— Rep. Peter Welch (@WelchForVT) November 22, 2021
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From the Wisconsin State Journal
This wasn’t the message Wisconsin or our nation needed to hear, even if the jury correctly followed the law.
Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges Friday in the fatal shootings of two people — Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 — and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28, during a chaotic night in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. The deadly violence followed protests, rioting and arson in response to the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white officer.
The disappointing verdict is sure to embolden militant people who seek to take the law into their own hands. It also could increase and complicate self-defense claims if more people carry — and use — firearms in the streets. That’s a scary prospect.
But further violence in response to the verdict won’t help anyone. Our civil society must remain calm — in Kenosha, in Madison and across the country.
Rittenhouse is no hero, as some of his defenders pretend. He behaved like a vigilante and didn’t deserve to walk free, given his recklessness. Yet the law, unfortunately, skews in favor of shooters who claim self-defense. That needs to change.
Rittenhouse, then 17, wasn’t making anyone safer by parading through crowds of angry people with a semiautomatic rifle strapped to his chest and, according to prosecutors, pointing it at people before the conflict escalated.
What Rittenhouse and other gun-toting, self-appointed “protectors” of Kenosha needed to hear from our court system is that they are not the judge and jury when things go awry. The answer to unrest, including the torching of homes and vehicles, is a well-trained police force and the National Guard.
Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, only complicated the difficult job of law enforcement by showing up armed in Kenosha, where some of his relatives lived.
One of the men Rittenhouse killed (Rosenbaum) was acting odd and aggressive when Rittenhouse shot him. Another victim swung and hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard after Rosenbaum was shot. The third victim had a gun.
But Rittenhouse wasn’t an innocent bystander, and some of his victims assumed he was an active shooter who needed to be stopped, prosecutors said. Rittenhouse was engaging passersby with his abrupt and threatening behavior. Much of the case hinged on whether Rittenhouse had provoked the others. If carrying an AR-15 down a crowded street isn’t provocative, what is?
Rittenhouse even got off on a gun charge despite getting his weapon from a friend because he couldn’t legally purchase it. Blame the state Legislature, not the judge who dismissed the charge, for that.
Wisconsin law allows teenagers to carry firearms for hunting. But the statute is so convoluted that Rittenhouse’s lawyers were able to convince the judge that Rittenhouse could legally carry his long rifle in an urban setting where hunting isn’t allowed.
The Legislature must fix that law so immature people don’t cause more bloodshed. An untrained teenager with a semiautomatic weapon puts everyone — including police — at greater risk of conflict and harm.
The Legislature also should narrow the law that allows people to openly carry firearms. If Rittenhouse had not been flaunting his rifle, he wouldn’t have attracted so much attention, and this tragedy could have been avoided. It’s not like he was defending his home or property.
If Rittenhouse was justified in his actions, how does that apply if two people openly carry guns and point them at each other? Whose self-defense claim takes priority?
Our state should be discouraging standoffs with guns, rather than encouraging more people to arm themselves out of fear or revenge.
Policymakers, more than any jury, are in a position to set clear and reasonable rules.
The jury was under enormous pressure to decide a complicated case after hearing more than 30 witnesses over eight days of testimony. They had to follow the law as written and the instructions of the judge.
Did Rittenhouse face an unlawful threat that night in Kenosha, and was his use of force reasonable and necessary? The jury ultimately answered “yes,” and we respect their decision — even though we don’t like it.
Responsible citizens who want to discourage similar tragedies should pressure their elected leaders for smarter gun laws. We the people, through our democracy, must demand that this troubling saga never happens again.
What we are witnessing is a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for.
My heart still breaks for the communities and families whose grief now compounds, and the countless others who will be denied and deprived in similar scenes across the country.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 19, 2021
This is a weekend open thread. See you in the comments.
While Democrats gave away all leverage to pass a good BBB bill, one spark of good news on the labor front.
The picketers won significant concessions since their strike began in mid-October.
The first contract agreement reached between Deere and UAW negotiators, on Oct. 1, offered immediate raises of 5 to 6 percent, depending on the job, and an additional 3 percent in 2023 and 2025. It also proposed eliminating pensions for new hires. Workers rejected the offer by a wide margin.
The second agreement offered an immediate 10 percent raise and an $8,500 ratification bonus, plus 5 percent raises in 2023 and 2025. Deere workers rejected that one, too, but the vote was closer — 55 percent to 45 percent.
The latest contract made “modest modifications” to the second offer, the UAW said. Workers said those included tweaks to how Deere calculates bonuses for workers who meet production targets.
Kristin Jordan, a 19-year veteran at a Deere combine factory in East Moline, Ill., said she was relieved to see the vote pass.
“I’m exhausted and nervous, but I’m proud of what was accomplished,” she said Wednesday night.
Picketers at other companies have also recently won concessions: striking Nabisco and Frito-Lay employees returned to work after negotiating better terms for pay and working hours.
More news, tweets, and of course, your comments below. This also serves as an open thread. Sure Happy It’s Thursday!
Hello birdies…a little analysis on climate change. Surprising findings…not.
Across the world, many countries underreport their greenhouse gas emissions in their reports to the United Nations, a Washington Post investigation has found. An examination of 196 country reports reveals a giant gap between what nations declare their emissions to be versus the greenhouse gases they are sending into the atmosphere. The gap ranges from at least 8.5 billion to as high as 13.3 billion tons a year of underreported emissions — big enough to move the needle on how much the Earth will warm.
The plan to save the world from the worst of climate change is built on data. But the data the world is relying on is inaccurate.
“If we don’t know the state of emissions today, we don’t know whether we’re cutting emissions meaningfully and substantially,” said Rob Jackson, a professor at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration of hundreds of researchers. “The atmosphere ultimately is the truth. The atmosphere is what we care about. The concentration of methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is what’s affecting climate.”
At the low end, the gap is larger than the yearly emissions of the United States. At the high end, it approaches the emissions of China and comprises 23 percent of humanity’s total contribution to the planet’s warming, The Post found.
As tens of thousands of people are convening in Glasgow for what may be the largest-ever meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP26, the numbers they are using to help guide the world’s effort to curb greenhouse gases represent a flawed road map.
That means the challenge is even larger than world leaders have acknowledged.
“In the end, everything becomes a bit of a fantasy,” said Philippe Ciais, a scientist with France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences who tracks emissions based on satellite data. “Because between the world of reporting and the real world of emissions, you start to have large discrepancies.”
The UNFCCC collects country reports and oversees the Paris agreement, which brought the world together to progressively reduce emissions in 2015. The U.N. agency attributed the gap that The Post identified to “the application of different reporting formats and inconsistency in the scope and timeliness of reporting (such as between developed and developing countries, or across developing countries).”
When asked if the United Nations plans on addressing the gap, spokesman Alexander Saier said in an email it is continuing its efforts to strengthen the reporting process.
“However, we do acknowledge that more needs to be done, including finding ways to provide support to developing country Parties to improve their institutional and technical capacities.”
The gap comprises vast amounts of missing carbon dioxide and methane emissions as well as smaller amounts of powerful synthetic gases. It is the result of questionably drawn rules, incomplete reporting in some countries and apparently willful mistakes in others — and the fact that in some cases, humanity’s full impacts on the planet are not even required to be reported.
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Congress approves $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending measure to Biden for enactment
House lawmakers late Friday adopted a roughly $1.2 trillion measure to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, overcoming their own internecine divides to secure a long-sought burst in federal investment and deliver President Biden a major legislative win.
The bipartisan 228-to-206 vote marked the final milestone for the first of two pieces in the president’s sprawling economic agenda. The outcome sends to Biden’s desk an initiative that promises to deliver its benefits to all 50 states, a manifestation of his 2020 campaign pledge to rejuvenate the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and “build back better.”
The path to passage proved littered with political conflict, pushing to the limits a fractious party with still-widening ideological fissures. Democrats initially hoped to approve the infrastructure bill on Friday along with a separate, roughly $2 trillion proposal to overhaul the nation’s health care, education, immigration, climate and tax laws. Doing so would have advanced two spending initiatives that have been stalled on Capitol Hill for months.
Originally, I reported the Squad was split on the vote. It turns out they all voted no.
Fly high, birdies! This serves as a weekend thread.
Senate Democrats are chasing the growing pile of wealth held by some of the wealthiest Americans.
They rolled out a proposal on Wednesday to tax roughly 700 of the nation’s billionaires to finance what will be a slimmed-down spending package containing President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.
The plan was authored by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. It would apply to taxpayers earning above $100 million in annual income or those holding at least $1 billion in assets for three years.
“The Billionaires Income Tax would ensure billionaires pay tax every year, just like working Americans,” Wyden said in a statement. “We have a historic opportunity with the Billionaires Income Tax to restore fairness to our tax code and fund critical investments in American families.”
These superwealthy Americans would fall subject to the usual 23.8% capital gains tax on the increased value of unsold assets like stocks and bonds. Figures like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos could choose to pay their first tax bill in equal installments over a five-year period, according to Wyden’s proposal.
It’s meant to give affected taxpayers time to come up with enormous sums of cash. For people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Bezos, the initial value of their stock was zero and they’d be on the hook for what it’s worth today.
A 25-year technical strategy veteran shares 5 altcoins near or at 52-week highs that are about to break out — and explains why the 4th quarter is ‘a very positive time’ for bitcoin
If successfully implemented, the plan would usher in a significant overhaul of a tax code that’s chiefly been focused on income up to now. Billionaires often pay much lower taxes compared to everyone else because they accumulate wealth from the climbing value of their stock and company holdings. Those aren’t subject to capital-gains taxes until they are sold, known then as a realized gain. Once sold it’s taxed at a lower, preferential rate compared to workers’ income.
What Democrats want to do is compel billionaires to pay taxes on the growing value of their assets annually, treating it as income. But the richest Americans could also take deductions if they suffer heavy losses.
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President Biden aims to ramp up his public sales pitch for his sweeping domestic agenda at tonight's CNN town hall https://t.co/fyWEnoXyqF
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 21, 2021
A 4-act tragicomedy as the world burns pic.twitter.com/ImEFuysOV5
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) October 21, 2021
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