FDA Advisory Committee Narrowly Votes To Approve Merck’s COVID ‘Miracle Drug’

FDA Advisory Committee Narrowly Votes To Approve Merck’s COVID ‘Miracle Drug’

During a week that has seen a new COVID variant emerge and suddenly throw the efficacy of American vaccines and remedies into question, the FDA’s outside advisors have only narrowly approved of Merck’s molnupiravir, opening the door for the agency to approve the drug for use among high-risk patients only.

The Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee, as the panel is known, voted 13 to 10 in support of the FDA approving the drug, which was first introduced to the public a couple of months ago with “blockbuster” experimental results from a very limited trial that, according to some critics, glossed over safety risks presented by the drug.

By granting its blessing to the drug, the committee will allow Merck to start selling it widely in the US by the end of the year.

As far as omicron is concerned, Merck plans to study whether molnupiravir is effective against the new variant panic of the moment. The company is working to collect samples of the new strain to do so. Nick Kartsonis, who oversees Merck’s vaccine clinical research, confirmed as much to the panel.

“We expect, based on what we know about the Omicron variant, that molnupiravir would be effective against this particular variant,” he said.

Evaluating molnupiravir against omicron, Kartsonis said, will take longer than assessing COVID-19 antibody drugs because Merck needs to collect a broader set of data covering the entire genome of the virus, rather than select pieces.

As we have explained, molnupiravir targets the machinery the virus uses to replicate, rather than the spike protein, the structure that helps the virus infiltrate cells. Omicron has mutations to the spike protein, which researchers say could help it evade protections provided by vaccines and drugs trained to target the virus’s spike protein.

Just last week, the company said that a final analysis had found the drug to be about 30% effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk people, lower than the 50% efficacy first announced in October after a preliminary look at the data.

While the FDA isn’t obligated to follow the ADAC’s recommendation, it typically does.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 18:45

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Defining Antisemitism Down at Hunter College

The Jewish Week reports:

Is the social work school at Hunter College coddling antisemitism, or is it part of an institution that’s deeply committed to protecting Jews from prejudice?

That question has come to the fore after a pro-Israel organization filed a federal complaint alleging a “pervasively hostile campus climate for Jewish students” at the New York City school and its Silberman School of Social Work, in particular.

I have no personal knowledge of the situation at Hunter College, but this is not reassuring:

A student leader told The Jewish Week that while she doesn’t feel targeted by overt antisemitism on campus, Jewish students often feel uncomfortable sharing their opinions on Israel for fear of drawing backlash, and that, at times, anti-Israel rhetoric does veer into antisemitism.

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Defining Antisemitism Down at Hunter College

The Jewish Week reports:

Is the social work school at Hunter College coddling antisemitism, or is it part of an institution that’s deeply committed to protecting Jews from prejudice?

That question has come to the fore after a pro-Israel organization filed a federal complaint alleging a “pervasively hostile campus climate for Jewish students” at the New York City school and its Silberman School of Social Work, in particular.

I have no personal knowledge of the situation at Hunter College, but this is not reassuring:

A student leader told The Jewish Week that while she doesn’t feel targeted by overt antisemitism on campus, Jewish students often feel uncomfortable sharing their opinions on Israel for fear of drawing backlash, and that, at times, anti-Israel rhetoric does veer into antisemitism.

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Los Angeles Now Enforcing Vaccine Mandates For Indoor Businesses

Los Angeles Now Enforcing Vaccine Mandates For Indoor Businesses

Authored by Li Hai via The Epoch Times,

The City of Los Angeles has started enforcement of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for indoor businesses.

The mandate, also named SafePassLA, requires all people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, including kids 12 and above, to show photo ID and proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 when entering indoor restaurants, gyms, entertainment facilities, personal care establishments, and some city buildings.

From Monday, inspectors from the Department of Building and Safety, and authorized agents, started enforcing the ordinance.

