For Better Or Nurse
March 15, 2022
The Good News
- Russian internet users are learning to beat Putin’s internet crackdown (CNN)
- India to start vaccinating 12- to 14-year-olds against COVID-19 (Reuters)
“In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?” – Barack Obama
In The Wrong Hands
GOP lawmakers in at least six states, including New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Washington, and West Virginia, have introduced legislation that would require all election ballots to be counted by hand instead of by electronic tabulators. Now, couple that with at least eight Republican-led states – Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Montana, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Texas – that have enacted new laws shifting the power over elections to partisan bodies. What could possibly go wrong?
The push for these new laws is largely coming from believers of the false narrative that widespread election fraud robbed Trump of his “rightful” 2020 election victory. Supporters in New Hampshire, for example, say cheating is the only way to explain why voters elected a Republican governor and GOP majorities in the Legislature, then cast 52.7% of their votes for Joe Biden, compared to 45.4% for Donald Trump.
A former elections clerk in Colorado and Utah says hand-counting might work in a very small jurisdiction with a few hundred votes, but it just won’t work where there are thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of voters. Even in New Hampshire’s small towns, hand-counting is a complicated, lengthy process when a typical ballot might include 50 questions. If hand-counting were required, Milford Town Clerk Joan Dargie estimates her town would have to hire 150 more election workers, and many of her fellow clerks have said they will quit if they have to tabulate every ballot by hand. “People who are asking to get rid of machines obviously haven’t worked in an election,” Dargie said.
Even more disturbing is the shifting of control over elections. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted Trump’s pressure to “find” enough votes to overturn the election. Raffensperger was removed as chairman and a voting member of the State Election Board, which investigates potential fraud and irregularities. And state legislators can now request a “performance review” of local election boards. If Georgia’s State Election Board, which currently has three Republicans and one Democrat, determines a review yields enough evidence of wrongdoing or negligence under the law, the state will appoint a superintendent who takes on the local, multi-person board’s responsibilities, including hiring and firing power, and certifying elections. (AP, ABC, NBC)
For Better Or Nurse
- Turkey has been experiencing a significant drain of medical professionals. In 2021 alone, more than 1,000 doctors left their jobs in Turkey to seek opportunities abroad. The country is suffering from soaring inflation – over 54% – and on Monday, thousands of doctors and other medical workers began a two-day nationwide strike, demanding better protection, improved work conditions, higher pay, and a 20-minute examination slot in which to examine patients instead of the current five minutes.
- After two years of dealing with the pandemic in poor conditions, medical workers are burnt out. On top of that, violence against them is on the rise, so they are also demanding a new law to protect themselves. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a legal amendment would be introduced to specifically include attacks against healthcare workers. He also promised pay increases and supplementary payments for medical workers. (AP)
U.K. Introduces New Visa Scheme
- The U.K. government has been facing criticism over the lack of speed and scale in response to the refugee crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has now announced a new visa scheme in which there will be no limit to the number of Ukrainian refugees who can live with U.K. host families.
- Under the “Homes for Ukraine” refugee scheme, hosts will be given £350 a month as a “thank you” from the government for housing refugees, in their homes or other property, rent-free for at least six months. Hosts and refugees will be matched by the government after submitting a form online, and both will be vetted.
- After their arrival, refugees will be able to stay in the U.K. for at least three years. They will have access to the National Health Service and other public services, and their children will be able to attend local schools. Local authorities will also receive £10,500 in extra funding per refugee for support services – with more for children of school age. (BBC)
Additional World News
- France lifts COVID-19 rules on unvaccinated, mask wearing (AP)
- Shenzhen lockdown: Foxconn halts operations as Covid hits tech hub (CNN)
- Hong Kong demands UK-based rights group shut down website (Guardian)
- Peru’s ‘worst ecological disaster’ slams small-scale fishing (AP)
- Mexican president lashes out at EU ‘lies’ over his media-bashing rhetoric (Guardian)
- Ukraine’s only woman rabbi among the many Jews fleeing war (AP)
- Do you think you can make the perfect bracket? The Sportsletter is running a free March Madness challenge where it’s your picks against other readers.
