Cup of Joe – June 5, 2023

“The federal grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the Justice Department’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents is expected to meet again this coming week in Washington,“ NBC News reports.

“Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Jack Smith have been presenting the grand jury with evidence and witness testimony for months, but activity appeared to have slowed in recent weeks based on observations at the courthouse and sources.”

“It’s unclear whether prosecutors are prepared to seek an indictment at this point.”

More than 280 dead, hundreds injured in train collision in India. Two trains derailed and collided Friday in India’s eastern Odisha state. At least 900 people were injured, while hundreds of others were feared trapped inside the damaged coaches. Police are investigating the cause of the derailment. Officials say the death toll is expected to rise.

Some variation on “CHAOS AT THE BORDER” is a staple phrase in the Fox News chyron. But the source of that chaos is not who they want you to think it is.

The Trump-era policy known as Title 42—which allowed American border agents to rapidly expel many migrants to Mexico or other countries to request asylum—expired in May, and conservative media whipped its viewership into a frenzy anticipating a huge increase in illegal crossings at the Southern border. That hasn’t happened. What has happened is a crisis of a different kind. 

An internal Border Patrol investigation found that medical staff “declined” (refused) to review the file of an eight-year-old girl with a chronic heart condition and a rare blood disorder before she had a fatal seizure on her ninth day in custody. Her parents had shared her medical history with authorities the second day the family was in custody. Anadith Alvarez was the daughter of Honduran immigrants, born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery three years ago. The day before she died, the girl had a fever of almost 105 degrees.  

The video surveillance system where the girl’s family was detained in Harlingen, TX, had been out of service for over one month, a violation of federal law that prevented authorities from collecting evidence, but interviews with Border Patrol agents and medical personnel there raised enough troubling questions to trigger an investigation into the girl’s nine days in custody. The agency’s own limit to detain migrants is 72 hours. The Office of Professional Responsibility (which is like Border Patrol’s office of internal affairs) reported that despite the girl’s rapidly deteriorating condition, her mothers concerns, “and the series of treatments required to manage her condition, contracted medical personnel did not transfer her to a hospital for higher-level care.”

This is far from the first report of this kind detailing inhumane treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Adding to the unstable conditions at the border, the head of the U.S. Border Patrol, Chief Raul Ortiz, announced his retirement Tuesday night, which will take effect on June 30. It is unclear who will replace him. Ortiz oversaw Border Patrol’s nearly 20,000 agents during the pandemic and through the implementation of Title 42 after beginning his tenure in August 2021 following the ouster of MAGA-head Rodney Scott, who fully embraced Trump’s policies including #BuildTheWall. But the malpractice plainly did not end with Scott’s removal. 

During the Biden administration, agents have continued to engage in “unnecessary use of force” against non-threatening Haitian migrants. Biden’s own DOJ defended the continuation of Trump’s family-separation policy in court, despite his past criticisms of the policy as “criminal.” Since taking office, Biden has tightened standards for asylum seekers at the border to the degree that some argue he has all but eliminated the right to seek asylum on American soil. Seeking asylum is an internationally protected right, so it doesn’t feel particularly radical to criticize the policy choices that led to this.

President Biden, like President Obama before him, made a wager: that tough border policies and deportations will buy good will from conservatives or neutralize their bad-faith attacks. Except, it didn’t, and it won’t. Conservative media and GOP lawmakers will always portray Democratic presidents, falsely, as open-borders fanatics, no matter how strict their actual immigration policies are. Multiple GOP governors thousands of miles from the border have deployed national guardsmen to Texas, absent a big uptick in crossings, as a propaganda feint, to create the false perception of disorder. Democrats can’t beat that approach by meeting it in the ever-shifting middle, and they shouldn’t try.

84% of Americans who don’t identify as LGBTQ support equal rights for the LGBTQ community. 70% of non-LGBTQ Americans agree that companies should publicly support the LGBTQ community through hiring practices, advertising, and sponsorships. (GLAAD)

Two Alabama congressional representatives want to block funding for U.S. Space Command’s temporary headquarters in Colorado. The two lawmakers submitted a draft House bill seeking to block the Biden administration from spending money on SPACECOM until “an official decision” is made on the location of its permanent headquarters, which the Trump administration said would be in Huntsville, Alabama. The Biden administration, however, has considered reversing the planned move to Alabama over concerns about the state’s near-total ban on abortion. (NBC News / The Hill /

