October 9, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 PM


Trump's Focus on the Past Leaves Republicans Without a Future (Francis Wilkinson, October 9, 2020, Bloomberg View)

When the coherent half of the Republican ticket participated in the vice presidential debate this week, it was an opportunity for viewers to learn what the future holds. Yes, Vice President Mike Pence may be a talking-point machine, but to a debate audience that's a more useful device than a random-lie generator. You can learn things from talking points.

There's only one problem: Republicans have no points to talk about. If elections are about the future, the GOP plans are the blank piece of paper to which President Donald Trump affixed his signature in his Covid photo-op at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The Republican Party attracted a lot of attention, most of it bad, when it declined to produce a platform at its convention in August. In lieu of an explanation of its positions, it issued a short proclamation whining about the news media conspiring with Joe Biden and being mean. Less noticed is that the Trump campaign website offers no better guidance. The future doesn't exist there, either.

We obviously can't rule out the possibility that the GOP will choose not to have a future, that it will stick to the old white make grievance politics of Donald.  In such a case, demographics takes care of the rest.  

There is also a possibility, maybe even a likelihood, that we are head for a few wilderness years.  Ego and bankruptcy could give us a separate Trump party, allied with the ONAN network and publications like The Federal, First Things, etc., and dedicated to nothing but the Identitarian causes of the Right.  This would peel off a third of the Republican Party which would then be forced to modernize.

But if the Party stays relatively whole and chooses to reform, there really isn't any question about its future: it will return to compassionate conservatism, the Third Way of the right.  This would involve a panoply of market-oriented reforms of the welfare state: school choice; personal retirement accounts; universal HSAs; etc. It would also look to restore the free flow of goods and peoples.  It would put America back on the side of democracy and the oppressed in the Arab World, China, etc. It could also propose more fundamental reforms like strengthening federalism on issues like abortion, sexuality, drugs, and the like.  And envision weakening the Executive by constraining the Administrative State and limiting executive orders and such.  These latter ideas would mesh well with the potential rulings of the Court and offer a clear path forward should the Justices start scaling back the "rights" their predecessors invented.  This emphasis on free markets, self-determination, personal responsibility and republicanism is not just comfortable territory for the party historically, it affords a way to start bringing the naturally conservative members of other cohorts across the aisle.  Right now, there is no way a self-respecting black, Muslim, Asian, Latino, female, etc. can vote for Donald, but polling consistently shows that none of those groups are actually monolithic in their policy views.  Welcome them and let the ideas do your sales job and the party would become competitive again in short order.  

Posted by orrinj at 6:27 PM


Newt Gingrich and Our Hyperpartisan Moment: a review of Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party by Julian E. Zelizer (Michael Kimmage, 08 Oct 2020, American Purpose)

In Burning Down the House, Julian Zelizer, a Princeton historian and CNN contributor who writes prolifically on American political history, finds a new solution to an old problem. He explains the extreme partisanship of today's America by chronicling a single moment in the late 1980s, a clash of personalities and political ambitions that "opened up a new period in American politics." Burning Down the House is a brilliant microhistory of a year in the life of the U.S. Congress. It is a snapshot of overlapping transitions--in the media, in political style, in the structure of the Democratic and Republican parties--that document the story of our times. It is too slender and too circumscribed a subject to explain the rise of Trump, however, or to get to the bottom of the Spy vs. Spy acrimony of domestic American politics. It is a piece of a piece of the puzzle.

For Zelizer, the world before the fall was that of the midcentury United States. It corresponds to Washington in the "committee era" of congressional history, which ran from the 1930s to the 1960s. The decades between the Great Depression and the Vietnam War witnessed lots of political tumult, but within the halls of Congress there was a baseline consensus on how business was to be conducted. Committees could expect a degree of bipartisan compromise. The press was held at a certain distance, and seniority within Congress was a crucial commodity, keeping in check the ambition and fire of youth. Zelizer does not celebrate all of this. Congress in the committee era could be clubby and insular; it could be backwards-looking. Its value was that it could legislate, which it did on civil rights and many other issues.

