Ohio Bill To Ban Vax Lotteries, Free Vax Donuts, Saying 'Vaccine' Unless You Turn Around 3 Times And Spit
Biz, government, insurers, all persons may not require or suggest you get a vaccine.
Ohio announced its first winner of the Vax-A-Millions lottery Wednesday. Abbey Bugenske of Cincinnati was on her way to buy a used car when she got the call telling her she'd won, so we hope she decided to go ahead and get the extended warranty. California is following Ohio's lead, designating $116.5 million for vaccine incentives, including a $15 million cash prize that'll be split by 10 lucky people who've gotten vaccinated.
And West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice released a video featuring his bulldog "Baby Dog," advising residents that "she wants you vaccinated, I want you vaccinated, and I want a bunch of you to win all this stuff," by which he means the state's own incentive giveaway of cash prizes, 10 pickup trucks, and college scholarships.
ICYMI: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has made his dog "babydog" the mascot of the state's new vaccine lottery. "S… https://t.co/pYsFbLJxYf— Haleigh Hoffman (@Haleigh Hoffman)1622171149.0
Justice also explained, "I wouldn't dink around with this. I'd go get myself a shot. There's going to be so many wonderful prizes that you can win, it'll blow you away." But mostly, you should do it for this face:
Yes, Baby Dog has her own Twitter account.
So that's the encouraging vaccination news today, thanks for reading and have a great wee ... oh shit, there's also this Ohio fuckery we have to talk about. While Gov. Mike DeWine brags about how the lottery announcement has actually increased rates of vaccination that had been slacking off, Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly have introduced legislation that would largely eliminate vaccination mandates — or even requests or suggestions — across the state.
We're not just talking the COVID vaccine here, either: The proposal, Ohio House Bill 248, would make it virtually impossible for most entities in the state to require vaccinations for infectious diseases, though we suppose the bill's supporters will generously not try to overturn federal requirements, so enlistees in the military will still lose their precious right to contract diphtheria. The Ohio Capital Journal reports that on Tuesday, anti-vaxxers crowded into a hearing so they could demand freedom for infection.
Just how comprehensive would this sucker be?
The legislation would ban vaccine requirements on customers, employees or students from businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, K-12 schools, colleges, daycares, or others. It would also prevent governments, insurers, or businesses from offering incentives for people to get vaccinated, or even requesting that people get vaccinated. [...]
Under the bill, a small business owned by asthmatics or cancer survivors — both of whom are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications — would have no legal right to require or even request that employees or customers who come inside be vaccinated. That's according to Dorit Reiss, a professor with a focus on vaccine policy from the UC Hastings College of Law.
"It's against business rights, it's against the individual rights of private businesses, it's against safety, and it's in support of the virus," she said.
And despite his promotion of the COVID vaccine and his confidence that people will recognize that the facts about vaccines will win over folks who are uncertain, DeWine dodged giving a direct answer Monday "when asked about HB 248 or a separate proposal to remove the 'reasons of conscience' exemption from school immunization laws." That's not necessarily a surprise, since the Lege has already overridden his veto of a bill that would limit a governor's ability to impose public health orders.
So Ohio may well end up with a law that's going to actively promote deadly diseases that could be prevented. It's a far more radical gift to anti-vaxxers than the Pennsylvania bill that would limit doctors' ability to ensure that kids get vaccinated.
Not surprisingly, the insurance industry and Ohio's medical community are horrified by HB 248, and doing all they can to oppose it; we'll have to see whether that will be enough to prevent it from becoming law.
Maybe Mike DeWine should get a bulldog.
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Pretty good news for life on Earth, though!
Yesterday was a pretty hopeful day for the prospects of getting global carbon emissions under control, thanks to three events that New Yorker climate columnist Bill McKibben is calling possibly the "most cataclysmic day so far for the traditional fossil-fuel industry." These are all big developments that are likely to bring about big changes in three of the world's biggest oil companies.
- A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to sharply cut its emissions, by 45 percent over the next 10 years, a mandate McKibben says the company can "likely meet only by dramatically changing its business model."
- Chevron shareholders voted to require steep cuts in emissions caused by the company's products, which in effect would make the company responsible for emissions from oil and gasoline being used exactly as designed.
