Monday, June 28, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 6/25/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on Biden infrastructure deal, crime plan, Georgia lawsuitPBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the potential breakthrough on the road to an infrastructure deal, the justice department's lawsuit against Georgia's voting restrictions, and the President's plan to curb surging violent crime across the country.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And now, at the end of a full week of news, we are so fortunate to have the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.  That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

It is very good to see both of you on this — as it is on every Friday.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  Great to see you.

David Brooks, New York Times:  Good to see you.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  A lot happened this week in Washington, Jonathan.

But I do want to start with this, do we have one or do we not have an infrastructure deal?

Yesterday, the President kind of made the unprecedented move of coming out on the driveway with a group of Democrats and Republicans, announced that there was an agreement, but then a couple of hours later, he said there's only an agreement if Democrats — if I get from Congress the spending plan.

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, I mean, I think there's a lot of consternation clearly right now within the Republican Party, and particularly among those Senators, about what happened.

But the deal, such as it is, last I saw, is still holding.  It's still there.  I think you have had senators like Senator Blunt, Senator Portman, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who, in the past, said we want a hard infrastructure deal, but I — we see that the President will probably go reconciliation for these other things, and that's fine.

The rub is the President and the speaker of the House both saying, OK, we will go for this deal, but you have got to do reconciliation also.

That's why the Republicans are angry.  But everybody needs a deal.  The President wants one.  The Republicans want one, because they need something to go back to their constituents and say, look, this is what we have delivered for you.

Judy Woodruff:  And, David, the White House, the President, they're saying, well, the President made it clear all along that he was going to want this, but it seems to be a little fuzzy.

David Brooks:  Sort of.

You know, I think everyone knew there were going to be two bills.  There was going to be — well, we didn't know.  But the White House, to their credit, worked really hard to get this bipartisan compromise, all the calls, all the meetings.  It looked like real legislation, the kind of stuff Joe Biden was born for.

And so we get this deal, against all the odds.  It was unexpected.  The Republicans knew there was going to be a reconciliation deal.  What they didn't know, I think, is that he [Biden] was going to threaten to veto the compromise if he didn't get the second.

And so it was that linkage that I think took a lot of Republicans by surprise, and not only the — I mean, ones who really believe in the deal, the Rob Portmans of the world and people like that.

So, I do think, from what we know, they are right to feel a little aggrieved.  Will they walk out on it?  Well, Senator Coons from Delaware told Politico this afternoon that, so far, they have had conversations, bipartisan, and they haven't walked out on the deal.

Now, a couple people, Lindsey Graham and others, one other, have shown some willingness to walk out of the deal.  And if they do that, then you don't have 10 Republicans in the Senate, and you can't pass the deal.

But, like Jonathan says, so far, they're hanging in there.  And there's a whole bunch of strategy I can imagine about how they're going to try to sink the reconciliation later.  It's a strategist's dream, this complicated procedure.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  But, so far, I think they have damaged the deal, but they haven't killed the deal.

Judy Woodruff:  But your sense is that it's going to hold, you think?

Jonathan Capehart:  Yes, I think it will hold.

And, really, does anyone think that Republicans are going to vote in favor of the reconciliation deal?  I think the reconciliation deal, it's a given that the 50 Republicans aren't going to vote for it.

What it really is about is trying to hold Senators Manchin and Sinema and maybe some unnamed others to…

Judy Woodruff:  Democrats.

Jonathan Capehart:  Democrats — to ensure that they vote for reconciliation, so that everybody's happy.

David Brooks:  And the Republicans are trying to get Manchin and Sinema to break the linkage and say, we won't sign on unless you do this alone.

To me, the fun will be when the Democrats start fighting amongst themselves.  I mean, say the moderate — this compromise passes.  Then we have got the reconciliation.  The progressives want this big $6 trillion thing.  Manchin probably wants less than $2 trillion.

And so they all agree on the taxes.  They do not agree on where the spending should go.  And that's how the bigger thing could fall apart.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, speaking of Senator Manchin, he played a critical role in another issue that we saw this week.  It seems like it was a long time ago, but it was only Monday, Jonathan…

Jonathan Capehart:  Right.

Judy Woodruff:  … when voting rights came up in the Senate, and the Republicans blocked what the Democrats were trying to do.

This was after Senator Manchin, same Joe Manchin who's involved in infrastructure, said he would — was on board with a kind of a compromise.

I guess my question now is, here, today, you have the Department of Justice announcing it's going to sue the state of Georgia over its new voting laws.  Where are we on voting rights in this country?

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, I think, right now, where we are in voting rights is, there's not going to be any quick legislative fix.  Everyone was focused on the For the People Act as the immediate thing that could be done to stop or blunt what was happening in the states like Georgia.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is — hasn't even been introduced.  So that's way down the road.  I think, right now, the focus is going to be on, what can the Justice Department do, what can the administration do to blunt the impact of Georgia and what — and these other states?

