…they say variety is the spice of life…but when it all gets to feeling like variations on a theme
Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 200 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the more-infectious delta variant threatens areas with low vaccination rates and strains healthcare systems.
The global surge in cases is highlighting the widening gap in inoculation rates between wealthy and poor nations. Cases are rising in about one-third of the world’s countries, many of which have not even given half their population a first dose.
The World Health Organization(WHO) on Wednesday called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine boosters until at least 10% of the population in every country was vaccinated.
At least 2.6% of the world’s population has been infected since the pandemic started, with the true figure likely higher due to limited testing in many places. If the number of infected people were a country, it would be eighth most populous in the world, behind Nigeria, according to a Reuters analysis.
It took over a year for Covid-19 cases to hit 100 million mark, while the next 100 million were reported in just over six months, according to the analysis. The pandemic has left close to 4.4 million people dead.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/covid-cases-surpass-200-million-around-globe-delta-variant-spreads
…it can seem like endlessly playing the same tune…or – to quote a routine old enough that both halves of the double act are dead now
Congress could begin taking testimony as soon as this week from top Justice Department officials who bore witness to then-President Donald Trump’s desperate attempt to overturn his 2020 reelection loss based upon lies and misinformation.
And in the increasingly apparent real-time Justice Department efforts to combat that attempt, one man who has agreed to testify is emerging as something of a potential star witness in the effort: Richard P. Donoghue.
Repeatedly, the former acting deputy attorney general’s name has surfaced in notes and emails repudiating the effort to call the election results into question in no uncertain terms.
Donoghue’s name has surfaced in two separate instances in recent days.
First, over the weekend, came notes he had written during a December meeting with Trump in which, according to Donoghue’s notes, Trump urged the Justice Department to “just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen.”
The other big revelation this week involves a highly unorthodox draft letter from Clark. In it, Clark sought to urge the Georgia state legislature to call a special session to look at potentially overturning the election results in their state. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote, the proposed letter appears to be the latest in a series of thinly veiled attempts among Trump allies to lay a predicate for getting Congress not to accept the election results Jan. 6.
As Bump rightly notes, Donoghue’s response carries all the indicators of a guy who know this correspondence might one day be made public — and perhaps wanted to make sure he was on the right side of history.
But it’s hardly the first example of that.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/08/04/key-witness-emerges-probe-trump-doj-election-scheme/
…but while for some the consequences are about what you’d expect
A federal judge rejected claims that detained defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach are “political prisoners” or that riot participants acted out of patriotism before sentencing a Michigan man to six months in prison Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington said Karl Dresch, 41, of Calumet, Mich, was held because of his actions, not his political views, and that others who joined the attack on Congress as it met to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential election could face prison time.
“He was not a political prisoner,” Jackson said. “We are not here today because he supported former president Trump . . . He was arrested because he was an enthusiastic participant in an effort to subvert and undo the electoral process.”
In Dresch’s case, Jackson said he has the right to vote for whomever he wants, “but so does everyone else. Your vote doesn’t count any more than anyone else’s. You don’t get to cancel them out and call for a war because you don’t like the results of the election.”
The judge continued, “You called yourself and the others patriots, but that’s not patriotism. Patriotism is loyalty to country, loyalty to the Constitution, not loyalty to a single head of state. That’s the tyranny we rejected on July 4th of 1776.”Not patriots, not political prisoners — U.S. judges slam Capitol riot defendants at sentencing [WaPo]
A federal judge in Colorado has disciplined two lawyers who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election late last year, finding that the case was “frivolous,” “not warranted by existing law” and filed “in bad faith.”
In a scathing 68-page opinion, Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found that the lawyers made little effort to corroborate information they had included in the suit, which argued there had been a vast national conspiracy to steal the election from President Donald Trump.‘The stuff of which violent insurrections are made:’ Federal judge punishes Colorado lawyers for 2020 election lawsuit [WaPo]
Calling the suit “one enormous conspiracy theory,” Neureiter ordered that the duo must pay the legal fees of all the individuals and companies they had sued — 18 separate entities in all — as a way to deter future similar cases.
“In short, this was no slip-and-fall at the local grocery store,” wrote Neureiter, who was appointed as a magistrate judge by other judges. “Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint’s allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made.”