- At an Exxon Mobil shareholder meeting, members of a climate action investor group won two seats on the company's board of directors, in yet another sign that shareholders of fossil fuel companies want them to take more aggressive action on the climate emergency.
We'd also note that the three actions, though unrelated aside from happening on the same day, came a week after the UN's International Energy Agency warned that construction of new fossil-fuel power generation plants must stop immediately, among other steps needed to prevent the worst effects of planetary warming.
Clean Up Your Shell Game
Since 2015, Royal Dutch Shell has committed to reducing emissions, but not enough for a Dutch district court in the Hague, where Judge Larisa Alwin ordered the company to cut its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. Reuters points out that
Earlier this year, Shell set out one of the sector's most ambitious climate strategies. It has a target to cut the carbon intensity of its products by at least 6% by 2023, by 20% by 2030, by 45% by 2035 and by 100% by 2050 from 2016 levels.
But the court said that Shell's climate policy was "not concrete and is full of conditions...that's not enough."
The ruling is partly based in European human rights law, which certainly makes us wish Mitt Romney had been right back in 2012 when he called Barack Obama a scary European-style socialist type. If only! The ruling also ordered Shell to make absolute cuts in carbon emissions, as compared to the company's planned targets, which had enough wiggle room to allow, in theory, for actual expansions of emissions. Shell's CEO, Ben van Beurden, said at the company's annual meeting earlier this month that an absolute reduction in emissions would only be possible "by shrinking the business."
Sounds like Shell will have to do that, then, at least if its planned appeal is unsuccessful. McKibben notes that the amount of reductions the court ordered
is very close to what, in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.) said would be required to keep us on a pathway that might limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The court also didn't care for Shell's argument that people would be able to adapt to a warming climate, because get out of here with that stuff. The judges acknowledged that Shell believes humans could adopt strategies like using more efficient air conditioning, or managing land and water use to deal with sea level rise. Yes, we can do stuff to deal with some of the effects of the fossil fuels we keep burning, they wrote. But "these strategies do not alter the fact that climate change due to CO2 emissions has serious and irreversible consequences."
The Shareholders Are Revolting! Part One: Chevron
Shareholders at Chevron's annual meeting voted yesterday, by 61 percent, in favor of a proposal to cut back on so-called "Scope 3" emissions, which include emissions in the supply chain, like business travel, transportation of products, investments, and the like. That also includes carbon emissions resulting from the use of a company's products, which for an oil company is a hell of a lot of emissions. (Wonkette's Scope 3 emissions, on the other hand, would include those times that you laugh so hard that you poot.)
Reuters notes that while the proposal
does not require Chevron to set a target of how much it needs to cut emissions or by when, the overwhelming support for it shows growing investor frustration with companies, which, they believe, are not doing enough to tackle climate change. [...]
Oil and gas companies have long argued that they have little control over how their products are used, but with rising investor pressure they are forced to find new ways to cut emissions and fall in line with global climate change pledges.
Damn right they are! While Chevron has pledged to cut carbon emissions, it hasn't set any actual targets to move toward net zero emissions, which it damn well needs to. Such plans are fairly standard in Europe, although some judge may come along and tell a company it needs to be more aggressive.
The Shareholders Are Revolting! Part Two: Exxon Mobil
Meanwhile over at Exxon Mobil, shareholders at the annual meeting rebelled against management's wishes as well, electing two new board members from an activist investment fund called "Engine No. 1," which owns only a small portion (.02 percent) of the giant company's stock, but which nevertheless rallied enough shareholder support to put two of its four nominees on the board. Engine No. 1 has argued that the company must commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which conveniently is also President Joe Biden's target for the USA to get there as well. It has also argued that for the company to survive, it needs to diversify its holdings, invest heavily in clean energy, and get the hell out of fossil fuels.
The vote was delayed by a one-hour recess, during which Exxon execs no doubt tried to change some shareholders' minds, but nothin' doing.
With the green barbarians now no longer at the gate but actually on the board, the Wall Street Journal reports, Exxon CEO Darren Woods may find his days numbered, despite being reelected yesterday.
Andrew Logan, senior director for oil and gas at Ceres, a nonprofit focused on sustainability that supported Engine No. 1's campaign, said it would be difficult for Mr. Woods to retain his position as CEO after the vote.
"That certainly calls his leadership into question," Mr. Logan said. "There is no going back to the Exxon of old nor should there be."