Business owners who violate the mandate will receive a warning for the first violation, a $1,000 fine for a second violation, and a $2,000 fine for a third violation. Fines are capped at $5,000 for four or more violations.

The city said the measure would help stop the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, or the novel coronavirus.

The mandate comes from an ordinance (pdf) which was adopted by the city in October. The ordinance became effective on Nov. 8.

The mandate allows for medical or religious exemptions.

“A patron must provide the covered location with a verbal self-attestation to qualify for the exemption,” the city said on its website. The patrons should be directed to use an outdoor area.

“If an outdoor area is not available, the patron may be permitted to use an indoor area by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before entry and photo identification.”

The mandate doesn’t apply to business employees.

Patrons are required to wear masks when they’re not actively eating or drinking, even they’re fully vaccinated. The city said that’s because the mandate does not modify any health orders issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Some business owners have expressed concerned that the mandate will affect their businesses.

Restaurateurs in New York City told The Epoch Times last month that business went down 40 to 60 percent due to the city’s vaccine mandate. New York City enacted a similar requirement in August and started enforcing the rule on Sept. 13.

Milbet Del Cid, owner of Amalia’s, a Guatemalan restaurant in Los Angeles, told Los Angeles Times that criticism poured in on social media earlier this month when she alerted her clients that she would soon be asking them to show proof of vaccination.

“If you’re obligated to ask,” one customer wrote in response, “then we won’t eat there anymore, so there.”

Beginning Nov. 4, Los Angeles County, where the City of Los Angeles is located, also issued a similar but less expansive mandate, mainly focused on adult-oriented businesses providing alcohol.

The city is also requiring proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours to participate in outdoor events with 5,000 more people. This is stricter than the county mandate, which applies to outdoor events with 10,000 or more people.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 18:25

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Daily Briefing: Surprise, Surprise: Inflation Is Not Transitory?

Daily Briefing: Surprise, Surprise: Inflation Is Not Transitory?

Fed Chair Jerome Powell just said it’s time to retire the word “transitory”—are you shocked? All the major U.S. market indices fell more than 1% on the announcement while the dollar strengthens and crude oil tanks. Ash Bennington is not surprised by Powell’s announcement to retire “transitory”, and he sits down with Tony Greer of TG Macro on another installment of TG Tuesdays on the Daily Briefing to talk about inflation and oil. Want to submit questions? Drop them right here on the Exchange: https://rvtv.io/3FY6Xdp

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 14:25

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Jussie Smollett’s Defense: Osundario Brothers ‘Sophisticated’ Criminals Who Set Him Up

Jussie Smollett’s Defense: Osundario Brothers ‘Sophisticated’ Criminals Who Set Him Up

Jussie Smollett says two Nigerian-born brothers – one of whom was his personal trainer, lover, and alleged drug dealer – are “sophisticated” criminals who set him up. The 39-year-old actor is accused of lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic assault. The class-4 felony carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, however experts cited by Fox News think he would most likely face probation and perhaps community service.

The brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundario, claim Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage an infamous hate-crime hoax on January 29, 2019 – when the former “Empire” star claimed he was attacked around 2 a.m. by two white men who recognized him from the show shouted racist and homophobic slurs, doused him in a bleach-like liquid, hung a rope around his neck, and yelled “This is MAGA country.

The MSM uncritically reported the ‘hate crime,’ without questioning obvious holes in the story – such as why two Trump supporters were hanging out in Chicago at 2am in the freezing cold. Then-Senator Kamala Harris called it a “modern day lynching.”

Smollett was indicted twice following a six-month special counsel investigation.

According to Smollett’s attorney, there was “an elephant in this room – assumptions,” as the Daily Wire reports.

Fox News‘ Matt Fin reports that the prosecution focused on arguing that Smollett had faked his own hate crime, including the fact that Smollett had initially refused to turn over his cell phone when investigators requested it – which the prosecutor said may have been to avoid investigators discovering that he had contacted one of the Osundario brothers.