And so that's what we saw today, the Justice Department suing Georgia to stop its law.  I think that's where the action.  Until the filibuster is done away with, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer comes along and says, OK, here's the For the People Act again, where it can pass by a simple majority, that bill's not going to go anywhere.

So it's imperative, really, for the Justice Department to weigh in.

Judy Woodruff:  How do you see it?

David Brooks:  I guess I see it that way, though it's not clear to me why people in Congress can't just scale back.

I mean, some of the voting rights that were the H.R.1 and all that seemed to me way overly broad.  And Manchin had a proposal.  Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, had a proposal.  Maybe something could be scaled back, but nobody seems to be talking about that way.  So we do seem to be going to the courts.

I guess there's going to be a Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona voting some time maybe next week.

Judy Woodruff:  Right.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right.

Judy Woodruff:  Soon.

David Brooks:  And, to me, I'm fine with that.

We heard such different things about the Georgia — Joe Biden called it the new Jim Crow.  Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State there, who seems like a legit guy, totally disagreed.  And so if the courts decide, does this discriminate against African-Americans, I'm happy to have — make that decision.

I hate having the federal government involved in state voting procedures.  But if one party is trying to disenfranchise a race of people, I think American history has established this is when the federal government gets involved.

So I'm happy to see — let the courts make a determination, was there intent to discriminate here?

Judy Woodruff:  And, Jonathan, Democrats are arguing that Republicans are trying to deny people on a massive scale from voting.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right, on a massive scale, which is why Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department's taking the actions — the action that it took today.

Judy Woodruff:  And I guess my question, though, is, whatever the Supreme Court rules, it's — it looks like this is something that's frozen in the Congress.  I mean, it's not going anywhere.

Jonathan Capehart:  Yes.  No, it's completely frozen.

Until the filibuster — something is done about the filibuster

Judy Woodruff:  Our favorite Senate maneuver, the filibuster.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right.

Until it's reformed or eliminated or what have you, that bill, the For the People Act, is not going to go anywhere.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, another — we talked about what a busy week — this was also the week that President Biden rolled out his plan for addressing in a number of different ways gun crime, violent crime.

The homicide rate is way up last year over the year before and this year way up again.  Does this look like — I mean, it's a multipronged approach, a lot of different initiatives they're laying out there.  But does it look like something that could make a difference?

David Brooks:  Well, it's tough for a President to control crime.  It is mostly an issue — but it's going to be a big voting issue, no question.  We have already seen that in the New York Democratic primary, where the crime was the issue.

Voters, especially in places like Minneapolis, Portland, they are saying this has become a crisis level.  People have different explanations for why it is, partly COVID, economic stress, police pullback.

And so I do think all these things make it imperative to act.  I would give the Biden administration maybe a B-minus.  I mean, I support gun control.  I'm not sure it's a crime or a homicide reduction measure very effectively.

I'm for some police reform.  I'm glad they're using COVID money to allow police forces to increase the number of officers.  There's clear evidence that, if you increase the number of police, you get less crime.  And — but that has to be accompanied by police reform.

And so you have got to do a bunch of things all at once to have a just way to reduce crime that's not penalty on the local communities.  And that takes involvement on multiple fronts.  And I thought this was a vague gesture, more than that kind of intense involvement.

Judy Woodruff:  A vague gesture?

Jonathan Capehart:  I don't know about vague gesture.

I mean, you are right.  Presidents have no impact whatsoever on state and local — excuse me — state and local crime issues.  But people look to the President to do something.  And I agree with David.  The $350 billion from the America CARES Act to localities to do something related to crime is a very good thing.

But we have to remember that, yes, crime has ticked up this year over last year and last year over the year before.  But we are way, way down from the bad years of the '90s.

And let me just give you quickly — New York City murders, in 1990, 2,262, in 2020, 468, a 79 percent reduction.  Robberies in 1990, 100,280; 2020, robberies in New York City, 13,108.  That's an 86.9 percent reduction.

So, crime — yes, crime is ticking up over the last couple of years.  But we are nowhere near where we were 30 years ago, when it was really bad.

Judy Woodruff:  And I should have clarified.  Homicides are way up.  Violent crime is up a little…

Jonathan Capehart:  Right, violent crime, right.

Judy Woodruff:  … and other crime.  It's more of a mixed picture.

But, David, it just — people keep asking, as you say, even though the President can't reach in and control what goes on in handling the crime in individual cities, what example is he setting?  What is he saying to lead us?

David Brooks:  Well, I think he's made some progress.

Yes, I think we both lived through New York in that period.  And crime was terrible there.  It was terrible.  It was something we all lived with and all endured.

I think one of the things he's done, at least go — take us away from last summer's belief that there was such thing as a free lunch.  You could defund the police or reduce the police and not have some after-effect.  When a party tells you there's no free lunch, whether it's on tax policy, fiscal policy, criminal policy, they're almost always wrong.

