Out d’Coup | Manchin, the Filibuster, and the End of Biden’s Big Agenda; PA Republicans Prep Us for 2022 Election; Space News; Notch Brewing; New Shows
Joe Manchin decides to sink hopes of passing voting protections laid out in the For the People Act, taking out an editorial in West Virginia newspapers to spew nonsense about bipartisanship. His move happens, of course, while Republican state legislatures are passing voter suppression laws at a breakneck pace.
A similar fate awaits Biden’s infrastructure plan as Manchin and Sinema refuse to get rid of the filibuster. Talks between Biden and West Virginia’s Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito fell apart after it was clear the Republican position “did not meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs,” according to a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki. A new bipartisan proposal from a group of 10 senators led by Krysten Sinema and Mitt Romney was developed late yesterday, but sounds like it will gut all investment in climate infrastructure. Senator Markey and other Democratic Senators have said they will not vote for a bill that does not invest in necessary climate infrastructure.
Turns out Trump’s justice department was secretly subpoenaing phone and other records from Democrats on House Intelligence committee. The practice continued under Biden’s administration until just a couple of weeks ago.
PA Republicans propose major changes in the Commonwealth’s election law, calling for stricter voter ID rules and restrictions on early voting.
PA Republicans spent a good part of the week with attacks on women’s rights, passing more restrictive anti-abortion laws.
The PA Senate also gleefully passed a bill that prohibits PA health secretary from “mandating stay-at-home orders, imposing masking and social distancing guidelines, and ordering business closures.” The PA legislature also voted to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic disaster declaration this week. Republican Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward joyfully proclaimed: “for all practical purposes, the state of emergency in our Commonwealth is over.”
PASSHE hearings were held this week and Chancellor Daniel Greenstein spent much of the hearing happy texting on his phone. However, as Bill Schackner reported, with over 100 individuals calling in with comments, only ONE person endorsed plans for consolidation.
Jeff Bezos announces that he is going to space with his brother for Blue Origin’s first crewed suborbital mission. Bezos announced his intentions in an Instagram video in which he said, “You see the earth from space and it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth. I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.” Ah yes, that warm fuzzy feeling you get when the richest person on the planet gets to live out his boyhood dreams, built on the back of massive exploitation of Amazon’s workers.
NASA says that Russia may pull out of the International Space Station. Russia has been a key international partner on the ISS since the beginning. NASA’s Chief administrator, Bill Nelson, is concerned that Russia may be looking to work more closely with China now that China has begun to build its own space station and has big lunar ambitions.
Notch Brewing: Brave Noise - Pale Ale, brewed to show solidarity for all those that have suffered discriminatory behavior in the workplace, now available at our Salem Tap Room & Biergarten in 16oz 4-packs and on draft. The release party featuring @lagerdogofficial official and donation opportunities for @pinksbootssociety starts at 6pm!
New Show - Space Left
Out d’Coup | Election Audit Sham; Voter Suppression; Against Civility; Mastriano in AZ; Metcalfe Gun Party; Ryan Costello Meltdown; NASA to Venus; Nichelle Nichols Doc; Book Recs; Sean’s Vacation
The Arizona Republican election audit sham led by the QAnon owner of “Cyber Ninjas,” is quickly becoming the launching pad for a national, right-wing organizing strategy to delegitimize democracy and fan the flames of extremism.
CNN reports that QAnon inspired right-wing radicals are taking to Telegram - a social messaging platform that is far more welcoming of extremists - to deepen their conspiracies and plan. Congressional sources told CNN that they are especially concerned about plans to support Trump’s re-installation as president in August.
This past weekend, former national security adviser Michael Flynn seemed to endorse a coup at the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup,” a QAnon conference in Dallas, TX. When Flynn was asked why can’t a military coup like the one happening in Myanmar happen in the United States, Flynn replied: “No Reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason.” You’ll recall that it was also Flynn who called on Trump to invoke martial law to force new elections in key states.
Meanwhile, the anti-democracy movement has been hard at work on their inside game as Republican lawmakers have continued to pass voting restrictions around the country. The Washington Post reports that this year has seen the introduction of 253 bills designed to restrict voting across 43 states, according to a new report from the Brennan Center. As of mid-May, 22 voting restrictions laws have been passed in 14 states.
Media Matters for America released a list of all the QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2022.
