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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,712

Journal Archives

Anti-Vaxxer Turns Vaccine Advocate After Husband Dies From COVID-19

Christina Lowe, 32, lost the love of her life and father to her children to COVID-19 less than a week ago.

It’s a death she now believes was preventable.

"I just always thought it’s never going to happen to us,” Lowe said. “It can’t happen to us. We’re young, we’re healthy. And then it did happen to us, and then you start playing the regret game."

Lowe and her husband Mikel were both adamantly against the COVID vaccine -- that is, until he lay dying in a hospital bed.


Looks like that's what it takes sometimes...

Project Veritas Headquarters Destroyed in Ida Floods

Hurricane Ida’s Northeast floods and tornadoes showed the visual reality of climate change, including at the headquarters of the “truth-seeking” organization Project Veritas. Photos from the group’s Mamaroneck, New York, base show tables flipped over, chairs stacked on top of one another, and multiple copies of leader James O’Keefe’s 2018 book American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News scattered on the floor. Its mascot, an alpaca named “Retracto,” was soaked.

The setback comes amid a damaging year for Project Veritas, which runs undercover stings in an effort to catch journalists or liberal figures saying embarrassing things. Twitter banned both Project Veritas and O‘Keefe in April for operating fake accounts. O’Keefe later sued Twitter.


Vaccine pin causes spat between Sarasota/Manatee GOP leaders that embroils Rep. Steube

The COVID-19 vaccines have proven incredibly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, but they're also proving to be a politically thorny issue in some circles, as illustrated by a recent spat between Republican leaders in Sarasota and Manatee counties that embroiled conservative Sarasota Congressman Greg Steube.

The vaccine dust-up began when Steube agreed to speak to the Republican Women’s Club of Sarasota, a 71-year-old group that has been meeting at the Michael’s on East restaurant for years.

In May, Michael’s on East announced a new policy surrounding vaccines and mask-wearing for employees.

Any employee who got the vaccine was given the option of wearing a red pin that says “V is for Vaccine!” and not having to wear a mask, according to a July Herald-Tribune article, although the restaurant's website now states that "Due to the new COVID-19 Delta Variant, all of our employees are required to wear masks."

Neither the vaccine or the pin are mandatory for Michael’s on East employees, but some Republicans didn’t like the pin idea and started complaining on social media about a Republican group hosting an event at Michael’s on East, and about Steube speaking there.


The Latest IRS Headache for Taxpayers: 11 Million 'Math Error' Notices

Tax changes like the ones brought by last year’s stimulus payments often trigger a surge in such problems

Millions of Americans have gotten a scary, confusing letter from the Internal Revenue Service in 2021 saying they owe more taxes. Making matters worse, many of the letters are about stimulus payments meant to lessen the blow of the pandemic.

The explosion of IRS bills to taxpayers fall into a category known as “math-error” notices, and the IRS sent out more than 11 million of them from Jan. 1 to mid-August.

That compares with about 765,000 for the same period in pandemic-disrupted 2020 and about 2 million in 2019, according to National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins, who heads an independent unit within the IRS charged with safeguarding taxpayer rights. Ms. Collins is trying to help taxpayers who got these notices, and now several million filers will get more time to respond.

Despite their name, math-error notices aren’t just about arithmetic. Instead, they are tax adjustments for a variety of issues detected by IRS computers during return processing. They usually result in tax due, a smaller refund or even a higher refund in some cases.


Largest study of masks yet details their importance in fighting Covid-19

A study involving more than 340,000 people in Bangladesh offers some of the strongest real-world evidence yet that mask use can help communities slow the spread of Covid-19.

The research, conducted across 600 villages in rural Bangladesh, is the largest randomized trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of surgical masks, in particular, to curb transmission of the coronavirus. Though previous, smaller studies in laboratories and hospitals have shown that masks can help prevent the spread of Covid, the new findings demonstrate that efficacy in the real world — and on an enormous scale.

"This is really solid data that combines the control of a lab study with real-life actions of people in the world to see if we can get people to wear masks, and if the masks work," said Laura Kwong, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the co-authors of the study.

The preprint study was posted online Wednesday by the nonprofit organization Innovations for Poverty Action and is currently undergoing peer review. The research was led by Kwong, Jason Abaluck and Mushfiq Mobarak from Yale University, and Steve Luby and Ashley Styczynski from Stanford University.


Judge finalizes ruling upholding school mask mandates; DeSantis appeals order

Source: Tampa Bay Times

The order, announced Aug. 27 and now final, already is being appealed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

TALLAHASSEE — A court ruling that says Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration acted “without legal authority” when enforcing a ban against strict mask mandates in schools went into effect Thursday, nearly a week after it was issued. Hours later, DeSantis appealed the order.

