Senate Confirms Florence Pan to DC District Court, Becoming Its First Asian-American Woman Judge
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Florence Pan, a judge on the D.C. Superior Court, to sit on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
President Barack Obama previously tapped Pan for the D.C. trial court, but the full Senate did not take up her nomination. On Thursday, she was confirmed to the bench on a 68-30 vote.
Pan is the first Asian-American woman to sit on the D.C. federal court. She fills the vacancy created by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Democrats see tax ‘framework’ to pay for huge $3.5T package
The White House and congressional Democrats have agreed to a framework of options to pay for their huge, emerging social and environment bill, top Democrats said Thursday. Now they face the daunting task of narrowing the menu to tax possibilities they can pass to fund President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced the progress as Biden administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders negotiated behind the scenes. The package aims to rewrite tax and spending priorities to expand programs for Americans of all ages, while upping efforts to tackle income inequality and fight climate change.
Staring down a self-imposed Monday deadline, lawmakers said they would work nonstop to find agreement on specifics. Democrats’ views on those vary widely, though they largely agree with Biden’s idea of raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to fund the package.
Haaland: Petito case a reminder of missing Native Americans
Speaking in personal terms, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said extensive news media coverage of the disappearance and death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito while on a cross-country trip should be a reminder of hundreds of Native American girls and women who are missing or murdered in the United States.
Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary, said that her heart goes out to Petito’s family, but that she also grieves for “so many Indigenous women″ whose families have endured similar heartache “for the last 500 years.″
The search for Petito generated a whirlwind of news coverage, especially on cable television, as well as a frenzy of online sleuthing, with tips, possible sightings and theories shared by the hundreds of thousands on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. The Florida woman, who disappeared while on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, was found dead at the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Authorities have determined she was a homicide victim.
‘Vaccine apartheid’: Africans tell UN they need vaccines
As wealthy countries begin to consider whether to offer their populations a third COVID-19 shot, African nations still waiting for their first gave this stark reminder to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday: “No one is safe unless we are all safe.”
That message was repeated throughout the day as the inequity of vaccine distribution came into sharp focus. As of mid-September, fewer than 4% of Africans have been fully immunized and most of the 5.7 billion vaccine doses administered around the world have been given in just 10 rich countries.
Chad’s president Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno warned of the dangers of leaving countries behind.
“The virus doesn’t know continents, borders, even less nationalities or social statuses,” Itno told the General Assembly. “The countries and regions that aren’t vaccinated will be a source of propagating and developing new variants of the virus. In this regard, we welcome the repeated appeals of the United Nations secretary general and the director general of the (World Health Organization) in favor of access to the vaccine for all. The salvation of humanity depends on it.”
The Latest: Florida school district gets cash over mask vote
A Florida school district has received cash from President Joe Biden’s administration to make up for state pay cuts imposed over a board’s vote for a student anti-coronavirus mask mandate.
Alachua County school Superintendent Carlee Simon said in a news release Thursday the district has received $148,000 through a U.S. Department of Education program.
Simon says Alachua, where Gainesville and the University of Florida are located, is the first district in the nation to receive such a grant.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials have begun cutting salaries paid to school board members in Florida who voted to require masks for students. DeSantis favors allowing parents to decide whether their children wear face coverings and is in the midst of court battles over this broader issue.
Its relevance at stake, UN reaches toward a new generation
At the United Nations this week, the pandemic-era rules of engagement for General Assembly week are strict. Entourage sizes are tightly regulated, and there are no exceptions for kings, presidents or other “excellencies.” Yet somehow, in the middle of it all, the U.N. made room to fully embrace the diplomatic soft power of seven young Korean pop stars.
While the mega-popular BTS may croon that they don’t need “Permission to Dance,” the decision to allow the K-pop band to both give a serious speech to world leaders and film a sunny new music video at the U.N.’s distinctive headquarters was another of the many signs that the elders are ready — eager, even — to turn to young people for diplomacy and relevance.
In this era of kid icons and social media activism, the contrast was evident: globally cherished musical juggernaut fronted by the youthful South Korean men in perfect makeup on one hand, and the famously bureaucratic — stodgy, even — 76-year-old diplomatic institution built in the aftermath of WWII on the other.
I thought the UN story was an important read. ^^^
Met season to open with first-ever opera by Black composer
Charles Blow recalls being in the audience at the premiere of the opera based on his memoir, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” and watching the scene that depicts his sexual abuse as a child by an older cousin.
“To be honest,” he said, “it was more uncomfortable watching everybody watching me. Because they were so unnerved by it they worried about my reaction.”
They needn’t have been concerned, Blow said in an interview. “When I wrote the book I’d already dealt with all that,” he said. “I don’t have the residual trauma that a lot of people expect me to have.”
Blow, a columnist for The New York Times, will again be in the audience when the opera opens the Metropolitan Opera season on Sept. 27. It will be the first operatic performance in the house since the pandemic shutdown 18 months ago.