In Zelizer's irony-filled telling of the tale, key transitions took place in the 1970s. Investigative journalism brought down President Nixon, releasing a wave of reform sentiment in Congress. The "Watergate babies," who were elected to Congress in 1974, were eager to tighten the rules on ethical conduct. This they did up to a point, without eliminating "the nexus between money and politics" that in fact grew stronger in the 1970s. Private money in politics, lobbying, and the burdensome costs of campaigning created incentives for members of Congress to bend the rules. At the same time, an emboldened news media was hungry for shocking revelations and front-page scandals. In the 1980s, they would not be disappointed: They feasted on a steady diet of information that might previously have been kept behind closed doors.

National politics was more paradoxical than polarized in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won the White House as a conservative. He admired Franklin Delano Roosevelt--yet wanted to retire the New Deal, convinced that the free market needed to be unleashed. By contrast, the House of Representatives was "the last bastion for the liberalism that Democrats had championed since FDR," Zelizer notes. Democrats had had the upper hand in Congress since 1954, the year Senator Joseph McCarthy went down in flames. Whereas Reagan promised a break with the past, the House of Representatives was the guardian of New Deal tradition, and it could do a great deal to slow Reagan down. A clash was bound to come.

The Republican dog caught two cars between 1988 and 1994 and didn't really know what to do with either.  First, Ronald Reagan toppled the Soviet Union and with the end of the Cold War, the glue that held various factions on the right together disappeared, along with one of the big substantive issues that had separated right and left. Second, the GOP took the House, which had been considered unachievable for decades and found itself forced to actually govern, which meant effectively jettisoning six decades of opposition to a welfare state that voters had come to depend on.  Meanwhile, the Democrats had stolen a march and arrived at the Third Way first, so you had Bill Clinton who was free of the taint of foreign policy anti-Americanism and who was eager to put said welfare state on a more stable--capitalist--footing.  Indeed, Clinton and company were prepared to embrace free markets on nearly all economic questions.  So the GOP and the Democrats found themselves meeting in the middle--where the polities of the English-speaking world had already arrived. This led to a uniquely fruitful bipartisan legislative epoch and, not coincidentally, explosive economic growth and budget balancing.

But with nearly no significant issues to separate the parties anymore, folks began to grasp on to the mere fact of their party affiliation and opposition to the 'other" party as the cause to which their lives were dedicated.  After all, the only difference between Newt and Bill was the "R" or "D" after their names.  Ever since, our national elections are won by whichever candidate is most closely identified with the Third Way, irrespective of party.  But the wings of the two parties then work themselves up into frenzies of hatred against their own leaders precisely because they could lead the other party with so few adjustments.  

As in all things, Donald is sui generis in this regard.  Despite being rejected by the great majority of the GOP in the primaries and losing to Hillary in the general, precisely because he ran on an old ideology--racism--he managed to take office and empower the Right.  Democrats, stunned by their failure in 2016, happily punted on Progressivism and nominated Uncle Joe, who would have been right at home in the 80s GOP.

We are left with a Right whose experiment in governing crashed and burned around their ears and a Left who thought their time had come, only to discover that a Democratic Party made up of everyone but old white men is rather conservative.  So we have hysterical hyperpartisanship between the wings of the parties at a time when there is overwhelming consensus among the electorate on nearly every major issue.  

All this presents Joe Biden with the opportunity that Florida denied W, to not just govern from the middle but to be seen to do so. He could easily co-opt Republicans by including a few in his cabinet and reaching out to Ben Sasse and any other willing Senators to see if they would be willing to work on a set of institutional/governmental reforms and to try and get them to participate in legislating, rather than just retreating to the McConnell obstruction model. The enire party might still vote against something like an Obamacare improvement bill, but by including a few ideas that are precious to reform-minded conservatives he could show himself to be governed by more than mere partisanship abn=nd perhaps get them to turn down their temperature too.   

