Bring The Mouse Down
April 21, 2022
Some Good News
- Apple says it’s using more recycled materials than ever before (The Verge)
- Biden restores climate safeguards in key environmental law, reversing Trump (WaPo, $)
“We share, to a large extent, one another’s fate. We help create those circumstances which favor or challenge us in meeting our objectives and realizing our dreams.” – Walt Disney
Bring The Mouse Down
Ron DeSantis is a Republican dream on steroids. There is seemingly no end to what Florida’s governor will do to court support among the GOP base – like putting the “base” in “basest.” On Wednesday, in a special legislative session DeSantis called, the Senate advanced his new aggressively-partisan congressional map, and two bills targeting Disney for opposing the state’s new law limiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
DeSantis’ redistricting map proposes gerrymandering the state’s congressional boundaries to help Republicans pick up four seats in the U.S. House in November’s midterm elections. At the same time, it eliminates two seats currently held by Black members of Congress. The GOP-controlled legislature passed a different congressional district map during the regular session, but DeSantis vetoed it. Florida Republicans then said they would let the governor decide how to reapportion the state’s congressional districts.
DeSantis offered his map last week and called the special session to finalize the reapportioning of congressional lines. This time, DeSantis’ map was the only version the Senate considered. Then, in a bombshell announcement Tuesday, the governor tasked lawmakers with unraveling the 55-year-old Reedy Creek Improvement Act that had granted Walt Disney World a special autonomy, helping to establish it in the state. The governor’s move was clear retaliation for Disney’s objections to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. Within hours Republican lawmakers complied by advancing two bills. One would eliminate the unique status allowing Disney to operate as an independent government around its Orlando-area theme parks. The second bill would subject Disney to a state law allowing people to sue Big Tech companies for censorship. Disney won an exemption last year, and a federal judge has blocked the law, but Florida is appealing the ruling.
The House must still pass the bills during the vote Thursday. So it appears that by the end of the week, the long-standing symbiotic arrangement that helped grow Disney into an iconic entertainment brand, and Florida into an international travel destination, could be dissolved. “Once upon a time Disney was a great partner with the state of Florida,” a Tampa Republican said. “We’ve granted them privileges because of our shared history, shared goals and shared successes. Shamefully, Disney betrayed us.” (CNN)
Test Of Luck
- Russia did a test launch of the Sarmat, its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that’s capable of carrying at least 10 warheads. President Putin said Wednesday, “This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats, and make those who … try to threaten our country think twice.”
- The head of Russia’s aerospace agency called the launch “a present to NATO.” Moscow notified Washington ahead of the test, following its obligations under the 2011 New START treaty. But a senior defense official called Putin’s remarks irresponsible, noting a U.S. test of its own Minuteman III ICBM was postponed “to demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power.”
- A spokesperson at London’s RUSI think-tank said, “The timing … reflects the Russians wanting to have something to show as a technological achievement in the lead-up to [the annual Victory Day Parade May 9] at a time when a lot of their technology has not delivered the results they would have liked in Ukraine.” (Al Jazeera)
Walk The Talk
- Western leaders are challenging Russia’s continued membership in the G20 group of leading economies. When Russian delegates began speaking at a session taking place on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings in Washington, representatives from the U.S., U.K., and Canada walked out. The Bank of England’s governor and a senior Treasury Department official also left.
- The coordinated walkout comes amid growing fears that a breakdown in international relations would severely undermine the global economy’s recovery from the pandemic and add to soaring inflation, pushing millions more people worldwide into poverty. Shortly before the protest, the head of the IMF warned that 75 years of development gains were being put at risk by a splintering of international cooperation.
