Most Americans No Longer Trust Biden’s COVID Info, New Poll Finds

Most Americans No Longer Trust Biden’s COVID Info, New Poll Finds

Americans’ trust in President Biden continues to slide, according to the latest Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index. The poll found that fewer than half of the respondents trust the president regarding accurate information about COVID-19, a 13-percentage decline since his inauguration in January. 

Axios/Ipsos found trust in President Biden, the federal government and the mainstream media to deliver accurate information about the virus pandemic slumped in tandem with no end in sight. 

Only 45% of respondents said they trust the president to provide accurate information about the virus, down from 58% in January. The result of this poll is exemplified in Biden’s outlandish comment on Monday about pre-pandemic life can only return if 97% of Americans are vaccinated.

Compared with rating earlier this year, Biden is losing trust among Democrats (an 11-percentage point decline to 81% trust a great deal or fair amount) and Republicans (a 10-point drop to 11%). He has experienced the most significant decline in confidence among independents (a 17-point decline to 42%).

Similarly, less than half of Americans (49%) trust the federal government to provide accurate COVID-19 information, down from 54% earlier this month. 

“Delta and other issues have undermined the public’s perception,” Cliff Young, president of Ipsos public affairs, told Axios. He said that no clear resolution to ending the pandemic is the main contributor to the decline in trust. 

What’s not helping with regaining trust is the administration’s sweeping new federal vaccine mandate for 100 million Americans (with no discussion of natural immunity), many of which are private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors. People across the country, if they’re in health care or law enforcement, among others, are walking off the job in droves because of the mandate. 

The survey was taken with a little more than 1,100 adults between Sept. 24–27 and has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. 

These findings are a big concern for the Democratic president and his party ahead of the 2022 midterms. It appears Biden’s honeymoon period is over, and the first real glimpse of this was in late July when a Gallup opinion poll found his approval ratings were slipping

Compound the botched exit of Afghanistan, Mexico–US border crisis, and soaring food, gas, and rent prices, the president’s ratings continue to tumble. 

Meanwhile, former President Trump received a healthy boost in support following the Republican National Convention last month.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 19:25

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3CVI2pq Tyler Durden

Port Of Los Angeles Demands More Federal Funding As Cargo Backlog Looms

Port Of Los Angeles Demands More Federal Funding As Cargo Backlog Looms

No sooner did we write about the fact that the ports of LA and Long Beach still won’t work round-the-clock shifts despite a massive backlog than the Port of Los Angeles is said to have asked for more federal funding.

So far, the government has invested about $11 billion in the eastern Gulf coast compared to just $1 billion on the West Coast, the head of the Port of Los Angeles, Gene Seroka, told Bloomberg this week

Seroka said that truck capacity has also slowed down the port, with 50% of registered truck drivers calling to the port at least once a week and 30% of truck appointments going unused every day. 

Heading into the holiday season, Seroka said he thinks many retailers have pulled forward inventory and will manage well: “I feel confident the retail community will rise to the occasion.”

Jim Monkmeyer, the president of transportation for Deutsche Post AG’s DHL Supply Chain unit also told Bloomberg this week that the logistics markets will see “ups and downs for the next year, at least.”

Recall, we wrote yesterday that despite the shortages, the busiest U.S. port still shuts down for hours on most days and is closed on Sundays. “Tens of thousands” of containers remain stuck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. More than 60 ships are lined up to dock, we noted. 

More than 25% of all American imports pass through one of the two ports. LA and Long Beach collectively manage 13 private container terminals. Long Beach officials finally said last week they would try operating 24 hours a day between Monday and Thursday. LA says it’s going to keep existing hours and wait for the rest of the supply chain to extend their hours first. 

Seroka had previously said: “It has been nearly impossible to get everyone on the same page towards 24/7 operations.”

Ports in places like Asia and Europe, for contrast, have operated around the clock “for years”, the report notes. 

Uffe Ostergaard, president of the North America region for German boxship operator Hapag-Lloyd AG said: “With the current work schedule you have two big ports operating at 60%-70% of their capacity. That’s a huge operational disadvantage.”

As the shortage continues, all members of the supply chain including truckers, warehouse operators and railways, are blaming each other for the shortages of products. All parts of the supply chain are also struggling with a shortage of labor. 

A longshore shift at either of the two ports used to be either 8AM to 4PM or 6PM to 3AM. Overnight shifts of 5 hours were “rarely used” because they are up to 50% more expensive, the report says. 

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union says their members will work a third shift, but only after the pileup of containers is fetched out of the port so there is space.

Frank Ponce De Leon, a coast committeeman at the ILWU, said: “Congestion won’t be fixed until everyone steps up and does their part. The terminal operators have been underutilizing their option to hire us for the third shift.

Matt Schrap, chief executive of the Harbor Trucking Association, added: “There is too much congestion from empty containers on terminals. The shipping lines aren’t moving the boxes out, which is preventing us from returning empties that we are storing in our yards.”

Mario Cordero, executive director at the Port of Long Beach concluded: “It’s impossible to effectively move such volumes if we don’t move to 24/7 operations across the supply chain. They do it in other parts of the world.”

