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'Lining the body bags up': GOP governor issues chilling warning to the unvaccinated in his state

September 18, 2021 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) has a message for the residents in his state that refuse to get vaccinated.

On Friday, September 17, Justice held a press conference to appeal to residents as vaccination rates in the state remain stagnant. With just 45% of residents vaccinated, West Virginia is still a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, Justice is hoping people will begin to take COVID vaccination seriously.

He also made it clear what could happen if people continue to refuse vaccination.

“We’re going to run to the fire and get vaccinated right now, or we’re going to pile the body bags up until we reach a point in time to where we have enough people that have natural immunities and enough people that are vaccinated,” he said.

Justice made it clear yet again that if eligible individuals do not get vaccinated, “they’ll keep dying” and “we’re just going to keep lining the body bags up and we’re going to line them up and line them up.”

At the time, Justice made his disappointment clear as he expressed frustration and concern about those who are still unvaccinated. The Republican governor also emphasized that there is no longer time to make a decision.

“It’s too late, West Virginia. It’s too late for you to decide, you know, ‘Oh, we should have gotten vaccinated.’ You can’t stop this now, what’s happened in West Virginia. But you can still save your own life, or lives that are around you, by getting vaccinated.”

Justice’s latest press conference follows his remarks a few weeks ago in response to the conspiracy theories about the vaccine. At the time, Justice weighed in on the bizarre “microchip” theory.

“Why in the world do we have to come up with these crazy ideas—and they’re crazy ideas—that the vaccine’s got something in it and its tracing people wherever they go?”

To improve the state’s vaccination statistics, the state of West Virginia has even resorted to offering incentives and prizes to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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NYTimes details how Russian officials maintain their hold on democracy

September 18, 2021 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

Whenever there is a Russian election, the process flows seamlessly under the post-Soviet Constitution but the outcome is rarely different. President Vladimir V. Putin and the politicians loyal to his political cause typically come out victorious. Although parliamentary elections are scheduled for September 17-19, there is very little doubt that Putin’s governing United Russian party will dominate. So, how does Putin and his party manage to remain victorious?

The New York Times has examined political practices in Russia and it appears there are a number of tactics employed to ensure elections work in the United Russian party’s favor. From duplicate candidates and fake political candidates, internet regulation, “not-so-secret” ballots, oppositional counter-tactics, and more, the publication is highlighting the strategies being used to clinch elections in Russia.

1. The use of “same-name candidates” is one of the most “tried and true” tactics of political manipulation in Russia.

One of the most “tried and true” tactics is the use of duplicate candidates. The newspaper Kommersant reportedly explained how duplicate candidates look on Russian ballots. “Registering multiple candidates with the same or similar names as an opposition candidate is a tried-and-true Russian electoral tactic,” the publication notes of the practice which Boris Vishnevskys describes as “political manipulation.” “Candidates with identical or similar names are registered in 24 of the 225 single-district races in this week’s election — about 10 percent of all races.”

2. Fake political parties also run amok in Russia.

The Russian government operates according to what is described as a “multiparty political system” that was established when Putin assumed power back in 1999. The publication notes that the Kremlin now has two political strategies: “fake political parties and several quasi-independent parties” it defines as “systemic opposition.”

3. Some candidates are blatantly disqualified from elections.

Then there are more flagrant tactics of manipulation such as blatantly knocking names off ballots. Just this summer, local authorities managed to eliminate 163 out of 174 candidates who submitted applications to run for Parliament due to frivolous accusations. The publication notes that a 2012 law enacted opened the door for a more expansive means of knocking candidates off ballots.

Per the publication:

“A law allowing the designation of nongovernmental groups as “performing the function of a foreign agent” was passed in 2012 and then expanded in 2017 to cover news media organizations. Its application this summer squelched independent news outlets like …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Houston Chronicle offers GOP a bit of advice for possibly unseating Texas AG Ken Paxton

September 18, 2021 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

As the 2022 primary election approaches, many candidates from both sides of the political aisle are looking to unseat Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R).

From indictments dating back to 2015 to biased internally-conducted investigations, there are a number of reasons why potential candidates are lining up to challenge Paxton.

However, the Houston Chronicle “Enough is enough, Ken,” Bush said at his own campaign kickoff back in June. “You’ve brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office. And as a career politician for 20 years, it’s time for you to go.”