In November of 2019, Smollett filed a lawsuit against the brothers for ‘concocting the whole thing.’

Smollett – whose sisters worked for President Obama, was originally slapped with a 16-count indictment for lying to the police, however the Cook County State Attorney’s office suddenly dropped the charges after  Michelle Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, pressured Chicago’s top prosecutor, Kim Foxx, to transfer the case to the FBI. When that wasn’t done, Foxx’s office decided not to pursue the case

Explaining their decision to drop the case, Foxx’s office said: “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition & appropriate resolution.”

As Fox News reports, former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani thinks the prosecution has a good case.

“The prosecution is strong because of corroborating, independent evidence that is consistent with Smollett making a false police report,” she said, adding “What type of explanation can Smollett’s attorney have to justify him contacting the brothers?”

According to experts, Smollett will probably get a slap on the wrist.

“Smollett is facing 6 counts of essentially minor class 4 felonies that carry a maximum sentence of three years in State prison,” said Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney Silva Megerditchian, adding “The judge will consider that Smollett has no history of any arrests nor convictions — and thus will likely give him a probationary sentence. Keeping that in mind, however, this was a case that got national attention, and stirred a lot of anger that Smollett would stage this kind of grotesque racial attack.  As well, the City of Chicago spent a lot of money investigating these false charges. Thus, I would not be surprised if the Judge imposes some kind of sentence, considering the nation is watching.”

(h/t Daily Wire)

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 18:05

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California’s Ban on Magazines Holding More Than 10 Rounds Is Constitutional, 9th Circuit Decides


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In a 7-4 decision today from an 11-judge en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, California’s 2016 ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds was found constitutional, despite earlier conclusions from a lower court and a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit that the ban violated the Second Amendment.

“Under the Second Amendment, intermediate scrutiny applies, and [the ban] is a reasonable fit for the important government interest of reducing gun violence,” Judge Susan Graber wrote for the majority today in Duncan v. Bonta. “The statute outlaws no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms, and the record demonstrates (a) that the limitation interferes only minimally with the core right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine; and (b) that the limitation saves lives.”

She added: “In the past half-century, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-quarters of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths and in 100 percent of gun massacres with 20 or more deaths, and more than twice as many people have been killed or injured in mass shootings that involved a large-capacity magazine as compared with mass shootings that involved a smaller-capacity magazine.”

“Accordingly,” Graber concluded, “the ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supports California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings.”

Graber’s decision also denied the ban of such magazines constituted an unconstitutional taking of property without compensation, since owners of the now-illegal magazines can “modify or sell their nonconforming magazines” and thus “the law does not deprive owners of all economic use.”

Writing in dissent, Circuit Judge Patrick Bonabay complains that by use of “intermediate scrutiny” the 9th Circuit ensures that “so long as a firearms regulation aims to achieve a conceivably wise policy measure, the Second Amendment won’t stand in its way. In effect, this means we simply give a blank check to lawmakers to infringe on the Second Amendment right. Indeed, post-Heller, we have never struck down a single firearms regulation.”

The “manufacture, importation, or sale” of high-capacity magazines has been illegal in California since 2000. Possessing ones you already owned, though, had remained legal until the 2016 passage of Proposition 63, which “imposed a possible criminal penalty of imprisonment for up to a year for unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines.”

Thanks to today’s decision, the state is now free to enforce its ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds. (The ban had been blocked from going into effect while the case played out in court.) As is often the case with gun control laws, current or retired police officers, our special centurion class, are not subject to the law.

Recent history shows that it is very hard indeed to get citizens who see themselves as peacefully possessing formerly legal items to cooperate when the state seeks to take those items from them. In other words, thanks to today’s 9th Circuit decision, expect more police harassment of fundamentally innocent gun owners and all of the collateral damage that such police actions invariably will cause. The end result will not be a safer California.

