698,829 PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS IN THE U.S.
214.3 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U.S. HAVE RECEIVED A VACCINATION DOSE
The Washington Post
FEMA prepares to remove subsidies from its flood insurance
[…] On Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will incorporate climate risk into the cost of flood insurance for the first time, dramatically increasing the price for some new home buyers. Next April, most current policyholders will see their premiums go up and continue to rise by 18 percent per year for the next 20 years.
The price hike under a new assessment, Risk Rating 2.0, will more accurately reflect the threat of flooding in a changing climate, federal officials say.
Most homeowners will see modest increases starting at $120 per year in addition to what they already pay, and a few will see their insurance costs decrease. But wealthy customers with high-value homes will see their costs skyrocket by as much as $14,400 for one year. About 3,200 property owners — mostly in Florida, Texas, New Jersey and New York — fall in that category.
Like the climate threat, the cost increase will reach far beyond the coast.
Biden urges Democrats to compromise, have patience as he tries to revive economic agenda
President Biden attempted to quell an internal Democratic rebellion on Friday, pleading with lawmakers to compromise and stay patient as he tried to revive a $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal and salvage his broader economic agenda from imminent collapse.
Biden made the overture during a rare meeting on Capitol Hill in the midst of an intense, acrimonious fight over two pieces of legislation that Democrats were struggling to untangle. The first bill would fix the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. A second package would authorize roughly $3.5 trillion to expand Medicare, combat climate change and boost a wide array of federal aid programs. […]
In comments that appeared directed toward moderates, the president acknowledged the infrastructure package “ain’t going to happen” until Democrats reached agreement over their second tax-and-spending bill.
The New York Times
Sinema returns to Arizona for a fund-raiser
With Democrats pleading for a deal on a hard-fought social safety net bill, one of the key holdouts, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, left Washington on Friday. The reason, her spokesman said, was a medical appointment for a foot injury.
But on Saturday, she is also scheduled to attend her political action committee’s “retreat” with donors at a high-end resort and spa in Phoenix, three different sources confirmed, including an attendee. The hotel also confirmed the event, which kicks off with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, followed by a dinner.
U.S. Women’s Soccer League removes commissioner and cancels games
By the time hundreds of professional women’s soccer players gathered on a videoconference Thursday night, they had all had enough… Many of the women on the call, arranged by the union for athletes in the National Women’s Soccer League, had their own painful stories to share.
For two hours they discussed what to do next. Their decision came close to midnight: The players’ union would ask the league to cancel the five games scheduled for this weekend so that the athletes could have “space to process this pain,” the union said in a statement. […]
On Friday, only hours after the players ended their call, the N.W.S.L. acceded to their request to cancel the games. And on Friday night, the league announced that its commissioner, Lisa Baird, had resigned.
Los Angeles Times
Democrats contend with how to scale down Biden’s social safety net plan
Congressional Democrats eager to make progress on President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan are beginning to confront the harrowing challenge of squeezing their ambitious remodeling of the nation’s social safety net programs into the much smaller package needed to win over key centrists.
For a second day, Democratic leaders and White House officials gathered on Capitol Hill in hopes of reaching agreement on a framework for the social investment package, which has been expected to establish paid family leave and subsidies for child care, elder care and community college, as well as fortify existing health programs, among other progressive ambitions.
Newsom orders COVID vaccines for eligible students, the first state mandate for K-12 schools
California on Friday became the first state to announce a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all public and private schoolchildren, a move affecting millions of students and once again placing the state at the forefront of strict pandemic safety measures.
The mandate would take effect for grades seven through 12, starting with the school term following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the vaccine for children ages 12 and older, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade would be phased in after the vaccine has been approved for their age group.
Missouri Rep. Cori Bush Shares Deeply Personal Story of Rape, Abortion During Hearing
Editorial note: This article includes descriptions of rape, sexual assault.
Because American government can’t seem to understand that women’s bodies aren’t their fucking business, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush was forced to reveal her personal experience of how she was raped as a teen, became pregnant and had to get an abortion.
If the government stayed out of women’s business, Bush may have never needed to share this deeply personal, traumatic experience but because the call for women’s rights has fallen on deaf ears, Bush used her time to speak during a House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday called by “Democratic chair Carolyn Maloney to ‘examine the threat to abortion rights and access’ posed by the US Supreme Court and ‘extreme anti-choice state governments,’ in the wake of the Texas 6-week abortion bill,” CNN reports.
