Capitol Police officer says it’s a ‘disgrace’ that Pence is dismissing January 6: ‘We did everything possible to prevent him from being hanged and killed in front of his daughter and his wife’
Bryan Metzger – December 30, 2021
Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell said Pence’s minimization of January 6 was a “disgrace.”
“We did everything possible to prevent him from being hanged,” he said.
Pence recently said that “one tragic day in January” was being used to demean Trump supporters.
Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell in an interview with NPR called former Vice President Mike Pence’s recent minimization of the January 6 Capitol attack a “disgrace” and “pathetic.”
Gonell, who helped defend the US Capitol against a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump as a joint session of Congress met to count the country’s electoral votes, spoke about the troubles he’d dealt with in the year since the attack. That includes ongoing therapy for his mental health, injuries that prevent him from raising his left arm, and emotional trauma.
Gonell, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, criticized the recent remarks by the former vice president, whom he helped defend that day.
Speaking recently with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pence referred to the assault on the Capitol as “one tragic day in January,” a description that the former vice president has used more than once.
“I’m not going to allow the Democrats or the national media to use one tragic day in January to demean the intentions of 74 million people who stood with us in our cause,” Pence said. “And I’m not going to allow the Democrats to use one tragic day in January to distract attention from their failed agenda and the failed policies of the Biden administration. We’re going to focus on the future.”
When he was asked about Pence’s comments about January 6, Gonell criticized the former vice president.
“That one day in January almost cost my life,” Gonell told NPR. “And we did everything possible to prevent him from being hanged and killed in front of his daughter and his wife. And now he’s telling us that that one day in January doesn’t mean anything. It’s pathetic. It’s a disgrace.”
Gonell added: “He swore an oath to the country, not to Donald Trump.”
Without naming anyone, the officer also criticized members of Congress that voted against certifying the 2020 presidential-election results, as well as those who downplayed the attack.
“We risked our lives to give them enough time to get to safety. And allegedly, some of them were in communication with some of the rioters and with some of the coordinators or in the know of what would happen,” Gonell told NPR. “And it makes you question their motives and their loyalty for the country, as we were battling the mob in a brutal battle where I could have lost my life and my dear fellow officers, as well.”
He added: “They’re telling us, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad.’ It was that bad when they were running for their lives. It was that bad when we were struggling to hold them off so they could have a chance to escape to safety.”
Dead from injuries sustained in a car crash after the close of WWII, General George S. Patton, Jr. left in his wake a tremendous legacy. While some have mourned what was a tragic loss at the time, others over the decades have theorized Patton’s death was anything but an accident.
Learn about Henry Ford’s bizarre social program here.
Known for his aggressive nature just as much as his many battlefield victories, General George S. Patton was like a giant among men. He was one of the few allied generals who had combat experience commanding tanks during WWI, making him invaluable during the North Africa campaign. Later, he embarrassed many of his peers in Sicily, Italy by winning the race to Messina against the British Eighth Army.
In what might seem a little too coincidental, Patton was exposed for allegedly slapping and dressing down soldiers in a field hospital since they claimed to be suffering from battle fatigue. The press wanted Patton’s blood and they were able to get some worked up enough to call for him to be relieved of duty. However, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General George C. Marshall stepped in, likely realizing Patton was too valuable to the war effort.
After spending some time in England, Patton was key to Operation FORTITUDE, the ruse invasion staged in Pas-de-Calais, France. German commanders were so fearful of Patton’s abilities and so convinced he was leading the real invasion that they maintained troops in Pas-de-Calais even after D-Day.
One of Patton’s most famous act of heroics was during the Battle of the Bulge when he led parts of the U.S. Third Army in a counterattack, saving the hopelessly besieged 101st Airborne Division. This endeared him even more to soldiers and the public in general.
On December 9, 1945, Patton was still stationed in Germany when he accepted an invitation from his chief of staff, Major General Hobart Gay, to go pheasant hunting near the base. Originally, Patton was sitting in the front seat of the Cadillac which was being driven by Private H.L. Woodring, his favorite chauffeur. However, when the general noticed the hunting guide’s dog was riding in an open-top jeep, he asked for the party to pull over and had the dog sit in the front of the car so it could warm up. Patton moved to the backseat. Sadly, the good deed would not go unpunished.
While traveling over a railroad crossing, the Cadillac collided with the passenger side of a U.S. Army truck which was turning left. Some claim the limousine Patton was riding in was traveling at a relatively low speed. Others say Private Woodring was going too fast for conditions. During the accident, Patton struck his head on the glass partition in front of him. That impact resulted in a compression fracture and dislocation of the cervical third and fourth vertebrae as well as cervical spinal cord injury. He was paralyzed from the neck down. A mere 12 days later, on December 21, one of the greatest generals the United States Army has ever known passed away from his injuries.
Fueling speculation that the accident with the U.S. Army truck was in truth not an accident but instead was a coordinated assassination was the fact Patton rubbed Russian officers the wrong way in many social and diplomatic relations. He also had been talking about the prospects of invading Russia, saying they were obviously inferior to Americans and would fold in no time. Many in the upper ranks of the U.S. Military didn’t like such a proposition, a feeling which was shared by much of Washington, D.C. and other powers that be of the time. Some believe it was Stalin who had Patton killed because he feared the man could pull off an invasion successfully. Others claim it was the CIA, others in the US government, actors in the British government, or even Allied leaders working with Stalin to get rid of Patton.
Patton also was vocal in post-war Germany about the denazification process and other moves with the government. Eisenhower removed him as the U.S. commander in Bavaria for the politically unwise statements and was transferred to the 15th Army Group, his final post.
The only four star general to be buried at an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery, Patton was laid to rest alongside his men at Luxembourg American Cemetery, per his request. Just like in his life, in death the general was a man of the people. Beloved by his soldiers and a good portion of the public, it’s entirely possible others saw him as too big of a threat, especially since there was no longer a worldwide war to be fought.
Record-breaking Sierra snow buries towns, closes highways
Hayley Smith, Melody Gutierrez December 28, 2021
“Snowbound” was not a term Stephen Kulieke thought he would hear at the end of California’s driest year in a century, but that’s precisely the position the Sierra City resident found himself in this week.