Posted by orrinj at 6:16 PM


The Stones of Lewis, Portals in Time (Hugh Raffles, 10/09/20, The New Yorker)

Lewis is a small place, but its story is immense. Four hundred and forty thousand years ago, ice, in places almost a half-mile thick, covered this land, turning the Outer Hebrides into something like northern Greenland today. The ice flowed east across the Minch to Scotland and back again; it flowed west into the ocean as far as St. Kilda, more than forty miles offshore. It transfigured the islands, scouring and splitting the bedrock, gouging out valleys and hills, advancing and retreating until the onset of warmer temperatures and heavy rains around 7000 BCE. The landscape it left was ragged and dramatic: roches moutonnées, whalebacks, crag-and-tail ridges, and frost-shattered pinnacles; giant erratics and smaller boulders dropped far from their origins; the desolate cnoc-and-lochan moors that trap the northern sun in countless pools like a splintered mirror.

As the ice ages melted away, the peat bog that now blankets much of Lewis began to grow. That peat, formed mostly from sphagnum moss and heather buried and compacted in acidic, waterlogged soils above the impermeable glacial till, was once the sole fuel for the island's crofters; and even today, it's cut and stacked to dry in dark, cairnlike piles. The peat here can be four thousand years old and deep enough to disguise or entirely cover ancient monuments. And below it, below the glacial till, is the bedrock, Lewisian gneiss, close to three billion years old, among the oldest rock on the planet, rock that started life as churning magma dozens of miles underground in the Earth's mantle, cooling, solidifying, and crystallizing into igneous granites, granodiorites, tonalites, basalts, and gabbros, then buried, reheated, sheared, and recrystallized, crushed, twisted, stretched, pressed, and folded in at least two major metamorphic, mountain-building events occurring over the next 1.5 billion years--warped and recast in such tortured ways that their original features, the defining traits of the protoliths of these islands, were thoroughly erased.

Lewisian gneiss, in the words of the archaeologist Colin Richards, is "rock that once seen and handled is never forgotten." Returning from Calanais one summer afternoon, I picked up two unassuming, hand-sized blocks on a jagged hillside littered with glacial debris as if from the aftermath of a planetary collision. As I write, they sit before me on the table: rough, coarse-grained granitic rocks, one with thick, confused layers of pale pink, the other larger, darker, "houndstooth stone" Seamus Heaney might have called it, implacable and exacting, he might have said, stippled black and gray matrix, thin parallel pink veins. One billion years ago, following millennia of uplift and erosion, the gneiss breached the surface with its psychedelic ripples and baroque bands--the gray and pink of quartz, feldspar, and granite; the dark green and black of hornblende and biotite mica. Resting on the sidelines in the Hebridean terrane, a foreland of the North American craton Laurentia on the margins of the long-closed, ancient Iapetus Ocean, it escaped the tectonic drama of the Caledonian orogeny, and so preserved the evidence of far older geological events.

The most solid of rocks, they're heavy; wary of dropping them, I hold them tight and think of them traveling through the frozen earth, the floating earth, the molten earth, the places they've been, the life they've seen, two-thirds of the way back to the beginning of the planet, far beyond the Ordovician with its horseshoe crabs, its cartilaginous fish, and its marine mass extinctions; far beyond the Cambrian with its trilobites, its brand-new chordates, and its paradigm-confounding explosion of multicellular organisms, the first eukaryotic cells, and the build-up of atmospheric oxygen; back beyond the Proterozoic and into the Archaean, the formation of the first bacteria and the first continental plates, an unsettled, still-cooling planet taking shape beneath an ammonia-and-methane-filled atmosphere; stopping just short of the lip of emptiness, the cusp of what geologists imagine as a liquid surface of swirling gas, brimstone, and fire, the hellish Hadean.

The A859 road to Calanais follows the stream of the Black River through northern Lewis, keeping close to what was probably the main land route to the monument in Neolithic times.

Approaching from the east, a succession of circles is silhouetted starkly against the sky on hilltops and outcroppings above the valley. Colin Richards and his team walked this and a second route to the principal monument at Calanais. It was as if they were moving through "a process of unwrapping," a theatrically structured and choreographed journey in which concealment progressively gives way to unveiling as the protected central space is neared. Richards and his colleagues decided that the sites they passed were something like movie flats, simulacra of monuments--circles flattened into ellipses to increase the visual impact from below, slabs selected for their prominent veins of reflective quartz and positioned to catch the sun, large stones propped up with blocks rather than mounted in sockets--quick, jerry-built structures in an architecture of deception and illusion.