US jobless claims tick up from near a pandemic low
The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week for a second straight week to 351,000, a sign that the delta variant of the coronavirus may be disrupting the job market’s recovery, at least temporarily.
Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose by 16,000 from the previous week. As the job market has strengthened, unemployment aid applications, which generally track layoffs, have tumbled since topping 900,000 early this year, reflecting the economy’s reopening after the pandemic recession. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week swings, registered its sixth straight drop — to a pandemic low of 336,000.
Jobless claims still remain somewhat elevated: Before the virus tore through the economy in March 2020, they generally numbered about 220,000 a week.
Kansas AG aides attended ‘war games’ summit where group planned response to Biden win
Two top aides in Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office traveled last year to a summit where staffers of conservative attorneys general participated in “war games” to plan how they might respond to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Records obtained by Kansas Reflector show the two aides — Clint Blaes and Jeff Chanay — were approved to travel to Atlanta for a summit of senior staff members of attorneys general offices put on by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a group associated with the Republican Attorneys General Association. The group paid for the two aides’ expenses.
And while the travel authorization records from Schmidt’s office referred to the event as training, records obtained by a former Democratic candidate for attorney general in Missouri show the September event included a “huddle” referred to as “war games,” where attendees planned how they might respond if Donald Trump lost re-election. It’s not clear what discussions Blaes and Chanay participated in.
Mississippi Free Press
Gov. Tate Reeves’ Failure To Mandate Masks In K-12 Schools Is Child Abuse
Gov. Tate Reeves is picking public fights with President Joe Biden to distract the people from his utter failure to properly manage the reopening of schools during the delta wave.
Reeves seeks to distract Mississippians from the consequences of his refusal to enact a statewide school mask mandate. The fact is, our governor failed to protect our children when they needed it the most.
Tate Reeves’ cruel failure constitutes a kind of child abuse. It’s reckless endangerment of the most vulnerable right now—our children—100% of whom under 12 cannot be vaccinated. This is nearly all children in elementary and middle schools. Shame on him.
Do not let Gov. Reeves distract you from the hard truth: If your child caught COVID or had to be quarantined from exposure to the virus in the first six weeks of school, you’d only have Tate Reeves to blame.
'Give me my food:' Woman pulls gun while in line at Philadelphia Chipotle
A woman was caught on video as she pulled a gun out of her purse while standing in line at a Chipotle in Philadelphia's Rhawnhurst section.
According to police, the incident happened on Saturday evening at the restaurant at 2337 Cottman Avenue.
It all unfolded when the cashier told customers they had to close the store due to a staffing shortage. The cashier told customers they had to order their food online.
The woman took the gun out of her bag and told the worker if someone didn't make her food, that there would be a problem, police said.
Judge says Florida ban on 'sanctuary cities' unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled that a Florida law banning municipalities from adopting "sanctuary" policies for immigrants in the U.S. illegally is unconstitutional, with her decision relying in part on support for the law among "anti-immigrant hate groups."
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami said in a 110-page ruling on Tuesday the 2019 law championed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.
Bloom had held a six-day bench trial in January on the lawsuit, which was brought by the City of South Miami and several advocacy and nonprofit groups.
Friends Of Earth News
New Report reveals Big Oil’s $86B offshore tax bonanza
A new report from Friends of the Earth, Oxfam America, and BailoutWatch shines a light on $86 billion worth of offshore tax loopholes benefiting Big Oil. The report provides fresh details about the history and potential cost of these subsidies, which are embedded deep in the tax code.
Fossil fuel subsidies like these are a hot topic for climate and justice groups, who see the misspent funds as low-hanging fruit that could help pay for Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion climate and care reconciliation package.
Recent legislation passed by the House Ways and Means Committee would eliminate two subsidies addressed in the new report: the exemption for Foreign Oil and Gas Extraction Income (FOGEI) and special treatment for dual-capacity taxpayers, worth at least $86 billion to just a handful of oil majors. Unfortunately, the legislation left intact at least another $35 billion in domestic fossil fuel subsidies that President Biden proposes ending, some of which are over a century old. Alternative proposals in the Senate like Chairman Wyden’s Clean Energy For America Act would address both domestic and international polluter giveaways.
Donald Trump Georgia Rally Tickets Going for $1,500 With Perks Like Private Bathrooms
VIP tickets to an upcoming event in Georgia featuring former President Donald Trump are going for $1,500 each and will come with perks like private bathrooms and food and beverage.
Trump is set to appear at an event with former Governor Sonny Perdue ahead of his appearance in Perry, Georgia this weekend.
A copy of the invitation obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that donors could purchase individual tickets for $1,500 or couples tickets priced at $2,500 to the "unique and exclusive" event.
NYC congressional leaders urge increased oversight of Rikers
New York lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expressing frustration with the situation at Rikers Island, with some members of the delegation eying a potential federal response to the conditions at the sprawling city jail.