…that “what you’d expect” part isn’t always what you’d call a good thing
As with the entire effort to overturn the results of the election, Trump’s behavior was as clumsy as it was in earnest. He truly wanted the Justice Department to give him a pretext for some kind of (presumably drastic) action, but the most he could do in pursuit of this goal was to complain to top officials on the phone. “The conversations often included complaints about unfounded voter fraud conspiracy theories,” [Katie] Benner notes
But a haphazard attempt is still an attempt. That Trump is an absurd figure does not mean we should treat his drives and desires as nonthreatening. This was true when he was in office, and it is true now, while he is still trying to “stop the steal.”, “and admonishments that department leaders had failed to fight hard enough for Mr. Trump, the officials said.”Yes, Trump Is Ridiculous. He’s Also Dangerous. [NYT]
…I’ve heard it said that these days GOP might as well stand for Gaslight/Obstruct/Project
The Senate continued to vote Tuesday on amendments to the sweeping infrastructure legislation, working through some hiccups and tension about how quickly to move to a final vote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned Democrats not to “speed the process” by calling a vote Wednesday to end debate, saying he’d encourage Republicans to filibuster the bill if so.
“There’s an excellent change that it will be a bipartisan success story for the country. And to try to truncate an amendment process on something of this magnitude, I think, is a mistake,” McConnell said. “So my best advice to the majority leader would be that slow but steady wins the race.”https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-plods-along-infrastructure-bill-mcconnell-warns-democrats-move-slowly
…& the fact that it works better than it has any right to isn’t new either
The battle over the once-a-decade realignment of legislative and congressional districts is underway across the country even before new maps have been drawn, with lawsuits filed in nearly a dozen states, signaling how intense the fight for partisan power in the states and Congress will be in the coming year.
Many of the early moves have been made by Democrats, who are scrambling to make up a historic deficit when it comes to the bare-knuckle redistricting process that Republicans used in 2011 to cement their dominance at state and national levels.
At stake is how voters will be divided into individual districts for the next decade, and which party will emerge with the greater advantage. Fierce fighting over the maps could delay that process in many states — potentially upending 2022 campaigns midstream.
“There is heightened attention and awareness of the damaging effects of gerrymandering, and you’re seeing an increase of litigation as a result of the voter suppression and other election laws passed by Republicans as they attempt to hold on to power,” said Kelly Ward Burton, the [National Democratic Redistricting Committee] president. “We are fighting for fair maps that reflect the will of the voters, and if Republicans attempt to ignore this and gerrymander their way to power, we will be ready to sue.”
“Redistricting has become entrenched warfare where lawmakers exert enormous effort and expense to gain an inch,” said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute that is part of New York University Law School. “Lawmakers have always attempted to game redistricting, but we’re seeing a lot of new tactics this decade because so much is on the line.”
Democrats were caught off-guard a decade ago when Republicans, who had shored up their majorities in state legislatures during the 2010 tea party wave, used their power to shape GOP-friendly districts in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio. The new congressional districts gave Republicans the power to stymie much of President Barack Obama’s policy agenda.
Republicans say they plan to make the most of their current dominance.
Adam Kincaid, the executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, has said his group is preparing for “a decade of even more litigation,” and to challenge maps it views as unfairly tilted to the left.
“There will definitely be more redistricting litigation this decade,” he said. “Republicans will be playing more defense than offense because we have significantly more redistricting control than Democrats.”
Of the 37 states where elected officials will ultimately decide the shape of congressional maps this year, 20 are fully in Republican control, eight are held by Democrats and nine are split.
“The gerrymandering that we saw last cycle was unprecedented in their sophistication and how long they endured and defined the last decade of our politics. The Republicans were able to dominate the process without Democrats fully able to understand what happened until it was done,” said David Daley, an author who has written two books on redistricting.
But, Daley said, “that won’t be the case this time. Every twist and turn in every state is going to be contentious and chaotic and contested.”
…so even if here & there it might seem like some things are worth pushing for
A torrent of Congressional Democrats is calling on the White House to extend a soon-expiring pause on federal student loan payments, emboldened by their success in pressuring the Biden administration to approve a new eviction moratorium.https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/08/04/democrats-eviction-student-loans/
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has signaled it is at least considering another freeze on federal student loan payments. Without a final decision, however, lawmakers have ramped up their advocacy — hoping to ward off the same financial cliff that had threatened millions of renters until Tuesday.
…things going about how you’d expect isn’t necessarily a comfort
A Democratic candidate backed by the party establishment and a Republican endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump won two primary races for open House seats in Ohio on Tuesday, an assertion of dominance for the leadership of both political parties as they face questions over unity in their ranks.Democratic Insider and a Republican Backed by Trump Win Ohio House Races [NYT]
…particularly when the conclusions that some are inclined to draw might not sound like a lot to celebrate
Brown prevailed by embracing President Biden — and celebrating his brand of incrementalism. “This is about making progress, and sometimes that takes compromise,” she said during her victory speech in a Cleveland suburb. “Because when you demand all or nothing, usually you end up with nothing.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/04/nina-turners-loss-ohio-means-biden-doesnt-need-keep-caving-left/
Biden has to be attentive to the left, given Democrats’ slim House majority. But Tuesday’s results suggest he doesn’t need to contort himself to placate the party’s progressive wing — as he’s doing with the extension of the eviction moratorium — as much as they demand or he has often deemed necessary.
