What’s The Cash?
January 14, 2022
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“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” – Audrey Hepburn
An Oath To Uphold
A federal grand jury in Washington D.C. has indicted the Texas founder of the Oath Keepers and 10 other individuals for Seditious Conspiracy and other offenses related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. Elmer Stewart Rhodes, 56, was arrested Thursday morning in Little Elm, Texas; also arrested was a Phoenix, Arizona man, 63-year-old Edward Vallejo. The men are charged with participating in events leading up to and including the deadly insurrection, and conspiring in a variety of ways to “oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021.” Nine of the 11, plus an additional eight individuals affiliated with the Oath Keepers, were previously charged in the investigation.
Rhodes has been a preeminent figure in the anti-government movement for years. He studied constitutional law at Yale, graduating in 2004 and later volunteering as an aide to the long-serving Texas libertarian Ron Paul, a former Republican House member and father of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Rhodes’s estranged wife said her husband had become increasingly radical in the years before Barack Obama was elected. In 2008, Rhodes introduced the concept of a quasi-military/law enforcement group that would “defend” the Constitution from government overreach – by armed rebellion if necessary. Rhodes’ vision became the Oath Keepers; its core membership consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans, who vow to support the oaths they took to defend the Constitution forever, but who also pledge to disobey whatever “unconstitutional” orders come from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government.
The Oath Keepers is a large but loosely organized collection of right-wingers bound together by belief in conspiracy theories, like the federal government’s “plan” to impose martial law, seize Americans weapons, force resisters into concentration camps, and turn the country into a socialist “New World Order.” For Rhodes, the Big Lie about the 2020 election being stolen was the ultimate call to arms. In an internet broadcast on November 10, he talked about the upcoming rally planned for D.C., saying his organization had armed men on standby “as a nuclear option” to prevent the election from being stolen from Donald Trump. In an open letter on the Oath Keepers website, Rhodes urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, send special forces to seize state elections systems, redo the election, and deploy both the National Guard and a self-armed militia to suppress any rebellion from “domestic enemies” in the way. Days before the riot, Rhodes called for “all patriots who can be in DC” to travel to the capital for a “security mission” to “stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight.” (NBC News, WaPo, Newsweek)
Not Putin Anything In Writing
- After two rounds of talks this week between NATO, the U.S., and Russia, Moscow has made no commitment to de-escalate tensions on Ukraine’s border. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Washington had intelligence that Moscow was preparing to fabricate claims of an imminent Ukrainian attack on Russian forces as a pretext for invasion. “We saw this playbook in 2014. They are preparing this playbook again,” Sullivan said.
- While the latest discussions appeared to be hitting a dead end, Russia was also refusing to rule out a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if talks with the West on European security and Ukraine fail to go their way. Sullivan said no dates had been set for any future talks, but added: “We’re in communication with the Russians and we’ll see what comes next.” The U.S. representative at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe told reporters after Thursday’s meeting: “The drumbeat of war is sounding loud and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill.” (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Anti-vaccine protesters try to storm Bulgaria’s parliament (Reuters)
- Buenos Aires hits 106 degrees amid severe South American heat wave (WaPo, $)
- India’s top court intervenes in hate speeches against Muslims (Al Jazeera)
- US military links prolific hacking group to Iranian intelligence (CNN)
- Can the ‘Silver Fox’ outwit Vladimir Putin? (BBC)
- Nigeria to lift Twitter ban after six-month suspension (CNN)
- India’s top court intervenes in hate speeches against Muslims (Al Jazeera)
Supreme Court Jabs Back
- On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine and testing requirement for large private businesses, but allowed a vaccine mandate for certain health care workers to go into effect nationwide. The unsigned opinion says: “Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
- The justices said that a separate agency could issue a rule to protect the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid patients. SCOTUS’ decision is a big setback for the President’s attempts to use the power of the federal government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, Biden said the states and individual employers must now determine whether to make their workplaces safe for employees and consumers during this pandemic “by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.” (CNN)
What’s The Cash?
- The Army is seeking to blunt the pandemic-fueled labor shortage by offering its largest incentive ever — $50,000. On Wednesday, military recruiting officials said the incentive, which is for qualified recruits who sign up for certain career paths and agree to active-duty six-year enlistments, is aimed at luring the “same talent” that private companies are competing for.
- Enlistment bonuses used to max out at $40,000 in the Army. But with full- and part-time positions vacant across 150 careers, military officials boosted incentive packages by $10,000. Millions of people in the U.S. voluntarily quit their jobs last year, and many large and small companies responded with bonuses, raises, and other enticements.
- Target and Walmart announced employee reimbursement programs. Restaurants began offering 401(k) retirement accounts and profit-sharing agreements. White-collar professions increasingly turned to remote positions. (NBC News, CNBC, Today)
Additional USA News
- Biden sending more COVID tests to schools to keep them open (AP)
- Waukesha parade tragedy suspect faces more than 70 new charges (NPR)
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice ‘extremely unwell’ after positive COVID-19 test (NPR)
- US hit by 20 separate billion-dollar climate disasters in 2021, Noaa report says (Guardian)
- Fetterman calls for ban on congressional stock trading (The Hill)
- ‘He’s gone. OK’: Trump hangs up on NPR after host presses him on election lies (Guardian)
- Chicago Teachers Union votes to continue in-person learning with Covid-19 measures (CNN)
Dinner, A Movie, And A City-Wide Lockdown
- Wang is a Chinese woman whose parents were apparently anxious to marry her off, so they introduced her to 10 matches. She went out with the first four, but the fifth wanted to show off his cooking skills and invited her over to his place. On Sunday, she went for dinner at her blind date’s residence in the central city of Zhengzhou, which happened to be in the middle of a recent outbreak of Covid cases that had sent thousands into quarantine in parts of the city. Just as she was finishing her meal, the area was put under lockdown. Wang was trapped, which could have been a lucky break, if she’d been attracted to her date.
- Instead, it was uneventful enough that she quickly began sharing her bizarre experience with friends on social media. She also posted short videos on WeChat documenting her daily life in lockdown. Wang showed her “date” doing household chores, cooking meals for her, and working on his laptop while she slept. Wang told her friends: “Besides the fact he’s as mute as a wooden mannequin, (Ouch!) everything else [about him] is pretty good. Despite his food being mediocre, he’s still willing to cook, which I think is great.”
- Surprisingly, Wang’s video diaries became an online sensation on China’s social media platform Weibo. A related hashtag has been viewed more than 5 million times. Not surprisingly, Wang’s fame proved rather embarrassing for her date, so she’s taken down some of the videos. “Friends have been calling him and I think this has definitely affected his life,” she said. Although the prolonged lockdown didn’t lead to romance for Wang, all-in-all it was pretty serendipitous. She thanked everyone for their attention, said she hoped the outbreak ends, and that “my single sisters also find a relationship soon.” (Guardian)
- The Humanities Can’t Save Big Tech From Itself (Wired)
- Twin panda cubs debut at Tokyo zoo, woo devoted fans (ABC)
- Bartender’s tip leads to arrest in Key West buoy burning (AP)
- Wordle and IP law: What happens when a hot game gets cloned (Ars Technica)
- East Africa’s Oldest Modern Human Fossil Is Way Older Than Previously Thought (Smithsonian)
- Medieval horses were no bigger than modern-day ponies, study suggests (CNN)
- Massive object could be an interstellar moon, a rare find (CNN)
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