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

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3m65vNM Tyler Durden

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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Taiwan’s Defense Minister Demands Long-Range Missiles For The Island To Repel China

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Demands Long-Range Missiles For The Island To Repel China

Just on the heels of Taiwan recently unveiling a proposed defense budget of almost $9 billion over the next five years, its defense ministry is provocatively calling for more long-range missiles in order to deter potential future aggression from China

“The development of equipment must be long-range, precise, and mobile, so that the enemy can sense that we are prepared as soon as they dispatch their troops,” Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told parliament in Taipei on Monday. 


2020 test launch of an anti-ship cruise missile, source: National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology

This after Taiwan officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen, have said rapid modernization of the island’s defense arsenal is necessary given the “severe” threat from China, which means Taiwan must have the capability to be turned into a “fortress” and “porcupine” in event of attack.

It’s unclear what DM Chiu Kuo-cheng is envisioning in terms of the reach of proposed long-range missiles, but it’s sure to be seen as a “red line” for Beijing. According to Reuters:

In a written report to parliament to accompany Chiu’s appearance, the ministry said both medium- and long-range missiles were being used in intercept drills at a key test facility on Taiwan’s southeastern coast.

Chiu declined to give details to reporters of how far Taiwan’s missiles could reach, something the government has always keep well under wraps.

China would no doubt see these as offensive and not merely defensive weapons, putting the mainland under threat.

Among the last major US arms packages approved by the Trump administration last year included over 100 cruise missiles and about a dozen truck-based launchers, both with a striking range of more than 168 miles.

So far the mood in Washington and the Biden administration appears to be one of willingness to encircle China with missiles in southeast Asia and among Indo-Pacific allies, an initiative first floated during the Trump administration; however, reluctant US allies have remained unwilling to quickly to make themselves a prime target in China’s eyes. 

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 17:05

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“Fill The Swamp”: The Federal Administrative State Grew Even Under Trump

“Fill The Swamp”: The Federal Administrative State Grew Even Under Trump

By Adam Andrzejewski, CEO/Founder of OpenTheBooks.com originally posted at Forbes,

Everyone from Ronald Reagan (1983) to Nancy Pelosi (2006) to Donald Trump (2016) issued calls to “drain the swamp.” However, in a new oversight report by OpenTheBooks.com, Mapping The Swamp, A Study Of The Administrative State, we found that the federal agency payrolls continued to grow unabated.

President Trump was holding the headcount of the executive agencies roughly flat through at least 2018. Then, the pandemic driven spending caused a massive federal hiring spree in FY2020.

Key Facts

1. EXPENSIVE BUREAUCRACY: The federal disclosed workforce costs the American taxpayer $2.3 million per minute, $140 million per hour, and $1.1 billion per day. In FY2020, the federal government disclosed 2.8 million employees — including 1.4 million executive agency bureaucrats; 698,547 DOD employees; and 678,537 USPS employees — for an estimated total compensation cost of $292 billion. (Formula: disclosed cash compensation: $225 billion plus an estimated 30-percent in benefits equals $292 billion).

2. THE SWAMP GETS BIGGER: 1.4 million disclosed employees in the executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) rose to a modern-day high (2020) – up 3.7-percent from 1.35 million employees in FY2016. Veterans Affairs with 421,542 employees was the largest executive agency, and, since FY2016, headcount grew by 48,928 employees (13-percent). Homeland Security with 210,253 employees, grew by 26,290 employees (14.3-percent).

3. HIGHLY COMPENSATED BUREAUCRATS: 532,784 employees made $100,000+ in the 122 executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) — from 406,960 employees in FY2016 (up 31-percent). Furthermore, 37,631 employees made $200,000+ (up 52-percent) and 7,692 employees earned $300,000+ (up 144-percent). Dr. Anthony Fauci was the most highly compensated federal employee — across all agencies — for the second year and earned $434,312.

4. A NEW MINIMUM WAGE: The average pay was $100,000+ in 100 of 122 executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) and departments. 26,853 federal employees out-earned every state governor ($225,000 | New York).