And so if you just let the police pull back and not get involved, you're going to get more crime.  So, we got to do two things at once.

Judy Woodruff:  We're going to leave it there.  Come back and see you guys next Friday.

(LAUGHTER)

Jonathan Capehart:  All right.

Judy Woodruff:  David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both.

Jonathan Capehart:  Thanks, Judy.

Judy Woodruff:  Have a good weekend.



UFO REPORT - 'ET' Calling Home? Maybe not.

"We may not know if aliens exist, but UFOs still pose a national security riskPBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

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SUMMARY:  A highly anticipated report from U.S. intelligence released Friday focuses on unidentified aerial phenomenon or UAPS, commonly known as UFOs.  The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concludes that unidentified objects clearly pose a risk to flight and a national security threat to the U.S.  But the larger question about alien life remains unanswered.  John Yang reports.

 

 

"Why the Pentagon’s latest UFO report is a turning point on the issuePBS NewsHour 6/27/2021

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SUMMARY:  The U.S. intelligence released a preliminary --and watershed -- report on unidentified aerial phenomena or UFOs.  The report is the government’s most concerted and serious attempt to understand an issue without the fear of being ridiculed.  The report found no evidence of aliens but acknowledged at least 143 unexplained sightings since 2004.  NewsHour Science Correspondent Miles O'Brien joins.



CHAUVIN CONVICTION - Mean for Changing Police Behavior

"What Chauvin’s 22.5 year sentence could mean for changing police behaviorPBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

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SUMMARY:  More than a year after George Floyd's murder set off national protests and a racial reckoning, former police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison by a Minnesota judge Friday.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro begins our report from Minneapolis on the sentence and emotional hearing.  Then, William Brangham looks at the continuing reverberations of this case.



AFGHANISTAN - Biden Proposes to Leave US Troops Behind

"Biden wants to leave some US troops in Afghanistan.  The Taliban isn’t happyPBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

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SUMMARY:  Friday at the White House, President Joe Biden met with Afghanistan’s leaders, just weeks before the U.S. completes withdrawing almost all of its forces.  There was a lot on the agenda: finalizing plans on how many U.S. troops to keep in the country, how to continue training Afghan troops, and how to safely evacuate Afghans who worked for the U.S.  Nick Schifrin reports.

 

 

"The security and humanitarian issues at stake in Afghanistan, US-Mexico borderPBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

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SUMMARY:  Amna Nawaz joins Judy Woodruff to discuss President Joe Biden's meeting Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House, and Vice President Kamala Harris' first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

 

"An Afghan official on the tough love from Biden during White House meetingPBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

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SUMMARY:  Judy Woodruff speaks to the man at the center of negotiations for Afghanistan — both with the U.S. and the Taliban — Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.



FLORIDA - Surfside Condo Collapse

"What we know about the Surfside condo collapsePBS NewsHour 6/25/2021

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SUMMARY:  Emergency crews continued searching the rubble for those still missing Friday as the Surfside, Florida community grieves the lives lost.  Stephanie Sy has our report with Patricia Mazzei the Miami bureau chief for The New York Times.

 

 

"Florida building collapse: no new survivors found as search rescue ops continuePBS NewsHour 6/26/2021

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SUMMARY:  A fire underneath the rubble of the collapsed residential building in Florida is slowing the work of the search and rescue teams.  At least 150 people are still missing and four deaths have been confirmed.  While the Miami-Dade Mayor has announced an investigation into the collapse, a 2018 report released overnight points to a “major error” in the design of the building.  NPR Correspondent Brian Mann joins.

 

 

"Florida building collapse: death toll rises, search and rescue continuesPBS NewsHour 6/27/2021

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SUMMARY:  The search and rescue for at least 150 unaccounted for people has entered the fourth day after a condominium building in Florida collapsed on Thursday.  The death toll from the accident has gone up to nine as questions arise on the faulty building structure.  Officials say they are notifying families as they recover more bodies from the rubble.  NPR Correspondent Brian Mann joins with the latest.



US HEALTH CARE - A Consequence? Life Expectancy 'Massive' Decline.

"US life expectancy sees ‘massive’ decline, especially in Black and brown communitiesPBS NewsHour 6/24/2021

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SUMMARY:  A new study found that between 2018 and 2020, U.S. life expectancy decreased by the biggest margin since World War II.  The pandemic took an outsized toll in America compared to other countries, with life expectancy as a whole dropping by nearly two years.  But for Black and brown Americans, the toll was even worse.  William Brangham discusses the study's findings with lead author Dr. Steven Woolf.



MISSIONARY SCHOOLS - History of Wiping Out Indigenous Culture

"Schools tried to forcibly assimilate Indigenous kids. Can the US make amends?PBS NewsHour 6/23/2021

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SUMMARY:  A mass grave with the remains of 215 children was recently found near the now-closed Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada, exposing a dark history of forcibly assimilating Indigenous people.  Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland announced a federal initiative Tuesday that will “uncover the truth and the lasting consequences of these schools” in the U.S.  Jeffrey Brown reports.