In his 37-page ruling, Leon County Circuit Court Judge John C. Cooper said that the governor, the Department of Education and State Board of Education improperly applied the Parents Bill of Rights. He concluded they have no authority to punish school districts that have demonstrated their mask policy “is reasonable” and achieves “a compelling state interest.”

“By passing the Parents’ Bill of Rights, the Florida Legislature necessarily recognized the importance of parental rights. But it also recognized that parents’ rights are not immune to some reasonable limitation depending upon safety and reasonableness and compelling state need regarding health care or condition of the child,” Cooper wrote.

The order, announced Friday, Aug. 27, and now final, set into motion an appeal by DeSantis in the polarizing legal battle taking place in both state and federal court. The governor says he is standing by the individual rights of parents while school district leaders say they are protecting the collective health of school children in the face of the surging delta variant of the coronavirus.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2021/09/02/judge-finalizes-ruling-upholding-school-mask-mandates-state-expected-to-appeal/

Angel Dance

I really like this song, but boy does Robert Plant look rough in this kinda weird video.

The CIA Spy Who Reinvented the Travel Guide

For decades, Eugene Fodor wrote and edited the travel books that introduced middle-class travelers to the world—when he wasn’t moonlighting as a spook.

The year 1936 was a momentous year for global travel. The RMS Queen Mary made her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City. Aer Lingus took its first flight (from Dublin to Bristol). H.R. Ekins, a reporter for the New York World-Telegram, won a race around the world using only commercial airlines (it took him 18 days, 11 hours, 14 minutes, and 55 seconds). And Eugene Fodor published his first guidebook, 1936 … On the Continent, a 1,200-page doorstop on Europe, the world’s first annually updated travel guidebook.

The guidebook, which for the first time was aimed at middle-class travelers and not necessarily upper-class “grand tourists,” included all the typical sights, but also for the first time encouraged interacting with locals whose worldview might be different from those of readers. “Rome contains not only magnificent monuments and priceless art treasures,” Fodor wrote in the foreword to the 1936 guide, “but also Italians.”

Eugene Fodor, who died at 85 in 1991, profoundly influenced the way Americans traveled in the 20th and 21st centuries; the company he founded, today called Fodor’s Travel, currently publishes 150 titles per year and its website gets 2.75 million visitors a month. (Full disclosure: I have at times in the last decade updated and written the restaurant section for Fodor’s New York City guidebook.)

What most people don’t know was that Fodor was a CIA spy, on their payroll for years. After this secret became public in 1974, Fodor downplayed it and outright shut down questions about it in interviews, groaning, for example, when a reporter from Conde Nast Traveler brought it up to him in in the late ’80s and saying, “Everyone seems to have forgotten what the Cold War was like. The Soviets were a real threat. As an American, you did what you could.”


Republicans keep crossing the line. Democrats must hold them accountable.

Republicans have become accustomed to a cult leader who bullies, threatens and obstructs legal processes. Naturally, the party — including its congressional leaders — has decided to emulate him.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has done his best to throw sand in the gears of the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. He voted against impeachment of the instigator of the “stop the steal” assault. He opposed a bipartisan commission. He then appointed Republican members to the Jan. 6 select committee who opposed the investigation, including unceasing gadfly Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). And when two of his five picks were rejected, he pulled all his members from the committee.

Now that the committee has sought phone records from telecom companies to examine the phone history of witnesses of Jan. 6, including members of Congress, McCarthy has threatened the companies in an attempt to keep them from complying. “A Republican majority will not forget,” he warned on Tuesday.

This blatant attempt to interfere with Congress’s work and lawful subpoenas is intolerable. Democrats — including the White House — should condemn the behavior. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should refer the matter to the House ethics committee, if not to the Justice Department.


Florida school locked down after parent's fit over masks

No charges were filed but the parent was ordered not to come back to the school without calling first and getting permission.

SARASOTA — A Florida elementary school was placed in a temporary, limited lockdown after a parent threatened to leave his job and confront an assistant principal for telling his children they couldn’t come to school without being masked.

Christopher Kivlin was met by police officers Tuesday outside Ashton Elementary School in Sarasota. No charges were filed but he was ordered not to come back to the school without calling first and getting permission.

An incident report said Kivlin showed up to campus saying the school was violating the law by not allowing his children to attend school.

The Sarasota County school district is among a dozen of the Florida’s 67 districts, representing about half of the state’s 2.8 million public school students, that have defied Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring schools from requiring masks over parent objections. A judge last week ruled that DeSantis did not have the authority to issue the order. The DeSantis administration is expected to appeal the decision.

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