By Mark Montgomery, Professor of Economics, Grinnell College and Irene Powell, Professor of Economics, Grinnell College. When Ethiopia stopped allowing its children to be adopted by foreign parents in January, it became the latest country to eliminate or sharply curtail the practice.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is facing blowback for his continued efforts to spite the federal government and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the expense of his own state's economic lifeline: the cruise industry in South Florida.
At the beginning of April, DeSantis signed an executive order to place a ban on vaccine passports. Even as the Norwegian Cruise Line CEO threatens to pull their ships from the Port of Miami if DeSantis does not lift the recently-passed measure, he is still refusing to do so. Because of DeSantis' order, businesses and other entities cannot require residents to show proof of vaccination.
"Businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business," the order stated.
Then, in the first week of May, he issued another executive order suspending all COVID-19 mitigation guidelines across the state. Since the United States is still in the midst of a pandemic, the orders have been deeply criticized but DeSantis does not appear to be phased by the concerns.
In fact, DeSantis argues that "If you don't let them sail from Florida, they're going to sail from the Bahamas" as he suggested that ships would only sail from Florida if the CDC abandons its guideline for vaccinations.
Now, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) is sounding off about DeSantis' seemingly risky actions. With the completion of a new $263 million terminal specifically for the Norwegian Cruise Lines, Cava expressed concern about the double-edged sword DeSantis is swinging.
"I'm calling it a high-stakes game of chicken," Cava told The Daily Beast. "It's hard to believe that when push comes to shove, and the cruise industry has followed all the CDC guidelines, that he would stand in their way."
From both an economic and public health stance, DeSantis' ban could further hinder the state's recovery from the pandemic. There is also the concern regarding Republicans' efforts to ignore the importance of private enterprise when it does not suit their own political agenda.
According to The Daily Beast, 2019 statistics show how vital the cruise industry is to Florida's economy:
"The year before the COVID pandemic, the state accounted for 60.1 percent of all passenger embarkations in the U.S., according to an economic-impact report on the industry from Cruise Lines International Association. It channeled more than $9 billion in direct spending to the state and supported 159,000 jobs there, with total wages and salaries of $8.1 billion."
But despite the economic need for the cruise industry, DeSantis is willing to stand in the way and infringe upon cruise lines' rights to private enterprise.
"Yet DeSantis doesn't want anybody to ask who's been vaccinated," Cava said, although "companies are all willing, they think it's safe—and passengers would want it. We've vaccinated a couple of thousand crew to put the ships back in shape."
Despite the blowback, the Republican governor is pushing the blame on the CDC arguing the nation will see "'deaths from despair, deaths from people who got involved with drugs and substance abuse or suicide' because their 'livelihoods were shattered by what the CDC did.'"
Trump-supporting lawyer Sidney Powell is facing new allegation that stem from how she is funding her legal defense after being sued for $1.3 billion.
"Former Trump attorney and self-proclaimed 'Kraken releaser' Sidney Powell has told prospective donors that her group, Defending the Republic, is a legal defense fund to protect the integrity of U.S. elections. But the company suing Powell over her baseless claims of a rigged presidential election says the true beneficiary of her social welfare organization is Powell herself," The Washington Post reported Thursday. "Dominion Voting Systems claims Powell has raided Defending the Republic's coffers to pay for personal legal expenses, citing her own remarks from a radio interview. The Denver-based voting technology vendor sued Powell and others who spread false claims that the company helped steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump."
Powell was one of the most prominent proponents of Donald Trump's "Big Lie" about election fraud.
"The dispute shines a light on how Trump allies continue to support, spread and allegedly profit from lies about fraud in the 2020 election. Although the election is settled, and all major court challenges have been dismissed, Powell's legal defense fund continues to raise money, with help from conspiracy-minded supporters like QAnon adherents," The Post reported. "Her group will receive a cut of proceeds from ticket sales for a Memorial Day weekend conference in Dallas called the 'For God & Country Patriot Roundup,' the event's website says. Some leading purveyors of far-right conspiracy theories are headliners, including Powell, pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood and former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn."
Tickets for the conference are $500, with VIP passes available fore $1,000.
"Much of the conference was supposed to be held at a complex called Gilley's Dallas, but Sabal said the venue canceled his booking after news coverage of the event's QAnon connections. "QAnon followers believe Trump has been secretly fighting a cabal of Satan-worshipping "deep state" enemies, prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites operating a child sex trafficking ring."
Read the full report.
Newsmax TV host Grant Stinchfield will be off the air for the remainder of the week after massive outrage over his antisemitic remarks Wednesday night. Stinchfield claimed that American Jews' "home country" is actually Israel, not the U.S., in a rant attacking President Joe Biden.
“If you are Jewish and you are a Democrat and you are living in America today, how do you support an administration that turns its back on your home country?" Stinchfield had said, as Media Matters reported.
Outrage, especially from Americans who also identify as Jewish, was massive, as NCRM documented.
In March Stinchfield came under attack after claiming there was a "strong case" that President Joe Biden is "not really a Catholic."
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