Good morning, everyone! (Not sure I am doing the right thing here … but here it goes!)

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post takes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6 seriously … and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s efforts as those of a drama queen.

There’s no need to dive into political gamesmanship here. Were these tactics smart? Who won? The media should be as serious about our democracy as Pelosi is. The “story” is simple: Republicans continue to cover up and defend a violent insurrection instigated by their cult hero. They blocked a bipartisan commission and now won’t participate unless their disruptive members have a chance to throw the committee into chaos.

McCarthy’s decision to take his ball and march off in a huff might have bad consequences for the GOP. First, the select committee may now be the rare congressional investigation that is serious, professional and focused. Without the provocateurs and Jan. 6 apologists, its members can proceed unimpeded through their witness list, subpoena documents and produce a comprehensive account of the day’s events, the forces behind it and the recommended steps to prevent this from reoccurring. (Step 1: Do not give McCarthy the speakership.)

Nicole Hemmer of CNN sees Pelosi’s rejection of Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Insurrection as a signal of the end of the myth of bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill.

Pelosi was right to reject Jordan and Banks, who, as blood was still drying on the floor of the Capitol, voted to give the insurrectionists what so many of them wanted. At a deeper level, Pelosi’s actions here also constitute a crucial development: the rejection of bipartisanship as a positive force in US politics. The select committee will still be bipartisan — GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump for fomenting the insurrection, will still serve on it — but the notion that Democratic leaders must work with Republican leaders in order to have political legitimacy is well and truly dead.

As it should be. The fetish for bipartisanship has dominated Washington for at least 80 years. In that time, bipartisanship acquired a rosy glow: to label a policy bipartisan was to deem it both representative and virtuous, the byproduct of opposing sides compromising their way to the best possible solution. But on its own, bipartisanship has never been a virtue. It has been, at best, virtue-signaling — a legislative both-sidesism that has infected US politics for far too long.

Jessica Wehrman and Joseph Morton of Roll Call report that transportation funding now appears to be the holdup in moving the bipartisan infrastructure bill forward.

Republican negotiators, who unanimously opposed moving forward, argued that the vote was not a referendum on the bipartisan framework itself but an opportunity to iron out two lingering disagreements: transit funding and which pots of unspent COVID-19 relief dollars to use to help pay for the package, which includes $579 billion in new spending.

[…]

The transit issue has emerged in part because the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which has jurisdiction over transit, has not reached an agreement on language to reauthorize spending on transit because of differences between Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and ranking member Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., over the level of federal investment. The negotiators hope to use that legislative language in their broader bill.

However, the negotiators will use legislative text written by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has advanced its bills to reauthorize spending on highways and on drinking and wastewater. The group will also adopt language from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s rail and safety legislation.

Eugene Scott of The Washington Post reports that the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office has voted to decertify the election equipment in Fulton County.
Pennsylvania is the second state where officials have decertified election equipment because of questionable audits requested by Republicans. Arizona’s Maricopa County said in June that it will replace voting equipment that was turned over to a private contractor for a Republican-commissioned review of the 2020 election.

Trump backers in multiple states are trying to launch post-election audits in an effort to overturn President Biden’s election victory.

According to a statement from Degraffenreid’s office, Fulton County officials allowed Wake TSI, of West Chester, Pa., “to access certain key components of its certified system, including the county’s election database, results files, and Windows systems logs. The county officials also allowed the company to use a system imaging tool to take complete hard drive images of these computers and other digital equipment.”

The statement called Wake TSI “a company with no knowledge or expertise in election technology.”

Sara Reardon of Nature has a preliminary scientific analysis of how the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads so fast.

According to current estimates, the Delta variant could be more than twice as transmissible as the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. To find out why, epidemiologist Jing Lu at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Guangzhou, China, and his colleagues tracked 62 people who were quarantined after exposure to COVID-19 and who were some of the first people in mainland China to become infected with the Delta strain.

The team tested study participants’ ‘viral load’ — a measure of the density of viral particles in the body — every day throughout the course of infection to see how it changed over time. Researchers then compared participants’ infection patterns with those of 63 people who contracted the original SARS-CoV-2 strain in 2020.

