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Florida judge voids national mask mandate for public transportation – live

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13:50

Florida judge voids transportation mask mandate

Martin Pengelly

A federal judge in Florida has voided a national mask mandate covering planes and other public transportation, ruling that the Covid-19 mitigation measure exceeds the authority of federal health officials.

In her decision on Monday, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a US district judge in Tampa, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rule-making.

The mask mandate was recently extended by Joe Biden’s administration until 3 May.

“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalisations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said, on extending the mandate.

The challenge on which Judge Mizelle ruled was filed in part by Health Freedom Defense Fund, a conservative group.

Judge Mizelle was nominated by Donald Trump and confirmed in November 2020, after Trump’s election defeat but before Biden took office. She is a former clerk for Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative judges on the US supreme court.

In tweets on Monday, Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, pointed to worsening Covid conditions nationwide as the Florida ruling landed:

He wrote: “Worried – hospitalizations for Covdid-19 are rising exponentially again in Florida and New York. Meanwhile, New Jersey Covid hospitals admissions is second largest by number, while Vermont largest by percentage. Florida are sharply rising – faster than last Omicron wave.

“Meanwhile – a Florida judge just overturned the CDC public transportation mask mandate. All while hospitalizations increasing.”

Updated
at 1.50pm EDT

4.09pm EDT

16:09

Closing summary

We’re closing the US politics blog for today, thanks for joining us. We’ll update my colleague Jessica Glenza’s story here on the striking down of the federal mask mandate with comments from White House press secretary Jen Psaki following her upcoming afternoon briefing.

The ruling by a district court judge in Florida, a Donald Trump appointee, to overturn the mandate was the day’s main development, but there was plenty else going on to look at:

The Pentagon says Ukraine fighters will be trained on heavy howitzer artillery cannons to defend the country against Russia’s invasion. Follow developments in the conflict on our live blog here.
Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, speaking about the climate crisis, says “We’ve got to save democracy in order to save our species.”
Joe and Jill Biden hosted the first White House Easter Egg roll in two years, welcoming thousands of families to the south lawn after a two-year Covid absence.
The White House announced that a second global Covid-19 summit would take place virtually on 12 May, as concern rises about a new surge of infections and low vaccination rates internationally.

3.55pm EDT

15:55

CNN has an interesting look at this afternoon’s federal court ruling in Florida striking down the Biden administration’s mask mandate.

As of mid-afternoon, none of the White House, centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), food and drug administration (FDA), or transportation security administration (TSA) that enforces the mandate have commented on the ruling by Florida district court judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voiding the mandate, which was last week extended to 3 May.

But CNN notes that every prior attempt to reverse the law in a courtroom has failed, including at the US supreme court, raising questions if Judge Mizelle’s ruling would stand if the administration or agencies were to appeal.

The network cites a justice department court filing from a case in Texas last week, in which efforts to secure a restraining order against the mandate were unsuccessful:

Many other individuals have sought time-sensitive injunctive relief from the CDC or TSA orders that require masks during commercial air travel. The Supreme Court has thrice rejected that relief, and so has every Court of Appeals to consider the issue, the Fourth, Eighth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, as well as the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

No court has granted such relief, and not a single Judge or Justice has noted their dissent from any of these orders.

3.37pm EDT

15:37

Pentagon says Ukraine to get artillery training

The Pentagon is confirming that Ukrainian fighters are to be trained how to use howitzer artillery cannons sent to the country from the US to defend against the Russian invasion.

John Kirby. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary said in an afternoon briefing that the training was taking place “outside of Ukraine” and would probably begin in “the next several days,” but would not confirm if US military personnel would be involved.

“It’ll be small number of Ukrainians that will be trained on the howitzers and then they will be reintroduced back into their country to train their colleagues,” Kirby said.

He added that 18 howitzers and 40,000 rounds of artillery were on the way following Joe Biden’s announcement last week of a further $800m in military aid ahead of an expected Russian onslaught in the disputed Donbass region:

Artillery is a specific item that the Ukrainians asked for, because of the fighting that they expect is going to occur in the Donbass. There has been fighting there for eight years. There’s fighting there today.

The terrain lends itself to the use of artillery, to long range fires, as we call it. And we know that the Russians also believe the same thing because we’re seeing them move artillery units into the Donbass as well. We want to give the Ukrainians every bit of advantage that we can.

