Software developer at a big library, cyclist, photographer, hiker, reader. Email:
19330 stories

Truck Driver Rams Into Abortion Rights Demonstrators At Roe Rally In Iowa | HuffPost Latest News

Read the whole story
Share this story

Biden officials to keep private the names of hospitals where patients contracted Covid - POLITICO


“Not knowing what the likelihood of getting transmission in the hospital really impacts an individuals’ ability to quote unquote ‘make a personal decision’ on their risk levels,” said Mia Ives-Rublee, a disability rights advocate who has a lung condition that makes her more susceptible to Covid.

Over the four weeks ending June 19, U.S. hospitals reported an average of 1,457 patients per week had caught Covid during their stay, according to a POLITICO analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services. That follows a record month in January when more than 3,000 patients each week were infected while in the hospital.

Though the higher numbers have subsided, the risk remains real for a subset of the population with compromised immune systems who must weigh getting check-ups and treatments for potentially serious issues “versus maybe getting Covid and ending up on the ventilator,” Ives-Rublee said.

In a March meeting with the CDC, Ives-Rublee and other patient advocates requested more transparency on hospitals’ transmission, but the conversations went nowhere, she said.

“We are frustrated with the lack of progress that we’ve seen in terms of addressing concerns for folks who are extremely at risk for Covid,” Ives-Rublee said.

Other advocates told POLITICO they intend to keep pressing the administration ahead of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts could be another fall surge in Covid cases.

“A majority of voters want HHS to level with us – tell us how much coronavirus is spreading in the particular hospital we go to,” said Matthew Cortland, an immunocompromised disability rights activist who ran a recent poll on the issue for Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “But that transparency is inconvenient for the powerful hospital lobby.”

The American Hospital Association wants facilities’ infection numbers to stay private. “Reporting aggregate data is the most appropriate approach given the very low occurrence of hospital onset COVID-19,” Nancy Foster, an executive with the AHA, said in a statement.

Throughout the pandemic, many hospitals chose not to implement measures that could have dramatically decreased transmission, according to workers, health executives and patients around the country.

Many facilities no longer require masks for visitors or staff, despite CDC recommendations. Even where masks are required, workers and visitors usually don surgical masks, among the least protective ones available, instead of N95s. Hospitals follow CDC guidelines, which allow Covid-positive staff to return while infectious. Industry executives insist their protocols are adequate and that some Covid transmission is inevitable; the AHA says hospitals’ measures are generally safe.

U.S. health officials have debated the merits of identifying hospitals’ infections since the Trump administration began collecting the information in 2020, according to three current and former officials who were granted anonymity to speak candidly about internal deliberations.

The figures only include patients who test positive after a minimum hospital stay of 14 days to ensure a patient didn’t contract the virus before admission. The government’s tallies are likely less than the total because hospitals don’t report people who test positive after being discharged.

Trump-era officials decided to keep hospitals’ names private, fearing that outing them might discourage people from seeking health care, according to two former health officials, one of whom worked in the Trump and Biden administrations. Also, a Trump HHS spokesperson confirmed the thinking.

But more than two years into the pandemic, with the availability of vaccines and treatments, Biden officials no longer worry that most patients are avoiding care, according to one of the people involved in more recent discussions. Some U.S. health officials want the same kind of transparency that exists for other hospital-acquired infections, they say. For years, the U.S. government has collected patient infection rates for various pathogens and published scores for each hospital on a website for patients.

Yet the CDC and Office of the Assistant Secretary Preparedness and Response, the two agencies that could make the data public, have declined to release it. POLITICO filed freedom of information requests in April but federal officials have not yet provided the records.

A HHS spokesperson said in a statement the agency wouldn’t release the names for “privacy concerns” but declined to specify what the privacy concerns were.

One concern held by some federal health officials is that the disclosure could embarrass hospitals and lead them to stop reporting their information, according to one U.S. health official who has discussed the matter with the CDC and CMS. But, that concern isn’t universally held.

