Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
It’s still mind-numbingly hot where I’m at, and I suspect where you are too. Well, a number of you anyway. It seems to me that Sourtherners paint the most colorful pictures when describing the hundred-and-hell degree weather:
It’s so hot the swimming pool is boiling.
It’s so hot the ice cream truck melted.
If it gets any hotter, I’ll have to take off stuff I really ought to keep on.
I’m burning slap-up.
Crank up that A.C. till it’s blowing snowballs.
You could fry an egg on the hood of that car.
It’s so dang hot that I just saw a hound dog chasing a rabbit—and they were both walking.
Hotter than a pepper sprout.
Hotter than a $2 pistol.
Of course, my favorite description of the wretched heat is from Harper Lee in To Kill A Mockingbird:
Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.
So, from your softly wilted teacake of a contributor, let’s get started. Share what you like but make sure you include links.
First news item
Throwing down the gauntlet across the nation:
Schools have begun reopening in the U.S. with most states leaving it up to local schools to decide whether to require masks. California, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington state intend to require masks for all students and teachers regardless of vaccination status. At the other end of the spectrum, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah have banned mask requirements in all public schools.
Second news item
Dark days in the Sunshine State:
More Floridians are contracting COVID-19 and filling hospital beds than at any point since the pandemic started 17 months ago.
The state recorded 134,506 cases between July 30 and Aug 5, according to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Health.
That’s an average of more than 19,000 cases every day — the highest infection rate in a single week since the start of the pandemic. Adjusted for population, only Louisiana had a higher infection rate last week.
Florida hospitalizations also reached their highest point in the pandemic this week, with over 12,864 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the hospital as of Friday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Florida parents will be allowed to apply for vouchers and move their kids to another school if they perceive any type of “COVID-19 harassment” against their child in connection to district rules on masking, testing and isolation due to exposure, under a new emergency rule approved Friday.
The rule, approved unanimously by the State Board of Education, was hastily crafted by state education and health officials in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order last week that called for rules that would protect parents’ decisions on whether their children should wear masks in K-12 schools.
Florida Department of Health officials unveiled new protocols that detail how the spread of the virus should be controlled in school settings.
Third news item
Crazy haps in the Last Frontier State:
Former President Donald Trump’s political apparatus is reinforcing its support for Alaska Republican Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, as former Gov. Sarah Palin floats herself as a potential contender for the same seat.
Donald Trump, Jr. is set to release a fundraising appeal Friday evening expressing his support for Tshibaka, the former state commissioner of administration who is challenging Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. It comes just days after Palin, who rose to national prominence as the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, was quoted as saying that “If God wants me to” run for Senate, “I will.”
The former president and his son have endorsed Tshibaka over Murkowski, a Trump critic who voted in January to remove him from office over his role in the Capitol riot. Neither Trump nor his son have spoken out against Palin, and a person close to the younger Trump said that he and his father had warm feelings toward the former Alaska governor and that the appeal was in the works prior to Palin floating her candidacy.
Fourth news item
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia known for espousing debunked conspiracy theories, plans to appear this month at the Iowa State Fair, according to people familiar with her plans. The gathering is a traditional platform for White House aspirants.
It’s not a prime pre-presidential year in Iowa (that will be two years from now), and as Jacobs notes, there probably won’t be a Soap Box (an area traditionally set up by the Des Moines Register to accommodate political speakers who stand atop bales of hay). But Greene does seem to be a woman in a big hurry
Fifth news item
A falling empire in the Empire State:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo remained in hiding at the Executive Mansion Friday but sent out a team of lawyers to publicly attack some of the 11 women he’s accused of sexually harassing — and to claim that Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation was rigged against him.
“The governor deserves to be treated fairly and he must be,” insisted Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s personal defense lawyer in a Zoom press conference that was also broadcast on the governor’s official state website.
“That did not happen here. This was one-sided and he was ambushed.”
We will not be intimidated.
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) August 6, 2021
Sixth news item
Democratic Arizona state Sen. Tony Navarrete has been arrested on suspicion of charges accusing him of sexual conduct with a minor, police said Friday.
Police received a report on Wednesday about sexual contact that allegedly occurred in 2019. Navarrete, who represents a west Phoenix district, was arrested Thursday after detectives interviewed a juvenile victim and witnesses, police said in a statement.
The juvenile boy was 14 years old at the time.
Seventh news item
The Texas House Democratic Caucus could not account Tuesday for two of the members who broke quorum and fled for Washington, D.C., over Republicans’ priority elections bill, while a Texas Monthly reporter said the members were on vacation in Portugal.
State Reps. Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch and Jessica González of Dallas were not with other House Democrats on Tuesday in the nation’s capital, according to a person familiar with the situation. On Tuesday evening, Texas Monthly reporter Jonathan Tilove tweeted that he “can confirm [Johnson] and her wife & [González] and her fiancé are in Portugal for a vacation they had been planning, with non-refundable tickets, for a year-and-a-half.”
In a text exchange though with the San Antonio Express-News on Tuesday evening, González referred to the Portugal trip as “rumors” and said “no one has shown proof.”
“These are rumors, period,” she said. “End of story.”
Their absence from Washington does not affect the lack of quorum that the House has in Austin that prevents the chamber from passing an elections bill. But it is at odds with House Democrats’ insistence that they would use their time away from the state Legislature, which they left in July, to advocate for federal voting rights legislation in the nation’s capital.
There should be a steep price to pay for any elected official in any political party who chooses to run away from fulfilling their duties, no matter how challenging or distasteful they may be.
Eighth news item
Nearly 1,800 Americans directly affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are opposing President Joe Biden’s participation in any memorial events this year unless he upholds his pledge to declassify U.S. government evidence that they believe may show a link between Saudi Arabian leaders and the attacks.
The victims’ family members, first responders and survivors will release a statement Friday calling on Biden to skip 20th-anniversary events in New York and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon unless he releases the documents, which they believe implicate Saudi officials in supporting the acts of terrorism. The group says that as a candidate Biden pledged to be more transparent and release as much information as possible but that his administration has since then ignored their letters and requests.
Ninth news item
Biden administration flies illegal immigrants to deep Mexico:
The United States on Thursday began flying Central American and Mexican families to southern Mexico in an effort to deter migration by bolstering a COVID-era expulsion policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, a person familiar with the matter said.
Nearly 200 Mexican and Central American family members were expelled deep into Mexico on Thursday in what are expected to be regular flights, the person said. The flights, which will include adults, aim to disrupt a pattern of repeat crossings under a U.S. border policy known as Title 42.
U.S. President Joe Biden has reversed many of the restrictive immigration policies of his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump, but has left Title 42 in place amid 20-year highs in border arrests.
Although health experts, pro-migrant advocates and some Democrats say the policy cuts off access to asylum without a clear health rationale, Biden officials argue it is necessary to keep U.S. detention centers from becoming overwhelmed during the pandemic…The Biden administration also announced last week that it would subject migrant families to a fast-track deportation process known as “expedited removal” to their home countries from U.S. detention centers.
Summer storm beating back the summer heat:
Have a great weekend!