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AZProgressive's Journal
AZProgressive's Journal
August 6, 2022

Democrats plan to challenge parliamentarian on insulin cap

Senate Democrats say they plan to challenge a ruling by the parliamentarian striking a proposal sponsored by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) to cap insulin prices from the Inflation Reduction Act, according to a Democrat familiar with the plan.

As of now, Warnock’s proposal to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 a month is in the bill, but the parliamentarian is expected to rule on the Senate floor that it does not comply with the Byrd rule, which prohibits policymaking in budget reconciliation bills that have a tangential impact on spending and revenue.

But Democrats plan to challenge the parliamentarian’s ruling on the floor, which means they would need 60 votes to waive an objection to keeping the insulin provision in the bill.

Any effort to overturn the parliamentarian is not likely to get 10 Republican votes, but it will put Republicans on the record as opposing a $35 monthly cap on patients’ insulin costs, which Democrats can use as political ammo in the midterm elections.


July 6, 2022

As NYC Slashes School Budgets, Art Teachers Are Feeling the Squeeze

On June 13, Paul Trust was called into the principal’s office at the PS 39 elementary school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he had taught music for over a decade.

In the meeting, the school’s administration told Trust that his job was in jeopardy and letting him go was the “worst-case scenario.” But after the principal met with the Borough Central Office to discuss her 2023 budget, that scenario became the reality: Trust would be “excessed,” or laid off from his position. And the school told its only other music teacher Nick Deutsch, who had been there for six years, the same thing, effectively eliminating its music department.

PS 39 was forced to decrease spending by 14%, one of approximately 1,200 district schools in New York — 77% of the city’s total — that were told to cut their budget by a specific dollar amount after Mayor Eric Adams slashed school funding by over $200 million. The cuts are tied to enrollment declines, which the majority of NYC schools experienced over the course of the pandemic. Budget decisions are at the discretion of the schools’ principals, and arts departments, already under-funded despite representing a “core academic subject,” are not protected.

“Any time there are funding cuts, the arts are usually the first to get trimmed,” Mario Asaro, head of the NYC Art Teachers Association, told Hyperallergic. “I can’t see how that won’t affect music and art and other special subjects.”


July 6, 2022

Big 12 in deep discussions to add up to six Pac-12 teams after USC, UCLA defections to Big Ten

The Big 12 is involved in deep discussions to add multiple Pac-12 programs as a way to shore up its membership in the wake of the USC and UCLA defection to the Big Ten, sources tell CBS Sports. At least four teams are being considered with the potential for the Big 12 to add more as realignment continues to shake out.

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were mentioned specifically as the teams being targeted by the Big 12, sources tell CBS Sports. There is also consideration of adding Oregon and Washington to make the Big 12 an 18-team league, the largest in the FBS.

A merger of the Big 12 and Pac-12, in some form, is also a possibility.

"Everything is on the table," said one Big 12 source.


July 3, 2022

Climate: Even briefly overshooting 2C will cause permanent damage

The history of climate change is one of people slowly coming to terms with the truth. None but a small minority still question whether it’s real and caused by humans. Now most grapple with the reality of trying to slow down catastrophic warming, and the difference between solutions and false hope. The concept of climate overshoot is the next thing we will need to get to grips with.

Unless urgent action is taken, emissions are expected to cause the planet to continue heating rapidly over the next few decades, prompting the global average temperature to overshoot the Paris agreement’s target, which aimed to limit warming to between 1.5°C and 2°C. A period of higher temperatures will occur in the middle of this century as a result. Then, the idea goes, new but yet unproven technologies and techniques for pulling greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will eventually bring temperatures back down to a safer level.

Until now, scientists were unsure what temporarily overshooting (and then boomeranging back below) the Paris agreement’s temperature target would entail for nature. So, for the first time, we studied the consequences of allowing Earth’s temperature to exceed these precautionary limits, then fall below them again, for marine and land-based life. In other words, we looked at how damaging the journey of overshooting the 2°C temperature target would be, and not just the destination itself.

The results suggest that a temporary overshoot would cause waves of irreversible extinctions and lasting damage to tens of thousands of species. This is what the world can expect if humanity fails to make deep emission cuts this decade, and relies instead on future technologies to remove emissions later.


June 11, 2022

Giuliani hit with ethics charge by DC Bar over false election fraud claims

Rudy Giuliani was hit with an ethics charge by the Washington, D.C., Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Friday over his promotion of baseless claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election before a federal court in Pennsylvania, jeopardizing his ability to practice law in the city.

The D.C. Bar’s disciplinary arm said that he had violated the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct by bringing a proceeding and asserting “issues therein without a non-frivolous basis in law and fact for doing so” and engaging “in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice,” according to the filing.

The complaint said that Giuliani provided insufficient sourcing to prove his allegations that election fraud had taken place in Pennsylvania.

Giuliani “further justified his allegations of fraud against the” defendant counties in the case “by promising the district court that ‘statistical analysis will evidence that over 70,000 mail and other mail ballots which favor [President] Biden were improperly counted,’ … but Respondent should have known the ‘evidence’ he provided relied upon false or faulty statistics and analysis,” the complaint read.


June 10, 2022

Jared Kushner Wasn't Just Involved in Trump's Push to Overturn 2020. He Helped Start It

Jared Kushner knew his father-in-law and boss Donald Trump had lost to Joe Biden. But that didn’t stop Kushner from trying to help his wife’s dad cling to power.

