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► Congressional Democrats are hoping to add paid leave and increased sfunding for COVID-19 prevention and treatment to a new long-term spending package.
► As CNN reports, it’s looking more and more like Russia will invade Ukraine in the coming weeks:
A senior US official warned Thursday that the “drumbeat of war is sounding loud” following a week’s worth of diplomacy between the West and Russia that wrapped up Thursday.
The effort ended without clear breakthroughs over the tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed on the Ukrainian border, leaving prospects for future diplomacy and de-escalation in doubt as Russian officials suggested they could soon turn to military options.
Both US and Russian officials sounded a pessimistic note over the talks following Thursday’s meeting in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It was the third session that capped a week of intensive meetings that the United States and its NATO allies hoped could spur Russia to pursue a path of “de-escalation and diplomacy” rather than mobilizing the tens of thousands of Russian troops whose presence has swelled along Ukraine’s borders.
But Russian officials reacted with frustration and impatience coming out of the meetings, suggesting they were poised to abandon discussions over the US and NATO’s refusal to entertain Moscow’s key demands: A guarantee that Ukraine will never be permitted to join NATO and that the alliance roll back its expansion in Eastern Europe. The US and its NATO allies have repeatedly said such proposals from Moscow are non-starters.
As The Washington Post reports, Russia is working on creating a reason for their own invasion:
The Russian government has sent operatives into eastern Ukraine in preparation for potential sabotage operations that would serve as a pretext for invasion, the Biden administration said on Friday.
“We have information that indicates Russia has already prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine,” a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules established by the Biden administration, said in an email. “The operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy-forces.”
Also on Friday, Ukraine government websites were hit by a cyberattack that sure looks like it came from Russia.
► Democrats in Colorado’s Congressional Delegation are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate local police efforts after a man with a history of noted trouble went on a shooting spree in Denver and Lakewood last month. The letter from Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, and Ed Perlmutter is aimed at trying to make sure that there were no information-sharing gaps between police agencies that might have helped prevent the tragedy.
► Republican State Rep. Mark Baisley has had an, um, interesting week. First he proposed wrapping voting machines in tin foil to discourage people from putting them in the microwave, or something, and then he took to the podium at a GOP press conference to inarticulately explain his upcoming legislation to ignore scientific evidence and declare that natural immunity from COVID-19 is just as good as getting vaccinated.
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► Here’s some good news: Workers and management at King Soopers appear to be heading back to the bargaining table. From The Denver Post:
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 asked King Soopers negotiators to resume contract talks Friday. A spokeswoman for King Soopers, Colorado’s largest grocery store chain, said Thursday that the company is looking forward to returning to negotiations…
…Kim Cordova, the union president, said the picket lines at stores from Boulder to Parker will remain up as the negotiations continue.
“We remain committed to honoring the near-unanimous vote by Local 7 members to strike against the company for unfair labor practices,” Cordova said in a statement. “And we will continue until the company proves it will treat essential workers with the dignity they deserve.”
During a rally Thursday, a day after employees walked off the job, Cordova said the union asked that King Soopers leaders from Colorado be at the table to continue talks. She said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers and City Market stores in Colorado, only briefly attended bargaining sessions, which broke off the first week in January.
► Republican Senate candidate Gino Campana plans to seek a place on the June Primary ballot through the Republican assembly process. At this point, at least, Campana doesn’t appear to be considering also gathering petition signatures as a backup plan.
► The Pueblo Chieftain reports on the congressional campaign of Republican Don Coram, who is seeking to oust Rep.Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in the June Primary Election.
Boebert, meanwhile, is clearly nervous about the risk Coram poses to her political future.
► Climate activists are pushing Gov. Jared Polis to do more to combat issues of poor air and water quality.
► As Colorado Public Radio reports, Democrats are working on trying to help local police departments recruit and retain more officers:
Support for police is something that is being echoed at the very top levels of state government.
In Gov. Jared Polis’ state of the state address on Thursday, he asked for a standing ovation for law enforcement, saying, “today, let us stand up for you.”
He then pledged more resources for training and recruiting efforts and mental health support.
Weiser is working on a $10 million measure sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Jeff Bridges that will help retain existing officers and recruit new ones along with providing them more robust trauma counseling if they need it.
► Colleges in Pueblo will require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or medical exemptions for a return to classes.
► Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is investigating price gouging allegations related to people trying to recover from the Marshall Fire in Boulder County.
► Colorado is lowering qualifications for new teachers as school districts throughout the state struggle to maintain adequate staffing levels.
► As Westword notes, driving drunk in Colorado is still a much bigger problem than “driving high.”
► POLITICO looks at subsets of groups that are most likely to spread fake news:
In newly published research, we found that it’s not conservatives in general who tend to promote false information, but rather a smaller subset of them who also share two psychological traits: low levels of conscientiousness and an appetite for chaos. Importantly, we found that several other factors we tested for — including support for former President Donald Trump — did not reliably predict an inclination to share misinformation.
Our findings suggest it is misguided to assign blame for misinformation to the political right broadly — indeed, doing so risks increasing polarization. Instead, it would be more productive for researchers, social media platforms, politicians and members of the media to focus their efforts on low-conscientiousness conservatives (LCCs for short) in particular. Yet, our findings also showed that fact-checking was not an effective way to prevent these conservatives from sharing false news stories, meaning other interventions are needed.
► President Biden is sounding understandably pessimistic about the chances of passing major election reform legislation.
In related news, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will almost certainly face a tough Primary challenge in 2024 should she attempt to seek re-election.
► The editorial board of The Washington Post has had enough of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bullshit:
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is a key witness to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. So it makes sense that the House committee investigating the riot would want to interview him. But Mr. McCarthy declared on Wednesday that he will not cooperate, calling the investigation an illegitimate abuse of power designed to damage Democrats’ political opponents.
This is the man who boasted in 2015 that House Republicans had employed their Benghazi investigation to wound Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton — who, by the way, testified voluntarily for 11 hours before the GOP’s show trial, which produced no evidence of wrongdoing by the then-secretary of state in connection with the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya that killed four Americans…
…Subpoenaing the minority leader would be unprecedented, but his behavior amounts to a dereliction of his oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. In his quest to become the next GOP House speaker, Mr. McCarthy has instead thrown in his lot with the enemies of democracy. [Pols emphasis]
► If you’re headed anywhere in the Eastern United States this weekend, be prepared for a lot of weather-related delays.
Say What, Now?
Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) seems confused by the concept of “winter break” for school districts.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Great use of time, Senator:
— New York Post (@nypost) January 14, 2022
► The Republican National Committee is pushing a proposal to REQUIRE future Republican Presidential candidates to refuse to participate in debates sanctioned by the bi-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
► The fledgling Recall Polis-Griswold effort quadrupled its cash-on-hand numbers in Q4 of 2021. They now have four whole dollars!
► As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) continues to raise big bucks in his bid for re-election.