CRIME IN AMERICA - The Biden Plan

"Examining Biden’s 5-part plan to tackle rising violent crime ratesPBS NewsHour 6/23/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Joe Biden is renewing his push to curb the current rise in violent crime, including homicides, in the United States.  With a special focus on crime involving guns, Biden laid out his proposals, such as investing in police and community violence intervention programs, in a public address Wednesday.  White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.

 

 

"Investing in police important to rebuild community trust, Cedric Richmond saysPBS NewsHour 6/23/2021

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SUMMARY:  To discuss President Joe Biden's push to curb rising violent crime, and how investing in police will help achieve that end, Judy Woodruff is joined by Cedric Richmond.  Richmond is a senior advisor to the President and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

 

 

"Biden is increasing investment in police. Will it increase officer accountability?PBS NewsHour 6/23/2021

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SUMMARY:  To get a different perspective on President Joe Biden's push to curb rising violent crime and how increased investment in law enforcement will impact police reform, Judy Woodruff speaks with DeRay McKesson.  He's a co-founder of Campaign Zero, which aims to end violent acts by police.



THE NFL - Alteration of 'Macho' Image?

"How Carl Nassib’s coming out may be a starting point to alter ‘macho’ NFL attitudesPBS NewsHour 6/22/2021

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SUMMARY:  Footballer Carl Nassib's decision to come out as gay on Monday makes him the first active player in the NFL's history to do so.  Others have come out only after they retired or left the game.  Nassib, however, is a five-year veteran defensive lineman, currently playing for the Las Vegas Raiders.  Amna Nawaz discusses the coming out with LZ Granderson, a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times.



AMERICAN MILITARY - DoD to Fix Sexual Assault in Ranks?

"Defense Department moves to fix failures in addressing sexual assault in the ranksPBS NewsHour 6/22/2021

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SUMMARY:  The U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday embraced a major reform aimed at stamping out sexual assault in the military.  Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III issued a statement saying he supported removing commanders from having any voice on whether service personnel should be prosecuted if accused of sexual assault.  Nick Schifrin has more.



VOTING RIGHTS - For the People Act (H.R. 1)

There is no doubt in my mind that the GOP opposition to this bill is nothing more than a bid to continue rigging our voting system to keep them in power, a bid for one-party-rule.

Yes it will give Democrats a bigger advantage, but that's after decades of Republicans using gerrymandering, vote suppression techniques to rig the vote in their favor.  It IS time to even the playing field.

"Where Democrats compromised to get Sen. Manchin’s support on voting rights billPBS NewsHour 6/22/2021

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SUMMARY:  A major battle over election reform is underway in the U.S. Senate as Republicans in some states push to enact more restrictive voting laws, while Democrats aim to override those efforts at the federal level.  Sen. Joe Manchin signaled he will vote with his party, the Democrats, to allow voting on a modified bill.  Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff to discuss its implications.

 

 

"Centralized voting bill won’t restore public trust in election, Sen. Thune saysPBS NewsHour 6/22/2021

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SUMMARY:  Judy Woodruff discusses Tuesday's Senate vote on an elections reform bill with Sen. John Thune [R] of South Dakota, who also serves as the Senate Republican Whip.  Thune also weighs in on President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure package, and progress towards bipartisanship on the matter.

 

 

"Democrats ‘another step closer’ to reforming filibuster, Sen. Padilla saysPBS NewsHour 6/22/2021

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SUMMARY:  Judy Woodruff discusses Tuesday's Senate vote on a voting rights bill with California Sen. Alex Padilla [D].  He was also California's Secretary of State for the 2020 presidential election.



BASEBALL - 'Sticky' Rules

"Doctored baseballs? MLB’s sticky situation, new rules explainedPBS NewsHour 6/21/2021

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SUMMARY:  Across Major League Baseball, batting averages are down, strikeouts are up, and suspicions are high.  For decades, pitchers — including some Hall of Famers — have tried to get a better grip of the ball by using sticky substances.  But the league says too many pitchers are doctoring the ball, and plans to crack down on those players.  Amna Nawaz has the details on the sticky situation.



THE ABANDONMENT OF AFGHANISTAN - Taliban Expansion

"Taliban gains Afghan territory, may seek ‘complete return to power’ amid US withdrawalPBS NewsHour 6/21/2021

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SUMMARY:  The U.S. military will soon complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.  But the Afghan government is under constant attack from the Taliban and is struggling to hold onto its territory.  This past weekend saw some of the militants' largest gains yet.  Nick Schifrin and Scott Worden, director of Afghanistan and Central Asia at the U.S. Institute of Peace think tank, explain.