“It’s snowmaggedon,” said Kulieke, 71, whose mountain cabin was buried under at least 4 feet of powder Monday amid record-breaking snowfall in the Sierra Nevada. “It’s just beyond belief how much snow there is.”
Officials at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab at Donner Pass said the area’s snowfall totals have surpassed the previous December record of 179 inches set in 1970. By Tuesday morning, the lab had received a whopping 202.1 inches of snow, making it the third-snowiest month on record.
The snow comes as a much-needed surprise for the bone-dry West, where only months ago, officials put residents under a state of drought emergency amid increasingly dry conditions. During the long, hot summer, rivers and reservoirs dried up, and once-green fields sat fallow and turned to dust.
But December roared in like a lion, with back-to-back storms dumping up to 15 feet of snow across the Sierra Nevada and other mountain areas of California, prompting road closures and snarling holiday travel. Though experts wouldn’t go so far as to call it a drought-buster, they said every bit helps.
“It’s a great start,” said Mike Anderson, state climatologist at the California Department of Water Resources. “It alleviates the worst of the conditions that had accumulated, but it doesn’t cure everything. We really need this to continue into the new year.”
Andrew Schwartz, the station manager and lead scientist at the Berkeley snow lab, agreed, noting that “cautious optimism is the name of the game right now.”
According to Schwartz, the month’s earlier storms were driven by a high-pressure system sitting off the coast of California. Another high-pressure system off Alaska has been “slinging moisture” at the state this week.
The result is that snowfall at the lab since Oct. 1 — the start of California’s water year — is at 258% of average, he said. Almost all of it came in December.
Though welcome, the snowfall has also proven dangerous.
Conditions have hampered search and rescue efforts for a missing 43-year-old ski shop worker in Truckee, Rory Angelotta, who was last seen heading out to ski on Christmas morning. There have been rockfalls, road closures and multicar pileups as the latest storm barreled through the state from north to south.
Highway 50 near South Lake Tahoe was backed up and “at capacity” Tuesday, officials with the California Department of Transportation said. Residents were urged to stay home or face delays of up to 10 hours.
Other highways were completely blocked, including Interstate 80, which was closed much of the day Tuesday from Colfax to the Nevada state line until some eastbound lanes reopened in the afternoon.
In South Lake Tahoe, officials activated the city’s emergency operations center and warned drivers against unnecessary travel. They warned that basic services — gas, tow trucks and lodgings — were strained or overwhelmed. “With the highways also at capacity, there are significant delays in travel time.”
Drivers risk running out of fuel or depleting their batteries and becoming stranded, according to the statement.
“Emergency vehicles, snowplows and their staff are challenged with getting through the traffic, so assistance may be delayed,” officials said.
Electric vehicle drivers are encouraged to look up charging stations closest to them, officials said.
“Because of road conditions and limited ability to get supplies, all resources within the city are currently limited and will likely remain so until conditions improve,” officials said.
At Marval’s Sierra Market in Colfax, store manager Jeremey Rogers and supervisor Barrett Deveraux watched drivers navigate the unplowed parking lot.
“This is pretty gnarly,” Deveraux said of the storm, which toppled trees and threatened to dump more snow later in the day.
A steady stream of shoppers flooded the store, leaving with bread, water and beer. Several locals said spotty cell service was preventing them from making calls. The market was out of propane and low on bread, but Rogers said he expected to have enough diesel to run the generator until more supplies arrived.
“I slept here at the store last night,” said Rogers, who lives in Alta Sierra, northwest of Colfax, where his home was also without power. “I might have died on my way home.”
Those hitting the highways encountered blockades amid hazardous conditions, with some expressing concern that mapping software was sending drivers onto dangerous, poorly maintained mountain roads in efforts to avoid closures.
On Tuesday, weary travelers and locals pulled into a Valero gas station south of Colfax off I-80’s Applegate exit in hopes of snacks and fuel. But with no power, the pumps were off and the station closed.
“We haven’t had power since yesterday morning,” said Zach Stein, 33, who lives in nearby Weimar. “There are downed trees and power lines.”
Erin Morgan and her husband, Jaime Labeiga, were trying to get to a rental house in Truckee with Labeiga’s sister and her boyfriend, who had never seen snow before.
They knew they were unlikely to make it when they left the Bay Area, but as they drove past Auburn and continued east on I-80, their hopes began to rise.
“We were driving and there was no snow, no snow, and then bam,” Morgan said.
With cars being turned around, the four pulled over at the gas station for a snowball fight and to take pictures with a deserted snowman.
“Clearly, we weren’t the only ones with this idea,” Morgan said. “I guess we will just head back after this.”
The record snow is still only a start for California, which has to make up for a massive moisture deficit before it can chip away at the drought, Schwartz said. Though snowfall for Tuesday was high at the snow lab, it still was only about 68% of what the state expects each year.
“It’s definitely amazing that we’ve been able to break this record, but ultimately, we can’t really depend on it to do anything to the drought just yet,” Schwartz said.
Earlier this year, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that climate change was contributing to dwindling snowpack across the state and that winters of low snow, or even no snow, could become a regular occurrence in California in as little as 35 years.
Anderson, the state climatologist, said the recent snow is tied to shifting weather patterns, but it doesn’t necessarily alter the long-term climate outlook.
“The good news is December came through the way we needed it to in terms of delivering rainfall and developing snowpack,” he said. “It also fits into that narrative that as the world warms, there’s more extremes, more variability. So when you do get these events — boy, they really come in.”
Whether the current deep snowpack will last until the spring and summer — when the state’s water regulators typically lean on it as a critical source of supplies — depends on several factors, including temperatures, wind and sun, he said. But there’s no denying that it made a difference.
“If December ends up being our whole winter, if that’s the case, then thank goodness it was such a big one,” Anderson said, noting that statewide reservoirs made some gains this month.
The latest outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also points to drought improvements for large parts of the Central Valley, he said, although drought conditions are likely to persist in much of Southern California.
For residents like Jared Abelson, an avid skier with a home in the Tahoe Donner neighborhood of Truckee, the waist-high snow was cause for celebration.