Some CDC officials have argued internally that the information — as hospitals currently provide it — is not a good measure of risk, according to two CDC officials who have reviewed the data, who were granted anonymity to speak about internal debates. That’s because facilities report snapshots each day of the number of patients who currently have hospital-acquired Covid, meaning some patients are counted again in the following days as they remain in the facility.

The CDC didn’t respond to comment requests.

Read the whole story
Share this story

Shane Lamond, MPD Lieutenant Under Investigation For Ties to Proud Boys, Accused of Time Theft Two Years Ago

1 Comment

About two years before D.C. Police Lt. Shane Lamond was suspended, in February 2022, for accusations of improper communication with the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys, he was accused of time theft, according to information provided to City Paper and confirmed by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Director Carolyn Montagna, Lamond’s direct supervisor, was also accused of approving overtime for him, according to information from multiple sources familiar with the allegations, who provided details on the condition that they not be named. These sources also allege that Montagna and Lamond were in a romantic relationship at the time.

Internal Affairs Division Sergeant David Chumbley investigated some, but not all, of these allegations and left several key questions unanswered, according to the sources’ information. Chumbley, one of the officers involved in a separate complaint around a t-shirt with racist implications, requested that his superiors “cancel” the inquiry. It is unclear from the information provided to City Paper whether Chumbley’s supervisors agreed with his recommendation and what, if any, further investigation occurred.

MPD spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck confirms that MPD opened an investigation and says it is now closed. Sternbeck would not provide any further details. Chief Robert Contee did not respond to an email that requested an interview and contained a list of the details City Paper intended to publish. The department generally does not provide the public with details of personnel matters, which can be embarrassing for individual officers and for the department. Neither Lamond nor Montagna responded to City Paper’s emails seeking comment.

Contee’s silence stands in stark contrast to the special access to investigatory details MPD recently gave to the Washington Post. In May, the Post published a detailed account of MPD’s search for the person who fired more than 200 rounds at Edmund Burke School and the surrounding area. Post reporter Peter Hermann was granted early and exclusive access to MPD’s investigation, according to the article, a move that angered members of the local press corps.


In June of 2020, four MPD employees noticed an irregularity in the department’s timekeeping database with Lamond’s overtime. They reported to the internal affairs division that Montagna and Lamond were “stealing time,” according to the sources’ information. Montagna is Lamond’s supervisor and the civilian director of MPD’s Joint Strategic and Tactical Analysis Command Center, a hub of information responsible for providing crime alerts to MPD’s command staff and to the public. The center also gathers and analyzes information, including from social media, to assist MPD investigators and coordinates with federal agencies.

The four MPD employees alleged that Montagna entered 99 hours of overtime for Lamond—an excessive amount compared to others in his unit, the four employees told MPD’s internal affairs division. The four employees also alleged that Lamond and Montagna consistently left work for long periods of time while on duty and that their relationship was “common knowledge” among command center staffers, according to information from City Paper’s sources.

The complainants told an internal affairs agent they suspected Montagna had abused her authority by entering Lamond’s overtime given their alleged relationship.

Screenshots of MPD’s internal timekeeping database, which another source shared with City Paper, indicate that for the pay period ending June 6, 2020, Lamond was paid for 80 hours of regular work, 99.99 hours of overtime, and eight hours of “CT” or comp time. The screenshots show one other employee with 99.99 hours of overtime, but most others range from 20 to 45 hours.

The timekeeping database tracks which employees enter or alter overtime, and the screenshots provided to City Paper indicate that over the course of five days, from June 3 to 7, Montagna modified Lamond’s timesheet 14 times.

About a month after the internal affairs division received the complaints, Chumbley requested the investigation be “canceled” and “that no further action be taken,” according to the sources.

In his request, Chumbley described the investigative work he did to arrive at his conclusion. According to sources, Chumbley only interviewed two of the four complainants, who were unable to provide direct evidence to support their allegations of time fraud other than the outsized overtime.

