Whined & Fined
December 3, 2021
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For all of our wonderful Sunday readers: there will not be a new edition this weekend.
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin
Congress managed to pass a short-term funding bill Thursday evening to keep the government operating until February 18. The stopgap measure has no changes to existing funding or policy, other than the inclusion of $7 billion in aid to Afghanistan evacuees that would be divvied up among the Departments of Defense, State, and Health and Human Services.
Senate Republicans had threatened to torpedo the continuing resolution passed by the House earlier Thursday, but a deal was cut to avert a shutdown. Under the deal, the Senate first voted on an amendment from conservatives to defund President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate for large private-sector employers. Democrats agreed to allow the amendment vote at a simple-majority threshold, meaning if every Republican and one Democrat voted for the amendment, it would be added to the funding bill. Recalcitrant Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) had suggested he might vote with Republicans. Ultimately the amendment failed 48-50, with two Republican senators absent. The funding resolution then passed 69-28 and was sent to the president’s desk.
Experts have argued for months that current coronavirus vaccines, proven to be vastly effective in preventing serious illness and death, should be accompanied by masks and testing, especially as new variants keep cropping up. With the possibility of a winter surge in cases, Biden laid out a new pandemic strategy Thursday that includes hundreds of vaccination sites aimed at families, boosters for all adults, new testing requirements for international travelers, and free at-home tests that will be covered by private insurers or available at community health centers.
But for those determined to see Biden fail, just opposing vaccine mandates isn’t enough; the purveyors of division continue disseminating disinformation and diabolical diatribe, even as it harms their own supporters. Fox News tacitly promotes abominable assertions like those spouted by host, Lara Logan, who compared Dr. Anthony Fauci’s public health record to that of WWII’s “Angel of Death,” infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. The comparison would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive – Fauci urges individuals to take steps to protect their own health, whereas Mengele performed despicable experiments on unwilling Auschwitz prisoners, including children.
Marcus Lamb was a prominent televangelist, founder of Texas-based Christian Daystar Television Network, and an influential anti-vaccine advocate. Lamb often spoke against Covid-19 vaccines on his show, calling them an “experimental shot” that was “dangerous.” Lamb’s wife and children frequently appeared on the decades-old network that reportedly reached over 108 million households. The Lambs repeatedly questioned the efficacy of the vaccines, warning that they killed people, or caused them to have neurological disorders. Instead of getting vaccinated, Lamb would say, “we can pray” and use alternatives like the animal anti-parasite drug Ivermectin. But in mid-November, Lamb contracted the virus, and on Tuesday, he died. (NYT, WaPo, CNN)
Judo Champion’s Abuser Freed
- (TW: domestic violence) A 27-year-old French woman and Olympic judo champion Margaux Pinot filed a domestic violence complaint against Alain Schmitt, 38, her partner and judo trainer, accusing him of punching and attempting to strangle her during an altercation over the weekend. She said she escaped to neighbors, who called the police.
- She was taken to a hospital and treated for facial cuts and other injuries, including a broken nose. Schmitt was arrested, but at a preliminary hearing Wednesday, he called the allegations “100% false.” He said he’d been drinking before going to Pinot’s home, where an argument started and she “threw herself on me.” He described a violent struggle during which the pair banged into walls, a radiator, and a door.
- In a stunningly quixotic statement, the flummoxed judge said: “A court is never there to tell who is telling the truth and who is lying,” before ruling there wasn’t “enough proof of guilt” for the case to proceed. After the hearing, Pinot tweeted a picture of her injuries and asked: “What was missing? My death at the end, perhaps?” Prosecutors plan to appeal. (BBC)
Stay In Your Haus
- Germany’s national and regional leaders have agreed to bar unvaccinated people from much of public life in a bid to fend off the country’s fourth wave of Covid-19, its most severe so far with another 388 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours. Henceforth, only those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid will be allowed in restaurants, cinemas, leisure facilities, and many shops.
- Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said hospitals were already stretched to the point of patients having to be moved to different areas for treatment. She described these latest measures as an act of “national solidarity,” and added that vaccinations could be made mandatory by February. There is also growing concern about the spread of the Omicron variant, which E.U. health officials warn is likely to cause over half of all Covid cases in the next few months. (BBC)
Additional World News
- Paris archbishop who had ‘ambiguous’ relationship resigns (AP)
- Facebook uncovers Chinese network behind fake expert (BBC)
- Iran says nuclear deal ‘within reach’ if West shows goodwill (Al Jazeera)
- Japan drops ban on inbound flight bookings after confusion (Reuters)
- Omicron may cause more Covid reinfections, say South African experts (Guardian)
- Erdogan picks low-rates champion as finance minister as Turkish lira skids (Reuters)
- Sebastian Kurz, former Austrian Chancellor, says he’s leaving politics (CNN)
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- So if you’re tired of the same old granola bars or greasy potato chips, try Goodfish for the next time you’re craving a snack. Use code PNUT20 for 20% off Goodfish.
