July 14, 2022
Some Good News
- FDA to authorize Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine (Politico)
- Vatican names 3 women to office that vets bishop nominations (WaPo, $)
“Voting is how we participate in a civic society – be it for president, be it for a municipal election. It’s the way we teach our children – in school elections – how to be citizens, and the importance of their voice.” – Loretta Lynch
Painting With A Fraud Brush
Those election security breaches? They’re coming from inside the house! Numerous chief election administrators attending the National Association of Secretaries of State’s summer conference detailed a rise in “insider threats” leading to attempted or successful election security breaches aided by local officials. The most prominent was in Colorado, where a county clerk was indicted for her role in facilitating unauthorized access to voting machines, and there have been similar instances elsewhere, including in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio.
Besides security breaches, there have been other insider efforts to undermine elections. Last month, the board of commissioners in Otero County, New Mexico – a predominantly Republican county along the southern border with Texas – refused to certify primary election results, citing bogus claims rooted in conspiracy theories from the 2020 election about Dominion vote-tallying machines. “It can create a domino effect, because if one county successfully manages to tank their election by not certifying it, we’re gonna see copycats,” said New Mexico SoS, a Democrat and former president of NASS who successfully sued to force certification by Otero County commissioners.
Sometimes local authorities have unintentionally created security threats by granting access to outsiders. Turning over unfettered machine access to even well-meaning outsiders could compromise election equipment, and likely lead to the machines being decertified. Election administrators at the conference stressed the importance of pre- and post-election testing and audits – which are often public and mandated by state law – as a way to demonstrate the security of equipment without allowing access to the actual hardware and software behind it. Some election officials, especially in states that already suffered a notable breach, are preparing aggressively to fend off copycat attempts. Colorado’s SoS is Democrat Jena Griswold, who spearheaded the passage in May of the Colorado Election Security Act (CESA). The first-in-the-nation legislation includes a million dollars in funding for counties to increase security for Colorado’s election systems and voting equipment.
Still, many election officials caution that the handful of publicly disclosed incidents over the last two years is only the start of a wave ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections. “What’s clear is this is a nationally coordinated effort,” said Michigan’s SoS. “It’s multi-year, multi-faceted … not just pressuring election officials, but pressuring local elected officials as well.” (Politico, Colorado Sun, WaPo ($))
Jump The Charcuterie
- A 2015 report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said enough evidence existed to rank processed meats like bacon, ham, and sausages as Group 1 carcinogens due to the link between nitrate additives and colon cancer. The report was welcomed by cancer researchers but triggered an immediate and furious response from the meat industry.
- Now, French health authorities say their study of data published on the subject also confirms the link, delivering a huge blow to the country’s prized ham and cured sausage industry. Nitrates are added to a range of food products to improve shelf life and flavor and help give pork-based products their pink hue.
- France is one of the world’s biggest producers of cold cuts, known as charcuterie, which are often consumed as snacks or with early evening drinks. France’s food safety body “ANSES” recommends reducing the consumption of nitrates and nitrites by deliberately eating less charcuterie. The government said it would launch an action plan to reduce the use of additives later this year. (Guardian)
Taking A Flee Deal
- After months of demonstrations over food and fuel shortages triggered by Sri Lanka’s severe economic crisis, protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home and office, and the official residence of his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Saturday. The president had agreed to step down Wednesday, but before that could happen, Rajapaksa, his wife, and his two bodyguards slipped away during the night aboard a Sri Lankan Air Force plane bound for the Maldives.
- Wickremesinghe said he would leave once a new government was in place. Sri Lankan lawmakers agreed to elect a new president next week, but have struggled to decide on the makeup of a new government to lift the bankrupt country out of economic and political collapse.
