10,000 on ignore, Book 189, The Days of Reckoning, Part 48.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Schools, city works, and football shut down as Texas town surpasses 40% COVID positive rate
Walter Einenkel

The town of Iraan (pronounced Ira-Ann), in Texas, is shut down. According to The Texas Tribune, the oilfield town, with a population just north of 1,200-1,300 people, had its local school shut down last week after about 25% of the staff and 16% of the student body tested positive or were in quarantine for COVID-19. The West Texas town only has a 14-bed hospital with zero critical care facilities. The Tribune reports that the closest hospitals with the equipment and services needed to handle serious COVID-19 cases are “all 80 miles or more away.” The Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District made this announcement last Monday after only five days of classes.

Iraan’s schools are not fighting Republican death-eater Gov. Greg Abbott’s anti-mask mandates. The Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District joins three other school districts that both allowed mask-wearing to be “optional” and are now closed due to high COVID-19 numbers. A statement from the district’s superintendent, Dr. Tracy Canter, conveyed to parents that the school would be closed until at least Aug. 30. CNN reports that this may be an optimistic timetable as Iraan saw 119 people tested in the first two weeks of August, and 50 of those tests came back positive. The town’s city council has already voted to close down the city building and “postpone late fees on water and gas utilities and stop utility disconnections for at least a month.”

The football season has been postponed for now.

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Iraan General Hospital CEO Jason Rybolt told CNN he was “very concerned for the community," and whether the small town of Iraan will be receiving the medical treatment it needs. The hospital’s chief nursing officer, Connie Miles, told CBS7: “We started seeing some patients come into our facility that were needing more care than what they could get at home last week, and we have transferred some patients out to larger facilities. Our biggest issue right now is finding facilities that will take these patients because every facility in the state is full.” Iraan, like the other districts that have closed down, is an area where fewer than a third of residents are fully vaccinated.

The Tribune expanded on how prevalent the problem was in the Iraan school district as about 27% of “instructional staffers” were already out due to COVID-19 before the awful numbers this past week were announced. These staffers—as well as other facility staff—pose a much larger risk of spreading the virus than in many larger areas simply because many of them have numerous responsibilities beyond instruction. “During the day, some teach and then coach and then drive the bus.” According to the Tribune, the Morgan Mill Independent School District in Fort Worth, Texas, closed after “half the staff was out sick.”

A depressing side note to an already depressing story: According to Morgan Mill Superintendent Wendy Sanders, many of the “staff out sick” did not want to be tested for COVID-19. “It was their personal choice to not get tested. I don’t believe in taking away personal freedom of choice and enforcing testing.” Fine. But then, when can they be allowed back to the school? The Tribune did not ask that follow-up question, so it’s hard to say whether or not simply saying you’re sick means you just sit out for 10 days until maybe you feel better. So you don’t test before coming back to school to face a population of children, many of whom cannot be given a vaccine at this time, even if they wanted one?

Iraan’s school system joins others throughout the Lone Star state in closing down as COVID-19 surges across the country. According to the Associated Press, at least 21 other Texas school districts have defied coronavirus-positive Abbott’s terrifying overreach. These rural schools will also have to deal with state-mandated instructional time being lost due to closures. There will be some remote conferencing mixed in with extended days, and probably nixing some minimum days that were supposed to be allotted to teachers for instructional planning.

Iraan General Hospital reports that it has “a sufficient supply of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine available.
Please call our Rural Health Clinic @ 432-639-2580 or Connie Miles, RN, CNO @ 432-639-3514 with eligibility questions or to schedule your appointment today!”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Months before the first COVID-19 cases were detected, public-health experts ranked Sweden as one of the most prepared countries to handle a pandemic. But in March 2020, Swedish health authorities surprised the world with their unorthodox approach: Rather than locking down and requiring masks, as many countries did, Sweden let residents decide individually whether to take those precautions.

The gamble, Swedish authorities predicted, would pay off in the long run. Ideally, vulnerable people would choose to stay home, the economy wouldn't suffer too much, and healthy people might get mild COVID-19 cases that ultimately contributed to the population's collective immunity.