“This is probably one of the best things that could happen to the state after the drought,” said Abelson, 39. “Most of our water comes from Sierra snowmelt, so we need this. Especially after the dry November. I live for this stuff.”
Abelson said he made it to a grocery store in Truckee on Sunday, which was running on a generator and had been nearly picked clean of supplies. He was able to secure enough provisions to hunker down at the house with his family of eight, including his wife, children and in-laws.
But temperatures quickly dropped into the teens and single digits as a storm hit Sunday night, and electricity in the area was intermittent, he said. Everyone gathered around a small fireplace that had already been running for four days straight.
“We hung blankets in front of the windows, put towels around the door jambs and put other blankets on the floors just trying to keep the heat in,” Abelson said.
Still, he was glad for what the snow means for California, and said the family was passing the time playing with the kids, ages 4 and 8 months, and snowshoeing and shoveling.
His excitement will likely be met with even more snow: The National Weather Service on Tuesday said another storm was rolling in this week. Winter weather watches and storm advisories will be in effect in the Sierra and other mountain areas intermittently through week’s end, officials said.
Some, like Kulieke in Sierra City, are glad for the moisture. A columnist for the weekly Mountain Messenger newspaper, he said he spent 10 straight weeks this year writing about wildfires, including the Dixie fire, which burned nearly 1 million acres not far from where his cabin now sits beneath a mountain of snow.
“What’s the old expression? Look out what you ask for — you might get it,” he joked.
The small community where he and his husband, Jeff, spend much of their time has been impassable for days, and electricity has been intermittent. He was using a generator to power his cellphone and refrigerator, and a fireplace to keep the house warm.
His husband has already trounced him in Scrabble several times, he said, so he was passing the hours in his study working on his next column for the paper, which will be a reflection on the events of 2021.
“It’s daunting how both nature and a pandemic can bring us to a standstill,” he said as he watched the steady snow falling outside his window. “We’re going into a new year in a way that we didn’t anticipate, and it has challenges and also opportunity. And that’s a good metaphor for our lives generally right now.”
Times staff writers Mark Z. Barabak, Stuart Leavenworth and Gregory Yee contributed to this report. Gutierrez reported from Colfax, Calif., and Smith from Los Angeles.
On Monday, December snow totals at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reached 193.7 inches, blowing a 1970 record of 179 inches out of the water.
The lab, located at Donner Pass, has received roughly 39 inches of snow in the past 24 hours and could break the 200-inch mark today.
The lab was built in 1946 by the U.S. Weather Bureau and Army Corps of Engineers and maintains one of the longest-running manual snow depth records in the world, dating back to 1879.
“This has been a very beneficial storm for the Sierra region,” said Dan McEvoy, regional climatologist for the Western Regional Climate Center.
The Lake Tahoe Basin is sitting around 200 percent of average for snow water equivalent – the amount of water that will be released from the snowpack when it melts – for this time of year.
And the Basin is sitting at 60 percent of its peak average snow water equivalent, which occurs around late March or early April, McEvoy said. The median peak average is 27 inches, and today 16.1 inches of snow water equivalent was measured, he said.
Op-Ed: After 2021 tumult, here’s what it will take to protect American democracy
Nils Gilman December 27, 2021
For those of us who care about protecting democracy, 2021 has at times resembled the sort of nightmare where you see a friend standing on a train track but your screams about the looming danger can’t be heard. The runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent.
In truth, this nation avoided the worst that many anticipated might happen during and after the 2020 presidential election. Notwithstanding the “Big Lie” promoted by former President Trump and his cronies, the election, in fact, went off properly, and the candidates who received the most votes were allowed to assume their offices.
However, what the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 showed, and which subsequent congressional investigations have made even clearer, is that Trump and his minions were very much willing to try to steal the election. They considered a variety of specific plans, with some going so far as to wargame strategies for overturning his electoral loss.
Yet the main reason that Trump and his team were unable to pull off their schemes was because the election wasn’t all that close. Of the 59 presidential elections since 1792, there have been 13 that were narrower in the electoral college and 17 that were closer in terms of the popular vote.
Despite Trump’s failure, the right-wing anti-democratic forces are still at it. Over the last year, Republicans in state legislatures crafted various measures to make it easier to pull off what they tried to do in the 2020 election. The GOP’s anti-democratic strategy has several dimensions.
First, gerrymander so aggressively that they can win majorities of seats with minorities of votes. The template here is the Wisconsin State Assembly, where the GOP has so successfully gerrymandered the state that in 2018, they received only 47% of the Assembly votes but picked up 64% of the Assembly seats. As congressional redistricting unfolds after the 2020 census – which (by design) undercounted Democratic-leaning residents — similar efforts are underway in every state controlled by Republicans.
Second, make it harder for those same Democratic constituencies to vote. For example, by striking them from electoral rolls, or limiting the number of polling stations in heavily Democratic areas, including in communities of color, or by making it illegal to provide various forms of voting assistance. In just the first half of 2021, 18 states enacted more than 30 laws that restrict access to the vote.
Third, if all else fails and Democrats somehow still manage to get more votes, nullify the votes themselves. Trump demanded this of Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania lawmakers and election officials after his losses in those states in 2020. The elections officials, who upheld normal electoral practices, have in many cases been replaced by ones making few bones about their desire to ensure GOP victories occur no matter what.
Fourth, purge any Republicans critical of anti-democratic political strategies. In one swing state after another, Trump supporters are working to replace impartial election administrators with partisan hacks who, in some cases, have explicitly said they will try to enforce results on the basis of the Big Lie. Of the 10 Republicans in Congress who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection, all appear headed for the exits, either voluntarily or by primary challenges from Trump loyalists.
All of this adds up to a Republican Party that has made a complete turn toward what in other countries, such as Viktor Orban’s Hungary or Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, is known as “illiberal democracy.” Illiberal democracies are ones where elections take place, but they are rigged in the sense that not everyone has equal access to the ballot; or the ballots themselves do not get counted in impartial ways. In such nations, the purpose of elections is not to ensure that elected representatives reflect the will of the people, but rather to legitimate and consolidate the power of one party or leader.
Despite ample evidence of how this has happened in other countries, and of the explicitly stated intentions of Trumpist Republicans in the U.S., Americans continue to stand on the railroad tracks, their backs turned to the impending danger. The primary imperative, then, is for all citizens to take seriously the danger of election nullification, achieved through various means.