Chumbley then reviewed Lamond’s overtime hours and noted that for the pay period in question, Lamond was paid for 87.9 hours of overtime related to the George Floyd protests, 26.6 hours of overtime for “callback for intelligence cases,” and 11.3 hours of overtime for COVID-19 screening, according to information provided by City Paper’s source.

Chumbley noted that Lamond’s 125.8 overtime hours “was consistent with other members of the department who were integral in the response to the George Floyd protests” and he found “nothing suspicious or irregular,” according to the source. He also noted that it is within MPD policy for supervisors to enter subordinates’ time and attendance.

But nowhere in Chumbley’s request to cancel the investigation does he say that he looked into the allegations that Montagna and Lamond are in a romantic relationship or that they regularly disappeared for extended periods of time while on duty, according to the source.

There is also no indication that Chumbley interviewed Lamond or Montagna.

Multiple sources familiar with MPD’s internal investigations say that the request to “cancel” an investigation is unusual, especially without speaking to the accused or interviewing all complainants. It’s unclear what steps MPD took after Chumbley passed the case to the assistant chief, whether there was further investigation, or how the case was resolved. MPD will not provide those details. Chumbley did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Lamond is still suspended while he’s under investigation by MPD, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly communicating with former Proud Boys leader HenryEnrique” Tarrio. The Post quoted Tarrio saying he communicated with Lamond when the Proud Boys planned to be in D.C. Tarrio told the Post that his contact with Lamond was “professional” and that Lamond would tell him where counterprotesters were located in order to avoid conflict. But, the Post noted, a night of violent confrontations involving the extremist group in 2020 calls that into question.

Read the whole story
Share this story
1 public comment
4 hours ago
Not dealing with the culture of corruption in American police departments has nasty ripple effects
Washington, DC

What changed from Justice Alito’s draft opinion to final ruling on Roe - POLITICO

1 Share

Here’s what’s new in Alito’s final draft:

‘Serious problems’ with Roberts’ approach

Roberts in his concurring opinion attempted to stake out a middle ground for the court, arguing that it didn’t need to end Roe in its entirety and instead could have upheld upheld Mississippi’s 15-week limit on abortion.

Alito in his final opinion takes issue with Robert’s reasoning — in which the chief justice supports leaving the constitutionality of tighter abortion restrictions to future cases — claiming there are “serious problems with this approach.”

Alito blasts Roberts for attempting to find a “middle way” in the contentious decision, which Alito claims will only “prolong” the “turmoil” of Roe. Alito argues that by only ruling that Mississippi’s 15-week law is constitutional, the high court would soon be called upon to decide the constitutionality of other states’ laws with shorter or longer deadlines for obtaining an abortion.

“The concurrence’s quest for a middle way would only put off the day when we would be forced to confront the question we now decide,” Alito writes. “The turmoil wrought by Roe and Casey would be prolonged. It is far better—for this Court and the country—to face up to the real issue without further delay.”

‘Reasonable opportunity’ is not constitutional

Alito also took aim at the argument Roberts laid out for giving people seeking an abortion a “reasonable opportunity” to obtain one, such as in Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Alito said there are no constitutional grounds for upholding that rule, and that since Roberts made no claim that the right to an abortion is constitutional, his proposal to uphold the Mississippi limit would also not be supported by the Constitution.

“If the Constitution protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, the opinion does not explain why that right should end after the point at which all ‘reasonable’ women will have decided whether to seek an abortion,” Alito writes.

Dissent can’t show ‘constitutional right to abortion’

Alito’s final opinion also differs from the draft document because it adds a rebuttal to the three liberal justices’ dissent.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan delivered the scathing dissent that rebuked the court for upending the “balance” Roe had cemented for nearly 50 years between “respecting a woman as an autonomous being” and protecting the life of a fetus.

But Alito undermined the justices’ argument in his final opinion, claiming they failed to show that a constitutional right to abortion exists or identify any pre-Roe authority that supports the right.

