[guest post by Dana]
This week’s open thread is bookended by heroes. Feel free to share any news items in the comments. Please make sure to include links.
First news item
Two towering figures of the American civil rights movement died Friday, a major loss for a nation still grappling with protests and demands for racial equality decades later.
John Robert Lewis died at age 80 after a battle with cancer. Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died at age 95 of natural causes.
Both men were the epitome of “good trouble” — Lewis’ favorite saying and approach to confronting injustices guided by his belief in nonviolence. They worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the forefront of the historic struggle for racial justices in the 1960s.
John Lewis — one of the original Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years — not only assumed that responsibility, he made it his life’s work. He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example…In so many ways, John’s life was exceptional. But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect.
A beautiful obituary here.
Rest in peace.
Second news item
Asking the question: What are Federal law enforcement officers doing in Portland?
By all appearances, there are now at least 100 federal law enforcement officers on the ground in Portland. But media reports suggest that many of those officers (a) are not wearing identifiable uniforms or other insignia, (b) are not driving marked law enforcement vehicles, and (c) are not identifying themselves either publicly or even to those whom they have detained and arrested. Making matters worse, local authorities—from the mayor to the sheriff to the governor—have repeatedly insisted not only that they don’t want federal assistance but that the federal response is aggravating the situation on the ground. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, in contrast, has repeatedly taken to Twitter to claim that local authorities are refusing to restore order—albeit with only vague references to which federal laws are not being enforced (and repeated allusions to “graffiti” and other property damage by “violent anarchists”).
In all of these respects, what’s happening in Portland appears to be a reprise of much of what happened in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of June, when Attorney General William Barr called upon a wide array of statutory authorities to commandeer hundreds of federal law enforcement officers in order to “restore order” in the nation’s capital. At the time, many who both criticized and defended Barr’s actions pointed to the federal government’s unique legal authority over the District of Columbia—implying (whether as a feature or a bug) that the same authorities wouldn’t be available, at least to the same extent, in the 50 states. But if nothing else, the events in Portland appear to underscore that the federal government sees no such distinction—and that it believes it has the power to similarly deploy federal law enforcement authorities across the country, even (if not especially) over the objections of the relevant local and state officials.
CUCCINELLI: Well, I can’t speak to this specific instance, but the federal courthouse there is protected by Federal Protective Services, who are being supported by both CBP and ICE officers and – because of the violence there and the graffiti. I’m sure you’ve seen all of that. And they are attempting to make arrests. They are attempting to identify violent rioters and to then pick them up, arrest them and go and have them prosecuted federally.
MCCAMMON: Are you saying this has only happened once?
CUCCINELLI: The offenses there are federal.
MCCAMMON: Are you saying this has only happened once?
CUCCINELLI: I’m not speaking to the number of times it has happened. I’m telling you what they’re doing in terms of a process. And I fully expect that as long as people continue to be violent and to destroy property that we will attempt to identify those folks. We will pick them up in front of the courthouse. If we spot them elsewhere, we will pick them up elsewhere. And if we have a question about somebody’s identity – like the first example I noted to you – after questioning determine it isn’t someone of interest, then they get released. And that’s standard law enforcement procedure, and it’s going to continue as long as the violence continues.
Third news item
President Trump says he will not issue a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that, no,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace that will air in full on “Fox News Sunday.”
Trump also seemed to express skepticism about the efficacy of masks, noting that public health officials initially said that facial coverings were not necessary for healthy individuals, before later adding that he is a “believer in masks.”
“I don’t agree with the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears,” Trump said, referring to Wallace’s mention of the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying that the country could get the virus under control in four to six weeks if everyone wore a mask.
Trump in recent weeks has been committing less of his time and energy to managing the pandemic, according to advisers, and has only occasionally spoken in detail about the topic in his public appearances. One of these advisers said the president is “not really working this anymore. He doesn’t want to be distracted by it. He’s not calling and asking about data. He’s not worried about cases.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews countered in a statement: “President Trump has always acted on the recommendations of his top public health experts throughout this crisis as evidenced by the many bold, data-driven decisions he has made to save millions of lives. Any suggestion that the President is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development and rebuilding our economy is utterly false.”
Fourth news item
Disturbing new revelations that permanent immunity to the coronavirus may not be possible have jeopardized vaccine development and reinforced a decision by scientists at UCSF and affiliated laboratories to focus exclusively on treatments.
Several recent studies conducted around the world indicate that the human body does not retain the antibodies that build up during infections, meaning there may be no lasting immunity to COVID-19 after people recover.
Strong antibodies are also crucial in the development of vaccines. So molecular biologists fear the only way left to control the disease may be to treat the symptoms after people are infected to prevent the most debilitating effects, including inflammation, blood clots and death.
“I just don’t see a vaccine coming anytime soon,” said Nevan Krogan, a molecular biologist and director of UCSF’s Quantitative Biosciences Institute, which works in partnership with 100 research laboratories. “People do have antibodies, but the antibodies are waning quickly.” And if antibodies diminish, “then there is a good chance the immunity from a vaccine would wane too.”
Fifth news item
The White House has blocked CDC officials from testifying in a House Education and Labor Committee hearing scheduled next week on reopening schools, a senior CDC official confirmed to The Daily Beast. The committee’s chair, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), had invited CDC Director Robert Redfield last week to testify on July 23 to discuss “the immediate needs of K-12 public schools to safely reopening.” But, at the direction of the White House, Redfield won’t attend.
A county has to be off the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list for 14 consecutive days before schools there can reopen for in-person learning. Under the new mandate, it’s unlikely that many California districts will be able to have classroom instruction at the start of the school year.
Sixth news item
So let’s walk through the three most likely outcomes of the presidential election and ponder the impact of those events. One can reasonably foresee a narrow Trump victory, a narrow Trump loss, and (based on present polling trends) a decisive Trump loss…Analyzing a close Trump victory is easy. It would not only decisively reaffirm the bond between Trump and the GOP, it will represent a second consecutive national political earthquake…He’ll be the man who survived a pandemic, urban unrest, impeachment, and a special counsel. He’ll stand astride the GOP like a colossus…If Trump loses narrowly, expect a viciously toxic atmosphere—with furious Trump partisans blaming enemies within and without for Trump’s loss, and opportunistic populists delicately positioning themselves to serve as better standard-bearers for the new, truly populist Republican Party…A serious Trump loss, however, leads to interesting, branching possibilities—but all against the sad (for conservatives) backdrop of progressive energy that could well surpass anything Hillary Clinton could have accomplished had she won in 2016…First, the Trump die-hards will still play the victim (“It was the pandemic!” “It was the media!”), and the smaller GOP left over after a blowout loss will hail mainly from the deepest red states and districts, so there will be an audience for Trump apologetics…
On July 9th, my six year old nephew Bridger saved his little sister’s life by standing between her and a charging dog. After getting bit several times on the face and head, he grabbed his sister’s hand and ran with her to keep her safe. He later said, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.”
90 stitches later, Bridger continues to recover from the harrowing event. God bless his noble little heart.
Have a good weekend.