- A former deputy director of the IMF said the flare-up showed the G20 wasn’t functioning as an international body. “The future of multilateralism is at risk at a time when we need it most,” he said, adding “The G20 is too divided….” He urged governments to continue to work together through alternative means. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Judge sends Assange extradition decision to UK government (NBC)
- Shanghai allows 4 million out of homes as virus rules ease (AP)
- Taiwan news channel accidentally airs false report of Chinese invasion (Guardian)
- Johnson says sorry for partygate as critics prep censure bid (AP)
- Czech companies to repair damaged Ukrainian tanks (Reuters)
- Canada imposes sanctions on Russian president Putin’s daughters (Reuters)
- Old City clashes bring mounting pressure on fragile Israeli government (WaPo, $)
Freedom Of Teach
- For 22 years, Nick Meriwether taught philosophy at Shawnee State University, a small public university in Ohio. Meriwether is an evangelical Christian with specific “religious convictions and philosophical beliefs.” While teaching a class in January 2018 he was asked a question by a transgender woman. Meriwether answered, “Yes, sir.”
- After class, the student told Meriwether she was transgender and asked him to refer to her with feminine titles and pronouns. When Meriwether declined, the student filed a complaint. SSU investigated and determined the professor should use the student’s preferred pronouns. When Meriwether argued that it went against his religious beliefs, SSU said he’d created a “hostile environment” for the student.
- Eventually, Meriwether was fired, and he sued, alleging violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and religious beliefs. After four years of costly litigation, SSU said it had become clear that “the case was being used to advance divisive social and political agendas at a cost to the university and its students.” So, to “stop the madness,” SSU settled with Meriwether for $400,000. (NPR)
A Lot To Mask
- On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle ruled that the CDC’s mask mandate for travelers on public transportation was unlawful. The mandate, which was put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, was enacted in February 2021 and extended to May 3. After the ruling, several airlines and Amtrak announced that mask-wearing was optional. The White House said the Transportation Security Administration would not enforce the order on public transport while the ruling is reviewed.
- On Wednesday, the CDC said it had asked the Justice Department to appeal the ruling, which the DOJ did. Mizelle was nominated by former president Trump in September 2020 when she was 33. The American Bar Association designated her “unqualified” for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench because she lacked any trial experience and had graduated law school just eight years earlier. The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed her anyway. She belongs to the conservative Federalist Society, which advocates for an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. (CNBC, NPR)
Additional USA News
- Southwest wildfires force evacuations, tighten resources (ABC)
- Oscar Smith: A Tennessee death row inmate is set to be executed after governor denies him clemency (CNN)
- Herschel Walker’s Senate Bid in Georgia Is Powered by Fandom (NYT, $)
- New Jersey Diocese Agrees to Settle Sex Abuse Claims for $87.5 Million (NYT, $)
- Tennessee Republicans remove Trump-backed candidate, others from ballot (The Hill)
- Nor’easter power outages for thousands of customers have crews working into the night (CNN)
- CDC: New Omicron strain accounts for about 20% of new cases in U.S. (Axios)
Bit Off More Than He Could Chew
- Anyone who dislikes visiting the dentist might want to skip this story about what happened to Tom Jozsi. The 60-year-old Illinois man was at the dentist’s office getting his tooth filled when he was told he had swallowed a tool. “I didn’t really feel it going down. All I felt was a cough,” Jozsi told the local TV station later on. “When they did the CT scan they realized, ‘You didn’t swallow it. You inhaled it.’”
- How does that happen you ask? Doctors believe Jozsi inhaled the 1-inch drill bit just before he coughed, which sent it deep into his lung. The bit was so deep that normal scopes couldn’t reach it. He had to go to the hospital, where doctors told him that if it couldn’t be taken out, part of his lung would have to be removed. Terrified yet?
- The medical team decided to try removing the object using a newer device, one that’s designed for early cancer detection. Video of the scan shows the medical team successfully navigating the narrow airways, reaching the drill bit, and pulling it out without harming Jozsi. That’s wonderful news for Jozsi, and more importantly, a cautionary tale for anyone sitting in a dental chair who feels a cough coming on. (AP News)
- Jupiter’s moon Europa may have a habitable ice shell (CNN)
- Sending a probe to Uranus labeled as top priority by space science community (The Verge)
- Instagram rolls out product tagging feature to US users (TechCrunch)
- ‘Discrimination was their brand’: how Abercrombie & Fitch fell out of fashion (Guardian)
- NASA is supporting some seriously risky missions to the Moon—it’s about time (Ars Technica)
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