Taking that threat seriously means passing federal voting rights and election security bills to ensure that every citizen is empowered to vote, that every vote is properly counted and that the candidates with the most votes assume office. Unfortunately, Democrats have failed to get these bills to President Biden’s desk. They need to do so immediately, if necessary, by carrying out filibuster reform.
Perhaps even more important is the critical political work at the state and local level, where the clearest threats to our democratic system appear at present. For ordinary citizens, this means getting directly involved with local politics, because showing up to vote every four years is hardly enough.
This can include volunteering to serve as a poll worker; getting involved in the campaigns of pro-democracy candidates for governor and secretaries of state; and running for one of the thousands of local electoral administration positions across the country. Ideally, we will move toward nonpartisan professionals overseeing elections, while citizens insist that elected representatives commit to respecting ballot outcomes.
A liberal democracy in the end depends not on laws, but on the political virtues and commitments of its citizens. Those who would tear down our democratic traditions are a minority in this country, but a focused one. To defend against this deepening threat, Americans, regardless of party, will have to respond with greater fervor and dedication.
Nils Gilman is vice president of programs at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles.
Trump Adviser Worried He’s Not Getting Enough Credit for Trying to Ruin American Democracy
Tim Dickinson December 28, 2021
For most patriotic Americans, Jan. 6 represents a day of national shame and terror at what could have been the end of our democracy. But when former Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro reflects on that day, what he dwells on is that he doesn’t get nearly enough credit.
Navarro recently published a memoir, and is now pushing out interviews to reporters, bragging of a scheme he dreamed up with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to overturn the results of the 2020 election. They even had a cringey name for it: the Green Bay Sweep.
The plot sought to keep Trump in office by exerting maximum pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of the Electoral College votes from pivotal swing states, by drawing out the proceedings on national television for as long as 24 hours. “It was a perfect plan,” Navarro told the Daily Beast. “We had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”
Navarro’s anti-democratic plot was intended to keep Trump in office without violence, he’s fast to insist. In fact, Navarro blames the bloody insurrection at the Capitol for what he calls the “inglorious” result of Congress certifying the (100 percent legitimate) election of Joe Biden, foiling the autogolpe that could have continued Trump’s reign of “populist economic nationalism.”
Navarro is a Harvard-educated economist whom Trump tapped, originally, to escalate his trade war with China. But as coronavirus struck, Navarro’s role at the White House expanded to include pandemic response, in which he pushed the quack treatment of hydroxychloroquine. By the bitter end, Navarro was compiling cockeyed dossiers of (now-exhaustively-debunked) allegations of election fraud — “receipts” Navarro believed justified tin-pot measures to keep Trump in the White House.
So what was the Green Bay Sweep? The plot, Navarro writes, was named after a famous football play designed by storied 1960’s NFL coach Vince Lombardi, in which a Packers running back would pound into the end zone behind a “phalanx of blockers.”
For the 2021 Green Bay Sweep, Navarro writes, Bannon played the role of Lombardi. The plan was to have members of the House and Senate raise challenges to the counts of Electoral College votes from six pivotal battleground states.
“The political and legal beauty of the strategy,” Navarro writes, is that the challenges would force up to two hours of debate per state, in each chamber of Congress. “That would add up to as much as 24 hours of nationally televised hearings,” Navarro writes. The hearings would enable Republicans to “short-circuit the crushing censorship of the anti-Trump media,” Navarro hoped, and broadcast their Big Lie that Democrats had stolen the election “directly to the American people.”
The goal was not to get the election overturned on Jan. 6. Instead, they aimed to create such a spectacle that Pence would be forced to exercise his authority as president of the Senate to “put the certification of the election on ice for at least another several weeks” while Congress and the state legislatures pursued the “fraud” allegations. The dark particulars for how Trump would remain in office after that are not spelled out, and Navarro did not immediately answer an email seeking clarification. But he writes that the Green Bay Sweep was the “last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats’ jaws of deceit.”
The problem with the plot was that its success hinged on “Quarterback Mike” — and Pence wasn’t solidly on board. Navarro writes that he tried, with Trump’s backing, to brief Pence on his claims of election irregularities, but that Pence was kept off-limits by his chief of staff, Marc Short. (Navarro seethes that Short was part of the Koch brothers wing of the GOP, having previously worked for a nonprofit backed by the Kochs. When Short came to work for the vice president, Navarro writes, “it was like the Soviet Union taking over Eastern Europe. As an Iron Koch Curtain fell over the vice president, the only way you could speak to VPOTUS was to go through Short.”)
Regardless, Jan. 6 began auspiciously — to Navarro’s view of things. He told the Daily Beast that Trump was “on board with the strategy,” which he writes also had the backing of “more than 100” members of Congress. Navarro elaborated that the plan started off “perfectly” as Congress opened the proceedings to count Electoral College votes. Rep. Paul Gosar objected to results from his home state of Arizona, seconded by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — an action that received standing applause from GOP colleagues in the chamber.
Navarro writes that the insurrection at the Capitol actually undermined the Green Bay Sweep by disrupting the official proceedings. When the Capitol was finally cleared of rioters and the joint session of Congress reconvened, Pence and leaders of both parties used “the excuse of the violence” to block other challenges to certification, Navarro writes. “In the inglorious way,” the Green Bay Sweep ended. Call it a sack, a fumble, or an interception, Navarro writes, Pence blew the play and “secured his place in history as the Brutus most responsible for the final betrayal of President Trump.”
It is unclear whether the Jan. 6 committee is probing the Green Bay Sweep as part of its investigation. Bannon, for his part, has been charged with criminal contempt for defying a subpoena from the congressional body. Navarro did not immediately respond to questions about whether he’s been contacted by the committee, or whether he was concerned about having potentially implicated himself in an attempted coup.