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 19:05

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Owner-Equivalent Rent Shock On Deck As Actual Rents Surge By Most On Record

Owner-Equivalent Rent Shock On Deck As Actual Rents Surge By Most On Record

Another month, another record surge in US rents to a new all time high.

According to the Apartment List national index, US rents increased by 2.1% from August to September, and although month-over-month growth has slowed slightly from its July peak when the sequential growth rate was 2.6%, rents are still growing much faster than the pre-pandemic trend. Since January of this year, the national median rent has increased by a staggering 16.4%. To put that in context, rent growth from January to September averaged just 3.4% in the pre-pandemic years from 2017-2019.

While even the smallest cooldown in rent growth is a welcome change for renters, Apartment List’s Chris Salviati notes that it’s important to bear in mind that prior to this year, the national index never increased by more than 0.9 percent in a single month, going back to 2017. “Furthermore, we have now entered the time of year when rents are normally declining due to seasonality in the market. In September of 2018 and 2019, for example, rents fell by 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.”

That said, we have a ways to go before US rent – where the median just rose above $1,300 for the first time ever – decline; and with rents rising virtually everywhere, only a few cities still remain cheaper than they were pre-pandemic, and even these remaining discounts are unlikely to persist much longer. At the other end of the spectrum, Apartment List finds 22 cities among the 100 largest where rents have increased by more than 25 percent since the start of the pandemic. That said, there are some early signals that tightness in the market may be beginning to ease: the vacancy index ticked up this month for the first time since last April. And in Boise, ID, which has seen the nation’s biggest price increase since the start of the pandemic, rents finally dipped slightly this month.

The chart below visualizes monthly rent changes in each of the nation’s 100 largest cities from January 2018 to September 2021. The color in each cell represents the extent to which prices went up (red) or down (blue) in a given city in a given month. Bands of dark blue in 2020 represent the large urban centers where rent prices cratered (e.g., New York, San Francisco, Boston), but those bands have quickly turned red as ubiquitous rent growth sweeps the nation in 2021. In 2020, 60 of these cities saw rent prices rise from August to September, but this year, 97 cities got more expensive in September.

In a glimmer of hope for Americans locked out of not only the housing but the rental market, one of the few markets where rents did not increase this month was Boise, ID. Since last March, rents in Boise are up by a staggering 39%, making the city the archetype for rental market disruption amid the pandemic. This month, however, the median rent in Boise fell by 0.1%. While such a small dip certainly doesn’t offer much relief to Boise renters, it may at least signal that the market is finally starting to stabilize. Spokane, WA, another city that has experienced skyrocketing rent growth this year, saw an even more notable decline this month, with rents down 1.8 percent.

Unfortunately, Boise and Spokane represent the exception rather than the rule — in most of the cities where rents had been growing quickly, that growth is continuing. Tampa, for example, saw rents jump by another 3.9% this month, and the city now ranks 2nd for cumulative rent growth since the start of the pandemic at 36%. Excluding Boise and Spokane, the other eight cities in the chart above experienced rent growth of 3.5%, on average, from August to September, as affordable Sunbelt markets continue to boom. Of particular note, four of the ten cities with the fastest rent growth since last March are suburbs of Phoenix.

A more tangible indicator that demand destruction may be setting in, is that vacancy rates have posted their first increase since March. Indeed, as Apartment List notes, much of this year’s boom in rent prices can be attributed to a tight market in which more and more households are competing for fewer and fewer vacant units. The vacancy index spiked from 6.2% to 7.1% last April, as many Americans moved in with family or friends amid the uncertainty and economic disruption of the pandemic’s onset. Since then, however, vacancies have been steadily declining. For the past several months, the vacancy index has been hovering just below 4%, significantly lower than the 6% rate that was typical pre-pandemic.

This month, however, the vacancy index ticked up slightly, from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent. Although this is a very minor increase, it represents the first increase of any magnitude since last April. While a few more months of data would be needed to confirm an inflection point, if vacancies are back on the rise again, it would signal that tightness in the rental market is finally beginning to ease and that rent growth will also continue to cool.

Finally, where there may be light at the end of the tunnel in real-time data, we have yet to see the pig even enter the python when it comes to the CPI’s Owner Equivalent Rent data series. As shown below, the Apartment List data normally has a 4 month lead to the OER series, which means that as actual rents soar by over 15% Y/Y, OER is either going to skyrocket in the coming quarters or the BLS will have to come up with some very fancy hedonic adjustments why rental inflation should exclude, well, rental inflation.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 18:25

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

Didn’t Anyone See The 14,000 Haitians?

Didn’t Anyone See The 14,000 Haitians?

Authored by Silvo Canto Jr via AmericanThinker.com,

Last week, we had dinner with Mexican friends who said two things about the border crisis. First, they commented that Mexicans are sick and tired of foreigners walking through their country. Second, our friends are not the only ones asking how the Haitians got to the US. After all, it is a “long walk” to go from Guatemala to Del Rio, Texas. I’ve driven in the interior of Mexico and the roads are adequate but it’s still a long distance.

Mexican journalist Javier Garza-Ramos, from Coahuila, a border city, is reporting that many south of the border want to know how it happened:

This is something the governor of Coahuila, Miguel Ángel Riquelme, would like to know.

“It’s clear the federal government did not make an effort to contain them,” he told me.

