Monday, May 31, 2021

On this #MemorialDay2021: Remembering


A little history about Memorial Day.  


Memorial Day was first observed in May 1868. First called Decoration Day Major Gen John A. Logan declared that this day should be observed on May 30th as a time for the nation to “decorate” the graves of those that gave their lives in the Civil War. The first observance was held that same year at the Arlington National Cemetery.  

Memorial Day is the day for the national remembrance of all those who died serving the United State of America. Let us remember all those who gave up their comforts of home to protect our country and who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Thank you for your service .    

Friday, May 28, 2021

Notations From the Grid (Special Month-End Edition): Out & About in the World This Week

It has been quite a week in our World as we saw reports on Jordan's Stability, the instability of the political process in Iran (and Predictit presented a probability prediction on it which we've noted), COVID Challenges that persist in our World, the worrying trend of Anti-Semitism in the United States, as Texas moved to be a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State and other ongoing challenges this week.  We present this special month-end "Outsider Wall" courtesy politico, the Guardian of London, Washington Examiner & Other Partners: 

With help from Myah Ward

A DIVIDE OVER ANTISEMITISM — The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants, which ended 11 days of conflict, is holding. But America is now grappling with the painful specter of antisemitism after a flurry of reported new attacks against Jews. The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday that it logged 193 reports of antisemitic episodes since fighting began in the Middle East, compared with 131 during the previous week.

And that rise in bias crime has exposed an underexamined truth in the politics of the issue: The two parties hold their members to different standards when it comes to antisemitism.

On one level, progressive Democrats are trying to live out the principle that President Joe Biden offered during his 2020 campaign, as reported that spring by The New York Times. “Criticism of Israel’s policy is not antisemitism,” Biden reportedly told donors about one year ago. To a remarkable degree, congressional Democrats have balanced their support for Israel’s security this spring with criticism of policies by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, urging that Palestinian rights be respected even amid hostilities with Hamas.

But then-candidate Biden followed his words with an observation about another strain of rhetoric that continues to trip up liberals in his party. He warned that “too often, that criticism from the left morphs into antisemitism.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), for one, apologized in 2019 after multiple comments that were criticized as antisemitic, with one drawing particular fire from senior Democrats. Two years later, during the current conflict, Omar described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “terrorism” but also called one recent reported antisemitic attack “horrific and unacceptable.”

That lone tweet from Omar this month is unlikely to ease the pressure facing her and other members of the House’s liberal “Squad” during the current uptick in antisemitic attacks. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) tweeted today that “it’s time for ‘progressives’ to start condemning anti-Semitism and violent attacks on Jewish people with the same intention and vigor demonstrated in other areas of activism. The silence has been deafening.”

Biden’s and Phillips’ unsparing assessments of the left could hardly be more different from the GOP reception of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) after she compared Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mask mandate on the House floor to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

Greene’s comments last week drew rebukes from a few House Republicans, all of whom voted to impeach former President Donald Trump -- who himself sparked charges of encouraging antisemitism when he said Jewish Americans who vote Democratic show “great disloyalty” to Israel. No current member of House GOP leadership has addressed Greene’s remarks.

Conservatives might argue that there’s a reason Democrats are quicker to call for greater vigilance against antisemitism among their own — because, as many in the GOP believe, anti-Jewish bias is less of an issue for their party. A liberal might counter that Jewish voters continue to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats because support for the Israeli government, as Biden described, isn’t synonymous with support for the issues Jews themselves care about.

But if you listen to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, as our Nicholas Wu and Andrew Desiderio will report in POLITICO on Tuesday morning, what Jewish Americans really care about is bigger than the words of anyone politician or party.

Even though “many people in the Beltway are” parsing Greene’s comments, Greenblatt said to them, “and it’s just the latest manifestation of her mania, her lunacy — the reality is on the ground in public places, the Jewish community is worried about their own literal physical safety and security. And that’s what we need to keep focused on.”



In this March 10, 2011 photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

In this March 10, 2011 photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow. | RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin/Pool via AP

— Geneva probable location for U.S.-Russia summit: Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are likely to hold their first summit next month in Geneva, Switzerland , according to a U.S. official familiar with the issue. The exact date of the summit was not immediately clear, but it is expected to be held around the same time that Biden is visiting Europe in mid-June to meet with NATO and European Union leaders.