But a year and a half into the pandemic, it's clear that bet was wrong.

Sweden has recorded more COVID-19 cases per capita than most countries so far: Since the start of the pandemic, roughly 11 out of every 100 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with COVID-19, compared with 9.4 out of every 100 in the UK and 7.4 per 100 in Italy. Sweden has also recorded around 145 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 people — around three times more than Denmark, eight times more than Finland, and nearly 10 times more than Norway.

Had Sweden implemented tighter rules, experts told Insider, the country might have seen a COVID-19 death toll more similar to those Nordic neighbors.

"They underestimated the mortality tremendously," Claudia Hanson, an associate professor at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, told Insider.

"Sweden became a dream for many people to think one can do it differently," Hanson added. But in retrospect, she said, "it was maybe not a good idea."......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The leader of the far-right Proud Boys was sentenced Monday to more than five months in jail after admitting that he burned a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church in Washington during a pro-Trump demonstration in December.

Henry Tarrio, known to followers as Enrique, was arrested Jan. 4 in Washington on a warrant stemming from an incident on Dec. 12. The Proud Boys and other groups marched in a raucous rally through downtown. The banner was stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in Washington.

Tarrio, 37, of Miami, also pleaded guilty to attempting to possess a high-capacity gun magazine, which is illegal in Washington. Investigators said he had the magazines with him when he returned to the city for the Jan. 6 protests of the electoral vote count in Congress.

Both charges were misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail.

Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of 90 days in jail followed by three months of probation and an order forbidding him to return to Washington. They said his burning of the banner "had profound emotional and psychological effect upon the church and its members" and that he bragged openly about it, saying on social media, "I'm damn proud I did it!"

A senior pastor at the church, the Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, spoke during the court hearing before the sentence was imposed. She called Tarrio's conduct "an act of intimidation and racism" and he treated his action as "a trophy on social media."

Tarrio told the judge Monday that he made "a grave mistake" by burning the banner. "I profoundly apologize. I didn't see the consequences of what I did."

But prosecutors said that video taken during the December demonstration showed that he was on and around the church property as other members of the Proud Boys stole the banner. "He surely knew where he was and where the banner he burned — which had Asbury's name printed on it — had come from."

Superior Court Judge Harold Cushenberg said Tarrio "did not credibly express genuine remorse" and sentenced him to a total of 155 days.

Tarrio was ordered to surrender to the Washington, DC jail on September 6.

The guilty plea and sentence were unrelated to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, in which at least three dozen members or followers of the Proud Boys have been charged. Federal prosecutors said in court documents that Tarrio, referred to as the "Proud Boys Chairman," posted messages on social media that members of the group planned to "turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th."

After Tarrio was arrested, prosecutors said, other members of the group took over the planning for what would happen when Congress met to count the electoral vote for president.


Federal law enforcement officials have said Washington police were tipped off that he was coming to Washington for the event and were on the lookout for him, prepared to arrest him for burning the banner.
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Street brawls, smashed vehicles, gunfire are how Proud Boys celebrate Portland ‘Summer of Love’
David Neiwert
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The GOP's violent minority of anti-science, anti-mask anti-vaxxers
Kerry Eleveld
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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covidfinality.png
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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After four years of comatose Trump coverage, reporters finally find something to scream about
Hunter

After four long years of Donald Trump wandering through the halls of power with his pants down, shuffle-walking his way through corrupt acts, racist acts, incompetence and capping it off with sedition, the nation's political press has finally found something that piques them enough to dump the pretense of faux-neutrality over. That it's the withdrawal of the United States from a two-decade war that was never able to build an Afghan government sturdier than a flower stem goes without saying.

