January 6, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 12:34 PM


Biden to tap Merrick Garland for attorney general (TYLER PAGER, JOSH GERSTEIN and KYLE CHENEY, 01/06/2021, Politico)

Next, Clarence's seat.

Posted by orrinj at 8:55 AM


Black Violin: Give Thanks (Bob Fish, 1/06/21, spectrum)

Comprising a space incorporating both classical music and hip hop, Black Violin never thought it would take a pandemic to create Give Thanks, but that's what happens when you tour 150 days a year and suddenly find yourselves under quarantine. Despite the circumstances, this collection is unlike virtually any other holiday music you've heard, with violin and viola being the key instruments throughout.

Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste have been playing together for quite a while. For Marcus playing the violin created a certain perception, "I'm a big black dude: six foot two, always been heavyset, and early on I realized that when I would tell people that I play the violin, the perception of who I am, the possibility of what I could be, was altered to them."

When approaching Give Thanks, they reached a decision that the music should be half covers and half originals, with the common element being their violin playing. Yet there is very little traditional about what they have created. "Give Thanks," a traditional-sounding number except for the electronic beats and vocals repeating the song's title, sets the tone and establishes the way Black Violin looks at music. They find a way to blend two divergent musical worlds, allowing them to go back and forth opening the doors between formats that usually tend to exclude rather than being inclusive.

Posted by orrinj at 8:51 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:17 AM


Can Free Community College Unite a Divided U.S.?: The incoming Biden-Harris administration wants to launch a new era in higher education that will make it open to everyone (David Noonan, January 6, 2021, Scientific American)

Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, who has studied and written about the U.S.'s community colleges, spoke with Scientific American about the prospects for a new era in the nation's higher education.

Why do you think the Biden-Harris administration has made community college central to its education plans?

If you look at the Biden platform for changing America, healing America, community colleges line up for a whole variety of reasons. They really are our quintessential institutions for social mobility. They take students from all backgrounds. If you run as Joe Biden did, on a platform of unifying the country, community colleges are an appropriate focus. They appeal to people of all political stripes, I think, because they do play this social mobility role, whereas the elite four-year colleges are seen as kind of gated communities. Community colleges are found in every congressional district, so they're unifying. And Jill Biden has taught in community colleges for years, often teaching remedial classes, so she knows firsthand what community colleges can do.

You've written that community college should be free for all, including those who can afford to pay for it. Why is that important?

As community colleges have increasingly become institutions for less advantaged students, they have become economically segregated and separate from institutions that serve more affluent students. We know that economic segregation in K-12 education is disastrous, and it is also troubling in higher education. You want institutions to educate students from all backgrounds together, in part, because when you have separate institutions for the poor, they tend to be underfunded. And those students are cut off from important networks that are critical to getting jobs. It's important who your classmates are. More than half of all jobs are filled through some sort of a connection. If community colleges are free to everyone, that can provide an incentive for upper-middle-class students to attend, which will enrich the experience for everyone, including low-income and working-class students.

As the Founders said: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

Posted by orrinj at 8:01 AM


Cities want to tear down these urban highways--and Biden can help (ADELE PETERS, 1/06/21, Co.Exist)

When a new elevated highway was built in New Orleans in the 1960s, like other "urban renewal" projects in the U.S., it ripped through a predominantly Black neighborhood that had been thriving. Hundreds of homes were razed. Hundreds of businesses were lost. On Claiborne Avenue, the central boulevard in the neighborhood, hundreds of oak trees were torn out of a wide median that neighbors had used as a park. A coalition of community members now want to take the aging highway down--and it's the type of project that the new administration could help make possible.

"There was a lot of disinvestment after buildings fell into disrepair. We lost a lot of historic building stock in terms of homes and commercial buildings," says Amy Stelly, a designer and planner whose family has lived in the community for generations and who is now part of Claiborne Avenue Alliance, the group pushing to restore the former boulevard. "And it also changed the climate, because we now have cars instead of trees." The now-missing park in the center of the avenue had mitigated the urban heat island, the effect that makes concrete-filled neighborhoods hotter on hot days. The greenery had also helped absorb rainwater in storms. As the new highway physically divided the area and destroyed the neighborhood's economy, it also added pollution: People living nearby have a higher risk of asthma and other diseases.

Cities throughout the country are facing the same challenges--almost always in communities of color--and as roads wear out they now have the choice of repairing highways or completely transforming them. "There are many highways in the United States that are simply underutilized and therefore are ripe targets," says Ben Crowther, who studies urban highway removal at the nonprofit Congress for New Urbanism. The nonprofit publishes biannual reports about which highways should come down first.

