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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,371

Journal Archives

In Key States, Republicans Were Critical in Resisting Trump's Election Narrative

They refuted conspiracy theories, certified results, dismissed lawsuits and repudiated a president of their own party.

The telephone call would have been laugh-out-loud ridiculous if it had not been so serious. When Tina Barton picked up, she found someone from President Trump’s campaign asking her to sign a letter raising doubts about the results of the election.

The election that Ms. Barton as the Republican clerk of the small Michigan city of Rochester Hills had helped oversee. The election that she knew to be fair and accurate because she had helped make it so. The election that she had publicly defended amid threats that made her upgrade her home security system.

“Do you know who you’re talking to right now?” she asked the campaign official.

Evidently not.

If the president hoped Republicans across the country would fall in line behind his false and farcical claims that the election was somehow rigged on a mammoth scale by a nefarious multinational conspiracy, he was in for a surprise. Republicans in Washington may have indulged Mr. Trump’s fantastical assertions, but at the state and local level, Republicans played a critical role in resisting the mounting pressure from their own party to overturn the vote after Mr. Trump fell behind on Nov. 3.


The forgotten female chess star who beat men 90 years before 'Queen's Gambit'

Vera Menchik astonished the chess world by taking down high-level male opponents in the 1920s and ’30s

These are boom times for chess.

Boards are sold out. Bookstores can’t keep how-tos on the shelves.

The reason: Beth Harmon, a Kentucky-orphan-turned-chess-prodigy who in the 1950s and ’60s dominated the typically male-dominated game, beating one grandmaster after another.

Actually, Harmon does not exist. She is the fictional star of “The Queen’s Gambit,” the hit Netflix series based on a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis that has chess aficionados recalling, in Chess.com’s words, “The real-life Beth Harmon‎.”

Her name was Vera Menchik.


Did the U.S. steal an island covered in bird poop from Haiti? A fortune is in dispute

For more than 160 years, the United States and Haiti have disputed the ownership of tiny Navassa Island.

When the eccentric rapper Kanye West made headlines last month claiming the president of Haiti had gifted him an island to which a Texan had already laid development claims, it was not the only island off Haiti’s coast in dispute.

For more than 160 years, the United States and Haiti have disputed the ownership of tiny Navassa Island at the southwest entrance of the Windward Passage covered with what was once worth a king’s ransom. More than a century later, the question remains: Who owns the poop?

Known as La Navase in French, the pear-shaped island is located about 35 miles west of Haiti’s southern peninsula, 85 miles northeast of Jamaica and 95 miles south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Covered in bird poop and managed as a national wildlife refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is claimed by Haiti and included in the very constitution that President Jovenel Moise is currently trying to rewrite.

“The United States has no valid claim over Navassa Island,” said Fritz Longchamp, a former Haiti foreign minister who in 1998 had to deal with the U.S.’s revived claims to the deserted outpost while serving in then-Haitian president Rene Preval first cabinet.


Tampa GOP consultant steers his candidates away from public forums

Anthony Pedicini advises his clients to avoid appearing where they might have to give spontaneous answers to questions.

In many Tampa Bay area candidate forums during the 2020 campaigns, something was missing — Republican candidates.

That’s partly because of the work of a prominent local GOP political operative, Anthony Pedicini of Tampa.

In a recent interview, Pedicini acknowledged that he advises candidates he works for to avoid appearing at public forums where they might have to give spontaneous answers to questions from the public, possibly making missteps that could be used against them later.

When the state’s Republican legislative leadership is spending millions to get a candidate elected, he said, they can’t afford to have the candidate “flub it up” by answering a question from the public.


Seems to be a Republican thing.

Venezuela judge convicts 6 American oil executives, orders prison

Six American oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were found guilty of corruption charges by a judge Thursday and immediately sentenced to prison, defense lawyers said, dashing hopes of a quick release that would send them home to their families in the United States.

Some relatives had been bracing for the disheartening outcome, which came on the evening of Thanksgiving Day.

Alirio Rafael Zambrano, brother to two of the men, said they were “undeniably innocent” and victims of “judicial terrorism.” No evidence in the case supports a guilty conviction, he said.

“We, the family, are heartbroken to be separated even further from our loved ones,” Zambrano said. “We pray that the leaders of our nation step forward and continue to fight unceasingly for their freedom and human rights.”


The Great Courses Plus?

I'm curious whether anyone has subscribed to this online streaming service. Any opinions?

I know it's not particularly cheap, but there is a Black Friday discount for the next couple of days.

Pushed by Pandemic, Amazon Goes on a Hiring Spree Without Equal

The company has added 427,300 employees in 10 months, bringing its global work force to more than 1.2 million.

