A Bundle Of Funds
January 7, 2022
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Worth A Shot
In December, Governor Gavin Newsom said something that liberals don’t often say – he’d be taking a page out of Texas’s lawbook. He called upon California’s state legislature and Attorney General Rob Bonta to create a law modeled after Texas’s abortion law, which bans abortions after six weeks and also encourages private citizens to sue anyone suspected of aiding in the procurement of an abortion. Those who sue, and win, can get $10,000 plus their court fees reimbursed.
The Supreme Court decided to allow the law to go into effect, and Gov. Newsom responded by announcing that he would take advantage of the situation and allow Californians a similar opportunity to go after gun manufacturers. On Tuesday, he reiterated his thoughts, with his spokesman saying, “So long as the United States Supreme Court has set a precedent which allows private citizens to sue to stop abortions in Texas, California will use that same ability to save lives.”
Assembly Bill 1594 does just that. Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco explained that state and local governments, along with gun violence survivors or the families of victims, would be able to sue “irresponsible, reckless or negligent gun manufacturers, importers and dealers.” The proposal is similar to a 2021 New York gun control law but still “gets at the spirit of what the governor called for.” Federal law mostly shields manufacturers and sellers from being sued, but a loophole leaves them still liable under state regulations. California requires background checks, and is very strict about sales to people prohibited from owning firearms. The law, which is being pushed by Ting and two other Democrats, holds sellers and manufacturers accountable for creating a “public nuisance” if their products are used in a shooting.
On top of this, Assemblyman Mike Gipson said he will introduce a second bill this week that focuses on assault weapons and “ghost gun” distributors through private legal action, another aspect that Newsom specifically requested. Gipson said, “If we can sue car dealers, if we can sue lawyers for malpractice, if we can sue a barrage of individuals, why should not the people of this state of California have the same ability to sue a gun manufacturer?” While the move is likely to garner major support, especially in a pro-gun-control state like California, it may also open the state up to challenges for not only this law, but other laws already in existence, because gun rights are explicitly written into the Constitution. (LAT, $)
Not France-ing Around The Subject
- In a strongly-worded public message, President Emmanuel Macron of France said Wednesday that he wished to “piss off” millions of French citizens who refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccine by barring them from public spaces. Using his harshest language yet, Macron announced that he would not imprison or force vaccinations on people, but would make the lives of the unvaccinated much more difficult.
- Coming just three months before presidential elections in France, Macron relayed both a public health and political message, tapping into the growing public anger against unvaccinated citizens. Despite more than 77% of French people having received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, a sense of unrest against the unvaccinated has continued to grow.
- Similar issues have infected other European countries such as Germany and Austria, though their leaders have been more hesitant to confront groups opposed to vaccinations. By contrast, in France, Macron has steadfastly stuck to a policy of vaccinating as many people as possible. (NYT, $)
A Si-Silly Mistake
- After being on the run for 20 years, Italian mafia boss Gioacchino Gammino was caught in a Spanish town after being spotted on Google Street View. Gammino, a convicted murderer listed among Italy’s most wanted gangsters, was arrested in Galapagar where he had created a new life for himself, having gotten married, changed his name to Manuel, worked as a chef, and owned a fruit and vegetable shop.
- Sicilian police carried out several investigations and a European arrest warrant was issued in 2014, but the most unlikely tool was crucial in the final steps of their operation to arrest Gammino. Gammino was arrested on December 17th, 2021, but the details surrounding his capture did not come to light until they were reported by La Repubblica on Wednesday.
- After 20 years in hiding, Gammino thought he had managed to sever all his ties with Sicily. Upon his arrest, he reportedly told police: “How did you find me? I haven’t even called my family for 10 years!” A trend has begun forming around criminals being caught using various sites on the world-wide web. In March last year, Mark Feren Claude Biart was captured in the Caribbean after making an appearance in multiple YouTube videos. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Hong Kong bans flights from US and 7 other countries (NPR)
- Italy extends COVID vaccine mandate to everyone over 50 (Reuters)
- What next for Sudan after PM Hamdok’s resignation? (Al Jazeera)
- Czechs want tweaks to nuclear and gas conditions in EU green plan (Reuters)
- Australia, Japan to sign ‘historic’ defense, security pact (AP)
- Covid: Pre-departure travel tests to be scrapped (BBC)
- Rio cancels Carnival street parades due to rising COVID-19 cases, Omicron threat (Reuters)
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A Hard Lesson
- Chicago Public Schools saw classrooms shuttered on Wednesday and Thursday after the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday night to stop in-person instruction due to COVID-19 surges across the city and country. According to the CTU, 73% of its 25,000 members voted to resume remote learning for safety reasons. City leaders called the union vote an illegal job action and warned that teachers who didn’t show up to work Wednesday would not receive pay.
