LONE STAR — Texas’ Big Political Read — 2.22.21 — Abbott Continues Pushing Freeze Recovery — AOC Raises $2 Million For Texas — More…
Texas’s 2022 Rebound
With Texans thawing out from the history an unexpected freeze that crippled the Lone Star state, Gov. Greg Abbott could come out on top politically, if the recover effort rolls out the way it should.
Gov. Abbott has been criticized by Conservatives for his statewide mandates and closures, but if Abbot plays his cards right with this freeze, and if necessities are met, Abbot may not face a GOP primary challenge and Democrats may not have much of an attack against him next year.
Abbott recently with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan and members of the state legislature to talk about the recent “spike” in energy bills affecting Texans.
“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” said Governor Abbott. “Today’s meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”
AOC Raises $2 million for Texas in under 24 Hours by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey
Federal Support for Texas by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey
Ted Cruz Defends Flight to Mexico Amid Winter Storm by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey
Texas Mayor Tim Boyd: “Only the Strong will Survive” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey
Ted Cruz Wants Congressional Probe Of Cuomo ‘Possibly Criminal’ COVID Nursing Home Scandal by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama
White House Defends VP Harris’ Dubious ‘Starting From Scratch’ COVID Vaccine Claim by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama
O’Rourke Calls on Abbott to Accept Responsibility by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey
lams Biden For Supporting Trump’s Immigration Policies” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – During the 2020 presidential campaing, President Joe Biden (D) made a distinction between himself and President Donald Trump (R) regarding Trump’s immigration policies. In the days leading up to the election, Democrats vowed to undo President Trump’s hardline immigration efforts, but now the Biden administration is receiving criticism from the ACLU over a newly released memo that outlines the DHS’ new immigration plans. Naureen Shah, the senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, released a statement this week concerning a memo on interior enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security. The memo discussed the government policy that will be in effect during the next 90 days, and it addresses the scope of who the Department considers a priority for interior immigration enforcement and deportation. In the statement, Shah expresses that “the memo is a disappointing step backward from the Biden administration’s earlier commitments to fully break from the harmful deportation policies of both the Trump and Obama presidencies.” She added that “while the Biden administration rightly acknowledges that immigrants are our family members, our coworkers, and our neighbors, for now it has chosen to continue giving ICE officers significant discretion to conduct operations that harm our communities and tear families apart.”
“Taylor Greene Urges Supreme Court to Review Loomer’s De-Platforming Case” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) has faced backlash since the beginning of the year because of controversial views shared in the past. She also received criticism from both Republicans and Democrats earlier this year, and few lawmakers stepped forward in showing support. However, Laura Loomer, former Congressional candidate and conservative journalist, expressed her support earlier this year by calling the attacks against her “anti-Jewish.” Now, Rep. Taylor Greene is calling attention to the longtime media ban that has been placed on Loomer, arguing that the Supreme Court should revise the actions taken against Loomer. Loomer, who lost to Florida Rep. Lois Frankel (R) in the 2020 congressional race for 21st district, has also faced heavy criticism for controversial views shared in the past. In showing her support for the embattled lawmaker, Loomer commented earlier this year that Taylor Greene “came to Palm Beach during my campaign to help me, she donated to my campaign, and she has done more to speak out about my De-Platforming than any other member of Congress.” Loomer also pointed out that this includes “the 28 Jewish members of Congress who have never lifted a finger to help me.”
“Republican measure protects against potential mail-in voter fraud, Progressive call it ‘voter suppression’” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The 2020 vote-by-mail fiasco brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic may be stopped dead in it tracks during the 2021 legislative session in Florida with Sen. Dennis Baxley’s SB90 measure. When the pandemic broke out around the country in early 2020, Democratic legislators at both the state and federal level pushed for mail-in ballots to be issue to anyone that requested one, and even those that didn’t. Democrats said that this move would help prevent the spread of the deadly novel virus. The widespread mail-in ballot sending problems were well documented, and Republicans blame the huge influx of unsolicited mail-in ballots that came as the cause for President Trump losing his bid for reelection. Mail-in voting worked in many places, including Florida, but it appears that Republican legislators are being extra cautious in hopes to protect the integrity of the state’s election process. Sen. Baxley’s bill would limit “vote-by-mail application to one election cycle and would require everyone who first signed up for a mail ballot in 2020, to reapply for a ballot in the 2022 election cycle. This is good, no? Not to Progressives who are crying voter suppression. Florida State Senator Lori Berman recently spoke out against SB 90.
