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Broadway goes dark due to COVID-19 pandemic

February 23, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

On March 12, 2020, after New York state and city leaders placed coronavirus-related restrictions on gatherings of more than 500 people, the Broadway theater district announces it will go dark for an unprecedented 32 days. The longest shutdown for the artistic mainstay in its history, the closure would end up being extended to the end of May 2021, potentially adding up to billions in tourism losses.

High risk factors for theaters, according to The New York Times, included a typically older audience, often rife with tourists, along with cramped seating and an inability to practice social distancing in those spaces.

“There’s no such thing as social distancing for actors—our jobs sometimes require that we go to work and kiss our colleagues eight times a week,” actress Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association labor union told the newspaper. “Although nobody wanted to close the theaters, at the same time people were starting to be scared to work, and with good reason.”

Thirty-one productions were showing on Broadway when the ban took effect, and a handful, including Disney’s musical version of Frozen and Tina Fey’s Mean Girls, were closed permanently due to the closure.

Previously, the longest the district was dark was 25 days in 1975 during a musicians’ strike. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Broadway was shuttered for two business days.

Read all our pandemic coverage here

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Source: HISTORY

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Sen. Susan Collins makes an abrupt post-election reversal on a key LGBTQ rights bill

February 23, 2021 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

Is U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) playing politics with vital civil rights legislation?

Just eight months ago Senator Collins was the only Republican Senator to co-sponsor the LGBTQ Equality Act. She was also in a desperate re-election race.

On June 15 she tweeted her strong support for the bill:

The following day she signed onto a letter to then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding he “immediately bring the bipartisan Equality Act (H.R. 5) to the Senate floor for a vote and fully enshrine in federal law explicit protections for LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The bill never came to the floor, and Collins got re-elected.

On Tuesday The Washington Blade reported Senator Collins was refusing to co-sponsor the Equality Act, a dramatic about-face after being such a strong supporter last year.

Why?

“There were certain provisions of the Equality Act which needed revision,” Collins told the Blade’s Chris Johnson, not specifying what “revisions” were so desperately needed they were resulting in her refusing to sponsor the bill – and putting its passage in jeopardy.

“Throwing some veiled criticism at the Human Rights Campaign,” Johnson writes, “which declined to endorse her in 2020 as it had done in previous elections, Collins added, ‘Unfortunately the commitments that were made to me were not [given] last year.’”

The Equality Act will receive a vote on the House floor this week, reportedly Thursday or Friday. President Biden has said he wants to sign it into law in his first 100 days (although his staff has since suggested it may take longer.)

Like so many other critical pieces of legislation, the Equality Act will need 60 votes to pass, unless Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) kills the filibuster, something many liberals are demanding he do.

Other GOP Senators are treating it like they used to treat tweets from Donald Trump.

“I don’t know what’s in it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.

“I have not read the bill,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) also said.

Will Collins change her mind? Will she co-sponsor the Equality Act? Will she reveal what vital “revisions” she’s demanding be made before she does?

Senator Collins’ office did not immediately respond to a call from NCRM.

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Source: ALTERNET

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President Trump addresses the nation on COVID-19; announces travel ban

February 23, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

In a primetime Oval Office address, President Donald Trump announces a 30-day travel ban on foreign travel to the U.S. from most European countries as COVID-19 cases surge across the globe.

Trump’s TV address came the same day the World Health Organization officially declared the disease a pandemic. U.K. travelers were not included in the restrictions, nor were American citizens or their immediate family members or legal permanent U.S. residents.

A week later, the State Department issued an advisory that U.S. citizens avoid all international travel because of the pandemic and that those abroad should return home immediately.

As of late February 2021, there were more than 28 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 500,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

READ MORE: Pandemics That Changed History

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Source: HISTORY

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Amy Klobuchar shuts down a GOP senator spreading a 'conspiracy theory' at the Capitol riot hearing

February 23, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

On Tuesday, members of the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the Jan. 6 insurrection — and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin promoted a debunked conspiracy theory claiming that the insurrectionists were really left-wing militants. But Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a centrist Democrat, pushed back against that false claim.

According to far-right conspiracy theorists, members of Antifa attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6 in order to make supporters of then-President Donald Trump look bad. But there is no evidence to support that claim, and the participation of QAnon, the Proud Boys, White nationalists, various militia groups and others on the far right has been well-documented. Axios’ Jonathan Swan, on Jan. 12, reported that when Trump floated that conspiracy theory, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pushed back and told him, “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there.”

But Johnson, on Tuesday, promoted false claims that on Jan. 6, the U.S. Capitol Building was attacked by “provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters.” And when Klobuchar spoke, she made it clear that she saw no validity in those claims.

Klobuchar told fellow senators, “There is clear agreement that this was a planned insurrection. So, I think that most members here very firmly agree with that. And I think it’s important for the public to know that. This was planned. We know this was a planned insurrection. It involved White supremacists, it involved extremist groups. And It certainly could have been so much worse except for the bravery of the officers.”

According to Klobuchar, “Ron Johnson has again engaged in a conspiracy theory — that’s what he does.”

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Donald Trump wanted two favors from the Supreme Court he helped build

February 23, 2021 in Blogs

By Bill Blum

Like a mob boss looking for payback, Donald Trump wanted the Supreme Court to do him two favors heading into the November election: keep him in power and keep him out of jail. To its everlasting credit, the court quickly declined to deliver on the first. Even though Trump had nominated three arch-conservatives to the bench—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—the court rejected his baseless challenges to the results of the election.