Why Are the Democrats Handing the Judicial Branch Over to the GOP?
Democrats have a chance to reclaim the courts from conservatives by pushing to fill judicial vacancies and expanding the courts. They’re doing neither.
The Trump administration had very few accomplishments. Oh, they succeeded at destroying any number of things, like faith in democracy, but Trump and his cronies achieved very few of their “policy” goals. They didn’t build a wall. They didn’t repeal and replace Obamacare. They didn’t make America great. They didn’t really do anything they promised to do, except cut taxes for rich people—and stack the judiciary with conservative judges. In that one area, the Trump administration was wildly successful. It left behind over 200 federal judges who will be pushing the Republican agenda long after Trump (and many people reading this column) have slipped this mortal coil.
Thus far, the Biden administration has only confirmed 14 federal judges. That’s not entirely Biden’s fault. He has nominated 41 federal judges to fill the 82 vacancies (as of September 1), but Senate Democrats have been slow at confirming most of the president’s picks. While Mitch McConnell used his Senate majority primarily as a judicial confirmation machine, Democrats in the Senate refuse to get at that level. Sure, we can blame Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema or Mercury in retrograde or evil Grumpkins or whatever other lame excuse Democrats want to offer for their inaction. But at some point, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin need to prioritize judges above all else—the same way McConnell has—or Democrats will once again fail at even this most basic task of protecting the rights of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community from Republicans.
Kavanaugh to participate in oral arguments remotely
Justice Brett Kavanaugh will participate in oral arguments remotely after testing positive for COVID-19, the Supreme Court said.
In a statement, a Supreme Court spokesperson said Kavanaugh will participate in next week’s oral arguments from his home. On Monday, the justices will sit for their first in-person arguments since the pandemic began in March.
Dissension at the Supreme Court as justices take their anger public
Supreme Court justices have revealed a new level of defensiveness and anger in recent weeks, showing irritation with public expectations, the news media and one another.
The extraordinary public display extends beyond any single justice or case, although the majority's decision to let a Texas near-ban on abortions take effect has plainly triggered much of the consternation.
On Thursday, Samuel Alito became the fifth of the nine justices to speak out, denouncing critics he said were seeking to portray the court as "sneaky" and "sinister" in an attempt "to intimidate" the justices. […]
Rarely have so many justices uttered such provocative, off-the-bench comments at the same time. Some are at cross purposes, but they all highlight the potential for declining confidence in America's highest court. Public opinion polls and new congressional scrutiny reinforce a possible new threat to the court's reputation and legitimacy.
Historic increase in food stamp benefits starts in October
Food stamp recipients will see their monthly payments go up in October thanks to a major update to the program, even though a special pandemic boost has now expired.
Benefits will jump 27% above pre-pandemic levels, on average -- the largest increase in its history. The change stems from a revision of the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps.
The update comes as part of a US Department of Agriculture review of the food stamp program required under the 2018 Farm Bill. The then-Republican-led Congress ordered the agency to reevaluate the plan by fiscal 2022 -- and every five years thereafter. It was last adjusted in 2006.
More than 17,000 deaths caused by police have been misclassified since 1980
Deaths involving police have been greatly undercounted in the United States, and African American people die in such encounters at 3.5 times the rate of whites, according to a new analysis by public health researchers.
In an article published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet, researchers found that deaths from police violence between 1980 and 2018 were misclassified by 55.5% in the U.S. National Vital Statistics System, which tracks information from death certificates.
"For most causes of death, the death certificate filled out by a physician is sort of the gold standard," says Chris Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who is one of the study's authors. But he says that in this area, the certificates seem to fall short. "There is a pretty systematic underrecording of police violence deaths."
Five Midwestern governors agree to create a network to charge electric vehicles
The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are joining forces to build a new network for charging electric vehicles. The bipartisan plan aims to improve the region's economy while also reducing toxic emissions from cars and trucks.
The new plan is called REV Midwest — the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition. In addition to creating jobs and improving public health, its backers say it will help the Midwest compete for both private investment and federal funding.
Along with those broad goals, the plan promises to make it easier to find charging stations, which could boost adoption of electric vehicles if it eases drivers' concerns about the range of their batteries.
