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Centrist Democrats are flexing their muscles, causing Biden headaches

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Centrist Democrats are flexing their muscles, causing Biden headaches

West Virginia’s moderate Democratic senator is suddenly one of Washington’s most influential individuals.

President Joe Biden has had several one-on-one phone calls with Sen. Joe Manchin. With a single five-minute interview or three-sentence comment, he could send the White House into a tailspin. And he may have already derailed some of the strategic goals of the administration and a nominee from the Cabinet.

And it is not just Manchin who wields outsize power over the agenda of Biden. Other moderate Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana still have considerable political control in Biden’s Washington, with a 50-50 split in the Senate leaving no room for error on difficult votes, making for a muscular counterweight to the progressives that make up the base of the party.

Jim Manley, a longtime aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said, “Each and every one of these members has the ability to be the king or queen-maker on Capitol Hill.” “They can have a real impact if they stick together and flex their muscles, particularly given the tight margins in both the House and the Senate.”

Although Biden spent most of the 2020 Democratic primary and general election campaigns being hounded by progressives for not supporting far-left views on anything from criminal justice to health care, some of his most influential former left antagonists, such as Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, have received praise for his first month in office.

Now it is the moderates that are causing the Democratic president’s headaches.

Late last week, when Manchin released a brief statement against her appointment because of her divisive tweets targeting members of both parties, Manchin all but tanked the Biden administration’s candidate for Office of Management and Budget director, Neera Tanden. Immediately, Tanden’s chances for acceptance sunk. Political analysts are also waiting to see if Manchin would support Vivek Murthy, the candidate for Surgeon General, whom he opposed in 2014.

Manchin caused a stir a few weeks back when he publicly criticised Vice President Kamala Harris for doing a television interview with a local West Virginia station that was seen as an attempt to persuade him to support the COVID-19 bill. Shortly after his complaint, he got a call from the White House to attempt to smooth things over.

Manchin is one of a handful of centrist Democrats who have expressed concern about the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill by Biden, threatening to derail the top priority of the president unless they win concessions. Manchin, Sinema and Tester both called for more targeted assistance to Americans, and they all signed an amendment, along with five other centrist Democrats and seven Republicans, barring “upper-income taxpayers” from being eligible for stimulus restrictions.

The dilemma here is, I don’t want to do too much,” said Tester, “and I don’t want to do too little. “I would like to ensure that it is targeted and justified.”

Biden’s plan to lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour is also opposed by Manchin and Sinema, potentially meaning that it is excluded from the final COVID-19 bill even though it can be included in the Senate parliamentary rules. Both have also attracted the wrath of progressives for their reluctance to accept the abolition of the 60-vote threshold for most legislation to be enacted, with one progressive organisation threatening to employ primary challengers to oppose them.

Moderates are likely to also affect the next major legislative drive by the Biden administration, a major bill on infrastructure and jobs that will include climate planks. Manchin and others from rural states want to see cash commitments and improvements in rural infrastructure to offset any employment losses in the oil and gas industry.

Neither Manchin nor Sinema are perceived to be particularly vulnerable to a primary challenge. In fact, the political realities of a red-leaning state like West Virginia, or a purple state like Arizona, are what guides the staunch centrism of the senators, says Chris Kofinis, former Manchin chief of staff.

Both of these senators are always going to sit there and think, what do they want from my constituents? What are they needing? And because of the peculiar nature of politics in their states, which are typically more polarised by nature, moderates generally seem to be far more susceptible to that, Kofinis said.

Those political issues are expressed by the White House.

Democrats will need to win over suburban moderate voters in difficult, Republican-leaning House districts and in states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio, where they expect to win nationally, to protect and extend their majorities in the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, if they expect to win reelection in difficult states, would also need to retain support among moderate voters.

Their relevance to the final vote on the COVID-19 bill means that the White House is already getting extra scrutiny from some moderates.

According to a Manchin aide, Biden has talked to Manchin several times, including at least once right after the president was sworn in. Manchin reaches out to the president occasionally, while the president reaches out to him sometimes.

Yet moderates don’t necessarily get personal attention from the president and aren’t always asking for it.

Some of those who come from deep-red states, where it would be politically awkward to be seen as too friendly with a Democratic president, avoid telling whether they have talked to Biden at all.

Some say their workers are in almost constant communication with the White House, including Sinema and Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

‘I suspect they’ve got Joe Manchin on the speed dial,’ joked King. But he said, depending on where they stand on the COVID relief bill, the dynamic varies from member to member.

Tester said he is not yet at the stage that he is searching for the president’s personal calls because his team members are the ones who are actively involved in the negotiating specifics, and they are in constant touch with their colleagues in the White House.

Yet he was conscious of the strength he had to put the president on the phone if he wanted to.

“Every time I have an urge to ring his doorbell, I’m not going to ring his doorbell,” he said. “When it is of the highest value, I will use that ability to contact him.”