— National Guard to depart Capitol nearly 5 months after Jan. 6 riot: The military presence has been a regular fixture for lawmakers and staff since mid-January, with troops scattered throughout the Capitol for high-profile events such as the impeachment of Trump and the inauguration of Biden. Their exit comes as Capitol Police and other Hill security officials have raced to address shortcomings exposed by the riot — including through the installation of new leadership.

— New Jersey lifts mask mandate, social distancing rules in time for Memorial Day: New Jersey is lifting its mask mandate after having been one of the few holdouts in adopting the latest CDC guidance, Gov. Phil Murphy announced today. Murphy’s new directive, which takes effect Friday, the start of the Memorial Day weekend, gives New Jersey residents — even those who aren’t fully vaccinated — the green light to remove their masks and other face coverings in most cases. Matching the CDC’s guidance, the order excludes settings such as health care facilities, jails, schools, child care centers and public transportation networks.

— Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy will not challenge Rubio for Senate: Rep. Stephanie Murphy won’t run for U.S. Senate, a decision that was sealed after fellow Florida Congresswoman Val Demings recently signaled she will likely challenge incumbent Marco Rubio.

Biden-Putin meeting set for June 16 in Geneva

Biden-Putin meeting set for June 16 in Geneva

President Joe Biden will meet face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time as commander in chief next month.

Read the full story here.

Who will win the 2021 Iranian presidential election?

Hassan Rouhani the 7th president of Iran. Photo: Mahmoud Hosseini / Tasnim News Agency / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Iran’s presidential elections will arrive next month as world powers and the current administration of moderate President Hassan Rouhani hammer out an agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear accord abandoned by former US President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, we learned who would be allowed to run when Iran’s interior ministry announced the list that was handed over the night before by the Guardian Council, a 12-member constitutional vetting body overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that is tasked with evaluating potential candidates’ qualifications.

The field of seven, largely made up of hard-liners include Ebrahim Raisi, the current judiciary chief; Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Council; Saeed Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator; Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, the deputy parliament speaker; Mohsen Mehralizadeh, a former vice president; Abdolnasser Hemmati, the current central bank governor; and Alireza Zakani, a lawmaker.

The outgoing Rouhani, was quick to criticize the move and had urged the ministry of interior not to publish the list of seven. “Minimal participation is not in anyone’s interest and the first losers as a result of minimal participation are the people and no political group will benefit from minimal participation,” Rouhani’s spokesman said.

Among the 585 other hopefuls who were disqualified by the council were supreme leader adviser and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani – a pragmatist conservative who has veered more to the center in recent years – and current reformist First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.

Approved candidates can now start campaigning until June 16, two days before the election, allowing for a one-day period when campaigning is banned. Candidates will have three televised debates whose dates have not been announced.

Market Pulse: Tuesday’s results only solidify conservative Raisi’s position as the top candidate, as Larijani and Jahangiri were seen as the only candidates who could have a remote chance of challenging Raisi in an election expected to have low voter turnout amid public disillusionment. Traders agree and have Raisi to be Iran’s next president at 75¢ — his share price rising 20¢ alone on Monday. Raisi has enjoyed top billing since May 7 when his contract shot up from 5¢ to 41¢.

Market Data at 6 a.m. EDT: Who will win the 2021 Iranian presidential election?

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Biden Orders Intel Officials to Report on COVID Origin Within 90 Days

Biden said the intelligence community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ regarding the origin of the ... READ MORE

GOP Senators Raise Infrastructure Counteroffer to $928B

GOP Senators Raise Infrastructure Counteroffer to $928B

BILL LUCIA  |   Republicans and the White House are still far apart on the size of the package. And there are few signs of agreement on how to pay for it, with GOP lawmakers looking to repurpose Covid funding.

IT’S BIDEN’S BUDGET DAY  The White House’s budget ask, expected to top $6 trillion overall, would pour billions of dollars into agencies like the CDC and NIH that have been at the center of the pandemic response.

It’ll be a sharp reversal from the Trump era, when officials repeatedly sought spending cuts, and an expression of Biden’s embrace of big-government programs as central to solving the nation’s most entrenched health challenges, from Covid-19 to gun violence and the opioid epidemic.

But the president is limiting his ambitions in one notable way. His budget request is unlikely to propose new health policy overhauls of the sort that Biden campaigned on. That means no money for implementing a public option, for expanding Medicare benefits and eligibility — or even, much to some Democrats’ dismay, for allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.

