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Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 85,603

Journal Archives

Went to vote in NYC today; nobody was in line...

...I suspect the referenda aren't going to draw people in (the candidate contests are all largely non-competitive).

You're not 'fully vaccinated.' You never will be.

Washington Post

When retired Gen. Colin Powell’s family announced his death Monday in a brief Facebook post, they said that the cause was “complications from Covid 19” despite being “fully vaccinated.” The former secretary of state, who was 84, had also been undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma. That kind of cancer causes marked impairments of the immune system, rendering it capable of producing only one type of antibody. In July, a study of vaccinated people with multiple myeloma found that only 45 percent had immune responses that would be “adequate” to protect them against covid. A booster dose is recommended for people with blood cancers, but no amount of vaccination can make up for an immune system that can’t fight back. To the medical community, it was no surprise that Powell could develop a severe, even fatal case of covid-19.

Much of the discussion surrounding his death, however, suggested otherwise, as if this was a case of some irregularity or failure of the vaccines. That specific phrase — “fully vaccinated” — stood out to me especially, as it featured prominently in most news coverage. It implied that Powell should have been completely protected; that he shouldn’t have been able to die from covid-19. The use of “fully vaccinated” is not unique to Powell, either, though the coverage of his death has highlighted that the term is inappropriate in many cases, primarily because there is no consensus on what it means. As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, precision of language and transparency in delineating the known and the unknown are key to any effective public health response. A sense of false confidence — or of exaggerated risk — can permanently damage the credibility that is so critical to the success of the coronavirus vaccination campaign and of future ones.

At the moment, the central debate among immunologists and infectious-disease experts — in the United States, at least — pertains to booster doses. It has become clear that some people will benefit from additional shots (third doses of the mRNA vaccines and second doses of Johnson & Johnson) and equally clear that others may not. The challenge is in determining where to draw that line. Most of us fall into a gray area between the 21-year-old Olympic decathlete in no need of more doses and the 90-year-old with emphysema who sings in an unvaccinated choir and would quite benefit from boosting.

All of this boils down to, essentially, an ongoing attempt to define “fully vaccinated.” Who is “fully vaccinated” against covid-19, and for how long? The honest answer is that the target is moving before our eyes.

Until 2021, “fully vaccinated” was not a standard phrase, any more than “fully married” or “fully graduated from college.” Typically a person is considered “vaccinated” or “unvaccinated.” Technical distinctions might be used clinically to describe gray areas — a young child or a puppy, say, between doses of measles or rabies vaccines, may be considered “partially vaccinated” for purposes of logistical communications between doctors. But such a designation would not imply that the child or puppy is protected.

Biden to host Manchin in Delaware at critical juncture

Source: Politico

President Joe Biden will host Sen. Joe Manchin in Delaware on Sunday as the two seek to finalize an agreement on Biden’s domestic agenda, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.

The president will huddle with the the West Virginia moderate in Delaware, where Biden is spending the weekend. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will also attend. The meeting comes at an absolutely critical time for Biden, who is seeking to clinch a deal with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on his social spending plan in the next week.

Democrats are hopeful that the president and the two senators can hash things out and strike a framework on a top-line agreement for the legislation aimed at climate action, child care, health care and education. But they are somewhat far apart, as Manchin sticks to his $1.5 trillion number, and the White House and Democratic leaders aim to go as high as $2 trillion after initially pursuing $3.5 trillion.

The slimming of the legislation is threatening to derail two long-held Democratic priorities: paid leave and Medicare expansion for dental, vision and hearing. Neither Biden nor progressives in the Senate have signed off on eliminating those, though that could become necessary to win Manchin's support and strike a quick deal.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/24/biden-manchin-delaware-at-critical-juncture-516941

Democrats' problem is not focusing on issues most vital to independents, 2 prominent pollsters say

Washington Post

Joel Benenson has a feeling of deja vu watching President Biden’s agenda grind into a long, drawn-out negotiation as middle-of-the-road voters recoil at the process taking place in Congress.

“History doesn’t really often repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” said Benenson, who served as Barack Obama’s pollster in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

Benenson has teamed up with Neil Newhouse, a co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP polling firm, on a research project warning that Democrats are heading into next year’s midterm elections amid echoes of Obama’s first two years in office that resulted in a resounding defeat in the 2010 midterms that cost the party its House majority.

So much political capital was spent on a nearly year-long effort to pass the Affordable Care Act that few voters rewarded Democrats when it finally became law in the spring of 2010, and, 12 years later, Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda has turned into another messy process fight.

At the heart of the Benenson-Newhouse research is something Democrats worried about a dozen years ago, when those messy negotiations took up so much bandwidth yet were also out of sync with what many swing voters prioritized. In late 2009 and early 2010, with unemployment hovering around 10 percent, key swing voters cared most about jobs and not expanding access to health insurance. Today’s voters appear to be most concerned about the ongoing global pandemic and are not deeply invested in the haggling over proposals such as expanding Medicare coverage to include dental, hearing and vision benefits.

NY Gov. signs bill allowing candidates to use chosen names in bids for office

Brooklyn Eagle

After collecting over a thousand petition signatures in the dead of winter and in the middle of a deadly pandemic, Moumita Ahmed faced a gut-wrenching reality.

The New York City Board of Elections kicked her off the ballot in her 2020 race for district leader because her personal and professional first name, which she had used on all of her BOE paperwork, didn’t match her legal name. To add insult to injury, the BOE booted Ahmed and another Muslim woman from the ballot on the first day of Ramadan.

Though a judge would soon rule in Ahmed’s favor, reinstating her and then-Assembly candidate Mary Jobaida back onto the ballot, neither Ahmed, Jobaida or any other candidate running for office will ever again face the prospect of getting kicked off the ballot because of their name.

On Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law that expands the BOE’s definition of the word “name,” and would allow for candidates to use alternate, familiar or anglicized names in their bids for office.

Dems weigh ditching Medicare expansion and paid leave in eleventh hour of social spending talks

Source: Politico

Democrats are haggling over whether to drop two of the most popular elements of their social spending bill as negotiations reach the zero hour, according to a half-dozen sources close to the discussions.

While high-level talks on the $1 trillion-plus package are ongoing, lawmakers, staffers, advocates and lobbyists said that a plan to expand Medicare with dental, vision and hearing benefits for tens of millions of seniors — as well as a pitch to guarantee paid family and medical leave to all U.S. workers — is now in danger of getting cut from the bill entirely.

Democratic sources addressed the current status of the talks candidly on condition of anonymity, amid conflicting reports from those involved that speak to the closely guarded and sensitive nature of the back-and-forth as the party pushes for a deal in the next few days. President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders are racing to lock in centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) without alienating other major players, including Medicare-expansion proponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

One senior Democratic aide said discussions on Medicare and paid leave were “in flux” as negotiations continued through the weekend. The White House and Senate leadership aides, meanwhile, denied that the provisions were on their way out. "This is untrue, on both counts,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesperson.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/23/dems-weigh-ditching-medicare-expansion-and-paid-leave-in-11th-hour-of-social-spending-talks-516929

Air France still offers full FIRST class service...

All that socialist safety-net spending (and taxation), and there's still a market for top dollar, high-end plane service...

"Look for the Union Label....."

Italian flight attendants strip off to protest working conditions

(CNN) — Italy's new national airline, ITA Airways, took to the skies last week, but all is not well on the ground of Italian aviation.

Former Alitalia flight attendants protested this week against job losses and pay cuts in a particularly Italian way -- by taking their clothes off.

At the Campidoglio -- the center of power in Rome for around 2,000 years and whose main square was redesigned by Michelangelo -- about 50 female former flight attendants turned up in their Alitalia uniforms, then removed them to stand in their underwear, chanting "We are Alitalia."

Theirs was a demonstration to protest not only against their job losses, but also against the contracts awarded to those who have been retained by ITA Airways.


Dems see a $1 trillion-plus deal within reach -- but not until next week


Democrats are inching closer to a deal on President Joe Biden's social spending plan, though likely not until next week.

Biden had breakfast with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday as Democrats close in on a deal on Biden’s social spending plan, prompting an upbeat assessment from the California Democrat. Still, several sources with knowledge of the intensifying talks said they doubted a deal could come together anything this week given where things stand between Biden and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

But Democrats head into the final week of October with far more clarity from that duo than they began, giving the party increasing confidence it can land a framework for the bill this month. Talks will spill into the weekend, with both chambers gone until Monday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed upbeat as she returned from the White House, telling reporters she believed a deal was within reach. Still, she declined to say whether the House could vote on either the social spending bill or the Senate-passed infrastructure bill next week, remarking only that "I'm very optimistic."

John Eastman vs. the Eastman Memo

National Review

The issue here is that Eastman says the Eastman memo does not accurately represent Eastman’s own views or legal advice to Pence or Trump, claiming that the two-page version published in Peril was preliminary and a final version presented various scenarios intended for internal discussion.

In two separate phone interviews this month, Eastman spoke to National Review for nearly an hour total about the memos he drafted and his private meeting in the White House on January 4 with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Pence’s legal counsel Greg Jacob, and Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short.

The two-page memo published in Peril was drafted on Christmas Eve, and a final six-page memo was drafted on January 3, says Eastman. “They were internal discussion memos for the legal team. I had been asked to put together a memo of all the available scenarios that had been floated,” Eastman says. “I was asked to kind of outline how each of those scenarios would work and then orally present my views on whether I thought they were valid or not, so that’s what those memos did.”

Who asked Eastman to write the first memo? “It was somebody in the legal team. I just don’t recall,” Eastman says. “It was by a phone conversation, and I’ve gone back in my phone records, and I have so many calls, I can’t tell, you know, which call it was.”

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