Minnesota Public Radio News
Texas man, 24, admits shooting at Minneapolis police station during riot
A man who had been part of a far-right group that wants to foment a civil war admitted in federal court Thursday he traveled to Minneapolis from the San Antonio area to sow chaos after the police murder of George Floyd.
Ivan Harrison Hunter, 24, of Boerne, Texas, pleaded guilty to a single count of rioting. The charge carries a maximum prison term of five years. […]
Prosecutors say Hunter came to Minneapolis in the days following Floyd’s murder after corresponding on Facebook with Michael Solomon of New Brighton, Minn., and Benjamin Teeter of Hampstead, N.C. The men had been part of the “Boogaloo Bois,” a group that exploits tensions to further violence.
Alex Jones loses lawsuits over Sandy Hook ‘hoax’ conspiracy
A Texas judge has found Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones liable for damages in three defamation lawsuits brought by the parents of two children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre over his claims that the shooting was a hoax.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, home of Infowars, entered default judgments against Jones, Infowars and other defendants for what she called their “flagrant bad faith and callous disregard” of court orders to turn over documents to the parents’ lawyers. The rulings were issued on Monday and released on Thursday.
Scientists decipher Marie Antoinette’s redacted love notes
“Not without you.” “My dear friend.” “You that I love.”
Marie Antoinette sent these expressions of affection — or more? — in letters to her close friend and rumored lover Axel von Fersen. Someone later used dark ink to scribble over the words, apparently to dampen the effusive, perhaps amorous, language.
Scientists in France devised a new method to uncover the original writing, separating out the chemical composition of different inks used on historical documents. They tested their method by analyzing the private letters between the French queen and the Swedish count, which are housed in the French national archives.
That allowed them to read the original words and even identify the person who scratched them out — Fersen himself.
Trump Seeks Reinstatement of Twitter Account in Court Filing
Donald Trump asked a federal judge to force Twitter to temporarily reinstate his account while he sues to permanently return to the social media network.
Trump’s request for a preliminary injunction against Twitter was filed late Friday in Miami, Florida… [claiming] Twitter canceled his account in January under pressure from his political rivals in Congress. […]
Trump also claims Twitter improperly censored him during his presidency by labeling his tweets as “misleading information” or indicating they violated the company’s rules against “glorifying violence.”
That Uber or Lyft Trip May Be Worse for the Planet Than Driving Yourself
A decade ago, Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. charged into cities with a promise: By reducing personal car trips, ride-hailing businesses could both ease traffic and bolster the use of public transit. What happened was the reverse: A host of pre-pandemic research linked the rise of these services to sharp upticks in traffic and waning ridership on buses and trains.
Now a new study puts a price on the external costs that come with switching from a personal vehicle to one from a transportation network company (or TNC): about 35 cents per trip on average. And it finds that even a fully electrified fleet of ride-hailing cars may not fully mitigate the extra toll they exact on society compared to driving yourself.
“Even if you clean up the vehicles, it’s still not going to solve the problem of all the extra driving, which still costs others on the road,” said Jeremy J. Michalek, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the study authors.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Multimillionaire U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson paid a mere $2,105 in state income taxes in 2017, despite making big bucks
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has pushed back on any suggestion that wealthy individuals, such as himself, should be paying more in income taxes. […]
But … how did a multimillionaire like Johnson, who makes $174,000 a year as a U.S. senator, pay only a couple of thousand dollars in state income taxes just a few years back?
To be exact, state records say Johnson, an Oshkosh Republican, paid Wisconsin a total of $2,105 in state income taxes for 2017. […]
Johnson's staff isn't saying.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jimmy Carter, oldest living former president, turns 97
It is rarified air that Jimmy Carter has been in for a while now.
On Friday, when Carter turns 97, he further solidifies his standing as the oldest living president in the history of the United States. Born in Plains, Georgia in 1924, it is a record set by a peanut farmer and Nobel Peace Prize winner that might never get broken.
The Dallas Morning News
Unvaccinated employees ‘will not be able to work at American Airlines’
American Airlines leaders told employees Friday that they will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to remain employed due to the White House mandate for federal contractors.
In a letter to employees, the company said that because of its agreements with the U.S. government, the company will have to abide by the White House’s vaccine mandate for all federal contractors and “that all of American’s U.S.-based team members and certain international crew members [must] be vaccinated, without the provision of a regular testing alternative.
“While we are still working through the details of the federal requirements, it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines,” said the letter from CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom.