“Because they were traveling for some time. How did they cross the country? How long were they traveling?” .

To get to Acuña from Mexico City by land, a person must travel through five states. Even though the National Guard polices bus stations, has checkpoints in the highways of Coahuila and has surveillance in railroads, these migrants were not stopped.

Over the past month, migrants came to Acuña and crossed to Del Río, where the Border Patrol caught them and put them in a makeshift camp under the bridge. And yet people kept coming until more than 14,000 migrants were spread out under the bridge and in shelters in Acuña and surrounding towns. A camp of 14,000 people equals almost 10% the population of Acuña and almost half the population of Del Rio. Border agents sorted people, allowing some to apply for asylum and deporting others, eventually dispersing the camp.

How did this happen in a country where “federales” search bus stations for Central Americans going north? To be fair, Mexicans enjoy a lot of freedom but illegal immigrants have always had a hard time evading the authorities. Just talk to any Central American who’s had to endure the interviews and intimidation of Mexican authorities. Young women are especially scared to death of being seen at stores or bus depots. One young woman from El Salvador told me that women avoid talking to give away their accents.

So how did 14,000 black Haitians walk through Mexico?

They don’t speak Spanish and they sure look different. There aren’t a lot of black Mexicans.

Who helped them?

Well, someone did and my friends in Mexico fear that criminal elements are behind it all. They charge to move people and probably pay off a few authorities on the walk north.

Some say that Mexico let them go north for two reasons: They can’t stay in Mexico and Haiti won’t take them back. Many of these Haitians came from South America, where they were apparently working, but those countries don’t want them back either.

What does mean to us? Well, what we saw in Del Rio is likely to be repeated somewhere else. More are coming!

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 18:05

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New York Firing Health Care Workers as COVID-19 Heads Northeast


NurseVaccine

For most of spring 2020, rattled New Yorkers trudged out onto their stoops and balconies every night at 7 p.m. sharp to bang their pots and pans and holler appreciation for the first responders—cops, nurses, doctors, EMTs, firefighters—who, unlike them, did not really have the choice to stay home from work while the deadly coronavirus ripped through the five boroughs.

As of Tuesday, those same New Yorkers, through their representative government, are telling those same essential workers to go look for a new job, unless they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or have filed for a religious exception from the statewide mandate.

“The only way we can move past this pandemic is to ensure that everyone eligible is vaccinated, and that includes those who are taking care of our vulnerable family members and loved ones,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement on Monday, while signing an executive order easing various licensing requirements in order to expand the pool of potential health care workers. The governor is keeping open the option of calling on the National Guard to cover for expected hospital staffing shortages.

New York’s vaccine mandate, which covers 600,000 health care workers, is one of scores across the country affecting nurses, doctors, teachers, and cops. North Carolina–based hospital company Novant Health announced Monday that it had fired 175 noncompliant workers. According to The Washington Post, “More than 150 health-care workers who did not comply with a vaccine mandate at Houston Methodist—one of the first health systems to require the coronavirus shots—were fired or resigned in June after a federal judge upheld the policy. ChristianaCare, a Delaware health system, announced this week that 150 employees were fired for not adhering to its vaccine mandate.”

The requirements are exacerbating existing staff shortages in the health care sector 19 months into the pandemic. But are they increasing vaccinations? Yes appears to be the answer.

New York announced its mandate August 16; between then and late Monday, vaccinations of at least one shot among staff at nursing homes increased from 70 percent to 92 percent, at adult care facilities from 76 percent to 89 percent.  The hospital-worker vaccination rate rose from 77 percent in mid-August to 84 percent as of September 22 (there has been widespread reporting of a rush of health-sector vaccinations in the final hours before the deadline).

According to a soon-to-be-published nationwide poll of 1,036 Americans that was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 16 percent of employed respondents said they would quit or start looking for new work if required by their employer to get a vaccine. “Among those who said they were ‘vaccine hesitant’—almost a quarter of respondents—we found that 48% would quit or look for another job,” pollsters Jack J. Barry, Ann Christiano, and Annie Neimand wrote. “Other polls have shown similar results. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey put the share of workers who would quit at 50%.”

Yet, those same authors conclude, “the actual number who do resign rather than get the vaccine is much smaller than the survey data suggest.”

This week will be the test of those theories, as Connecticut’s statewide health care vax mandate took effect Monday (for public hospitals), California’s kicks in Thursday, and Rhode Island’s on Friday.

As the Associated Press notes, in a development that mirrors COVID-related educational restrictions, “States that have set such requirements tend to have high vaccination rates already. The highest rates are concentrated in the Northeast, the lowest ones in the South and Midwest.” This raises in particular some uncomfortable issues of class, as six-figure big-city professionals cheer on or at least shrug at the firing of working-class nurses, EMTs, and support staff. Spring 2020, this ain’t.

Soon, however, the impact will be spread out all over the country, after the rollout of President Joe Biden’s mandates on private employers with more than 100 workers, plus all 17 million employees at health care providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid, and every federal employee (including military). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 77 percent of Americans age 18 and old have received at least one shot, with 67 percent being fully vaccinated. The U.S. one-shot vaccination rate of 64 percent overall ranks just 45th in the world.