Miami is considering a proposal to build a 20 foot sea wall to save the city from the impacts of climate change. As reported in New York Times, “Six miles of it, in fact, mostly inland, running parallel to the coast through neighborhoods — except for a one-mile stretch right on Biscayne Bay, past the gleaming sky-rises of Brickell, the city’s financial district.”
The FBI is investigating Trump appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for illegal political fundraising for Trump.
Trump’s blog is shut down for good only a month after its launch.
Daryl Metcalfe’s annual Right to Bear Arms Rally is this Monday.
The Arizona election audit sham attracted PA State Senator Doug Mastriano, State Senator Chris Dush, and State Representative Rob Kauffman to travel to the state like moths to the flame.
Mastriano finally makes it to prime time. On Wednesday night, on Chris Hayes’s All In, Mastriano features prominently in the opening segment about the rise of dangerous, anti-democracy movement. The report points to Mastriano’s visit to Arizona as case in point in how it all works.
State Senator Scott Perry ran into the woods to avoid taking questions from local media, according to Raw Story.
Former State Rep. Ryan Costello is not OK. At least that’s how things seemed last night on Twitter. Apparently, PA Spotlight is squatting in his head after they published info showing that Costello donates to a school board PAC that recruits QAnon conspiracy nuts to run for office.
State Sen. Lindsey Williams is preparing to introduce a bill in the PA Senate requiring lawmakers to publicly post how they are spending millions of dollars in tax-payer funded expenses.
The New Jersey GOP primary for this year’s race for Governor has turned into a Trump bootlicker competition.
Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala found himself in a scandal this week. He sent an email to prosecutors telling them to stop accepting plea deals from a black lawyer who called his office “systemically racist.” Way to pull a racism, DA Zappala.
On Wednesday, NASA administrator Bill Nelson announced that the space agency is planning two missions to Venus in the late 2020s. The two missions, DAVINCI+ and VERITAS will gather evidence about possible microbial live in Venus’s atmosphere and more thoroughly map the planet’s surface. It's been over three decades since NASA launched missions to Venus.
A new documentary, Woman in Motion, tells the story of how Nichelle Nichols, famous for her ground-breaking role as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek, pioneered the NASA recruiting program to higher people of color and the first women astronauts in the 1970s and 1980s. The documentary is streaming on Paramount+.
Grist releases a list of new environmental films that you should add to your watch list.
Books to read:
- How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, Cory Doctorow.
- Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, by Talia Lavin.
- Against Civility: The Hidden Racism in Our Obsession with Civility, by Alex Zamalin
Will Sean be live-blogging his vacation?
Out d’Coup | Kill the Filibuster; Infrastructure; Climate Trifecta; Blimps; The Mastriano Files; Critical Race Theory; Craft Beer MeToo Reckoning; Space News
More pressure to end the filibuster as Republican Senators refuse to back the Jan 6 commission.
More momentum for Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure proposal. A new polls shows that a majority of Pennsylvanians support the proposal, by the way.
It was a trifecta for the climate on Wednesday.
A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 in a case brought by Friends of the Earth.
Shareholder activists pushed out two of Exxon’s hand-picked board members and elected members who “pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas.”
And, shareholders at Chevron voted 61% to cut its emissions. Another proposal that would have required the company to prepare a report on the impact its business would have from the net zero 2050 scenario, lost with 48% of the vote.
ConocoPhillips has a unique solution to the melting of Alaskan permafrost on Alaska’s North Slope - refreeze the permafrost so you can drill.
A UK-based blimp company is looking to deploy hybrid airships for shorter trips between places like Liverpool and Belfast or Barcelona to the Balearic Islands. The company, Hybrid Air Vehicles, says replacing air and ship traffic with its airships could cut emissions by 90%.
Half of all U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
New book finally exposes Bernie Sanders as a sham! Yes, you will not believe what this foot soldier of the ruling elite demand! When he’s on the road he demands hotel rooms with...wait for it...a KING BED and temperatures as low as 64 degrees! The hypocrite!
Ladies and Gents (long pause) we got him. Sedition Hunters, online sleuths, angry partisans and supporters of the ruling elite unearthed video footage that showed State Senator Doug Mastriano breaching police barricades & walking towards the capitol steps minutes before the building was breached on January 6th. This latest round of reporting completely undermines the stories and statements Mastriano gave to reporters and Senate leadership in the days following the insurrection.
