10,000 on ignore, Book 169: The Days of Reckoning, Part 28.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Over a year and a half into the pandemic, it has become clear that the race to contain the virus is simultaneously a sprint and a marathon. Yes, the world needs to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible to slow the spread of the virus. But if every human on the planet were vaccinated tomorrow, SARS-CoV-2 would still live on in multiple animal species, including monkeys, cats, and deer. In Denmark, more than 200 people contracted COVID-19 from minks. Although there is no evidence yet of sustained transmission from humans to animals and then back to humans, the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 in so many species means that it is not just plausible but probable.

The dream of herd immunity has also died. Just a year ago, some newly minted experts were arguing that the virus should be given free rein to circulate in order for countries to reach herd immunity as soon as possible. Sweden famously followed this approach; predictably, it experienced dramatically higher rates of infection and death than nearby Denmark, Finland, and Norway (while suffering similar economic damage). Only after hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths occurred worldwide was this misguided strategy abandoned.

More recently, epidemiologists were debating what percentage of a population had to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity and when that threshold would be reached. But now it is becoming clear that the world cannot wait for herd immunity to contain the pandemic. For one thing, vaccination is proceeding too slowly. It is taking too long to produce and deliver sufficient supplies of vaccines, and a sizable global anti-vaccine movement is dampening demand for them. For another thing, there has been a constant flow of new variants of the virus, threatening the progress that has been made with vaccines and diagnostics.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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GOP delays first Indian-American federal personnel director due to common sense race theory
Lauren Floyd

KiranAhujainterview.jpeg


Of all that President Joe Biden has to contend with, it has to be especially frustrating when a lack of common sense among the GOP delays progress. Republican angst that the general public might come to learn racism of the past is connected to racism of the present is actually delaying the confirmation of what would be the first Indian-American to lead the federal personnel management agency. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has held up activist and attorney Kiran Ahuja's nomination to lead the federal government's chief human resources agency "because of her history promoting radical critical race theorists," Kelli Ford, a spokesperson for Hawley, told CNN in a statement earlier this week. "These associations merit real scrutiny, especially in light of Ms. Ahuja's nomination to a role that would allow her to reinstate race-based training sessions throughout the entire federal government," Ford said in a statement.

It's worth explaining that critical race theory is not the GOP kryptonite Republicans seem to think it is. The race theory is based on the premise that racism affects nearly every major system in this country from the legal system and the laws that govern it to education and health care.
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Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founder of critical race theory, defined it in an interview with CNN as “an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it." If it sounds like the kind of logical conclusion any person who’s familiar with the fact that slavery lasted about 400 years should be able to come to, that’s because it is.

Far be it from Hawley to embrace logic. Remember, this is the guy who floated hope that former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud could lead to overturning his election loss. Hawley pushed against logic intensely in questioning Ahuja at her confirmation hearing in April. He asked her about training sessions employees in the executive branch were required to attend last September, during which attendees were told “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and were required to say “they benefit from racism.” Hawley said that and other ideas are “deeply divisive, amount to left-wing indoctrination, and really are attempts to divide the American people, in this case federal employees along the lines of race. He asked Ahuja, who was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management, if she was involved in creating or organizing the trainings, and Ahuja said “no” but she’s seen diversity and inclusion trainings being used more broadly in the country.



"The last administration ceased diversity training that contained any elements of what is sometimes called critical race theory. Do you agree with that decision by the prior administration or no?" Hawley asked. I suppose she couldn’t say no, the last administration’s devotion to white supremacy far outranked its grip on the reality of racism in this country. So she instead explained that she doesn’t know about the specific trainings cited but she’s familiar with diversity and inclusion trainings that "have really encouraged understanding people from all walks of life."

Hawley, apparently not getting the endorsement of critical race theory he was hoping for, switched lines of questioning to Ahuja’s work with anti-racist activist Dr. Ibram Kendi. The senator asked if she supported Kendi’s claim in an article that the 2016 election "was an example of racist progress." Ahuja again said she doesn’t recall the article Hawley quoted and called Kendi "a thought leader" when it pertains to how to achieve greater equity in communities of color. When Hawley pushed her again on whether she thinks the 2016 election "was an example of racist progress," Ahuja told the senator she hasn't made any statement like that and wouldn’t. “And so no I can't speak to that particular opinion that Dr. Kendi has made,” she said.



