Thursday, December 2, 2021

Last Call For The Vax Of Life, Con't

When Missouri GOP GOv. Mike Parson's office commissioned a state health department study on the effectiveness of masks in stopping COVID-19 last month, the goal was to show that masks did nothing to stop the spread, and then use that finding to politically pressure city governments in KCMO and STL to drop mask mandates.
The study of course found that masks were wildly effective in reducing the spread of COVID Delta, so Parson's office spiked the study and almost got away with it.

Mask mandates saved lives and prevented COVID-19 infections in Missouri’s biggest cities during the worst part of the delta variant wave, an analysis by the state Department of Health and Senior Services shows.

But the analysis, conducted at the request of Gov. Mike Parson’s office in early November, was never made public and was only obtained by The Missouri Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project after a Sunshine Law request to the department.

The study compared infection and death rates in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County with the rest of the state. New state health Director Donald Kauerauf wrote in an email that the study’s findings showed the effectiveness of mask mandates and forwarded it to Parson’s office.

The analysis wasn’t included in material the department prepared for cabinet meetings, the emails show. Neither the health department nor Parson’s office responded to requests for comment asking why the data has not been shared publicly.

The comparison showed infection rates in “masked” jurisdictions were higher than the rest of the state in the six weeks prior to the emergence of the delta variant. Case rates then fell below other regions as the surge gathered force in late May and have remained lower since that time.

The statewide data shows that, from the end of April to the end of October, jurisdictions with mask mandates experienced an average of 15.8 cases per day for every 100,000 residents compared to 21.7 cases per day for every 100,000 residents in unmasked communities.

The four jurisdictions imposed their mask mandates in late July and early August, as the delta variant wave was peaking.

Mask requirements remain in place in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The Jackson County Legislature voted to end its requirement in early November, and the mandate in Kansas City ended Nov. 5 except for schools and school buses.

There are a number of variables that impact infection and death rates, the health director wrote in a Nov. 3 email. But the effectiveness of masks is clear, he wrote.

"I think we can say with great confidence reviewing the public health literature and then looking at the results in your study that communities where masks were required had a lower positivity rate per 100,000 and experienced lower death rates,” Kauerauf wrote
Mask mandates saved lives in Missouri's biggest metro areas, but the Republican governor dumped the evidence in the trash. It all goes to show you, Republicans scream about "the science" being true until the science proves their political idiocy wrong.

The Department Of Power (Mongering)

Last year, Florida's state Senate elections were rocked by allegations that dark money interests funded candidates with the sole purpose of splitting the Democratic vote to keep Republicans in power, "ghost" candidates and it worked. Now the Orlando Sentinel has unearthed one of the major players in the scandal in Florida's biggest utility company, Florida Power & Light.
Top executives at utility giant Florida Power & Light worked closely with the political consultants who orchestrated a scheme to promote spoiler candidates in three key state Senate elections last year, according to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

The records show that the consultants who controlled Grow United Inc., the dark-money nonprofit at the center of the “ghost” candidate scandal, billed FPL for more than $3 million days before they began moving money through the entity.

The records also show FPL has donated more than $10 million in recent years to other dark-money nonprofits controlled by some of the same consultants — and FPL CEO and President Eric Silagy has personally coordinated with those consultants on campaign contributions made through their nonprofits.

In a statement, FPL spokesperson David P. Reuter denied the company had any role in the ghost candidate scheme.

“Neither FPL nor our employees provided funding, or asked any third party to provide funding on its behalf, to Grow United in support of Florida state-level political campaigns during the 2020 election cycle,” he said. “Any report or suggestion that we had involvement in, financially supported or directed others to support any ‘ghost’ candidates during the 2020 election cycle is patently false, and we have found absolutely no evidence of any legal wrongdoing by FPL or its employees.”

Money from Grow United was used to promote independent candidates in three Senate races — District 9 in Central Florida and South Florida’s districts 37 and 39 — in an apparent effort to siphon votes from the Democratic candidates and help Republicans retain control of the 40-member Florida Senate.

