…now I don’t want to suggest that good news isn’t good
A federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit filed by 117 staffers at Houston Methodist over the hospital system’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for employees, a decision that could have implications in other battles over such mandates.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/13/methodist-vaccine-lawsuit-dismissed/
Drinking coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of all kinds of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, melanoma, prostate cancer, even suicide.The Health Benefits of Coffee [NYT]
A litter of gray wolf pups has been spotted in Colorado for the first time in around 80 years, according to state wildlife officials.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/gray-wolf-pups-found-colorado-first-time-since-1940s
Plastic bottles have been converted into vanilla flavouring using genetically engineered bacteria, the first time a valuable chemical has been brewed from waste plastic.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/15/scientists-convert-used-plastic-bottles-into-vanilla-flavouring
…& I’d like to see more of it
Reality Winner, a former intelligence contractor convicted of leaking a report about Russian interference in the US election in 2016, has been released from prison.NSA whistleblower Reality Winner released from prison [Guardian]
…but I don’t think it’s going to surprise any of you that the preponderance of what I’ve found while trawling through the headlines
Though he does not live in a West Bank settlement, Bennett has made annexing parts of the Palestinian territories a core part of his political program. […]
He has also become known for incendiary anti-Palestinian rhetoric. In 2015 he referred to the prospects of a Palestinian state as “suicide” for Israel and in 2014 warned Israel’s Arab citizens against becoming a “fifth column.” In another controversial statement in 2013, Bennett said that Palestinian “terrorists should be killed, not released.”
Bennett has expressed support for increased Jewish control over the Temple Mount compound, known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, in Jerusalem’s contested Old City. Israeli police attacking Palestinians praying at al-Aqsa Mosque last month in part sparked a wave of unrest and Israel’s 11-day war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.What to know about Naftali Bennett, Israel’s new prime minister [WaPo]
In public, Beijing is already furious. It has accused the group of seven democracies of “lies, rumours and baseless accusations”. Last week, in response to Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg’s remark on China-Russia military ties, a foreign ministry spokesperson urged the alliance to “abandon cold war mentality and ideological bias”.
But beyond the rhetoric, what Nato’s China-pivot would mean in practice – for example, what assets it could usefully deploy in a confrontation with China – still remains to be seen, said Raffaello Pantucci, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
“The interesting part, which will get little coverage in the west, is that all of this is happening while Nato remains deployed on China’s borders in Afghanistan. And while no one has been paying attention, China has been ramping up its rhetoric about Afghanistan being used by the United States as a base from which to agitate trouble in Xinjiang,” Pantucci said. “Nato could easily come in the middle of this.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/14/expect-china-to-be-furious-at-being-cast-as-a-threat-to-the-west
Not quite a mirror of the Kremlin’s thinking, Russia’s TV pundits are keener to flatter the leadership from all angles: painting Biden as a doddering grandfather, then as an elder statesman bowing to the need to meet with Putin, then as a schoolboy fearing his upcoming clash with the Russian president. “Poor and unhappy [Biden],” simpered the host of one show, 60 Minutes, mocking remarks by the White House about his preparations for the talks.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/15/no-sign-of-thaw-between-russia-and-us-ahead-of-geneva-summit
“We’re not looking for conflict,” the president said on Sunday. “We are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms, number one. Number two, where we can work together, we may be able to do that in terms of some strategic doctrine that – that may be able to be worked together. We’re ready to do it.”
This meeting, the administration says, is designed to put the relationship between the two countries “on a more stable, predictable path.” Yet, despite repeated statements from the Kremlin that it is open to normalization, progress on arms control and cooperation on issues of mutual interest, it has yet to take a single step that would demonstrate any commitment to these goals. In fact, Putin thrives on chaos.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/11/senator-risch-biden-putin-summit/
Here is the full transcript of the NBC News interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which took place in Moscow on June 11, 2021. The interviewer is Keir Simmons of NBC News.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/transcript-nbc-news-exclusive-interview-russia-s-vladimir-putin
Food banks in many states across the US are bracing for a surge in demand for food aid due to Republican governors ending federal extended unemployment benefits early in a move that will hit millions of American families.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/14/us-food-banks-unemployment-republican-states-pandemic
After the norm-shattering presidency of Donald J. Trump, the violence-inducing bombast over a stolen election, the pressuring of state vote counters, the Capitol riot and the flood of voter curtailment laws rapidly being enacted in Republican-run states, Washington has found itself in an anguished state.