 

Scrutinizing Scrutiny

Contra Graber’s decision, that “intermediate scrutiny” is how the Second Amendment should be dealt with might be 9th Circuit practice, but it is not settled Supreme Court doctrine. Indeed, in this very decision the 9th Circuit challenges the Supreme Court to tell them very explicitly if that Court thinks the 9th Circuit is misapplying its standard of scrutiny to the Second Amendment.

For those who like to imagine “shall make no law” settles the issue, the whole question of “scrutiny” might seem a deliberately confusing mess. But the 9th Circuit sees meaningful distinctions to be made, which it explains thusly: “Strict scrutiny applies only to laws that both implicate a core Second Amendment right and place a substantial burden on that right” while “Intermediate scrutiny applies to laws that either do not implicate a core Second Amendment right or do not place a substantial burden on that right.”

As to what the different terms actually mean in judicial practice, strict scrutiny requires that a law indicates “both narrow tailoring to a compelling governmental interest and the use of the least restrictive means.” Intermediate scrutiny, for its part, merely requires that a law shows “a reasonable fit with an important governmental interest.”

The core of the Second Amendment right as the 9th Circuit reads the 2008 Heller decision is about self-defense in the home. And in their judgment, the magazine ban “imposes only a small burden on the Second Amendment right and that, accordingly, intermediate scrutiny is the appropriate lens.”

The Court basically thinks that the imposition on the Second Amendment right by this law is just not a very big deal, in colloquial terms. As the decision today says, “The ban on large-capacity magazines has the sole practical effect of requiring shooters to pause for a few seconds after firing ten bullets, to reload or to replace the spent magazine. Nothing in the record suggests that the restriction imposes any more than a minimal burden on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

Graber did not find real-world evidence that self-defense in the home requires the use of the now-banned magazines, thus she concluded the magazine ban did not impact the right in its most important aspect. The plaintiffs tried to argue, calling on the Heller decision’s reliance in places on how commonly used a weapon might be, that the fact at least half of American magazine buyers choose the kind California is banning shows it is a weapon element deserving of Second Amendment protection; Graber did not think that mattered.

The 9th Circuit’s decision asserts that the state obviously has a compelling and important interest in trying to make some mass shootings potentially less lethal by restricting magazine size. The decision also insists that the law does not substantially damage the Second Amendment’s core self-defense-in-the-home purpose. Thus, their “intermediate scrutiny” analysis leads to the conclusion the law is perfectly constitutional.

In the dissent from Judge Bumatay, he insists the majority got it wrong from the start; any sort of “scrutiny” analysis is not the way the Supreme Court wants them approaching the Second Amendment.

Bumatay looks back to Heller, the beginning of modern Second Amendment jurisprudence, for clues as to the right way to judge laws that implicate the Second Amendment. What courts, including his own 9th Circuit, should do is perform “an extensive analysis of the text, tradition, and history of the Second Amendment. Our court should have dispensed with our interest-balancing approach and hewed to what the Supreme Court told us to do.”

Had they done that, Bombatay insists the 9th Circuit would have come to the opposite conclusion to today’s majority decision from Graber. As Bombatay points out, “Firearms and magazines capable of firing more than ten rounds have existed since before the Founding of the nation. They enjoyed widespread use throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They number in the millions in the country today. With no longstanding prohibitions against them, large-capacity magazines are thus entitled to the Second Amendment’s protection.”

The magazines the state banned “are lawfully owned by millions of people nationwide and come standard on the most popular firearms sold today” and “the Constitution protects the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms typically possessed for lawful purposes.” Thus, the 9th Circuit should have kept the magazine ban buried.

Bumatay sees the 9th Circuit’s scrutiny analysis as “nothing more than a black box used by judges to uphold favored laws and strike down disfavored ones.” That method has never been how the Supreme Court intended lower courts to do Second Amendment jurisprudence, he insists, and he quotes various Supreme Court justices to support this belief.