“Texas lawmaker explains why he headed to Florida during winter weather crisis” by Click 2 Houston’s Michael Lopardi – A state lawmaker from Fort Bend County is facing questions after leaving town this week while the region battled the effects of the winter weather. State Rep. Gary Gates, a Republican from the Richmond area, said he spent two nights in Florida beginning on Wednesday and returned to Texas on Friday. “I think I was more productive by being there,” Gates said. The cold weather left many in southeast Texas without power or water. Gates said he had good reasons for flying with his wife and three daughters to his cousin’s place in the Orlando area, where temperatures reached into the ’80s on Thursday. “Because of my wife’s illness that she’s had for a couple of weeks and my handicapped daughter with her area of the house being flooded, I was just trying to find some easier accommodations for them and I was trying to find a place where I could continue to work and do the things I needed to do,” Gates said. Approximately 30 percent of his home flooded because of broken pipes, Gates said, and he lost power on Tuesday night. However, he said he was still fielding concerns from his constituents and business.
“Trump to speak at conservative gathering in Florida for first post-White House appearance” by Associated Press – WASHINTON (AP) — Donald Trump will be making his first post-presidential appearance at a conservative gathering in Florida next weekend. Ian Walters, spokesman for the American Conservative Union, confirmed that Trump will be speaking at the group’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28. Trump is expected to use the speech to talk about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative moment, as well as to criticize President Joe Biden’s efforts to undo his immigration policies, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans. CPAC is being held this year in Orlando, Florida, and will feature a slew of former Trump administration officials and others who represent his wing of the GOP, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. Trump has been keeping a relatively low profile since he retired from the White House to Palm Beach, Florida, in January, but reemerged last week to conduct a series of phone-in interviews to commemorate the death of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.
“Former Florida mayor arrested on child pornography charges” by Wink News/AP – A former mayor of a small Florida city has been arrested on child pornography possession and distribution charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said Kevin Hohn, 65, is a former mayor of Brooksville, a city north of Tampa. Federal agents discovered more than 100 images of child pornography on his computer, including some that appeared to have been secretly taken in his home. The criminal complaint says that investigators identified his address as one that distributed child pornography images and a video. On Friday, investigators conducted a search warrant in Hohn’s home and found more than 100 images depicting naked prepubescent and teenage girls. Some of these images appeared to have been secretly shot inside his home. Before he was a city council member and mayor in 2014, Hohn was an Internal Revenue Service agent who investigated money laundering, public corruption and organized crime cases. A recent biography on a local newspaper says he later was a coach for an after-school golf program.
“Florida governor says flags will be flown at half-staff for Rush Limbaugh” by CBS News – In honor of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday he would order flags in Florida to be flown at half-staff when Limbaugh’s body is laid to rest. Limbaugh, a Florida resident, died Wednesday after battling lung cancer. DeSantis called him a friend. It’s not clear when the flags will be lowered, since the funeral plans for Limbaugh have not been announced yet. “When there’s things of this magnitude, once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we’re going to be lowering the flags to half staff,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Palm Beach County. Limbaugh’s death has been widely mourned by conservatives, although critics have highlighted past comments by him that they allege were bigoted and blatantly racist. The governor has previously ordered flags to be at half-staff to honor the deaths of law enforcement officers killed on duty, members of the Navy killed in a mass shooting in Pensacola and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, among others.