If that’s not bad enough, Senator Mastirano issued a statement attacking the Huffington Post for reporting on this story and reporting on the fact that he posed for pictures with Sam Lazar, an insurrectionist wanted by the FBI for using bear spray on police officers. Mastriano compared the photos to Obama taking pictures with Bill Ayers or Louis Farrakhan. Mastriano’s statements prompted reporters to dig more into his connections with Lazar and showed that he has posed for photos with Lazar at least 5 times over the past year.
Talking about Senator Mastriano. The Arizona Mirror, a sibling outlet related to the Pennsylvania Capital Star, reported that Senator Mastriano ordered an unauthorized audit of the 2020 election in Fulton County. The company that conducted the audit is associated with Sydney Powell and the Stop the Steal Movement. On top of that, they spoiled over $20,000 worth of election equipment that couldn’t be used in the previous primary.
Reps. Russ Diamond and Barabar Gleim began seeking co-sponsors for legislation that would penalize any school that teaches “critical race theory.”
Another Bucks County, PA man, Leonard Ridge, was arrested for allegedly taking part in the Jan 6 insurrection. Ridge bragged about his involvement on Snapchat.
The battle of the billionaire space barons is heating up and the Senate prepares a $10 billion dollar bailout for Jeff Bezos’s “Blue Origin” after his fufus were hurt after he lost the bid to SpaceX for the moon lander.
The European Space Agency is looking to develop a GPS and communication network around the Moon to aid in Earth-to-Moon communications for future missions.
The chickens are coming home to roost in the craft beer industry. Brienne Allan, a production manager at Notch Brewing in Salem, MA asked an open-ended question on her Instagram account: Is anyone else experiencing sexist comments? As reported on Boston’s WBUR, “The answer was this cascade of experiences, flooding her private messages with a deluge of trauma. …’It escalated really quickly into people talking about sexual violence and sexual harassment, racism from owners and superiors and just how, the HR system in general is just failing people right now,’ Allan said. ‘It just escalated out of control. I have over a thousand stories up now’."
The reckoning is ONLY BEGINNING.
Out d’Coup | Israel and Palestine; New Right-Wing Donor Network; F150 Lightning; PA Progressive Victories; PA State Senator Spurs; PASSHE; Space News; Beer News
We are back and we survived the gas shortage of 2021!
Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire after more than a week of intense violence that led to at least 243 Palestinian deaths - more than 60 were childrent - and 12 Israeli deaths, as reported by the BBC. Looks like that ceasefire may not last the day.
Republican Senators will not get on board legislation calling for a bi-partisan commission looking into the January 6 insurrection. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio gives Republicans a lashing.
New reporting in ProPublica shows that the Trump era helped launch a new breed of donor who now have significant influence over the Republican Party.
According to a newly compiled report by the EPA, climate change is already having a significant impact on the U.S. - not to mention the rest of the world. EPA administrator Michael Regan said, “There is no small town, big city or rural community that is unaffected by the climate crisis...Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close, with increasing regularity.” As reported in the New York Times, those impacts include bigger wildfires that start earlier in the year; warmer seas; more frequent heat waves; persistent flooding; and, even ragweed pollen season is starting earlier.
Ford launches what may be a game changer in the electric vehicle market. On Wednesday, Ford unveiled the all-electric F150 Lightning, which performs better than combustion engine models in many metrics. However, its $39,974 pricetag that is likely to mark a turning point. At just under $40,000 the F150 Lightning is competitive with Tesla’s base model Model 3, currently the most popular electric vehicle in the country.
The big F150 lightning reveal follows Biden’s visit to the Ford plant in Dearborn, MI the day before, to pitch his EV plan. The EV plan, which is folded into Biden’s infrastructure bill, calls for $174 billion in consumer tax credits, support of US battery production, and funds to retool car plants to assemble EV’s.
This may sound like a broken record player, but progressives across Pennsylvania once again celebrated huge primary victories.
- Larry Krasner won in a landslide against FOP endorsed candidate Carlos Vega. The FOP and other pro-police PACs spent $250,000 to unseat Krasner only to lose by a 2-1 margin
- On top of Krasner’s victory, Krasner gained a lot of allies in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Seven of the eight open seats went to nominees endorsed by Reclaim Philadelphia, the Working Families Party and other criminal justice reform organizations.
