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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
May 29, 2021

Brazilians stage nationwide protests against President Bolsonaro's COVID response

Brazilians staged protests against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in at least 16 cities across the country on Saturday, carrying signs such as "Out with Bolsonaro" and "Impeachment now."

Bolsonaro's popularity has plummeted during the coronavirus crisis, which has killed more than 460,000 Brazilians as the far-right leader played down its severity, dismissed mask wearing and cast doubt on the importance of vaccines.

Organized by leftist political parties, unions and student associations, Saturday's protests in the capital Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro were peaceful - but in the northeastern city of Recife, police threw tear gas and shot rubber bullets.

In São Paulo, Brazil's (and Latin America's) largest city, thousands of mask-wearing people blocked one the largest city's avenues.

One large balloon depicted Bolsonaro as a vampire.

At: https://news.yahoo.com/brazilians-stage-nationwide-protests-against-194117007.html

May 29, 2021

Idaho governor repeals "irresponsible" mask mandate ban issued while he was out of town

Idaho Governor Brad Little repealed an executive order that prohibits the enforcement of mask mandates in the state, calling it "an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt," according to a statement the Republican released Friday.

The face mask ban was signed by Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, also a Republican, while Little was out of town.

"An executive order that was issued while I was out of state this week runs contrary to a basic conservative principle – the government closest to the people governs best," said Little said in his statement.

"I do not like petty politics. I do not like political stunts over the rule of law."

In McGeachin's order, political subdivisions like public schools would be prohibited in Idaho from mandating face masks. It followed a similar executive order in Texas which has barred most government entities from requiring face masks.

At: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mask-mandate-idaho-repeal/

Idaho Governor Brad Little endures a recent speech by Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin.

McGeachin's order barring public institutions from mandating face masks, signed while Gov. Little was out of state, was likely unconstitutional according to the Idaho Attorney General’s office.

McGeachin, a Trump ideologue, is seeking the governor's office in Idaho elections next year.
May 24, 2021

Fauci 'not convinced' COVID-19 developed naturally

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he is "not convinced" COVID-19 developed naturally, and called for an open investigation into the virus' origins.

"There’s a lot of cloudiness around the origins of COVID-19 still, so I wanted to ask, are you still confident that it developed naturally?" PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders asked the nation’s top infectious disease expert in an event, United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking.

"No actually," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said, around 12 minutes into footage of the event, which was held earlier this month but overlooked by most media outlets.

"I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened."

At: https://news.yahoo.com/fauci-apos-not-convinced-apos-120653229.html

Dr. Anthony Fauci at Politifact's 'United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking' event.
May 21, 2021

Argentina restricts movement and gatherings for most districts due to Covid-19 crisis

Argentine President Alberto Fernández today announced restrictions on movement, in-person schooling and social gatherings for all "high-risk" districts in the country.

The measure, effective this Saturday through May 30th (plus the weekend of June 5/6th), is the strictest since the 6-week lockdown enacted on March 20, 2020, and affects all counties in which active Covid-19 cases exceed 500 per 100,000 people - which includes Buenos Aires and most provinces.

The country registered a record 205,000 cases in the past week, with active cases doubling since March to 339,000 - or 750 per 100,000.

Some 3,540 Covid-19 deaths were recorded this week - four times the weekly average for March.

"Argentina is going through the worst moment since the pandemic began," Fernández said. "I ask that this critical time be taken seriously."

The restrictions were agreed to with the nation's and 23 governors and Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta - a top opposition figure who had successfully challenged the in-person schooling suspension ordered for the Buenos Aires Metro Area (AMBA) on April 9th.

The city lost in federal court on April 20th - a decision overturned by the Supreme Court on May 4th.

The mayor, however, confirmed that in-person classes in the city will be suspended this time.

Since the 2021 Argentine school year began on March 1st (two weeks earlier for Buenos Aires), daily COVID-19 cases jumped from around 7,000 in March, to nearly 36,000 today.

Occupancy in intensive care units exceeded 72% nationwide, and 83% in Buenos Aires.

Some 63% in a recent poll backed the president's abatement measures.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&u=https://www.pagina12.com.ar/342904-alberto-fernandez-estamos-viviendo-el-peor-momento-desde-que

Argentine Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, President Alberto Fernández, and other federal officials listen to La Pampa Governor Sergio Ziliotto during a virtual conference today ahead of the president's announcement.

The restrictions announced today, the strictest since a 6-week lockdown a year ago, are in response to a quadrupling in daily Covid-19 cases and deaths since March - when Argentine students returned to school.

The beginning of the school year coincided with the introduction of Andes, Manaus, and U.K. variants - which together now account for almost all new cases in Argentina.
May 19, 2021

107-year-old Tulsa Race Massacre survivor Viola Fletcher testifies before Congress

One of the last known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre told national lawmakers Wednesday that, 100 years later, she can “still smell the smoke” and “hear the screams” from the night her family fled Tulsa and invading white mobs.

“I was awakened by my family. My parents and five siblings were there. I was told we had to leave, and that was it,” said 107-year-old Viola Fletcher.

“I have lived through the massacre every day. … I will never forget.”

Fletcher, of Bartlesville, was in Washington, D.C., for a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing discussing the massacre’s legacy and the possibility of compensation for survivors and descendants.

She was joined for the hearing by the two other last known massacre survivors. Fletcher’s brother, Hughes Van Ellis, 100, of Aurora, Colorado, was there in person. Tulsan Lessie Randle, 106, testified virtually.