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New Christmas movie drive-in at Red Rocks to screen favs from “Love Actually” to “Die Hard”

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New Christmas movie drive-in at Red Rocks to screen favs from “Love Actually” to “Die Hard”

The continuing, sold-out success of Denver Film’s annual Film on the Rocks series at Red Rocks Amphitheatre has now birthed a sibling.

Film on the Rocks: Holiday Drive-In Series kicks off Friday, Nov. 25, with a baker’s dozen of crowd-pleasing films that tap our nostalgia and seasonal sentimentality, such as “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Love Actually,” “Gremlins” and “Die Hard.”

Tickets cost $59.50 per car, per film, and will include a movie-themed snack pack. Passes are on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 29 via redrocksonline.com.

Like the warm-weather Film on the Rocks, the outdoor series — not to be confused with the Holiday Twin drive-in in Fort Collins — is set against the majestic natural backdrop of the famous amphitheater. As with summer 2020, it’s taking place in the parking lot and not in the seated amphitheater. (Although it’s easy to see people sitting happily in the snow for a couple of hours at Red Rocks, given that this is Colorado.)

“For more than two decades, Film on the Rocks has been delivering memorable summer traditions and experiences to our audiences,” said Kevin Smith, chief marketing officer for Denver Film, in a press statement. “Beginning this year, we’re excited to join our partners at Denver Arts & Venues to extend that experience and help create some stand-out winter memories for thousands of our guests around some of their favorite holiday films.”

Programmers will screen 13 “all-time holiday classics, including a season cartoon before each feature film,” according to the press statement. The program in partnership with Red Rocks owner and city agency Denver Arts & Venues, runs weekends through Dec. 12. It also kicks off just a couple of weeks after the finale of Denver Film’s 44th Denver Film Festival.

Holiday Drive-In movies will be presented on a 48-foot by 28-foot LED screen in the Red Rocks Lower South Lot 2 parking area, with sound delivered through a designated FM radio frequency. Guests are required to remain inside their vehicles for the duration of the events, organizers said, with gates opening an hour before the show with a 350-vehicle capacity.

Here’s the full lineup:

“Planes, Trains & Automobiles” — 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” — 8 p.m. Friday, Nov 26

“Polar Express” — 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27

“Die Hard” — 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27

“Home Alone” — 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28

 “Gremlins” — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3

“Jingle All the Way” — 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4

“Batman Returns” — 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5

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Recipes: What to do with all those apples

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Recipes: What to do with all those apples

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

I went apple picking last weekend, along with about a million other people in the New York metro area. Is it me, or does recreational apple picking just continue to surge year over year as a fall activity? Some people are not into it, which I get, and yes, cynically speaking, it’s an excellent flannel-clad Instagram moment. But I’ve done it for years, and, for my small kids who live nowhere near a farm, it’s a very clear moment of connection: Fruit comes from trees!

There is one problem, though, which is that I somehow thought bringing home a half-bushel of apples was reasonable. It was not. So far I have baked one pie and dispensed apples to everyone in my home every day, and we have barely made a dent in the pyramid of fruit that now stands in my kitchen. Maybe you’re in this situation, too.

And so I’ve got a few ideas below for how to use them up at dinner. You could also make applesauce, apple butter or apple jelly. You could put them in muffins, crumbles and cakes. You could layer them in sandwiches. You could roast them with sausages or toss them into kale salad. You could serve them with sourdough pancakes or a Dutch baby.

1. Sheet-Pan Chicken With Apple, Fennel and Onion

Con Poulos, The New York Times

Sheet-pan chicken with apple, fennel and onion in New York on Sept. 27, 2018. This ultra-simple five-star recipe from Colu Henry matches chicken thighs with tart apple, which sweetens in the oven. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Chicken thighs are roasted with classic fall ingredients for a quick, flavorful sheet-pan supper. The toasted fennel seeds subtly amplify the anise flavor of the roasted fennel and play nicely with the apples and onions. Look for an apple on the tart side as it will naturally sweeten as it cooks in the oven. If you want to use bone-in chicken breasts you can, just make sure to cut the cooking time by a few minutes so they don’t dry out. Serve with a bright, bitter green salad flecked with blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

By: Colu Henry

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, tough outer leaves removed, cored and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tart apple, such as Mutsu (Crispin) or Granny Smith, halved, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • Flaky salt, for serving

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pound into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle or, alternatively, roughly chop. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the fennel seeds and season well with salt and pepper.

2. Place the onion, fennel and apple slices on the sheet pan. Toss with the remaining olive oil and season well with salt. Spread in an even layer. Add the chicken skin side up on top of the vegetables and lay the rosemary (distributing evenly) on top of the chicken. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the onions, fennel and apples are softened and have begun to caramelize at the edge of the pan.

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Type of ultraviolet light most effective at killing coronavirus is also the safest to use around people

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Type of ultraviolet light most effective at killing coronavirus is also the safest to use around people

Scientists have long known that ultraviolet light can kill pathogens on surfaces and in air and waterUV robots are used to disinfect empty hospital rooms, buses and trains; UV bulbs in HVAC systems eliminate pathogens in building air; and UV lamps kill bugs in drinking water.