- Out west, House Representative Ed Gainey defeated Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. Gainey gained traction as a movement candidate following the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and was backed by SEIU Healthcare PA and groups like One Pennsylvania. He will become the first black mayor in Pittsburgh’s history.
- Tyler Titus (they/them) won their primary for Erie County Executive in the far northwest as an out transgender person. They will faceoff against the Republican nominee in November and have the opportunity to become the first transgender person to hold an elected exectuvie position in the country.
- Ezra Nanes crushed his primary election to become the next mayor of State College. He will become the first Jewish mayor in the city’s history and his victory only highlights how progressive movement is turning Centre County into a solid blue county.
In not so progressive news, but shocking to say the least, Wanda Williams defeated Harrisburg’s mayor Eric Papenfuse. Williams raised $30k and was vastly outspent by Eric Papenfuse, Dave Schankweiler and Otto Banks. Wanda won by linking Papenfuse to his Republican donors and to Schankweiler and Banks, who were Republicans running as Democrats.
House Representative Marty Flynn wins his special election to replace former Senator John Blake. The district has been trending red for some time, but Flynn was able to hold onto the seat. Blake left the Pennsylvania Senate to work for Congressman Matt Cartwright earlier this year
In other news, go grab your spurs cowboy! Doug Mastriano is preparing his run for Governor and is already taking shots at Lou Barletta’s extremely white teeth. Mastriano held a fundraiser with Rudy Giuliani last week and was spotted posing for photographs with an insurrectionist wanted for spraying bear spray at the capitol police during the January 6th attack on the capitol.
Cyril Mychalejko’s new piece just dropped, saying “Only a political uprising can save PA’s higher education system.” Mychalejko echos what we’ve been saying for years on this program: only organizing and direct action gets the goods.
In his first hearings after taking over as NASA’s Chief administrator, Bill Nelson pledges to move forward with the Artemis moon program and Mars ambitions while stoking fears that China is on course to dominate the future of space exploration.
China becomes the second country to successfully “soft-land” a rover on Mars. The Zhurong rover successfully landed last Friday, May 14. On Wednesday, the rover sent back some selfies and images of Mars. The Zhurong rover is part of China’s Tianwen-1 mission that arrived in Martian orbit back in February.
A little further in the weeds, SpaceX grabs the contract for Firefly Aerospace’s Blue Ghost lunar lander in 2023. According to Firefly, “Blue Ghost will be carrying 10 payloads for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) task order 19D mission, in addition to separately contracted commercial payloads.” Yes, the next round of Moon exploration is really a thing, folks.
In some ‘not so good’ beer news, Tired Hands’ owner Jean Broillet IV was pushed out of day-to-day operations by employees for allegations of racism, sexism and unsafe working conditions throughout the pandemic. When confronted, he stepped down immediately. The staff posted on the company's Instagram account that they will keep the brewery running as they look for new leadership. This story comes as a reckoning is happening throughout the craft beer industry.
It’s Sour Sunday this Sunday at Free Will Brewing and they have a new release to celebrate: Catch Lightning; DDH Love Letter from the 90s; Kragle Light. And, Free Will just opened a new tap room in Souderton, PA at the Broad Street Theater!
Out d'Coup's Friday politics round-up is off this week. I thought that since we've been talking a lot about PASSHE Chancellor Greenstein's plans to "redesign" PA public higher ed that I'd post a replay of an Out d'Coup LIVE from March in which I breakdown some of the history of "PASSHE-in-crisis" and Chancellor Greenstein's rhetorical strategies to get people to buy into his plans for consolidation and austerity under his "redesign" brand.
The Chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education, Dan Greenstein, has dropped a few bombshells this week about the future of the 14 state owned university system. Public higher education in PA is facing an uncertain future now. We'll be taking your calls about PASSHE and the future of public higher ed.
Sound from this week's PA State Senate higher ed appropriation hearings, unpacking the rhetorical strategy of PASSHE Chancellor, and so much more.