3.25pm EDT

15:25

Sam Wolfson

Are there three words in the English language that can strike quite as much trepidation into the hearts of the sane and rational person as “Tucker Carlson original”? Yes, the documentary strand that brought you such titles as Hungary vs Soros: The Fight for Civilization and Patriot Purge, a BS-laden fantasy about the January 6 riots that contained so many bonkers claims about false-flag operations that it forced a tranche of Fox News veterans to quit the network, has returned.

The latest addition to the Carlson oeuvre is called The End of Men and its Magic Mike-style trailer just dropped.

Dr. Benjamin Braddock
(@GraduatedBen)
Epic documentary from Tucker Carlson Originals: The End of Men. pic.twitter.com/xxhmOIpBqR

April 16, 2022

It begins with a familiar Make America Great Again-style montage, centering on a John F Kennedy speech in which he extols the virtues of strength and exercise and berates America’s “soft, chubby fat-looking children”. Quickly, Kennedy’s reasonable-for-the-time approach to childhood obesity is equated with a precipitous decline in sperm counts and testosterone over the last 50 years.

And then what could only be described as a series of money shots. As the booming timpanis of a Richard Strauss piece from 2001: A Space Odyssey swell – we see huge buff topless men, cutting wood, milking cows, firing guns, barbecuing, fighting, drinking egg yolks and most strikingly, tanning their genitals. This supposed sequence of real red-blooded males is perhaps the campest thing Fox News has aired since Glenn Beck doused a handsome model in gasoline.

Carlson’s deeply homoerotic version of real men looks more xVideos than ex-mining town but the testosterone-based view of masculinity he’s pushing has been a common theme for Fox News over the past decade, and a profitable one.

The testicle tanning, or “red-light” therapy, shown in the video is explained further in an interview Carlson does with a self-proclaimed “bromeotherapy” expert. He claims that by dousing your balls in red LEDs, you can create higher levels of testosterone.

The potential for UV or red light to increase testosterone levels has been quite well documented but there are no peer-reviewed double-blind studies that are able to prove these claims. Testosterone levels also change dramatically throughout the day, and also see dramatic increases from exercise, new sexual partners and changes to diet.

Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦
(@RonFilipkowski)
In his new special on how to raise testosterone levels in men, Tucker Carlson’s guest suggests “testicle tanning” using infrared light as a “bromeopathic” therapy. pic.twitter.com/PirerBMRyr

April 17, 2022

Read the full story:

3.02pm EDT

15:02

Edward Helmore

It’s tax day in the US, the deadline for most individuals to file and pay tax owed. But while this year’s tax season may be closing for millions of Americans who are paid through a digital payment service such as PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Cash App, the next tax year could come with even more complications.

Under a new law buried in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, digital payment services, or Third-Party Settlement Organizations (TPSOs), will now be required to notify federal tax collectors of payments amounting to more than $600 in total during the course of the year.

Before the change, taxpayers received a notification – known as a 1099-K – only if they processed more than 200 business transactions amounting to more than $20,000 over a year.

Now, with the payment threshold reduced to $600, US taxpayers who have never seen a 1099-K will be receiving one. No one knows how many Americans will be getting these forms, but tax lobbyists estimate the number at as high as 20 million.

According to small business consultant Gene Marks, writing in the Guardian earlier this year, “the reality is there are 30 million small businesses, freelancers, solo-preneurs and independent contractors in the US … who receive a number of small payments from many customers throughout the year may, well, forget”.

For individuals whose record keeping is sub-par, says Marks: “No worries! The IRS will now be able to find out what you earned anyway.”

Venmo says it will send out 1099-K forms to business profile owners after January next year to anyone who receives payments for the sale of goods or services through the service.

Read more here:

2.54pm EDT

14:54

Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who signed a law outlawing mask mandates in the state last year, is unsurprisingly among the first to tweet a welcome to Judge Mizelle’s ruling.

“Great to see a federal judge in Florida follow the law and reject the Biden transportation mask mandate. Both airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end,” wrote DeSantis, who has repeatedly referred to mask wearing as “Covid theater.”

Ron DeSantis
(@GovRonDeSantis)
Great to see a federal judge in Florida follow the law and reject the Biden transportation mask mandate. Both airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end.