Thr Houston Chronicle is challenging Republicans to take proactive steps to unseat the embattled politician. So what’s the issue? The publication used Texas State Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) as an example. Despite having lots of political ammunition to fuel campaign against Paxton, he continues to focus on the high road instead of telling voters why Texas needs a new attorney general.

“As your Attorney General, I will continue to fight to keep critical race theory out of our schools, protect Texas families from the crisis at our southern border, and stand proudly with our men and women in law enforcement,” he said in a campaign announcement.

Dissecting Krause’s speech, the publication noted:

“This would be a fine pitch, perhaps, in a typical Republican primary. Krause is a founding member of the Texas House’s Freedom Caucus and had one of the most conservative voting records of any member during this year’s regular legislative session, according to an annual ranking put out by political scientist Mark Jones of Rice University.

“But Paxton himself is a pretty far-right guy, who was endorsed by most of the Freedom Caucus types, including Krause, in his first bid for attorney general seven years ago. And more to the point, Paxton — the state’s chief law enforcement officer — continues to face a plethora of legal problems.”

In recent interviews Krause acknowledged Paxton’s legal woes but instead of focusing on how problematic his issues are, the Republican candidate “instead suggested that these are a political liability rather than legitimate, troubling issues that should completely disqualify his candidacy.”

But candidates like George P. Bush have taken the Houston Chronicle’s approach making it clear that Paxton’s past will be a strong focal point for his campaign.

Enough is enough, Ken,” Bush said at his own campaign kickoff, in June. “You’ve brought way too much scandal and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Irony dies': Jim Jordan's 'Constitution Day' attack on Democrats didn't go as planned

September 18, 2021 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) decided to celebrate Constitution Day with a veiled tweet attacking Democrats. However, his message didn’t get the reaction he may have expected.

On Friday, September 17, the Republican lawmaker took to Twitter with a message that read, “Today is Constitution Day! We celebrate the greatest legal document ever written.
We also hope Democrats read it.”

Jordan’s tweet prompted immediate backlash from Twitter users. According to HuffPost, many quickly reminded Jordan of his disregard for law and the Constitution amid former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the presidential election. The Ohio lawmaker was one of many Republicans who backed Trump’s Big Lie.

“Irony dies,” one Twitter critic said, firing back at Jordan.

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El Salvador becomes first nation to make Bitcoin legal tender amid growing authoritarianism

September 18, 2021 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman

Thousands in El Salvador took to the streets Wednesday to protest President Nayib Bukele’s growing consolidation of power and a new law making El Salvador the world’s first country to recognize the highly volatile cryptocurrency bitcoin as legal tender. Protesters in El Salvador are also criticizing a recent court ruling that paves the way for Bukele to run for reelection in 2024. El Salvador’s turn to bitcoin comes as a “surprise” to many, but has been pushed by Bukele as a way to lessen remittance fees, says Jorge Cuéllar, an assistant professor of Latin American, Latino and Caribbean studies at Dartmouth College. “There’s no reason why bitcoin should be at the top of the government agenda in a moment of pandemic, of water stress, of food insecurity, of depressed wages,” Cuéllar says. “People are very suspicious of this.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

We turn to El Salvador, where thousands took to the streets Wednesday to protest President Nayib Bukele’s growing consolidation of power and a new law making El Salvador the world’s first country to recognize the highly volatile cryptocurrency bitcoin as legal tender. Protesters in San Salvador condemned Bukele’s plan.

ADRIANA MONTENEGRO: [translated] They promised to do things differently, and they’ve been worse. We are here in the midst of the pandemic because this dictatorship is deadlier than the virus. We aren’t going to stay home with our arms crossed, because our parents and grandparents and uncles died for a country free of dictatorships and corruption. We are still seeing that. Now it is our turn to resist.

AMY GOODMAN: Protesters in El Salvador are also criticizing the recent court ruling that paves the way for President Bukele to run for reelection in 2024.

We’re joined now by Jorge Cuéllar. He’s assistant professor at Dartmouth College, his forthcoming book, Everyday Life and Everyday Death in El Salvador. His latest article in the New Left Review is headlined “Bitcoin Sanctuaries.”

Professor Cuéllar, it’s great to have you with us. Explain the significance. Why has El Salvador become the first country in the world to recognize bitcoin as legal tender? What does it mean?

