandise online, your library has an agenda and that’s what it comes down to.

    Lest you wonder if she’s merely confused, St. John starts reading the titles of books on the 2017 list, claiming that the ALA “tried to ban them.” But then halfway through the list, maybe she figured out that she had it backward, and that it’s good decent people trying to ban the books, because she also complains libraries are actually promoting that filth.

    […] She’s not the most coherent speaker.

    In any case, St. John explains, public libraries should be places where kids can get books about “Peter Cottontail and Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and the Chronicles of Narnia,” but not all this nasty trans indoctrination telling boys that they can be girls, which she says is clearly the reason for youth suicides, because “anytime when we tell children that they can be something that their Creator says they can’t be, suffering is the sure result.”

    […] We’ll confess, we didn’t have the stamina to listen to St. John’s later podcast from July 2021, “THE WAR ON CHILDREN: THE LEFTIST AGENDA OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION,” but here’s the written intro:

    What image comes to mind when you think of or hear the word librarian? Most of us think of a sweet older lady who has a penchant for organization and quiet. Unfortunately for our children, that illusion is long over. Today’s libraries are leftist indoctrination centers who will crush anyone that dares mess with their war on children.

    And we can hardly wait for the Washington District 3 Republican primary debates, if any.

    Link

  241. says

    Followup to comment 260.

    Hate When One Coup Gets In The Way Of My Other Coup

    […] a reasonable conclusion to draw about the purpose of Navarro’s latest press tour is a relatively simple one: He’s attempting to signal that Trump and his team couldn’t possibly be blamed for the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection because that attack actually scuttled their plans for a different, friendlier coup.

    […] In his book the former White House official claims the trio of men [Trump, Bannon and Navarro] were “the last three people on God’s good Earth who want to see violence erupt on Capitol Hill” because “it was this violence that finally put an abrupt end to any hope the president had for taking back an election likely stolen from him.”

    Why would Trump and these other Trump Guys back a violent, unsuccessful coup when they already had a perfectly legal plan to do a coup in the works; a scheme that was foiled by the deadly one???, Navarro conveniently puzzles.

  242. says

    So Fever Dreams this week has an interview with Amanda Moore, who went undercover with the far right. I have to quote this part, where she’s talking about how some of their local action involves harassing and threatening local officials to get them to resign so they can step in:

    WILL SOMMER: …So they were talking about like basically harassing people into quitting?

    AMANDA MOORE: Oh, they weren’t talking about it – they did it. Pressley Stutts took over the very local Greenville, South Carolina, GOP. I mean, he bullied the woman, Vicki I forget her last name, who was in charge into quitting. He was at an event that I was at, there was a COVID outbreak, and now he’s dead; but, I mean, before he died, he was able to accomplish this.

    WS: That’s quite an escalation, there, in that story.

    AM: Oh, that happens all the time, a lot of anti-vax people… I had to go to at least a dozen…I don’t know what a superspreader is in technicality, but if it means everybody there got COVID, I went to at least a dozen superspreader events, and people died at almost all of them. And these are people who like were preaching to the very last breath like, ‘Don’t get the vaccine. Just ask for Ivermectin’.

    I don’t know if you’ll want to cut this or not, but Pressley Stutts, when he died of COVID in the hospital, his son was begging the hospital…I mean, like, they were totally in cahoots about him not wanting anything reasonable – still not wanting the vaccine, not him wanting to be intubated. And when he died, a lot of people, including – I believe including Lin Wood, if not including Lin Wood, certainly a lot of influencers very, very close to Lin Wood…referred to his death as a murder, saying the hospital had murdered him.

    That’s just one of many people I watched that happen to over the last year. Even when it’s your father or your child or your spouse dying of COVID, just still this denialism that goes to the very end.

    This starts around 42 minutes in. The discussion that immediately follows is pretty stunning as well. Here’s a local report about Stutts’ death.

    Stutts and his wife were rushed to the hospital Aug. 1 after his oxygen levels dropped. “The COVID has created double pneumonia in my lungs,” he said in a Facebook post at the time.

    He further said in his post that as a proponent for “freedom and liberty,” no one should be forced to wear a mask and get vaccinated.

  243. says

    More re Lynna’s #261 – Ben Collins at NBC – “Far-right forums thrive after Capitol attack, but stumble over Trump and riot’s legacy”:

    …Extremists have largely avoided pushing events on the anniversary Thursday, outside of several small “vigils” planned for Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer when she tried to break into the chamber of the House of Representatives.