Because Republicans control the legislatures of many states where the 2020 census will force redistricting, the party is already in a strong position to erase the Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the House. Even moderate voting-law changes could bolster Republicans’ chances for the net gain of one vote they need to take back the Senate.
And in the nightmare outcome promulgated by some academics, Republicans have put themselves in a position to dictate the outcome of the 2024 presidential election if the voting is close in swing states.
“Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations,” 188 scholars said in a statement expressing concern about the erosion of democracy.In Congress, Republicans Shrug at Warnings of Democracy in Peril [NYT]
The Texas Democrats who blocked a Republican-backed voting restrictions bill from becoming state law at the eleventh hour last month will head to the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to lobby senators as part of a broader, last-ditch effort to rally support for a major voter rights bill.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/hope-federal-voting-rights-rescue-dims-state-democrats-advocates-turn-up-the-heat
But moderate Democrats, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have repeatedly said they aren’t on board with changing Senate rules. The For the People Act isn’t backed by any Republicans, and in a recent opinion piece, Manchin firmly opposed the legislation, citing its lack of bipartisan support. Without GOP votes and without eliminating the filibuster, the bill, filed as H.R. 1, is all but dead.
Legislators have introduced at least 389 bills with restrictive election provisions in 48 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice’s most recent tally.
Manchin said in his op-ed that he was open to H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a narrower piece of legislation that would reinforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but it, too, lacks broad bipartisanship. Just one Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supports the bill, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said recently that he wouldn’t support it, calling it “unnecessary.”
Republican lawmakers control more of the 2021 redistricting process than Democrats, and voting rights advocates say they believe they could gerrymander a House majority in 2022.
Last week, the so-called G10 group of five Democrats and five Republicans said it had reached a tentative infrastructure deal, but skepticism from Republicans and impatience from Democrats left its prospects uncertain as lawmakers departed for the weekend.
Some Democrats have tried to pressure their leadership to abandon bipartisan talks and push through a partisan bill, instead, but there’s no guarantee that there are 50 Democratic votes for that tactic, either. And for every Democratic vote appearing to be in jeopardy, another Republican would need to vote in favor.
That means the bipartisan group will need to secure more than 10 Republicans to get its proposal across the finish line. Many in the Republican conference are still bitter over the breakdown of negotiations between President Joe Biden and their chief negotiator, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., this month.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/democrats-harden-position-infrastructure-deal-doubts-grow-bipartisan-deal
…but the sorry thing about a lot of it is that while the specifics might be new enough to be news
On Saturday evening on a boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., police enforcing a ban on vaping surrounded and tackled a teen as an agitated crowd gathered. Then, one officer repeatedly kneed the teen in the stomach.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/14/ocean-city-police-vaping-video-boardwalk/
The incident, which was caught in viral videos, left four teenagers arrested, authorities said. Ocean City officials pledged to review the officers’ actions but also noted in a news release, “Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance.”
Many also responded to a separate video, which shows a man on a boardwalk with his hands raised above his head who is suddenly hit by a police Taser. Many sharing the video, which has been viewed more than a million times as of early Monday, said the man was also stopped for vaping over the weekend in Ocean City. Police have yet to confirm those details.
There is a saying in Silicon Valley that when a product is free, the user is the product.
With little regulatory accountability, this pursuit is a particular fixation for the biggest tech companies, which have the unique ability to pinpoint customers’ every online move. As part of this economy of surveillance there is perhaps nothing more valuable than knowing users’ locations.
So it was that Google executives were dismayed over a most inconvenient discovery: When they made it simpler to halt digital location tracking, far too many customers did so. According to recently unredacted documents in a continuing lawsuit brought by the state of Arizona, Google executives then worked to develop technological workarounds to keep tracking users even after they had opted out. So much for the customer always being right.
Rather than abide by its users’ preferences, Google allegedly tried to make location-tracking settings more difficult to find and pressured smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers to take similar measures. Even after users turned off location tracking on their devices, Google found ways to continue tracking them, according to a deposition from a company executive.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/14/opinion/google-privacy-big-tech.html
It isn’t hard to find other ways that tech companies trample on consumers’ trust. Apple gave users the option to halt apps from tracking their activity across the mobile web, and some 93 percent of U.S. iPhone users have opted for less tracking. That prompted Facebook to tell customers that they don’t know what’s good for them and other app developers to search for workarounds, evidently against customers’ will.