One of the sharpest such quotes was from Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote in a 2020 dissent from a denial of certiorari in the case of Grewal v. Rogers that Heller “explicitly rejected the invitation to evaluate Second Amendment challenges under an ‘interest balancing inquiry, with the interests protected by the Second Amendment on one side and the governmental public-safety concerns on the other.'”

Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke in a saltier separate dissent says that the 9th Circuit is driven “by a single-minded focus on ensuring that any panel opinions actually enforcing the Second Amendment are quickly reversed. The majority of our court distrusts gun owners and thinks the Second Amendment is a vestigial organ of their living constitution. Those views drive this circuit’s caselaw ignoring the original meaning of the Second Amendment and fully exploiting the discretion inherent in the Supreme Court’s cases to make certain that no government regulation ever fails our laughably ‘heightened’ Second Amendment scrutiny.”

 

 

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California’s Ban on Magazines Holding More Than 10 Rounds Is Constitutional, 9th Circuit Decides


Thumbnail v2

In a 7-4 decision today from an 11-judge en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, California’s 2016 ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds was found constitutional, despite earlier conclusions from a lower court and a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit that the ban violated the Second Amendment.

“Under the Second Amendment, intermediate scrutiny applies, and [the ban] is a reasonable fit for the important government interest of reducing gun violence,” Judge Susan Graber wrote for the majority today in Duncan v. Bonta. “The statute outlaws no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms, and the record demonstrates (a) that the limitation interferes only minimally with the core right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine; and (b) that the limitation saves lives.”

She added: “In the past half-century, large-capacity magazines have been used in about three-quarters of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths and in 100 percent of gun massacres with 20 or more deaths, and more than twice as many people have been killed or injured in mass shootings that involved a large-capacity magazine as compared with mass shootings that involved a smaller-capacity magazine.”

“Accordingly,” Graber concluded, “the ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supports California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings.”

Graber’s decision also denied the ban of such magazines constituted an unconstitutional taking of property without compensation, since owners of the now-illegal magazines can “modify or sell their nonconforming magazines” and thus “the law does not deprive owners of all economic use.”

Writing in dissent, Circuit Judge Patrick Bonabay complains that by use of “intermediate scrutiny” the 9th Circuit ensures that “so long as a firearms regulation aims to achieve a conceivably wise policy measure, the Second Amendment won’t stand in its way. In effect, this means we simply give a blank check to lawmakers to infringe on the Second Amendment right. Indeed, post-Heller, we have never struck down a single firearms regulation.”

The “manufacture, importation, or sale” of high-capacity magazines has been illegal in California since 2000. Possessing ones you already owned, though, had remained legal until the 2016 passage of Proposition 63, which “imposed a possible criminal penalty of imprisonment for up to a year for unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines.”

Thanks to today’s decision, the state is now free to enforce its ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds. (The ban had been blocked from going into effect while the case played out in court.) As is often the case with gun control laws, current or retired police officers, our special centurion class, are not subject to the law.

Recent history shows that it is very hard indeed to get citizens who see themselves as peacefully possessing formerly legal items to cooperate when the state seeks to take those items from them. In other words, thanks to today’s 9th Circuit decision, expect more police harassment of fundamentally innocent gun owners and all of the collateral damage that such police actions invariably will cause. The end result will not be a safer California.

 

Scrutinizing Scrutiny

Contra Graber’s decision, that “intermediate scrutiny” is how the Second Amendment should be dealt with might be 9th Circuit practice, but it is not settled Supreme Court doctrine. Indeed, in this very decision the 9th Circuit challenges the Supreme Court to tell them very explicitly if that Court thinks the 9th Circuit is misapplying its standard of scrutiny to the Second Amendment.

For those who like to imagine “shall make no law” settles the issue, the whole question of “scrutiny” might seem a deliberately confusing mess. But the 9th Circuit sees meaningful distinctions to be made, which it explains thusly: “Strict scrutiny applies only to laws that both implicate a core Second Amendment right and place a substantial burden on that right” while “Intermediate scrutiny applies to laws that either do not implicate a core Second Amendment right or do not place a substantial burden on that right.”