    QAnon adherents, anti-vaccine activists and Trump supporters have instead turned their attention to an anti-vaccination march on Washington on Jan. 23, which has been promoted by Steve Bannon’s War Room and anti-vaccine influencers.

    Other violent threats remain. [Mike] Rothschild pointed to a popular cartoon among QAnon supporters in recent days from pro-Trump illustrator Ben Garrison, which showed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, hanging from a lamppost.

    “The violence in the rhetoric is still just as blatant as ever,” he said.

  244. says

    CBS – “Record-breaking COVID cases in Florida causing strain in hospitals and essential services”:

    An average of more than 550,000 Americans are testing positive for COVID every day. About 10% of them are in Florida, where the average number of new cases is higher than it has been since the coronavirus pandemic began.

    Hospitalizations in Florida remain well below their highs during the Delta variant surge. But hospitalizations are rising fast: 340% higher in the last two weeks, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

    Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous county, is seeing record-breaking case numbers which have hospitals struggling to meet demand.

    The maternity ward at Holy Cross Hospital was forced to close due to staffing shortages. With new hospital admissions in Miami-Dade up 550% in just two weeks, the need for health care workers will only increase.

    Rising cases are also disrupting some essential services like the Miami-Dade educational system. More than 1,500 teachers were out sick. School superintendent Alberto Carvalho had to substitute teach at Miami-Jackson Senior High School.

    “We deployed individuals with educational certifications, we are talking about support staff, coaches,” Carvalho said.

    The Miami-Dade police department is also being impacted with more than 10% of police officers out with COVID.

  245. says

    Rep. Andy Kim:

    Remember what Republican leaders said before amnesia set in. I took notes that night:
    Mitch McConnell (Jan6): “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people…They tried to disrupt our democracy, they failed…This failed insurrection.”

    Kevin McCarthy (Jan 6): The violence, destruction, and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable undemocratic and unamerican. It was the saddest day I’ve ever had as serving as a member of this institution…We saw the worst of America this afternoon…”

    Kevin McCarthy on Jan 13: “last week’s violent attack on the Capitol was undemocratic, un-American and criminal…those who are responsible for Wednesday’s chaos will be brought to justice…The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”

    VP Pence on Jan 6: “Today was a dark day in the history of the United States capitol…We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms…To those who wreaked havoc today, you did not win.”

    Rep Stefanik (R) on Jan 6: “This has been a truly tragic day for America, and we all join together in fully condemning the dangerous violence and destruction…violence in any form is absolutely unacceptable, anti-American, and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    Senator Lindsey Graham on Jan 7:
    “When it comes to accountability the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem not the solution”

    Rep Chip Roy (R) on Jan 6: “Today the people’s house was attacked, which is an attack on the republic itself…People need to go to jail… and the president should never have spun up certain Americans to believe something that simply cannot be.”

    Senator McConnell: “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

    These are their words from a year ago. Let’s not let them forget….

  246. says

    Today’s The Daily – “Jan. 6, Part 1: ‘The Herd Mentality’”:

    Who exactly joined the mob that, almost a year ago, on Jan. 6, breached the walls of the U.S. Capitol in a bid to halt the certification of President Biden’s election victory? Members of far-right extremist groups were present but so too were also doctors, lawyers, substitute teachers and church deacons, many of whom had previously been nonpolitical. The question of why they were at the Capitol that day is hard to answer, but some of the most useful clues come from three F.B.I. interviews that have been released to the public. Today, in the first of a three-part look at what happened on Jan. 6 and what it tells us about the state of American democracy, using voice actors, we bring one of those interviews to life — that of Robert Reeder, a father and delivery driver from suburban Maryland. Guest: Alan Feuer, a reporter covering courts and criminal justice for The New York Times.

    So this guy’s story isn’t remotely believable. I actually laughed at parts of this interview. I kept thinking the FBI agents were letting him talk and any moment would confront him with the inconsistencies in or implausibility of his story in context, but they never did. They appeared to accept his self-pity as evidence of genuine remorse. And at the end they told him they believed he’d been truthful! And then recommended a two-month sentence. And even after new video surfaced challenging his description of events, they didn’t increase the charges and only upped their sentence recommendation to six months.

