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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

Journal Archives

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Masking Tension Reports in Supreme Court: 'I'm Choosing to Be Safe'

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is speaking out amid reports of mask-related tension between herself and fellow Justice Neil Gorsuch.

While appearing virtually on Tamron Hall's eponymous show Wednesday, the host asked Sotomayor, 67, about the "rare statement" she and Gorsuch, 54, released last week, denying that she had asked him to wear a face mask, amid her own ongoing decision to do so.

"Each individual has to make that choice for themselves, and I think that it's important to remember that people feel differently about these issues, and you don't have to engage in negative colloquy with friends or colleagues about the question," said Sotomayor. "You can engage in conversation around it, and respect the choice that each person is making."

"And that's the best, or the most, I can say about that situation with respect to my work environment. I'm choosing to be safe," she added. ..............(more)


Chicago: CTA wraps up Red-Purple Bypass, begins North Belmont Red-Purple Reconstruction project

CTA wraps up Red-Purple Bypass, begins North Belmont Red-Purple Reconstruction project
Jan. 25, 2022

Both projects are part of the CTA’s largest reconstruction effort in its history: the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization Phase One.
Mischa Wanek-Libman

Leaders from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) were joined by city and state dignitaries to celebrate the completion of the Red-Purple Bypass project, as well as the start of the North Belmont Red-Purple Reconstruction project.

Both are part of the CTA’s $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One project, which is the largest reconstruction effort in the authority’s history. RPM will improve rail service reliability, comfort and convenience to customers by modernizing and replacing century-old structures and rail stations from Belmont to Linden in Wilmette, Ill. RPM Phase One includes three major components:

* New Red-Purple Bypass construction followed by the reconstruction of Red and Purple Line track structure between Belmont and Newport/Cornelia.

* Reconstruction of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations into larger, 100-percent accessible stations and replacement of track structure totaling six track-miles that is nearly a century old. Major track and station reconstruction began in spring 2021 and is expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2024.

* Installation of a new signal system on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont.

“The reconstruction of the Red Line in our transportation and trail system has been long overdue," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Our city and our residents deserve an easily accessible and reliable CTA commute, and I’m thrilled to see the continued improvement and modernization of one of the busiest 'L' lines. I’m proud of the progress CTA has made with the RPM project and beyond confident this bypass will benefit every single person who uses our transit system in the city.”

RPM Phase One executed a $956.6-million Full Funding Grant Agreement with Federal Transit Administration under the Obama Administration in January 2017. The balance of the project is being funded with Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Funds, CTA funds and two different Tax-Increment Financing District revenues. ...............(more)


Too young to retire but at risk for Covid, older Americans struggle to find work

Too young to retire but at risk for Covid, older Americans struggle to find work
Despite reports of US worker shortages, people who are less than five years from retirement are facing a lack of employment options

Michael Sainato in Florida
Tue 25 Jan 2022 05.00 EST

(Guardian UK) Elaine Simons, a 61-year-old substitute art teacher in the Seattle, Washington area, was on a 10-month contract and hoping to settle into a more permanent role at the school where she was teaching when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US in March 2020.

Her school shut down for the remainder of the school year, with Simons having to pack up her classroom and learn to navigate the technology necessary to teach remotely. In June 2020, Simons was informed her teaching contract would not be renewed.

Some 5.7 million workers ages 55 or older lost their jobs in the US in March and April 2020, 15% of workers in an age demographic that has also experienced the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths. The unemployment rate for workers ages 65 and older hit a record rate of 7.5% in 2020.

Simons was able to find a summer teaching position but had to file for unemployment assistance before the fall 2020 school year began. Since then, she has switched back and forth between taking periods of substitute teaching jobs whenever they’re available, and reverting to unemployment during periods where she’s been unable to find work. ...........(more)


Boy, do we need a "deep state" now -- but not the way the Trumpers mean it

Boy, do we need a "deep state" now — but not the way the Trumpers mean it
If the new space telescope exemplifies what our "state" can accomplish, let's take the same approach to democracy


Democracy is complicated. It often feels as involved as the maneuvering required to make NASA's James Webb Space Telescope functional: Deploying the sun shield took some 107 different actions, and to fully engage the telescope, 18 different mirrors must be focused.

Defending democracy seems at least the intricate, dependent on the rule of law with all its hearings and investigations and honoring the time-consuming rights of the accused. Critically, it's also dependent on tradition and something once known as political comity. It's also a game of numbers: gerrymandering and court-packing; population shifts, with 50 Democratic senators now representing 41.5 million more Americans than 50 Republican senators; confusing filibuster and Electoral College rules and shenanigans.