The most compelling arguments for government to mandate injections into people’s bodies is when those people A) work for the government, and/or B) work in close proximity to at-risk populations, which disproportionately means the elderly, the sick, the immunocompromised, and the unvaccinated (particularly those falling in the prior categories). The state is on far shakier ground—legally, morally, and medically—when mandating jabs for low-risk populations outside its employ.

For an explanation of why someone might not want to take the vaccine, go no further than professional basketball player Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic:

The National Basketball Association does not have a league vaccine mandate on its players, but government mandates in New York City and San Francisco mean that three teams (the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Golden State Warriors) will be subject to the requirement. Brooklyn star point guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State forward Andrew Wiggins have been talking about missing all of their home games rather than acceding to the mandate.

Far more consequentially, public school districts are beginning to adopt and enforce vaccine mandates on all eligible students. Culver City, California, started the trend, followed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest. San Diego Unified was set to vote on a mandate Tuesday night.

In a sign of blue-state policies to come, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona endorsed student vaccines last week. “I wholeheartedly support it,” Cardona said during a visit to Detroit. “It’s the best tool that we have to safely reopen schools and keep them open. We don’t want to have the yo-yo effect that many districts had last year, and we can prevent that by getting vaccinated.”

Yet even unvaccinated kids remain overwhelmingly less likely to contract, spread, or suffer from COVID-19. Fears of the new school year generating a new surge of cases have proven unfounded so far. And the situation that Cardona is trying desperately to avoid—remote learning, which has proven educationally calamitous—will likely increase in communities where parents are skeptical about the cost/benefit ratio of vaccinating their kids.

In fact, the LAUSD—where in addition to the vaccination mandate, all students and staff are tested weekly regardless of vax status—new enrollment figures for 2021-22 just came out, and they were three times worse than the district expected: a drop of 6 percent in just one year, after already falling 4 percent the year before that. Forcing vaccines on the unwilling has more consequences than merely increasing vaccination.

So we’re in uncharted territory here. If even 3 percent of any given population decides not to comply with vax mandates even under threat of government reprisal, that could have huge impacts on the public education system, the economy, and on hospital capacity.

It’s on that latter point in particular that policy makers should be looking at closely over the coming weeks, as they fire nurses and mobilize the National Guard. After the brutal COVID-19 wave in the South this summer, the 10 states with the biggest percentage increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks, led by highly-vaccinated Vermont and Maine, are all in the north.

Vaccine mandates may well be the last illiberal push that results in the U.S. reaching some mythical pandemic off-ramp. But they may also create health care shortages in the Northeast right as the virus once again rears its seasonal and regional head.

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Hurricane Forecasters Expect Two Storms To Form In Atlantic Basin This Week

Hurricane Forecasters Expect Two Storms To Form In Atlantic Basin This Week

As major Hurricane Sam continues to swirl in the Atlantic and possibly take a northern track that entirely misses the US East Coast, there are two other trouble spots that National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters are monitoring for tropical development. 

Two tropical waves have emerged off the coast of Africa and are in an environment that favors rapid intensification in the next several days. Water in the Atlantic Basin is 78F, and wind shear is low, a perfect recipe for tropical development. 

NHC wrote on Tuesday morning that Disturbance 1 has a 70% chance of tropical formation in the next 48 hours and an 80% chance over the next five days. Disturbance 2, right behind the first tropical wave, has an 80% chance of formation in the next 48 hours and 90% over the next five days. 

Both systems are likely to move across the Atlantic later this week and become more organized. Disturbance 1 is most likely to move west and may reach the Leeward Islands, where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean, by the weekend or early next week. Disturbance 2 has a chance of shifting northwestward and northward over the central Atlantic, where it would be an insignificant concern for any landmasses.

So far, the 2021 hurricane season has produced 19 named storms and could be on track to surpass the record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which made 30 named storms. 

 

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 17:45

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3m7n3Jh Tyler Durden

New York Firing Health Care Workers as COVID-19 Heads Northeast


NurseVaccine

For most of spring 2020, rattled New Yorkers trudged out onto their stoops and balconies every night at 7 p.m. sharp to bang their pots and pans and holler appreciation for the first responders—cops, nurses, doctors, EMTs, firefighters—who, unlike them, did not really have the choice to stay home from work while the deadly coronavirus ripped through the five boroughs.

As of Tuesday, those same New Yorkers, through their representative government, are telling those same essential workers to go look for a new job, unless they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or have filed for a religious exception from the statewide mandate.

“The only way we can move past this pandemic is to ensure that everyone eligible is vaccinated, and that includes those who are taking care of our vulnerable family members and loved ones,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement on Monday, while signing an executive order easing various licensing requirements in order to expand the pool of potential health care workers. The governor is keeping open the option of calling on the National Guard to cover for expected hospital staffing shortages.

New York’s vaccine mandate, which covers 600,000 health care workers, is one of scores across the country affecting nurses, doctors, teachers, and cops. North Carolina–based hospital company Novant Health announced Monday that it had fired 175 noncompliant workers. According to The Washington Post, “More than 150 health-care workers who did not comply with a vaccine mandate at Houston Methodist—one of the first health systems to require the coronavirus shots—were fired or resigned in June after a federal judge upheld the policy. ChristianaCare, a Delaware health system, announced this week that 150 employees were fired for not adhering to its vaccine mandate.”