U.S. SUPREME COURT - Students vs NCAA

"How the latest Supreme Court ruling could impact the student athlete compensation battlePBS NewsHour 6/21/2021

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SUMMARY:  The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday delivered a blow to the NCAA as the justices sided with former college athletes in a dispute over compensation.  While the unanimous ruling was limited to education-related benefits, like postgraduate scholarships and paying for computers or tutoring, it could add to the momentum for greater compensation for college athletes.  John Yang explores.



Monday, June 21, 2021

 

USN TO NASA - Kayla Barron


"She Was a Pioneering Navy Submarine Officer.  Now She's Headed to Space" by Karli Goldenberg, Military.com 6/18/2021

Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Barron, one of the first women to serve on a Navy submarine, is now one step closer to being one of the first women to walk on the Moon.

Barron, 33, who commissioned as a Navy officer in 2010, was selected by NASA out of a pool of approximately 18,000 people to join the 2017 astronaut candidate class.

Barron is no stranger to firsts.  When the Navy first began the process of integrating women into submarine crews in 2010, during her senior year at the Naval Academy, Barron became a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community.

"I think I've been lucky to be in the right place at the right time for some of these big changes, the submarine force being a great example.  They opened the community to women during my senior year at the Naval Academy, allowing me to volunteer to serve in that community," Barron said.

She would ultimately serve on the Ohio-class ballistic submarine Maine, where she'd complete three patrols in the job of division officer.

For her first spaceflight, Barron will serve as a mission specialist for the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station.  The mission is slated for launch "no earlier than Sunday Oct.  31," according to a NASA Commercial Crew Program post.

In addition to the upcoming SpaceX Crew-3 mission this fall, Barron is also set to take part in NASA's Artemis program, which aims to "send the first woman and next man to the Moon" by 2024.

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For Barron, though, it's not about being the first, it's about striving for her personal best.

"I don't think I really like to latch onto being the first," she said.  "For me, I want to find the opportunities that will be the most challenging, the most developmental and will allow me to serve in the best way I can given what I think I can bring to the table."

Barron, who still serves on active duty in the Navy, said her service with the submarine force gave her the confidence to apply to be an astronaut.

"My experiences on the submarine were really formative, and were ultimately what gave me the confidence to even think that I could apply at all to become an astronaut, let alone eventually become one," she said.

Following two years of training to build basic skills and create a strong foundation for astronaut candidates, including Survival, Evasion, Resistant and Escape, or SERE, training with the Navy in Redington, Maine, Barron became a NASA astronaut.

"I definitely rely on my experience from the submarine force, every single day in my role at NASA," Barron said.  She had a breakthrough in conceptualizing space, she said., when she started thinking of the space station like a submarine.

"The parallels are really endless," she said.  "In my opinion, just like you can imagine, you know human beings trying to live and work in an environment where human beings aren't supposed to live and work, whether that's under the surface of the ocean or in the vacuum of space.  So you face a lot of really similar challenges."

As one of two submariners in the astronaut office, Barron said she brings unique experience and an "operational mindset" to the upcoming mission.

"It really takes ... an understanding of how to bring everybody's knowledge, experience and skill sets to the table in order to make strong decisions operationally that not only keep everyone safe but also accomplish all the goals you're trying to make," Barron said.  "Really understanding how to bring that team together is something that I really think I can contribute to our mission, that operational understanding and experience."

As Barron continues her work as an astronaut, she said that she is particularly inspired by the women who paved the way for her.

"Here at NASA, we walk the halls with our heroes," she said.  "They're amazing women who were the first to command a space shuttle or the first woman to command the space station.  It feels like I'm just a part of that lineage and I'm really standing on the shoulders of people who've paved the way in order for me to be there.  I've just felt really lucky that people have seen the value and my experience and perspective and have really given me the opportunity to challenge myself and continue to grow in these various environments."



Thursday, June 17, 2021

US NAVY - Subs Flying The Jolly Roger


"Why Some Submarines Return to Port Flying Pirate Flags" by Blake Stilwell, Military.com 6/16/2021

When the USS Jimmy Carter sailed into its home port in Washington state in September 2017, it was flying an unusual flag: the distinctive skull and crossbones of a Jolly Roger.

There’s no telling exactly what the Jimmy Carter was doing at sea, as its missions are probably among the most closely guarded secrets in the U.S. Navy, but submarines fly those pirate flags when they return from a mission after some kind of “operational action.”

While no one outside of the crew can tell you what that “operational action” entailed, the history of Western submarines flying the Jolly Roger upon a successful return is a funny bit of history.

Submarines haven’t always been an accepted part of naval warfare.  When they first became a viable technology, some old sailors thought they were a less-than-gentlemanly act of war.  They compared the idea of silently striking the enemy from under the waves to an act of piracy.

Whether the old salts liked it or not, submarines were here to stay.  And as if to prove you can’t just call sailors anything you happen to find derogatory, those early submariners adopted the pirate theme and made it their own.

