POSSIBLE TOPICS: VOTER INFO, A visually impaired man tried to vote amid Covid-19 – but there were no safe options, Trump walks out of news conference after reporter asks him about Veterans Choice lie he’s told more than 150 times, Utah BLM protesters could get life in prison for splashing paint, The silver linings of online school, Schools Want IDEA Liability Protections From Congress, MORE.
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This program was recorded on SUNDAY, JULY 26 at about 4:30 AM. Due to Covid-19, shows are being prerecorded beginning March 13th and until further notice. We miss our live call-in participants, and look forward to a time we can once again go live.
Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio), a listener call-in show airing live every Monday night from 3-4 PM (CT) on KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). My co-host and Editor is Andrew Ferguson.
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For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
SIGNOFF QUOTE[s]: “At one point he [Trump] started to attack the press and I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over and it’s boring and it’s – it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won the nomination and, uh, why do you keep hammering at this? And he [Trump] said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.’ He said that. So, put that in your head for a minute.” ~ Lesley Stahl (“Deadline Club”, May 21, 2018). Excerpt from “Kasie DC”, May 27, 2018
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Make sure you are registered to vote! (Voting and election info are items 1 thru 2. Show information begins after Item 2.)
This program was recorded on SUNDAY, JULY 9. If you call in, you will NOT be able to get on the air, so please do not call the call-the show. We love our callers, but unfortunately live call-in is one of the casualties of COVID-19.
- Next election is he General on November 3rd. Make sure you are registered!
- VOTING FAQ
- Make sure you are registered to vote!
- For a personalized, nonpartisan voter guide visit VOTE411.ORG (DO NOT!! go to 411Vote!!)
- If you are denied your right to vote any place at any time at any polling place for any reason, ask for (or demand) a provisional ballot rather than lose your vote.
- HarrisVotes.com (Election Information Line (713) 755-6965), Harris County Clerk
- VOTETEXAS.GOV – Texas Voter Information
- HARRISVOTES.COM – Countywide Voting Center
- HARRIS CTY – IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING: Do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs?
- Fill out a declaration at the polls describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining it, and show a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- A government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check
- A certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes your identity (which may include a foreign birth document)
- HARRIS CTY – IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING: Do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs?
- You may vote early by-mail if
- You are registered to vote and meet one of the following criteria:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period;
- Sick or disabled;
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote.
- Make sure you are registered:
- Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar
- CHECK REGISTRATION STATUS HERE
- Outside Texas, try Vote.org.
- A visually impaired man tried to vote amid Covid-19 – but there were no safe options — Voters with visual disabilities, including Don Natzke, experienced roadblocks when trying to cast their ballots in Wisconsin’s pandemic primary. By Enjoyiana Nururdin | THEGUARDIAN.COM | Thu 6 Aug 2020 06.00 EDT, Last modified on Thu 6 Aug 2020 23.42 EDT
- Don Natzke, 69, has lived nearly his entire life with visual impairment. Natzke previously served as the executive director of the Milwaukee County Office for Persons with Disabilities, where he promoted accessible governmental policies to include people with disabilities.
- But when it came to Wisconsin’s 7 April election – the only in-person balloting balloting held in the midst of the pandemic that month – the Shorewood, Wisconsin, resident hit a surprising roadblock, due in part to his visual impairment.
- Natzke was disenfranchised because recent surgery limiting his mobility and a fear of exposure to Covid-19 kept him away from his neighborhood polling site. Because of his age and underlying health conditions, for Natzke, complying with Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order meant not voting in person.
- During a normal election, Natzke would use a headset and a computer to vote at the polling place less than two blocks from his home in suburban Milwaukee. And although state law allows blind voters to receive a ballot in Braille, Natzke said he did not realize that was an option. …
- The ballot he received was a regular absentee ballot, and he could not read it. Natzke’s partner also has a visual disability and could not help him with the task.
- Undaunted, Natzke utilized a service that allows a visually impaired person to use a cellphone to receive guidance from a trained agent in a remote location. …
- “Trying to make that process work to get accuracy in terms of marking a ballot and to be able to complete all of the parts of it ended up becoming absolutely impractical,” he recalled. “There was not a good way to directly mark a ballot using that process to be able to accomplish it.” …
- “Ultimately, I determined that there was not a way I could have people enter my environment, complete the ballot, get it submitted and get that process accomplished,” he said. “So, though I’m an active voter and I regularly vote, there wasn’t what I felt to be a safe, accessible and reasonable way to approach submitting the ballot.” …
- Natzke was not the only voter disenfranchised by Wisconsin’s pandemic presidential primary, which saw last-minute court-ordered changes in key election rules that left some voters bewildered – and some casting ballots that did not count.