It's not that the press has strong feelings about continuing the war [that Trump negotiated an end to but there's been a national oath taken to not talk about that]. It's just that everybody can agree that Joe Biden is ending the war Wrong, as attested to by a wide assortment of war architects whose strategies and preconceptions were so bumblefkingly wrong at every last turn and during every last year that not even a full generation's worth of doubling down could produce their promised outcomes.
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Again, for a Steadfastly Neutral Political Press it's uncanny how swiftly the blurted talking points of Republican opinion-havers turn into high-tide news cycles featuring the same words, rewritten. As for whether the press has learned a thing, in the twenty year span beginning with terrorism-premised military expeditions and ending with an attempted fascist takeover of government, the speed with which news coverage has in all respects snapped back to its pre-Trump obsessions and foibles suggests that we remain, to use the academic term preferred by sociologists, boned.

A seditious attack on the United States led by a sociopathic failed president got headlines only until the Capitol windows had their glass replaced. Reporters grumbling that the “optics” of hasty refugee evacuations have put a new presidency in crisis are attempting to make the news cycle, not report it.

It is possible the withdrawal from Afghanistan was mismanaged. It is also possible that most or all of the war's dedicated experts were caught completely flat-footed by the sheer speed of the Afghan government and military collapse. It is possible that the supposed 300,000 person strong Afghan military was far more a paper tiger than even their American coordinators could fathom, even in those very last days. Whatever chain of events led an assemblage of violent religious zealots to be able to sweep back through the nation's provinces with such speed that their advances seem to have been hampered more by the speed with which their trucks could be refueled than by any actual Afghan opposition, all of it seems to squarely support the charge that America's success in Afghanistan has been a fiction.

Behind the scenes, a large part of the true story seems to hinge on President Joe Biden's loss of trust and patience for the same arguments (and arguers) that have kept us impotently occupied in permanent war. The Daily Beast reports that Biden has been keenly aware of how the national security complex has gaslit and slow-walked previous presidents into abandoning attempts to wind down the war, and that he and his team feel it is long past time to reevaluate current missions and abandon the ones that have weakened the nation rather than defended it. A new assertion that the withdrawal would have eventually worked if war planners were given another two, four, or ten years to prepare for it simply weren't going to fly.

All that said, I am very tired and in a foul mood so rather than listing out the full panoply of ways the foreign policy experts of the press have padded their beats with strategic hysteria in place of competent analysis, yet again and still, here are some press critics that slam the laziest of the reportage with approximately the disgust it deserves. Consider me in league with all of them.


From Eric Boehlert at Press Run we get some suitable exasperation at the press "deliberately falling down a deep well of optics reporting" in order to craft a narrative they want to craft. "The media have gone all in with the narrative that Biden's presidency sits on the precipice of ruin" based on, mostly, the optics of the reporters' Republican sources saying so.

As Boehlert observes, it's a game quite similar to the coverage given Hillary Clinton's Emails, an approach from the political press in which even the most hyperventilating Republican claims are repeated ad nauseam because hey, the "optics" of someone saying those things makes for a quick and research-averse story that will turn public heads. In the end, a great many of the nation's problems come from media elevation of the political press over the facts and stuff press. Determining which infrastructure policies might best serve an urbanizing nation is complex and often boring, but "a well-heeled professional ideologue has said a thing" can be written up as an "optics" story in the span of a few hours and be gushed about by literally any pundit that can find their way to a camera.

From Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel comes a call-out of press efforts to rehabilitate national security sources with misleading claims that no, the White House was too warned of the probable near-instant collapse of the Afghan military. Wheeler remains an expert in source-pushed press or government gaslighting and levels The Wall Street Journal here for a published ass-covering that relies on readers not understanding how calendars work. The gullibility of journalists when approached with sources with bridges to sell will never end.

From Josh Marshall at TPM there's a broader look that suggests that Actually (and even despite the complete evaporation of the Afghan military leading to the Taliban reaching Kabul long before any American planner seems to have predicted), the withdrawal and evacuation of asylum-seekers doesn't seem to be nearly the fiasco the press quickly painted it to be—and features more than a few figures trying to sell cures that are at present imaginary. "The loud voices are ones of evasion," says Marshall, and the "real charlatans are those staking out what amounts to a phony third option–getting out cleanly, without anything that felt bad."

