Painting The Town Red…Maybe
January 27, 2022
The Good News
- Two brothers were orphaned and separated during India’s partition in 1947. They have reunited 74 years later. (WaPo, $)
- Pfizer Begins Clinical Trial For Omicron-Targeting Vaccine (HuffPost)
“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
Painting The Town Red…Maybe
The 2008 election swept Barack Obama into office with a margin of 192 electoral votes (365 to John McCain’s 173), and a popular vote margin of over 9.5 million. Democrats won a 79-seat majority in the House and an 18-vote majority in the Senate. In the 2010 midterms, Democrats lost 63 House seats, flipping control to Republicans. The Dems kept command of the Senate, but with just 53 votes. The next six years of the Obama administration were all about Republican obstructionism, which benefited the GOP politically; the party took back the Senate in the 2014 midterms, and Donald Trump was elected two years later.
Backlash against Trump helped usher President Biden and Democrats into office in the 2020 election, but with smaller margins of victory. The electoral vote was 306 for Biden, 232 for Trump. Biden bested Trump by 7 million popular votes – 2.5 million less than Obama’s margin. Democrats gained a 10-seat majority in the House – 222 to 212 – and the Senate was split 50-50. Biden’s first year in office was rocky, to say the least. The 2022 midterms are rapidly approaching, and if history offers any lessons, Democrats should prepare for a “shellacking,” as Obama would say.
This time around, there’s a virulent pandemic, raging partisanship, stifling new voting restrictions, and redistricting on steroids – all harbingers of rough times ahead. So far, 42 representatives aren’t seeking reelection – 29 Democrats and 13 Republicans. The latest to announce his departure is Jim Cooper (D-TN), who said he won’t run in the midterms. Cooper, 67, has served almost 32 years in Congress. For two decades, the Nashville native represented Tennessee’s 5th District, which traditionally included all of Davidson County. But the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly approved a gerrymandered redistricting plan that splits Davidson County into three congressional districts. “Despite my strength at the polls,” Cooper said Tuesday, “I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville.”
Some members of both parties are leaving districts that are decidedly red or blue, but other districts could flip. Democrat David Price’s exit will open a seat in North Carolina’s 4th District. It’s typically a Democratic stronghold, but redistricting will give Republican candidates the ability to win at least 10 of the state’s 14 House seats. Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger (R) and Cheri Bustos (D) both retire next year. Illinois’ gerrymandered map would have pitted Kinzinger against another Republican incumbent. Bustos’ district has shifted more to the right over the years. Obama won it handily in 2012, but Trump won her district twice. Representative Ron Kind’s departure could also open the door for Republicans, as Trump carried the Wisconsin Democrat’s district in 2020. (fec.gov, Politico, ballotpedia.org, WaPo)
A Gas Act
- President Biden has clearly warned President Putin about all the economic sanctions to be imposed in the event Russia attacks Ukraine. But Putin has a powerful economic weapon of his own – the natural gas his country supplies to Europe. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted that “European friends” had concerns about imposing the toughest possible sanctions on Moscow because of their “heavy dependence” on Russian gas.
- But as fears of a Russian invasion into Ukraine have grown, the U.S. has been helping prepare for the diversion of natural gas supplies from around the world in the event the flow from Russia is cut off. U.S. officials said Tuesday they’d been negotiating with global suppliers and are now confident that Europe won’t suffer from a sudden loss of energy for heating in the middle of winter. The preparation for bulk gas supplies deliveries is part of a campaign by the U.S. and its European allies to show a united front to Putin in the hope of deterring him from invading Ukraine. (Guardian)
Poland Abortion Laws Prove Deadly
- (TW: abortion, death) Poland’s near-total ban on abortion went into effect one year ago; the only exceptions are rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. Since then, pregnant women have died because doctors refused to perform life-saving procedures, citing the country’s abortion laws.
- In September, a 30-year-old woman died after going into premature labor at 22 weeks as doctors refused to perform either an abortion or a C-section. On December 21, a 37-year-old mother in her first trimester of pregnancy with twins went to the hospital complaining of pain. Relatives said she was “fully conscious and in good physical shape” upon arrival.
- One fetus died on December 23, but doctors refused to remove it, and the woman’s health started deteriorating. The second fetus’ heart stopped a week later, and another two days passed before doctors finally terminated the pregnancy on December 31. The woman’s health continued deteriorating, likely from septic shock, and she died on January 25, 2022, leaving behind a husband and three children. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- After Coup in Burkina Faso, Protesters Turn to Russia for Help (NYT, $)
- Exclusive: Iran nuclear agreement unlikely without release of US prisoners, negotiator says (Reuters)
- Passengers hold protest after heavy snow closes Istanbul airport (WaPo, $)
- Husband says Iran sentenced activist wife to prison, lashes (ABC)
- Ahead of Olympics, abrupt lockdowns loom over Beijing life (AP)
- Differences Splinter US Team Negotiating With Iran on Nuclear Deal (WSJ)
- Canada’s foreign affairs department hit with cyberattack (ABC)
- People love wearing Bombas. It may be because Bombas makes the most comfortable socks, underwear, t-shirts, and slippers. It could also be because they use only the softest materials and design each item to fit real human bodies.