- Some voters were afraid to go to the polls, and many voted absentee, according to a report by Wisconsin Election Protection and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which gathered information from 744 voters. But as an overwhelmed election and postal system struggled to manage more than 1.2m requests for absentee ballots, many ballots never made it to voters’ homes or never left the local clerk’s office.
- “We heard from people who have certain disabilities or medical conditions where it just was not safe for them to go on election day to the polls, and so they did everything right, to try and vote, but they just weren’t able to because the system failed them,” said Eileen Newcomer, the league’s voter education coordinator.
- Other voters lacked the technology or knowledge on how to request a ballot, make or send a copy of a photo ID or safely arrange a witness for their absentee ballot, the report found. And 23,000 absentee ballots that were filed were rejected – many due to errors made by first-time absentee voters, Wisconsin Watch and APM Reports found.
- This time around, Wisconsin faces four ongoing federal lawsuits challenging state election laws, including three that allege the right to vote for people with disabilities was abridged on 7 April.
- News conference or re-election rally?: Trump walks out of news conference after reporter asks him about Veterans Choice lie he’s told more than 150 times, By Daniel Dale | CNN.COM | Updated 8:33 PM ET, Sat August 8, 2020
- Trump, speaking at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, had claimed again that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice program passed …
- In fact, former President Barack Obama signed the Choice program into law in 2014. The law, which allowed eligible veterans to be covered by the government for care provided by doctors outside the VA system, was a bipartisan initiative spearheaded by two senators Trump has repeatedly criticized, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the late John McCain of Arizona. …
- “Why do you keep saying that you passed Veterans Choice?” CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid asked Trump at the Saturday news conference, during which Trump announced executive actions on coronavirus relief.
- As Trump tried to call on another reporter instead, Reid continued, “You said that you passed Veterans Choice. It was passed in 2014…it was a false statement, sir.”
- Trump paused, then responded: “OK. Thank you very much, everybody.” He then walked away as the song “YMCA” played.
- Trump had either never or almost never been challenged on the Veterans Choice claim before Reid did so.
- Utah BLM protesters could get life in prison for splashing paint – Demonstrators allegedly caused thousands of dollars’ damage, Charges include gang enhancement: ‘It feels retaliatory’. Associated Press in Salt Lake City | Published on Fri 7 Aug 2020 12.04 EDT
- Some Black Lives Matter protesters in Salt Lake City could face up to life in prison if they are convicted of splashing red paint and smashing windows during a protest.
- The potential punishment stands out among demonstrators arrested around the country and critics say it does not fit the alleged crime.
- The felony criminal mischief charges are more serious because they carry a gang enhancement. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that was justified because the protesters worked together to cause thousands of dollars in damage, but watchdogs called the use of the 1990s-era law troubling, especially in the context of criminal justice reform and minority communities.
- “This is so far beyond just the enforcement of the law, it feels retaliatory,” said Madalena McNeil, who is facing a potential life sentence over felony criminal mischief and riot charges. …
- The charges have Democratic leaders at odds in Salt Lake City, the liberal-leaning capital of conservative Utah, with the top county prosecutor arguing vandalism crossed a line and the mayor calling the charges too extreme.
- “I don’t think anyone is going to be going to prison on this,” [said Salt Lake county district attorney, Sim Gill]. Gill is a generally reform-minded Democrat who said he had participated in Black Lives Matter protests himself and declined to charge dozens of protesters accused of curfew violations.
- Still, [Sim] argued “there’s some people who want to engage in protest, but they want to be absolved of any behavior,” he said. “This is not about protest, this is about people who are engaging in criminal conduct.”
- “This is the highest-degree felony. This is usually reserved for murders and rapists,” said attorney Brent Huff, who represents co-defendant Madison Alleman. …
- “No one should get life in prison for putting paint on a building,” [said defense attorney, Jesse Nix, who represents protester Viviane Turman]. …
- “We have to have some agreement of what constitutes protected first amendment speech,” Gill said. “When you cross that threshold, should you be held accountable or not?”
- MEANWHILE, IN ‘UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES’ NEWS: The silver linings of online school, by Erica Pandey, author of @Work | AXIOS.COM | 8-8-2020
- Online learning can be frustrating for students, teachers and parents, but some methods are working.