As to what the different terms actually mean in judicial practice, strict scrutiny requires that a law indicates “both narrow tailoring to a compelling governmental interest and the use of the least restrictive means.” Intermediate scrutiny, for its part, merely requires that a law shows “a reasonable fit with an important governmental interest.”

The core of the Second Amendment right as the 9th Circuit reads the 2008 Heller decision is about self-defense in the home. And in their judgment, the magazine ban “imposes only a small burden on the Second Amendment right and that, accordingly, intermediate scrutiny is the appropriate lens.”

The Court basically thinks that the imposition on the Second Amendment right by this law is just not a very big deal, in colloquial terms. As the decision today says, “The ban on large-capacity magazines has the sole practical effect of requiring shooters to pause for a few seconds after firing ten bullets, to reload or to replace the spent magazine. Nothing in the record suggests that the restriction imposes any more than a minimal burden on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

Graber did not find real-world evidence that self-defense in the home requires the use of the now-banned magazines, thus she concluded the magazine ban did not impact the right in its most important aspect. The plaintiffs tried to argue, calling on the Heller decision’s reliance in places on how commonly used a weapon might be, that the fact at least half of American magazine buyers choose the kind California is banning shows it is a weapon element deserving of Second Amendment protection; Graber did not think that mattered.

The 9th Circuit’s decision asserts that the state obviously has a compelling and important interest in trying to make some mass shootings potentially less lethal by restricting magazine size. The decision also insists that the law does not substantially damage the Second Amendment’s core self-defense-in-the-home purpose. Thus, their “intermediate scrutiny” analysis leads to the conclusion the law is perfectly constitutional.

In the dissent from Judge Bumatay, he insists the majority got it wrong from the start; any sort of “scrutiny” analysis is not the way the Supreme Court wants them approaching the Second Amendment.

Bumatay looks back to Heller, the beginning of modern Second Amendment jurisprudence, for clues as to the right way to judge laws that implicate the Second Amendment. What courts, including his own 9th Circuit, should do is perform “an extensive analysis of the text, tradition, and history of the Second Amendment. Our court should have dispensed with our interest-balancing approach and hewed to what the Supreme Court told us to do.”

Had they done that, Bombatay insists the 9th Circuit would have come to the opposite conclusion to today’s majority decision from Graber. As Bombatay points out, “Firearms and magazines capable of firing more than ten rounds have existed since before the Founding of the nation. They enjoyed widespread use throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They number in the millions in the country today. With no longstanding prohibitions against them, large-capacity magazines are thus entitled to the Second Amendment’s protection.”

The magazines the state banned “are lawfully owned by millions of people nationwide and come standard on the most popular firearms sold today” and “the Constitution protects the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms typically possessed for lawful purposes.” Thus, the 9th Circuit should have kept the magazine ban buried.

Bumatay sees the 9th Circuit’s scrutiny analysis as “nothing more than a black box used by judges to uphold favored laws and strike down disfavored ones.” That method has never been how the Supreme Court intended lower courts to do Second Amendment jurisprudence, he insists, and he quotes various Supreme Court justices to support this belief.

One of the sharpest such quotes was from Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote in a 2020 dissent from a denial of certiorari in the case of Grewal v. Rogers that Heller “explicitly rejected the invitation to evaluate Second Amendment challenges under an ‘interest balancing inquiry, with the interests protected by the Second Amendment on one side and the governmental public-safety concerns on the other.'”

Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke in a saltier separate dissent says that the 9th Circuit is driven “by a single-minded focus on ensuring that any panel opinions actually enforcing the Second Amendment are quickly reversed. The majority of our court distrusts gun owners and thinks the Second Amendment is a vestigial organ of their living constitution. Those views drive this circuit’s caselaw ignoring the original meaning of the Second Amendment and fully exploiting the discretion inherent in the Supreme Court’s cases to make certain that no government regulation ever fails our laughably ‘heightened’ Second Amendment scrutiny.”