…& it doesn’t really help to know it could be worse
Vitaly Shishov, the 26-year-old who led the Belarusian House in Ukraine that helps people fleeing from Belarus to settle abroad, was reported missing by his partner on Aug. 2 after he did not return from his morning run.
Kyiv police said Tuesday he was found hanged. They have launched an investigation into whether it was suicide or “murder disguised as suicide,” they said.Prominent Belarusian activist, who helped others flee Lukashenko regime, found dead in Ukraine [WaPo]
In the past year, facing the greatest opposition challenge to his 27-year reign, Lukashenko has brutally cracked down on any dissent in Belarus, arresting thousands. The repression has sparked an exodus, with many Belarusians leaving the country for its Baltic neighbors Poland and Lithuania. Ukraine is considered another sanctuary — Belarusians are the second-largest minority there after Russians.
…although you have to admire it when there’s an attempt to beard a lion in its den, I guess
The Mexican government has launched legal action against US gunmakers in an unprecedented attempt to halt the flow of guns across the border, where US-made weapons are routinely used in cartel gun-battles, terror attacks on civilians – and increasingly to challenge the state itself.
The Mexican government is suing six gunmakers in a Massachusetts court, alleging negligence in their failure to control their distributors and that the illegal market in Mexico “has been their economic lifeblood”.
Announcing the suit on Wednesday, the foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, alleged that units of Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt’s Manufacturing Company, Glock and Ruger have catered to the tastes and needs of Mexican drug cartels and depend on illegal Mexican sales to boost their bottom lines.
The lawsuit alleges that gun companies openly pandered to Mexican criminals, citing Colt’s special edition .38 pistol, engraved with an image of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. One such weapon was used in the 2017 murder of the Chihuahua journalist Miroslava Breach, who investigated links between politicians and organized crime and was shot dead while taking her son to school.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/04/mexico-guns-us-manufacturers-lawsuit
…however that’s likely to pan out
Legal experts questioned the lawsuit’s ultimate chances, given that U.S. federal law guarantees gun manufacturers a strong shield against being sued by victims of gun violence and their relatives. But some said the lawsuit could lend political support to the strengthening of gun regulations in the United States, which are among the loosest in the hemisphere.
“It’s a bit of a long shot,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “It may just be a way to get the attention of the federal government and Biden and the White House so they can sit down and make a deal.”
In Washington, the White House noted that President Biden has urged Congress to repeal the federal statute that shields gunmakers from lawsuits. “President Biden remains committed to Congressional repeal,” said Michael Gwin, a White House spokesman. “While that law remains on the books, gun manufacturers and distributors should be held accountable — to the extent legally possible — when they violate the law.”
American gun laws have clear links to the ebb and flow of violence in Mexico, experts say. When the U.S. assault weapons ban ended in 2004, the government noted in the suit, gun makers “exploited the opening to vastly increase production, particularly of the military-style assault weapons favored by the drug cartels.”
Soon after, killings in Mexico began to rise, reaching record levels in 2018, when more than 36,000 people were murdered across the country.Mexico Sues Gun Companies in U.S., Accusing Them of Fueling Violence [NYT]
Since Mr. López Obrador’s landslide victory three years ago, killings have declined by less than 1 percent. So far this year, more than 16,000 people have been murdered in Mexico, according to government figures.
…but at least trying beats the alternative
Global failures of cooperation are, of course, nothing new; we did have those two world wars. But now we’re facing something perhaps even more worrying than nationalist enmity and territorial ambition. What if humanity’s capacity to cooperate has been undone by the very technology we thought would bring us all together?
The internet didn’t start the fire, but it’s undeniable that it has fostered a sour and fragmented global polity — an atmosphere of pervasive mistrust, corroding institutions and a collective retreat into the comforting bosom of confirmation bias. All of this has undermined our greatest trick: doing good things together.What if Humans Just Can’t Get Along Anymore? [NYT]
Sometimes, though, our fates are so obviously intertwined, you want to scream. Vaccines work best when most of us get them. Either we all patch up this sinking ship or we all go down together. But what if lots of passengers insist the ship’s not sinking and the repairs are a scam? Or the richest passengers stockpile the rations? And the captain doesn’t trust the navigator and the navigator keeps changing her mind and the passengers keep assaulting the crew?