- The big picture: Just as companies are using this era of telework to try new things, some principals, teachers and education startups are treating remote learning as a period of experimentation, too.
- Some of these creative fixes for kids might even stick around after the pandemic is over.
- “I don’t think people have even had the opportunity to think about what could be good about this,” says Lee Ferguson, a high school science teacher in Allen, Texas. “This gives us the opportunity to innovate and to do new things.”
- Teachers are taking advantage of the deconstructed school day’s flexibility.
- Jori Krulder, a high school teacher in Paradise, Calif., found time to do regular one-on-one conferencing with her students because of the looser schedule in the spring. She plans to continue through the fall.
- Other teachers are recording lessons for students to watch on their own time and using their video calls with kids solely for personalized instruction.
- “The important part is to make sure that every kid is acknowledged and that every kid has time with me,” Krulder says.
- The forced switch to remote learning is shaking up teaching and learning for the first time in decades.
- “Now that we don’t have a captive audience in front of us, engagement — or lack thereof — becomes a lot more obvious,” says Krulder. “Kids can easily multitask or not show up.”
- That’s prompting teachers to think outside of the traditional lecture method. “We’ve already been doing that, but I think this’ll just accelerate it,” she says.
- Some are even thinking beyond letter grades. Many schools did away with grades amid the chaos in the spring, and now those qualitative methods of evaluating students might carry over into the post-pandemic world, teachers say.
- And this stint of remote learning could also prepare students for the future of work. Online school “gives us the opportunity to teach students to be better digital citizens,” Ferguson says.
- Pandemic-era remote learning has also spurred innovation and made way for new types of companies.
- SitterStream, a Boston-based startup that launched at the beginning of the pandemic, is an Uber for child care. It offers on-demand virtual babysitting and tutoring to kids, both individually and in small pods.
- Founder Stephanie Africk is betting that her company will be popular even after the pandemic ends. “We know this is the way the future is going,” she says.
- Amazon is offering SitterStream as a workplace benefit for its employees with kids.
- Transportant, a Kansas startup, has been working with school districts in San Antonio, western Kansas, northern Wisconsin and beyond to try to solve some of remote learning’s inequities.
- The company, which outfits buses with WiFi, had to pivot when the pandemic halted travel. So it started working with school districts to turn its buses into rolling WiFi hotspots that service students without access to the internet.
- One bus can provide high-speed internet to an entire street or apartment building, founder John Styers tells Axios.
- The bottom line: While many students and parents are eager for schools to fully open again, some of the lessons from online school might make American education a little better.
- Says Ferguson: “As much as online learning takes away the proximity to our students, it can create community in ways that we hadn’t even thought of before.”
- Schools Want IDEA Liability Protections From Congress, by Michelle Diament | DISABILITYSCOOP.COM | July 20, 2020
- Concerned that the pandemic will prompt an onslaught of special education litigation, school leaders want federal lawmakers to grant them liability protections related to their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]. …
- … [T]hree groups said that surveys of school leaders across the nation show growing concern about “unparalleled rates of litigation” as schools struggle to follow through with students’ individualized education programs during the pandemic.
- [In a statement from Daniel Domenech … ,] “Congress must act swiftly to provide liability protection to districts around IDEA. … District leaders need to be focused on addressing learning loss, not preventing litigation. … [T]his is an opportunity to provide reasonable, temporary, litigation protection for the vast majority of districts that are doing everything feasible to meet IDEA during the pandemic, but simply cannot meet every requirement exactly as intended for every single child.”
- The request comes as lawmakers are expected to start piecing together another coronavirus relief bill in the coming weeks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated that he wants liability protections for businesses, schools and others included in the bill, though it’s unclear what that could mean for special education specifically. …
- Disability advocacy groups have insisted that no waivers of special education law are warranted despite the extraordinary circumstances presented by COVID-19.
- Fears about increased litigation are unfounded, said Denise Stile Marshall, CEO of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates … , a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of students with disabilities and their families.
- “They fail to make the case the COVID-19 (pandemic) has caused or will result in multitude of lawsuits. Anticipating and predicting are hardly conclusive,” Marshall said of the school groups advocating for liability protections, noting that a “very low percentage of families” file for due process.
- “There is no acknowledgement at all of the very serious harms some students are suffering or schools that have not even tried to meet their obligations,” she said. “Our position from day one remains the same — no waivers — that includes sweeping liability protections.”