Let's hope so, given that the Exxon of old — specifically during the 1970s — had been advised by its own scientists that burning fossil fuels would lead to heat being trapped in the atmosphere by CO2. The Exxon of old funded junk science to obfuscate that fact and to delay any action that might result in lower profits. The Exxon of old can't be done away with quickly enough.
This is all very good news, as McKibben points out:
It's clear that the arguments that many have been making for a decade have sunk in at the highest levels: there is no actual way to evade the inexorable mathematics of climate change. If you want to keep the temperature low enough that civilization will survive, you have to keep coal and oil and gas in the ground. That sounded radical a decade ago. Now it sounds like the law.
Here's hoping that this really does mark a turning point. I might just go out and buy some oil stocks myself, just to be a pain in the ass.
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He can afford it!
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon overlord Jeff Bezos has made $86 billion dollars. Also, during the pandemic, Amazon spent nearly $10,000 a day paying three anti-union "consultants" to "persuade" the employees at their Bessemer, Alabama, plant not to form a union. Overall, things have been going pretty well for the richest man in all of America. Well, except for the fact that his space exploration side-hustle Blue Origin lost out on a NASA contract to Elon Musk's space exploration side-hustle, SpaceX. Both companies planned to send people to the moon, but SpaceX promised to do it for about $7 billion less than Blue Origin.
This week — and possibly even today — the Senate is set to vote on the Innovation and Competition Act (formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act), which may include an amendment to give an additional $10 billion to NASA, which is likely to go to Amazon — whose proposal to NASA just so happened to cost $10 billion.
The amendment was proposed by Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, where Amazon just happens to be based. Cantwell has argued that the amendment is necessary for redundancy, in case the SpaceX mission falls through.
But not everyone feels super great about giving the richest man in the country a $10 billion bailout to go to the fucking moon. As such, Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed an amendment to specifically not do that.
Purpose: To eliminate the multi-billion dollar Bezos bailout.
On Wednesday, Sanders tweeted "Jeff Bezos is the richest guy on the planet. He's gotten $86 billion richer since the start of the COVID pandemic. Does he really need $10 billion from Congress for space exploration?"
Jeff Bezos is the richest guy on the planet. He's gotten $86 billion richer since the start of the COVID pandemic.… https://t.co/bmqrKkcWaZ— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1622034240.0
No, he does not.
Now, to be fair, there have been a number of important scientific advancements onboard the International Space Station, as it allows for long-duration microgravity research. Cancer treatment, osteoporosis treatment, water purification treatment, etc. General "going to the moon" space travel has also resulted in many innovations. Like the Dustbuster, freeze-dried ice cream and memory foam mattresses.
But the vast majority of these innovations came as the result of preparing to send people to the moon rather than those people actually physically being on the moon, and they largely benefited private companies. Like Amazon. So we'd be giving Amazon $10 billion to go to the moon and, in the process of that, probably come up with some things they can then turn a profit on.
Now, that might be a lovely thing to do. People love space and think space is cool, and they like the idea of sending people to the moon and possibly colonizing Mars or some other planet. It's exciting. (I personally don't really give a shit, but I've also never seen Star Wars.) That's what the future is supposed to be. Space and hovercrafts and unitards for all. But it also seems a little like "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when we live in a country where people don't have the basic necessities they need to live and don't get to have them because "that would be socialism!"
Socialism is apparently good enough for Jeff Bezos when he wants a $10 billion space buyout, but terrifying when it comes to ensuring that people have health care, food, shelter, and education. It seems like we should take care of those things first. There's something fucked up about the fact that while all of us will have had our tax dollars go to sending some billionaires into space, if for some reason they actually did discover a cure for cancer or something along the way, not everyone who contributed will get to benefit.
There is almost no way that Jeff Bezos will ever, in his whole lifetime, be able to spend the $188 billion he is currently worth. It's just not possible. We are told that it is important to allow Jeff Bezos and other billionaires to have more money than they could ever spend in 10 lifetimes, because to do otherwise would be to stifle innovation, to discourage people from trying. We have arranged our whole damn economy to support their existence. Americans have sacrificed, they have gone without things that people in other countries get, all so that we can have Jeff Bezos. It is now time for Jeff Bezos to put up or shut up with the "innovation," and if he wants to go to space, he should spend his own goddamned money to do it.