Perhaps you have seen UV wands, UV LEDs and UV air purifiers advertised as silver bullets to protect against the coronavirus. While decades of research have looked at the ability of UV light to kill many pathogens, there are no set standards for UV disinfection products with regard to the coronavirus. These products may work to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but they also may not.

I am an environmental engineer and expert in UV disinfection. In May 2021, my colleagues and I set out to accurately test various UV systems and see which was the most effective at killing off – or inactivating – SARS-CoV-2.

David Herring, NASA via WikimediaCommons

When UV light enters a cell, it breaks the bonds that hold DNA or RNA together.

How does UV light kill a virus?

Light is categorized by wavelength – the distance between peaks of a wave of light – and is measured in nanometers. UV wavelengths range from 100 to 400 nanometers – shorter in wavelength than the violet hues in visible light – and are invisible to the human eye. As wavelength shortens, photons of light contain higher amounts of energy.

Different wavelengths of UV light work better than others for inactivating viruses, and this depends on how well the wavelengths are absorbed by the virus’s DNA or RNA. When UV light gets absorbed, the photons of light transfer their energy to and damage the chemical bonds of the genetic material. The virus is then unable to replicate or cause an infection. Researchers have also shown the proteins that viruses use to attach to a host cell and initiate infection – like the spike proteins on a coronavirus – are also vulnerable to UV light.

The dose of light matters too. Light can vary in intensity – bright light is more intense, and there is more energy in it than in dim light. Being exposed to a bright light for a short time can produce the same UV dose as being exposed to a dim light for a longer period. You need to know the right dose that can kill coronavirus particles at each UV wavelength.

A sunburned man sits on a beach

Ian Hooton, Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Sunburns are caused by UV light damaging skin cells.

Making ultraviolet lights safe for people

Traditional UV systems use wavelengths at or around 254 nanometers. At these wavelengths the light is dangerous to human skin and eyes, even at low doses. Sunlight includes UV light near these wavelengths; anyone who has ever gotten a bad sunburn knows just how dangerous UV light can be.

However, recent research has shown that at certain UV wavelengths – specifically below 230 nanometers – the high-energy photons are absorbed by the top layers of dead skin cells and don’t penetrate into the active skin layers where damage can occur. Similarly, the tear layer around eyes also blocks out these germicidal UV rays.

This means that at wavelengths of UV light below 230 nanometers, people can move around more freely while the air around them is being disinfected in real time.

UV lamp test diagram

Karl Linden, CC BY-ND

Researchers used this setup to test multiple different UV lights at various doses to see what it took to kill SARS-CoV-2.

Testing different wavelengths

My colleagues and I tested five commonly used UV wavelengths to see which work best to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. Specifically, we tested how large a dose is needed to kill 90% to 99.9% of the viral particles present.

We ran these tests in a biosafety level three facility at the University of Arizona that is built to handle lethal pathogens. There we tested numerous lights across the UV spectrum, including UV LEDs that emit light at 270 and 282 nanometers, traditional UV tube lamps at 254 nanometers and a newer technology called an excited dimer, or excimer, UV source at 222 nanometers.

To test each device we spiked a sample of water with millions of SARS-CoV-2 viruses and coated a petri dish with a thin layer of this mixture. We then shined UV light on the petri dish until we achieved a specific dose. Finally we examined the viral particles to see if they could still infect human cells in culture. If the viruses could infect the cells, the dose was not high enough. If the viruses did not cause an infection, the UV source at that dose had successfully killed the pathogen. We carefully repeated this process for a range of UV doses using the five different UV devices.

While all of the wavelengths we tested can inactivate SARS-CoV-2 at very low doses, the ones that required the lowest dose were the systems that emit UV light at a wavelength of 222 nanometers. In our experiment, it took a dose of less than 2 millijoules of energy per square centimeter to kill 99.9% of viral particles. This translates to needing about 20 seconds to disinfect a space receiving a low intensity of short wavelength UV light, similar to that used in our test.

These 222-nanometer systems are almost twice as effective as conventional UV tube lamps, which are often used in ultraviolet disinfecting systems. But importantly, the winning lamp also happens to be the safest for humans, too. At the same UV light intensity it takes to kill 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 in 20 seconds, a person could be safely exposed to 222-nanometer light for up to one hour and 20 minutes.

What this means is that widely available types of UV lamp lights can be used to safely knock down levels of the coronavirus with people present.

Better use of existing tech

Many places or organizations – ranging from the U.S. Air Force to the Space Needle in Seattle to Boeing – are already using or investigating ways to use UV light in the 222 nanometer range to protect public health.

I believe that our findings are important because they quantify the exact doses needed to achieve various levels of SARS-CoV-2 control, whether that be killing 90% or 99.9% of viral particles.

Imagine coffee shops, grocery stores, school classrooms, restaurants and concert venues now made safe by this technology. And this is not a solution for just SARS-CoV-2. These technologies could help protect human health in public spaces in future times of crisis, but also during times of relative normalcy, by reducing exposure to everyday viral and bacterial threats.


1635268335 206 Type of ultraviolet light most effective at killing coronavirus is

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