A special shout out to Jonathan Mann who wrote our intro song, “There Are No People in the Future.” Check out all is great stuff on his YouTube page and follow him on Twitter @songadaymann
Out d’Coup LIVE | Joshua Pribanic, co-creator/director of ‘Rights of Nature’ documentary, “Invisible Hand”
On tonight’s show, I welcome Joshua Boaz Pribanic, the co-creator and -co-director of the Rights of Nature documentary, Invisible Hand. Invisible Hand has been called a “paradigm shifting” documentary about the struggle for the recognition of “Rights of Nature,” quite possibly a defining battle of our times where nature, democracy face off in rural America. Produced by award-winning actor Mark Ruffalo, Invisible Hand takes us behind the curtain of the global economy where “Rights of Nature” becomes capitalism’s primary opponent. The film’s epic battle does not begin in the centers of global capital, but in the small rural community of Grant Township, PA as residents band together to stop a fracking waste injection well from being located in their town. The “Rights of Nature” may be the most provocative, and powerful, assemblages of Western legal traditions and Indigenous knowledge that this country has ever seen. And it may be what is necessary to combat the climate crisis and reimagine global civilization.
Joshua is a film director, editor, investigative reporter who gained international attention for his reporting on fracking shale gas in the United States. He’s probably best known for his award-winning documentary films on fracking, the 2013 film Triple Divide and the 2017 film, Triple Divide [Redacted], and, now, of course, Invisible Hand. Joshua is also the co-founder of the investigative journalism non-profit, Public Herald where he serves as Editor-in-Chief. Public Herald has been cited in over 200 publications including The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times.
A special shout out to Jonathan Mann who wrote our intro song, “There Are No People in the Future.” Check out all is great stuff on his YouTube page and follow him on Twitter @songadaymann
Out d’Coup | Biden’s New Plan; Raiding Rudy; Tucker Freaks Out; New House Numbers; PA Spotlight New Webpage; Mastriano; Brandi Levy Free Speech; PASSHE; Pennridge SD; Space News; Free Will Releases
One day ahead of his 100th day in office, Biden addressed a joint session of Congress to layout out another ambitious policy agenda in his “American Families Plan.” As reported in the New York Times,
Also this week, Biden signed an executive order increasing the minimum wage for all federal contractors to $15/hour. The increase will impact hundreds of thousands of workers.
The FBI raided Rudy Giuliani’s home and office this week, seizing computers and cell phones. According to new reporting in the New York Times, the probe centers on the firing of the US Ambassador to Ukraine. If there are any feds listening to this podcast, please send us all conversations between Rudy and Doug Mastriano.
Tucker Carlson tests the boundaries of extremism. Carlson used his top-rated, Fox News show to claim that requiring children to wear masks was “child abuse.” He said, “your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart...Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”
The game of musical chairs has begun as the Census Bureau released the new state population numbers, which determine the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives.
Gains: Texas (2), Florida (1), North Carolina (1), Colorado (1), Oregon (1), Montana (1)
Losses: California (1), New York (1), Illinois (1), Pennsylvania (1), Ohio (1), Michigan (1), West Virginia (1)
Pennsylvania Spotlight relaunched their website! This is a project that has been in the works for months and thank you to everyone who helped make this possible, especially Scott Wagner and Mike Turzai.
Senator Doug Mastriano and Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidate Paula Patrick were slated to speak at the “Up Front in the Prophetic” Q-Anon conference happening in Gettysburg this June, but both issued statements condemning the event and movement. Unconfirmed reports are that Mastriano issued this statement with a wink and a nod.
A case by Pennsylvania high school student Brandi Levy made it to the Supreme Court after she was suspended from her cheerleading tea m after posting harsh comments about her school on Snapchat. When she failed to make the varsity cheerleading team, she posted a picture of herself flipping the bird captioned with “F___ school f___ softball f___ cheer f___ everything.” The case raises significant questions about the authority of schools to punish students for speech that occurs off school grounds.
This was a major week for the future of the PA State System of Higher Education. On Wednesday, Chancellor Greenstein’s plans to merge six universities into two was accepted by the Board of Governors, triggering a 60 comment period and legislative hearings. A new report by the U Mass-based Political Economy Research Institute found that Greenstein’s plans will lead to over 1,500 direct job losses, leading to over 700 additional “indirect” or “induced” lost jobs in the Commonwealth. The question on the table now is whether Governor Wolf wants the destruction of PA public higher ed to be his lasting legacy.