- But it’s also because Bombas are designed to give back. Customers from across the country have already helped donate more than 50 million items of clean, comfortable clothing to those experiencing homelessness—and they’re just getting started.
- Socks, underwear, and t-shirts are the #1, #2, and #3 most requested clothing items in homeless shelters, respectively. So for every item you purchase, Bombas will donate a similar item to someone in need on your behalf. Shop Bombas today and feel good about your purchase.
Drugs Through The Mud
- On Monday, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration pulled their emergency authorization for Regeneron and Eli Lilly antibody drugs, a move that many expected after the drugmakers said the Omicron variant’s mutations make it harder for the treatments to target the virus. In fact, the FDA said Omicron is “1,000-fold less vulnerable to Regeneron’s drug and nearly 3,000-fold less vulnerable to Lilly’s drug.”
- On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expressed his displeasure with this news, in line with his typical approach to the virus, which has largely ignored scientifically-proven mask and vaccine mandates or lockdowns and instead focused on drug interventions. He said at a news conference that it was “reckless” to pull the authorization of the drugs, offering up evidence that they work and saying, “People have a right to access these treatments, and to revoke it on this basis is just fundamentally wrong and we’re going to fight back.”
- The FDA has sole power over the regulation of drugs in the country, so it’s not clear exactly how DeSantis plans to push back on the decision. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said the decision was made because “The Administration is focused on making sure that, if an American gets sick with COVID-19, they get a treatment that actually works.” One antibody drug and two antiviral pills are still in rotation. (AP)
A Political Faux Oz
- Maybe he should have stuck with giving out bad medical advice…Mehmet Oz, often referred to simply as “Dr. Oz,” is already floundering in his foray into GOP politics. In his first three unofficial tests of his candidacy, he was rejected by political activists. The celebrity physician is running in the Pennsylvania Senate race, and given his celebrity status, we know the issue here is not notoriety or a lack of funding.
- Oz and other candidates met with Republican state committee members last week and answered their questions, but after a straw poll that gathered over 100 votes, Oz only received one in his favor. This past weekend, he met with two other groups of state committee members from different areas, where he finished third in one straw poll and fourth in another.
- Blake Marles, chair of the Northeast Central Republican Alliance caucus that voted on Saturday, said, “I think he has to do a lot more reaching out, at least to the political class. They haven’t had personal contact with him.” Of course, straw polls are not the opinions of voters, but of the people those voters have already chosen. With the Republican Party potentially not endorsing the primary this year, those state committee members may not have as much political sway as they normally would. (Politico)
Additional USA News
- John Eastman: Trump lawyer ordered to respond to January 6 committee subpoena for his Chapman University emails (CNN)
- Antisemitic flyers found in neighborhoods in at least 3 cities (NBC)
- New York’s mask mandate temporarily restored by appeals judge (NPR)
- Millions of kids were thrust back into poverty after the child tax credit expired. What’s next? (NBC)
- Family of Black man killed on trip with ex-coworker call death modern-day lynching (NBC)
- US House Speaker Pelosi seeks re-election (Reuters)
- Alex Jones met with 1/6 committee and says he pleaded the Fifth ‘almost 100 times’ (CNN)
As The Gold Saying Goes…
- The Ship of Gold was caught in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in 1857 and sank with thousands of pounds of gold aboard. The ship’s loss set off the Panic of 1957 after an equivalent to $765 million in today’s U.S. dollars was lost to the sea. Americans lost faith in the economic system when New York banks were short the gold they needed, and the economy struggled to recover for almost a decade.
- Research scientist and deep-sea treasure hunter, Tommy Thompson, is going into his sixth year in jail for a contempt of court charge from December 2015, but the story begins over 30 years ago when Thompson discovered the Ship of Gold in 1988. After an investor’s lawsuit and a federal court order, Thompson, now 69, still refuses to disclose to authorities the location of 500 coins minted from some of the gold that are valued at over $2 million. He has been given two months to find a new attorney to hopefully bring his case to a close.
- Thompson is being held in jail in Michigan, and has cycled through several attorneys. Thompson says that he questions the security of the communications in the jail, which contributes to issues finding an attorney, and he also suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis, which affects his short-term memory. So, as he struggles to find an attorney to argue his case for release, his sentence drags on, and he incurs a $1,000 daily fine. (AP)
- Three New Faces to Help Steer the Gates Foundation (NYT, $)
- Shark bites surged in 2021, rebounding from a drop earlier in the pandemic (NPR)
- Mukilteo School District removes ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from required reading list (Seattle Times)
- Put Down Your No. 2 Pencils. Forever. (NYT, $)
- Tonga volcano blast hundreds of times more powerful than Hiroshima, NASA says (NBC)
- California judge grants restraining order against woman accused of stalking Apple CEO Tim Cook (WaPo, $)
- Vestas, a Danish Wind Giant, Warns of Supply Chain Turbulence (NYT, $)
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