By contrast, ever since the arrival of the writer Martin Martin in 1696, visitors have recognized that the central monument and its satellites were built to last. Martin, a native of nearby Skye, traveled to Lewis at the behest of the antiquarian, collector, and founding benefactor of the British Museum, Hans Sloane, then secretary of the Royal Society. A speaker of Gaelic, graduate of Edinburgh University, and tutor to chiefs of the Highland clans, Martin could move between two elites--the ideal envoy to a region that was as remote, primitive, and exotic to most Scots as it was to the London literati. Calanais, he reported, was "a place appointed for worship in the time of heathenism" where "the chief druid or priest stood near the big stone in the center, from whence he addressed himself to the people that surrounded him." Set high on its broad ridge, the site had an unusual cruciform layout. An imposing avenue leads to a small circle dominated by a giant monolith nearly fifteen feet tall; additional, shorter avenues reach out from either side, and, to the south, a single line of stones once stretched all the way to Cnoc an Tursa, a large outcrop of Lewisian gneiss, the rocky crag a hundred feet above sea level that I used to climb from Franki's house.

Posted by orrinj at 1:39 PM


Man charged in plot to kidnap Whitmer shared stage with West Michigan sheriff at rally (Aaron Parseghian, Oct 08, 2020, Fox 17)

William Null was spotted on stage standing alongside Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, a guest speaker at the event.

FOX 17 spoke with Sheriff Leaf Thursday night.

"I haven't read everything up on it, I've got other duties to do, it wasn't our investigation. I was shocked, did not see this coming with those guys, but still we can't convict them in the media here, they do have a right to a fair trial," Leaf said.

Leaf says he doesn't know of Null's alleged involvement in the plot and doesn't have any regrets about being on stage with him.

"Do you have any regrets about being on stage, sharing a stage with a guy who's now being charged in a plot to kidnap the governor?" asked FOX 17's Aaron Parseghian.

"It's just a charge, and they say a 'plot to kidnap' and you got to remember that. Are they trying to kidnap? Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt? Because you can still in Michigan if it's a felony, make a felony arrest," Leaf said.

Barry County sheriff raises fraud concerns after ballot application sent to wrong address (Michael Krafcik, 6/09/20, Newschannel 3)

Michigan's absentee voting push won't cause mass election fraud, election experts said, but that didn't stop the Barry County sheriff from voicing his concern about the possibility.

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf claimed in a Facebook post that absentee ballot applications sent to the wrong address could lead to voter fraud.

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Trump under investigation for improperly inflating value of land deal that got him a $21 million tax break  (Sky Palma , 10/09/20, rAW sTORY)

According to a new report from the Washington Post, a promise Donald Trump made 5 years ago to preserve the forest around his luxurious mansion in Westchester County, New York, got him a $21.1 million tax break. Now, an investigation is underway to determine if he inflated the value of the land.

"The size of Trump's tax windfall was set by a 2016 appraisal that valued Seven Springs at $56.5 million -- more than double the value assessed by the three Westchester county towns that each contained a piece of the property," the Post reports. "The valuation has now become a focal point of what could be one of the most consequential investigations facing President Trump as he heads into the election."

Posted by orrinj at 1:17 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:05 PM


Militia tied to plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer was removed from Facebook in boogaloo purge (Taylor Hatmaker, 10/08/20, Tech Crunch)

Whitmer, a Democrat, became a major target of pervasive anti-lockdown sentiment on the political right earlier this year when states imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. According to the affidavit, at a June in-person meeting, members of the group "talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor." Thirteen people have been charged in relation to the kidnapping plot.

The group grew its numbers after contacting a Michigan-based militia known as the Wolverine Watchmen that shared overlapping interests. While it was not named at the time, Facebook  removed the Wolverine Watchmen group from its platform in June when it purged a number of groups connected to the anti-government boogaloo movement. Wolverine Watchmen recruited on Facebook for seven months, from November of last year until June. [...]

Adam Fox, one of the group's alleged organizers, live-streamed to a private Facebook group earlier this year, complaining that Michigan's restrictions were keeping gyms closed. In the video, Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as "this tyrant bitch," and stated, "I don't know, boys, we gotta do something."

