[guest post by Dana]
First news item
As Iranians continue to courageously push back against the oppressive regime, the U.S. issued new sanctions:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new US sanctions announced Thursday were due to Iran continuing to crack down on “the right to freedom of expression and right of peaceful assembly, including by shutting down access to the Internet” following the death of Amini…“Today’s action follows the September 22 designation of the Morality Police, its senior leadership, and other senior security officials, and the release of Iran-related General License D-2…” The new sanctions target Iran’s Minister of the Interior, Ahmad Vahidi…the sanctions also target Eisa Zarepour, the Minister of Communications, who is “responsible for the shameful attempt to block the internet access of millions of Iranians in the hopes of slowing down the protests,” the release from the Treasury Department states…Five other Iranian officials are also being sanctioned.
Meanwhile, Tehran blocked access to the last two uncensored social media outlets, WhatsApp and Instagram. Frustrated protesters have turned to using VPNs.
Also, don’t miss a look at two decades of Iranian women’s street protests in photos at The Guardian.
Listen to my speech about the murder of #MahsaAmini and pass the message to all your politicians.
Retweets this video by tagging those Western female politicians who obeyed forced hijab in their meeting with &.#مهسا_امینی@OsloFFpic.twitter.com/4WHE4L7kT1
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 7, 2022
Second news item
President Biden, who is scheduled to be home in Wilmington this weekend, warned Democratic donors at a fundraiser last night that we now face a risk of ‘armageddon’ because of Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons. He also said that we need to find a way to end the conflict which would allow Putin to save face:
“For the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have the direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path that they are going. That’s a different deal.”
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”
“He is not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons, or biological, or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”
“There’s a lot at stake,” Biden said. “We are trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where does he get off? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not – not only lose face but lose significant power within Russia?”
Thoughts: Given that he said this at a Democratic fundraiser in Manhattan seems to diminish the dire risk he conveys. Because, if we really were facing a risk of Armageddon (he used the word twice in his speech), wouldn’t the President of the United States have announced it via a special announcement that broke into all other television programming so that every American could be alerted, and not just a select wealthy few who opened their checkbooks for him? Because if it is indeed as serious as the President of the United States said, then shame on him for choosing to reveal it to only an elite few.
P.S. This too:
The president — the lone American official with the authority to launch nuclear weapons — isn’t supposed to just casually mention that the world could be headed to a world-ending nuclear exchange, in between requests for donations at a party fundraiser.
Finland’s prime minister cut to the chase and said there is only one way out of the “conflict”:
Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin was asked about a potential off-ramp for Russia to end the war in Ukraine. Her reply: pic.twitter.com/VblWxkMuFc
— Rikhard Husu (@RikhardHusu) October 7, 2022
In an address to the Lowy Institute, a nonpartisan international policy think tank in Australia, Zelensky underscored the importance of “preventive strikes, preventive action” so that Russia can get a better picture of the potential consequences if they move to use nuclear weapons.
Preemptive steps are crucial to deterrence, Zelensky said. He cautioned against “waiting for the nuclear strikes first.”
The Ukrainian president’s press secretary, Sergii Nykyforov, later clarified Zelensky’s comments after some media interpreted the suggestion to include preemptive nuclear strikes, rather than nonnuclear steps like sanctions.
“You will never hear such calls from Ukraine,” Nykyforov said in a translated Facebook post, asserting that only Russia would resort to “blackmail the world” with nuclear threats.
Zelensky has long called upon the international community to take preventative measures to deter Russia from escalating the conflict, which has waged on for more than seven months.
Third news item
A top official at the Department of Justice communicated to Donald Trump’s attorneys that they don’t believe the former president has returned all the government records he held onto after leaving office
Efforts by senior official Jay Bratt, chief of the department’s counterintelligence and export-control section, have presented a problem for Trump’s team:
Bratt’s outreach sowed discord among Trump’s team, with some of his attorneys set on cooperating and others intent on resisting. The latter camp won the day, the Times reported. “The weaponized Department of Justice and the politicized FBI are spending millions and millions of American tax dollars to perpetuate witch hunt after witch hunt,” a Trump spokesperson told the newspaper.