This Simple Breathing Technique Could Help Fend Off Illness and Ease Stress
Mary Anderson December 28, 2021
If you hum while you read this, your body could experience beneficial side effects from the vibrations. For one, the resulting oscillation as you exhale helps circulate healthy nitric-rich air within the nasal sinuses, which creates a better environment to help protect against pathogens. “If you do 10 seconds of humming, all the air is exchanged,” says Eddie Weitzberg, M.D., a researcher at the Karolinska Institute and an intensive care physician at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. “With normal breathing, it takes between a half-hour and one hour.” The better ventilation may help guard against sinus infections, especially in those prone to recurrent ones, he says.
Previous research by Dr. Weitzberg and his colleague also found that people who hummed as they steadily exhaled through their nose for ﬁve seconds increased the amount of nitric oxide in their nasal cavity (pumped in from the sinuses, which have stores of it) by 15 times compared with exhaling normally for ﬁve seconds. That spike in nitric oxide presents an opportunity to get more of the salubrious gas into the lungs, says Lou Ignarro, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA who won a Nobel Prize for his ﬁndings about nitric oxide. “After you ﬁnish humming, if you immediately breathe in through your nose, you can capture quite a bit of the nitric oxide,” he says.
The huge beneﬁts of getting that injection into your lungs (which work to produce the gas themselves): Nitric oxide helps cells throughout the body destroy pathogens, and it’s also both a vasodilator (it helps blood vessels open wider) and a bronchodilator (it expands airways). “Nitric oxide dilates the pulmonary arteries and veins so more blood can get into the lungs and therefore pick up the oxygen,” Ignarro says. “It also widens the airways, the trachea, and the bronchioles so more oxygen can get in and get picked up by the increased blood getting in.” Better circulation means your body is getting more fuel for all its inner workings, immune functions included. Then there’s this crucial direct detox: “Nitric oxide in the lungs will kill or inhibit the growth of many bacteria, parasites, and viruses, especially the coronavirus,” he says. (Related: How Improving Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness Can Strengthen Your Immune System)
Meanwhile, your humming is also creating vibrations in the inner ear that are being picked up by the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the body, which starts at the brain stem and runs to the belly. “This power cord is the bidirectional highway of communication between body and brain,” says Arielle Schwartz, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Boulder, Colorado. A study in the International Journal of Yoga that ﬁve minutes of humming (the humming-bee breath in yoga) increased vagus nerve activity as measured by improved heart rate variability. “That rhythmic rise and fall of the heart rate in synchronization with the breath in its optimal zone is actually putting the brain into what’s often referred to as ﬂow state,” she says. Having your system in ﬂow translates to many health beneﬁts, including less stress.
“The general trend that I’m seeing is, if you’re boosted and you get Covid, you really just at worst end up with bad cold symptoms. It’s not like before where you were coughing, couldn’t say sentences and were short of breath,” said Dr. Matthew Bai, an emergency medicine physician at Mount Sinai Queens in New York City.
“There are obviously exceptions like if you start out with a very weakened immune system, your immune response won’t be as strong with a booster. But in your average person, a booster’s definitely going to make a difference is what I’m seeing,” he said.
Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of critical care services and the Covid-19 unit at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, said of the roughly 50 patients admitted to the hospital’s Covid unit in the last four weeks, 100 percent of them were unvaccinated.
He said patients who needed to be admitted typically have “shortness of breath, high fevers, being dehydrated like crazy.” He said those who are unvaccinated also “have more illness. What I mean by more illness is more pneumonia, not just a little bit of pneumonia, you have a lot of pneumonia.”
“The people that are coming in unvaccinated have a much larger burden of illness in the lungs than those who are vaccinated,” he said.
Meanwhile, those who had received the booster shot were “almost back to normal” within several days, he said. Those who had not received the booster have tended to “still feel sick after a week, a week and a half or so,” he added.
Patients who have received the booster shot may still have symptoms such as a sore throat, a lot of fatigue and muscle pain, said Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Those who are vaccinated but have not got the booster “looked worse, they looked like they felt pretty darn bad. But, again, they didn’t need to be hospitalized,” he said.
“I’m not seeing people who have got two doses and a booster and are coming in profoundly short of breath,” he said. “It’s just not happening.”
Those who are vaccinated but have not got a booster have shown symptoms such as more coughing, more fever and more fatigue than those who had received a booster, he said.
Meanwhile, Spencer said almost every patient he has seen who needed to be admitted was unvaccinated.
“We’ve known that there are multiple presentations of this disease, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that we know that those who are vaccinated are significantly less likely to end up seeing me in the hospital and needing to be admitted. That’s for certain,” he said.
The new omicron variant continues to spread rapidly in the United States, making up about 58 percent of all new Covid cases for the week ending Dec. 25, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early evidence suggests that for most people, at least for those who are up to date on their Covid vaccines, omicron appears less likely to cause severe illness.
And last week, reports out of the United Kingdom found that people who were infected with omicron in November and December were about two-thirds less likely to be hospitalized, compared with the delta variant.
Physicians still stressed the importance of getting the vaccine and getting a booster, even if omicron appears less likely to lead to severe illness than delta.
“Especially for those that are above 50-55, anyone with underlying medical conditions, we know that it can decrease the likelihood of you needing to be hospitalized with severe Covid,” Spencer said.
For those who are younger or without underlying medical conditions, he said, “if you can prevent infections in younger folks, you can hopefully prevent infections in older folks, their grandparents, their parents or people that they see and mingle with, especially around the holidays.”
“So, I think from an infection prevention and control standpoint, getting a booster dose in younger folks, in addition to the benefit in terms of severe disease, is quite important,” he said.
‘Slow-motion insurrection’: How GOP seizes election power
December 29, 2022
Capitol Riot Weakening the Guardrails
FILE – Republican Rep. Mark Finchem speaks May 2, 2018, at the Capitol in Phoenix. In the year since the Jan. 6 riot, Donald Trump-aligned Republicans have worked to clear the path for next time. In battleground states and beyond, Republicans are systematically taking hold of the once overlooked machinery of elections, weakening or replacing the checks in place to prevent partisan meddling with results. (AP Photo/Bob Christie, File) ASSOCIATED PRESS
In the weeks leading up to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, a handful of Americans — well-known politicians, obscure local bureaucrats — stood up to block then-President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to overturn a free and fair vote of the American people.
In the year since, Trump-aligned Republicans have worked to clear the path for next time.
