Nicholas threatens Ida-hit Louisiana. Manchin claims not to see ‘urgency’ of climate, healthcare spending. Biden declassifies 9.11 documents revealing Saudi connections.
Tropical Storm Nicholas threatens double whammy for Louisiana
Tropical Storm Nicholas will make landfall tonight, bringing wind and heavy rain to southeast Texas and southern Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s arrival. Southwest Louisiana communities, which are still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Laura, are under a flashflood warning. Edwards warned that while the heaviest rain was expected in southwest Louisiana, areas still cleaning up from Ida would likely also be affected.
Since Ida’s passage two weeks ago, many rural communities in Louisiana still do not have reliable water service. Currently, about 100,000 customers in Louisiana are still without power. Numerous communities in low-lying areas remain flooded.
Nicholas is a slow moving system, meaning it could dump rain on the area continuously over a few days. In Lake Charles, LA, which is still rebuilding from hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020 and floods in May 2021, Mayor Nic Hunter says the city takes the threat of Nicholas seriously. “Hope and prayer is not a good game plan,” Hunter said.
Manchin wants to cut $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan by more than half
Congress is back in session this week after its summer recess. They return with a full docket, including a deadline to raise the debt ceiling by the end of the month. Democrats are also hammering out the details of a $3.5 trillion “human” infrastructure proposal. Among other things, Democrats hope to:
- Expand Medicare coverage to vision, hearing and dental,
- Lower the Medicare enrolment age to 55 or 60,
- Make 2-year community college tuition free,
- Make new monthly Child Tax Credits permanent,
- Expand universal pre-K to 3 and 4-year-olds and other childcare benefits,
- Invest in affordable housing,
- Improve care for seniors and the disabled,
- Lower drug costs by allowing Medicaid/Medicare to bargain with pharma companies,
- Invest more in infrastructure, green manufacturing, and job training (beyond the $1 trillion bipartisan bill).
- Guarantee workers a total of 12 weeks of paid parental, family and sick leave,
- Prevent and mitigate climate change disasters like wildfires, floods and droughts,
- Invest in clean energy development, including consumer subsidies for electric cars and home weatherizing.
All of those are things that would benefit the average American tremendously, as well has help improve prospects for the country’s future development. As far as the pay-fors go, a leaked tax proposal would raise about $2.9 trillion over ten years from America’s wealthiest citizens and corporations. These proposals would essentially (but not totally) roll back the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which disproportionately benefited corporations and the wealthy.
Manchin throws in a spanner
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is characteristically attempting to dampen momentum, saying he “could not vote for” the $3.5 trillion plan and would prefer a $1.5 trillion plan. In an interview over the weekend, Manchin claimed not to see the “urgency” of the priorities in this plan. Given the impacts the pandemic and climate change are having in the wealthiest on earth due to decades of neglect in infrastructure and social welfare investment, he must be blind not to see the “urgency”.
But Manchin’s personal holdings in coal and other fossil fuels and his longstanding relationship with Exxon lobbyists could certainly purchase a lot of blinders on the climate change front. Generous donations to his campaign from deep-pocketed corporate interests could perhaps make it difficult for him to see the disgraceful inequity of our current tax codes. And his daughter’s ties to Big Pharma and her advocation for jacking up the price of life-saving (and once cheap) EpiPens by 400% could certainly dim his vision when it comes to America’s healthcare woes.
Now it’s important to remember that Manchin isn’t the only so-called “moderate” Democrat who opposes the human infrastructure plan. But he’s definitely one of the most flagrantly flawed frontmen they could have chosen.
Biden declassifies documents revealing Saudi involvement in 9.11
20 years after the 9.11 terrorist attacks, family members of the victims have finally gotten some long-awaited transparency. Over the weekend, President Biden ordered the declassification of several documents that shed light on connections between the 15 Saudi hijackers and prominent Saudi nationals in the U.S.
The first, a 16-page document produced by the FBI’s Operation ENCORE investigation, was released this weekend. More documents will go public in 60-day increments over the next 6 months. This document contained some interesting revelations regarding two Saudi officials who resided in the U.S. before 9.11: Saudi diplomat Fahad al-Thumairy and Saudi government employee Omar al-Bayoumi.
In 2004, the 9.11 Commission largely cleared Thumairy and Bayoumi of any foreknowledge or involvement in the attack, despite their contacts with some of the hijackers. The authors of the FBI document came to very different conclusions. Thumairy and Bayoumi’s ties and support for the hijackers more extensive than previously revealed. Furthermore, both men had close contacts with connections to jihadist extremists.
These revelations are significant in that they imply, at least, an attempt by the U.S. government to whitewash any connections between the hijackers and Saudi government officials. However, both Thumairy and Bayoumi are relatively low-level functionaries. The first document doesn’t contain a smoking gun that directly connects high-level Saudi officials or the Saudi government with the 9.11 attacks. But we’ll see what the later documents reveal.
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