Attacking democracy, by comparison, seems to be a cinch: A high-level thug coaxes a bunch of small-time thugs to blatt up on Harleys to surround and invade a state capitol because they don't want to wear masks in a pandemic — and, Hey, let's grab the governor! Or he lures a crowd of followers to Washington and exhorts them to go to the Capitol to "fight like hell" to stop the peaceful transfer of power — and, Hey, let's hang the vice president! Lie incessantly about voter fraud, because you embody the fraud. Pay for fraudulent audits by fraudulent companies. Bray to your followers about having all the "evidence," while admitting in court after court that you have none. Send forged certifications of ascertainment with phony slates of electors to the National Archives. When you're not specifically trying to overturn a fair election, create a roiling atmosphere of confusion and mistrust, to undermine people's confidence in voting because you cannot admit defeat; you're a fanboy of authoritarians and want them to be proud of you.


Earlier this month, another former president (one who has by his deeds burnished that title more and more), Jimmy Carter, published a guest essay in the New York Times in which he spelled out the steps we must take as citizens and as a country to save our democracy. We must "demand that our leaders and candidates uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct." Though we may differ, citizens "must agree on fundamental constitutional principles and norms of fairness, civility and respect for the rule of law." Carter, who spent decades after his time in the White House observing elections around the world, writes that we must make voting accessible and ensure "transparent, safe and secure electoral processes." ..............(more)


Iguanas will begin falling from trees as South Florida temperature drops

(WSVN) - As temperatures come down, so do the iguanas.

As South Florida experiences degrees in the 40s, cold-stunned iguanas could fall from trees.


They are still alive, but their cold blood and the cold temperatures don’t mix well, which causes them to enter a frozen state. .............(more)


Charlevoix (MI) man denies wrongdoing despite signing illegitimate election document

CHARLEVOIX — Charlevoix resident John Haggard is among a group of Republicans who signed an Electoral College certificate attempting to award the state’s 16 votes to Donald Trump following the 2020 election — a document now under federal investigation.

According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, Michigan's 16 legitimate Electoral College delegates met in the State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, to formally cast their votes for Joe Biden. Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes. The same day, a group of Republicans signed their own illegitimate certificate and claimed they were the state's presidential electors; they then tried to get into the Capitol building and were denied entry. ......... (more)


Why we care about finding patient zero

Why we care about finding patient zero
The co-author of "Patient Zero" on what history's most famous cases can tell us about surviving an outbreak


"It's a natural instinct to want to find the causes and sources of problems," says Dr. Lydia Kang. As a practicing physician, Kang understands the value of investigating the origins of illnesses. And as the co-author, with historian Nate Pedersen, of "Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World's Worst Diseases," she also recognizes how quickly our curiosity can turn into something far less benevolent.

There's no more telling contemporary example of collaboration and polarization than the intense, often accusatory response to our current pandemic. In the early days in 2020, coronavirus contagion anxiety and the frantic search for the "ground zero of a new virus," was quickly weaponized into a rash of anti-Asian hate crimes and racist rhetoric like Trump's references to "kung flu." Now, Reddit's sardonic "Herman Cain Award" sub identifies vaccine skeptics and mask mandate defiers who've succumbed to COVID-19 infections. It's named in honor of the former Republican presidential candidate and face mask refuser, who died a month after attending Trump's infamous 2020 Tulsa rally. As body counts rise, we seek solutions. We also want names. We want a source. And we want a culprit.

In "Patient Zero," the authors — whose previous collaboration "Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything" similarly explored the double edge of good intentions — look at the stages of infection, viral spread and eventual containment through the lens of some of humanity's most baffling and bedeviling outbreaks. It's a rich and thought-provoking book, filled with historical photographs, artwork, and unique accounts of patients and researchers grappling for answers in the midst of the most appalling and heartbreaking circumstances imaginable. It's also a profound reconsideration of our common understanding of our most famous stories of sickness and science. What's the truth about those notorious "smallpox blankets" European colonizers brought with them to the Americas? Were "Typhoid" Mary Mallon and early HIV patient Gaëtan Dugas really as reckless as their infamy suggests? What are the lessons from how rabies, polio, mad cow disease and the 1918 influenza outbreak were managed that inform our current response to COVID? And when does "a beacon of hope come in the form of poop"?


There is an understandable scientific imperative to trace the origins of viruses and diseases, but in the wider world, that can become a shorthand path to blaming individuals. What have we gotten wrong about "Typhoid Mary," about Gaëtan Dugas, and about the idea of "Patient Zero" in general?

Whenever we get a cold, we tend to point a finger at a colleague or friend who was sneezing nearby. Something we realized early on was how this book could be construed as a finger-pointing exercise, but we knew it would be far more complex and less blameworthy. If anything, these stories show how layered the issues are, and how we, as an entire species, are responsible for so many new pathogens in this world.