…the broad strokes are all too familiar
At the center of the debate is an infrastructure compromise brokered by 10 Senate Democrats and Republicans. The bloc, largely composed of moderates, faces the new, tough task of selling their deal to both fellow lawmakers and the White House, just days after talks between President Biden and another group of GOP leaders reached a political impasse.https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/06/14/congress-white-house-infrastructure/
…& although I wouldn’t generally say that turtles & drugs are a good combination
More than 30 kilograms of cocaine with a value topping $1 million were seized after washing ashore last month at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida, according to the U.S. Space Force.
The drugs were discovered on May 19 by Angy Chambers, a civil engineer and wildlife manager, who noticed the packages strewn about the beach while conducting a turtle nesting survey, officials said.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/1-2-million-worth-cocaine-found-florida-beach-during-turtle-survey
…frankly anything that might get some movement out of mitch’s bitch-ass is maybe worth consideration
Factions of senators are working to strike deals on issues from infrastructure and gun legislation to voting rights and police reform. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is proving, again and again, that the road to making law goes through him.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/democratic-senate-path-making-law-still-goes-through-mitch-mcconnell
A pattern is emerging for legislation the majority seeks to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate: When McConnell supports it, it has a chance. When he opposes it, it tends to run headlong into the 60-vote barrier. In short, there is no easy route to pick off the necessary 10 Republicans without him.
On occasion, McConnell wields power to stop his own members. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, learned it the hard way in 2019 when, by his account, McConnell stymied his bipartisan bill to reduce drug prices by asking GOP colleagues not to support it, and the bill faded.
McConnell, who is frequently called an “obstructionist” by Democrats, wears the label as a badge of honor, having dubbed himself the “grim reaper” of progressive legislation in 2019.
A pretty good indication of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) view of the need to compromise with Democrats can be derived from careful, studious analysis of a cryptic comment he made in May.
“One hundred percent of my focus is standing up to this administration,” McConnell said of President Biden’s policy agenda[…]
It’s also the case that McConnell learned an important lesson from the past five years. In 2016, he paid no significant price for blocking Scalia’s replacement. Republicans lost the Senate in 2020 after he acted quickly to replace Ginsburg, but there’s little reason to think that his party lost the Senate because of that hypocrisy. In fact, his approach to power has been rewarded by several Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) insisting Republicans have a chance to help shape policy.
Of course McConnell would block Biden from appointing a new justice in 2023. McConnell has already said that his goal is to block everything Biden wants anyway. And he’s well aware that he has the power to do so.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/14/mitch-mcconnell-offers-another-strong-hint-that-hes-probably-not-going-meet-democrats-halfway/
…either way…that “war on drugs” still doesn’t seem like it’s easing the pain
When San Francisco police seized seven kilos of powder-filled baggies containing the deadly opioid fentanyl last week, the city’s police chief warned the bust contained “enough lethal overdoses to wipe out San Francisco’s population four times over”.
“Fentanyl has moved west,” said Dr Daniel Ciccarone, a professor specializing in addiction medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Ciccarone said the lab-made drug was barely seen in western states before 2017. Instead, he said, it used to be distributed by drug trafficking networks supplying the east coast, who often slipped it into heroin supplies without telling users.
Fentanyl is so powerful that a quantity small enough to fit under a fingernail can be deadly within minutes. Dr Aimee Moulin, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis medical center in Sacramento, said she was seeing adolescents as young as 13 overdose on counterfeit opioid pills available for home delivery over the internet.
“This predates the pandemic,” said David Panush, the head of the consulting firm California Health Policy Strategies, which produced a report concluding fentanyl is “largely responsible for the unprecedented growth in overdose deaths” in California. “The pandemic probably made it worse, but you had these addiction trends that were skyrocketing and fentanyl is like pouring gasoline on the fire.”
Another paper, co-authored by the Stanford University researcher Chelsea Shover, said the west coast may be three years behind on the same horrible trajectory of overdose deaths that overwhelmed the east coast several years ago.Enough fentanyl to kill San Francisco: the new wave of the opioid crisis sweeping California [Guardian]
…& they do say that those who won’t learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them
The death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic is more than 200 times that of the 9/11 attacks — but Congress has yet to establish a similar blue ribbon commission to investigate the vulnerabilities of our public health system and issue guidance for how we as a nation can better protect the American people from future pandemics.There Will Be Another Pandemic — Are We Prepared For It? [NYT]
…not that some of those lessons should have been so hard to figure out in the first place
Unless the world stops treating climate change and biodiversity collapse as separate issues, neither problem can be addressed effectively, according to a report issued Thursday by researchers from two leading international scientific panels.