DHS compiled intelligence reports on protesters arrested in Portland without legal justification, report finds
Federal Homeland Security officers compiled intelligence and background reports — dubbed “baseball cards” — on people arrested by federal authorities in Portland during protests last summer, despite their charges being unrelated to homeland security threats, according to an internal review made public Friday.
Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said the report confirmed “stunning incompetence, mismanagement and abuse of power” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under … Donald Trump’s administration.
The review followed reports last year that the Homeland Security department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis had collected and shared information with federal law enforcement agencies on two journalists — a reporter for the New York Times and editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — who were covering protests in Portland.
Lawyer Steven Donziger gets six-month sentence for contempt in Chevron battle
Steven Donziger, the US indigenous rights campaigner and lawyer who spent decades battling the energy firm Chevron over pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on Friday for criminal contempt charges arising from a lawsuit brought by the oil giant.
Donziger, who was disbarred from practicing law in New York last year, was found guilty in May of defying court orders, including by failing to turn over his computer and other electronic devices.
Friday’s sentence, handed down by federal judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan, came a day after he asked the court to consider an opinion by independent United Nations experts that found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years was a violation of international human rights law.
Almost half a million US households lack indoor plumbing: ‘The conditions are inhumane’
[…] Almost half a million American households lack basic indoor plumbing, with renters and people of color in some of the country’s wealthiest and fastest growing cities most likely to be living without running water or flushing toilets, new research reveals.
While some rural and indigenous communities have never had indoor plumbing, the vast majority of unplumbed Americans are in fact found in urban areas, with one in three affected households living in just 15 cities, according to research by the Plumbing Poverty Project (PPP), a collaboration between King’s College London (KCL) and the University of Arizona. […]
Plumbing poverty, like all hardships in the US, is racialized: as of 2017, Black people made up 9% of San Francisco’s population but accounted for 17% of households without indoor plumbing.
Factories struggling as supply constraints hit, costs rise
Global manufacturing activity took a big hit from supply chain bottlenecks and escalating costs, exacerbated by pandemic-induced factory shutdowns in Asia and signs of slowing Chinese growth, surveys showed on Friday.
While countries where outbreaks of the Delta coronavirus variant receded saw an improvement in activity, growth shrank in some as chip shortages and supply disruptions impacted those still struggling to shake off the hit from COVID-19. […]
China's waning economic momentum dealt a fresh blow to the region's growth prospects, with the official PMI on Thursday showing the country's factory activity unexpectedly shrank in September due to wider curbs on electricity use.
Lawyers criticize Mexican government for releasing texts in student kidnap case
Lawyers for relatives of 43 student teachers who disappeared in southern Mexico seven years ago criticized the government's disclosure on Friday of conversations between alleged criminals and authorities linked to the case.
The students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014, in the state of Guerrero. The remains of only three of the students have been positively identified.
Malawi court sentences Chinese wildlife trafficking kingpin to 14 years in jail
Malawi’s illegal wildlife trade crackdown has earned a Chinese national 14 years in jail.
Yunhua Lin, considered the lynchpin of a notorious wildlife trafficking cartel operating across in Southern Africa, was convicted in June of the illegal trade in wildlife parts, illegal possession of firearms, and possession of illegal drugs.
At Lin’s sentencing at the Magistrate Court of Lilongwe on Sept. 28, Judge Violet Chipao called him a “mastermind” and dismissed his lawyers’ argument that he was merely the recipient of illegally obtained wildlife products.
Taiwan scrambles jets after largest ever incursion by China
Taiwan has reported the largest ever incursion by the Chinese air force into its air defence zone, with 38 aircraft flying in two waves as Beijing marked the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
Qatar calls Taliban moves on girls education ‘very disappointing’
Qatar’s top diplomat says the Taliban’s moves on girls’ education in Afghanistan are “very disappointing” and “a step backwards”, and called on the group’s leadership to look to Doha for how to run an Islamic system.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani was referring to, among other things, the Taliban’s refusal to allow Afghan female secondary school students to resume their studies, weeks after the group took power.
Covid threat looms over Thailand's plans to open up to tourists
Back in mid-June, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha surprised everyone by promising to reopen the country to foreign tourists by October. […] But true to his word, the great reopening appears to have begun, albeit with only very modest steps. […]
Fully-vaccinated tourists will now be quarantined for just one week instead of two. Further minor relaxations are expected in November. This is welcome news for the battered hospitality industry, but hardly sufficient to get the visitors pouring back in.