Fourth news item
Political affiliation has emerged as a potential risk factor for COVID-19, amid evidence that Republican-leaning counties have had higher COVID-19 death rates than Democrat- leaning counties and evidence of a link between political party affiliation and vaccination views. This study constructs an individual-level dataset with political affiliation and excess death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic via a linkage of 2017 voter registration in Ohio and Florida to mortality data from 2018 to 2021. We estimate substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats, with almost all of the difference concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available in our study states. Overall, the excess death rate for Republicans was 5.4 percentage points (pp), or 76%, higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. Post- vaccines, the excess death rate gap between Republicans and Democrats widened from 1.6 pp (22% of the Democrat excess death rate) to 10.4 pp (153% of the Democrat excess death rate). The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available.
Fifth news item
President Joe Biden on Thursday granted a pardon to all people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law, in what amounts to the most extensive White House action taken to date on U.S. drug policy.
The president also urged governors to take similar action for state offenses of civil possession of marijuana. In addition, he called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to “expeditiously” review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, meaning it’s deemed to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Popehat shoots down concerns floating around the internet:
This is utter bullshit. Josh’s has no idea what he’s saying. I’ve never seen a federal case pleaded down from possession with intent to distribute (let alone a violent crime) to simple possession. Federal plea bargain guidelines would prevent it without high-level approval. /1 pic.twitter.com/wiIeNETJLP
— IfHatHadHappened (@Popehat) October 6, 2022
Read the whole thread.
Sixth news item
…Cornell, had removed from display at Kroch Library a bust of Abraham Lincoln, as well as a handwritten manuscript of the Gettysburg Address. A professor who noticed the removal was told by librarians that the display had been removed pursuant to a complaint. Cornell administration, on the other hand, claimed that the display was intended to be temporary. But the “temporary” display had been up for nine years.
Cornell’s new chief librarian has ordered reinstatement of the bust — this time in Uris Library, the university’s main library.
Seventh news item
Photos taken by first responders showed the school’s floor littered with the tiny bodies of children still on their blankets, where they had been taking an afternoon nap. The images showed slashes to their faces and gunshots to their heads and pools of blood.
May these sweet little ones rest in quiet peace
Eighth news item
Texas and Arizona to Mayor Adams: The humanitarian crisis isn’t limited to NYC:
Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency to help respond to the city’s migrant crisis, which he told reporters Friday will cost the city $1 billion this fiscal year.
“We now have a situation where more people are arriving in New York City than we can immediately accommodate, including families with babies and young children,” Adams said. “Once the asylum seekers from today’s buses are provided shelter, we would surpass the highest number of people in recorded history in our city’s shelter system.”
The mayor called for emergency federal and state aid to handle the continued influx of asylum seekers.
As a former Deadhead from way back when, I was surprised to see that the Grateful Dead (and Company) is still up and running – at least for a little while longer:
The band had formally announced that the forthcoming tour would be its last…“As we put the finishing touches on booking venues, and understanding that word travels fast, we wanted to be the first to let you know that Dead & Company will be hitting the road next summer for what will be our final tour,” the September statement read.
Speaking to my heart: Fat Bear Week is here!
Good golly, Miss Holly (435)! Can her cinnamon rolls of flattering fat flatten her feisty foe? Or will 164, the under-bear under the falls overtake the hefty heavyweight hitter Holly and pile drive the competition? Choose at https://t.co/thJwxp9wuP by 5pm AKDT. #FatBearWeek pic.twitter.com/hvvErzX9lI
— Katmai National Park (@KatmaiNPS) October 7, 2022
Finally, the beautiful coal miner’s daughter has passed away:
A statement from the family of Loretta Lynn.
"Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home at her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills.” The family of Loretta Lynn.
— Loretta Lynn (@LorettaLynn) October 4, 2022
— Loretta Lynn (@LorettaLynn) October 4, 2022
Have a great weekend.