Sir Arthur Wilson was the first sea lord of England’s Royal Navy when submarines entered active service.  He was a great naval officer and Victoria Cross recipient while at sea.  But by land, even as first sea lord, Wilson wasn’t impressing anyone.  He’s mostly remembered for a short tenure, marked mostly by being a loud crank.

No matter how cranky Wilson was, he was still in charge.  If he thought submarines were a dirty way of fighting, one would think he’d ax the program.  Instead, he did the opposite, actually promoting the use of submarines as a future for the Royal Navy.

Being the first sea lord that no one seemed to like might have been the reason he gets credited for saying submarines were “underhanded, unfair and damned un-English.”  There’s no actual proof he said this, but history isn’t kind to unlikable people.

What Wilson did say about submarines came long before he was the one making the decisions for the navy, because it also flies in the face of what he actually did as first sea lord:

“They’ll never be any use in war and I’ll tell you why.  I’m going to get the First Lord to announce that we intend to treat all submarines as pirate vessels in wartime and that we’ll hang all the crews.”

When World War I broke out in 1914, the Royal Navy’s submarines got its first taste of naval combat.  A contemporary of Wilson’s, Lt. Cmdr. Max Horton was out to sea aboard one of England’s earliest submarines, the HMS E9.  Horton and the E9 were off the coast of German islands in the North Sea when they came upon the German light cruiser Hela.

Horton torpedoes Hela from 600 yards, and the cruiser was soon at the bottom of the sea.  The E9 evaded German anti-submarine efforts for the entire voyage back to safer waters, but once it arrived back in port, Horton hoisted a large Jolly Roger flag, a nod to Wilson’s threat of hanging his triumphant crew.

For every subsequent enemy he sunk, Horton intended to raise another pirate flag, but he ran out of room.  Instead, he increased the size of his boat’s Jolly Roger and started adding symbols and other information to denote the submarine’s victories, similar to how airmen marked their kills on the nose of an aircraft.

Thus, a new tradition for submarines was born.  By World War II, the practice not only grew, but pirate flags actually were issued to submarine crews.  Submariners from Allied nations also joined in on the practice and have flown their Jolly Rogers ever since.

While some of the markings on these pirate flags are self-explanatory, others will be known only to the crew.  When the Jimmy Carter returned to its Washington port flying one, there was a symbol on the flag -- but good luck finding out what that means.

Monday, June 14, 2021

CANVAS - Tristan Eaton

"Street artist and designer Tristan Eaton’s global canvasPBS NewsHour 6/12/2021

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SUMMARY:  Next month the Long Beach Museum of Art in Southern California will open “All At Once,” a 25-year retrospective on the work of artist Tristan Eaton.  Described as an urban pop artist, Eaton's work moves between guerrilla street art, commercial design, civic installation and fine art.  NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker recently spoke with Eaton about his life, work, and living outside conventions.



OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 6/11/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on Biden at the G-7 summit, the Justice Department under TrumpPBS NewsHour 6/11/2021

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including President Biden at the G-7 summit, the Justice Department under the Trump administration, and how redistricting will impact the nation's political makeup.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.  That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

And they are in person here with me.

David Brooks, New York Times:  We're here.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  I can touch you.  Actually, you're in the studio.  This is exciting.  I have got to figure out how I'm going to get through this conversation.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  It's so weird to be doing it while wearing shoes.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  Unusual.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  Exactly, instead of our house slippers.

So much to talk about.

And, Jonathan, let's just quickly pick up with where Dan Bush left off.

Texas, really important decision for them to make about these new districts.  They have got to figure out how to draw those lines.  What is at stake?  With the Congress so evenly divided, what's at stake here?

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  What's at stake is the majority for the Congress, whether the — excuse me — whether the Democrats will maintain their very slim majority or, as a result of redistricting, not just in Texas, but around the country, whether the lines will be drawn in such a way that gives an advantage to Republicans going into the 2022 midterms before a vote has even been cast.

And, you know, with Texas, the influx of people, the population growing, a lot of them in the urban centers that went for Democratic candidates, and yet the way the districts can be drawn, that voting power very well might end up resulting in districts that would be drawn for Republicans to do better in.

Judy Woodruff:  So, what — how can Democrats counter this, David?  How do you see this shaking out, given what's going on in…

David Brooks:  Yes, I think prayer would help.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  You know, I think the Democrats I talk to want to maintain the House.  They don't expect to.

Jonathan Capehart:  Yes.

David Brooks:  As I would — they would — somebody said, it would take a miracle.

Miracles could happen.  And it could happen.  But in midterm elections, when one party controls both houses of Congress and the White House, then their records in these first midterms tends to be terrible.

And then there's the population shift, which we have been hearing about.  That, by itself, is probably enough to get the Republicans four or five, six, seven seats.  And then there's the redrawing of the lines.  And Republicans just control a lot more state legislatures.