The requirements are exacerbating existing staff shortages in the health care sector 19 months into the pandemic. But are they increasing vaccinations? Yes appears to be the answer.

New York announced its mandate August 16; between then and late Monday, vaccinations of at least one shot among staff at nursing homes increased from 70 percent to 92 percent, at adult care facilities from 76 percent to 89 percent.  The hospital-worker vaccination rate rose from 77 percent in mid-August to 84 percent as of September 22 (there has been widespread reporting of a rush of health-sector vaccinations in the final hours before the deadline).

According to a soon-to-be-published nationwide poll of 1,036 Americans that was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 16 percent of employed respondents said they would quit or start looking for new work if required by their employer to get a vaccine. “Among those who said they were ‘vaccine hesitant’—almost a quarter of respondents—we found that 48% would quit or look for another job,” pollsters Jack J. Barry, Ann Christiano, and Annie Neimand wrote. “Other polls have shown similar results. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey put the share of workers who would quit at 50%.”

Yet, those same authors conclude, “the actual number who do resign rather than get the vaccine is much smaller than the survey data suggest.”

This week will be the test of those theories, as Connecticut’s statewide health care vax mandate took effect Monday (for public hospitals), California’s kicks in Thursday, and Rhode Island’s on Friday.

As the Associated Press notes, in a development that mirrors COVID-related educational restrictions, “States that have set such requirements tend to have high vaccination rates already. The highest rates are concentrated in the Northeast, the lowest ones in the South and Midwest.” This raises in particular some uncomfortable issues of class, as six-figure big-city professionals cheer on or at least shrug at the firing of working-class nurses, EMTs, and support staff. Spring 2020, this ain’t.

Soon, however, the impact will be spread out all over the country, after the rollout of President Joe Biden’s mandates on private employers with more than 100 workers, plus all 17 million employees at health care providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid, and every federal employee (including military). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 77 percent of Americans age 18 and old have received at least one shot, with 67 percent being fully vaccinated. The U.S. one-shot vaccination rate of 64 percent overall ranks just 45th in the world.

The most compelling arguments for government to mandate injections into people’s bodies is when those people A) work for the government, and/or B) work in close proximity to at-risk populations, which disproportionately means the elderly, the sick, the immunocompromised, and the unvaccinated (particularly those falling in the prior categories). The state is on far shakier ground—legally, morally, and medically—when mandating jabs for low-risk populations outside its employ.

For an explanation of why someone might not want to take the vaccine, go no further than professional basketball player Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic:

The National Basketball Association does not have a league vaccine mandate on its players, but government mandates in New York City and San Francisco mean that three teams (the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Golden State Warriors) will be subject to the requirement. Brooklyn star point guard Kyrie Irving and Golden State forward Andrew Wiggins have been talking about missing all of their home games rather than acceding to the mandate.

Far more consequentially, public school districts are beginning to adopt and enforce vaccine mandates on all eligible students. Culver City, California, started the trend, followed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest. San Diego Unified was set to vote on a mandate Tuesday night.

In a sign of blue-state policies to come, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona endorsed student vaccines last week. “I wholeheartedly support it,” Cardona said during a visit to Detroit. “It’s the best tool that we have to safely reopen schools and keep them open. We don’t want to have the yo-yo effect that many districts had last year, and we can prevent that by getting vaccinated.”

Yet even unvaccinated kids remain overwhelmingly less likely to contract, spread, or suffer from COVID-19. Fears of the new school year generating a new surge of cases have proven unfounded so far. And the situation that Cardona is trying desperately to avoid—remote learning, which has proven educationally calamitous—will likely increase in communities where parents are skeptical about the cost/benefit ratio of vaccinating their kids.

In fact, the LAUSD—where in addition to the vaccination mandate, all students and staff are tested weekly regardless of vax status—new enrollment figures for 2021-22 just came out, and they were three times worse than the district expected: a drop of 6 percent in just one year, after already falling 4 percent the year before that. Forcing vaccines on the unwilling has more consequences than merely increasing vaccination.

So we’re in uncharted territory here. If even 3 percent of any given population decides not to comply with vax mandates even under threat of government reprisal, that could have huge impacts on the public education system, the economy, and on hospital capacity.

It’s on that latter point in particular that policy makers should be looking at closely over the coming weeks, as they fire nurses and mobilize the National Guard. After the brutal COVID-19 wave in the South this summer, the 10 states with the biggest percentage increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks, led by highly-vaccinated Vermont and Maine, are all in the north.

Vaccine mandates may well be the last illiberal push that results in the U.S. reaching some mythical pandemic off-ramp. But they may also create health care shortages in the Northeast right as the virus once again rears its seasonal and regional head.

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Will Biden’s Border Crisis Cost Democrats Texas Seats?

Will Biden’s Border Crisis Cost Democrats Texas Seats?

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClearPolitics.com,

As the immigration crisis worsens in South Texas, President Biden’s inconsistent border policies and messaging are not only damaging his approval ratings nationwide, but they could also cost the Democratic Party once-safe seats in Congress.

