Nel's New Day

February 5, 2023

Balloons Plus More News

The White House didn’t have information about the three suspected Chinese spy balloons during the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) until President Joe Biden took office, and DDT said on Truth Social that these balloons’ transiting the U.S. during his administration were “fake disinformation.” The Pentagon, however, had briefed Congress about these surveillance balloons near Texas and Florida. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) talked about past Chinese balloon surveillance near Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Guam. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had said that Chinese aircraft illegally entering airspace was unprecedented.

After the newest balloon was shot down Saturday, the debris of the one-ton balloon payload spread along seven miles, an excellent reason for waiting until the balloon was over the ocean, not land. Rep. Mike Turner made the balloon into a game when he said that Biden’s shooting down the balloon was “sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over.” Former chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff said risking civilian life by shooting the balloon down over land was not warranted.

With some of the hubbub about the Chinese balloon no longer bearing fruit, Republicans have reverted to attacking social media TikTok for security concerns.

At a tech finance symposium, a member said that war between China and Taiwan would be good for America’s Frontier Fund (AFF), an investment group whose co-founder and CEO sits on both the State Department Foreign Affairs Policy Board and President Joe Biden’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Other venture funds would benefit from the destabilization of the global crisis. AFF has close ties to Peter Thiel, the conservative billionaire who gave millions of dollars to senatorial candidates Blake Masters (AZ) and J.D. Vance (Ohio).

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) hasn’t avoided ridicule after he handed out pins with the image of semi-automatic rifles to any members of the House who would take them. This photo of the terrified Clyde cowering behind law enforcement from people he later called “tourists” disproves his braggadocio. Other photos show him pushing furniture against the door to keep out DDT’s supporters.  

This past weekend, the Democratic party changed the order of primaries, moving South Carolina to first place. In 2023, South Carolina will vote on February 3. New Hampshire and Nevada follow on February 6, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. Iowa, which like New Hampshire votes with a caucus, has been moved out of early primaries. With a state law to be the first primary, including the federal one, New Hampshire is traumatized and vows to hold its primary first, no matter what. In Georgia, GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sets the date, and his office refuses to split the primaries for the two parties. Gov. Brian Kemp also said he won’t support any changes. Michigan’s Democratic legislature and governor have passed a bill to change the state’s primary date, a problem for the GOP.

Among proposals passed at the DNC is one emphasizing the importance of youth voting and youth Democratic engagement. Other resolutions include support for President Joe Biden’s policies on the environment and Ukraine.

Elon Musk’s Tesla raised prices on its Model Y in the U.S. after government made more versions of the car eligible for tax credits. The increase came three weeks after Tesla cut prices for some versions of the Model Y by 20 percent for slumping demand. That cut caused Ford to drop the price of the Mustang Mach-E, but General Motors held firm.

Twitter’s changes continue to upset users, the most recent one the elimination of free API access for third-party developers. The site’s automated accounts will disappear unless the person in charge pays for access and researchers collecting public data from the site will lose the resource. API, application programming interface, allows programs to communicate and connect with each other; therefore developers outside the company can create connecting programs.

API stands for “application programming interface,” and it’s a framework that allows programs to communicate and connect with each other. In the case of a platform like Twitter, or Facebook or YouTube, this means developers outside the company can create programs that connect with the main product. Twitter’s description of its API says developers can use the feature to “moderate conversations for health and safety,” “enable creation and personal expression,” “measure and analyze what’s happening” and more. The latest move again shows Musk’s financial difficulties with Twitter.

Leonard “Raheem” Taylor will be executed this week despite a camera recording showing him 2,000 miles away from the crime and witnesses seeing the victims alive at that time. Police had arrested and harassed Taylor’s brother into implicating Taylor in the crime before he recanted his statements before the 2008 trial, saying that all his statements were “coerced.” Police told the brother if he didn’t say what they wanted that they hurt his disabled mother. A medical examiner changed his time-of-death estimate to support the state’s version of events. Missouri has refused to reopen the case and review the evidence. With all the evidence about Taylor’s innocence, however, a prosecuting attorney claimed no facts “to support a credible claim of innocence” in Taylor’s case.

Florida legislators are returning to the Capitol this week for a special legislative session to remove governing powers from the Walt Disney Company as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ retaliation. Other objectives are fixing legal problems with DeSantis’ new election police force and the migrant transport program.

In 1967, Florida gave control to Disney over the Reedy Creek Improvement District land in and around its central Florida theme parks. Disney criticized DeSantis for his “don’t say gay” bill, and the governor took aim at the corporation. Lawmakers voted to dissolve Reedy Creek in June 2023 but left town without a plan. A serious issue is how to save Orange and Osceola county residents from paying a $1 billion debt. DeSantis has reassured bondholders they won’t have to pay.

Florida legislators will use the special session to consider the transport of migrants from anywhere in the United States, a significant expansion of a program in which DeSantis paid for two flights that carried migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The program stalled after legal challenges over whether the DeSantis administration violated a state law limiting the transport to migrants from only Florida.

Another consideration is giving jurisdiction to the new Office of Elections Crimes and Security prosecutorial power for crimes involving elections. A judge had dismissed a case regarding the arrest of a Miami defendant, ruling that state prosecutors had acted beyond their authority.

Voter fraud isn’t a big deal—if it’s committed by GOP voters. The most recent sentence was for one of four voting cheaters from the large Florida retirement community, The Villages, who were caught in 2021 voting both in Florida and in other states. They and others who committed voting felonies require prison sentences have almost all received probation for pleading guilty. One Ohio double voter got only three days in jail. On the other hand, DeSantis arrested former felons who voted about clerks gave them ballots. Republicans had passed a law saying that they could vote only if they had paid all their fees. 

GOP attorneys general from 20 states are warning CVS and Walgreens not to mail the abortion pill mifepristone into their states. The medication was approved over 20 years ago as a safe and effective method of terminating an early pregnancy. Last month, the drugstores said they are applying for certification with the FDA to dispense the prescription in states where it is legal to do so. Walgreens is waiting for this approval before dispensing the drug. The DOJ has argued that exceptions exist in states with severe restrictions on abortion despite the 1873 law, the Comstock Act, that prohibits sending anything used to terminate a pregnancy through the mail.

Section 1461 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code does not prohibit the mailing of certain drugs that can be used to perform abortions if the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully. Because it blocks the hormone cortisol, mifepristone is also used to treat Cushing’s syndrome and elevated blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as clinical trials for breast cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

GenBioPro, one of the pill’s manufacturers, is suing to overturn West Virginia’s abortion ban with the argument that FDA approval of drugs preempts state law, and a North Carolina physician who prescribes the pill is also suing for its lack of availability because she cannot treat her patients. In Texas, anti-abortion physicians are suing the FDA in federal court to completely pull mifepristone from the U.S. market. The case is before one of DDT’s most conservative, anti-rights Judge Matthew Kaczmaryk. If he removes the medication from the U.S., an appeal goes to the ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court.

The anti-abortion Church at Planned Parenthood, founded by the Covenant Church, has been ordered to pay $960,000, including $850,000 in legal fees for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho after a Spokane judge ruled the group violated with state law by interfering with patient care.

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