“Florida doctor charged with hate crime against Hispanic man” by WSVN/AP – A Florida anesthesiologist has been arrested and charged with a hate crime for assaulting a Hispanic man outside a supermarket, according to news outlets citing police reports. The Miami Herald reports that Dr. Jennifer Susan Wright, 58, of Miami had become enraged after the man asked her in Spanish to keep her distance due to COVID-19 guidelines while waiting in line at a supermarket in Hialeah, a heavily Hispanic suburb of Miami. Wright ignored him, so he repeated it in English. She responded by “mumbling bad words,” the newspaper said, citing an arrest report. Wright then walked up to him in the parking lot and – after he asked her to back up – she hurled racial and other insults at him. The arrest report said Wright also proceeded “to stab the victim’s vehicle with her keys while saying he needed to go back to his country” and punched and kicked the man. Officials said the attack took place Jan. 20, when President Joe Biden took office. Wright has been charged with criminal mischief, tampering with a victim and battery with prejudice, under the state’s hate crime law.
“Florida Man Arrested for Slashing 60-Year-Old Woman’s Face in ‘Unprovoked’ NYC Assault” by NBC New York – A 21-year-old man from Florida was arrested and charged by the New York City Police Department for allegedly attacking a woman in the Bronx this week, officials said Sunday. The attack happened Thursday afternoon in the Van Nest section of the Bronx, according to the NYPD. A 60-year-old woman was walking along E. Tremont Avenue when police say the suspect slashed her in the face with a “sharp cutting instrument.” Authorities say the suspect tapped the woman on the shoulder as she was walking around 4:30 p.m. That’s when she turned to face the man and he allegedly cut her face. The man fled the scene in a gray Honda Civic but was caught by police on Sunday and arrested. The man, from Palm Bay, Florida, faces assault charges. Police describe the assault as unprovoked, noting the suspect “did not make any statements” before the attack. The woman was taken to Jacobi Medical Center for treatment. Police did not release details of her condition.
“State reports 95 additional COVID-19 deaths, including 28 in Northeast Florida” by News4Jax – The Florida Department of Health on Sunday reported 5,065 new cases of the coronavirus and 95 additional deaths related to the virus. Of those deaths, 28 were in Northeast Florida: 14 in Duval County (1,091 total deaths), six in Alachua County (214), three in Putnam County (122), two in Clay County (299), one in St. Johns County (186), one in Columbia County (155) and one in Flagler County (87). The state Department of Health has now reported a total of 1,868,772 COVID-19 cases and 30,434 coronavirus-related deaths since March 2020. Duval County has recorded 87,607 total cases, including 121 cases that were reported Sunday. Meanwhile, the United States neared 500,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 498,000 people in the death have died related to the virus. As of Sunday afternoon, 4,160 people were hospitalized in Florida with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The statewide positivity rate based on Saturday’s testing was 6.32%, the health department said Sunday.
“Florida Fish and Wildlife law enforcement division gets reaccredited” by WCTV Staff – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement has received reaccreditation for the fifth time. The FWC was initially accredited in 2009. According to the press release, state law enforcement accreditation is certified by an independent reviewing authority, the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, and divisions must meet about 240 prescribed standards over a three-year period in order to achieve reaccreditation status. Amid COVID-19 concerns, an accreditation assessment team made up of law enforcement representatives from other accredited Florida law enforcement agencies conducted virtual inspections of the division’s procedures, policies, practices and equipment to determine compliance. Accreditation is voluntary. “The FWC Division of Law Enforcement continues to maintain the highest standards of credibility, effectiveness and professionalism,” FWC executive director, Eric Sutton, said in the release. “Our staff work diligently to uphold these standards each and every day. Reaccreditation by the Commission validates the hard work they do and provides a strong vote of confidence in their ability to protect the public and conserve Florida’s natural resources.”