The Rio Grande Valley is the epicenter of the crisis, and its residents feel the impact of the surge in border crossings every day. Illegal crossings reached a 21-year high in July with 212,672 encounters reported by the U.S. Border Patrol that month alone. Across southern Texas, car chases have spiked this year, nearly nine-fold in some areas. Ranchers struggle to balance compassion for exhausted immigrants crossing through their property with concerns over personal safety, as well as costs to repair broken fences, trashed land, and stolen equipment. Federal agents also have reported a staggering increase of 4,000 in fentanyl seizures this year in Texas as smugglers exploit stretched border-patrol resources.

Although Democrats now control a trio of House seats representing Texas’ southern-most border with Mexico, voting patterns are making the districts more competitive.

Republicans are heavily targeting all three seats after the 2020 election showed a surprising swing in the GOP’s favor along the Texas-Mexico border. Once deep-blue, the three districts voted for Biden by just two to four percentage points, down from the 17-to-22-point margin Hillary Clinton racked up in 2016. Republicans also have redistricting on their side this year with the GOP-controlled Texas legislature poised to redraw several congressional districts in their favor.

Recent polling from the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas signaled another reason for Democratic angst: Biden’s approval rating is underwater among Latino voters in the Lone Star State. More than 54% of the state’s registered Latino voters said they disapprove of the job Biden is doing overall, while only 35% said they approve.

When it comes to the president’s handling of the immigration crisis at the border, only 29% of the state’s Latino voters indicated their support while 52% said they disapprove (with the rest undecided). The survey was conducted Sept. 7-14, before more than 12,000 Haitian immigrants amassed under the Del Rio International Bridge, creating a new humanitarian crisis with immigration facilities already stretched beyond capacity.

The shift in voting patterns is already having an impact.

Earlier this year, Rep. Filemon Vela, who represents Texas’ 34th Congressional District, which includes the city of Brownsville, abruptly announced his retirement.

In 2020, he won reelection by nearly 14 percentage points in a seat generally considered safe for Democrats. But national Republicans identified Vela as a target after Biden won the district by just four points, down from the 21.5-point Clinton margin. Five Republicans and four Democrats are now running to replace Vela in what promises to be a sharply contested campaign.

Reps. Henry Cuellar (pictured) and Vicente Gonzalez, the two other Democratic congressmen who represent the Rio Grande Valley, are fighting to keep their seats while taking different approaches to the immigration crisis, even though both strongly campaigned for Biden last year.

Cuellar, who has regularly bucked his party’s leadership over the years, has been an outspoken critic of Biden’s more lenient immigration policies, repeatedly blasting the administration for creating “incentives” for immigrants to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. instead of instituting “uncomfortable” but effective deportation policies.

The 16-year House veteran was the first lawmaker to provide photos of overcrowded detention facilities in Donna, Texas, when the administration was instituting a media blackout earlier this year. He also led calls for Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden’s point person on immigration, to visit the border months before her trip to Central America in June.

Last week, Cuellar waded into the debate over whether Border Patrol agents in Del Rio were using their horse reins as whips against Haitian immigrants, defending their efforts to stop illegal crossings while acknowledging that all immigrants must be treated humanely. Appearing on “CNN Newsroom” Tuesday, Cueller was asked about the photos of border agents chasing migrants on horses – and one that a host said appeared to be using a “rope or a lasso.”

He quickly came to the agents’ defense.

“Certainly, we got to make sure we treat all the immigrants with respect and dignity, but I will say this: Border Patrol has had those horse brigades for a while. They’ve had them for a while, number one. Number two, they don’t carry whips, and they do not carry lassos.”

“Should those be used, even if it is a rein?” the CNN host asked.

“If there was a problem, it should be investigated, and I think that’s it,” Cuellar responded.

“But we cannot paint the Border Patrol with the same type of paintbrush. What are they supposed to do, just stand there and let everybody come in? They’re supposed to be enforcing the law.”

After the images surfaced, creating an uproar among civil rights leaders, the Homeland Security Department launched an investigation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Wednesday that agents in Del Rio would no longer use horses to try to prevent illegal crossings.

Cuellar has represented South Texas for his entire career, either in the state legislature or in Congress. He won reelection last year by a whopping 20 points but faced a serious challenge during the primary, besting a more liberal candidate by just 3.6 percentage points. The same Democratic challenger, Jessica Cisneros, is running against him again. Republicans suggest that Cuellar is in a lose-lose situation, barely fending off a primary opponent in 2020 and facing a rematch because his immigration views aren’t liberal enough for the Democratic Party even if they represent his district as a whole.

Vicente Gonzalez appears to be even more vulnerable than Cuellar. He won reelection by just 2.9 points last fall after topping his GOP rival in 2018 by 19.6 points. Despite that shift, Gonzalez has mainly defended the administration’s immigration policies, praising Harris’ plan to address the root-causes of immigration as “a holistic approach” to “create conditions for people to want to stay in their native countries.”

“We had a good meeting a few weeks ago with the vice president, and I think she has a very good plan to get to the root causes, which will be the only way to ultimately curb the mass migration,” he told CNN in early June.

“If we don’t address the root causes, all we’re doing is putting a Band-Aid on it on our border.”