- Classes closed Thursday as well, but schools hope to reopen Friday. Union officials and city leaders were still working out an agreement late Thursday, but both sides looked to stick to their guns. Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Pedro Martinez stated, “We’ve got to continue to be the champions for in person instruction,” while CTU President Jesse Sharkey countered, “If you want to get us back into schools quicker, provide testing.”
- While classes were mainly in person this school year, instruction during the 2020-21 school year was majority online. The city has reportedly spent $100 million to retrofit school for in-person instruction, but has not responded to union requests to provide students and staff with N-95-style masks. (WSJ)
A Bundle Of Funds
- Congress is looking at a new round of COVID-19 relief spending in response to the nationwide surge of the virus’ omicron variant. The stimulus package would provide relief in the face of increased economic damage to already worn down businesses. The bipartisan talks have been focused on government aid to public businesses including restaurants, performance venues, and gyms.
- Talks have been mainly led by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). The bill is currently aiming at a spending level of roughly $68 billion compared to 2021’s stimulus bill of $1.9 trillion. While the spending package has received support from Senators on both sides of the aisle, its passage is far from guaranteed.
- Republicans have remained hesitant of adding to the national debt, and Democrats only control the Senate by a hair. While the country appeared to be healing from COVID-19 in late 2021, the U.S. is currently staggering under the Omicron variant, with 15,000 flights cancelled since Christmas Eve and over a million new COVID-19 cases reported on Tuesday alone. (WaPo, $)
Additional USA News
- Biggest investigation in FBI history still has Merrick Garland in the hot seat (CNN)
- Rep. Bobby Rush to retire after three decades in Congress but vows he is ‘not leaving the battlefield’ (WaPo, $)
- Philadelphia fire kills 13 people, including 7 children, officials say (CNN)
- Navy blocked from acting against 35 COVID vaccine refusers (ABC)
- US science teacher arrested for vaccinating 17-year-old student (BBC)
- Pandemic-wary US Supreme Court to weigh Biden vaccine mandates (Reuters)
- Mayo Clinic fires 700 workers who failed to comply with Covid vaccine mandate (NBC)
X Marks The Spot
- The father-son duo of Dennis and Kem Parada, who call themselves Finders Keepers, believe that back in 2018 after years of searching, they found an 1863 shipment of Union gold that was lost or stolen on its way to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. The treasure hunters met with the FBI about the large metallic mass their detectors found, who brought in a contractor with more technical expertise and fancier tools.
- An affidavit that was unsealed last year revealed that the contractor found a nine-ton mass with the density of gold. Finders Keepers accompanied the FBI during the excavation in Dent’s Run, northeast of Pittsburgh, but were asked to remain in the car for the duration. The FBI maintained that nothing ever came of the dig, but has also refused to abide by the treasure hunters’ requests for records about the dig. After the Justice Department ordered a more thorough review, the FBI changed its story from there being no records at all to saying its records were exempt from public disclosure.
- Then, the FBI said it had 2,400 pages of records and 17 video files that it could turn over, but the process would take years. Finders Keepers filed a federal lawsuit against the Justice Department on Wednesday, who denied the Paradas’ request for an expedited Freedom of Information Act processing. Anne Weismann, the Paradas’ lawyer, said, “From the outset, it seems as if the FBI is doing everything it can to avoid answering the question of whether they actually found gold.” (AP)
- Car ads in France soon must encourage more environmentally friendly travel (NPR)
- Do you feel lucky? Powerball jackpot reaches $630 million (CNN)
- FBI arrests man who allegedly stole book manuscripts and defrauded hundreds (NPR)
- This heroic dog traversed the interstate to lead police to her injured owner (NPR)
- Man whose arrest led to ‘separate but equal’ is pardoned (AP)
- Niger police seize record 200kg of cocaine from mayor’s car (BBC)
- ‘Truly remarkable’ fossil is rare evidence of ancient shark-on-shark attacks (LiveScience)
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