“Charlie Crist asks DOJ to investigate DeSantis’ pop-up vaccine sites for wealthy Florida neighborhoods” by WFLA 8 – US Representative Charlie Crist announced Sunday he has sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson, asking that the US Department of Justice investigate concerns surrounding Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to establish vaccination sites in wealthy neighborhoods, such as Lakewood Ranch. A release from Crist’s office says DeSantis has established “coronavirus vaccine distribution and administration sites to benefit political allies and donors, over the needs of higher-risk communities and existing county waitlists.” Crist says the governor is prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines for “Republican-leaning communities,” causing him to turn “his back on communities with higher COVID infection and death rates.” Now, Crist is asking that the DOJ investigates if DeSantis’ actions violate federal law, warranting a full federal investigation. “Time and time again, Governor DeSantis has proven he is not up to the task of leading our state out of this pandemic as he continues to play politics with the health and well-being of vulnerable Floridians,” said Crist. “So far, over 30,000 Floridians have died and at least 1.8 million more have gotten sick, with minority communities and seniors hit the hardest. Instead of prioritizing people most at risk, the Governor has chosen – during the worst pandemic in a century – to help out his friends and donors. That is why I’m calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”
“Tampa residents hold protest against proposed Florida legislation to combat violent riots” by WFLA’s Olivia Steen – People hit the streets of Tampa Sunday afternoon to show their disapproval of the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting, and Law Enforcement Protection Act.” It’s a bill that would crack down on violent demonstrations and attacks on police officers. “It’s just a blatant attack to us,” said Will Blake, who is with the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee. Governor Ron DeSantis presented HB 1, or the “Anti-Mob” legislation, back in September after Black Lives Matter protests broke out across Florida, the national, and the world. DeSantis said the intent of the bill is to add more severe penalties on people who commit crimes during protests. “The rioting and the disorder is wrong. We’re not going to tolerate it in Florida,” DeSantis said. But these protesters don’t believe that’s the true nature of the legislation. “There’s no legal ramifications for people who hit protesters. It’s a felony to walk in the streets,” Blake said. The bill also states it’ll prohibit state grants or aid to any local government that “defunds the police” or slashes any of the budgets for law enforcement services. Florida Democrats, like Representative Anna Eskamani, question if these laws would be enforced fairly.
“Biden’s first month was a ‘honeymoon,’ but bigger challenges loom ahead” by Reuters’ Trevor Hunnicutt – One month into the job, President Joe Biden is on the cusp of securing a bigger economic rescue package than during the 2009 financial crisis. He has wiped out his predecessor Donald Trump’s policies from climate change to travel bans, while the U.S. daily COVID-19 vaccine distribution rate grew 55%. That may have been the easy part. The White House’s broad strategy – avoid unwinnable political fights, focus on policies with mass voter appeal, and mostly ignore Republican attacks – will be increasingly difficult in the months ahead, Democrats and Republicans say, even as millions more are vaccinated and the economy rebounds. “They’ve got some problems right around the corner,” said Jim Manley, once a top aide to former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Biden has made many of the changes he has clear authority to do by executive action. Landmines going forward include pushing laws on which the Democratic Party is divided, such as college debt relief, tax hikes and curbs on the energy industry. Then there are the intractable policy fights that have defined American politics for a generation, including who can become a citizen, how easy it should be to vote, whether the government should pay for healthcare, and who should carry a gun.
“Big U.S. companies slash donations to politicians after Trump election challenge” by Reuters Staff – Ten U.S. corporations slashed donations to candidates seeking federal office by more than 90% in January, after pledging to cut off giving to the Republicans who supported former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat. None of the political action committees of 10 major companies reviewed by Reuters, including Microsoft Corp, Walmart Inc, AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp, donated to any of the 147 congressional Republicans who voted to support Trump’s claims just hours after his supporters launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Disclosures to the Federal Election Commission ahead of a Saturday filing deadline showed the group of corporate PACs affiliated with those 10 companies made $13,000 in new donations to candidates in January. The reports were the first by the PACs to detail contributions made since the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The money donated during the month was less than one-tenth the roughly $190,000 the 10 company PACs gave candidates in January 2017, and tiny relative to the roughly $10 million donated to candidates during the 2019-2020 election season. The 147 lawmakers who voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory had received more than $2 million from those 10 PACs during the last two-year political cycle.
“Republican former Senator Bob Dole gets visit from Biden after cancer diagnosis” by Reuters Staff – U.S. President Joe Biden visited former Senator Bob Dole on Saturday, the White House said, two days after the Kansas Republican announced that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. “He’s doing well,” Biden told reporters later on Saturday as he emerged from a church service. Prior to that, Biden paid a visit to the Watergate complex in Washington where the 97-year-old Dole lives. Dole, who lost the 1996 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton, announced his cancer diagnosis on Thursday and said he would undergo treatment beginning next week. Known for his quick, searing wit and legislative skills, Dole had a long career in the U.S. Congress that included two stints as Senate majority leader. In the early 1980s he chaired the Senate Finance Committee, which helps guide U.S. tax, trade and health policy. He was President Gerald Ford’s running mate in the 1976 election that was won by Democrat Jimmy Carter. Dole ran for the Republican presidential nomination three times, losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1988 before getting the party’s nod in 1996. He was soundly defeated in the presidential election later that year by Clinton.