  247. quotetheunquote says

    Meanwhile, in “All the best people” news:
    Vice: Build a Wall Because Canada’s Worst Troll Just Tried to Escape to the US

    A notorious racist was set to begin an 18-month jail sentence, but he instead tried to flee Canada, on foot, with few supplies, in the winter. U.S. authorities had to rescue him before they arrested him.
    One of Canada’s most notorious trolls attempted to escape to the U.S. on foot and seemingly forgot to pack anything that would aid him in fleeing through the harsh Canadian wilderness, got lost, and had to have border patrol called in to rescue him.
    Kevin J. Johnston, a Canadian livestreamer and conspiracy theorist who has become infamous for his racist and attention-seeking stunts, was supposed to turn himself in to police to serve multiple sentences, including a yet-to-begin 18-month prison sentence. Johnston received the sentence because he wouldn’t stop breaching a groundbreaking Canadian hate crime ruling in which he was ordered to pay a Muslim restaurateur $2.5 million and stop defaming him. To escape his time in the hosgow, Johnston attempted to go on the lam.
    It all ended with him needing rescuing and then his rescuers arresting him.

    All hail the superior intellect of the White Race!

    More at the link.

  248. blf says

    SC@272, Weirdly, I don’t recall ever listening to Biden speak before. Actually, not so weirdly, I rarely listen to any politician speak, but did just finish listening to the speech (not live), Biden says Trump ‘tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power’.

    My initial reaction: I do like the way he directly blamed hair furor and his acolytes (almost all teh thugs), praised the Capital Police and others, and in the final moments, suggested an aspirational goal. I didn’t like his claims to be (actively?) fighting-back against the takeover of the electoral apparatus — as previously discussed in this series of threads, he doesn’t seem to be doing much.

    I’ve not (yet?) listened to Vice President Harris’ speech.

    One side-effect of now having listened to Biden is I understand (mostly) why Stephen Colbert impersonates Biden in the manner he does… up to now, those impersonations always irritated me, as they seemed to focus on Biden’s mannerisms, not his message (good points & absurd points).

  249. raven says

    Another antivaxxer dead from the Covid-19 virus.
    Nothing new about this. It is happening thousands of times every day in the USA.

    This one was one of the lower level leaders of the right wingnut lunatic fringes, Doug Kuzma. He caught it at an event hosted my Mike Flynn and blamed it on an imaginary anthrax attack. He was a conperson and a mindless idiot. The world is a slightly better place today.
    As some have noted, the trash is taking itself out.

    Anti-Vax Podcaster Who Got COVID at a Conspiracy Conference Has Died
    Doug Kuzma, 61, used his show to push an array of conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon to COVID denial and election fraud lies.
    DG By David Gilbert January 6, 2022, 6:28am Vice.com

    A QAnon and anti-vaccine podcaster has died from complications due to COVID-19 after contracting the virus at a conspiracy theory conference that turned into a superspreader event, and where fellow attendees baselessly blamed their illness on an anthrax attack.

    Doug Kuzma, 61, from Newport News, Virginia, died on January 3 after being hospitalized 10 days earlier. Kuzma broadcasted on the FROG News podcasting network, which stands for “Fully Rely On God.” Kuzma and his FROG fellow hosts pushed an array of conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon to COVID denial and election fraud lies.

  250. says

    Sean Hannity Informs January 6th Panel that Swearing to Tell the Truth Would Violate His Contract with Fox

    Sean Hannity has informed the congressional committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection that swearing to tell the truth would be a violation of his contract with Fox News.

    In a written statement, Hannity said that taking an oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” would be “a betrayal of the solemn vow I made to Fox.”

    “The members of the committee would no doubt require me to swear on a Bible,” he said. “However, I answer to a higher power: Rupert Murdoch.”

    The committee members attempted to reassure Hannity that he would need to tell the truth only to them and not while he was doing his show, but he remained steadfast in his refusal.

    “Telling the truth is a deal breaker,” Hannity said. “If I am seen doing it even once, it could destroy my brand.”

    New Yorker link

  251. tomh says

    Friday, Jan 7, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Biden vaccination mandates. Live audio starting at 10:00 AM (EST) can be heard here:
    https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/live.aspx

    Vox explains the issues involved.
    The stakes in the Supreme Court’s vaccine cases are even bigger than they seem
    The Court doesn’t just threaten the public health, it threatens democracy itself.
    Ian Millhiser Jan 5, 2022

    Governments make choices that shape millions of lives. Workers and businesses are taxed to provide health care to the elderly and to the least fortunate. Men and women are incarcerated or even killed for crimes defined by the state. Wars are fought. Refugees are given a place of safety or turned away at the border.

