1. birgerjohansson says

    It is past midnight local time. I only have the energy to mention the obvious: The perv sharing photos with other members of the party of Morals and Religion, without being censored by his colleagues in congress.

  2. says

    “Ode to Sean Hannity”
    by John Cleese

    Aping urbanity
    Oozing with vanity
    Plump as a manatee
    Faking humanity
    Journalistic calamity
    Intellectual inanity
    Fox Noise insanity
    You’re a profanity

    In a way, John Cleese’s poem can be seen as a follow-up to comment 25 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    Thanks, PZ, for renewing the Political Madness thread.

  3. says

    Minnesota National Guard says joint team with Minneapolis police was target of drive-by shooting

    Two guardsmen were injured early Sunday morning when someone fired at a Minnesota National Guard and Minneapolis Police Department neighborhood security team, the Minnesota National Guard said.

    According to the Minnesota National Guard, the shooting occurred around 4:19 a.m., when someone in a light-colored SUV opened fire on an Operation Safety Net security team that was watching over the neighborhood.

    One guardsman was injured from shattered glass and was taken to a local hospital to be treated, and another sustained superficial injuries.

    “I am relieved to know none of our Guardsmen were seriously injured,” Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general, said in a statement.

    “This event highlights the volatility and tension in our communities right now. I ask for peace as we work through this difficult time,” he added.

    The Minnesota National Guard, according to a statement, was activated as part of Operation Safety Net, a joint undertaking by the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the state of Minnesota and local jurisdictions to “protect people, freedom of speech and property during the Derek Chauvin trial as well as the aftermath of the police involved shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.”

    The incident on Sunday comes amid a surge in police-involved shootings throughout the country.

    On April 11, the 20-year-old Wright was killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minn. The local police chief, who later resigned, said he believes the officer meant to draw her Taser but mistakenly pulled her gun instead.

    A Chicago police officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month. The body camera footage of the shooting was released on Thursday. […]

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Lynna @3:

    In other news, the actor who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” has gone full QAnon

    I mainly remember Jim Caviezel from The Thin Red Line (1998), but damn, that was a fine performance in a beautiful (if somewhat muddled) film. I assumed he’d have a bright future. Pity.

  5. Rieux says

    I feel like the comic sort of under-sells its reference to the Python sketch. “I expected this” is a nice twist, but I wonder how many people will pick it up.

  6. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    holy hand grenade snowball

    Damn. The swallow should be obvious to any passing fan of Monty Python, but I even missed the holy hand grenade reference on my first reading. I feel bad.

  7. blf says

    Creeps of England (teh ministry of creepy walkstalks?), Church of England clergy ‘paid off to keep quiet about racism’ (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Clergy and staff who complained of racism in the Church of England were paid off to “buy their silence”, according to the church’s former race adviser.

    Dr Elizabeth Henry, who resigned from her post last year, said some of those who received compensation had to sign non-disclosure agreements.

    In the BBC One Panorama programme Is the Church Racist?, to be broadcast on on Monday, she recalls a “really shocking” incident in 2019 concerning a “young black man who received a picture of a banana. But that banana had his head superimposed upon it — and underneath it said: Banana Man. That is a deeply offensive and deeply racist image.

    “He took it to HR {human resources department} and he did file a grievance. And the decision was that it wasn’t racist. That person left, and he received a very small compensation — however he was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.”

    [… more examples & details…]

    Twenty reports have examined the issue of racism within the C of E over the past 35 years, making a total of more than 160 recommendations.

  8. blf says

    Away from creeps doing bad things and to good people, the essential workers, and the good things they’re doing, Now playing: The Barista! Movie posters at Paris cinemas feature lockdown heroes (video): “Parisian cinemas are displaying movie posters of local heroes — like real-life baristas, bakers, grocers and hairdressers — as movie houses remain shuttered due to Covid-19. Aimed at boosting local businesses, some 240 posters will occupy spaces usually dedicated to Hollywood blockbusters for the next two weeks.”

  9. blf says

    Even further away from the creeps, Ingenuity, the mars helicopter, has successfully flown.

  10. says

    blf @11, that is good news. Nice move by the cinemas in Paris.

    blf & Nerd, thanks for the reminder about Ingenuity. So aptly named.