“These two topics are more deeply intertwined than originally thought,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chairman of the scientific steering committee that produced the report. They are also inextricably tied to human well being. But global policies usually target one or the other, leading to unintended consequences.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/10/climate/biodiversity-collapse-climate-change.html
…& do something about
Given the inevitability — and devastation — of wildfires, why have we not changed the way we fight them?https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/14/heres-why-old-playbook-fighting-wildfires-doesnt-work-anymore/
Dangerously hot temperatures across the US south-west will continue to climb this week, reaching higher than 120F (49C) in some areas, exacerbating the region’s already-dire drought conditions and increasing the risk of new fire ignitions.Dangerous heatwave grips US south-west as temperatures hit 120F in some areas [Guardian]
…but sometimes the lessons we learn don’t altogether seem to teach us what they should
These facts raise an uncomfortable question that reverberates around the world: does fighting the climate crisis mean sacrificing communities and ecosystems? The supply chains that produce green technologies begin in extractive frontiers like the Atacama desert. And we are on the verge of a global boom in mining linked to the energy transition. A recent report published by the International Energy Agency states that meeting the Paris greement’s climate targets would send demand skyrocketing for the “critical minerals” used to produce clean energy technologies. The figures are particularly dramatic for the raw materials used to manufacture electric vehicles: by 2040, the IEA forecasts that demand for lithium will have increased 42 times relative to 2020 levels.
These resources have become a new flashpoint for geopolitical tensions. In the US and Europe, policymakers increasingly talk about a “race” to secure the minerals linked to energy transition and shore up domestic supplies; the idea of a “new cold war” with China is frequently invoked. As a result, northern Portugal and Nevada are slated for new lithium projects. Across the global lithium frontier, from Chile to the western United States and Portugal, environmental activists, indigenous communities and residents concerned about the threats to agricultural livelihoods are protesting over what they see as the greenwashing of destructive mining.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/14/electric-cost-lithium-mining-decarbonasation-salt-flats-chile
Indeed, natural resource sectors, which include extractive activities like mining, are responsible for 90% of biodiversity loss and more than half of carbon emissions. One report estimates that the mining sector produces 100bn tons of waste every year. Extraction and processing are typically water- and energy-intensive, and contaminate waterways and soil. Alongside these dramatic changes to the natural environment, mining is linked to human rights abuses, respiratory ailments, dispossession of indigenous territory and labour exploitation. Once the minerals are wrested from the ground, mining companies tend to accumulate profits and leave behind poverty and contamination. These profits only multiply along the vast supply chains that produce electric vehicles and solar panels. Access to these technologies is highly unequal, and the communities who suffer the harms of extraction are frequently denied its benefits.
A transportation system based on individual electric vehicles, for example, with landscapes dominated by highways and suburban sprawl, is much more resource- and energy-intensive than one that favours mass transit and alternatives such as walking and cycling. Likewise, lowering overall energy demand would reduce the material footprint of technologies and infrastructure that connect homes and workplaces to the electricity grid. And not all demand for battery minerals must be sated with new mining: recycling and recovering metals from spent batteries is a promising replacement, especially if governments invest in recycling infrastructure and make manufacturers use recycled content.
…I know there are advantages in avoiding the fossil fuels on account of those coming with an abundance of problems…but it’s not like they call them “rare earth minerals” for fun…& we don’t have the greatest track record when it comes time to throw things like batteries away…let alone recycle that swiftly obsolescent high tech
…& I know the term “performative” gets thrown around a lot at the moment
…but when this is the context
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar will be the target of dueling resolutions expected to be filed this week admonishing them for remarks that critics said were antisemitic or inappropriate.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/omar-greene-face-dueling-censure-resolutions-house-recent-remarks
…I just can’t bring myself to buy that there’s real contrition involved in this little effort
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the extremist Republican congresswoman, has apologized for her comments comparing the required wearing of safety masks in the US House to the horrors of the Holocaust.