Posted by orrinj at 7:54 AM


The right is hooked on a feeling (Bonnie Kristian, January 6, 2021, The Week)

How do President Trump's truest believers explain their certainty he won the 2020 election?

They don't. It doesn't need explanation. They just know it. They feel it. And they have public figures -- pundit and politician alike -- willing to validate those feelings and channel them via political performance art into a perpetual motion machine of grievance, animosity, dreampolitik, and fundraising.

The notion that populist variants of the American right run on feelings more than fact or reason is not new, of course (nor is it a phenomenon exclusive to the right). Stephen Colbert introduced "truthiness" the better part of two decades ago, and President Trump's whole political career is constructed on emotion. Many of his major policy "accomplishments" are barely connected to reality: The wall, what little of it has been built, will have minimal effect on border security. The trade war with China significantly consists of taxes paid by Americans. And Trump's ostensible record of ending "endless wars" includes zero concluded conflicts.

Still, there's a new and remarkable purity of this politics of feeling where the 2020 election is concerned. The conservatives I was raised among saw themselves as the temperate, hardheaded counterweight to illogical, irresponsible "bleeding heart liberals." The right-wing slogan of recent years declared "facts don't care about your feelings." But the conviction that Trump won is wholly felt.

It's why facts don't matter to them. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


With Britain gone, smaller nations are banding together to fight EU integration (William Nattrass, 1/06/21, CapX)

Brexit has broken the EU's equilibrium. Britain was seen as a  vital counterweight to the calls for greater European integration by socially conservative countries like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. With that individualist voice gone, the so-called 'Visegrád Four' have recognised the need to assert themselves - western Europe should be worried.

As the recent rule of Law dispute - which nearly derailed the new EU budget - showed, Poland and Hungary are increasingly determined to pursue domestic cultural agendas regardless of the EU's institutional values. France and Germany may be fast assuming powerful roles as directors of EU economic, cultural and security policy, but that has spurred nations to the east of the bloc, which reject the EU's liberal cultural goals, to band together and make sure their voice is heard in the new order.

Posted by orrinj at 7:32 AM


Impossible Foods cuts prices for foodservice distributors, moving closer to parity with meat (Amelia Lucas, 1/06/20, CNBC)

Impossible Foods is cutting its wholesale prices, drawing it closer to achieving price parity with the meat its products mimic.

On average, U.S. foodservice distributors will pay about 15% less for Impossible's burger and sausage alternatives in the second price drop in a year. International distributors in Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau can also expect to see slashed prices on Impossible products.

Posted by orrinj at 7:14 AM


Georgia's Warnock defeats Loeffler; Democrats close in on Senate majority (ALEXIS SIMENDINGER AND AL WEAVER - 01/06/21, The Hill)

The potential loss for the GOP rocked the party as Republican officials and analysts castigated Trump for his refusal to concede the Nov. 3 election while presenting a muddled, false message to Georgia voters that their participation was part of a rigged electoral process. 

In November, the incumbent Perdue led challenger Ossoff by 88,000 votes only to see that advantage wiped away in Tuesday's runoff following a tumultuous two months and intense campaigning and organizing by Democrats in the now blue-hued state. 

"When the president convinces senators to go along with overthrowing the election results, the upscale white voters in 'burbs don't break your way. And then when he says elections are rigged, so don't bother, the base doesn't show up," one source familiar with the race told the Morning Report. 

Trump's refusal to concede the November result in Georgia, having lost to Biden there by 11,779 votes, also created headaches for the party as they lost a key messaging opportunity. According to a Senate GOP campaign official, the most persuasive message to Republican voters in the Peach State was to return Perdue and Loeffler to Washington to hold the Senate majority as checks on a Democratic executive branch. But Republicans could not sustain that message because Trump will not acknowledge Biden's victory and continues to baselessly lob claims of widespread voter fraud. 


Posted by orrinj at 7:05 AM


Facing Economic Woes, North Korea Admits Failure, Mulls Future (William Gallo, January 06, 2021, VOA)

North Korea has opened a major, multi-day political gathering in the capital, Pyongyang, with leader Kim Jong Un using the forum to acknowledge recent economic failures.

Addressing thousands of tightly packed delegates at an auditorium in Pyongyang, Kim admitted his country had not reached the goals set out in an economic plan for the five-year period that just expired.

"The goals we set were immensely underachieved in almost all areas," Kim said in an opening speech at the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party, according to state media.

The last five years, Kim said, were "unprecedented" and "the worst of the worst" for North Korea. In response, he said the country should "strengthen our own power and our own self-reliant capacity."

Pictures posted by the official Korean Central News Agency showed thousands of participants seated close together in a large hall, with no observable social distancing measures. No one appeared to be wearing masks.