    Rob @6, he was good in that movie. One has to wonder what the heck happened. Now he is a QAnon idiot?

    Campaign weirdness:

    In Missouri, Kimberly Guilfoyle, closely aligned with Team Trump, has agreed to serve as the national chair of former Gov. Eric Greitens’ (R) U.S. Senate campaign. The main reason I find this notable: U.S. Senate campaigns generally don’t have national chairs, since candidates want to be seen as focusing on their own home states.

    From Republican Fantasy Land:

    Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the current chair of the NRSC, wrote a curious open letter to “Woke Corporate America,” published by Fox Business today, which read in part, “There is a massive backlash coming. You will rue the day when it hits you. That day is November 8, 2022. That is the day Republicans will take back the Senate and the House. It will be a day of reckoning.”

    Sounds like a threat wrapped in a fantasy.

  11. says

    Sigh. Cleaning up after Trump is still ongoing.

    Upon taking office three months ago, President Joe Biden and his team didn’t just confront historic challenges related to a pandemic and the economy. They also faced a real personnel challenge.

    Like every new administration, Biden and his aides had to take on the task of finding qualified officials to fill key posts throughout the executive branch, but this year, the new president also had to deal with officials appointed by his predecessor who were unlikely to be valued members of the Democrat’s team.

    And so, a gradual process began in which the new administration cleaned house, at least to the extent possible. Two weeks after Inauguration Day, for example, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a clean sweep of the Pentagon’s Trumpified advisory boards.

    Around the same time, the National Security Agency put its top lawyer, Michael Ellis, on administrative leave. As the Washington Post reported over the weekend, Ellis has now resigned.

    The NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, had placed Ellis on administrative leave the day President Donald Trump left the White House — just as Ellis was taking up the position. The reasons: a pending Pentagon inspector general probe, […] and a security inquiry into Ellis’s handling of classified information […]

    […] In 2017, Ellis’ name first started appearing in national reports when he was accused of using his position in the White House counsel’s office to feed sensitive information to then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

    Ah, yes, Devin Nunes. Just as slimy as Trump … and proud of it. Of course Ellis and Nunes were connected.

    Two years later, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified under oath that Ellis, a former Republican operative, was one of the officials responsible for transferring the infamous Trump/Zelensky call summary to the National Security Council’s top-secret computer server.

    Last fall, the day after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential race, Team Trump tapped Ellis to serve as general counsel of the National Security Agency, but the news wasn’t well received: Gen. Paul Nakasone, the NSA’s director, didn’t want Ellis for that post.

    In response, Christopher Miller, Trump’s acting Defense secretary, ordered the NSA director to install the Trump loyalist as the agency’s top lawyer, whether Nakasone wanted him or not.

    National security experts were not pleased, and it was easy to understand why: NSA general counsel is an important job, and not a position for partisan operatives.

    With this in mind, it didn’t come as too big of a surprise when Nakasone put Ellis on administrative leave literally the same afternoon as Biden’s inauguration, at which point the NSA director no longer had to worry about Team Trump’s directives.

    There are still plenty of Trump appointees who’ve “burrowed” into career civil-service positions, but as of now, they won’t be in the NSA’s general counsel’s office.


  12. says

    The rapid rise and fall of the misguided ‘America First Caucus’

    A group of right-wing House Republicans eyed an America First Caucus to protect “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” It didn’t work out well.

    For several decades, far-right members of Congress [joined] a special group, intended to be separate from the GOP mainstream. It was called the Republican Study Committee, and it was home to the House’s most rigid ideologues and reactionary voices.

    […] the more radicalized House Republicans became, the more the Republican Study Committee included nearly everyone from the GOP conference. The Study Committee became fine for run-of-the-mill far-right members, but some really conservative members wanted an even more exclusive caucus that would exclude those who weren’t quite far enough to the right.

    The House Freedom Caucus was born — and it racked up some victories. Two members — Mick Mulvaney and Mark Meadows — went on to serve as White House chief of staff, while Florida’s Ron DeSantis became governor of Florida.

    But what if some extremists decided the far-right Republican Study Committee was too moderate, and the even-further-to-the-right House Freedom Caucus wasn’t quite unhinged enough? NBC News reported late last week:

    A group of ultraconservative House Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., are discussing launching an “America First Caucus” that would protect “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told reporters Friday that he’s “looking at” joining. “There is an America First Caucus,” he said, confirming that Greene is involved.