Now, I should say, I'm more focused on population shifts than on gerrymandering, because, while I think these lines, these — the legislatures draw our gross and unwieldy, and it's the politicians selecting the voters, I don't think the effect is that big.

In the middle of the 20th century, you had a big effect where Democrats had a natural advantage, because of the way they drew the lines.  Then, in the early 20th century, the Republicans had a pretty big effect, maybe 20 more seats than you would think from their vote totals.

But, recently, it's been a pretty small effect.  It's been in the single digits.  So — and that's in part because half the states, it's not partisanly drawn.  And so…

Judy Woodruff:  For different reasons.

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, what we have happening here is, it's not just redistricting.  We have what I call a perfect storm brewing.

You have got redistricting, on top of voter laws that have been voted into Georgia, Florida.  Texas, Democrats did a dramatic move to keep their law from going into effect, but a special session will be called, and those laws might well go through.  Iowa.  Arizona.

And so those laws being put in place.  Democrats call them voter suppression laws.  They will keep people, primarily Black and brown people, the young, from getting out to vote.  Not every — not every eligible voter will be able to vote and not — every legally cast vote might not be counted.  And that's what's at danger — in danger as well.

Judy Woodruff:  And all this getting more attention.  Usually, we're waiting for census data, waiting to see what each state does, certainly in the spotlight.

Let's turn, David, to our lead tonight.  And that is President Biden in Europe meeting with the British prime minister, meeting with his counterparts in the so-called G7.

What is — why does this trip matter for him?  What does he need to do?

David Brooks:  Well, he needs to show that America is back.  And he — and back and cooperating with people.  And I have traveled on delegations he's made to Munich to the Security Conference they have there.  And what you see is, he's on first-name basis with everybody, like, with the world leaders, with the doormen in the hotel.  He's been doing it for so long.  And so I think there's a little of that personal diplomacy.

And I think they're proud of the fact they got this vaccine thing done.  I spoke to a White House official today.  And they said the last four weeks have really been a sprint to get this, so we could offer half-a-billion vaccines and get our allies to another…

Judy Woodruff:  Huge number.

David Brooks:  ....  another half-a-billion.

And that will all be done by the middle of the next year.  And so they are surprised they could get to this.  They thought we would not be in a state where we had so many vaccines, we would have enough to buy and then share with the world.  And I think they want to show that we're in the generosity business again, and that America can be a generous nation in the world, a little Marshall Plan.

And I think they'd love to get to a spot where it's not a nation-by-nation fight against COVID.  It's a little more of an interdependent global fight against COVID.  And so they're pleased with that.

They are under no illusions that American-European relations are going to go back to the way they used to be in the Cold War.  That's not going to happen.  But they're very pleased, and I think legitimately so.

Judy Woodruff:  How do you see the way — what is at stake for Biden and his agenda here and globally?

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, I think, to your point, the President knows all of these people.  He was a senator for 36 years, Vice President for eight years.

Yes, he is on a first-name basis.  His mantra is, America is back.  But there's a piece in, I think it was The Times of London asking the question, OK, but do the words match the deeds?

And I do think that there's some skepticism in Europe about whether the President's focus on China, whether that's taking attention away from them, whether the President, President Biden, is continuing former President Trump's policies vis-a-vis China.  Think of tariffs.

Judy Woodruff:  Yes.

Jonathan Capehart:  And then other things that Vice President Biden is doing that former President Trump talked about, withdrawing from Afghanistan.

So I think what we're seeing, yes, it's not going to go back to the way it was.  And I do think that the world now is, like, they're happy the United States is back in the fold, but I think they have figured out over the last four years, we can't really depend on the United States, especially when it comes to — President Biden's mantra is also democracy.  We have to show that democracy works.

But those world leaders are watching what we're doing here, the last conversation we had about voting rights.  How can you have a democracy if voting rights are at risk?

Judy Woodruff:  So, it's — David, it's the pandemic that has shifted the landscape, of course, but it's also the Trump — the four years of Donald Trump.

David Brooks:  Yes, PTSD, they have got, whatever, post-traumatic Trump is.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  They wonder if this four years is an interregnum, and that Trump will be back.  They wonder if a Trump-like figure will be back.

And so they — there's some sense America's fundamentally less stable.  And then we are more America first.  I mean, Biden is not as America first as Trump was, but you look at our purchasing decisions as a government, it's America first.  And we're just living in a world where multilateral cooperation is less emphasized, frankly, from a lot of countries all at once.

And that has just been a trend of the last 25 years, as nationalism has become a stronger force in the world and across the West and in Asia.  And, somehow, there's just been a deterioration in our willingness to cooperate on a whole range of fronts.

Judy Woodruff:  Harder, in other words.

Jonathan, I hear you saying this is harder than one might have expected coming out of Trump and — President Trump and assuming everything's going to be easier for President Biden globally.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right, harder.

But I think, from President Biden's perspective, for someone who knows all of these people, I think he's counting on and banking on the fact that those relationships will help smooth over some of the harder things that they have to deal with.