5. PAID TO STAY HOME: 44-days of paid-time off (PTO) on average for bureaucrats employed in the executive agencies (non DOD and USPS) – 11 holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days. The estimated taxpayer subsidy of this benefit is $22 billion annually.

6. THE $15 MILLION MAN: The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a quasi-public federal agency, paid their CEO Jeffry Lyash $15.5 million in salary, retirement and other benefits over a two-year period, FY2019-FY2020. The TVA is a federal entity, but doesn’t currently receive taxpayer funding.

7. VA EMPLOYMENT FARM: Since 2012, Veterans Affairs added 106,037 new positions to payroll, yet only 6,674 were doctors (Medical Officers). Only one in every sixteen new positions were doctors.

8. BLOATED WHITE HOUSE PAYROLL: The Biden White House is the most expensive in history with over 560 employees and $50 million annual payroll expense. By comparison, President Trump employed 377 staffers with an inflation adjusted $40 million payroll in his first year (2017).

9. ARMED BUREAUCRATS: Federal employees (non-DOD) with firearm authority (200,000+) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (186,000). Employees in 103 agencies with firearm authority include 69,000 at Department of Justice; 63,000 at Homeland Security; and even 4,547 police officers at Veterans Affairs and 2,159 special agents at the Internal Revenue Service.

10. TRANSPARENCY PROBLEMS: 259,000 names were redacted accounting for an estimated $25 billion in cash compensation within the executive agency payroll (non DOD and USPS). The number of redactions grew from 3,500 in FY2016. Department of Defense: only disclosed the 698,547 civilian employees with salary, title and branch, but redacted all names. The U.S. Post Office disclosed 678,537 employees, but redacted all bonuses.

In addition, another $225 billion in estimated compensation remains hidden and not subject to the oversight of this report: an estimated $100 billion in non-disclosed salaries of the 1,379,800 million active military members; and another $125 billion in undisclosed pension-retirement annuity payouts.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 16:45

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WTI Extends Losses After Surprise Crude Build

WTI Extends Losses After Surprise Crude Build

Oil prices pumped’n’dumped today with WTI above $76.50 intraday before falling back (and Brent near 3-year highs above $80 before fading) as a shortfall in global energy supplies is spilling into crude markets.

“It got ugly in the equity space and the interest rate environment got stronger this morning too,” said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA.

“Those two facts conspired to tank the market here.”

The latest gains for oil prices have come as part of a broader rally in energy markets, with depleted natural gas inventories and resurgent economic activity sparking fierce competition in Europe and Asia for natural gas to feed their power markets.

“Oil’s move is really to do with the global energy crunch coming out of the gas power market,” said Norbert Rücker, head of economics at Swiss private bank Julius Baer.

“This is now spilling over into the oil market because of the expectation that this energy scarcity means we’re going to use oil for spillover demand.”

In some power plants, oil can be used to generate electricity when gas prices surge.

Losses in U.S. Gulf of Mexico production following the impact of Hurricane Ida are also supportive of higher prices in the short-term.

API

  • Crude +4.127mm (-2.5mm exp)

  • Cushing +359k

  • Gasoline +3.555mm

  • Distillates +2.483mm

Analysts expected an 8th straight week of crude inventory draws, but were surprised when API reported a 4.127mm build. In fact, the entire complex saw inventories rise

Source: Bloomberg

WTI was hovering just below $75 ahead of the API print and extended losses after the surprise build…

Not everyone is bullish from here. “OPEC is still ramping up production and [the market is] getting frothy but by next year we have confidence that we see much lower prices,” said Julius Baer’s Mr. Rücker.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/28/2021 – 16:34

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2ZGLWUI Tyler Durden

Parents Are Filling the Political Vacuum for Charter School Support


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When teachers unions forced public schools to close indefinitely in spring 2020, the void they created showed how ill-suited traditional public schools are to the 21st century. Though the pandemic stressed most public institutions, public charter schools proved remarkably resilient.

