On A Lighter Vote
March 31, 2022
Some Good News
- Animal Services officers share helmet cam video rescuing dog out of LA River (CBS)
- Ray of travel sunshine: CDC adds no new destinations to its highest-risk category (CNN)
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” – Zora Neale Hurston
No Room At The Inn
Rapid City is South Dakota’s second-largest city. On March 20, one day after a young Native American man was shot at the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, the owner posted on Facebook she was implementing a new guest policy. “We will no long[er] allow any Native American on property,” Connie Uhre wrote. She posted again the next day, saying she would “not allow a Native American to enter our business including Cheers,” the hotel’s bar and casino, because she couldn’t tell “who is a bad Native or a good Native.” Was this the kind of freedom the red state’s ultra-conservative Republican governor Kristi Noem was talking about when she commented on United Van Lines data showing 62% of people relocating in 2020 were arriving in South Dakota? “Pretty cool!” Noem exclaimed. “Folks are moving to South Dakota because they value Freedom and our way of life!”
10% of Rapid City’s population is Native American, and valuing personal freedom actually doesn’t allow proprietors of public accommodations to violate the law by arbitrarily excluding an entire race. To test Uhre‘s new policy, Sunny Red Bear and another Native American woman tried to rent a room at the hotel on March 21. An employee began processing their booking, then suddenly refused to proceed, saying locals weren’t allowed to stay at the hotel due to fallout over Uhre’s social media posts. The following day, representatives of the NDN Collective, a local nonprofit organization defending the rights of Native Americans, attempted to book five hotel rooms for the organization, but were told they couldn’t rent rooms because of some “issues”. When one of the representatives asked to speak with a manager, an employee angrily demanded they leave the hotel and followed the group out.
On March 23, guards were stationed in the hotel lobby – at least one had an assault rifle. That same day, Red Bear and the NDN Collective filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the hotel alleging racial discrimination, Connie Uhre, and her son Nick, who is also the manager. Three days later, Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, served the hotel with a Notice of Trespass, claiming the Grand Gateway is on Native land in violation of an 1868 treaty. The Grand Gateway is currently closed. (WaPo ($), Capital Journal)
In Court Supply
- The U.K. has had judges serving on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal as part of efforts to safeguard the rule of law since the city was returned to China in 1997. But because of increasingly oppressive laws enacted by Beijing, the British government now says the arrangement is “no longer tenable.”
- On Wednesday, the two senior British judges on the court submitted their resignations, effective immediately. Fourteen non-permanent judges remain at the Hong Kong court, including 10 from other common law jurisdictions such as Australia and Canada.
- In recent years, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has intensified its crackdown on Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous political and legal institutions, along with any independent voices, and the British government’s move underscores the Asian financial hub’s growing isolation. (ABC)
No Small Meet
- China is hosting two days of meetings on Afghanistan in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui. Attending are representatives from Pakistan, China, Russia, and the U.S. The talks are occurring against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in August.
- The Taliban is also coming under widespread condemnation after its decision last week to prevent girls from attending public high schools, sparking consternation among funders ahead of a key aid donors conference. Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in China to attend a separate meeting hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
- Those talks were to include representatives from Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban as well as Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Last week Wang visited Kabul, where he met acting Afghan foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to discuss political and economic ties, including starting work in the mining sector, and Afghanistan’s possible role in China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Germany warns on Russian gas, Poland to end oil imports (AP)
- Saudi-led coalition to halt military operations in Yemen as UN urges truce (CNN)
- Trial Opens Against Islamic State Member Charged in Death of US Hostages (WSJ, $)
- UK maternity scandal review finds 200 avoidable baby deaths (AP)
- Europeans expel dozens of Russian envoys to combat espionage (ABC)
- In China’s Wall Street, bankers and traders sleep in offices to beat COVID lockdown (Reuters)
On Good Confirms
- Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has decided to support Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson after meeting with her twice in person. In a statement released Wednesday, Collins said: “I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position.”
- Jackson has had united support from Democrats, including West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, which is enough for Senate confirmation. But the White House has made significant outreach to GOP senators hoping to get bipartisan support for Jackson. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Tuesday he hadn’t made up his mind yet on how he’ll vote.
- Collins was one of three Republican senators who backed Jackson’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in June 2021. The other two were Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All other Republican senators voted against her. (NPR, CNN)
On A Lighter Vote
- Georgia’s Senate Ethics Committee has heeded the call from voting rights groups and local election officials to block the massive elections overhaul bill passed by Georgia House Republicans earlier this month. In its vote Tuesday, the ethics panel stripped out most of the controversial House-approved provisions, including one that would hand new election policing powers to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
- The panel advanced only one slice of the original 40-page bill: a requirement that employers provide time off for workers to cast their ballots during the state’s early voting period. Current Georgia law mandates time off only on Election Day.
- Dozens of local officials and voting rights advocates had attended a hearing Monday to urge the ethics panel to reconsider making changes to Georgia’s elections procedures just months before November’s midterm elections. Several slammed elaborate new chain-of-custody procedures in the bill that would, among other things, require election workers to count blank sheets of paper. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- A new federal website aims to solve a key COVID problem: where to get antiviral pills (NPR)
- Sandy Hook families reject settlement offer from Infowars host Alex Jones (NBC)
- California to Parole Man Who Kidnapped 26 Children on School Bus (NYT, $)
- Emmett Till Antilynching Act: Biden signs bill making lynching a federal hate crime into law (CNN)
- After crossing Trump, Cassidy weighs governor bid (Politico)
- Supreme Court examines war powers in reservist’s discrimination case (WaPo, $)
Flamin-Gone With The Wind
- In 2004, the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas received 41 young flamingos shipped in from Africa. Zoo employees banded the birds but hadn’t gotten around to clipping their wings when a big storm hit the area in June 2005, and two flamingos got away.
- 17 years later one of the escapees – African flamingo No. 492 – was seen on a video taken by an environmental activist this month on the Texas coast near Port Lavaca. Officials were able to make out the bird’s leg band number on the video. Turns out that, while the other flamingo was never seen again, No. 492 has been spotted several times in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Texas, sometimes with other wild flamingos.
- The fact that scrappy No. 492 has managed to live in the wild for 17 years got us thinking about how long flamingos usually live. According to Flamingos-World, the birds tend to do just fine in the wild, typically living an average of 25-30 years. In captivity, it says, some have lived up to 40 years. Australia’s Adelaide Zoo beat that record by a lot. It had a flamingo called Greater who was 83 years old in 2014 before being put down. (AP, Flamingos-World, National Geographic)
- Hong Kong’s COVID toll leads some to eco-friendlier coffins (AP)
- Into the wild: Animals the latest frontier in COVID fight (AP)
- Climate groups say a change in coding can reduce bitcoin energy consumption by 99% (Guardian)
- Pluto has giant ice volcanoes that could hint at the possibility of life (CNN)
- Consortium to Buy Nielsen for $10 Billion (WSJ, $)
- Former Tennessee nurse RaDonda Vaught found guilty in woman’s death after accidentally injecting her with wrong drug (CBS)
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