Humans have pushed Earth past seven of the eight safety limits related to planetary health and human well-being. A study by the Earth Commission found that only air pollution wasn’t already in “the danger zone,” revealing that significant damage to the planet is already occurring even before breaching the globally agreed 1.5 degree Celsius warming threshold. This study also introduced the concept of “justice” when quantifying what’s safe for the planet and people by incorporating factors such as human well-being, air pollution, overuse of fertilizers, groundwater supplies, the health of fresh surface water, and the overall natural and human-built environment. The study concludes that humans are taking “colossal risks with the future of civilization and everything that lives on Earth.” (Associated Press / The Guardian)

The Discord disclosures of highly classified national security documents by former Massacheusetts Air National Guardsman/racist freak Jack Teixeira contain one particularly startling revelation: Iran, according to U.S. intelligence, plan to enlist militants in Syria to step up roadside attacks against U.S. military personnel, including through the use of armor-piercing munitions. The escalation is reportedly part of a broader strategic effort between Iran and Russia to drive the U.S. from the region (don’t threaten us with a good time!) but could also lead to escalating hostilities between the U.S. and Iran—and just in time for the Republican presidential primary, which will be chockablock with bloodthirsty war hawks who would happily exploit carnage in the region to revamp the GOP push for war.   

A series of investigations found that Allina Health System, a “nonprofit” that runs more than 100 hospitals and clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin has repeatedly withheld care from patients who have unpaid medical bills as a draconian bill-collecting tactic. The network rakes in over $4 billion in annual revenue. In the for-profit American healthcare system, many hospitals are known to take aggressive measures to collect medical debt, including taking patients to court, garnishing their wages, or even seizing their tax refunds. Allina Health System, on the other hand, has an explicit policy to completely shut off non-emergency health services for patients with at least $4,500 in unpaid medical debt, and not allow them to resume receiving treatment until it’s paid off in full. At point, the electronic health-records system locks so that staff cannot schedule future appointments for those patients, even ones with chronic conditions requiring regular attention like diabetes and cancer. That confronts those patients with a choice between getting a loan approved through the hospital or filing for bankruptcy. Anyone in this country who has ever been on the wrong side of a health-insurance dispute knows how easy it is to rack up $4,500 in medical debt. Almost one-in-three Americans have medical debt, which accounts for about half of all outstanding debt in this country. Because Allina Health System is a “nonprofit” it was able to avoid $266 million in state, local, and federal taxes in 2020 alone. Another perfect day in the American health-care industrial complex!

Seth Masket: “A key thing to note about presidential rematches is that they’re pretty rare. There’s been only one in the past hundred years, and just six overall. But those can be instructive.”

“The 1956 one, of course, was between President Dwight Eisenhower and former Iowa Governor Adlai Stevenson. Ike had beaten Stevenson 55-44 in the popular vote in 1952. Four years later, Ike actually improved slightly on his previous performance for a 57-42 win. This shines a light on a few things. First, there is an incumbency effect, which has been detected in many different elections; incumbents tend to do a bit better than challengers. Second, fundamentals matter! The economy was a bit weak in 1952 and the Korean War was in full tilt — this hurt the Democrat Stevenson as the incumbent party’s candidate (Truman had declined to run). By 1956, the economy was stronger, the war was over, and Eisenhower benefited from that.”

New York Times: “The DeSantis campaign said it had around 40,000 donors in May as ‘we raised over’ $8.2 million, according to text messages and emails to supporters asking for more donations. That works out to an average of more than $200 per donor — a figure far higher than is typical for a campaign heavily funded by grass-roots support.”

“By comparison, Senator Bernie Sanders, who was a Democratic online fund-raising powerhouse, raised $5.9 million in his first 24 hours in 2019 — but from 223,000 donors, for an average donation of around $26.”

Donald Trump said Thursday he doesn’t like the term “woke,” even though he’s relied on the the right-wing buzzword to slam the left over issues deemed “politically correct,” Forbes reports.

Trump said he doesn’t like the term because “half the people can’t even define it” and “don’t know what it is.”

Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley suggested in an interview that United States forces “need to align” with non-European countries including Russia to enhance global security, a remark her campaign characterized as a gaffe, the AP reports.

Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN) accused the National Rifle Association of seeking to use involuntary commitment laws “to round up mentally ill people and deprive them of other liberties,” a rare criticism of the NRA from a Republican.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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