Roe can’t be defended on ‘prior precedent’

Alito also shot down the dissenters’ argument that Roe could be defended on prior court precedent, since none of the precedents the case was based on “involved the destruction of what Roe called ‘potential life.’”

The justice also argued that “adherence to precedent is not ‘an inexorable command.’” He went on in his opinion to name instances in which the court did overrule prior precedents, such as overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine in both Brown v. Board of Education and Plessy v. Ferguson.

Dissent ignores ‘states’ interest in protecting prenatal life’

The liberal justices highlighted in their dissent the potential fallout the decision could have, such as states using the newfound power to impose criminal penalties on abortion providers or people seeking abortions.

Alito slammed the justices on this point, claiming they have no “regard for a State’s interest in protecting prenatal life.” He said their implication in their dissent is clear — that the liberal justices believe the Constitution doesn’t permit states “to regard the destruction of a ‘potential life’ as a matter of any significance.”

He also took aim at the justices for their praising of the “balance” that a viability line for abortion can strike between a woman’s autonomous being and the state’s interest in protecting the life of a fetus. Alito instead argued that a viability line “makes no sense.”

“It was not adequately justified in Roe, and the dissent does not even try to defend it today,” Alito writes.

Read the whole story
Share this story

At the Bored Ape restaurant, your ApeCoin is no good now - Los Angeles Times

1 Comment

When Bored & Hungry first opened in Long Beach in April, the burger joint didn’t just embrace the aesthetics of crypto culture. It was all-in on the digital money part too.

Sure, meme-y references to rockets and bulls dotted the walls, and Bored Apes — those cartoon monkeys that celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Post Malone have touted as six-figure investments — covered the cups and trays. But customers were also offered the option to pay for their meals in cryptocurrency. The restaurant was putting its bitcoin where its mouth was, so to speak.

Not even three months later, in the midst of a crypto crash that has some investors looking for the door, that is no longer the case.

During a lull in the lunch rush one recent afternoon, as a cashier stamped paper bags with the fast-food spot’s logo, twin menus hanging over his head — listing Bored & Hungry’s meat-based and vegan options, respectively — showed prices only in old-fashioned U.S. dollars.

A smashburger: $9.25. Pepper-seasoned fries: $3.50. An ape-themed cup of soda: $3.50.

Missing: any mention of ethereum or apecoin, the two currencies the popup boasted it would make history by accepting as payment.

Also missing: owner Andy Nguyen, who didn’t respond to repeated emails asking about the change.

But an employee who declined to give their name said that the store wasn’t accepting crypto payments. “Not today — I don’t know,” they said, declining to clarify how long ago the store stopped accepting crypto or whether that option will eventually return.

With both coins down more than 60% since early April and undergoing double-digit intra-day swings, it would be understandable for any business to be reluctant to accept them in lieu of dollars. But utility may also be a factor. At the restaurant’s grand opening, a staffer told The Times that the crypto payments were unwieldy and going largely ignored by customers.

Nearly three months later, it was hard to find a patron who cared much one way or the other about the restaurant’s fidelity to the crypto cause.

“Yes, ethereum is a currency in a way where you can exchange [non-fungible tokens, or] NFTs and stuff … but as far as buying food and all that, maybe not,” one crypto-enthusiast diner, Marc Coloma, said as he munched on fries outside the restaurant. “People want to hold onto their ethereum. They’re not gonna want to use it.”

Michael Powers, 46, of Long Beach was less in the loop. He comes to Bored & Hungry a lot — as often as two or three times a week, he estimated — but although the ape-themed signage was what first drew him in, he didn’t know the spot was NFT-themed until his sons explained it to him.

Powers’ one foray into crypto, an investment in the Elon Musk-promoted currency dogecoin, didn’t end well, and he doesn’t plan on trying again. “I’ve had my fill” of crypto, he said — though not of the burgers, which offer an upscale riff on In-N-Out’s “animal style” sandwiches. (The chopped onions and creamy sauce are a nice touch that, incidentally, isn’t subject to wild swings in value or exorbitant transaction fees.)