In battleground states and beyond, Republicans are taking hold of the once-overlooked machinery of elections. While the effort is incomplete and uneven, outside experts on democracy and Democrats are sounding alarms, warning that the United States is witnessing a “slow-motion insurrection” with a better chance of success than Trump’s failed power grab last year.
They point to a mounting list of evidence: Several candidates who deny Trump’s loss are running for offices that could have a key role in the election of the next president in 2024. In Michigan, the Republican Party is restocking members of obscure local boards that could block approval of an election. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislatures are backing open-ended “reviews” of the 2020 election, modeled on a deeply flawed look-back in Arizona. The efforts are poised to fuel disinformation and anger about the 2020 results for years to come.
All this comes as the Republican Party has become more aligned behind Trump, who has made denial of the 2020 results a litmus test for his support. Trump has praised the Jan. 6 rioters and backed primaries aimed at purging lawmakers who have crossed him. Sixteen GOP governors have signed laws making it more difficult to vote. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showed that two-thirds of Republicans do not believe Democrat Joe Biden was legitimately elected as president.
The result, experts say, is that another baseless challenge to an election has become more likely, not less.
“It’s not clear that the Republican Party is willing to accept defeat anymore,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the book “How Democracies Die.” “The party itself has become an anti-democratic force.”
American democracy has been flawed and manipulated by both parties since its inception. Millions of Americans — Black people, women, Native Americans and others — have been excluded from the process. Both Republicans and Democrats have written laws rigging the rules in their favor.
This time, experts argue, is different: Never in the country’s modern history has a a major party sought to turn the administration of elections into an explicitly partisan act.
Republicans who sound alarms are struggling to be heard by their own party. GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming or Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, members of a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, are often dismissed as party apostates. Others have cast the election denialism as little more than a distraction.
But some local officials, the people closest to the process and its fragility, are pleading for change. At a recent news conference in Wisconsin, Kathleen Bernier, a GOP state senator and former elections clerk, denounced her party’s efforts to seize control of the election process.
“These made up things that people do to jazz up the base is just despicable and I don’t believe any elected legislator should play that game,” said Bernier.
Bernier’s view is not shared by the majority of the Republicans who control the state Legislature in Wisconsin, one of a handful of states that Biden carried but Trump wrongly claims he won. Early in 2021, Wisconsin Republicans ordered their Legislative Audit Bureau to review the 2020 election. That review found no significant fraud. Last month, an investigation by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty came to the same conclusion.
Still, many Republicans are convinced that something went wrong. They point to how the nonpartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission — which the GOP-led Legislature and then-Republican governor created eight years ago to run the state’s elections — changed guidance for local elections officers to make voting easier during the pandemic.
“We feel we need to get this straight for people to believe we have integrity,” said GOP Sen. Alberta Darling, who represents the conservative suburbs north of Milwaukee. “We’re not just trying to change the election with Trump. We’re trying to dig into the next election and change irregularities.”
Republicans are also remaking the way elections are run in other states. In Georgia, an election bill signed this year by the GOP governor gave the Republican-controlled General Assembly new powers over the state board of elections, which controls its local counterparts.
The law is being used to launch a review of operations in solidly-Democratic Fulton County, home to most of Atlanta, which could lead to a state takeover. The legislature also passed measures allowing local officials to remove Democrats from election boards in six other counties.
In Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislature is undertaking a review of the presidential election, subpoenaing voter information that Democrats contend is an unprecedented intrusion into voter privacy. Meanwhile, Trump supporters are signing up for local election jobs in droves. One pastor who attended the Jan. 6 rally in the nation’s capital recently won a race to become an election judge overseeing voting in a rural part of Lancaster County.
In Michigan, the GOP has focused on the state’s county boards of canvassers. The little-known committees’ power was briefly in the spotlight in November of 2020, when Trump urged the two Republican members of the board overseeing Wayne County, home to Democratic-bastion Detroit, to vote to block certification of the election.
After one of the Republican members defied Trump, local Republicans replaced her with Robert Boyd, who told The Detroit Free Press that he would not have certified Biden’s win last year.
Boyd did not return a call for comment.
A similar swap — replacing a traditional Republican with one who parroted Trump’s election lies — occurred in Macomb County, the state’s third most populous county.
The Detroit News in October reported that Republicans had replaced their members on boards of canvassers in eight of Michigan’s 11 most populous counties
Michigan officials say that if boards of canvassers don’t certify an election they can be sued and compelled to do so. Still, that process could cause chaos and be used as a rallying cry behind election disputes.
“They’re laying the groundwork for a slow-motion insurrection,” said Mark Brewer, an election lawyer and former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
The state’s top election official, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, warned: “The movement to cast doubt on the 2020 election has now turned their eyes … to changing the people who were in positions of authority and protected 2020.”
That includes Benson.
Multiple Republicans have lined up to challenge her, including Kristina Karamo, a community college professor who alleged fraud in the 2020 elections and contended that the Jan. 6 attackers were actually antifa activists trying to frame Trump supporters.
Trump has been clear about his intentions: He is seeking to oust statewide officials who stood in his way and replace them with allies.
“We have secretary of states that did not do the right thing for the American people,” Trump, who has endorsed Karamo, told The Associated Press this month.
The most prominent Trump push is in Georgia, where the former president is backing U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who voted against Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, in a primary race against the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. He rejected Trump’s pleas to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner.
Trump also encouraged former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP primary. Kemp turned down Trump’s entreaties to declare him the victor in the 2020 election.
In October, Jason Shepherd stepped down as chair of the Cobb County GOP after the group censured Kemp. “It’s shortsighted. They’re not contemplating the effects of this down the line,” Shepherd said in an interview. “They want their pound of flesh from Brian Kemp because Brian Kemp followed the law.”
In Nevada, multiple lawsuits seeking to overturn Biden’s victory were thrown out by judges. A suit aimed at overturning his congressional loss was filed by Jim Marchant, a former GOP state lawmaker now running to be secretary of state, and it too was dismissed. The current Republican secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, who is term limited, found there was no significant fraud in the contests.
Marchant said he’s not just seeking to become a Trump enabler, though he was endorsed by Trump in his congressional bid. “I’ve been fighting this since before he came along,” Marchant said of Trump. “All we want is fair and transparent elections.”