The White House instead will express support for eventually accomplishing those goals, but won’t offer any specifics for how Congress should get them done or pay for them, The New York Times and Washington Post reported. It’s an additional blow to Democrats who have pressed Biden for weeks to include their health priorities in his plans for spending packages this year, for fear they’ll slip to 2022 or beyond.

Obligatory annual reminder here that the president’s budget is just a wish list. Congress will almost assuredly ignore large parts of it. But among the specific initiatives to keep an eye out for:

 The creation of a new health research agency. NIH Director Francis Collins this week previewed the $6.5 billion Biden will likely ask for to create a health care version of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA-H — essentially a research accelerator that would focus on treatments for cancer and other diseases. The concept has already won bipartisan buy-in, though it’s still unclear how it would be incorporated within NIH.

 New spending on public health preparedness. The White House’s “skinny budget” in April sought $8.7 billion for the CDC, representing the infectious disease agency’s biggest budget boost in years. Biden could also seek funding elsewhere to build out the U.S.’s scientific workforce and improve state and local public health operations.

 Renewed emphasis on the opioid and gun violence epidemics. Biden is likely to call for renewed investment in gun violence research within HHS, as well as billions more to curb a record rise in drug overdoses.

 More funding for smaller health offices, such as the Indian Health Service and Office of Refugee Resettlement. The latter agency has had to siphon money from elsewhere in HHS to manage care for its large migrant child population.

DEMOCRATS’ PLAN B ON THE BUDGET  For all the fanfare around Biden’s budget, congressional Democrats are already eyeing what comes next — and devising workarounds to longstanding bans on funding for abortion and gun violence research, POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma reports.

Despite White House support for abandoning the two riders (called the Hyde and Dickey amendments, respectively), there’s little expectation Congress will vote to do so. So Democrats instead are trying to fund those priorities indirectly, targeting big increases for reproductive health services and grant programs that fund clinics like Planned Parenthood.

Democrats are also rushing to take advantage of a recent weakening in the restrictions around gun violence research by distributing billions of dollars to various federal agencies to bolster research, prevention initiatives and background check systems.

GOP readies three lines of attack as Biden preps $6 trillion budget proposal

GOP readies three lines of attack as Biden preps $6 trillion budget proposal

Republican lawmakers plan to attack President Joe Biden's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022 from at least three specific angles, despite not yet having a chance to review the requested funding levels fully.

Read the full story here.

 We look forward to the privilege to serve.




Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Honoring Nasrin Soutoudeh: An Outsider Special

 Our team hereby presents the following throughout all our platforms to give voice to two leading human rights activists in the World:

Nasrin Sotoudeh will turn 58 on May 30th, in Qarchak prison. Join us to honor Nasrin's birthday and her global impact as an advocate for human rights. 

May 27, 1 pm EDT

Amnesty International USA, PEN America, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the filmmakers of NASRIN film have come together to present a special virtual event to present personal writings from at-risk female human rights activists from around the world. The event is FREE and you are invited to attend. 

Introduction by Amnesty International USA Executive Director Paul O’Brien. Moderated by journalist Sarah Chayes.

Young activists will read excerpts of writing by women who have been imprisoned for their work, including attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, Ugandan poet Stella Nyanzi, Vietnamese writer Pham Doan Trang, Belarusian philosopher Olga Shparaga, and Chinese poet Zhang Wenfang. 

PEN America's Karin Karlekar, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' Karen Robinson, and author of “Zahra’s Paradise”, Amir Soltani, will conclude the reading with a brief discussion and a call to action. 

The selected works of Sotoudeh, Al-Hathloul, Nyanzi, Trang, Shparaga and Zhang each represent the importance of speaking for human rights and women's rights. 
Visit and for more ways to take action.

Tag @penamerica, @Nasrinfilm, @RFKHumanRights, @amnestyusa, and use the hashtags #FreeNasrin #FreeLoujain #FreeNasrinandLoujain to share these women’s stories.
NASRIN film is available for viewing worldwide

If you have any questions or would like to set up your own discussion event with us, contact us:


Jeff and Marcia and the NASRIN film team

Monday, May 24, 2021

Notations On Our World (Weekly Edition): On the Week That Was

As a new week dawns, we present this "Outsider Wall" On the Week that was in our World on Gaza, Russian/US Relations & the US Election Scene as the Republicans in Congress came out against the Commission to investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol:  

The National Law Journal


Biden's First Judicial Picks Clear Senate Committee Over Some GOP Opposition

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, tapped for seats on federal appeals courts, were... Read More