It took the court far too long to screw up the courage to decline the second favor, but in a one-sentence order issued on February 22, the court dismissed an emergency petition Trump’s lawyers had filed last October to stop Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from enforcing a critical grand jury subpoena issued to the former president’s accounting firm—Mazars USA, LLP—as part of a wide-ranging criminal investigation involving Trump’s business practices.

Pending the court’s ruling on the petition, Vance had agreed to pause enforcement of the subpoena. And in the meantime, as the court dithered, New York’s five-year statute of limitations continued to tick away, threatening to derail the entire probe.

The investigation can now move forward, full speed.

Of all the potential avenues for indicting Trump now that he is out of office and has lost the immunity from prosecution that comes with the presidency, Vance’s probe, which began in 2018, offers the most immediate promise. Although New York grand jury proceedings are secret, it has been widely reported that Vance is investigating Trump not only for the hush money paid to pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford, aka “Stormy Daniels,” and onetime Playboy Magazine model Karen McDougal, but also to determine if other aspects of Trump’s private financial dealings have violated state fraud and income tax laws.

The Mazars subpoena is a key component of Vance’s inquiry. It demands multiple years of Trump’s personal and corporate federal and state tax returns and other financial documentation, dating back to 2011.

As some commentators have noted, information from Mazars could help prove that the Trump Organization used deceptive accounting techniques to inflate the value of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Two Trump supporters charged for allegedly threatening officials to overturn the 2020 election

February 23, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

In Michigan — which saw more than its share of political extremism in recent months — state Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced criminal charges against two men accused of threatening officials on Tuesday.

The men are 62-year-old Daniel Thompson, who is from Clare County, Michigan, and 43-year-old Douglas, Georgia resident Clinton Stewart.

Thompson, Nessel’s office alleges, made threats against Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Elisse Slotkin, both Democrats. Those threats, according to Nessel, include threats against Stabenow in a message left on Jan. 5 and threatening remarks during a Jan. 19 conversation with one of Slotkin’s employees. In addition, Nessel’s office alleges that Thompson made a threatening phone call to Slotkin on April 30, 2020.

According to Nessel’s office, “The voicemail message for Sen. Stabenow left by Thompson, who identified himself as a Republican, contained vulgar language and threatened violence meant to intimidate the public officials. Thompson stated he was angry about the results of the November election, that he joined a Michigan militia and that there would be violence if the election results were not changed. In an e-mail to Stabenow’s office, he reiterated the threatening remarks and used vulgar language.”

Stewart, meanwhile, is accused of leaving a threatening voice mail for Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens in September and describing her as an “activist judge” whose rulings were favorable to then-candidate Joe Biden. Stewart, allegedly, believed that Stephens was making decisions in favor of mail-in ballots in the hoping of swinging the 2020 presidential election to Biden in Michigan.

The charge against Stewart was filed in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, while the charge against Thompson was filed in Livingston County, Michigan.

These indictments follow a great deal of unrest in Michigan in 2020, when Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer became the target of kidnapping plot by far-right extremists who were angry over COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing measures in her state.

In an official statement on the Thompson and Stewart indictments, Nessel said, “It is unacceptable and illegal to intimidate or threaten public officials. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The truth about Joe Biden's 'Manchin problem'

February 23, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party do not have a Joe Manchin problem. Not yet anyway. But some leftists are already predicting the imminent fate of the president’s domestic agenda, which is to say, its doom. They point to Manchin’s comments about the minimum wage, the filibuster and, most recently, the nomination of Neera Tanden. They point to pretty much anything seeming to prove what they already believe to be true about the Democratic Party—that at some point it’s going to betray the left.

That might happen. It’s not currently happening, though. What is happening is what you’d expect to see happen after a party wins a governing mandate. Pre-election, everyone left of center was focused on victory. Post-election, everyone’s jockeying, bargaining and figuring out ways to exploit opportunities. When Joe Manchin, the senior United States senator from West Virginia, says he’s does not support zapping the filibuster, does not support raising the minimum wage, and does not support the confirmation of Tanden to head the White House Office of Budget and Management, take it with a large grain of salt. Yes, he might mean it. As likely, though, he’s signaling the desire to be seen as the Joe No. 2 that Joe No. 1 has to go through.

To be sure, leftists might be proven right over time in saying this looks just like the time Joe Lieberman put himself in a position to sabotage the antiwar effort before sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. But let’s keep our heads. One, Manchin is not Lieberman, the former United States senator from Connecticut. Two, 2021 is not 2009. (It sure as hell isn’t 2003.) Lieberman reflected at the time the center of the Democratic Party, which was at the time closer to the center of the GOP than their respective centers are now. While Manchin is today on the party’s margins, Lieberman is off the grid. But the important thing about the Manchin-Lieberman analog is not what it says about today’s politics. It’s what it says about the leftist view of today’s politics.

By that, I mean it’s stuck in the ’90s. President Bill Clinton merged Reaganism, and all that school of political thought was understood to mean in terms of socioeconomic policy, into the Democratic Party even as he won support of the party’s traditional interest groups. That combination pushed what had been the core of the …read more

Source: ALTERNET