“I’m truly sorry for offending people with remarks about the Holocaust,” Taylor Greene told reporters outside the Capitol on Monday, saying she had visited Washington’s US Holocaust Memorial Museum earlier in the day. “There’s no comparison and there never ever will be.“https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/14/marjorie-taylor-greene-holocaust-apology
…call me a cynic…but that shit just doesn’t add up for me
But the Georgia Republican declined to walk back other controversial statements she has made, including one in which she compared the Democratic Party to Hitler’s party, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.Rep. Greene apologizes for comparing face masks to Holocaust, but stands by comparison of Democrats to Nazi party [WaPo]
…just like I find it hard to buy that the only difference between these two incidents is the geographical kind of latitude
A woman is dead and three others injured after a car was driven into a crowd of anti-police brutality protesters in Minneapolis on Sunday night, Minneapolis police confirmed on Twitter.
The driver was arrested and is in police custody after being treated at an area hospital, according to police. The police have not confirmed a motive for the attack.
Around 11.39pm on Sunday, the car rammed into a crowd of demonstrators who had gathered in uptown Minneapolis to protest against the police shooting death of Winston Boogie Smith Jr, a 32-year-old Black man and father of three who was killed by US marshals on 3 June.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/14/minneapolis-woman-killed-car-protesters-police
The prosecution said on Monday that Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism and prosecutors have upgraded those charges under Canada’s criminal code. Police allege the incident was a planned and premeditated attack targeting Muslims.Canada: suspect faces terrorism charges after Muslim family killed with truck [Guardian]
…or that shit like this represents either a land of the free or a home of the brave
A customer who argued about wearing a face mask at a Georgia supermarket shot and killed a cashier on Monday and wounded a deputy sheriff working off duty at the store, law enforcement officials said.Customer Fatally Shoots Cashier in Argument Over Mask at Georgia Supermarket [NYT]
By almost every measure, 2021 has already been a terrible year for gun violence. Many fear it will get worse. Last weekend alone, more than 120 people died in shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, with three especially dangerous incidents in Austin, Chicago and Savannah, Ga., leaving two dead and at least 30 injured.
Through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research organization. That’s 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years.2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades. So far, 2021 is worse. [WaPo]
…I don’t know…it seems like stating the obvious
It’s a real horse race to determine who will be the looniest House Republican of 2021.
In the House of Representatives’ crazy stakes[…]Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-QAnon) made an early Run for the Roses with talk of Jewish “space lasers ,” stalking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and claiming that mask mandates are tantamount to the Holocaust. But Greene fell back into the crazy pack after Churchill Downs, and, in a surprise development, Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), a perennial also-ran, took top honors at Pimlico by calling the Jan. 6 insurrection a nothingburger and by attending a QAnon conference at which the violent overthrow of the U.S. government was discussed.
But the final leg of crazytown’s Triple Crown has just gone to a dark horse, Rep. Andrew S. Clyde. The first-term Georgia Republican put himself on the map with his notion that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol “was a normal tourist visit.” And now, with an assist from Gohmert and from former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (a crazy horse long ago put to pasture), Clyde has filed a federal lawsuit on a matter of the most pressing constitutional importance.
What existential threat to our country had Clyde uncovered? The Chinese? The Russians? The Proud Boys?
Since the insurrection, he and all 434 of his colleagues have been required to walk through metal detectors to get to the House floor. Clyde, a former gun shop owner (in which capacity he fought the IRS), is along with Gohmert one of a small few who have refused to cooperate with the Capitol Police’s efforts to keep guns out of the chamber. His refusal cost him $15,000 in fines.
A CNN reporter asked Clyde, twice, whether he still believes the Jan. 6 attack was normal tourist behavior.
Clyde insisted on limiting questions to “the lawsuit against the magnetometers.” So let’s. It’s signed at the bottom by Cuccinelli with the disclaimer “Local Bar Application Forthcoming.” As for injuries, it alleges that the magnetometer menace caused Clyde to miss a vote on the Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Act. (It passed, 381 to 37.)
I asked Clyde and Gohmert who was paying Cooch. Turns out the Republican Party is bankrolling the lawsuit, and the fees are “between attorney and client privilege,” Clyde professed.
So the lawmakers used federal property to announce a Republican Party lawsuit that should cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to redress $20,000 in fines? Now that is some thoroughbred crazy.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/14/look-out-marjorie-taylor-greene-dark-horse-andrew-clyde-shows-champion-caliber-crazy/
…but apparently we need to do that?
States with higher vaccination rates now have markedly fewer coronavirus cases, as infections are dropping in places where most residents have been immunized and are rising in many places people have not, a Washington Post analysis has found.
States with lower vaccination also have significantly higher hospitalization rates, The Post found.https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/06/14/covid-cases-vaccination-rates/