April 18, 2022

DeSantis did not mention that last September he personally appointed Judge Mizelle’s husband Chad Mizelle, a former attorney in Donald Trump’s administration, to a key role on the nominating commission for circuit court judges in Florida.

2.38pm EDT

14:38

Here’s the full 59-page ruling from federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle striking down the federal mask mandate for public air, rail and bus transportation across the US.

It says, in part:

The mask mandate is best understood not as sanitation, but as an exercise of the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] power to conditionally release individuals to travel despite concerns that they may spread a communicable disease (and to detain or partially quarantine those who refuse).

But the power to conditionally release and detain is ordinarily limited to individuals entering the United States from a foreign country.

[The mandate] applies to all travelers regardless of their origins or destinations and makes no attempt to sort based on their health.

Updated
at 2.38pm EDT

2.26pm EDT

14:26

The fact that the federal judge in Florida who has just voided the federal mask mandate is a Donald Trump appointee, confirmed after he lost the 2020 presidential election, is already coming under scrutiny.

Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, 35, was deemed “not qualified” to serve as a federal trial court judge by the American Bar Association in its letter to the Senate judiciary committee last September, which concluded: “the nominee presently does not meet the requisite minimum standard of experience necessary to perform the responsibilities required by the high office of a federal trial judge.”

Nominees to the federal bench, the association noted, “ordinarily should have at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law.” At the time of her nomination by Trump, aged 33, Mizelle was only eight years’ removed from her law school graduation and had “not tried a case, civil or criminal, as lead or co-counsel,” the ABA recorded, noting the nomination as “a marked departure” from the norm.

Despite this, the Republican-controlled (at the time) US Senate confirmed her nomination 49-41 on a party line vote.

Her husband Chad Mizelle served as acting general counsel for the department of homeland security in the Trump White House.

Mark Joseph Stern
(@mjs_DC)
Try explaining to your friends in other liberal democracies that a single unelected, life-tenured, 35-year-old judge just abolished the air travel mask mandate for the entire country.

No peer nation would tolerate such a power-drunk juristocracy. Our system is badly broken.

April 18, 2022

1.50pm EDT

13:50

Florida judge voids transportation mask mandate

Martin Pengelly

A federal judge in Florida has voided a national mask mandate covering planes and other public transportation, ruling that the Covid-19 mitigation measure exceeds the authority of federal health officials.

In her decision on Monday, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a US district judge in Tampa, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rule-making.

The mask mandate was recently extended by Joe Biden’s administration until 3 May.

“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalisations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said, on extending the mandate.

The challenge on which Judge Mizelle ruled was filed in part by Health Freedom Defense Fund, a conservative group.

Judge Mizelle was nominated by Donald Trump and confirmed in November 2020, after Trump’s election defeat but before Biden took office. She is a former clerk for Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative judges on the US supreme court.

In tweets on Monday, Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, pointed to worsening Covid conditions nationwide as the Florida ruling landed:

He wrote: “Worried – hospitalizations for Covdid-19 are rising exponentially again in Florida and New York. Meanwhile, New Jersey Covid hospitals admissions is second largest by number, while Vermont largest by percentage. Florida are sharply rising – faster than last Omicron wave.

“Meanwhile – a Florida judge just overturned the CDC public transportation mask mandate. All while hospitalizations increasing.”

Updated
at 1.50pm EDT

1.28pm EDT

13:28

Jamie Raskin: ‘We’ve got to save democracy in order to save our species’

Ankita Rao

When it comes to fighting for democracy and climate change – two of Jamie Raskin’s top priorities – the whole thing feels a bit like a game of chicken and egg to the Democratic congressman.

On the one hand there is the planet, heating up quickly past the limit that is safe and necessary for human survival, while Congress stalls on a $555bn climate package. On the other, a pernicious movement, spurred by Donald Trump and other rightwing conspiracy theorists, to upend voting rights protections and cast doubt on the current election system.

But Raskin, a progressive from Maryland, is clear about which comes first: he said America can’t fix the planet without fixing its government.

“We’ve got to save the democracy in order to save the climate and save our species,” he said in an interview with the Guardian in collaboration with Reuters and Climate One public radio, as part of the Covering Climate Now media collaboration.

Later Raskin added: “We’re never going to be able to successfully deal with climate change if we’re spending all our time fighting the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and Ku Klux Klan, and the Aryan nations and all of Steve Bannon’s alt-right nonsense.”

Full interview:

Source : The Guardian

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