- The protests fundamentally dismantled Rajapaksa’s family’s political dynasty, which ruled for almost two decades. An official of the main opposition party in Parliament said, “This shows what befalls a leader who uses his power to the extreme.” (AP)
Additional World News
- Rwanda made the sale of skin whitening products a crime. It’s working, but illegal market persists (CNN)
- Sri Lankan president flees to Maldives, protesters storm prime minister’s office (Reuters)
- Biden embraces a signature Trump achievement on first trip to the Middle East, aiming to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer (CNN)
- China complains to Japan about Taiwan vice president at Abe funeral (Reuters)
- Dangerous heatwaves engulf parts of China, US and Europe (Guardian)
- US destroyer sails past Chinese-held South China Sea islands (ABC)
- US, allies aim to cap Russian oil prices to hinder invasion (AP)
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And The Arrest Is History
- Following the news of the 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to go to Indiana to get an abortion on June 30, Ohio’s Republican Attorney General Dave Yost gave an interview (and then doubled down in an appearance on Fox News) casting doubt on the veracity of the story. “Every day that goes by the more likely that this is a fabrication,” Yost claimed. “I’m not saying it could not have happened. What I’m saying to you is there is not a damn scintilla of evidence.”
- Yost was certainly not alone in insisting that, because the rapist hadn’t been caught, the story must be made up. On Tuesday, police arrested Gerson Fuentes, 27, who confessed to raping the child on at least two occasions. Since the child had just turned 10 very recently, authorities said she was likely impregnated at 9 years old. After Fuentes was arraigned on rape charges Wednesday, Yost issued a single sentence statement: “We rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.” (IndyStar, NPR, Columbus Dispatch)
A Moment Too Tune
- New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) wasn’t born in 1938, so maybe he just hadn’t heard what happened when Orson Welles gave his realistic dramatization on CBS radio of Martians invading New Jersey. Apparently, Welles’ Mercury Theater company thought it would be fun to update H.G. Wells’ 19th-century science fiction novel The War of the Worlds.
- Despite two disclaimers during the broadcast, thousands of anxious and confused listeners believed it was real, and went on to besiege police stations and inundate newspapers and CBS with phone calls. Fast forward to Monday and the PSA video Adams’ office of emergency management issued to New York City residents. “So there’s been a nuclear attack,” said the presenter, a calm woman dressed in all black. “Don’t ask me how or why, just know that the big one has hit, okay?”
- The video advised New Yorkers to “Get inside, stay inside and stay tuned.” A lot of people were alarmed, but Adams said he was just being proactive, since his city is a target for attacks of all kinds. (History, WaPo($))
Additional USA News
- Newly released video shows inside Uvalde school during shooting (CBS)
- 3 arrested on 115 charges each after hate symbols left at NY church, synagogue (NBC)
- A Tech Executive Is Charged, for the Third Time, in a 1992 Killing (NYT, $)
- Senate confirms Dettelbach to head firearms agency as gun violence grows (NPR)
- Secret Service agent sent back to US from Israel after alleged “physical encounter” (CBS)
- LeBron James critical on his TV show of US efforts to get Brittney Griner home (NBC)
- How Yellen plans to deplete Putin’s war funds (Politico)
The Lawn Arm Of The Law
- Too bad a Florida man didn’t have access to a military jet and bodyguards, because his mode of escape wasn’t at all successful. On Saturday, Okaloosa County sheriff’s office deputies were trying to serve arrest warrants on the 40-year-old man and found him on his riding lawnmower in a backyard.
- They shouted at him to stop and get on the ground, but he tried fleeing on the mower instead. The deputies ran after the skedaddling suspect on foot, and after catching up, tased him. Along with their errant flight risk, officers recovered a revolver, a handcuff key, and a pipe with methamphetamine residue. (AP)
- White House: To help salmon, dams may need to be removed (ABC)
- Mysterious fast radio burst in space has a ‘heartbeat’ pattern (CNN)
- A supermoon is illuminating the skies this week. Here’s when to see it. (NBC)
- US FAA in contact with SpaceX after booster rocket fire (Reuters)
- Primatologist Jane Goodall gets Barbie doll in her likeness (CNN)
- How Demand for Twigs Is Bringing Down a Rainforest (NYT, $)
- The ‘worst variant’ is here (CNN)