    Punchbowl News obtained a copy of the America First Caucus’ seven-page “policy platform,” […] The document called for a “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and a return to, of all things, an architectural style that “befits the progeny of European architecture.”

    The “platform,” not surprisingly, went on to call for a “pause” to all immigration to the United States.

    By all accounts, the initial membership list for the caucus was tiny. Marjorie Taylor Greene was initially described as a founding member, as was Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who’s been dogged by questions in recent months about his white-nationalist ties. Gohmert publicly conceded that he was considering joining the faction, and while some reports said Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., had agreed to be involved in the effort, the Alabaman soon after said otherwise.

    And then, of course, there was Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., currently at the center of a burgeoning scandal and ongoing criminal investigation, who published a tweet on Friday announcing that he was “proud to join” Greene in the America First Caucus.

    Over the weekend, however, the whole initiative […] started to unravel. As NBC News reported, Greene released a statement Saturday saying the right-wing platform was “a staff-level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read.” Around the same time, Gosar issued a statement of his own, insisting that he hadn’t authored the document and adding that he intended to “continue to work on America First issues in the House Freedom Caucus.”

    All of which leaves us with a few questions.

    First, Greene distanced herself from the ugly “policy platform,” but she didn’t explicitly say whether she intended to move forward with the creation of an America First Caucus or not. Will this entity exist or not?

    Second, as Greene and Gosar distance themselves from the America First Caucus draft blueprint, where does this leave Gaetz? Remember, he publicly declared his “pride” in joining this right-wing offshoot after the platform reached the public through news accounts. […]

    Let’s also remember that other reporting concluded that there were no “staff-level” proposals. That means Greene and Gosar are trying to blame their staff personnel for white supremacy documents that they themselves authored.

    This is a follow-up to comment 52 and other comments in the previous chapter of this thread.

  13. says

    Follow-up to comment 15.

    More clean up: Biden WH Removes Trump-Era Climate Scientist From Top Research Role

    President Joe Biden’s White House officials have removed Betsy Weatherhead, a top climate science researcher at the White House who was brought on board by a Trump political appointee.

    […] Weatherhead had been removed from her leadership role at the White House Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP), where she led the federal government’s report on the effects of climate change, and was reassigned to the Interior Department.

    Weatherhead was appointed in November by then-OSTP director Kelvin Droegemeier, who had been tapped by former President Donald Trump, who routinely slashed government efforts to combat climate change.

    But the Post notes that unlike Trump and most of his officials, both Weatherhead and Droegemeier accepted climate change as real. Additionally, the former was a career official who was widely respected as a mainstream climate scientist.

    However, Weatherhead had clashed with other officials on her proposed structure of the report, which is meant to boost climate change policy […] One of her ideas that reportedly drew backlash was to incorporate more authors from the private sector.

    Weatherhead’s removal speaks to the Biden administration’s emphasis on making a full 180 on the previous administration’s infamous refusal to take climate change seriously and Trump’s practice of installing climate change deniers and coal lobbyists in science-based government agencies.

  14. billseymour says

    Lynna @14 quotes:

    In Missouri, Kimberly Guilfoyle, closely aligned with Team Trump, has agreed to serve as the national chair of former Gov. Eric Greitens’ (R) U.S. Senate campaign.

    Argh! My disgraced former governor has a good chance of becoming my disgraceful junior senator.  In any event, my atrocious junior senator will become my senior senator.

    We have open primaries in Missouri.  I might have to vote in the Republican primary…if I can identify a least objectionable candidate.

  15. says

    A federal judge is preparing to revoke bail for two top leaders of the Proud Boys, a paramilitary right-wing extremist group, who had been free while awaiting trial on charges stemming from their role in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Ethan Nordean of Washington state and Joseph Biggs of Florida are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election — and with organizing and leading dozens of Proud Boys to the Capitol, many of whom were among the earliest to breach the building.

