Solid Muslim support for a Jewish candidate should be a big story

The Iowa caucuses had satellite sites for various groups that could not make it to the regular precincts and here is one report from a Muslim Community Center where 99% of the 200 people present voted for Bernie Sanders and awarded him all nine delegates.

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How tax prep companies cheated 14 million people

Even after the private, for profit, tax preparation companies got a sweetheart deal from the federal government that the government would not develop its own software for the free filing of taxes, which would be the logical thing for it to do, the greedy companies wanted even more. As part of the deal, the private companies were required to provide free filing options for lower income people but what they did was make the process of finding and using the free process so complicated that only about 2% of the people eligible to use it actually did so. This resulted in the companies getting about a billion dollars in additional revenue.
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The Iowa mess is still not resolved

It is now almost 48 hours after the Iowa caucuses ended and we still do not have a final vote or delegate count and the media seems to have lost interest in it, since things seem to be so muddled. It is a pretty sad state of affairs.

With results from 75% of state precincts as of Wednesday afternoon, former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg has a slight lead in the percentage of state delegate equivalents, the standard that in the past has determined the caucus winner, while Sanders currently leads in the both rounds of caucus voting, including after the so-called realignment process, when voters backing candidates who don’t reach threshold of 15% support at a caucus may choose to realign with another candidate. Sanders and Buttigieg are at the moment tied in pledged delegates, the measure that ultimately decides the nominee at the Democratic National Convention.
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Catholic church and lack of transparency about abuses

Despite the fact that the Catholic church keeps promising to increase transparency after each successive scandal about abusive priests who have been shielded by the church, ProPublica reports that some bishops continue to be opaque.

Over the last year and a half, the majority of U.S. dioceses, as well as nearly two dozen religious orders, have released lists of abusers currently or formerly in their ranks. The revelations were no coincidence: They were spurred by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named hundreds of priests as part of a statewide clergy abuse investigation. Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests.
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Bernie Sanders’ consistency

The Iowa caucuses turned out to be a bit of a mess. This one was caused by the malfunctioning of a new app that was introduced to record and count the precinct results as they were turned in. The decision to create and use the app was the result of a mystifying desire to have the results of elections released as soon as possible though there is absolutely no urgency whatsoever. As a result, the whole process was a massive anti-climax. One benefit is that it reduces the importance of the Iowa results to what it should be, rather than the outsize significance it has been given for simply being the first contest.
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TV review: The Good Place (no spoilers)

I watched the finale of this NBC TV series a couple of days ago. The series consisted of 52 half-hour episodes spread out over four seasons. I have long been a fan of this show that dealt with issues of ethics and morality and what makes a person good. I gave it a rave review after seeing the first season, and have been following it since.
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Ending authorization for wars

Alex Emmons writes about two measures passed by the House of Representatives that would limit the ability of the president to wage wars and also get rid of the authorization that has been used to wage the current wars.

ON THURSDAY, the House of Representatives passed two measures aimed at restricting President Donald Trump’s war powers. The first, sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fl., would prohibit the administration from spending any money to attack Iran without congressional preapproval, except in self defense. The second, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., would repeal Congress’s 17-year-old Iraq War authorization, which the Trump administration cited as a legal basis for assassinating Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani earlier this month.

Republican leadership in the Senate is likely to block a vote, though some Senate Republicans have supported similar legislation in the aftermath of the United States’ killing of Suleimani. Even so, the measures — both amendments attached to an uncontroversial commemorative bill — are further censure for Trump’s confrontational Iran policy.

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You’ve got to hand it to the Chinese government

When it comes to carrying out major projects quickly, their authoritarian structure undoubtedly is able to deliver the goods. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government built a 1,000 bed hospital in just 10 days in Wuhan city, the center of the outbreak that has killed over 200 people and for which there are over 10,000 confirmed cases. Construction began on January 24 and the hospital is due to open today. You can see a time-lapse of the construction.

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Cultivating deliberate obliviousness

The rise of Bernie Sanders just before the Iowa caucuses has given rise to real concern in the Democratic party establishment that they might lose control of ‘their’ party and they are steadily rolling out critics. NBC News reports on a conversation that was overheard involving 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry who is now canvassing for Joe Biden.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry – one of Joe Biden’s highest-profile endorsers – was overheard Sunday on the phone at a Des Moines hotel explaining what he would have to do to enter the presidential race amid “the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party – down whole.”

Sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery hotel, Kerry was overheard by an NBC News analyst saying “maybe I’m f—ing deluding myself here” and explaining that in order to run, he’d have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up his ability to make paid speeches. Kerry said donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to “raise a couple of million,” adding that such donors “now have the reality of Bernie.”

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Democratic voters who have switched and why

While carefully designed surveys are useful as quantitative gauges of opinions, sometimes the views of individuals can shed light on more subtle undercurrents that surveys miss. Ryan Grim of The Intercept asked the readers of his newsletter who have switched allegiances to write and let him know why they did so. Grim has been writing positively about Sanders so one should factor that in in gauging his readership. He summarizes some of the responses he got.
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