From Michael Hobbes at Rotten in Denmark we get a reminder of why blogs are an infinitely better medium than any op-ed page anywhere and will remain better forever, period, full stop. Stop reading op-ed pages, damn it, you’re just encouraging them. From a launch that ties past academic and press hysteria over Black American speech patterns to the current national inability to distinguish between intelligent ideas and stupid ones presented with "intelligent" veneer, we get a nice rundown of why savvy media punditry sucks, very very much, and acts primarily as an optics-focused way for invested figures to say optics things so as to themselves bend the optics in whatever way they want them bent. Bonus points to Hobbes for taking aim at one of my personal pet grievances, the insufferable emptiness of The Atlantic's recent slide to performative contrarianism.

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Is the evacuation from Afghanistan "bad"? Of course it is. We lost a war—we can't claim otherwise, if after 20 years of halfhearted action the enemy was able to road-trip their way back into regional and national government before we had even fully cleaned out our desks. We lost the war even more egregiously than we thought we had, resulting in sea of people storming the airport hours after their propped-up president had fled the country for safer ground.

So now things are a mess, and now for all this nation's talk of defending Afghan women and children or putting the brakes to militant religious oppression worldwide we remain where we began—almost entirely dependent on future diplomatic and economic pressures to enforce human rights that could not be enforced with military power.

Unless the United States was prepared to annex Afghanistan as a territory, make the country the 51st American state, or pursue the war with such violence that no notable number of Afghans allied with Taliban ideologies were left alive, the endgame was always destined to be something similar to this one. And it's terrible. Not just because we could not secure civil rights we pretended to care about, during two decades of taking the same actions and wondering why we were getting no better results, but because the aftermath suggests that our whole pursuit of the war was a farce to begin with.

Since none of the war's architects want an examination of those failures, we're left instead with grousing about things would have worked out in the 22nd year, or the 27th year, or the 51st year if a president was willing to just listen to them ... forever.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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New poll shows 81% support for welcoming Afghan allies who aided U.S.
Gabe Ortiz

New CBS News/YouGov polling released over the weekend shows overwhelming support for evacuating Afghan translators and other allies to the United States. Overall, 81% responded affirmatively when asked if the nation should “help Afghan allies enter the U.S.” Only 19% opposed.

There was significant support for protecting our Afghan allies across individual party lines, CBS News said. Support was highest among Democrats, at 90%. But support was also high among independents and Republicans, at 79% and 76%, respectively.
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“The broad bipartisan support for resettling Afghan allies is part of a broader public opinion trend in favor of immigrants and immigration, which grew stronger during the past four years,” immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice said on Monday in response to the polling.

The organization noted Gallup polling from last July that showed near-record high support among Americans who believe more immigration is good. Recent Data for Progress polling also shows overwhelming support for a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, temporary status holders, and essential workers. “A deep and broad majority of Americans support resettling our Afghan allies, see immigration as a good thing, and want Congress to formally recognize undocumented immigrants as the Americans they already are,” said America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry.

“Meanwhile, the ultranationalist right in America is working overtime to scare the American people into opposition on all three fronts,” Sharry continued. “It isn’t working.” Like I noted last week, an NBC News report sought to portray political divisions over welcoming Afghans by quoting former White House aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller, as well as citing anti-immigrant propagandist Laura Ingraham.

“Trumpian wing of the GOP is loud but not large,” Sharry continued. “Their political efficacy is wildly overrated. They supported Trump’s nationalization of the 2018 midterms on hyped fears of ‘caravans and criminals’ and suffered the largest midterm defeat in American history. They thought Trump was brilliant to run on xenophobia in 2020, only to see him lose to the pro-immigrant candidate by 7 million votes. During Trump’s war on immigrants and refugees, Republicans lost the House, the Senate, and the White House.”

Other recent polling also showed that “most voters, 55%, also want Biden to speed up the visa-granting process for Afghan allies who helped the U.S. forces during two decades of operations there,” Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld wrote last week. “Those who support a streamlined visa process include majorities of Democrats (62%) and independents (56%), along with a 45% plurality of Republicans.” The new polling comes as leading refugee advocates say that the Biden administration has made great strides in the number of evacuations from Afghanistan.