Another Long Beach local, 30-year-old Richard Rubalcaba, said he bought into ethereum after meeting other crypto investors during the four-hour wait for Bored & Hungry’s grand opening. But on this visit he too paid in U.S. dollars.

“I don’t know how [crypto purchases] would work, with the crash,” he said.

The crypto ecosystem is currently in free-fall, with high-profile companies either taking drastic steps to stave off catastrophe or simply collapsing altogether, while cryptocurrencies themselves plunge in value.

The two e-currencies that Bored & Hungry initially accepted, ethereum and apecoin, are down to about 23% and 17% of their highs over the last year, respectively. Estimates put the entire sector at worth less than a third of what it was in early 2022.

Nor have the non-fungible tokens that form the backbone of Bored & Hungry’s brand been immune. A sort of digital trading card series built around drawings of anthropomorphic monkeys, Bored Apes count the likes of Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg among their owners; some have sold for millions of dollars. Yet they’re now facing the same market pressures as the rest of the crypto economy.

According to the crypto news outlet Decrypt, the cheapest available NFT in the series (that is, the “floor”) has fallen below $100,000 for the first time since last summer, and the project as a whole recently saw its value approximately halved over the course of a month.

That only raises the urgency of getting new buyers into the ape “community.”

One customer — Lindsey, 33, of San Pedro — said she didn’t know anything about crypto but came to Bored & Hungry because she’s a fan of the vegan burger brand it carries. But, she said, the scene at the restaurant made her want to learn more about the ecosystem.

“I’m pretty outside the world of cryptocurrency and all that stuff,” said Lindsey, who declined to give her last name, “so I’m definitely gonna go home and Google that.”

Another local, Nick Jackson, 29, said he’s more into collecting Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards — but added that previous visits to Bored & Hungry prompted him to start researching ethereum and apecoin too.

Jessica Perez, 24, of Gardena doesn’t follow cryptocurrency either but was making a return trip to Bored & Hungry. She and her friends like the burgers, she said: “We rate this up there with In-N-Out, maybe even better.”

Perez doesn’t have any immediate plans to invest in crypto but says she would consider it. The restaurant “is a good way to promote cryptocurrency,” she said.

Perhaps that was what Nguyen was thinking when he spent more than $330,000 on the various ape NFTs on display at his restaurant.

Crypto skeptics have long warned that someone would get left holding the bag when the hype cycle played itself out. Better that bag should contain a burger and fries than nothing at all.

Read the whole story
Share this story
1 public comment
17 hours ago
“utility may also be a factor. At the restaurant’s grand opening, a staffer told The Times that the crypto payments were unwieldy and going largely ignored by customers.”
Washington, DC

Anti-Abortion Advocate Excitedly Switches Focus To Shaming Young Unwed Mothers

1 Share

DALLAS—In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, local anti-abortion advocate Mary Firkins, 54, excitedly announced Friday that she would now switch her full-time attention to the shaming of young unwed mothers. “It’s been very rewarding these past few decades to value the lives of fetuses over those of the women carrying them, but now I can finally focus all my energy on the whores who get pregnant out of wedlock,” said Firkins, giddily crossing out the names of abortion providers and pharmacists on the envelopes that contained her menacing letters and bomb threats and filling in the names of single mothers-to-be. “I’ve always wanted to remind these irresponsible sluts that it’s all their fault—and I certainly have, on occasion—but I’ve been so focused on saving the unborn that I’ve never had enough time to really get up in their faces and rub it in. The resentment has been piling up for decades, and it’s going to feel so good to let it all out by screaming at young women for having premarital sex, consensual or not. Our hard work has paid off, and it’s time to have some fun!” At press time, Firkins was overheard expressing gratitude for how many more young unwed mothers the court’s ruling would create for her to terrorize.

Read the whole story
Share this story
Next Page of Stories