In April, Trump cheered on protests against those measures in Virginia, Minnesota and Michigan, three states with Democratic governors. Many of these early events were organized on Facebook, but anti-Whitmer sentiment quickly became ubiquitous on the right across social networks and traditional media.

By July, the group considered attacking a Michigan State Police location but landed on abducting Whitmer from her private vacation home or governor's summer residence. The same day that decision was made, Fox wrote on a private Facebook page "We about to be busy ladies and gentlemen . . . This is where the Patriot shows up. Sacrifices his time, money, blood sweat and tears . . . it starts now so get [******] prepared!!"

The group alternated between planning to kidnap Whitmer for a private "trial" and killing her on sight. Over the course of the coming months, they conducted surveillance of Whitmer's vacation home, collected supplies and planned detailed logistics for the kidnapping plot, including the idea of blowing up a nearby bridge to divert police attention. The group discussed those detailed plans in an encrypted chat.

It is the consistency with which the Trumpbots always rave about the same targets--women, Muslims, blacks, Jews, etc.--that binds them. 
Posted by orrinj at 8:33 AM


Trump steel tariffs bring job losses to swing state Michigan (Rajesh Kumar Singh, 10/09/20, Reuters)

Four years later, Great Lakes Works - once among the state's largest steel plants - has shut down steelmaking operations and put 1,250 workers out of a job. A year before the June layoffs, plant owner United States Steel Corp called off a plan to invest $600 million in upgrades amid deteriorating market conditions.

Trump's strategy centered on shielding U.S. steel mills from foreign competition with a 25% tariff imposed in March 2018. He also promised to boost steel demand through major investments in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

But higher steel prices resulting from the tariffs dented demand from the Michigan-based U.S. auto industry and other steel consumers. And the Trump administration has never followed through on an infrastructure plan.

Posted by orrinj at 8:20 AM


A Rising Orthodox Populist Is Leading A Violent Campaign Of COVID Denial In Borough Park (JAKE OFFENHARTZ, OCT. 8, 2020, The Gothamist)

Harold "Heshy" Tischler strolled onto 13th Avenue in Borough Park at 9 p.m. Wednesday night, bare-faced and hoarse from days of screaming, and into the arms of an adoring crowd. Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators chanted his name, waving Trump and Thin Blue Lines flags as they jockeyed for a chance to meet the brash right-wing radio host leading the campaign to stop the new COVID-19 lockdown measures.

"We are at war!" Tischler shouted to the crowd of protesters. "You are my soldiers!"

An hour later, Tischler directed an angry mob of young Hasidic men as they surrounded and attacked Jacob Kornbluh, a veteran reporter with Jewish Insider. At Tischler's urging, the group hissed and spit at Kornbluh, labeling him a Nazi and a "moser" -- a term for a Jewish person who informs on their own community.

As NYPD officers attempted to extract Kornbluh from the ugly scene, the group pinned their target against a wall, lunging and kicking at him.

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What the next president has to gain from opening the US borders (Annalisa Merelli, 10/09/20, Quartz)

"Having expanded immigration relative to where the US is now, or even relative to where the US was in 2016, almost certainly has major advantages," says Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard University and at the libertarian think-thank Cato Institute.

Expanding immigration, Miron says, benefits the US economy--and it would any economy. New immigrants compete with natives or previous immigrants, bringing in new ideas and skills, and broadening the talent pool for employers. This happens whether the immigrants hold advanced degrees--the kind that would come into the US with an H1B visa to work in tech, or other specialized field--or if they provide unskilled labor, such as seasonal agriculture workers.

"There's tons of evidence that expanded immigration contributes to innovation and dynamism in an economy, because the new people coming in have new ideas and new ways of doing things, and because they help generate more competition," Miron says.

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How down-ballot candidates could help Democrats flip Texas: The fate of the presidential race in Texas could be tied to dozens of legislative and congressional races in the state's suburbs. Those seats have often gone to Republicans. But Democratic candidates are raising and spending big. (ABBY LIVINGSTON, OCT. 8, 2020, Texas Tribune)

Members of the state Democratic Party first noticed changes on election night in 2016. While Democrats across the country were inconsolable over Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump, the Texas Democratic Party's then-executive director, Crystal Kay Perkins, left her election night party with a sense of optimism.