According to a new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), during the pandemic, public charter school enrollment increased in 39 of the 42 states with charter schools, adding 237,311 students from the 2019–20 school year to 2020–21. During the same period, traditional public schools lost 1.4 million students. While some of the traditional public schools’ losses can be attributed to homeschooling, learning pods, and other alternatives, the Center for Reinventing Public Education learned that flight to virtual schools only accounted for roughly 40 percent of traditional districts’ enrollment declines. 

That tracks with the NAPCS findings. Though enrollment in virtual public charters spiked in a few states—Oklahoma, Utah, and Pennsylvania—in other states like Texas, which had an enrollment surge of almost 30,000 students, those new charter school students are not attending virtual schools. Over the last decade, brick-and-mortar charter schools did very well, and would have likely done even better were enrollment not arbitrarily capped by law in many blue states like New York and Washington. Even in places where public charters are not legislatively capped, union contracts have scotched their growth.

Much has been written about charter schools’ “scary future” politically in the wake of the frayed bipartisan support for public charter schools. Observers claim Republicans are now more focused on private school vouchers than more widespread charter schools. Democrats once had a strong pro-education reform contingent that favored charter schools but have in the last five years or so retreated into the open arms of teachers unions who oppose charter schools. There is no disputing that political expediency on both sides has created something of a vacuum in support for public charters, but out of this vacuum emerges a powerful force: parents.

Consider the words of Jasmine Morrison, the director of Parent Engagement at the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association and leader of the parents’ charter school advocacy Unapologetic Parent coalition. She spoke at the NAPCS’ webinar launch of its report. According to Morrison, what policy makers who routinely oppose public charters are missing is that the pandemic gave parents a lens into their children’s lives like they’d never had before. They peered over little shoulders during remote learning sessions to observe curricula, teaching methodology, and classroom management. They also had an unprecedented opportunity to observe their child’s behavior as a student—not as a procrastinating or recalcitrant homework-hater, but as a real-time student. They observed how motivated or unengaged, how enthusiastic or bored their children were in class for significant periods of time. The parents of 237,311 did not like what they saw, so they voted with their feet and bumped charter school enrollment nationwide by 7 percent in a single school year, double from the previous year.

Morrison says that’s a big deal because it’s no easy feat to change a child’s school. Birth certificates, school records, proof of residency, and vaccine records have to be gathered—and had to be submitted and verified at a time when the world was shuttered. But for parents who saw their kids blossom—or “do a happy dance,” as she described it, because they achieved success during class—the effort was well worth it. Parents in her network have lauded their new schools for being nimbler and better equipped to meet the moment than district schools encumbered by top-down bureaucracy and union rules.

“People were dissatisfied with the first round of school closures,” Morrison says, “and while parents don’t know off the bat if their new charter school is union or nonunion, they know something is different whether it’s the environment, the school culture, the amount of teacher contact, or resources like after-school activities and tutoring, or just finding the best fit for their child’s development.”

Naomi Shelton, CEO of the National Charter Collaborative, which provides support for minority charter school leaders, also participated in the report’s launch. Shelton says that when parents like what’s happening in their child’s public charter school, policy makers need to be responsive and support the expansion of grade ranges or seats as needed.

Both agree that parental voices need to be amplified by the community that advocates for charter schools. Shelton points to the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, which is engaged in direct advocacy, or the Powerful Parents Network, a nationwide organization that advocates for school choice and which drew headlines for confronting Democratic presidential candidates on the issue at primary debates in 2019 and 2020. 

The NAPCS report paints a picture, as Shelton put it, of the “radical reckoning” that happened during the pandemic—a reckoning that should prompt policy makers to rethink fossilized opposition. 

The dramatic exodus of families from traditional public schools to charter schools—the highest enrollment growth since 2014—presents the perfect opportunity to engage in what Adam Grant, author of Think Again, calls the “critical art of rethinking.” America’s industrial-era education systems, heavily dependent on centralized school districts, can no longer be the default in our new reality. Autonomous schools like the nation’s more than 7,500 tuition-free public charters, which serve mostly low-income minority students, must be embraced as part of the solution—and not just by parents dealing with a political education vacuum.

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