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Good on AG Dana Nessel's Conviction Integrity Unit.
Gilbert Lee Poole will be getting out of prison after Michigan's Conviction Integrity Unit cleared him of a murder he didn't commit. Poole had been convicted and sentenced to life in 1989, largely on the basis of "bite mark analysis," a once common form of evidence that in recent years has been debunked and branded as pseudoscience. DNA evidence proved that Poole was not the killer.
When we established this team in 2019, we made a commitment to ensuring those convicted of state crimes are in fact guilty while also providing justice to those wrongfully imprisoned.
Nessel also thanked the Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School Innocence Project, which had worked on the case for 10 years.
Here's an idea for a new series, Dick Wolfe. "Law and Order: Criminal Integrity Unit." It could show how people get wrongly convicted, and then after decades in prison, some of them are finally proven innocent. DUN DUN!
Poole was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in the 1988 killing of Robert Mejia in Pontiac, Michigan. We'll let the Detroit News do the summarizing here:
Mejia, whose body was found in a Pontiac park, had eight stab wounds to the face, neck and upper chest and other injuries consistent with having been in a fight, an autopsy determined. [...]
The killing went unsolved for five months before Poole's then-girlfriend told North Carolina authorities he had confessed to killing a man he had met in a bar. The girlfriend said she and Poole had earlier argued over money and he left saying he was "going out to get some money." He returned several hours later scratched up and red-faced, the girlfriend told authorities.
Nessel's office said that at trial, much of the case against Poole relied on "bite mark analysis," a now-discredited forensic technique. An expert witness testified that marks on Mejia's body definitely matched Poole's teeth. But as Law & Crime points out, the method is just plain not scientifically valid.
In 2009, some two decades into Poole's sentence, the National Academy of Sciences released a groundbreaking report titled "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," which found "a high percentage of false positive matches of bite marks using controlled comparison studies."
"No thorough study has been conducted of large populations to establish the uniqueness of bite marks; theoretical studies promoting the uniqueness theory include more teeth than are seen in most bite marks submitted for comparison," the report states. "There is no central repository of bite marks and patterns."
The Innocence Project is even more blunt about the technique's lack of scientific rigor, noting that "Bite mark 'experts' cannot even agree on the answer to the most basic of questions: Was this injury caused by teeth?" At least 26 people convicted based on bite mark "evidence" had been exonerated by other evidence when that article was published in April 2020, although "there are likely many more innocent people behind bars because of the use of this discredited science."
During yesterday's remote hearing that ended with his conviction being vacated, Poole said, according to his attorneys,
I have to say that I didn't understand what was happening back in 1988 when I came to court to be tried for a murder I didn't commit. [...] At 22 years old, and a thousand miles away from anyone I knew, I kicked and screamed and stomped my feet and said "This is not right."
Poole is 56, just two years younger than I am. I'm trying to get my head around the idea of having the last 32 years carved out of my life by an unreliable witness and shitty evidence.
That would have erased the end of my first marriage, the relationship that became my second, my mother's death, the entire life of Kid Zoom, the two years we lived in Japan, our move from Tucson to Boise, the reasonably amicable end of that marriage, the entire 15 years I knew Noted Pundit Our Girlfriend, including her death in January, and of course the nine years I've had the pleasure of writing for Wonkette. And those are merely the broad strokes.
Others have been incarcerated even longer for false convictions. Richard Phillips, released in 2019, spent the most time in prison before an exoneration, 46 years. (Coincidentally, his was another Michigan case.) He was 72 when he was finally released; I'm not sure the $1.5 million he received under the 2016 Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act was exactly compensation for a lifetime, but at least Michigan has such a fund.
Mr. Poole spent his time in prison reading and studying law, and he became a born-again Christian, which has been a source of great comfort to him. The work of the Innocence Project is invaluable, and every state should absolutely set up its own version of Michigan's Conviction Integrity Unit. Even more important, we need reforms to make sure such false convictions are more rare. As far as we can tell, the real killer of Robert Mejia was never found, so there's another reason the justice system should be more, in a word, judicious.
Nessel says that the Conviction Integrity Unit has received over 1,300 requests to examine cases. Even if only a fraction of them are valid, that's a hell of a lot of integrity that needs to be restored.
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