"We won four state House seats," she said that night, also ticking off obscure victories like school board wins in small cities.

Within weeks, it became clear that while Trump won the state, the Republicans lost ground in several suburban areas. Those margins gave Texas Democrats a playbook for the next four years: a greater focus on candidates for state legislative races, municipal campaigns and community college and school board contests. In 2018, they made inroads with gains in the state House and Congress, though nothing quite as flashy as a statewide victory.

Rebecca Acuña, the lead Biden staffer in Texas and a veteran of several Texas political showdowns, credits Democratic operatives and politicians who kept going through the party's years in the wilderness.

"We have been through hell and back in the past decade, but all the while focused on building the infrastructure at the Texas Democratic Party necessary to meet this very moment," said Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party.

That strategy has continued in 2020, where Democrats have a chance of flipping the state House and winning more congressional seats. A slew of candidates are running in and around all of Texas' big cities, in seats that were never intended to be competitive when the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature redrew congressional and legislative districts in 2012.

But in those eight years, millions of people moved to Texas; and Republicans have witnessed a collapse among college-educated voters and increasingly diversifying suburbs.

And with more national and local money pouring into those down-ballot races, political experts say that could have a major effect upstream on the ballot.

"Normally, House and down-ballot candidates are desperate for presidential investment," said Amy Walter, a political analyst at the Cook Political Report. "In this case, I think that all the money being poured into suburban [congressional districts] and battleground state [legislative] districts could help boost Biden."

Posted by orrinj at 7:30 AM


Not objects but presences: Considering the poems and achievements of Louise Glück, this year's winner of the Nobel prize in Literature (Beverley Bie Brahic, 10/09/20, TLS)

Glück has an "unmistakable poetic voice ... with austere beauty", the Nobel Committee writes in its announcement of this year's literature prize; few critics, I think, would argue with that, not even Glück herself, a poet famously chary of adjectives who in the course of publishing her twelve collections has not only found her own voice but also repeatedly broadened its reach and timbre. Her work, courageous in its exposure of socially unacceptable emotions, has long captivated American readers, much like that of other New England poets with Puritan sensibilities such as Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. Her place in American poetry owes much to the rightness - that is, the succinct plainness - of her language, which she has willingly used to wrest meaning from painful subjects.

Posted by orrinj at 7:18 AM


MAGA-Crazy Retirement Village Now Fears COVID--and Pence (Francisco Alvarado & Kelly Weill, Oct. 09, 2020, Daily Beast)

"The virus was a hoax here until Trump got it," Chris Stanley, president of The Villages Democratic Club, said of the MAGA crowd's attitude. "The other night they did a prayer vigil and for the first time, they posted in a big font, 'You must wear a mask.' I looked on the webcam and didn't see many wearing masks, but they now seem to be accepting this is not a Democrat hoax at all."

Marissa Levine, an infectious disease expert at the University of South Florida, said it was on elected officials to demonstrate safe habits. That category does not include campaign rallies among vulnerable communities when you have recently been proximal to a possible superspreader event.

"It is really important for leaders to role-model the behaviors that are being recommended from a public health point of view," Levine told The Daily Beast. "In effect, they are flouting the CDC guidelines."

People exposed to COVID-19 should comply with adequate testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures, especially when preparing to meet with senior citizens, Levine said. "In an area where there are individuals, based on age alone, at higher risk for complication and death, that seems like a concerning thing to do," she said of a Pence Villages visit.

Sumter County, where a majority of the sprawling housing development is located, has reported a total of 2,593 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. Two hundred and sixty people have been hospitalized and 75 have died--a mortality rate of 3 percent of all positive cases, which is 1 percentage point higher than the statewide average for deaths, according to the latest update from the Florida Department of Health.

Over the past week, Sumter County has experienced some of the highest daily positivity rates in the state. On Sept. 30, the daily positivity rate was 21.86 percent. Then it dropped below 10 percent for six consecutive days. But on Oct. 7, the daily positivity rate sprang up to 15.3 percent. The daily case count jumped from just 14 on Tuesday to 98 on Wednesday.