At: https://tulsaworld.com/news/local/racemassacre/watch-now---1921-tulsa-race-massacre-107-year-old-bartlesville-woman-other-last/article_17595f86-b7fa-11eb-bbe5-a3aa9185906f.html

May 18, 2021

Charles Grodin, deadpan comic actor known for 'Midnight Run' and 'Beethoven,' dies at 86

Charles Grodin, the actor who lent his droll wit and deadpan delivery to films such as "The Heartbreak Kid," "Heaven Can Wait," "Midnight Run" and "Beethoven," died Tuesday. He was 86.

The actor's son Nicholas told The Associated Press that his father died at his home in Wilton, Connecticut, from bone marrow cancer.

Grodin specialized in playing world-weary businessmen and uptight fathers, approaching each role with a deft combination of neurotic intensity and wry detachment.

He was especially prolific in the 1980s, taking on memorable supporting parts in various comedies such as Seems Like Old Times (1980), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), Woman in Red (1984), and Ishtar (1987).

At: https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/celebrity/charles-grodin-deadpan-comic-actor-known-midnight-run-beethoven-dies-n1267844

Actor Charles Grodin, 1935-2021, breakfasting with Beethoven the St. Bernard.
May 18, 2021

Darwin's Arch, a famed rock formation in the Galapagos, collapses

Darwin’s Arch, a famous, photo-friendly rock formation in the remote Galápagos Islands, collapsed on Monday because of natural erosion, Ecuadorean officials said.

The collapse of the natural archway in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles west of continental Ecuador, left a pile of rubble between two pillars.

The waters around the arch are known as a destination for divers, with tours from the main islands offering the opportunity to spot sharks, turtles, manta rays and dolphins.

The arch was less than a mile from the uninhabited Darwin Island; both are named after Charles Darwin, the scientist whose study of species on the islands in 1835 influenced his theory of evolution and natural selection.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/world/americas/darwins-arch-collapse.html

The end of an era: Darwin's Arch, named after the famed naturalist whose 1835 visit to the Galápagos and South America helped shape his On the Origin of Species, seen before its top collapsed on May 17th.
May 17, 2021

Chile right-wing government coalition withers in constitutional vote

Chile’s right-wing government coalition likely secured fewer than a third of the seats on the Constitutional Assembly in this weekend’s historic elections, making it more difficult to block major changes and leaving independent and the opposition left-wing parties with more sway to rewrite the new charter.

Around 6 million of Chile's 15 million eligible voters participated.

Contenders from the government coalition’s main list ('Let's Go Chile') obtained 21% of votes with over 90% of ballots tallied, electoral office Servel said on Sunday.

The results put them on track for 38 of the body’s 155 spots, according to calculations from consultancy firm Unholster.

Having fewer than 33% of seats would leave center-right members at disadvantage in the Assembly, as all articles have to be approved by a two-thirds majority.

The left-wing 'Approve Dignity' list garnered 19% (28 seats); the center-left 'Approve List', 15% (25 seats); the left-wing 'People's List' 15% (22 seats).

A heterogeneous group of independent, mainly left-wing candidates unexpectedly secured more than 60 seats.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-15/chile-votes-for-who-will-rewrite-constitution-after-mass-unrest

Supporters for left-wing parties celebrate the results of this weekend's historic constitutional convention election in Santiago, Chile.

Early results give an array of left-wing coalitions a wider-than-expected victory over the ruling 'Let's Go Chile' coalition led by center-right President Sebastián Piñera.

Barring disagreements, these coalitions will thus have a clear path toward shaping a new constitution to the replace the 1980 document promulgated by the late dictator Augusto Pinochet.
May 14, 2021

Michelle Goldberg: How Republicans could steal the 2024 election

Erica Newland serves as counsel for Protect Democracy, a nonprofit organization founded in 2017 to fight democratic breakdown in America.

Before Joe Biden’s victory was officially confirmed in January, she researched some of the ways that Donald Trump’s allies in Congress might sabotage the process. She came to a harrowing conclusion.

“It occurred to me,” she told her colleagues then, “as I dug into the rules and watched what happened, that if the current Republican Party controls both Houses of Congress on Jan. 6, 2025, there’s no way if a Democrat is legitimately elected they will get certified as the president-elect.”

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/13/opinion/cheney-2024-election.html

New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg:

"With enough procedural mischief, politicians representing a minority of the country could hand the presidency to a candidate who got a minority of both the popular and Electoral College votes."

"The Republican electorate, believing that Democratic victories are by their nature illegitimate, demands that everything possible be done to subvert them."

"Republicans are showing us exactly what they expect of their officials."
May 12, 2021

Crack closes interstate bridge between Arkansas & Tennessee

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Interstate 40 bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee remained closed Wednesday after inspectors found a crack in the span, forcing thousands of trucks and cars to detour and shutting down shipping on the Mississippi River.

The bridge into Memphis was shut down Tuesday afternoon after the crack was discovered during a routine inspection.

Both states' transportation agencies said they would make sure the 48-year-old, 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer) bridge is safe before reopening.

Read more: https://www.stltoday.com/news/national/crack-closes-interstate-bridge-between-arkansas-tennessee/article_bc3f51f4-d5c0-5b5f-900b-1161038117ea.html

Blocked onramp to the Hernando de Soto Bridge, seen from Memphis, TN, after a crack in the span forced the closure of the long under-maintained bridge, dating from 1973.

The "Pyramid," a former sports arena whose development was linked to the S&L scandal in the early 1990s, looms at right.

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