In Pennsylvania, Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who organized buses of Trump supporters for Trump’s rally near the White House on Jan. 6, has signaled he’s running for governor. In Arizona, state Rep. Mark Finchem’s bid to be secretary of state has unnerved many Republicans, given that he hosted a daylong hearing in November 2020 that featured Trump adviser Rudolph Giuliani. Former news anchor Kari Lake, who repeats Trump’s election falsehoods, is running to succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who stood up to Trump’s election-year pressure and is barred from another term.
Elsewhere in Arizona, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, who defended his office against the conspiratorial election review, has started a political committee to provide financial support to Republicans who tell the truth about the election. But he’s realistic about the persistence of the myth of a stolen election within his party’s base.
“Right now,” Richer said, “the incentive structure seems to be strongly in favor of doing the wrong thing.”
HIGH STAKES RACES FOR GOVERNOR
In Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Democratic governors have been a major impediment to the GOP’s effort to overhaul elections. Most significantly, they have vetoed new rules that Democrats argue are aimed at making it harder for people of color to vote.
Governors have a significant role in U.S. elections: They certify the winners in their states, clearing way for the appointment of Electoral College members. That raises fears that Trump-friendly governors could try to certify him — if he were to run in 2024 and be the GOP nominee — as the winner of their state’s electoral votes regardless of the vote count.
Additionally, some Republicans argue that state legislatures can name their own electors regardless of what the vote tally says.
But Democrats have had little success in laying out the stakes in these races. It’s difficult for voters to believe the system could be vulnerable, said Daniel Squadron of The States Project, a Democratic group that tries to win state legislatures.
“The most motivated voters in America today are those who think the 2020 election was stolen,” he said. “Acknowledging this is afoot requires such a leap from any core American value system that any of us have lived through.”
America is consuming more beef than ever, while prices have climbed by one-fifth over the past year — a primary driver for the growing alarm over inflation.
But somewhere between American dinner plates and his 8,000-acre ranch on the high plains of Montana, Mr. Charter’s share of the $66 billion beef cattle industry has gone missing.
A third-generation cattle rancher, Mr. Charter, 69, is accustomed to working seven days a week, 365 days a year — in winter temperatures descending to minus 40, and in summer swelter reaching 110 degrees.
On a recent morning, he rumbled up a snow-crusted dirt road in his feed truck, delivering a mixture of grains to his herd of mother cows and calves. They roam a landscape that seems unbounded — grassland dotted by sagebrush, the horizons stretching beyond distant buttes.
Mr. Charter has long imagined his six grandchildren continuing his way of life. But with no profits in five years, he is pondering the fate that has befallen more than half a million other American ranchers in recent decades: selling off his herd.
“We are contemplating getting out,” Mr. Charter said, his voice catching as he choked back tears. “We are not getting our share of the consumer dollars.”
The distress of American cattle ranchers represents the underside of the staggering winnings harvested by the conglomerates that dominate the meatpacking industry — Tyson Foods and Cargill, plus a pair of companies controlled by Brazilian corporate owners, National Beef Packing Company and JBS.
Since the 1980s, the four largest meatpackers have used a wave of mergers to increase their share of the market from 36 percent to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Their dominance has allowed them to extinguish competition and dictate prices, exploiting how federal authorities have weakened the enforcement of laws enacted a century ago to tame the excesses of the Robber Barons, say antitrust experts and advocates for the ranchers.
One landmark piece of legislation, the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921, was adopted by Congress to “safeguard farmers and ranchers” — among other market participants — from “unjustly discriminatory and monopolistic practices.”
But the shock landed atop decades of takeovers that closed slaughterhouses. The basic laws of economics suggest what happens when the packers cut their capacity to process beef: The supply is reduced, increasing consumer prices. At the same time, fewer slaughterhouses limits the demand for live cattle, lowering prices paid to ranchers for their animals — an advantage for the packers.
“Their goal is to control the market so that they can control the price,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of food studies and public health at New York University. “The pandemic exposed the consequences of the consolidation of the meat industry.”
JBS, the largest meatpacker in the United States, declined to discuss the impact of consolidation on the market, instead referring questions to a Washington lobbying organization, the North American Meat Institute.
“Concentration has nothing to do with price,” said a spokeswoman for the organization, Sarah Little. “The cattle and beef markets are dynamic.”
As slaughterhouses work through a glut of live cattle, ranchers have in recent weeks received rising prices for their animals, she added.
Cassandra Fish, a former senior executive at Tyson who now runs a beef industry consultancy, said the shuttering of slaughterhouses by meatpackers in recent decades was prompted by the simple fact that many were losing money.
“The packers are not masterminds,” she said. “The packing industry was unprofitable for several years, so they closed plants.”
But ranchers complain that the game is rigged.
They generally raise calves, allowing them to roam across grassland until they are big enough to be sold to so-called feed lots that administer grains to bring them to slaughtering weight. The feed lots — the largest concentrated in Texas, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado — then sell their animals to the packers.
Because the feed lots face relentless pressure from the packers for lower prices, they in turn demand cut-rate terms from the ranchers.
“A lot of people don’t understand how trapped ranchers are in this really broken system,” said Jeanie Alderson, whose family has run cattle in southeastern Montana for more than a century. “We don’t have a market.”
Billions for Meatpackers
Many of the cattle raised in Montana are eventually hauled to slaughterhouses run by JBS, the world’s largest meat processor.
The two brothers who control the enterprise, Wesley and Joesley Batista, possess a fortune estimated by Bloomberg News at $5.8 billion. Four years ago, they went to prison after pleading guilty to participation in a Brazilian bribery ring that secured loans from government-owned banks. (They have since been released.) A $20 billion international acquisition spree put JBS in control of one-fourth of the American capacity for slaughtering beef.
While ranchers have been tallying losses, JBS has been celebrating gains — revenues of $18 billion between July and September, which represented an increase of 32 percent compared with the same quarter in 2020.
In past decades, when beef prices rose, so would payments to cattle ranchers, who claimed over half of what consumers paid for meat. But that relationship began to break down in 2015. Last year, cattle ranchers received only 37 cents on every dollar spent on beef, according to federal data.