    […] Kelly said new evidence presented by prosecutors showing Nordean and Biggs’ men’s central role in orchestrating the incursion was a decisive factor in his ruling. He delivered a painstaking retelling of the case against the two men, reciting their profanity-laden social media posts vowing violence against lawmakers and others preparing to certify the results of the 2020 election, as well as their private communications revealed by prosecutors as the investigation unfolded. […]


  16. says

    Biden to nominate Coast Guard’s first female four-star admiral

    President Biden will nominate Coast Guard Vice Adm. Linda Fagan to be the service’s No. 2 officer, the White House announced Monday.

    If confirmed as vice commandant, Fagan would be the first woman in the Coast Guard’s history to become a four-star admiral. […]

    Fagan currently commands the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area, a job she has held since June 2018 and that oversees operations from the Rocky Mountains to the waters off Africa’s east coast, according to her Coast Guard bio.

    Prior to that, she was the Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for operations, policy and capabilities. Her resume also includes time as commander of the First Coast Guard District and deputy director of operations for U.S. Northern Command.

    […] Fagan is the latest woman in defense and national security being elevated by Biden. He previously nominated Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost to lead Transportation Command and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to helm Southern Command, setting them up to the second and third women to lead combatant commands.

    On the civilian side, Biden’s deputy Defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks, is the first Senate-confirmed woman in the job, and last week, the White House announced Biden was nominating Christine Wormuth to be the first female Army secretary.

  17. says

    Fighting vaccine disinformation:

    […] “For too long, social media platforms have failed to adequately protect Americans by not taking sufficient action to prevent the spread of vaccine disinformation online,” wrote Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) in a Friday letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, which was viewed by Recode. “Despite your policies intended to prevent vaccine disinformation, many of these accounts continue to post content that reach millions of users, repeatedly violating your policies with impunity.”

    In particular, the senators urged the companies to take action against 12 anti-vaccine influencers — 11 individuals and one couple — who spread anti-vaccine content on the internet. These accounts include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has pushed distrust in vaccines, and Joseph Mercola, an online alternative medicine proponent who was recently flagged by the Food and Drug Administration for promoting fake Covid-19 cures, including through his still-active Twitter account.

    […] up to 73 percent of that content, including posts sharing it across Facebook, came from websites affiliated with these 12 superspreaders, who have built reputations in the anti-vaccine online world through multiple accounts on various social media services. More broadly, up to 65 percent of anti-vaccine content on both Facebook and Twitter identified by the researchers seemed to come from these entities. At the time of the report’s publication in March, nine of these superspreaders were active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. […]


    This is a follow-up to Comment 72 in a previous chapter of this thread.

  18. says

    Wonkette: OAN Employees Real Sorry About Poisoning Your Nana’s Brain, Please Stop Calling Them ‘Nazis’ Now?

    “We’re not Nazis,” a One America News producer told the New York Times. “Just, like, everyday people.” Because if you think about it, the real victims here are the poor OAN staffers, cruelly misjudged when they’re just following orders.

    In this case, those orders come from the network fuhrer himself, Charles Herring, the owner of OAN, who insists his employees scrape up all the sticky bits from floors of wingnut chat rooms and call it “news.”

    Times reporter Rachel Abrams writes:

    Assignments that the elder Mr. Herring takes a special interest in are known among OAN staff as “H stories,” several current and former employees said. The day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Herring instructed OAN employees in an email, which The New York Times reviewed, to “report all the things Antifa did yesterday.”

    That would be a short report, since Antifa did nothing on January 6 when Trump’s maniac supporters were sacking the seat of government.

    But it gets better! Some “H stories” are crafted by Kristian Rouz, a former correspondent for Sputnik, the media outlet explicitly backed by the Russian government. Rouz has voiced support for QAnon, suggested that Hillary Clinton is funding Antifa, and endorsed the Plandemic lunacy about George Soros, Bill Gates, and Hillary Clinton creating the coronavirus as part of a “globalist conspiracy to establish sweeping population control.”

    Rouz tried and failed to get $10 million from Rachel Maddow and MSNBC for “defaming” him by suggesting that he was “on the payroll for the Kremlin.”

    […] Herring continues to support Rouz’s questionable work.

    In an email to staff last month, [Lindsay] Oakley, the news director, warned producers against ignoring or playing down Mr. Rouz’s work. “His stories should be considered ‘H stories’ and treated as such,” she wrote in the email […] “These stories are often slugged and copy-edited by ME as per Mr. H’s instructions.”

