Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Last Call For A Texas-Sized Burial

The release of several years' worth of Texas health data on maternal mortality and the effects of the state's "bounty hunter" abortion ban will be pushed back until 2025, well after both midterm and presidential elections.
Texas health officials have missed a key window to complete the state’s first major updated count of pregnancy related deaths in nearly a decade, saying the findings will now be released next summer, most likely after the Legislature’s biennial session.

The delay, disclosed earlier this month by the Department of State Health Services, means lawmakers won’t likely be able to use the analysis, covering deaths from 2019, until the 2025 legislative cycle. The most recent state-level data available is nine years old.

In a hearing this month with the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, DSHS commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said the agency wanted to better align its methodology with that of other states, and that there hadn’t been enough staff and money to finish the review for a scheduled Sept. 1 release.

“The information we provide is not easily understood, and not easily and readily comparable to what goes on in other states,” Hellerstedt told the committee. “And the fact it isn’t easily understood or easily comparable in my mind leaves room for a great deal of misunderstanding about what the data really means.”

In a statement, DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen said the agency is reviewing its “internal processes” to try to develop more timely data.

“I expect we’ll be having conversations with legislators about what could be done to speed up the lengthy review process,” he said.

The setback comes four months before the start of the legislative session and two months before the midterm election, which has been dominated in part by the state’s new Republican-led abortion ban. Those restrictions have placed more scrutiny on the state’s maternal mortality rate, which is among the 10 highest in the country, according to national estimates that track pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within a year of giving birth.

“There are a lot of us that want to know whether or not pregnancy in Texas is a death sentence,” said state Rep. Ann Johnson, a Houston Democrat and member of the Texas Women’s Health Caucus. “If we’ve got a higher rate of maternal mortality, we sure want to figure it out. You can’t figure it out if somebody’s sitting on the numbers, and that’s my worry.” 
Like in other states, maternal outcomes in Texas are worse for Black women, who have died at about three times the rate of non-black women. This year’s findings were expected to drill further into the causes behind those disparities.

Rep. Shawn Thierry, a Houston Democrat who has described going through her own dangerous birthing experience, said the data is critical for understanding the role cesarean sections play in maternal deaths and whether implicit bias is playing a factor in the quality of maternal care for Black women.

“There is so much to unpack from the data,” Thierry said, adding that “no woman who chooses life should have to do so in exchange for their own.”

Members of the state’s maternal mortality committee, which compiles the official report, said they were disappointed by the decision to hold the preliminary findings.

“(We) do the work to honor the lives of women who lost their lives, and families that are forever impacted by the loss of a mother,” said Dr. Carla Ortique, the committee chair. “So there’s disappointment on both fronts: that we’re not honoring those women and families, and that we may be negatively impacting efforts to improve maternal health outcomes in our state.”

This is happening all over the Gilead states.

For women of color, the mortality rate is most likely far higher than just doubling.

Texas Republicans want Black and brown women dead.

Full stop.

Durham Dud Down, Duration Disappearing

While the mutliple Justice Department investigations and Georgia and New York state investigations of Donald Trump move towards indictments, the Durham probe into the FBI's "misconduct in the Russian collusion hoax"is coming to a sad, pathetic end as the grand jury is expiring with nothing to show for it.

When John H. Durham was assigned by the Justice Department in 2019 to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, President Donald J. Trump and his supporters expressed a belief that the inquiry would prove that a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him.

Now Mr. Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Mr. Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Mr. Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so, three people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Durham and his team are working to complete a final report by the end of the year, they said, and one of the lead prosecutors on his team is leaving for a job with a prominent law firm.

Over the course of his inquiry, Mr. Durham has developed cases against two people accused of lying to the F.B.I. in relation to outside efforts to investigate purported Trump-Russia ties, but he has not charged any conspiracy or put any high-level officials on trial. The recent developments suggest that the chances of any more indictments are remote.

