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Goldberg: Biden’s vax stance will feed pandemic culture war

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Goldberg: Biden’s vax stance will feed pandemic culture war

Maybe President Biden should handle COVID-19 the way he’s handled Afghanistan.

It’s a strange thought, given how badly he botched the U.S. withdrawal. But at least Afghanistan Joe had a clear idea about what we needed to do. COVID Joe has no such exit strategy. He’s making it up as he goes.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden proclaimed on Aug. 31 — and he meant it.

However, he has no problem with a forever exit from the pandemic.

In his address unveiling his COVID plan, Biden failed to offer anything like an exit strategy or even a description of what victory might look like.

In fairness, one reason he didn’t is because he can’t. As with terrorism, permanent and total victory is impossible. As Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, explains: “SARS-CoV-2 will become an endemic virus settling alongside the other four strains of coronaviruses that circulate widely among us.” In February, 9 out of 10 leading immunologists, virologists and other experts surveyed by the British scientific journal Nature said it’s here to stay.

Part of Biden’s problem is that he already had his “mission accomplished” moment in July. And while it’s not his fault that the delta variant wrecked his victory lap — and his poll numbers on his handling of the pandemic — his response is clearly improvised, probably counterproductive, and very, very political.

Last week, Biden issued a sweeping mandate that all private businesses with 100 or more employees require workers to get vaccinated or receive a weekly coronavirus test. The mere fact that the administration is using a nebulous and constitutionally problematic authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act suggests that it essentially rummaged around to find a power it didn’t think it had or would need. Such workarounds are its stock in trade. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is trying to overturn state bans on mask mandates, and Biden’s now-voided extension of the eviction moratorium was pushed through by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden’s mandate on private businesses will probably involve no end of legal and bureaucratic headaches. The president’s defenders are already calling it a testing mandate, not a vaccination mandate — as Justice Department lawyers will surely argue in future lawsuits. Technically, employees of large businesses will have to be tested weekly but can opt out if they’re vaccinated. But Biden didn’t frame it as a testing mandate, he framed it as a vaccine mandate.

That raises constitutional concerns, as does his vow, “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.”

When Donald Trump declared he had “total” authority to fight COVID-19, Democrats rightly condemned his thumbless grasp of the Constitution. “We don’t have a king in this country. We didn’t want a king, so we have a Constitution and we elect a president. … All other powers remain to the states,” said Andrew Cuomo, then governor of New York and a liberal darling.

Now, because a Democrat is promising to ride roughshod over governors, Democrats celebrate.

This explains why Biden relishes this fight. He’s already achieved one of his goals — to change the subject from handing Afghanistan to the Taliban in time for the anniversary of 9/11. But the other political calculation is that he doesn’t need the support of people ideologically (and foolishly) opposed to getting vaccinated, but he does need the support of those who despise such people.

By pandering on vaccination, Biden isn’t dialing down the culture war dynamic of the pandemic, he’s intensifying it. Once he was on the side of constitutional and democratic norms, now he’s waving those aside.

Worse, he’s sending the signal to many of those most fed up with the pandemic that this will never end. That “never exit” message may seem smart politically, but it doesn’t encourage steadfastness or compliance. It fosters exhaustion and ever more polarization.


Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch.

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HelloFresh, EveryPlate and more now part of extended onion recall

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You may need to toss your onions as salmonella outbreak has been linked to the vegetable

If you haven’t already thrown out your onions, you should check your vegetables again.

The Food and Drug Administration has extended the onion recall, caused by a salmonella outbreak, to several more brands. The salmonella outbreak was first reported last week and initially only included fresh whole red, white or yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource.

The recall now includes onions from HelloFresh, EveryPlate, Potandon Produce LLC and Keeler Family Farms.

HelloFresh said in a statement on Saturday they recommended disposing of onions received during the specified time period

“HelloFresh has been informed by one of its ingredient suppliers that it is conducting a voluntary recall of its onions due to the potential presence of salmonella bacteria,” the company said. “Please discard all onions received from July 7, 2021, through Sept. 8, 2021.”

The CDC is still working to determine if other onions and suppliers are linked to the outbreak.

Officials said recently both individuals and businesses should check onions and if it is unknown where they are from, throw them away. It is also recommended to wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with these onions.

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

The Facebook Papers project represents a unique collaboration among 17 American news organizations, including The Associated Press. Journalists from a variety of newsrooms, large and small, worked together to gain access to thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower.

A separate consortium of European news outlets had access to the same set of documents, and members of both groups began publishing content related to their analysis of the materials at 7 a.m. EDT on Monday, Oct. 25. That date and time was set by the partner news organizations to give everyone in the consortium an opportunity to fully analyze the documents, report out relevant details, and to give Facebook’s public relations staff ample time to respond to questions and inquiries raised by that reporting.

Each member of the consortium pursued its own independent reporting on the document contents and their significance. Every member also had the opportunity to attend group briefings to gain information and context about the documents.

The launch of The Facebook Papers project follows similar reporting by The Wall Street Journal, sourced from the same documents, as well as Haugen’s appearance on the CBS television show “60 Minutes” and her Oct. 5 Capitol Hill testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

The papers themselves are redacted versions of disclosures that Haugen has made over several months to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging Facebook was prioritizing profits over safety and hiding its own research from investors and the public.

These complaints cover a range of topics, from its efforts to continue growing its audience, to how its platforms might harm children, to its alleged role in inciting political violence. The same redacted versions of those filings are being provided to members of Congress as part of its investigation. And that process continues as Haugen’s legal team goes through the process of redacting the SEC filings by removing the names of Facebook users and lower-level employees and turns them over to Congress.

The Facebook Papers consortium will continue to report on these documents as more become available in the coming days and weeks.

“AP regularly teams up with other news organizations to bring important journalism to the world,” said Julie Pace, senior vice president and executive editor. “The Facebook Papers project is in keeping with that mission. In all collaborations, AP maintains its editorial independence.”

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Denver weather: A summer cameo on Monday followed by rain

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Denver weather: A summer cameo on Monday followed by rain

Denver will get a hint of summer on Monday, with Halloween less than a week away.

According to the National Weather Service in Boulder, Denver will near the record high of 84 degrees on Monday. Forecasters call for an 80-degree high under increasingly sunny skies. Temperatures will drop to 49 degrees overnight. The dry weather has pushed the NWS to issue a Red Flag Warning for parts of the Palmer Divide, Denver, Adams and Arapahoe Counties.

Denver will be wet on Tuesday, with a storm system bringing winds and precipitation. Mild and dry conditions will be replaced by stronger, cool winds with gusts up to 60 mph over the foothills. The mountains are going to see some snow, which will linger on the ridges into Wednesday morning.

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