In a preprint posted 12 July1, the researchers report that virus was first detectable in people with the Delta variant four days after exposure, compared with an average of six days among people with the original strain, suggesting that Delta replicates much faster. Individuals infected with Delta also had viral loads up to 1,260 times higher than those in people infected with the original strain.

The combination of a high number of viruses and a short incubation period makes sense as an explanation for Delta’s heightened transmissibility, says epidemiologist Benjamin Cowling at the University of Hong Kong. The sheer amount of virus in the respiratory tract means that superspreading events are likely to infect even more people, and that people might begin spreading the virus earlier after they become infected.

This latest hodgepodge of Thomas Edsall’s at The New York Times on the need to maintain and further develop standardized testing regimens (especially “spatial testing”) is … well, I’ll discuss it on the other side.

The failure to “harness the underutilized talent” of mathematically inclined children from middle class and working class families, the authors argue, results in a substantial loss of innovation and economic growth. In order to remedy the situation, they call for policies providing those with strong math scores with “greater exposure to innovation” through “mentoring programs to internships to interventions through social networks.” Targeting exposure programs “to children from underrepresented groups who excel in mathematics and science at early ages is likely to maximize their impacts.”

Schools serving heavily minority, disproportionately poor urban neighborhoods exhibit a parallel pattern of lost opportunity for the most talented in those student bodies.

David Card and Laura Giuliano, economists at the University of California-Berkeley and UC-Santa Cruz, make the case in two 2016 papers — “Can Tracking Raise the Test Scores of High-Ability Minority Students?” and “Universal screening increases the representation of low-income and minority students in gifted education” — that gifted low-income minority students often go unrecognized in urban school systems that are not equipped to identify talent and may instead be captured by a presumption that all students are low performers.

Where to begin:

1) Did The New York Times not have any editors available for this piece? My goodness…

2) I tend to agree with Edsall and disagree with Ibram X. Kendi on the issue of standardized testing for personal reasons.

I’ve never was an especially distinguished student in my K-12 classes, really. In fact,.I actually failed seventh grade. My own “ping” to teachers, and even school administrators, almost always came through my weird off-the charts standardized testing scores (even in seventh grade!). Had those testing regimens not existed, I probably would have fallen through the cracks of the public school system (and maybe I did, in any event).

That doesn’t mean that I’m in favor of the standardized testing being the sole criterion for admission at places like Stuyvesant High School in New York City; I do believe that standardized testing should be one of the criteria, not be eliminated.

In short, I believe in developing every method possible, including standardized testing, to find that “ping” in students and then directing the students accordingly. (This topic always gets me in my feels …)

German Lopez of Vox writes on the mystery of America’s recent uptick in murders despite the downtrend in overall crime.

The increase in murder appears to be a uniquely American phenomenon.[…] Despite claims that Democratic mayors or progressive criminal justice policies are driving the increase, it also appears indifferent to the political party in charge: As Asher and criminal justice expert John Pfaff have shown, murder rates increased in cities run by Democrats and Republicans, progressive and not.

The good news is there is a lot more agreement among experts about how to bring down the spike than there is about what caused it. But the best evidence suggests stopping murders in the short term will require more and better, though not necessarily more aggressive, policing — a controversial proposal on the left.

“I know people don’t want to hear this, and I empathize with that,” Anna Harvey, a public safety expert at New York University, told me. “But at least as far as the research evidence goes, for short-term responses to increases in homicides, the evidence is strongest for the police-based solutions.”

The stakes are very high. Nearly 21,000 people were murdered in America in 2020, based on preliminary data. Another increase of 10 percent or more could mean thousands more dead in 2021.

Claudia López Lloreda reports for STATnews that even within a single health system, racial bias is evident in the prescribing of pain medication.

White patients received both more pills and stronger doses, according to the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. In about 90% of the 310 health systems studied, the opioid dose prescribed to white patients was higher than the one prescribed to Black patients. On average, white patients received 36% more pain medication by dosage than Black patients, even though both groups received prescriptions at similar rates.

“There’s racial bias in the prescribing pattern, there’s just almost no other way to explain it,” said Nancy Morden, a family medicine specialist and health services researcher at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H. “If we found this in half of the hospitals, maybe you could imagine something else, but it’s 90% of hospitals. I was shocked when I saw that,” said Morden, who is also the first author of the new study.