JORGE CUÉLLAR: So, the turn to bitcoin, Amy, is actually quite a surprise to a lot of us. There’s …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Patient group targets pair of Democrats for 'selling us out to drug companies'

September 17, 2021 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

A national patient organization launched new ads on Friday targeting Reps. Scott Peters and Kathleen Rice for opposing a plan to let Medicare directly negotiate prescription drug prices, a centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s popular agenda to lower sky-high medicine costs.

In the two 30-second spots—titled “Sellout” and “Patients Over Profit”—multiple sclerosis patient Therese Ball slams Peters (D-Calif.) and Rice (D-N.Y.) for prioritizing the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, which has lobbied aggressively against the Medicare drug-pricing proposal.

“The medications I need to live are priced at over $7,000 every month. I can’t afford these prices. I don’t know how anybody can,” Ball says in the ad aimed at Peters, a major recipient of pharma donations who, like Rice, hails from a safe Democratic district. During the 2020 election cycle, Peters raked in campaign cash from Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead, and other pharmaceutical giants.

“It makes me so angry that members of Congress are choosing Big Pharma over patients,” Ball continues. “It’s unforgivable.”

The ads, launched by Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, urge Peters’ and Rice’s constituents to call their offices and demand that they “stop selling us out to drug companies” and “put lower prices for patients before drug company profits.”


Sellout (Captioned)

www.youtube.com

Earlier this week, Peters, Rice, and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) teamed up with Republicans to block a Medicare price-negotiation plan from passing out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, potentially imperiling Democrats’ efforts to include the provision in their emerging reconciliation package. As The Oregonian reported following the vote, Schrader “inherited a fortune from his grandfather who was a top executive at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, has accepted large donations from Big Pharma during his seven terms in Congress.”

Under current federal law, Medicare is barred from negotiating prescription medicine prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, which have virtually unchecked power to set prices as they please—one of the primary reasons the U.S. pays far more for the same drugs than other rich countries.

Democrats’ proposal—a version of which Peters, Rice, and Schrader voted for just two years ago—would empower the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare. The negotiated prices …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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FDA panel rejects mass booster plan — undermining Biden's hopes

September 17, 2021 in Blogs

By Nicole Karlis

It looks like most Americans won’t be rolling up their sleeves for a third COVID-19 vaccine shot this year — at least those under the age of 65.

On Friday, a federal advisory committee of 18 people voted against the Biden administration’s mass booster plan to offer third Pfizer vaccine shots to everyone over the age of 16. Two members of the committee voted in favor of the plan to offer mass booster shots, while the remainder of the committee voted no. If a majority of the committee voted yes, boosters would have been offered to people 16 and over who received their last dose nearly eight months ago.

Then, in a rare second vote, the panel voted unanimously Friday to recommend emergency use authorization of a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine in people 65 and older and those at high risk of severe COVID-19 six months after full vaccination.

The first vote that rejected the Biden administration’s plan came as a surprise. The rejection of the booster plan ultimately hinged on a lack of adequate data that showed a third shot would slow transmission among people who get infected despite vaccination, and data suggesting that the antibodies from a third shot wouldn’t wane over time as well. The panel questioned the accuracy of comparing data from Israel to the situation in the U.S., and questioned whether a third dose would increase the rare risk of heart inflammation that has been seen in mostly younger men after the second dose.

“I don’t think a booster dose is going to significantly contribute to controlling the pandemic,” said panelist Dr. Cody Meissner of Tufts University on Friday. “And I think it’s important that the main message we transmit is that we’ve got to get everyone two doses.”

Many members of the committee, assembled by the Food and Drug Administration, also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of a mass booster plan compared to one that would target specific groups — like people over the age of 65.

The FDA has yet to make its own decision on the recommendation, but their recommendation generally follows what’s decided among the expert panel like the one that met today. Today’s vote was the first step in the process for the FDA to officially approve boosters. A CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet next …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The architect of the Texas abortion ban also criticized ‘rights to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage’

September 17, 2021 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

The architect of what is now Texas law, Governor Greg Abbott‘s “heartbeat” legislation that bans all abortion after six weeks, attacked the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marriage, and sex between persons of the same sex, in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court this past summer. In that brief he also called same-sex marriage a “judicial concoction,” and argued that women should merely abstain from sexual intercourse as a method to “control their reproductive lives.”