“Rep. Scalise: Don’t pinpoint blame on Trump” by Politico’s Jesse Naranjo – House Minority Whip Steve Scalise on Sunday continued to spread the blame for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, while stating both that former President Donald Trump condemned the violence and that Democrats did not adequately denounce unrelated violence during last summer’s racial justice protests. “Surely, there’s a lot of blame to go around,” Scalise (R-La.) said on ABC’s “This Week.”
The lawmaker also made it clear he didn’t appreciate efforts to continue to pin blame for the insurrection on the former president. “President Trump has denounced what happened, and I think everyone should have been unequivocal in their denouncing of what happened, not only on Jan. 6 but during the summer when they were burning down cities,” Scalise said. “You saw the left denouncing Jan. 6, as we did. They didn’t denounce what happened during the summer,” he alleged. “So let’s be across the board and say anybody who resorts to violence to settle political disputes, there’s no place for that in America and it should be disputed unequivocally.” Scalise’s claims came in response to questioning from host Jon Karl about the Republican whip’s visit this weekend with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Karl asked whether Scalise accepted Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election as legitimate. The former president repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the election, claiming without evidence that there was widespread fraud that led to his defeat.
“Dems prepare for party-line House vote on Biden’s pandemic aid bill” by Politico’s Caitlin Emma – The House is on track to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package by the end of this week as Congress sprints to deliver aid to millions of Americans reeling from the pandemic and facing a jobless benefits cliff in mid-March. But House Democrats aren’t expecting to get a single GOP vote for their aid package, which they’re taking up with the procedural maneuver known as reconciliation in order to win Senate passage without the threat of a filibuster. The House Budget Committee will meet Monday afternoon to tee up the legislation for floor passage on Friday or Saturday, with Senate action as soon as the following week. Monday’s markup is one of the last major House steps in the reconciliation process, but the final aid package sent to the president’s desk will likely change from the House-passed bill. That’s because Senate consideration will be laden with political minefields, and major provisions in the bill — such as its minimum wage hike or paid sick leave expansion — could be stripped out or rejiggered as Democrats in the upper chamber muddle through budget restrictions during floor debate. n short, there’s plenty of uncertainty to come before the House and Senate must ultimately resolve any differences and agree on any amendments before the measure is sent to Biden’s desk. “We’re working as quickly and expeditiously as we possibly can,” said House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “We’ll send it over to the Senate and see what happens.”
“Big Tech Employees Opened Wallets for Biden Campaign” by WSJ’s Brody Mullins and Emily Glazer – Employees of big technology firms were a key source of contributions for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, newly released campaign finance records show, eclipsing donations from employees at traditional Democratic fundraising sources such as banks and law firms. Employees of Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., and Microsoft Corp. , Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. were the five largest sources of money for Mr. Biden’s campaign and joint fundraising committees among those identifying corporate employers, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign finance reports. Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign received at least $15.1 million from employees of those five tech firms, records show. The companies declined to comment. The previous Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also received large contributions from tech company employees, but their top sources of employee donations extended beyond the tech sector. Mrs. Clinton’s biggest sources of funds from those identifying corporate employers in 2016 included employees of the personal injury law firm Morgan & Morgan and JPMorgan Chase & Co., along with Google, Microsoft and Apple, according to election records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
“Justice Pick Merrick Garland to Promise Confronting Extremist Violence” by WSJ’s Sadie Gurman – President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, will pledge during his Senate confirmation hearing Monday to confront a rise in extremist violence and racial discrimination, while stressing the need to restore a more traditional approach to the Justice Department’s work after years of political turmoil. According to prepared remarks made public late Saturday, Judge Garland will highlight what he views as an urgent need for strong enforcement of civil-rights law, citing the Justice Department’s original mission to enforce amendments that provided broader rights and protections for Black Americans that grew out of the Civil War. “That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Judge Garland plans to say, in comments that follow concerns from some on the left who had hoped for a nominee with a strong record of civil-rights advocacy. “Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change.” Judge Garland has faced some skepticism from the left, where some progressives had hoped for a nominee with a broader record of civil-rights advocacy.
