National News, Tuesday, 9/22 – Romney Ready To Vote On New Supreme Court Nominee; Republicans Ready To Move Forward, Democrats Outraged

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On Capitol Hill today, Senate Republicans gathered to discuss plans for quickly considering President Trump’s expected Supreme Court nominee for the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah backed party leaders on moving ahead with the confirmation process.

By doing so, Mr. Romney, who’s not a fan of President Trump, largely put to rest any doubts about whether the GOP would reach the 50 votes it needs to proceed.  It came as Senate Republicans prepared to meet for the first time since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death to discuss how to proceed on Mr. Trump’s expected pick, which he said he would announce on Saturday.

Most Republican senators have said they support the nomination process moving forward, with two exceptions: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Republicans, who have a 53-47 majority, could afford no more than three defections, and Vice President Mike Pence would be called on to break a 50-50 tie.

Romney stated:

“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee,” Mr. Romney said in a statement Tuesday. “If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”

Democrats have objected to Republicans’ plans to move ahead with a nomination, arguing that the pick should be left until after the election, and had hoped more GOP senators would defect.

With momentum building for the as-yet-unnamed candidate—Mr. Trump met with federal appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday—the question was less around whether Republicans would back his nominee this year and more around the timing.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he wanted a speedy confirmation process, suggesting a growing likelihood that the Republican conference backs a quick vote. With some 42 days until the presidential election as of Tuesday, a confirmation before the election would be among the speediest in modern history. Since 1975, it has taken a median of 69 days between formal nomination and a Senate confirmation.“We got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election,” Mr. Graham said.  “We are going to move forward in the committee. We’re going to report the nomination of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election.”

President Trump said he was considering five women for the vacant Supreme Court seat and likely would make public the pick on Saturday, as Senate Republicans largely lined up behind him and rejected Democrats’ calls to let the winner of the presidential election choose the nominee.

Mr. Trump said that the process to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at the age of 87, should move swiftly. He has begun speaking with candidates and on Monday met at the White House with federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett, according to a person familiar with the matter.  He said he probably would announce his choice on Saturday, a day after Justice Ginsburg is set to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.

President Trump told the United Nations today that it must hold China accountable for its failure to contain the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic and declared that the World Health Organization was being “controlled” by Beijing.  Calling the virus, “The China Virus,” Trump said, “The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.”

Trump held nothing back as per usual.  He accused China of allowing flights of infected people to leave the country in the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as of spreading false information with the help of the WHO.  The administration has long blamed Beijing for the worldwide pandemic, which scientists have confirmed originated in Wuhan, China.  The president also called on the international community to join in its own efforts to investigate China’s actions.

College is back in session at many places in the U.S.  But the reopening for face-to-face instruction might have caused tens of thousands of additional cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College.

The researchers estimated that an extra 3,200 cases a day occurred in the U.S. that likely wouldn’t have happened had schools kept classes online.

To determine whether college reopenings influenced case counts in the larger community, the researchers used cellphone GPS tracking data to look at the movements of people—including an influx of students—and calculated the infection rates of the surrounding county from mid-July to mid-September, before and after students showed up.    They found little uptick in case counts for those communities where students moved back to be near campus, but were taking classes online. The biggest surge came near schools with in-person instruction, with particular spikes in places where students came from hot-spot zones elsewhere in the country.

Many institutions grappled with whether to reopen dorms and hold classes in person, or keep lessons online as they had done in the spring. Some started back up with limited testing protocols in place or minor changes to residence halls, while others are requiring weekly swabs from even asymptomatic individuals.

In the Old Normal, you bought a new shirt, wore it to work and people noticed. These Now Normal pandemic days, working at home means wearing the same thing. The only thing people comment on when you go out — if you go out — is your face mask. And if the comment is positive, they can’t even see you smile. If you need to freshen up your mask, go to a museum. Many museums are still closed, but their shops are doing a lively business with face masks that are funny, or gorgeous, or daring, and can be ordered online. Usually the masks are based on art in their collections.

… Edvard Munch’s The Scream is Milwaukee Art Museum’s second bestselling mask. Number one is Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Monday was the 50th anniversary of the September 21, 1970 launch of the game on Monday nights.  On the first edition of ABC’s Monday Night Football (1970) the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets at Cleveland Municipal Stadium 31-21.

Building a structure out of cookies doesn’t have to be exclusive to Christmas and gingerbread houses. Oreo released a spooky graveyard chocolate cookie kit. The kit builds a mini haunted graveyard complete with a mausoleum and tombstones. It comes with pre-cut cookie shapes for those main attractions, so all you have to worry about is sticking them together. To decorate and hold everything in place, the kit includes full-size Oreo cookies, mini Oreos, pre-made icing, and an orange, purple, and black candy assortment in bead and bat shapes. There are instructions on the back of the box for a little guidance, and you can buy the kit at Michaels for about $15.

Ladies, if you’re putting on the pumps for men, don’t waste your time. Experts (at Northumbria University) studied men and their reactions to women walking with and without high heel shoes. The study revealed that men cannot tell if a woman who is walking is wearing heels or not. The study assessed several women between the ages of 18 and 35 and took a look at the signals they sent out while walking in heels and also without heels. The researchers were trying to figure out if men are impacted by the illusion of longer legs, tilting torso and more prominent rear. Looks like not so much. High heels don’t seem to bring on the love signals after all.

Cosmos: Possible Worlds returns to Fox tonight (Tuesday) for a third season, and fans have Seth MacFarland — creator of Family Guy — to thank for the show. A few years ago Seth had lunch with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Seth — whose had great success and makes tons of money from Family Guy, American Dad, The Orville and the Ted movies — asked Neil how he could use his money to help inform and educate the masses about science. Neil suggested that Seth help finance a reboot of the classic documentary show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which ran on PBS in 1980. Seth signed on as a producer and used his connections at Fox to get the update Cosmos on the air.

… Random: Seth MacFarland’s middle name is Woodbury.

“What do you regret when you look back on your life?” That’s what a researcher at Cornell University asked hundreds of older people. The answer most often received: “I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.” One 80-year old woman in a nursing home told the researchers: “It’s my responsibility to be as happy as I can, right here, today.”

… The problem with worrying is that it takes place in the absence of actual stressors. We worry when there is actually nothing concrete to worry about. To reduce how much regret we have in a lifetime, the experts suggested increasing the time spent on concrete problem solving and drastically eliminating time spent worrying.

Australian researchers found that a drowsy brain may as well be drunk when it comes to performing complex tasks like driving. The study found reaction times were slowed to the extent of a blood alcohol level of .05 after staying awake for 17-19 hours. The longer the subject stayed awake, the more their performance plummeted, eventually reaching the same level of impairment as legal intoxication.

… While memory and problem solving were not much affected by sleep deprivation, the ability to maintain attention to detail during a monotonous task was. Researchers said that while there’s no ideal amount of daily sleep we need, 7-8 hours is a good average — and teens need even more.

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