Over the last two weeks, as the Haitian immigration crisis overwhelmed resources in Del Rio, Gonzalez has steered clear of the controversy, refraining even from tweeting about it. But during a Fox News appearance Thursday, host Neil Cavuto pressed him on Biden’s decision to stop allowing the agents to use horses to control the border.

Gonzalez called it a “very complex and tough situation that we have to investigate.”

“We certainly need to find an orderly way to deal with the crisis,” he added. “I’m not for just releasing people into the country. We need to have a vetting process before they get here.”

A member of the moderate Problem Solvers Caucus, Gonzalez has pushed back against progressives’ calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But he has not joined Cuellar in forcefully criticizing Biden’s approach even as he’s decried the way it has enriched Mexican drug cartels.

Since Biden took office, Gonzalez laments, those cartels are taking advantage of immigrants, charging each of them $6,000 to get to the U.S. border, and raking in more than $1.3 billion in the first few months of this year alone.

The three-term Texas Democrat has so far unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Biden administration to back his idea to establish a processing center for asylum seekers on the Mexico-Guatemala border where immigrants could apply for asylum and fly to the U.S. only if and when they qualify. President Trump secured an agreement with Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to use their militaries to prevent caravans from continuing into the United States, but when COVID hit, he used an obscure health measure, known as Title 42, to deport immigrants immediately without due process for their asylum requests in the name of public health. Biden is under fire from the left for continuing to use the policy to deport thousands of immigrants while releasing others into the U.S. who have requested asylum.

Those deciding to make the dangerous journey north are only coming from certain impoverished pockets of several Central American countries, Gonzalez has asserted. Because of this, the U.S. needs to make “surgical, thoughtful, intelligent investments that create jobs, create security, that invest in agricultural projects, manufacturing and tourism and ideas that create better jobs for people to want to stay,” he argued.

He didn’t mention that the Obama administration’s attempt to address root-causes by sending billions of taxpayer dollars to Central America – an effort Biden led — had virtually no impact on the continued exodus north.

Gonzalez was far more critical of Trump’s immigration policies. Last year, he called on the administration to suspend its COVID immigration restrictions that were dramatically reducing the number of illegal border crossings but swelling border camp populations in Mexico.

“Imagine these people who have gone through a 2,000-mile trek and are now in a one-acre plot of land — thousands of them. Certainly, it’s an easy place for viruses to spread,” he told The Hill newspaper.

“Mexico could probably do more too, because I went over there, and it was a mess. It’s not like detention centers on this side, as much as we complain about them. They’re living in squalor —  tents on the ground and dirt. Now there’s a place for them to plug in their phones and some port-a-potties, but it’s really bad,” he added.

With the ongoing border crisis continuing to be a drag on Biden’s poll numbers nationwide, Republicans are keeping close track of every statement Cuellar and Gonzalez make on the issue. If their districts keep trending purple next year, Republicans could see a path to retaking the House majority straight through the border territory. No matter the outcome, Democrats will have to invest far more resources than usual to keep these seats in their column next year.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 17:25

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Cops Get Qualified Immunity After Jailing Florida Man for ‘I Eat Ass’ Bumper Sticker


1

New life was injected into a free speech legal saga over an “I Eat Ass” bumper sticker yesterday when a federal judge ruled that the expression might violate Florida’s obscenity law and would thus be unprotected by the First Amendment.

At the center of the odyssey is Florida man Dillon Shane Webb, who was pulled over in May of 2019 after Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis English took exception to the sticker. Dillion declined to censor it on the spot, his vehicle was searched, and he was subsequently arrested and booked in jail for “obscene writing on vehicles” and “resisting an officer without violence.” (The “resisting” in question refers to his refusal to alter the sticker’s appearance at the officer’s demand.)

Those charges were dropped shortly thereafter, with the State Attorney’s Office citing the First Amendment.

But the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled yesterday that the case is not so cut and dry, awarding qualified immunity to English and thus dooming the suit Dillon brought against him for allegedly violating his free speech rights and for falsely arresting him.

“While Webb denies the Sticker was in fact obscene, in interviews he repeatedly acknowledged the sexual nature of his Sticker,” wrote Judge Marcia Morales Howard in Webb v. English, “albeit couched as an attempt at humor, showing that the notion that an erotic message was more than hypothetical—it could reasonably be viewed as the predominant message being communicated.” She added that “if the Sticker depicted a sexual act, it would be protected speech under the First Amendment only if it had serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” English, as well as Corporal Chad Kirby—who via phone agreed Dillon should be arrested—thus can’t be held liable over their subjective determination and the subsequent arrest.

Yet the law in question—Fla. Stat. § 847.011(2), which prohibits “any sticker, decal, emblem or other device attached to a motor vehicle containing obscene descriptions, photographs, or depictions”—is unconstitutional on its face, according to Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley. “This entire provision is therefore unconstitutionally overbroad and thus invalid on its face, and thus can’t be applied even to possession of obscenity in public,” Volokh argued in May 2019.

The doctrine of qualified immunity protects certain state actors from accountability for alleged misconduct if the exact way they violated your rights has not been explicitly carved out as unconstitutional in a prior court decision. Though it was supposed to shield government officials only from silly lawsuits, it has instead shielded them from ones with merit, including the more than two-dozen cops who blew up an innocent man’s home during a botched SWAT raid on the wrong residence, a cop who conducted an illegal search and ruined a man’s car in the process, cops who allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and cops who arrested a man on bogus charges after attacking him outside his house. Those who overcome qualified immunity do not win damages as a result; they merely get the opportunity to state their claim before a jury.