And often, the Patient Zeroes are complicated individuals. Gaëtan Dugas was a multifaceted human being, faulty at times, but generous as well. That is not well construed when many people think of him as the Patient Zero of the HIV and AIDS crisis of the 1980s, which he most certainly is not. ...........(more)


John Roberts Gets an F on His Annual Report

John Roberts Gets an F on His Annual Report
The chief justice’s year-end appraisal of the federal judiciary reads as innocuous at first glance—it’s anything but.

By Elie Mystal

(The Nation) Every December, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States composes a “Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary.” Despite the apparent ambition indicated by its title, it is meant to be boring. It is meant to be anodyne. It is not supposed to be the judicial version of the State of the Union so much as a trite message about how “great” things are going on the bench, usually with some boilerplate stats that show how hard judges are working.

On first read, John Roberts’s 2021 review does not disappoint. Opening with a history lesson about the Judicial Conference—an advisory body founded 100 years ago that oversees the administration of the courts—it has all the stylistic markings the media consistently praises Roberts for: It is good-natured, reassuring, and banal to the point of hokey. Never mind that things are far from OK within the judiciary—that the judicial branch has been captured by an army of conservative hacks and the Supreme Court has veered so sharply to the right that even the general public has noticed, dragging its poll numbers to record lows. Roberts’s nine-page report concerns itself with none of this. To the untrained eye, it reads as totally innocuous.

I know better, however. Roberts’s annual review has all the charms of an old country goose: ordinary and unassuming from a distance, but an irritable, irascible beast that will peck your eyes out if you get too close.

Roberts fashions it as an earnest plea for the “institutional independence” of the judiciary—or “the Judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs.” Toward this end, he extols the virtues of the Judicial Conference and the notion that the courts can and should police themselves. But like a child who agrees to be grounded before the full extent of their misdeeds can be revealed, Roberts isn’t making this suggestion for some aw-shucks innocent reason. He raises the issue of judicial independence because Congress is finally considering reining in the rampant corruption he himself refuses to stop and punishing the ethics violators he refuses to hold accountable. Of course Roberts wants people to think the judiciary should police itself, because that means judges will not be policed at all. ............(more)


Trumpworld's delusions and the real world threat

Trumpworld's delusions and the real world threat
Sidney Powell's Kraken was more than a silly sideshow


(Salon) There have been so many unprecedented and weird goings-on in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election that I think everyone's overwhelmed, so we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. The whole Kraken sideshow between Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, with the rivulets of black dye and shrill accusations that the long-dead former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, had rigged the election, was so comically outlandish that I don't think we fully understood the full scope of the danger the country was in during that period. For all of the public clownish antics by Giuliani and company, the plotting that was going on behind closed doors was even worse.

We now know about the attempt to fire then-acting attorney general and replace him with a Trump toady who was willing to strong-arm state legislators into delaying the certification of votes, a plan which was met with such resistance from both the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel's office that several staffers threatened to quit en masse, calling it a "murder-suicide pact." We also now know that the military was so concerned about the president's erratic behavior that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley gathered the top brass to remind them of the protocols in place in the event of an order for a nuclear strike and he felt compelled to call his Chinese counterpart to reassure him that the U.S. was not contemplating an attack.

We now know all about John Eastman's coup plot for GOP members of Congress to object to the certification of the electoral votes and have vice president Mike Pence throw the electoral count to the House of Representatives, where Trump would automatically win because the GOP has more state delegations (which, for some reason, made sense to someone at one time.) And we have recently had confirmation that Trump associates, led by Giuliani, coerced local Republicans in swing states to fraudulently sign electoral college ballots as fake Trump electors and send them in as if they were legitimate.

But of all the wild reports that emerged over the past few months about the ongoing insanity in the White House during Trump's lame duck period, there was always one story that I found so incredible that I wondered if it might not have been exaggerated.


Nobody knows who wrote it, but it's a good bet that Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell herself had a hand in it. The document would have authorized the Special Counsel to investigate the 2020 election. Flynn had been the first to float the idea of having the military seize the voting machines a few days earlier, and that too appeared in this draft Executive Order. Curiously, however, the order mentions a couple of classified orders, one of which had never been made public and therefore must have come from someone with a security clearance. .........(more)


Man Charged After Allegedly Showing His Ass On Flight And Refusing To Wear Mask

NEW YORK (AP) — An Irish man on a Delta flight from Dublin to New York refused to wear a mask, threw a can that hit another passenger, and pulled down his pants and exposed his buttocks to a flight attendant, according to a federal complaint unsealed Friday.

According to the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York, Shane McInerney, 29, of Galway, “created ... numerous disturbances” on the Jan. 7 Delta flight that was headed to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“During the approximately eight-hour flight, the defendant repeatedly refused to wear a face mask despite being asked dozens of times by flight crew personnel,” the complaint said.

McInerney has been charged with interfering with flight crew, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He made a court appearance last week and was released on bond. His attorney, Benjamin Yaster, declined to comment. ............(more)


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