    If you believe in democracy, such power is justified only because it flows from the will of the people. “Governments,” the United States declared in its formational document, “are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The premise of any democratic republic is that there are some decisions that must be made collectively, and that these decisions are legitimate because they are made by elected officials.

    On Friday, the Supreme Court will hear two sets of cases that test the justices’ commitment to the idea that the right to govern flows from the will of the people, and both involve challenges to President Joe Biden’s efforts to encourage vaccination against Covid-19.

    The first bloc of cases, which is likely to be consolidated under the case name Biden v. Missouri, challenges a federal rule requiring nearly all health care workers to become vaccinated. The second bloc, which is likely to be consolidated under the name NFIB v. Department of Labor, challenges a rule requiring workers at companies with 100 or more employees to either get vaccinated or be regularly tested for Covid-19.

    Even on their faces, the stakes in Missouri and NFIB are enormous. These cases ask what steps the United States can realistically take to quell the spread of a disease that has already killed more than 820,000 Americans. But the full stakes in these cases are even higher.

    Someone has to decide how the United States will respond to a global pandemic, and the Biden administration’s argument essentially boils down to a case for democracy. An elected Congress authorized the executive branch to take certain steps to encourage vaccination, and Joe Biden was elected to lead that branch. So that means that President Biden and his duly appointed subordinates get to make difficult decisions, even if some Americans don’t like those decisions.

    The parties challenging Biden’s policies, meanwhile, effectively argue that the Supreme Court should decide America’s vaccination policy. They couch their arguments in arcane legal doctrines, with weighty-sounding names like the “Major Questions Doctrine” or “nondelegation,” But these doctrines are vague — so vague that they are easily manipulated by justices who disagree with the Biden administration’s policies and wish to conceal their desire to halt those policies behind a patina of legal reasoning.
    […]

    Again, someone needs to decide what America’s vaccination policy will be. It will either be made by the man chosen by the American people, or the Supreme Court will wrest that decision away from him and give it to themselves.
    […]

    The column then explains the “vague legal doctrines” that the challengers are using to try and overturn the Biden vaccination policies., ending with:

    This is not democracy. It is a decision to replace the judgment of men and women elected to make life-and-death decisions with the views of a few unelected lawyers.

  252. says

    A bit more about President Biden’s speech:

    […] “You can’t love your country only when you win,” Biden said. “You can’t obey the law only when it is convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

    Biden was trying to persuade a group of voters that already benefit dramatically from the counter-majoritarian structures of American democracy. Republicans last held a popular vote majority in the Senate in 1996; since then, they’ve won two electoral college presidential victories while losing the popular vote.

    The distinction that Biden drew came directly from the insurrection last year — a question of who will accept the election results, and who will not.

    He ran through, in detail, the basic reasons why the Big Lie myth that Trump was robbed of his rightful place as president made no sense. Among them, he noted, was the fact that Republicans gained seats in the House of Representatives — results that nobody contests, delivered on the same ballots that sent Trump down to defeat.

    “The former president didn’t lose those races,” Biden said. “He just lost the one that was his own.”

    To those who believe the feverish myth that the 2020 election was fraudulent, and regard November 2020 as the “real insurrection,” Biden said he was ready for a fight.

    “I will not shrink from it,” Biden said. “I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of Democracy.”

    The more lighthearted way in which this manifested itself was in Biden’s attempts to use the speech to needle Trump’s ego.

    After all, the Big Lie, insurrection, and attendant attempts to empower state legislatures to appoint slates of electors separate from those voted on by the populace are, in a large part, the product of one man’s “bruised ego” and grievance.

    Biden refused to call Trump by his name, for example, instead referring to him as the “former president.”

    “He can’t accept he lost,” Biden said, placing the emphasis on the final two words.

    It’s not clear whether the rhetorical distinction that Biden drew between a significant portion of persuadable Republicans and a movement that’s all-in on MAGA authoritarianism is real.

    Out of hundreds of Republican House members, only a handful have consistently and effectively spoken the truth about the 2021 insurrection, including most notably Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

    Top Republican officials like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former Vice President Mike Pence recognized in the hours after the attack what it was: an insurrection. But they’ve downplayed the catastrophe since then, with McConnell voting to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial and Pence suggesting recently that Democrats were using the day to “demean” everyone who voted for Trump.

    To Biden this morning, there was daylig