After Mr. Durham’s team completes its report, it will be up to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to decide whether to make its findings public. The report will be Mr. Durham’s opportunity to present any evidence or conclusions that challenge the Justice Department’s basis for opening the investigation in 2016 into the links between Mr. Trump and Russia.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Mr. Durham and his team used a grand jury in Washington to indict Michael Sussmann, a prominent cybersecurity lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Sussmann was indicted last year on a charge of making a false statement to the F.B.I. at a meeting in which he shared a tip about potential connections between computers associated with Mr. Trump and a Kremlin-linked Russian bank.

Mr. Sussmann was acquitted of that charge at trial in May.

A grand jury based in the Eastern District of Virginia last year indicted a Russia analyst who had worked with Christopher Steele, a former British spy who was the author of a dossier of rumors and unproven assertions about Mr. Trump. The dossier played no role in the F.B.I.’s decision to begin examining the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. It was used in an application to obtain a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign associate.

The analyst, Igor Danchenko, who is accused of lying to federal investigators, goes on trial next month in Alexandria, Va.

In the third case, Mr. Durham’s team negotiated a plea deal with an F.B.I. lawyer whom an inspector general had accused of doctoring an email used in preparation for a wiretap renewal application. The plea deal resulted in no prison time.

Mr. Trump and his allies have long hoped that Mr. Durham would prosecute former F.B.I. and intelligence officials responsible for the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane. Mr. Trump has described the investigation as a witch hunt and accused the F.B.I. of spying on his presidential campaign.
The arrests are not coming. The Durham probe went to trial and failed, got a plea bargain on a wiretap screwup, and the third charge is going to result in another whiff...or actually getting charges against a Russian analyst to stick.
A failure all across the board. Three years of trying to prove that Trump's documented involvement with Russian agents in 2016 was a massive hoax, and there's not one shred of evidence to support it.

Remember that.

Here (Doesn't) Come The Judge

Racist, sexist Senate Republicans never let an opportunity to screw over Senate Dems go to waste when it comes to petty procedural stuff to urt Black women, and they delivered again today in blocking the 3rd Circuit's first Black woman judge.

President Biden’s nominee to serve as the first Black woman judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals failed to win confirmation in the Senate Tuesday after two Democratic senators missed the vote: Sens. Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Tammy Duckworth (Ill.).

Public defender Arianna Freeman’s nomination to the appeals court failed by a vote of 47 to 50. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted “no” to give him the procedural flexibility to bring her nomination back to the floor at a future date.

Hassan and Duckworth were absent, as was Republican Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Every Republican present voted against the nominee.

If both absent Democrats had been present and voted “yes” along with Schumer, Freeman would have won confirmation in a 50-49 vote. Democrats also could have won Freeman’s confirmation in a 49-49 vote, with Vice President Harris breaking the tie because of Young’s absence.

Hassan is in New Hampshire, where voters are taking part in primary elections on Tuesday. Hassan also cast her vote in New Hampshire on Tuesday morning.

A senior GOP aide said Freeman’s confirmation failed because of Democrats’ “attendance problems,” while a senior Democratic aide downplayed the setback as something that happens from time to time in a narrowly divided Senate.

Freeman’s nomination to serve on the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit divided the Judiciary Committee along partisan lines earlier this year. Democrats and Republicans deadlocked 11-11 on a vote to discharge her to the floor.

A graduate of Yale Law school, Freeman has worked as a public defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, representing state and federal inmates in challenging their convictions and sentences.
Republicans don't want Black women on the federal bench, they've made that clear over the last 21 months. They especially don't want female Black public defenders on the federal bench, because the federal bench is primarily the domain of rich white Federalist Society men who want to dismantle democracy and replace it with a white supremacist theocratic police state. 

So yes, they blocked her, forcing Schumer to bring her vote back up later, in case a red state Democratic senator dies or something and they can take over the Senate in the meantime.

Racism never stops being petty or hateful.
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