Posted by orrinj at 7:12 AM


Biden maintains lead over Trump; most voters are certain about their choice

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PODCAST: Free Exchange: Johan Norberg on the importance of being open (John Ashmore, 10/09/20, Cap X)

In his latest book the Swedish historian Johan Norberg argues that that every truly successful civilisation is defined by one key ingredient - openness. To new ideas, new people and new technology.

At a time when much of that life-enhancing, economy-expanding openness seems under threat from pandemic panic and populist demagoguery, his optimistic message feels particularly urgent.

Our editor John Ashmore sat down with Johan for to discuss his new book, Open:The Story of Human Progress, and what the pandemic means for the future of trade, innovation and human flourishing.

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UN World Food Program wins Nobel Peace Prize (KARL RITTER and FRANK JORDANS, 10/09/20,  Associated Press

The United Nations' World Food Program on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity in regions of conflict and hardship around the globe.

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Scoop: Barr tells Republicans Durham report won't be ready by election (Alayna Treene, 10/09/20)

 Republicans had long hoped the report, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, would be a bombshell containing revelations about what they allege were serious abuses by the Obama administration and intelligence community probing for connections between President Trump and Russia.

"This is the nightmare scenario. Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn't happen before the election," a GOP congressional aide told Axios.

Barr has made clear that they should not expect any further indictments or a comprehensive report before Nov. 3, our sources say.

The Justice Department declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Posted by orrinj at 6:50 AM


This game-changing solar company recycles old panels into new ones (ADELE PETERS, 10/09/20, Co.Exist)

At a recycling plant in Ohio, next to the company's manufacturing facility, First Solar uses custom technology to disassemble and recycle old panels, recovering 90% of the materials inside. It runs similar recycling systems in Germany and Malaysia. Right now, the holistic lifecycle approach isn't common among other solar producers. But Wade says that now is the time to think about the problem. "Our aim for solar is to help our customers decouple their economic growth from negative environmental impacts," he says. "So it is kind of a mandatory point for us to address the renewable-energy-circular-economy nexus today and not 20 years from now."

Posted by orrinj at 6:46 AM


This Company's Simple Blood Tests Could Reimagine Telemedicine (LEIGH BUCHANAN, 10/09/20, INC. MAGAZINE)

The pandemic's acceleration of interest in telemedicine should significantly increase demand. The U.S. telemedicine market is expected to approach $10 billion this year, with 76 percent of hospitals providing some services remotely, according to the research firm Arizton.

The keystone of Tasso's system, called OnDemand, is a big red button, reminiscent of the one labeled "EASY" that Staples made ubiquitous more than a decade ago. A patient places the button--made of injection molded plastic--on her upper arm, an area most people find less sensitive than others to pain. (Fingertips, by contrast, are very sensitive. Think paper cuts.) She clicks the button, releasing a tiny lancet, which needs only reach the capillary network right under the surface of the skin. "The needle doesn't go in very deep at all, so it doesn't even get to the nerves," Casavant says. "And because it all happens so fast you hardly feel anything."

The patient removes and caps the blood-collection tube and sends it to the lab in pre-paid packaging provided by Tasso. The tubes are designed to fit directly into standard blood-analysis machines, so results are fast. Tasso also provides a logistics service, managing all the shipping for its lab and hospital clients.

Posted by orrinj at 6:42 AM


Virgin Hyperloop Announces the Winner Of Its Big New Test Site (Sissi Cao, 10/08/20, NY Observer)

The idea was first pioneered by Elon Musk in the early 2010s. In 2014, venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar founded Hyperloop One with the goal to bring Musk's idea to life. Hyperloop One completed its first full-scale test in Nevada in 2017. The same year, the "Virgin" logo was plastered onto the startup, followed by a $50 million investment by Virgin Group and the appointment of Branson as the company's chairman. 

"It could be make a big difference in the future," said Branson.

Multiple hyperloop systems are being developed around the world, including Canada, India and Spain.

Construction of Virgin's West Virginia certification center and test track is set to begin in 2022 on the site of a formal coal mine in the state's Tucker and Grant Counties, the company said. Commercial operations are expected to start by 2030.