This is not the first time a qualified immunity case arose from an alleged breach of the First Amendment. Denver cops affirmatively violated a man’s First Amendment rights when they forced him to delete a video of them beating a suspect, a federal court ruled in March. That same court also gave the officers qualified immunity because, though the officers were guilty of violating the man’s rights, that right was not “clearly established” at the time, the ruling said.

And the doctrine does not solely apply to police: College administrators at Arkansas State University received qualified immunity after hamstringing a student from recruiting for a conservative political advocacy group. The Supreme Court declined to hear that case, eliciting a scathing rebuke from Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ironically, there was a ruling that may have helped Webb. Nieves v. Bartlett, a 2019 Supreme Court decision, holds that officers may be held liable if they “have probable cause to make arrests, but typically exercise their discretion not to do so.” One would assume that applies here, where the officer surely should have exercised his discretion not to make an arrest over a bumper sticker.

Yet in an apt demonstration of how lopsided qualified immunity doctrine is, Judge Howard noted that the Supreme Court handed that particular decision down three weeks after Webb’s arrest. “As such,” she wrote, “as of the date of Webb’s arrest, the right to be free from a retaliatory arrest that was otherwise supported by probable cause was not clearly established.”

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Cops Get Qualified Immunity After Jailing Florida Man for ‘I Eat Ass’ Bumper Sticker


1

New life was injected into a free speech legal saga over an “I Eat Ass” bumper sticker yesterday when a federal judge ruled that the expression might violate Florida’s obscenity law and would thus be unprotected by the First Amendment.

At the center of the odyssey is Florida man Dillon Shane Webb, who was pulled over in May of 2019 after Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis English took exception to the sticker. Dillion declined to censor it on the spot, his vehicle was searched, and he was subsequently arrested and booked in jail for “obscene writing on vehicles” and “resisting an officer without violence.” (The “resisting” in question refers to his refusal to alter the sticker’s appearance at the officer’s demand.)

Those charges were dropped shortly thereafter, with the State Attorney’s Office citing the First Amendment.

But the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled yesterday that the case is not so cut and dry, awarding qualified immunity to English and thus dooming the suit Dillon brought against him for allegedly violating his free speech rights and for falsely arresting him.

“While Webb denies the Sticker was in fact obscene, in interviews he repeatedly acknowledged the sexual nature of his Sticker,” wrote Judge Marcia Morales Howard in Webb v. English, “albeit couched as an attempt at humor, showing that the notion that an erotic message was more than hypothetical—it could reasonably be viewed as the predominant message being communicated.” She added that “if the Sticker depicted a sexual act, it would be protected speech under the First Amendment only if it had serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” English, as well as Corporal Chad Kirby—who via phone agreed Dillon should be arrested—thus can’t be held liable over their subjective determination and the subsequent arrest.

Yet the law in question—Fla. Stat. § 847.011(2), which prohibits “any sticker, decal, emblem or other device attached to a motor vehicle containing obscene descriptions, photographs, or depictions”—is unconstitutional on its face, according to Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley. “This entire provision is therefore unconstitutionally overbroad and thus invalid on its face, and thus can’t be applied even to possession of obscenity in public,” Volokh argued in May 2019.

The doctrine of qualified immunity protects certain state actors from accountability for alleged misconduct if the exact way they violated your rights has not been explicitly carved out as unconstitutional in a prior court decision. Though it was supposed to shield government officials only from silly lawsuits, it has instead shielded them from ones with merit, including the more than two-dozen cops who blew up an innocent man’s home during a botched SWAT raid on the wrong residence, a cop who conducted an illegal search and ruined a man’s car in the process, cops who allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and cops who arrested a man on bogus charges after attacking him outside his house. Those who overcome qualified immunity do not win damages as a result; they merely get the opportunity to state their claim before a jury.

This is not the first time a qualified immunity case arose from an alleged breach of the First Amendment. Denver cops affirmatively violated a man’s First Amendment rights when they forced him to delete a video of them beating a suspect, a federal court ruled in March. That same court also gave the officers qualified immunity because, though the officers were guilty of violating the man’s rights, that right was not “clearly established” at the time, the ruling said.

And the doctrine does not solely apply to police: College administrators at Arkansas State University received qualified immunity after hamstringing a student from recruiting for a conservative political advocacy group. The Supreme Court declined to hear that case, eliciting a scathing rebuke from Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ironically, there was a ruling that may have helped Webb. Nieves v. Bartlett, a 2019 Supreme Court decision, holds that officers may be held liable if they “have probable cause to make arrests, but typically exercise their discretion not to do so.” One would assume that applies here, where the officer surely should have exercised his discretion not to make an arrest over a bumper sticker.

Yet in an apt demonstration of how lopsided qualified immunity doctrine is, Judge Howard noted that the Supreme Court handed that particular decision down three weeks after Webb’s arrest. “As such,” she wrote, “as of the date of Webb’s arrest, the right to be free from a retaliatory arrest that was otherwise supported by probable cause was not clearly established.”

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