Hawley refused to drop his quest to reveal a critical race theorist in Ahuja during the hearing and after it, the senator continuing to ride a wave of GOP opposition to the race theory. Hawley and other Republicans objected to a speedy vote for Ahuja's confirmation, which will ultimately force Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to use a lengthier process that is abnormal for low-profile positions, The Washington Post reported. Ahuja will likely be confirmed in a split vote along party lines, but Republican stalling could mean that doesn’t happen before the Senate recess at the end of June. “Democrats sought to fast-track a vote, but Senator Hawley believes adequate debate time and full Senate consideration is needed for this nominee,” Ford wrote in a statement to the Post.


Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, told The Washington Post the vacancy in what would be Ahuja’s position is already “slowing things down” and compounding already problematically slow hiring processes to recruit a diverse workforce. “You have four years,” Stier said, “and we’re losing a big chunk of time.”
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Culture Warriors Wigging Out and Demonizing Critical Race Theory
Bill Berkowitz
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Missives from the front lines of the never-ending Culture War
Frank Vyan Walton
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Zahid Quraishi to be a US District Judge for the District of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim American federal judge in US history.

"Mr. Quraishi will be the first American Muslim in United States history to serve as an Article III federal judge. The third largest religion in the United States, and he will become the first to ever serve as an Article III judge," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday in floor remarks ahead of the vote.

"We must expand not only demographic diversity, but professional diversity, and I know that President Biden agrees with me on this, and this will be something that I will set out to do," Schumer said, noting how Quraishi is a "powerful" example of this.

Prior to his confirmation, Quraishi has been serving as a United States magistrate judge in New Jersey. According to his biography, he is of Pakistani ancestry and has the distinction of being the first Asian-American to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said in floor remarks on Thursday that Quraishi has "had an amazing public service career," and noted that he is "the son of Pakistani immigrants."

In March, when Biden announced his intention to nominate Quraishi, the White House said he "served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey from 2008 to 2013. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's office, Judge Quraishi served as an assistant chief counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also served as a military prosecutor and achieved the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, deploying to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006."
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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'At greater risk than ever before': Bipartisan lawmakers urge Biden admin to evacuate Afghan allies
Gabe Ortiz

A bipartisan coalition of House members that includes U.S. military veterans is continuing to call on the Biden administration to quickly evacuate Afghan allies ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan in September, writing in a follow-up letter to President Joe Biden that “[o]ur Afghan friends and allies are at greater risk than ever before.”

“In the past month, we have been closely following your developing withdrawal plans,” members of the Honoring Our Promises Working Group write. “We appreciate the complexity of ending the War in Afghanistan, but we are increasingly concerned that you have not yet directed the Department of Defense be mobilized as part of a concrete and workable whole of government plan to protect our Afghan partners.”
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While the working group was created earlier this year with a goal of expanding the special visa program benefiting Afghans who assisted U.S. military, they say the approaching withdrawal deadline necessitates immediate action from the Biden administration. “The current SIV process will not work. It takes an average of 800+ days, and we plan to withdraw in less than 100 days.” That timeline threatens to leave behind thousands of applicants who put their lives at risk to aid our military, lawmakers say.

“After examining this situation through multiple hearings, briefings, and our own offices’ research and outreach, our bipartisan working group has concluded that we must evacuate our Afghan friends and allies immediately,” they write. “No U.S. entity—to include the Department of Defense, Department of State, USAID, et al.—has the ability or authority to protect them in Afghanistan after our withdrawal. It would be a moral failure to transfer the responsibility to protect our Afghan partners onto the shoulders of the Afghan Government. The time is now to honor our promise and evacuate Afghan SIV applicants.”

Like veterans groups and refugee resettlement groups, the working group noted the U.S. has evacuated a large number of vulnerable people in the past, and has the capability to do so again. “The United States has conducted evacuations at a far greater scale before,” legislators write, including the evacuation of roughly 130,000 Vietnamese refugees during the Ford administration. Smaller evacuations also occurred during the Clinton administration, including 20,000 Kosovar Albanians in 1999. “We have experience with this type of evacuation in times of crisis, and the current environment in Afghanistan clearly merits such action,” legislators said.

“If we fail to protect our allies in Afghanistan, it will have a lasting impact on our future partnerships and global reputation, which will then be a great detriment to our troops and the future of our national security,” legislators tell the Biden administration. “Veterans in Congress understand this firsthand: when we recruited our Afghan friends, we promised to have their backs. The Honoring Our Promises Working Group stands ready to provide support and oversight for this critical mission.” A full list of working group members is available here.