The controversy has set off a wide-ranging criminal investigation by prosecutors in Miami, who have already secured a guilty plea from the independent candidate in District 37 and filed felony charges against Frank Artiles, a former Republican lawmaker accused of bribing the candidate to run.

That investigation and the Sentinel’s reporting have revealed extensive ties between the consultants behind the scheme and powerful business interests in Florida — but the new records show how closely those consultants were working with FPL specifically.

The cache of new documents was anonymously delivered to the Sentinel last week, including checks, bank statements, emails, text messages, invoices, internal ledgers and more covering a roughly four-year period between 2016 and 2020, all of which were apparently unearthed during an internal investigation by a former FPL contractor

That contractor, Alabama-based political and communications consulting firm Matrix, LLC, has since sued its former CEO and several ex-employees, accusing them of conspiring with a Florida-based client to work on secret projects and cheat Matrix out of fees. The company’s former CEO has countersued, accusing Matrix’s owner of extortion.

The records — along with a summary of the internal Matrix investigation, which said it had identified “potential unlawful conduct” — were sent in early November to James “Jim” Robo, the chairman of Florida Power & Light’s parent company, NextEra Energy Inc. The Sentinel was also sent a partially redacted copy of the investigative summary.

The Sentinel independently corroborated dozens of details in the records — matching things such as bank routing numbers, employer identification numbers, campaign contributions, transfers between nonprofits, names and job titles, cell phone numbers, email addresses and transaction dates. Many of the details are available in public records, though some are not and were confirmed by Sentinel reporting.
So yeah, greedy power company wanted the GOP to stay in power so they'd have less regulation and make millions more off of Florida's people, and in 2021 that almost seems quaint compared to what Republicans are doing nationwide.

Shutdown Countdown, Vaccine Mandate Edition

It wouldn't be December in Washington without Republicans threatening to shut down the government again, this time GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and his merry band of knuckle-draggers say they have the votes to shut the government down on Friday unless the Biden Administration kills the vaccine mandate rules.
Leading Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate scrambled on Wednesday to head off the threat of a partial federal government shutdown posed by Republicans opposed to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Congress has until midnight on Friday to pass a measure that would continue funding federal government operations during the pandemic, amid concerns about a new rise in COVID-19 cases and the arrival of the Omicron variant in the United States.

A partial government shutdown would create a political embarrassment for both parties, but especially for Biden's Democrats who narrowly control both chambers of Congress.

Top lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have yet to agree on a resolution that Congress could vote on.

Once a measure is set and passed by the House, all 100 senators would need to agree to circumvent Senate rules and pass such a measure before the Friday deadline.

That effort ran into opposition on Wednesday from a group of hardline conservative Senate Republicans, including Mike Lee, Roger Marshall, Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz, who demanded a vote on a measure to block federal money for Biden's vaccine mandates for federal and private sector employees, which they say put U.S. jobs at risk.

"The federal government needs to feel the pressure of what a vaccine mandate really does," Marshall told reporters.

Marshall said the group wants to see language barring vaccine mandate funding in the resolution to keep the government open but would also accept a vote on a separate amendment.

"We should use the leverage we have to fight against what are illegal, unconstitutional and abusive mandates," Cruz said.

Schumer told reporters that talks with McConnell to iron out an agreement were making "good progress" but acknowledged the possibility of a shutdown if the Senate was forced to observe procedural rules that would require a series of votes.

"We'll have total chaos. It's up to the leaders on both sides to make sure that doesn’t happen," Schumer told reporters.

McConnell did not seem overly concerned. "We're going to be okay," he told reporters.

Senator Kevin Cramer said the vast majority of his fellow Republicans are not in favor of forcing a shutdown.

"What's the outcome that you achieve? The government shuts down and you still don't have a vaccination mandate lifted,” Cramer said
Now, it sounds like McConnell has figured out that shutting the government down as Christmas approaches might actually be bad for the country and for the GOP. Kevin Cramer has figured it out at least.
Somehow I think there will be enough Republicans to vote with the Dems over Cruz and his stupidity.


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