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April 9, 2021: Intel report sees dire future

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A forward-looking report released every four years by the US intelligence community notes a number of worrisome global trends. The pandemic is only one of them.

Meanwhile, we’ve got news on the union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Did Amazon break the rules and taint the results by having the Postal Service install a special mailbox for ballots?

And lastly, the White House rolled out several new gun control measures yesterday. There were also at least two more mass shootings, in South Carolina and Texas.


The forecast is not sunshine and rainbows, folks. The Associated Press reports that US intelligence officials are painting a dark picture of the world’s future, writing in a report released yesterday that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic inequality, strained government resources and fanned nationalist sentiments. Those assessments are included in a Global Trends report by the government’s National Intelligence Council. The reports, produced every four years, are designed to help policymakers and citizens anticipate the economic, environmental, technological and demographic forces likely to shape the world through the next twenty years. This year’s report focuses heavily on the impact of the pandemic, calling it the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.

Nations in different parts of the world set new records yesterday for Covid-19 deaths and new infections, according to the AP. The report says, "Covid-19 has shaken long-held assumptions about resilience and adaptation and created new uncertainties about the economy, governance, geopolitics, and technology."

The document finds cause for concern in virtually all aspects of life, the AP reports. It warns, for instance, that the effects of climate change are likely to worsen the problem of food and water insecurity in poor countries and hasten global migration. Though health, education and household prosperity have made historic improvements in recent decades, that progress will

be hard to sustain because of "headwinds," not only from the effects of the pandemic but also aging populations and potentially slower economic growth. The report also warns of eroding trust in government and institutions. Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem if they did a better job of looking after people.

Here’s what we know about the hottest labor story in the country. The first ballots counted in a closely watched bid to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama were heavily against the effort, according to an unofficial tally of the results by the New York Times. The union seeking to represent workers said there were three thousand two hundred and fifteen ballots cast – or about fifty five percent of the roughly fifty eight hundred workers who were eligible to vote. Hundreds of ballots are being contested, mostly by Amazon, according to the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. Responding to the early results, union president Stuart Appelbaum said the system is broken and, "Amazon took full advantage of that."

As of 7 PM Eastern time yesterday, the Times’ unofficial tally counted four hundred fifty six Yes votes and one thousand and eighty four No votes. Counting resumes today. One thousand six hundred and eight votes are needed for the union to win. Union elections are typically held in person, but the labor board determined that the election should be conducted by mail to minimize risks during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that emails among US Postal Service employees show that Amazon pressed the agency to install a mailbox outside its Bessemer warehouse, a move the union contends is a violation of labor laws. The union has complained about the mailbox, which the Postal Service installed just before the start of mail-in balloting for the union election in early February. It has argued that the mailbox could lead workers to think Amazon has some role in collecting and counting ballots, which could influence their votes. Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox said the mailbox’s placement was intended to make voting easy. They’re just trying to help! Sure.

President Joe Biden announced an array of executive actions yesterday intended curb gun violence, following pressure from activists and fellow Democrats in the aftermath of two recent mass shootings, the Washington Post reports. The president announced new rules on firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track, among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons. Biden also named David Chipman as his pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman is an adviser to a gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

Biden’s moves come amid growing impatience from gun control activists that the administration has not acted more quickly, the Post reports. Biden promised he would take action to limit gun violence on the first day of his administration, but that fell by the wayside. The issue of gun violence moved the forefront after the two mass shootings, one in the Atlanta area in which eight people were killed and another in Colorado, where ten were killed.

It never ends. The AP reports that one person was killed and four wounded yesterday in a shooting at a cabinet-making business in Bryan, Texas. And at least five people are dead, including two children, in what police in York County, South Carolina, yesterday called a mass shooting, according to the Post. The AP and Charlotte Observer reported that the suspect, who was identified as former National Football League player Phillip Adams, killed himself. Adams’s father, Alonzo, told a regional NBC affiliate that his son had been, "a good kid. I think the football messed him up." So, he should’ve never had a gun.


George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, a medical expert testified at former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial yesterday, according to the AP. The testimony emphatically rejected the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems were what killed him. If Chauvin walks after all this, expect big protests.

The Guardian reports that rioters were blasted with a water cannon by police as unrest stirred on the streets of Northern Ireland. After calls for calm this week, violence again flared up on the streets of west Belfast last night. Officers were seen being pelted with missiles before charging youths with dogs in order to drive them off. President Biden yesterday joined British and Irish leaders in calling for peace.

Transgender rights activist and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and her advisers are gathering at her Malibu home next week to discuss her potential candidacy in the upcoming California gubernatorial recall election, Politico reports. Jenner has brought aboard a team of seasoned GOP strategists including Ryan Erwin, a former top official at the California Republican Party, and Brad Parscale, a former campaign manager to Donald Trump. A poll released last week showed support for removing Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is well short of a majority.

The New York Times reports that Joel Greenberg, a former local official in Florida who faces an array of federal charges, including a sex trafficking count, is expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks. The news is an indication that the defendant could cooperate as a key witness against Representative Matt Gaetz, who is under investigation.


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