The Supreme Court yesterday struck down another challenge to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But it also said American companies can benefit from child slavery in Africa, so, you know, hold your applause for the honorable Justices.
Meanwhile, audio recordings reveal that Bolivia’s right-wing coup leaders were organizing yet another plot against the pro-democracy politician who won last year’s election. And this time they planned to go big, and bring in hundreds of mercenaries from the United States.
And lastly, US health officials announced a $3 billion program to speed up research on a pill to fight the coronavirus in people who’ve already been infected. The research could also help stop future pandemics in their tracks, which, after all we’ve been through, is an obvious win.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
This legal news comes from the Washington Post. The Supreme Court yesterday said US chocolate companies cannot be sued for child slavery on the African farms from which they buy most of their cocoa. But the court stopped short of saying such a lawsuit could never go forward. Six African men sought damages from Nestlé USA and Cargill, alleging that as children they were trafficked out of Mali, forced to work long hours on Ivory Coast cocoa farms and kept at night in locked shacks. Their attorneys argued the companies should have better monitored their cocoa suppliers in West Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown and child labor is widespread. The companies asked the Supreme Court to toss the lawsuit, arguing that courts in the United States are the wrong forum and that the applicable law permits such cases against individuals but not corporations. The court’s splintered decision was written by Justice Clarence Thomas.
Also yesterday, the Post reports, the Court dismissed the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, saying Republican-led states do not have the legal standing to try to upend the law. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the court’s seven-to-two decision, which preserves the law that provides millions of Americans with health coverage. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called the court’s decision, "a victory for all Americans, especially people with a preexisting condition." It’s a bittersweet victory, though, because I can’t stop thinking about those child slaves.
Recordings Expose Bolivia Coup Plot
Here’s some retro Reagan-era intrigue! The Intercept reports that a top official in the outgoing Bolivian government plotted to deploy hundreds of mercenaries from the United States to overturn the results of the South American country’s October 2020 election. The aim of the mercenary recruitment was to forcibly block Luis Arce from taking up the presidency for MAS, the party of former Bolivian President Evo Morales. The plot continued even though Arce, a protégé of Morales, trounced a crowded field, winning fifty five percent of first-round votes. Disagreements between ministers and divisions within the armed forces appear to have undermined the plan. It was never executed.
According to the Intercept, Arce’s eventual victory last fall was a stunning rejection of the right-wing shift overseen by coup leader Jeanine Áñez. The Bolivian right wing, however, was not ready to relinquish power. A recorded call with Áñez’s defense minister sketches a coup plot even more flagrant than the one in October 2019. Several of the plotters discussed flying hundreds of foreign mercenaries into Bolivia from a US military base outside Miami. These would join forces with elite Bolivian military units, renegade police squadrons, and vigilante mobs in a desperate bid to keep MAS from returning to power. Two US military sources confirmed that Special Operations had gotten wind of the Bolivia coup plot. But nothing ever came of it, they said. All those out-of-work Yankee mercenaries will just have to wait until the next time a leftist wins a Latin American election.
US Funds Anti-covid Pill Research
This promising health news comes from the New York Times. The US government spent more than $18 billion last year funding drugmakers to make a Covid vaccine, an effort that led to at least five highly effective shots in record time. Now it’s pouring more than $3 billion on a neglected area of research: developing pills to fight the virus early in the course of infection, potentially saving many lives in the years to come. The new program, announced yesterday by the Department of Health and Human Services, will speed up the clinical trials of a few promising drug candidates. If all goes well, some of those first pills could be ready by
the end of the year. The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will also support research on entirely new drugs – not just for the coronavirus, but for viruses that could cause future pandemics.
According to the Times, Doctor Anthony Fauci, a key backer of the program, said he looked forward to a time when Covid-19 patients could pick up antiviral pills from a pharmacy as soon as they develop Covid-19 symptoms. Fauci’s support for research on antiviral pills stems from his own experience fighting AIDS three decades ago. In the 1990s, his institute conducted research that led to some of the first antiviral pills for HIV. Even if the next generation of pills doesn’t arrive for a few years, scientists say the research will be a good investment. Imagine a future where Covid is no big deal. It’s nice!
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
CBS News reports that the House yesterday approved a bill to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force in Iraq, a measure which has the backing of the White House. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will bring it to the floor for a vote this year. Next we need a bill to make everyone who supported that stupid war publicly apologize.
The Washington Post says today will be a holiday for federal employees following President Joe Biden’s signing yesterday of legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in Texas. Employers who don’t honor this holiday are now officially on notice.
Speaking of Texas: The Associated Press reports that Texas will now let people carry handguns without first getting a background check and training, becoming the latest and largest on a growing list of states to roll back permitting requirements for carrying guns in public. Republican Governor Greg Abbott called it a measure of freedom and self-defense. It’s more like self-harm.
Politico reports that a little-known GOP candidate in Florida was secretly recorded threatening to send a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad to a fellow Republican opponent to make her QUOTE disappear ENDQUOTE. During the call, William Braddock repeatedly warned a conservative activist to not support Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat because he had access to assassins. Look out, Texas – here comes Florida!
AM QUICKIE - JUNE 18, 2021
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn