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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
March 2, 2020

Cast out by Trump, Jeff Sessions struggles in Alabama to win back a Senate seat

For a man who was once the most popular politician in Alabama, Jeff Sessions cut a lonely figure as he slipped into a packed room of Republicans this weekend to urge them to help him return to the Senate.

When the 73-year-old former senator and, more recently, President Trump’s attorney general arrived at the Vestavia Hills Civic Center for a breakfast hosted by the Jefferson County Republican Party, a few party loyalists shook his hand and exchanged pleasantries. But many barely glanced at Sessions as they sipped coffee and poured Aunt Jemima syrup onto paper plates stacked with pancakes and bacon.

“I don’t have anything to say to him,” Jimmy Carmack, 67, a beekeeper from Center Point, said with a shrug as he watched Sessions stand awkwardly at the edge of the room making small talk with voters. “He’s had his time and we’re ready for someone else.”

Sessions, who supported Trump long before other Republican leaders took the former reality-TV star seriously, ironically finds himself at a disadvantage in Tuesday’s Republican primary, after a race that has been something of a contest for who is the most pro-Trump Republican.


What a pathetic figure.

March 2, 2020

Candidates Struggle To Answer Question About Future Of Granite Countertops During HGTV Town Hall

CHARLESTON, SC—Clearly uncomfortable being asked to express their views on such a contentious issue, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates struggled Wednesday to answer questions about the future of granite countertops during a series of HGTV town halls.

“As president, what are you going to do to address the fact that wages are stagnating to the point where the vast majority of Americans can’t afford the granite countertops and backsplash tiles they desperately need to fix up their homes?” asked Jonathan Scott, who was moderating the HGTV town hall with his Property Brothers co-host Drew Scott, interrupting candidate Pete Buttigieg’s stammering response to note that a majority of voters doubted the former South Bend, IN mayor could effectively unify angry members of the nation’s polarized homeowners associations behind a common lawn care policy.

“How do you plan to address the millions of Americans making do with laminate countertops, or who are forced to live in homes where there’s a lack of natural sunlight in the kitchen? Will you commit today to providing the support for all Americans to knock down a wall and open up the floor plan of their common areas? Many people out there are wondering whether their future will include a brick patio or detached deck, or whether they’ll ever even be able to live in a place that is perfect for entertaining. How do you respond?”

At press time, Senator Amy Klobuchar was being booed by the HGTV town hall audience after she doubled down on controversial previous statements criticizing crown molding.


March 2, 2020

A Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial in Scientific Research

An official at the Interior Department embarked on a campaign that has inserted misleading language about climate change — including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial — into the agency’s scientific reports, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The misleading language appears in at least nine reports, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the American West that could be used to justify allocating increasingly scarce water to farmers at the expense of wildlife conservation and fisheries.

The effort was led by Indur M. Goklany, a longtime Interior Department employee who, in 2017 near the start of the Trump administration, was promoted to the office of the deputy secretary with responsibility for reviewing the agency’s climate policies. The Interior Department’s scientific work is the basis for critical decisions about water and mineral rights affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of acres of land.

The wording, known internally as the “Goks uncertainty language” based on Mr. Goklany’s nickname, inaccurately claims that there is a lack of consensus among scientists that the earth is warming. In Interior Department emails to scientists, Mr. Goklany pushed misleading interpretations of climate science, saying it “may be overestimating the rate of global warming, for whatever reason;” climate modeling has largely predicted global warming accurately. The final language states inaccurately that some studies have found the earth to be warming, while others have not.


March 2, 2020

The leader of California's Republican Party has a strategy for success: Never mention Trump

If the leader of the California Republican Party had her way, GOP candidates in this state would never mention President Trump’s name.

Not that Jessica Millan Patterson is trashing Trump — it’s hard to imagine a state Republican leader badmouthing a GOP president — but she devours the polls like every political pro. And polls consistently show that throughout most of California, Trump’s name is dirt.

The latest poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that among likely voters, 94% of Democrats and 57% of independents disapprove of Trump’s job performance. It was approved by 84% of Republicans, but they’ve become increasingly scarce in California.