In my neck of the woods, there’s a team of right-wing extremists running for the Pennridge School Board. At least they are making it easy to know who NOT to vote for. So, DO NOT vote for Christine Batycki, Jordan Blomgren, Ricki Chaikin and Bob Cormack.
The Mars Helicopter Ingenuity failed to make a fourth flight yesterday when it failed to switch into flight mode.
China launched the main main module for its first permanent space station on Thursday. The launch is the first of 11 missions necessary to complete the station and establish China a major player in the future of space. China will also land its first rover on Mars next month.
Last Friday, SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission launched a new crew to the International Space Station. On their way to the space station, a piece of space junk came unexpectedly close to colliding with the capsule.
The four astronauts that arrived at the International Space Station were scheduled to depart the ISS later today, but they have been delayed for the second time due to weather. Or, maybe they want a few more days for sightseeing?
Last weekend Free Will launched Sunday Sessions - live music at the Brewery. Sklyar Love kicked off the season for the first show. This Sunday, John Valerio will be taking the stage from 1-4pm. No tickets required. There will be 19 beers on tap, wine from Pennswood, and food by Tre’ Locally Sourced.
Out d’Coup | Guilty x 3; Transform Policing; India’s COVID Crisis; Biden on Climate; DC Statehood; Seth Grove Show; Dush Death Camps; PASSHE; PA Abortion Bills; NASA; Human Robot & Free Will
Guilty, guilty, guilty. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin found guily on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd. Now attention turns back to the work of fundamentally transforming policing in America.
The three former Minneapolis police officers who were involved in George Floyd’s arrest and who stood by as Derek Chauvin killed Floyd, will be facing their own day of reckoning in court in the coming months.
As if to underscore that convicting Derek Chauvin would not change the rot at the core of American policing, police shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright just 10 miles from where Derek Chauvin’s trial was being held.
Axios reported that Senate Democratic and Republican staffers see the Chauvin verdict as “taking off the pressure” to pass meaningful police reform.
And...is Nancy Pelosi actually trying to hurt Democrats and prove to everyone that she and others in the party leadership are completely out of touch?
India sets a new global record for the most number of COVID cases in a day at more than 330,000. Until now, the United States was the only nation to see that number of cases in a day. Hospitals in Delhi and in other large cities are running out of oxygen. Indian journalist Rana Ayyub told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman “it is an apocalyptic situation in India right now.” With a population four times as large as the United States the devastation from the virus could prove catastrophic and lead to the spread of new virus strains.
The explosion of COVID cases in India has further exposed inequity in vaccine distribution globally. Even though India is one of the largest producers and suppliers of vaccines to the world, corporate patent protections have prioritized getting vaccines to nations who can pay top dollar, not to those who need it most. We can thank Bill Gates for that, as outlined in Ann Neumann’s recent article in the Baffler, “Who Owns Vaccines.”
Yesterday, on Earth Day, Biden made a commitment to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030. While the commitment is one of the boldest we’ve ever seen from an American president, energy experts told the New York Times that such a move would “require a dramatic overhaul of American society,” and fundamental changes in American’s energy system. It remains to be seen if the Biden administration truly has the political will to do what is necessary to meet his own commitments. It should be noted that climate scientists and activists have pointed out that even Biden’s bold goals are not enough to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change.
Priorities USA, the Super PAC that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, released a report last week that was very critical of Democrats' ad spending. Republicans outspent Democrats on TV and digital advertising for House and Senate campaigns 8 to 12 months before the 2020 even though Democrats outspent Republicans by the time of the election. And here’s the kicker: 75% of the money Democrats spent on TV advertising for Congressional races missed their target audiences.
DC Statehood, baby. House passed a D.C. Statehood bill yesterday. The bill moves on to the Senate. It will be one more test of how wedded to the filibuster Democrats are.
Seth Grove and the House Republicans from the State Government Committee released their “findings” from their election integrity hearings. Republicans are eyeing up voter IDs for in-person voting and those voting by mail, limiting dropboxes to one per county, having signature tests and third party witness signatures for mail-in ballots and purging of the voter rolls.
Stephen Caruso from the Pennsylvania Capital Star published an amazing interview with House State Government Chair Seth Grove. During the interview, Caruso asked Grove how he can be a “good faith” actor in negotiating voting reforms when he is associated with ALEC, put his name on letters seeking to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results and had a meeting with Kris Kobach during his election integrity hearings. Grove’s response “we’ll see.”