 

 

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Over 7,000 Marines Unvaccinated As COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Deadline Hits

Over 7,000 Marines Unvaccinated As COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Deadline Hits

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

Five percent of active-duty Marines have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, the military branch says.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate was Nov. 28.

Some 95 percent of active-duty Marines had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by the deadline but that leaves nearly 7,400 who have not gotten a jab.

“I have great appreciation for all those who made these vaccinations possible, including the civilian and Navy medical personnel who worked tirelessly over the past months to protect our Marines and families,” said Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marines, in a statement.

Of the unvaccinated, 452 have been granted a temporary administrative exemption, 316 have been granted a temporary medical exemption, and 14 have been granted a permanent medical exemption, according to the Marines.

The remaining members without a jab face being discharged if they aren’t granted an exemption. Sean Timmons, a managing partner at Tully Rinckey, says none of his clients are yet to face an initiation of separation, though they are being threatened with it verbally.

Like every other military branch to date, the Marines have approved zero religious accommodation requests. Some 2,441 such requests have been lodged, and

Zero religious accommodation requests have been approved. Over three-quarters of the 2,441 requests have been rejected.

“It looks extremely concerning. It’s also problematic,” Timmons told The Epoch Times, adding that members who are separated after their religious exemption requests are turned down will likely have a strong case in court.

Lawyers representing military members fighting the mandates say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires military branches to provide accommodation for religious practices, including, generally, from vaccine requirements.

But military branches informed a court earlier this month that no exemptions have been granted and none have yet signaled that’s changed.

Some chaplains in Camp Pendleton cleared some of the applications as legitimate but those applications are sitting in Washington without being acted on, Timmons said.

He described Marines and other military members who are refusing the order to get vaccinated as a cross-section that includes all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.

A Marines spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Marines have said the religious exemption process starts with an interview with a chaplain and an endorsement by the first general officer in the chain of command before being evaluated by a Religious Accommodation Review Board. Requests that are cleared that far are forwarded to a centralized authority for approval or rejection.

The mandate deadline for the Navy was also on Nov. 28, but the branch has not released vaccination numbers and declined to provide them by press time. The Marine Reserve and the Navy Reserve have until Dec. 28 to get vaccinated.

The Air Force had the earliest deadline, Nov. 2. Over 10,000 active-duty personnel, or 3.1 percent, had not been vaccinated by the deadline.

The Army deadline is Dec. 15 for active-duty members.

Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members have until Dec. 2 while Army National Guard units have until June 30, 2022.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 17:45

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3G31iTq Tyler Durden

Black Friday Disappoints, Cyber Monday Sales Fall For The First Time Ever

Black Friday Disappoints, Cyber Monday Sales Fall For The First Time Ever

Yesterday when addressing the nation, and taking what appeared to be a victory lap for something – it wasn’t exactly clear what, maybe soaring prices, empty shelves or panic over yet another viral pandemic – Joe Biden said that consumer spending has recovered… only that wasn’t true because a look at the past three days shows just the opposite picture: spending was flat on thankgsiving compared to last year, down on Black Friday (as was everything else to be fair), and – according to Adobe’s digital economy index – was also down for the first time ever on Cyber Monday, when consumers spent a total $10.7BN, or 1.4% less compared to 2020. Expectations from Salesforce.com were for another $11BN total.

A brief rundown:

In total, 179.8 million people made online and in-store purchases during the Thanksgiving weekend, trailing behind last year’s figures as consumers spread out their holiday shopping throughout the season, according to the National Retail Federation. Still, the number exceeded the NRF’s initial expectations by more than 21 million. That figure was 186.4 million in 2020, and 189.6 million in 2019.