Why is the Thai government proceeding so cautiously?
The simple answer is vaccines and the limited number of ICU beds.
Mali's plan for Russia mercenaries to replace French troops unsettles Sahel
There is deep international concern over Mali's discussions with the controversial Russian private military company, the Wagner group, but many Malians feel the Russians cannot replace French troops soon enough. […]
About 55 French soldiers and several hundreds of Malians have been killed.
Enraged by the deepening insecurity, Malians hold regular protests against the French military and accuse them of failing to make any difference in the fight against the jihadists. They call the presence of French soldiers an occupation, and demand their speedy exit.
Many are happy for the Russians to replace them. […]
Prime Minister Maiga has said elections could be postponed. A military partnership between Mali and its neighbours to tackle jihadist groups in the region, the G5-Sahel states, could also come under strain.
Brexit didn’t create the UK’s fuel crisis. But it did make it worse.
Cars are lined up, sometimes for hours, as drivers wait to fill up their tanks. Pumps are out of gas. Fights are breaking out at petrol stations. And traffic is down to Covid-19 lockdown levels, as the United Kingdom is in the grip of a fuel crisis.
A combination of factors are driving (heh) the United Kingdom’s fuel — or petrol, as it’s called — shortage. […]
Why people were panic-buying gas in the first place is a bit more complicated. It’s not because of a national lack of fuel or gas. The UK has enough supply. It’s because there is a shortage of truck drivers able to deliver it.
Big Business Is Bankrolling an Effort to Kill the Democratic Climate Bill
Four years ago, when … Donald Trump announced that he would take the United States out of the Paris Agreement, the world’s largest companies leapt into action.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, personally beseeched Trump to remain in the pact. Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, resigned from a White House advisory council in protest. Goldman Sachs’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, sent his first-ever tweet just to denounce the exit. Within days, hundreds of U.S. companies had signed their own Paris Agreement pledge, promising to cut their climate pollution more than 26 percent by 2025, as compared with 2005 levels.
Today, many of those same companies—including Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Nike, Target, and dozens of others—are funding efforts to kill the Democratic reconciliation bill, which contains significant climate provisions that would allow the U.S. to meet its Paris Agreement goals.
This campaign is a quieter one. The companies are financing it through their membership fees in pro-business trade groups such as the Business Roundtable, a coalition of CEOs that lobbies for corporate-friendly policy.
Babies are full of microplastics, new research shows
Worrying research finds that babies have 15 times more microplastics in their bodies than adults. […]
The researchers believe that the way babies are consuming such high levels of microplastics is through chew-toys like dummies and from crawling around on carpets that contain microplastics.
This Saildrone Footage Inside a Category 4 Storm Will Make You Seasick
There are few places I’d rather be less than the eye of a Category 4 storm in the middle of the ocean. But I have always been curious to know what it would be like, what with monster waves, squalls of rain, and whipping winds turning the ocean into a frothy mess.
Now, I don’t have to imagine it, nor do you. Saildrone, a company that has a fleet of autonomous vehicles roving the ocean, sent one of its drones into the maw of Hurricane Sam equipped with sensors and an HD camera. The resulting footage has confirmed my suspicions that a Category 4 storm at sea is a terrible place to be. But the drone’s images and data are also key tools for researchers looking to better understand storms. Our past few hurricane seasons have been waking nightmares, illustrating why it’s never been more important to improve the forecast and provide more timely warnings.
Senators slam Facebook, say it’s using Big Tobacco playbook to hook kids
Senators spent three hours yesterday grilling Facebook’s head of global safety, Antigone Davis, as she attempted to defend the company’s approach to handling the mental wellbeing of children who use its services.
“Facebook has taken Big Tobacco’s playbook,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. “It has hidden its own research on addiction and the toxic effects of its products, it has attempted to deceive the public and us in Congress about what it knows, and it has weaponized childhood vulnerabilities against children themselves.”
The hearings come on the heels of a Wall Street Journal investigation that revealed that Facebook has been sitting on a cache of research that shows just how harmful its products can be for children under the age of 18. The whistleblower documents, which also have been turned over to Congress, offer “deep insight into Facebook’s relentless campaign to recruit and exploit young users,” Blumenthal said.