Former Texas solicitor general and Federalist Society member Jonathan Mitchell, The Guardian reports, “who played a pivotal role in designing the legal framework of the state’s near-total abortion ban, also argued on behalf of anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life that women would still be able to terminate pregnancies if Roe was overturned by traveling to ‘wealthy pro-abortion’ states like California and New York with the help of ‘taxpayer subsidies.’”

“Women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion; they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse,” Mitchell wrote in the brief. “One can imagine a scenario in which a woman has chosen to engage in unprotected (or insufficiently protected) sexual intercourse on the assumption that an abortion will be available to her later. But when this court announces the overruling of Roe, that individual can simply change their behavior in response to the court’s decision if she no longer wants to take the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”

“In the same brief, which calls for Roe to be overturned,” The Guardian adds, “Mitchell and co-counsel Adam Mortara, an anti-abortion activist and lawyer who clerked for the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, said such a decision could open the door for other ‘lawless’ rights and protections to be reversed, including the right to have gay sex and the right to same-sex marriage.”

In their July, 2021 Supreme Court amicus brief, Mitchell and Mortara also call “interracial marriage” one of several “supposed constitutional ‘rights’ that have no basis in constitutional text or historical practice.” Among them, “court-imposed ‘substantive due process’ rights whose textual and historical provenance are equally dubious.”

On same-sex marriage and sex their opinion was devastatingly ruthless.

“The news is not as good for those who hope to preserve the court-invented rights to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage,” the amicus brief reads. “These …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New report shows 'deeply troubling failures' by Border Patrol in boy’s death, congressional leader says

September 17, 2021 in Blogs

By Robert Moore

This was first published at ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, and El Paso Matters. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

A new report details “deeply troubling failures” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the 2019 death of a Guatemalan boy in the agency’s custody, including the creation of false records suggesting he was monitored during the night, the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security said Friday.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who leads the panel, called on the agency to “take corrective action to help ensure a tragedy like this never occurs again.”

“The committee will be continuing its investigation into this matter, including whether those who falsified records in this case were held accountable,” Thompson said.

Border Patrol agents recorded “hourly welfare checks that had not actually occurred” while 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vasquez died of the flu in his cell, but Justice Department prosecutors who reviewed the case found “no criminal intent” in his death and brought no charges, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general said in a news release this week. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, said it is reviewing the report to determine whether to take disciplinary action.

The report by the DHS Office of Inspector General confirms the findings of a ProPublica investigation in December 2019 into the death of Carlos, who lay dead for hours next to the toilet of Cell 199 in Weslaco, Texas.

The inspector general issued a three-paragraph news release on Wednesday but has not made available its report into Carlos’ death.

“The investigation determined that USBP did not conduct regular and frequent physical checks as required by the Customs and Border Protection National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search policy,” the news release said.

The inspector general said it referred the findings to Justice Department prosecutors in McAllen, Texas, “who declined prosecution, citing a lack of any criminal violations and a lack of criminal intent,” the news release said. The inspector general’s investigation began shortly after Carlos’ death on May 20, 2019.

CBP issued a statement Friday saying the agency received the Office of Inspector General report this week and is reviewing the findings.

“CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing the OIG report to determine whether any areas require additional investigation. Once that process is …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik's hometown paper buries her for 'hateful rhetoric' in scathing editorial

September 17, 2021 in Blogs

By Raw Story

The Albany Times Union on Friday published a scathing editorial denouncing Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) for embracing a watered down version of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory espoused by white supremacists.

The Times Union took particular issue with Stefanik releasing a new ad claiming that Democrats support creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants because they want to create a “permanent election insurrection” against Americans.

The editors note the parallels between this rhetoric and the neo-Nazis who chanted, “Jews will not replace us!” during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

“The Harvard-educated Ms. Stefanik surely knows the sordid history and context of this,” the editors write. “At various times, politicians have warned that Catholics, Jews, or Muslims were out to change the “culture,” or that Irish, Italian, Asian or eastern European immigrants would take the jobs — to ‘replace’ white, Protestant Americans.”

The editors conclude by saying that Stefanik and her “hateful rhetoric” need to be replaced more than anything else currently threatening the United States.

Read the whole editorial here.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET