Usher’s News & Analysis for July 13, 2020

... the foreperson of the trial jury was also actually a Democratic activist and an outspoken critic of Trump and his associates who even wrote publicly about the Stone case. Despite multiple opportunities to do so, she never disclosed her prior statements and actions that would have demonstrated such bias. Judge Amy Berman Jackson shrugged off all that, however, and refused to grant Stone a new trial, denying him the most basic protection in our system.

Moreover, I think both the court and the Justice Department were wrong to push for Stone going to prison at this time, because he meets all of the criteria for an inmate at high risk for exposure to the coronavirus. None of that, however, justifies Trump becoming involved in a commutation, when many of the issues could have been addressed in a legal appeal.

There is lots to criticize in this move without pretending it was a pristine power besmirched by a rogue president. Indeed, Trump should have left the decision to a successor or, at a minimum, to the attorney general. But compared to the other presidents, this commutation is not even a distant contender for “the most corrupt and cronyistic act” of clemency.

Why this Roger Stone commutation is not as controversial as some think

COVID-19 outbreaks within the homeless population have been most common in mass shelters where people sleep a few feet apart and share common areas, restrooms, and other facilities. According to the King County Public Health department, which monitors an incomplete list of about 50 shelters around the county, most reported cases of COVID-19 among the county’s homeless population have occurred in congregate shelters, bolstering the argument for individual rooms. And with the World Health Organization reporting that COVID-19 can spread through the air in indoor settings, the argument for eliminating mass shelters, like the ones the city of Seattle has opened in community centers and public buildings to “de-intensify” existing shelters, is compelling.

“We Just Can’t Do It.” Seattle Debates Moving Homeless People From Hotels Back to Mass Shelter

The title doesn't do the changes justice.

Sudan to allow drinking alcohol for non-Muslims, ban FGM

Chicago's shootings are barbaric. The same people doing the shootings will complain how hard life is.

56 shot, 10 fatally, this weekend so far

... pandemic has now killed more than 566,000 people worldwide.

Over 12.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 135,155 deaths.

Coronavirus updates: State records continue to fall for new cases, hospitalizations

We're now more than three months post-passage of the CARES Act, and the U.S. unemployment rate remains above 11%, with cases of the illness once again rising in most states.

This is a problem for one key reason: the CARES Act simply didn't do enough for most Americans. A Money/Morning Consult survey of 2,200 respondents in April showed that 74% had spent, or expected to spend, their stimulus money in four weeks or less. With the U.S. economy struggling to bounce back to where it was prior to COVID-19, it's heightened the call for an additional round of stimulus.

Did Mitch McConnell Spill the Beans on a Second Stimulus Package?

New Earthships capture more energy, water & food at lower cost

With walls made from old tires packed with earth, as well as upcycled glass bottles and cans, Earthships have always been built with mainly found materials. The home provides its own energy (with photovoltaics and passive solar and geothermal tubes), water (rainwater and even dew-water capture) and grows food in the essential greenhouse (necessary for temperature regulation and for filtering the water to be reused).

Costs range from $100,000 for a Simple Survival model to $1.5 million for the top-of-the-line Global design. Earthship Biotecture h as justcompleted their first Encounter: an affordable model that provides all the power, water and good of a more costly home.

Deborah Binder has been building Earthships for the past 8 years, both her own home, and community projects in places like Malawi and Puerto Rico. She gave us a tour of the first Encounter build, as well as the Global model she is test-living.

We stopped in at the Encounter build #3 where foreman Phil Basehart pounded tires and explained how the Encounter compares to other models.