Whereas Thanksgiving weekend, especially Black Friday, was once seen as the kickoff for the holiday shopping season, the pandemic and supply chain woes have prompted consumers to start shopping earlier, said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

“The Thanksgiving weekend, and Black Friday in particular, are closer to half time now than to kick off,” Shay said. Data released separately on customer foot traffic and on online sales indicate that both e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar stores are on pace for a record holiday season.

Sales on Thanksgiving day were at the low end of Adobe’s prediction. The firm expected consumers would spend $10.2 billion-$11.3 billion compared with last year’s $10.8 billion.

Black Friday sales also disappointed, falling to $8.9 billion this year, from $9 billion last year, according to Adobe Digital Insights, which tracked more than 1 million visits to retail websites. Of note, digital Black Friday sales fell for the first time, with shoppers back in stores this year after last year’s pandemic shut-ins, according to Adobe Analytics data. Adobe reported $8.9 billion in sales versus a forecast of $9.5 billion. In-person visits climbed 48% from a year ago while trailing 2019 traffic by 28%. However, that came as retailers spread traffic peaks with early holiday deals.

Cyber Monday’s online-only sales also disappointed, dropping 1.4% this year, as consumers spent a total of $10.7 billion, down from $10.8 billion last year. According to CNBC, this year’s tally marks the first time that Adobe has tracked a slowdown in spending on major shopping days. Adobe first began reporting on e-commerce in 2012, and it analyzes more than 1 trillion visits to retailers’ websites.

That said, to get a more complete picture one has to look at a broader timeframe as the Thanksgiving spending frenzy is now dead: according to Adobe, from Nov. 1 through Cyber Monday, consumers in the United States have spent $109.8 billion online, which is up 11.9% year over year, Adobe said. And on 22 of those days, consumers purchased more than $3 billion worth of goods, another new milestone, it said.

Adobe also anticipates digital sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 will hit $207 billion, which would represent record gains of 10%, however that prediction will likely prove far too optimistic: while Americans have clearly spread out their purchases across the entire month rather than waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, there is another big reason why spending will be frontloaded – simply said, Americans are shopping early because they have to shop start earlier. Many products, especially in consumer electronics and in larger-ticket items, are back-ordered. It might already be too late to go Christmas shopping if the aim is to have presents under the tree.

In that case then, as Hot Air notes, the shopping curve may bend downward sooner and more sharply than Adobe projects.

That’s not the only reason that Cyber Monday shopping may be down or why shopping curves may start declining more sharply. We see another big factor every time we go to the pumps, although we might not know the amplitude of gas-price inflation. The Wall Street Journal settles that point, and makes another about the way it’s eating into family finances:

U.S. gasoline prices have climbed about 50% in a year with drivers paying an average of $3.40 a gallon for regular, up from $2.27, according to data from price tracker GasBuddy. This year’s rise is on pace to be the largest percentage increase in at least a decade. …

For Mrs. Gould, filling the Caravan’s roughly 20-gallon tank costs somewhere around $70. She’s also paying higher prices at the grocery store and even their occasional stops at McDonald’s—part of a broad increase in consumer prices that is making it harder to budget.

“Unfortunately, there is just not a lot we can do about it,” said Mrs. Gould, who is spending around one-third of her family budget on gas. Though her husband’s compact gets better mileage, it cannot fit two wheelchairs.

The hit from higher gas prices comes in two directions. First, it costs 50% more to fill the tank, which is a big deal for working-class families with smaller amounts of disposable income. Less directly, fuel-price increases drive higher prices for goods at the market, especially for fresh vegetables and meats, which are the basis of better diets. Groceries and gas are eroding the disposable income for working- and middle-class families and setting up incentives for discounted and less health fare.

In this environment, we can’t expect robust holiday shopping, even with inflation making it look better than it really is. If fuel and food prices continue to climb at this rate, we’re looking at a bleak Christmas season.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/30/2021 – 17:25

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3xGBYjd Tyler Durden