“Incitement Case Against Trump for Capitol Riot Would Present Challenges” by WSJ’s Brent Kendall – As Donald Trump was acquitted at his impeachment trial on one charge of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, some Republicans suggested that the proper forum to consider the legality of his behavior was a U.S. court. A top federal prosecutor investigating the riot also has suggested the Justice Department could review Mr. Trump’s actions as part of its sprawling investigation into the attack. And District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, a Democrat, “is investigating whether former President Trump or any other individual violated district law and illegally incited violence on Jan. 6,” according to a spokeswoman, though his authority is more limited. Prosecutors would face clear challenges in bringing any case, according to former prosecutors and experts. Tom Firestone, a lawyer with Baker & McKenzie LLP and former assistant U.S. attorney in New York, said prosecutors would have to consider several factors, including whether Mr. Trump was engaged in constitutionally protected political speech or instead crossed a line that prompted supporters to commit violence. “If you look at his speech, k by CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian and Dakin Andone – The president and three members of a school board in Northern California have resigned after they were heard making disparaging comments about parents in the school district during a virtual board meeting last Wednesday. Members of the Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) Board of Trustees apparently believed they were speaking privately in the moments before the meeting started, CNN affiliate KPIX reported, when in fact, community members had already logged on to watch. In a recording of the meeting posted anonymously to YouTube, the superintendent and boardmembers are heard discussing the agenda for the meeting before then-board member Kim Beede says, “Are we alone?” Beede then goes on to tell other board members, apparently in reference to a social media post from a parent, “B*tch, if you’re gonna call me out, I’m gonna f**k you up. Sorry! That’s just me.” Then-board president Lisa Brizendine chimed in, saying, parents “forget that there’s real people on the other side of those letters that they’re writing.” She added, “It’s very unfortunate that they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back.” During the video conference, board member Richie Masadas suggested some parents wanted their kids back in school so they could smoke marijuana in their homes.
“Nearly 30,000 Macs reportedly infected with mysterious malware” by CNN business’ Alexis Benveniste – Nearly 30,000 Macs world-wide have been infected with mysterious malware, according to researchers at security firm Red Canary. The malware, which the company calls Silver Sparrow, does not “exhibit the behaviors that we’ve come to expect from the usual adware that so often targets macOS systems,” Tony Lambert, an intelligence analyst at Red Canary wrote. It’s not clear what the malware’s goal is. Silver Sparrow includes a self-destruct mechanism that appears to have not been used, researchers said. It’s also unclear what would trigger that function. Notably, Silver Sparrow contains code that runs natively on Apple’s in-house M1 chip that was released in November, making only the second known malware to do so, according to the news site Ars Technica. “Though we haven’t observed Silver Sparrow delivering additional malicious payloads yet, its forward-looking M1 chip compatibility, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational maturity suggest Silver Sparrow is a reasonably serious threat,” researchers wrote.
Silver Sparrow infected Macs in 153 countries as of February 17, with higher concentrations reported in the US, UK, Canada, France and Germany, according to data from Malwarebytes, a website that blocks ransomware attacks.
“Myanmar military warns protesters could ‘suffer loss of life’ ahead of planned mass strike” by CNN’s Helen Regan – Myanmar’s military junta on Sunday warned anti-coup protesters they will “suffer loss of life” if demonstrations confront security forces, ahead of planned mass protests and a nationwide strike. The ominous warning follows the most violent weekend since protests against the February 1 coup began, with police opening fire on demonstrators in the second largest city, Mandalay, on Saturday, leaving at least two dead. “It is found that protesters have raised their incitement towards riot and anarchy mob on the day of 22 February. Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life,” the State Administration Council — the name for the military junta now controlling the country — declared Sunday evening on state broadcaster MRTV. Video from social media Sunday night and Monday morning showed barbed wire blocking roads to some foreign embassies in the largest city, Yangon, the focus point for many recent protests. Footage also showed what appeared to be police and military vehicles rolling through the streets. Protesters have called for a general strike, with all offices and shops to be closed on Monday. Activists urged all citizens to join the protest, known as the “Five Twos” in reference to Monday’s date.