So for any Republican candidate running in a competitive district against a Democrat, warmly embracing the unpopular president would be a vote-killer.


March 1, 2020

Coronavirus: South Korea sect leader to face homicide charges over deaths

Source: BBC

The city government of the capital Seoul has asked prosecutors to charge Lee Man-hee, the founder of the Shincheonji Church, and 11 others.

They are accused of hiding the names of some members as officials tried to track patients before the virus spread.

South Korea is battling the worst coronavirus outbreak outside China.

The country has reported 3,730 cases and 21 deaths so far. More than half of all infections involve members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a fringe Christian group.

Authorities say Shincheonji members infected one another in the southern city of Daegu last month, before fanning out around the country.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51695649

March 1, 2020

From Blackhawk to Brain Surgery to Bride

On a blustery, rainy Saturday nearly two decades ago, in my first year of practice, I went to my office after rounds, put my feet up on my desk, took a sip of lukewarm coffee and leaned back in my chair to relax after a busy morning. Within seconds, I felt the pager clipped to my belt vibrate. I set my mug down on the desk and called the number back. An emergency room doctor from another hospital immediately picked up and identified himself.

“Doc,” said a clipped voice, “we’ve got a 9-year-old girl who was a rear passenger in a two-car collision about two hours ago. She’s just arrived. The scan shows a three-centimeter subdural hematoma on the right side of her brain. We’re a small show. Can you take her?”

“Yes,” I said immediately. “What’s her exam?”

“Her right pupil is blown and she’s posturing on the left.”

The pupil typically dilates on the side of the brain with the increased pressure, in this case the right side, as the brain is forced down and away from the blood clot. The nerve responsible for pupillary function basically goes haywire and starts to enlarge in response. The term posturing describes a movement pattern that comes from damage being done to the part of the brain that deals with movement. Both are outward signs of high brain pressure. Put bluntly, this girl was sick, getting sicker quickly, and the window to save her was closing.


March 1, 2020

Here Comes the Coronavirus Pandemic

Back in 2002, when the SARS virus made its fateful leap from bats to civet cats to humans, global health experts warned that the ensuing outbreak was a harbinger of things to come: Climate change and globalization were conspiring with an array of other forces to make it much easier for old animal diseases to morph into new human ones. It was only a matter of time before one of those diseases proved truly catastrophic. The world could avert the worst consequences if it started planning.

But SARS was quickly contained (in part because the virus itself was so deadly that it was easy to detect). The disease faded from public consciousness and, with it, any sense of urgency over future outbreaks.

In 2009, when swine flu first emerged in the United States — scientists later traced the virus to pig farms in Mexico — experts warned again that a longer-term game plan was needed, one that was proactive rather than reactive. Again, headlines and hand-wringing followed. Again, the outbreak proved mild and passed quickly. Again, the world and its leaders moved on without heeding the warnings.

The panic-then-forget cycle was broken briefly in 2014, when Ebola tore through West Africa. President Barack Obama created a new office and established a special emergency fund to improve federal response efforts. His administration also launched a global initiative meant to help high-risk, low-income countries prepare for future outbreaks. By 2018, that progress had been undone. The office was disbanded and the funds were rescinded, even as a second Ebola outbreak emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


March 1, 2020

Education Dept. to Cut Off Federal Funding for Some Rural Schools

A bookkeeping change at the Education Department will kick hundreds of rural school districts out of a federal program that for nearly two decades has funneled funding to some of the most geographically isolated and cash-strapped schools in the United States.

More than 800 schools stand to lose thousands of dollars from the Rural and Low-Income School Program because the department has abruptly changed how districts are to report how many of their students live in poverty. The change, quietly announced in letters to state education leaders, comes after the Education Department said a review of the program revealed that districts had “erroneously” received funding because they had not met eligibility requirements outlined in the federal education law since 2002.

The department said it was simply following the law, which requires that in order to get funding, districts must use data from the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates to determine whether 20 percent of their area’s school-age children live below the poverty line.

For about 17 years though, the department has allowed schools to use the percentage of students who qualify for federally subsidized free and reduced-price meals, a common proxy for school poverty rates, because census data can miss residents in rural areas.


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