What that response would look like remains unclear.
Bronx Congressman Ritchie Torres, who argued there might need to be a federal intervention, said the U.S. Department of Justice would “certainly have the authority” to conduct an investigation of whether the civil rights of inmates and detainees are being violated.
“The situation is not only unacceptable, but I suspect it's illegal,” Torres said. “It’s a violation of civil rights.”
Housing among biggest concerns for Terrebonne communities recovering from Hurricane Ida
Out in Chauvin, Melissa and Kimothy Guy wade through muddy water to get to their water-damaged home. It’s been 23 days since Hurricane Ida hit, and they’ve been driving in from Thibodaux every morning to work on fixing their trawl boat, hoping to make it livable–it’s an easier project than their house, which had the roof completely torn off.
Kimothy said there was no other option for them. He’s lived on the bayou for 53 years and won’t move now, though he said this is the worst he’s ever seen.
“I live on the water, I’m a commercial fisherman,” Kimothy said. “Put me on land, I won’t know what to do. I need water to work. That’s all we do, fix yourself back up and survive. That’s all we can do, we don’t have anything else. We grew up to do that, that’s what our daddies and grandfathers did.”
U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigns over repatriation of Haitians from U.S.-Mexico border
Harshly criticizing what he called the United States’ “inhumane” treatment of Haitian migrants and its policy toward Haiti, Daniel Foote, the U.S. diplomat whose reputation for working in some of the world’s most challenging environments led the Biden administration to name him special envoy to Haiti, has resigned.
In a strongly worded resignation letter dated Wednesday, the veteran diplomat criticized the U.S. decision to repatriate thousands of Haitians from the U.S.-Mexico border over the past few days.
“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the dangers posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,” Foote said.
The White House
What Is the Average Federal Individual Income Tax Rate on the Wealthiest Americans?
Abstract: We estimate the average Federal individual income tax rate paid by America’s 400 wealthiest families, using a relatively comprehensive measure of their income that includes income from unsold stock. We do so using publicly available statistics from the IRS Statistics of Income Division, the Survey of Consumer Finances, and Forbes magazine. In our primary analysis, we estimate an average Federal individual income tax rate of 8.2 percent for the period 2010-2018. We also present sensitivity analyses that yield estimates in the 6-12 percent range. The President’s proposals mitigate two key contributors to the low estimated rate: preferential tax rates on capital gains and dividend income, and wealthy families’ ability to avoid paying income tax on capital gains through a provision known as stepped-up basis.
When an American earns a dollar of wages, that dollar is taxed immediately at ordinary income tax rates. But when they gain a dollar because their stocks increase in value, that dollar is taxed at a low preferred rate, or never at all. Investment gains are a primary source of income for the wealthy, making this preferential treatment of investment gains a valuable benefit for the wealthiest Americans. Yet the most common estimates of tax rates do not fully capture the value of this tax benefit because they use an incomplete measure of income. This analysis asks: what was the average Federal individual income tax rate paid by the 400 wealthiest American families’ in recent years, determined using a more comprehensive measure of income?
San Jose Spotlight
UPDATE: San Jose committee recommends mental health, gun safety proposals
Nine people died at a May mass shooting at VTA’s Guadalupe light rail yard. A new proposal from a San Jose councilmember wants to make sure another tragedy doesn’t happen again.
Councilmember Raul Peralez unveiled a sweeping plan Wednesday aimed at evaluating workplace culture among city employees and reducing gun violence.
Peralez wants the city to examine workplace culture among its employees and encourage them to participate in work-provided mental health services. He also wants the city to partner with Santa Clara County to further develop the county’s newly-approved trauma center and an audit of city gun policies.
The Rules and Open Government Committee unanimously voted in favor of Peralez’s proposal Wednesday. It will go before the City Council at a later date, and officials will work with the county and the San Jose Police Department to get data on gun-related suicides and homicides.
H/T to GlenthePlumber ^^^^
EPA to Sharply Limit Refrigerant Production in New Climate Rule
In a move to combat global warming, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday that it will restrict U.S. production and use of hydrofluorocarbons by 85% over the next 15 years.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases often used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and they are vastly more powerful than carbon dioxide. These gases can leak into the air through pipes or appliances that use refrigerants, and contribute to global warming,
White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, a former EPA administrator, told the Associated Press that the new rule was a "win on climate and a win on jobs and American competitiveness."
Good News Network
Listen to Millions of Monarch Butterflies Make One of the Rarest Sounds on Earth: ‘Just like a waterfall’
Monarch butterflies, fluttering in their millions on 3,000-mile journeys, as luminous as stained glass. Seeing them mass migrate is one of the world’s great spectacles. But what about hearing them?
Phil Torres of the YouTube channel The Jungle Diaries has recorded the sounds of millions of endangered monarchs as they warm up, then flap their bright wings along branches and on leaves and up tree trunks in the Mexican rainforest.