“Dr. Fauci: It’s ‘possible’ Americans may still be wearing face masks in 2022” by Fox News’ Lucas Manfredi – Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that it is “possible” Americans may still need to wear face masks in 2022, even as the country could approach a certain “degree of normality.” While Fauci noted he can’t predict when the U.S. could return to the way it operated during pre-pandemic life, he believes that, by the end of the year, the United States could have “a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year.” “As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with [President Biden] completely, that we will be approaching a degree of normality,” Fauci said. “It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019 but it’ll be much much better than we’re doing right now.” However, Fauci stressed that it is just an estimate and that “a lot of things can happen to modify that.” “That’s the reason why we’ve got to be careful,” Fauci added. “Because you have variance that you need to deal with. There are so many other things that would make a projection that I give you today on this Sunday, wind up not being the case six months from now.”
“Legal experts warn New York Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home scandal may rise to federal level of criminal offense” by Fox News’ Bradford Betz – Legal experts are warning that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged undercounting of nursing-home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic may rise to the level of a criminal offense. Cuomo has found himself at the center of a federal investigation into whether his administration sought to hide the true toll of the pandemic. The New York Post reported earlier this month that Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, told lawmakers it had withheld the numbers for fear of them being “used against us.” In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John B. Daukas, who served as acting U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote that DeRosa’s reported admissions who that Cuomo’s administration “wasn’t merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal.” Daukas said numerous federal statutes could apply, noting that Cuomo’s administration is accusing of both making false statements to the federal government and trying to thwart an investigation. “Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and the (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did,” Daukas wrote.
“FAA demands emergency inspection of select Boeing 777s after mid-air explosion ripped engine into pieces” by Fox Business’s Lucas Manfredi – Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson has ordered the agency’s aviation safety experts to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive, requiring “immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.” “This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service,” Dickson said in a statement posted to Twitter. According to the FAA, aviation safety experts are meeting into the evening with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing to finalize the details of the order and any accompanying service bulletins in order to ensure that the appropriate airplanes are included. Exact details of the inspection will be specified in the emergency order. Dickson added that the agency is “working closely with other civil aviation authorities to make this information available to affected operators in their jurisdictions.” The move comes in response to United Airlines flight 328, which experienced an engine failure after taking off from Denver International Airport on Saturday. The airplane landed safely after dropping debris over northern Colorado, officials said. The Boeing 777 was heading from Denver to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew aboard when its right engine failed and erupted in flames. The plane quickly lost altitude and dropped huge pieces of the engine casing and chunks of fiberglass onto the neighborhoods below. Authorities said no injuries were reported aboard the plane or on the ground where debris fell.
“’SNL’s’ Michael Che, NBC accused of ‘antisemitic trope’ in ‘Weekend Update’ segment: ‘Retract and apologize’” by Fox News’ Sasha Savitsky – “Saturday Night Live” cast member Michael Che is in hot water for a joke he made during this week’s “Weekend Update” segment that many critics are calling anti-Semitic. “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Che said on the long-running NBC show. The statement drew attention on social media causing an uproar with viewers and sparked a petition from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for NBC “to retract its outrageous claim and apologize immediately.” The organization called the joke “categorically false” and a “dangerous, modern twist on a classic antisemitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of countless Jews throughout the centuries.” The petition continued: “Words have consequences, and Jews are at risk when a major American TV company joins with those who claim Israel is favoring only a portion of its citizens in its admirable efforts, praised by Dr. Anthony Fauci and others, to vaccinate all of its residents.” Reps for Che and NBC did not return Fox News’ requests for comment. Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind chimed in on Twitter saying the joke was “unsurprising coming from SNL as they have a long record of antisemitism.” He added, “But Michael Che or whoever wrote that ‘joke’ is obviously also ignorant of fact that Israel has Arab citizens who’ve received the vaccine according to the same qualifications as Jews!”