“This is what progress looks like,” Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service President Krish O'Mara Vignarajah tweeted in response to updated numbers reported by CBS News. “There are still challenges at the airport, but the increasing pace of evacuation is very encouraging. It’s a testament to what we can achieve with the full might of the US military working hand-in-glove with dedicated career diplomats.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The US military is advising President Joe Biden that he must decide by Tuesday whether to extend the evacuation in Afghanistan beyond August 31, according to a defense official directly familiar with the discussions, though Biden has yet to make a decision.

Military advisers have told the White House that the decision must be made by Tuesday in order to have enough time to withdraw the 5,800 troops currently on the ground, as well as their equipment and weapons. If the President agrees, the military anticipates "a few more days" of trying to evacuate as many people as possible before the drawdown of US forces begins, possibly at the end of this week.

Still deciding​

As of Monday, Biden was still deciding whether to extend the deadline for removing all US troops, CNN has learned. Several of the President's advisers have advised against an extension, citing the security situation on the ground. Officials have spent recent days monitoring potential terrorist threats, citing "persistent" and credible information that the chaotic situation outside the airfield has created a target for ISIS-K and other organizations......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Kevin Drum

I have had it with coverage of the Kabul evacuation. The plain fact is that, under the circumstances, it's going fairly well. Both Americans and Afghan allies are being flown out safely and bloodshed on the ground is surprisingly limited. Sure, the whole operation is going to take a few weeks, but what did everyone expect?

But you'd never know this thanks to an immense firehose of crap coming from the very people we should least believe. This includes:
  • The hawks who kept the war in Afghanistan going for years with lies and happy talk, and who are now desperate to defend themselves.
  • Republicans who figure this is a great opportunity to sling partisan bullshit. Their favorite is that Biden has destroyed America's standing in the world, an old chestnut for which there's no evidence whatsoever.
  • Trumpies trying to avoid blame for the execution of their own plan. It is gobsmacking to hear them complain about slow processing of Afghan allies when they were the ones who deliberately hobbled the visa process in the first place.
  • Democrats who, as usual, are too damn cowardly to defend the withdrawal for fear of—something. It's not always clear what.
  • Reporters who are sympathetic to all this because they genuinely care about the danger that the withdrawal poses for people they knew in Afghanistan.
The only real mistake the military made in this operation was in not realizing just what a terrible job they had been doing all along. Everything else flows from that. If the Afghan government had been able to hold off the Taliban for even a few weeks, everything would have been fine. But they didn't even try. Ghani just grabbed a few suitcases of cash and took off.

All by itself, this should tell you how hopeless the situation in Afghanistan has been all along. After 20 years, the Afghan military, even with plenty of warning about when we planned to leave, was unable, and in many cases unwilling, to fight. It's laughable to think that another few months would have made any difference. It's equally laughable to hear from the "light footprint" gang, who think that we could have kept a few thousand troops in Afghanistan forever and avoided any kind of fighting even after the Taliban cease-fire was over.

As for all the Americans being airlifted out, I suppose it's bad form to point out that they were told to leave months ago? If they had a lick of common sense most of them wouldn't be stuck in Kabul and elsewhere waiting to be rescued.

The sophisticated attitude these days is to say that, of course, we needed to leave Afghanistan, but surely we could have executed the withdrawal more competently? Maybe, but I'd like to hear the plan. The problems we've run into were baked into the cake long ago, and the actual evacuation itself has been run with courage and guts. "There's a whole nother story line that media could follow," Cheryl Rofer says. "The people who are working to keep the flights running, the people who get on the flights, the people who are helping others to get to the airport, the people who are running the logistics."

Amen to that. This is by far the biggest military evacuation in US history, and it's being handled surprisingly well. Maybe that will change tomorrow. Anything could happen. But so far the US media has been suckered into a narrative that's almost precisely the opposite of the truth. It needs to stop.