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P-R-O-T-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means To Me
- Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was automatically entitled to six months of personal protection after leaving office by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. While in office, Pompeo and his top aide, former Iran envoy Brian Hook, led the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
- According to the department’s recent report to Congress, both men have been under “serious and credible” threats from Iran, which have continued during the Biden administration. The protection had been repeatedly extended in 60-day increments by current Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The report was an explanation for the expenditure of $13.1 million to provide 24-hour security for both men from August 2021 to February 2022 – more than $2 million a month.
- The latest 60-day extension will expire soon, and the State Department, along with the Director of National Intelligence, must determine by March 16 if the protection should be extended again. If so, a new infusion of money will be needed when the current special protection budget runs out in June. (AP)
China-Russia Alliance Concerns U.S.
- The Biden administration has deep concerns about China’s current alignment with Russia. Two administration officials said the U.S. had determined that China had signaled to Russia it would be willing to provide both military support for the Ukraine invasion and financial backing to help stave off the impact of severe sanctions imposed from the West.
- The Kremlin denied reports it had recently asked for Chinese military equipment to use in Ukraine. On Monday, in an intense seven-hour face-to-face meeting in Rome, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan sternly warned senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi that any assistance China gives to Russia would be very costly for them.
- Administration officials say Beijing is spreading false Russian claims that Ukraine was running chemical and biological weapons labs with U.S. support, meaning China is effectively providing cover if Russia moves ahead with a biological or chemical attack on Ukrainians. Meanwhile, White House officials are discussing the possibility of Biden traveling to Europe to meet with allies for in-person talks about the crisis in Ukraine. (AP)
Additional USA News
- Sixty-five businesses sign ad in newspaper calling on Texas governor to abandon anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives (CNN)
- Beto O’Rourke calls Texas governor Greg Abbott an ‘authoritarian’ and ‘thug’ (Guardian)
- Fed’s coming interest rate hikes may present another economic challenge for Democrats (NPR)
- Maryland Democrat’s leaked email casts doubt over Black candidates’ electability (Guardian)
- Idaho Is First State to Pass Abortion Ban Based on Texas’ Law (NYT, $)
- A US surveillance program tracks nearly 200,000 immigrants. What happens to their data? (Guardian)
Get Out Of My Hair
- Oh, happy day. Japanese students in most public schools run by Tokyo’s metropolitan government will now be allowed to choose the color of their hair and underwear. Beginning in April, almost 200 public high schools and other educational institutions will drop five regulations, including ones requiring all students to have black hair and wear only “monotone white, grey, navy blue or black” underwear.
- The changes are coming after years-long pressure from students, and a growing awareness by an increasing number of educators that many controversial regulations are simply outdated. The debate over strict dress codes intensified several years ago when a high school student sued education authorities in Osaka after her school told her to dye her naturally brown hair black or face expulsion.
- Not all schools will abolish all regulations. Some will do away with the requirement for students to show proof that their hair is naturally curly or a color other than black, while others will keep the regulation at the request of students and parents. One member of the Tokyo metropolitan board of education praised the move, but said it had taken too long to address students’ grievances. “Japanese people have been taught to believe that it is a virtue to simply abide by the rules,” she said. She hopes this will be an opportunity to “create a society where rules are observed in a way that’s acceptable to everyone.” We wish them luck with that. (Guardian)
- Rampaging Camel Kills Two Men at a Tennessee Farm (NYT, $)
- Rare wolverine sighting in Yellowstone was captured on video (CNN)
- Return of a St. Patrick’s Day tradition in Chicago brings cheer and a green river (CNN)
- How Much Real Money Can You Make From Virtual Art? (NYT, $)
- ‘I can’t explain it’: the man behind the wheels-doors Twitter post that ‘exploded’ online (Guardian)
- Black hole “billiards” may explain strange aspects of 2019 black hole merger (Ars Technica)
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