Amazon has embarked on an extraordinary hiring binge this year, vacuuming up an average of 1,400 new workers a day and solidifying its power as online shopping becomes more entrenched in the coronavirus pandemic.

The hiring has taken place at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, at its hundreds of warehouses in rural communities and suburbs, and in countries such as India and Italy. Amazon added 427,300 employees between January and October, pushing its work force to more than 1.2 million people globally, up more than 50 percent from a year ago. Its number of workers now approaches the entire population of Dallas.

The spree has accelerated since the onset of the pandemic, which has turbocharged Amazon’s business and made it a winner of the crisis. Starting in July, the company brought on about 350,000 employees, or 2,800 a day. Most have been warehouse workers, but Amazon has also hired software engineers and hardware specialists to power enterprises such as cloud computing, streaming entertainment and devices, which have boomed in the pandemic.

The scale of hiring is even larger than it may seem because the numbers do not account for employee churn, nor do they include the 100,000 temporary workers who have been recruited for the holiday shopping season. They also do not include what internal documents show as roughly 500,000 delivery drivers, who are contractors and not direct Amazon employees.

Such rapid growth is unrivaled in the history of corporate America. It far outstrips the 230,000 employees that Walmart, the largest private employer with more than 2.2 million workers, added in a single year two decades ago. The closest comparisons are the hiring that entire industries carried out in wartime, such as shipbuilding during the early years of World War II or home building after soldiers returned, economists and corporate historians said.


Hundreds of Florida renters evicted during pandemic despite CDC order

“How does the tiny courtroom and tiny landlord overrule something in place by the government? By the president?” said one evicted Hillsborough tenant.

Nicole Kelley felt confident when she dialed into her eviction hearing in late September.

A Lyft driver whose income had dropped off during the pandemic, she had submitted to the court a copy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention form in which she swore, under penalty of perjury, that she fit the criteria to be protected from eviction until 2021.

But the hearing lasted five minutes, and she felt like the judge barely acknowledged the form. A few weeks later, her landlord texted to say she had to be out in three days. She sat on the floor of her Brandon rental duplex and cried.

“I feel like I failed my kid,” Kelley, 44, said in a phone interview from the Tampa Woodspring Suites hotel, where she’s living now with her 13-year-old daughter thanks to financial help from loved ones, she said.

Kelley still can’t understand why her case ended this way: “How does the tiny courtroom and tiny landlord overrule something in place by the government? By the president? … I feel like we got lied to.”


There will be a lot more of these stories coming out in another 6 weeks or so.

DeSantis won't answer questions about anything. Where has he been?

This is the second time in two weeks that Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has virtually disappeared from public view since the election, has chosen to bypass reporters’ questions and instead issue a video message delivered on the state’s emergency operations alert system as well as his email platform.

The alert system set up by state emergency managers to send Floridians urgent public health and safety text messages was activated Wednesday, but it wasn’t an emergency.

It was used to deliver a three-minute video message from Gov. Ron DeSantis that repeated what Floridians had previously learned from news reports — that vaccines and therapeutics were headed to Florida hospitals within weeks.

Recording from his desk in the Capitol, DeSantis acknowledged that the early doses of therapeutic drugs and vaccines will have to be rationed but, as he has done for weeks, he offered no explanation as to who decides who gets the first doses and what criteria is being used.

This is the second time in two weeks that DeSantis, who has virtually disappeared from public view since the election, has chosen to bypass reporters’ questions and instead issue a video message delivered on social media and distributed by the state’s emergency operations alert system as well as his email platform.


Biden posed in his vintage Corvette. But he promises a big push for electric vehicles.

Until a few years ago, the top spot on the lot at Sport Chevrolet in Silver Spring, Md., was occupied by Corvettes. But visit now and the sports cars have been shunted aside. In their place are battery-powered Bolts.

Gibbs Fogarty, one of the dealership’s owners, said they saw which way the industry was moving. Their customers were going to want electric vehicles.

“We’ve been all-in from the start,” Fogarty said.

Electric vehicles make up less than 2 percent of the 17 million or so new cars and SUVs sold each year in the United States, but President-elect Joe Biden, the son of a car salesman and himself the owner of a vintage Corvette, also wants the country to be all-in on electric vehicles. He has pitched them as a way to fight climate change and reinvigorate American manufacturing.

“I believe that we can own the 21st century market again by moving to electric vehicles,” Biden says while gripping the wheel of his 1967 Corvette Sting Ray. In a campaign video that used the rumble of the car’s engine as a soundtrack, Biden grins at the prospect of an electric version with a 200 mph top speed.

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