Election truthers, conspiracy theorists and insurrectionists inspired by the MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell returned to the capitol this week demanding that the Pennsylvania General Assembly pass legislation to conduct a complete audit of the 2020 election. The event was such a hit that independent journalist and documentarian, Zach Roberts, traveled to Harrisburg for it.
Cris Dush went full blown “Cold Warrior” in the middle of a Senate appropriations hearing yesterday. Dush used COVID conspiracies and Nazi anaologies when asking Acting Department of Health Secretary Allison Beam if the Wolf administration intentionall sent COVID infected patients to nursing homes and turned those nursing homes into “death camps.”
In an Op-Ed this week, Tara Murth and Susan Frietsche from the Women’s Law Project, warned that maternal mortality is skyrocketing in Pennsylvania while PA Republicans continue to pursue anti-abortion legislation that will only worsen the crisis. HB 1977 is a near total abortion ban; SB 21 pretends to protect people with disabilities as a justification for restricting abortion rights; and HB 1890 would mandate a death certificate be issued for every abortion and would threaten medical providers who did not obtain a death certificate.
The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a big, if rather superficial, story on PASSHE Chancellor Greenstein’s plans to fundamentally redesign the 14 state-owned university system. While much of the article misses the mark, it has helped place PASSHE in the national spotlight - right where Greenstein wants it, I suspect. APSCUFs survey of the faculty affected by the planned mergers found that fewer than 8% of faculty were supportive of the mergers and only 7% believed the process has been transparent.
NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, made not one, but two flights on the red planet this week. The historic first flight on Monday saw the helicopter take off, hover about 10 feet in the air for about 30 seconds, then descend back to the ground. On Thursday, the flight lasted almost a minute. The helicopter hovered at about 16 feet and moved sideways for about 7 feet before returning to the ground.
Meanwhile on the ground, NASA’s Perseverance rover turned a bit of Martian air into breathable oxygen thanks to an instrument called MOXIE. The little toaster-sized instrument is designed to separate oxygen atoms from carbon-dioxide molecules. The test produced enough oxygen to give a single astronaut about 10 minutes of breathable air.
Early this morning the SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon capsule launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida upon a Falcon 9 rocket. The international crew consists of 2 astronauts from the U.S., one from Japan, and one from Russian. Crew-2 should arrive at the International Space Station early tomorrow morning.
U.S. military chose Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, and General Atomics for their first phase of a project to test nuclear propulsion systems in orbit.
And, SpaceX beat out Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics to win build the space craft for NASA’s Artemis mission to the Moon.
I got myself some Human Robot beer this week! And...a hat.
Free Will Releases.
Out d’Coup | Killer Cops; Chauvin Trial; Biden Refugee Fail; FL Anti-Riot Bill; Amazon Union Post-Mortem; Seth Grove Circus; Philly NRA Gun Safety; PASSHE; NASA News; Human Robot; Free Will Releases
Kimberly Potter, the officer that shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, has been fired and will face second-degree manslaughter charges. Potter, a 26 year veteran of the Brooklyn Center, MN police force and president of the police union. She claims she meant to use a taser, but pulled her weapon instead.
In more arguments for why we need to defund the police, Chicago police released body cam footage of an officer killing 13-year-old young black man, Adam Toledo, as he raised his hands up.
Minnesota protests continued and have been met with militarized police response.
Meanwhile, in Virginia a cop drew a weapon and pepper-sprayed a uniformed soldier at a traffic stop. The Windsor Police Department officer apparently thought the car had no plates, despite the new car temporary tags clearly displayed in the rear-window. When Army lieutenant Caron Nazario asked the officer what was going, officer Joe Jutierrez responde, “What’s going on is you’re fixing to ride the lightning, son.”
And lawyers for Derek Chauvin, the cop that slowly killed George Floyd, rested their case after trying to smear Floyd and falsely attribute his death to drugs. Chauvin refused to take the stand, invoking the 5th Amendment.
President Biden has been dragging his feet on relaxing Trump’s inhumane restrictions on refugees, leading to a lot of head-scratching and anger from Democrats and immigrant and refugee rights groups. According to new reporting by CNN, the reason for the delay is that Biden is fretting over the “political optics” of allowing more refugees into the country. The delay has left thousands of people seeking refuge in a state of limbo after an already lengthy waiting process.