In its letter to the Biden administration last month, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) said ”the U.S. must fulfill its commitments to our Afghan allies and work urgently to ensure their and their families’ safety. Veterans’ groups, national security experts, and legislators agree that we must honor this commitment. Our allies put their lives on the line to support our troops because they believed in the U.S. mission. We must show Afghans and the rest of the world that the U.S. will follow through on our word.”

“Through their allegiance and faithful service, these wartime allies and their families have long been the targets of anti-American violence and persecution,” LIRS President Krish O’Mara Vignarajah warned in her recent op-ed in The Washington Post. “The omnipresent threat of retribution, tragically, has only grown in the face of imminent U.S. withdrawal.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Actual election experts challenge incompetent Arizona 'audit' team: 'Put up or shut up'
Hunter

......Their proposal is gloriously straightforward: Pick a box, any not-yet-opened box, from the stored archive of ballots the current "audit" team is working their way through. The expert team will then tell Cyber Ninjas and the Republican-held Arizona Senate who set this whole fiasco in motion the exact vote totals they will find in that archived bundle of ballots, in every race—without going to Arizona or even lifting the box's lid.

Why? Because elections officials archive these ballots in a very specific manner, have compiled a database of the votes on each ballot, and have recorded which ballots have gone into which boxes as matter of standard procedure. It's all in the systems. This is very basic stuff that is the whole premise of auditable, testable election administration, and any team of actual experts would know all this.

Then, the team challenges, Cyber Ninjas can send the box through their Tilt-a-Whirl of counters and spinning tables and bamboo seances and see what vote
they come up with. Will the experts be proven right? Will the Ninjas? Wouldn't that be a hoot to watch.........



 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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New polling shows President Biden has quickly restored America's stature in the eyes of the world
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

So now that we have a president who doesn’t pose an existential threat to NATO, respects climate change accords, takes worldwide pandemics seriously and won’t flatter dictators, threaten to nuke hurricanes, or otherwise make the world’s foremost democracy look like King Kong on a four-year Jägermeister-and-bath-salts bender, the rest of the world likes us better.

Go figure.

And all it took was a Trumpectomy (though, for some reason, plenty of people not only want to keep the tumor, they also want to display it in a jar on the mantel under a garish array of klieg lights).

According to a recent Pew Research Center global survey, the world is coming back around to liking us again, just in time for Joe Biden’s first international trip as president.

The Washington Post:

Trust in the U.S. president fell to historic lows in most countries surveyed during Donald Trump’s presidency, according to Pew.
Under Biden, it has soared. In the 12 countries surveyed both this year and last, a median of 75 percent of respondents expressed confidence in Biden to “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” Pew found, compared with 17 percent for Trump last year. Sixty-two percent of respondents now have a favorable view of the United States vs. 34 percent at the end of Trump’s presidency.

You mean the rest of the world sees Vladimir Putin as a thug who poisons people and not “a leader—far more than (Obama) has been a leader”? And they didn’t believe that North Korea was now eliminated as a threat because Kim Jong-Un let the squishy wad of id who was cosplaying as our president have extra sprinkles on his ice cream at their summit dinner?

You don’t say.

Sadly, it’s not all good news. While international respondents gave Biden and the U.S. high marks for rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and the WHO, our democracy now looks to the rest of the world like a Brobdingnagian berm of Andre the Giant Underoos in a dysentery ward laundry.

Attitudes are mixed about how well the U.S. political system functions, and in most surveyed publics, less than 10 percent of respondents said it works very well.
“Publics in the advanced economies surveyed are largely skeptical that democracy in the U.S. is a good example for other countries to follow,” the report reads.

In any other year, I might be offended, but Jan. 6 was bad optics, to say the least. It might take some time to recover from that one, especially since the bad, bad man has not yet gone to meet his maker (which may be either God or Hasbro; I haven’t made up my mind yet).

Oh, and it’s not just the plebs who are noticing the difference between Joe Biden and the nativist tub of goo we’ve been airmailing to the G-7 meetings lately. Even Boris Johnson, the destitute man’s Winston Churchill who’s frequently compared to Trump, is on board with Uncle Joe.



Well, anything seems like a breath of fresh air when you’ve been bombarded with covfefe ‘n KFC breath for four years. Of course, this would all be news to Trump’s most ardent supporters, who became convinced that the world finally respected us again under Trump—because that’s what he told them—despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Then again, evidence has never convinced those people of anything. Guess we’ll just have to shunt them aside while the world’s sane community gets to work fixing the ocher abomination’s myriad screwups.

But be patient with the new guy, folks. Undoing all that Trumpian damage may take some time.