A Stream Of Income
- The Biden administration announced Thursday that the first major infusion of federal cash from the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law is on its way to states to overhaul the country’s aging water infrastructure and dangerous lead pipes. The Environmental Protection Agency will distribute $7.4 billion to states, tribes, and territories for 2022, to be focused on water infrastructure grants and loan forgiveness.
- The money includes $2.9 billion specifically earmarked to replace lead pipes. Another $866 million will be designated to deal with “forever chemicals” and other water contaminants that threaten the drinking water supply. The funding is part of a broader $50 billion investment in water infrastructure, which will be doled out over five years. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said it’s the “single largest investment in water infrastructure” in the history of the federal government. (NBC)
Whined & Fined
- At a November 19, 2020 news conference, pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell claimed without evidence that electronic voting systems in Michigan had switched millions of ballots to the winner of the presidential election, Joe Biden. Powell and other Trump-aligned attorneys later sued the state of Michigan.
- In December, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker dismissed the lawsuit and formally requested that disciplinary bodies investigate whether the pro-Trump lawyers should have their law licenses revoked. The judge also ordered the lawyers to attend classes on the ethical and legal requirements for filing legal claims. In August 2021, Parker ruled Powell and the other pro-Trump lawyers should be sanctioned, but delayed the dollar amount of a fine until later.
- “Later” came on Thursday, with Parker ordering the attorneys to pay $175,000 to the state of Michigan and the City of Detroit to compensate for the time government lawyers spent defending against the frivolous lawsuit. “Plaintiffs’ attorneys filed this lawsuit without conducting the required degree of diligence as to the truth of the allegations made or the merits of the legal claims asserted,” Parker said in Thursday’s order. (Reuters)
Additional USA News
- Two more Harris press aides leaving in addition to Sanders (The Hill)
- Abortion rights advocates vow to fight on after supreme court hearing (Guardian)
- Data breach affects 400,000 Planned Parenthood patients in LA (LAT, $)
- It’s December and it hasn’t snowed in Denver yet. That’s never been recorded (CNN)
- Revealed: how Sidney Powell could be disbarred for lying in court for Trump (Guardian)
- Marjorie Taylor Greene, in feud with Nancy Mace on Islamophobia, launches personal attack over abortion (WaPo, $)
- Republicans boost benefits for workers who quit over vaccine mandates (Guardian)
As Luck Would Have It
- It’s interesting hearing about people who just had a “feeling” and wound up collecting a bunch of money. A 38-year-old Maryland man said he sometimes plays the lottery’s Pick 3, Powerball, and Keno games, but he doesn’t usually care for scratch-off tickets. That changed recently when a “feeling” told him he should buy a scratch-off from The Corner Pub in Hagerstown. “I have no idea why, but I kept thinking about scratch-off tickets,” the man recalled. “I had a $5 bill in my hand and picked out the first $5 ticket I saw.” The man took his ticket, a $5 Multiplier Money game, home, where it revealed he’d won $50,000. The man couldn’t believe his eyes, and said he had trouble sleeping that night. The Corner Pub got a $500 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
- Then, there’s the Missouri couple who were buying groceries from the Short Stop Convenience store in Potosi when they decided to purchase a Big Riches scratch-off ticket. “I just had this feeling,” one of them said. The pair scratched the ticket off in the store and uncovered a major prize. “We started scratching the ticket and saw we had won $100,000,” one of the spouses said. “We kept scratching, and they were all $100,000!” The ticket was worth a total of $3 million, but you could say the “feeling” was priceless.
- A 49-year-old North Carolina man didn’t mention any feeling he had. He just couldn’t remember if he’d already bought a ticket for Saturday’s Lucky for Life drawing. “I was just lying in bed watching a basketball game on TV, and I couldn’t remember if I filled it out or not,” the man said. “I went ahead and filled it out again, and the next morning my son asked why there were two different amounts listed. I realized, ‘I think I filled it out twice.’”
- The man, who bought both of his $2 tickets online, ended up winning a $25,000 a year for life prize with each ticket. “When I realized I won, I had to lie down on the floor because I really just couldn’t believe it,” he said. He chose to take both of his prizes as one-time, lump-sum payments — a total payout of $780,000. It’s been said that money doesn’t buy someone happiness, but we have a feeling that maybe that person just doesn’t know where to shop. (UPI)
- Germany: Burglars knock hole in wall to steal Lego bricks (AP)
- Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wins latest court battle with Mail on Sunday publisher (CNN)
- Researchers discover skull of deadly, fast swordfish-like reptile with a 3-foot-long skull (USA Today)
- This Drone Uses Piercing Talons to Perch—or Snatch Things (Wired)
- Astronomers find a new planet that’s mostly made of iron (NPR)
- The Twitter Wildfire Watcher Who Tracks California’s Blazes (Wired)
- Drought Study on Madagascar Underlines Complexity of Climate (NYT, $)
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