The Guardian reports that police officers and public officials from around the country have been donating to Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund. An executive internal affairs officer from Norfolk Virginia gave a donation that said “keep your head up, you’ve done nothing wrong.”
The Florida Senate passed an “anti-riot bill” that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been drooling over. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the bill will “grant civil immunity to people who drive through protestors blocking a road; prevent people arrested for rioting or offenses committed during a riot from bailing out of jail until their first court appearance; and impose a six-month mandatory sentence for battery on a police officer during a riot.”
In addition, “A new crime of “mob intimidation,” defined as three or more people “acting with a common intent” forcing or threatening to force another person from taking a viewpoint against their will, is created by the bill. It is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor, and bail is denied until first court appearance for anyone charged with the crime.”
More alarming news on the climate front. In a new study by the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat in Cambridge, UK, scientists found that “just 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact with healthy populations of all its original animals and undisturbed habitat,” according to The Guardian. Previous analyses put the number between 20- and 40%. However, those studies relied heavily on satellite images, which can give the false impression that the ecosystems are intact.
The numbers are in. Workers hoping to unionize the Amazon plant in Bessemer, AL lost their election in a blowout. The vote was 738 in favor to 1,798 against.. Writing in the The Nation, Jane McAlevey argues that the effort does not mean that unionizing Amazon plants are doomed; rather, there were warning signs all over that the campaign had some serious problems - some due to Amazon’s union-busting efforts, but also due to some “fatal flaws” in the organizing campaign itself.
- Inaccurate lists of workers
- Poor handling of discussions about union dues
- Focus on plant gates, no house calls
- No sign of majority support
Seth Grove and the House State Government Committee ended their dog and pony show relitigating the 2020 election. The meetings spanned 2 months, took up a total of 48 hours and continued to spread disinformation surrounding the 2020 election. In the waning days, Grove invited members from multiple Heritage Foundation fronts, the Foundation for Government Accountability, the Public Interest Legal Foundation and other Koch Brother backed organizations to continue Trump’s big lie.
The next phase of the PA House Republican’s plan to cancel voting rights in Pennsylvania moves forward. It may take months for legislation to take shape, but Pennsylvania will be a focal point as Republicans look to push a smorgasbord of voter suppression tactics, like signature matching and voter ID’s.
The Philadelphia Police Department launched a short-lived initiative to combat gun violence in the city this week. Commissioner Outlaw announced that the police department was going to team up with the Department of Parks and Recreation and teach children about gun safety. The problem? The Commissioner stated that they were going to use the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program without stating it was an NRA backed program. The initiative lasted less than a day after gun safety advocates and residents pounced on this idea.
Philadelphia Councilmember Kendra Brooks, introduced two bills this week that would end practice of landlords denying turning away prospective tenants based upon eviction records. Brooks explained her rationale to WHYY: “Structural barriers and biases in the renting process disproportionately impact low-income renters, especially Black women. And as we know, these same renters have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. We must work toward a pandemic recovery that leaves no one behind and protecting renters’ rights to access affordable rental properties is a key part of that.”
PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein, made his case for his plan to fundamentally redesign the 14 state-owned university system to the Board of Governors on Thursday. Board of Governors Chair, Cynthia Shapira, called Greenstein’s remarks “inspirational” as she threw her support behind his plans to merge 6 of the universities into 2; fire hundreds of faculty and staff; and force students into more online classes. A piece of good news from the meeting that is getting much more coverage is the Board agree to freeze tuition for a third straight year.
Kutztown University student, Natalie Santos running for Allentown City Council.
NASA’s InSight Mars lander is going into emergency hibernation due to a build up of dust on the lander’s solar panels. Since landing in Elysium Planitia in 2018, InSight has been busy - detecting more than 500 Mars quakes and beginning to measure Mars’s core. Scientists say the lack of the powerful gusts of wind that are common in other parts of the planet have led to the build up.
Still no flight for Ingenuity. An expected test flight for the little Mars helicopter was called off earlier this week due to a software issue related to its flight control. A fix has been identified and the NASA team say that Ingenuity may be ready to give it another go as early as next week.
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk announced that not only will the Artemis mission put the first woman on the moon, it will also send the first person of color as well.
I will be seeking out Human Robot beer this coming week.