“You’re having consumers exploited on one end of the supply chain, cattle producers exploited on the other,” said Bill Bullard, a former rancher who now heads an advocacy group, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund. “The meatpackers are making all-time record profits.”
His organization is a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that accuses meatpackers of manipulating prices by sharply reducing their purchases of cattle at so-called sale barns — open marketplaces where animals are inspected and purchased on the spot, with the prices disclosed publicly.
Instead, the packers now overwhelmingly rely on private contracts with feed lots. Those contracts provide the feed lots with certainty that the packers will buy their animals. In exchange, the feed lots must lock into a price structure that tracks those in public auctions, where buyers are scarce.
According to industry experts, this system allows packers to lock up the overwhelming supply of cattle at prices they impose, under terms hidden from public view. Given the market dominance of the four largest packers in their regions, feed lots lack alternative places to sell their animals once they reach slaughtering weight.
“There’s no competition,” said Ty Thompson, an auctioneer at the public auction yards in Billings, Mont., who also operates his own feed lots. “We have so much supply and so little capacity, that there’s no negotiation whatsoever.”
Losing the Family Legacy
In the rolling hill country of northern Missouri — a tableau of grain farms dotted by compact towns — Coy Young, a fifth-generation rancher, has concluded that raising cattle is pointless.
“You’re feeding America and going broke doing it,” he said. “It doesn’t pencil out to raise cattle in this country anymore.”
How the Supply Chain Crisis Unfolded
Card 1 of 9
The pandemic sparked the problem. The highly intricate and interconnected global supply chain is in upheaval. Much of the crisis can be traced to the outbreak of Covid-19, which triggered an economic slowdown, mass layoffs and a halt to production. Here’s what happened next:
A reduction in shipping. With fewer goods being made and fewer people with paychecks to spend at the start of the pandemic, manufacturers and shipping companies assumed that demand would drop sharply. But that proved to be a mistake, as demand for some items would surge.
Demand for protective gear spiked. In early 2020, the entire planet suddenly needed surgical masks and gowns. Most of these goods were made in China. As Chinese factories ramped up production, cargo vessels began delivering gear around the globe.
Then, a shipping container shortage. Shipping containers piled up in many parts of the world after they were emptied. The result was a shortage of containers in the one country that needed them the most: China, where factories would begin pumping out goods in record volumes
Demand for durable goods increased. The pandemic shifted Americans’ spending from eating out and attending events to office furniture, electronics and kitchen appliances – mostly purchased online. The spending was also encouraged by government stimulus programs.
Strained supply chains. Factory goods swiftly overwhelmed U.S. ports. Swelling orders further outstripped the availability of shipping containers, and the cost of shipping a container from Shanghai to Los Angeles skyrocketed tenfold.
Mr. Young, 38, carries credit card debts reaching $55,000. He plowed most of that debt into artificial insemination technology aimed at producing premium breeding cows.
His payoff was supposed to come early last year, with a sale that Mr. Young anticipated would fetch $125,000. But the day that he trucked his herd to a nearby auction, panic over the pandemic assailed markets. Traders in Chicago pushed down the price of live cattle by more than 10 percent. Mr. Young received a bid of only $32,000.
It was a crushing blow, a price that seemed certain to trigger his financial unraveling. Still, he had no choice but to take it. Cattle are perishable goods. Holding on to them after they reach slaughtering weight entails the costs of feeding them. They begin to add more fat than muscle.
A week later, the bank began calling Mr. Young demanding repayment. Sinking into despondency, he waited for his wife to drive to her nursing job — their means of paying the bills. He planned to kill himself, he said. When she pulled back into the driveway, having forgotten something, he reconsidered.
“You put your heart and soul into something, and then you lose your ass,” he said. “You don’t see any other way out.”
He plans to sell off his herd early next year and start a barbecue catering business.
“You’re raised a farmer, and that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “It’s my family legacy. It’s like I’m losing my image as a man.”
What Gets Lost
Ever since the Reagan administration, the federal government has taken a lax approach to antitrust enforcement, investing in the popular notion that when large and efficient companies are permitted to amass greater scale, consumers benefit.
That notion may now be up for readjustment.
The Biden administration and members of Congress are pressing to diminish the dominance of the meatpackers as inflation concerns intensify.
The Federal Trade Commission last month opened an inquiry into how anticompetitive practices by major companies have contributed to supply chain problems.
“The meat price increases we are seeing are not just the natural consequences of supply and demand,” senior White House economists recently declared in a blog post. “They are also the result of corporate decisions to take advantage of their market power in an uncompetitive market, to the detriment of consumers, farmers and ranchers, and our economy.”
Last year, as the pandemic began, the Charter family recognized a full-on market failure.
“You could see a cow across the road, and you couldn’t find ground beef in Billings, Montana,” said Mr. Charter’s daughter, Annika Charter-Williams, 34.
As they made arrangements to sell about 120 head of cattle in March 2020, they reached out to a friend who owns a feed lot that sells animals to a JBS plant in Utah.
Mr. Charter was taken aback by the terms for the first load: The slaughterhouse demanded that he commit to delivering his cattle, with the price to be dictated by JBS.
“I wanted to tell him to go to hell,” Mr. Charter says. “But what choice did I have?”
His break-even point was $1.30 a pound. “Without any consulting or any dealing, they just decided that they were going to pay me $1 a pound,” he said.
His daughter took the disaster as the impetus for creativity. She engaged a small, local slaughterhouse to process some of their remaining animals. Then she sold the beef directly to consumers across Montana, marketing it on social media.
This resonated as a triumph — the successful sidestepping of the packers.
It was also not enough.
“It looks like we’re going to have to liquidate almost all the cattle,” Mr. Charter said.
When family ranches like his disappear, he added, so do the values that have governed their operations for generations — a commitment to caring for land and producing quality beef, rather than catering exclusively to the bottom line.
“People shouldn’t be worried about us because we’re kind of quaint and it’s nice to have the cowboys out there,” Mr. Charter said. “We need a food system that serves everyone, and not just a handful of companies.”
Peter S. Goodman is a global economics correspondent, based in New York. He was previously London-based European economics correspondent and national economics correspondent during the Great Recession. He has also worked at The Washington Post as Shanghai bureau chief.