And you know what?  If I were President Biden, I would think that my chances, my odds were good, not great, but good.

David Brooks:  We have been on a lot of calls with Biden administration officials, and they're weirdly normal.  It's like democracy is in crisis, the world's falling apart.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  But they're like as if it's like 1955.  It's like, no, no, no, everything — we will cooperate, we will compromise, we will have these civil discussions.

And I don't know if they're just putting that face on that we live in a normal world anymore, but they're very normal.

Jonathan Capehart:  I think they would probably say — yes, they are very normal.

But I what I take from that is, you know what?  These are people who are competent.  They have been in these jobs before.  They know what the pitfalls are.  And they also know that everything is on fire, but at least they know the terrain.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, speaking of everything being on fire, David, in the last few days, we have learned that the Trump administration was trying in a number of ways that we find now surprising to seize data from not just journalists — and that's been in the news — but Democratic members of Congress, going after their cell phone records, the data, and their family members, even children.

We have now got an investigation under way.  What does this tell us about what was going on under President Trump?

David Brooks:  Yes, the Trump Justice Department keeps looking worse and worse, even more — worse than it was when it was in office.

When there's a leak of confidential information, there's going to be an investigation.  We understand that.  But they tried an investigation.  They didn't dig up anything on the people they wanted to get, Adam Schiff and people like that.

And so they relaunched another investigation using extremely aggressive means.  And prosecutors or investigators have some discretion over how aggressive they're going to be.  And I would say they got so aggressive, not only so aggressive, that it's super invasive to those of us in the media and people in Congress.

But it just looks like a political witch-hunt.  And Donald Trump is out there in public saying Adam Schiff should be investigated.  And, lo and behold, the people in the Justice Department take political orders.  And that's not what they're supposed to do.  The Justice Department, it's never pure, but it's always supposed to be a step removed from politics, so we have some sense of justice.

Judy Woodruff:  Is this something, Jonathan, that President Trump can be held accountable for, ultimately?  I mean…

Jonathan Capehart:  I mean, that, I don't know.  I mean, I really don't know.  I can't see — as much as everyone — and I shouldn't say everyone — a lot of Democrats and people who had a lot of problems with Donald Trump, they would love to be able to say, oh, this is what's going to take them down, meaning send him to jail, hold him accountable.

I'm not sure.  But, again, I'm not surprised.  It's sort of like you're shocked, but you're not shocked, because we watched this in real time.  The one thing about Donald Trump, he allowed our imaginations to go wild, because, if you let them go wild, you actually kind of know what's happening.

And this story, to my mind, is that situation of, when you're imagining — when reality catches up with your imagination.

Judy Woodruff:  He was publicly going after Adam Schiff.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right.

Judy Woodruff:  He was speaking about him, tweeting about him.  Eric Swalwell.  Well, I mean, these are — but to be using your Justice Department, the Justice Department that belongs to the American people, this way…

Jonathan Capehart:  Look, I would hope, I would hope, if proof is found that he directly ordered the Attorney General to do these things, then, absolutely, he should be held accountable.

But I don't see — I just don't see it happening at this point right now, given what we know.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, one thing's for sure.  We are thrilled that the two of you are here in the studio.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  And I know everybody watching is too.

Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

David Brooks:  It's good to be with you, Judy.

(CROSSTALK)

Judy Woodruff:  Thank you both.  Really good to see you both.  Thank you.



CANVAS - Street Art in Northern Ireland

"Street art, politics, and violence intersect in Northern IrelandPBS NewsHour 6/11/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Street artists in Belfast, Northern Ireland maintain a tradition of painting murals with a message, as they did during the 30-year conflict between Catholic Republicans and Protestants loyal to the British crown.  But they're now speaking out in an effort to repel renewed sectarian violence driven by Britain’s.



CHINA - An Elephant Trek

"An endangered elephant herd is taking a mysterious trek in China.  Are humans to blame?PBS NewsHour 6/11/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  It’s not a sight you see every day -- a herd of elephants, leaving their home turf, making their way through southwestern China, most recently stopping in a city with millions of residents.  But that’s what’s happening right now.  William Brangham looks at their mysterious trek, and why they might have hit the road.



MEMORIAM - Americans Lost Their Lives to COVID-19

"Honoring 5 extraordinary Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19PBS NewsHour 6/11/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Each week, PBS NewsHour pauses to remember five Americans lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shares memories and highlights from their lives.



AIDS - After 40 Years

"After 40 years of AIDS, progress has been made but major problems remainPBS NewsHour 6/10/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Four decades ago this past week, the first ever cases of the HIV/AIDS epidemic were publicly noted, and hardly noticed.  But soon after, cases exploded around the world.  It's estimated that roughly 35 million people have died from AIDS in the years since.  William Brangham reports and speaks with two people deeply immersed in the issue for a look back at the epidemic and the best way forward.