Nowadays, as Kushner seeks investments for his firm and attempts to launder his image, the former senior White House aide would like everyone in the public and the press to believe he had nothing to do with the January 6 insurrection or Team Trump’s most scandalous efforts to overthrow the American democratic order. However, there is one problem: Kushner absolutely was intimately involved with Trump’s scheme to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. It’s just that he bailed on the mission early to save himself.

According to four people familiar with the matter, in the week following Election Day in early November of that year, Kushner took charge in overseeing the development of plans to keep Trump in office — Kushner just wasn’t publicly ostentatious about it in the way Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others were. During that first week, Kushner repeatedly met with Trump and other high-ranking aides to the then-president to discuss and map out possible strategies for multi-pronged legal battles and a scorched-earth messaging war against the victorious Biden campaign, the knowledgeable sources tell Rolling Stone.

Despite all the strong evidence to the contrary, Kushner told Trump that there could still be a path for the then-president in a number of critical states, including Arizona, that had already been called for Biden. In those early days of the scheme to overturn the election, two of the sources say, Kushner also personally encouraged Trump to fight on and ignore people who were saying it was over, and to stick to the burgeoning plans and court challenges spearheaded by the 2020 campaign attorneys and senior staff. Kushner was, of course, in the room with these fellow Trump lieutenants when the plans were first being crafted. (Axios reported this at the time as the trusted son-in-law urging Trump to explore and pursue “legal remedies” to the election results.)


June 10, 2022

Our entire civilisation depends on animals. It's time we recognised their true value

Asked to consider the value of animals, many people’s first thought would be about money. During the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, the price of dogs became a popular talking point. Others might think of the less tangible, but also very real, value they place on their relationships with companion animals, especially pets such as cats and dogs. Fewer would immediately consider the ways in which our entire civilisation rests on animals. The fact is, though, that our society and economy are embedded in a natural system that is maintained by the activities of animals, and without them, we would not be here.

Animals are vital to the functioning of the biosphere in innumerable ways. Their interactions with plants, fungi and microbes sustain the conditions on which we, along with all other life, depend. For example, the great whales that sit at the pinnacle of marine food webs are linked to some of the most fundamental processes that shape conditions in our world. They eat other marine creatures, including krill, and in the process take nutrients from deeper water to be released via their faeces into the ocean, where they fertilise blooms of planktonic algae.

As the plankton grow, they extract carbon from the atmosphere and release oxygen as a byproduct, keeping carbon dioxide concentrations in check and replenishing oxygen at a level that sustains animal life. Those same photosynthetic plankton, powered by sunshine, are at the base of the food webs that feed the rest of marine animal life, including fish and, ultimately, whales. Some plant plankton also release a gas called dimethyl sulphide, an important contribution to cloud formation, which sustains freshwater security on land.

Tropical rainforests are another vast and vitally important system that removes carbon from the atmosphere. While we tend to think first of their trees, these complex ecosystems are held together by pollinating insects, a kind of animal glue. The myriad plants that inhabit these moist, warm forests are nearly all pollinated by bees, wasps, ants, butterflies and beetles (and some by birds and bats). Rainforest plants produce fruits, animals eat them and, in the process, move seeds around the forests.


June 9, 2022

Justice Department opens probe into Louisiana State Police

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is opening a sweeping civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police amid mounting evidence that the agency has a pattern of looking the other way in the face of beatings of mostly Black men, including the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene.

The federal “pattern-or-practice” probe announced Thursday followed an Associated Press investigation that found Greene’s arrest was among at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which state police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct. Dozens of current and former troopers said the beatings were countenanced by a culture of impunity, nepotism and, in some cases, outright racism.

“We find significant justification to open this investigation now ... we received information of the repeated use of excessive force, often against people suspected of minor traffic offenses, are already handcuffed, or are not resisting,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who oversees the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “There are reports that officers target Black residents in their traffic enforcement practices and in use of force.”

The federal probe, the first such action against a statewide law enforcement agency in more than two decades, comes more than three years after white troopers were captured on long-withheld body-camera video beating, stunning and dragging Greene on a rural roadside near Monroe. Despite lengthy, ongoing federal and state investigations into a death that troopers initially blamed on a car crash, no one has yet been charged.


April 24, 2022

'The Time Is Now to Stand Up to Our Oligarchy,' Sanders Tells Amazon Workers on Eve of Union Vote

On a day billed as "Solidarity Sunday," Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited Amazon workers in New York City less than 24 hours before they start casting ballots on whether to form a union, after which Sanders departed to Richmond, Virginia to talk with Starbucks workers who have been organizing coffee shops around the nation.

Voting at Amazon's 1,500-employee LDJ5 facility—located across the street from the JFK8 warehouse that made history just three weeks ago by becoming the first of the e-commerce giant's U.S. workplaces to unionize—is set to begin on April 25.

"If [Jeff] Bezos can afford a $500 million yacht," Sanders (I-Vt.) said, referring to the company's billionaire founder in a video promoting Sunday's event, "he can afford to pay his workers at Amazon decent wages, decent benefits, and provide good working conditions."

Speaking from a stage in Staten Island, Sanders told Amazon workers that they are "sending a message to every worker in America that the time is now to stand up to our oligarchy, to stand up to this excessive corporate greed, and create an economy that works for all, not just a few."


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