The findings confirm at least 20 years of data showing disparities in pain management. Most of the previous studies were done either at a national level or by looking at specific institutions. Both the broad and very narrow approaches fail to capture general trends across many different systems and could mean that differences in how white and Black patients’ pain was managed could be a result of where they got care, Morden said.

Gina Ciliberto of Soujourner’s reports on the skepticism of indigenous leaders that America’s Christian leaders will make restitution for the atrocities committed by indigenous boarding schools.

“Christians sometimes want me to acknowledge the good intentions of the boarding schools at the time,” said Jacobs, whose great grandfather was taken to Carlisle. Jacobs finds such attitudes dismissive. “There’s a graveyard attached to a school. At what point does that become OK? They were forcibly taken from their families and they died. Regardless of what the cause of death was, their bodies were never returned to their families. These families are left devastated not knowing where their child is. There’s no justification of that at all.”

Opened in 1879, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was the first boarding school in the United States that housed Indigenous children in an off-reservation setting, far from their homes. In 1891, the U.S. passed a compulsory attendance law that required Indigenous children to go to the schools. The Carlisle school eventually served as the blueprint for over 300 boarding schools for Indigenous children across the U.S. as well as a similar program in Canada

While the U.S. government opened 25 federal off-reservation boarding schools, more than 300 other schools were run by Christian groups with support from the government.

Upon arrival, the schools forced students to cut their long hair, a significant element of Indigenous faith and culture. The schools gave children English names and forbade them to speak their native language. In short, the church-run schools worked in cooperation with the government to strip the children of their spiritual and cultural practices and replace them with Christianity.

Yesterday, it was reported that the United States and Germany reached a agreement over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline but Andrew Desiderio and Alexander Ward of POLITICO report that both Democrats and Republicans on the Hill are unhappy with the “compromise deal.”

Senior administration officials describing the deal said Berlin will appoint a special envoy to help Ukraine negotiate an extension of its gas transit deal with Russia beyond 2024, the current expiration year. Germany will also create and administer a $1 billion green fund for Ukraine to support its energy transition beyond fossil fuels, with at least an initial $175 million commitment. Ukraine needs that money because it stands to lose billions should its transit contract with Russia end.

There will also be a 60 million euro resilience package, effectively to protect against cyber attacks. And Germany will enhance its engagement with the Three Seas Initiative, a key forum for Central and Eastern European nations to discuss regional matters. […]

None of that will satisfy Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who spent the last few days expressing outrage as details of the U.S.-Germany deal leaked.

“Once [the pipeline] is up, the vulnerabilities are going to be there,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a brief interview. “I’ve always felt that we should’ve stopped it. But now we’re at the point where it’s going to be very difficult to prevent its use.”

Timothy Noah of Washington Monthly thinks that the Olympic Games should be permanently located to Athens, Greece.

You wouldn’t hold the Salzburg Music Festival in Akron, or the Rose Bowl in Burkina Faso. Why would you host the Olympics anywhere but where they began? To do otherwise smacks of cultural appropriation, as the kids say. (Set aside that three quarters of western civilization is already appropriated from Ancient Greece.) The Olympics are a Greek invention that express Greek ideals about the grace and beauty in physical prowess. These ideals are respected the world round, which is why nations from across the globe participate. They’d be no less inclined to participate if the Olympics stayed put in Greece.

The main argument, though, for returning the Olympics to Greece isn’t cultural, but practical. It’s financially wasteful to move this travelling show from country to country. The Olympics are nearly always poorly run, if only because hosting them entails acquiring particular skills concerning something the host city has never done before, or anyway not in recent memory. The competition to be chosen host country is an open invitation to financial corruption. And constructing the facilities in which to stage them is a near-tragic exercise in redundancy. How many former Olympic villages does the world need?

Obviously the Greeks would have to be consulted on the matter. Modern Greece is not a wealthy nation. It shouldn’t have to shoulder alone the cost of building the infrastructure (or updating the infrastructure that Athens built to host the Olympics in 2004). Perhaps the IOC could be persuaded to share some broadcast revenue; that would give the Greeks a strong incentive to run the thing right.

I could work with Athens as a permanent site of the Summer Olympic Games..I could also work with a four-to-six site rotation of Olympic cities, with Athens being one of them.

Everyone have a good morning!





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