    Oakley has reportedly castigated OAN employees for referring to “President Biden,” because reality should have nothing to do with their “journalism.”

    OAN has consistently supported the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen due to vote fraud, pouring poison into the minds of millions of television viewers and YouTube subscribers. But sources were quick to assure the Times that they don’t actually believe the shit they pump out day after day.

    During the Trump presidency, it moved right, [OAN producer Marty] Golingan said. And when he was watching coverage of the pro-Trump mob breaking into the Capitol, he said, he worried that his work might have helped inspire the attack.

    He added that he and others at OAN disagreed with much of the channel’s coverage. “The majority of people did not believe the voter fraud claims being run on the air,” Mr. Golingan said in an interview, referring to his colleagues.

    He recalled seeing a photo of someone in the Capitol mob holding a flag emblazoned with the OAN logo. “I was like, OK, that’s not good,” Mr. Golingan said. “That’s what happens when people listen to us.”

    Indeed, this is “what happens when people listen” to OAN, and it was “not good.”

    Look, we’ve all had bad takes, but if your shit reporting gets people killed, what bloody difference does it make whether you believed it or not? Those people are still dead, and millions of Americans still believe the Big Lie.

    And if your job requires you to constantly explain that you’re not a Nazi, maybe it’s time to seriously examine your life choices.

  19. says

    For those who value and celebrate science, today is a historic day. About 180 million miles away, for example, NASA is directing a helicopter on Mars, making the first powered flight on another planet.

    As NBC News reported, “The 4-pound solar-powered helicopter ascended above the Martian surface, hovered and then touched back down, mission control said. The feat was documented by a photo received from the helicopter’s onboard navigation camera, showing a shadow cast by Ingenuity above the Mars surface. A color video showing the flight came moments after.”

    On the same day, the Biden administration announced that every adult American who wants a vaccine is now eligible to get one. The fact that COVID-19 vaccines exist at all is truly extraordinary — an achievement on par with the greatest scientific breakthroughs ever achieved — and the fact that the United States has reached this point is something the country can be proud of.

    At least, that is, in theory.

    About a month ago, the Pew Research Center published an interesting report, noting that as recently as a couple of years ago, 70% of Republicans said that science has a positive effect on society. This year, that number dropped to 57%.

    It’s against this backdrop that the New York Times reported over the weekend on the degree to which vaccination rates appear to have been influenced by politics.

    The disparity in vaccination rates has so far mainly broken down along political lines. The New York Times examined survey and vaccine administration data for nearly every U.S. county and found that both willingness to receive a vaccine and actual vaccination rates to date were lower, on average, in counties where a majority of residents voted to re-elect former President Donald J. Trump in 2020. The phenomenon has left some places with a shortage of supply and others with a glut.

    The article noted one county health official in Wyoming who had to ask the state to “stop sending first doses of the vaccine because the freezer was already stuffed to capacity with unwanted vials,” while a clinic in Iowa had to turn away volunteers who’d signed up to give shots — because local residents didn’t want them.

    […] A national Quinnipiac poll showed nearly identical results: no group was more eager to avoid vaccinations than self-identified Republicans.

    […] Trump may have eventually endorsed the vaccines, but he also spent a year downplaying the significance of COVID-19, telling his followers not to fear the virus, dismissing the importance of mitigation efforts (including mask wearing), and urging rank-and-file conservative Republicans not to trust the relevant federal agencies, scientists, or subject-matter experts.

    The nation is now dealing with the consequences, which may linger: the more some refuse to get vaccinated, the harder it will be to achieve broad immunity against the virus.


    I live in what could be called a pro-virus, anti-vaccine state. It is really frustrating.

  20. says

    Update on eviction bans:

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday proposed a rule ordering debt collectors to inform tenants about their rights under a federal eviction ban if they’ve been unable to pay rent during the pandemic.

    The rule would order any firm attempting to collect owed rent to tell tenants that they may be protected from eviction under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium. Debt collectors would have to inform tenants about their rights under the CDC ban no later than when the renter receives an eviction notice.

    President Biden last month extended the CDC’s eviction ban through the end of June with millions of households still struggling to find their financial footing amid the coronavirus pandemic. While housing advocates have praised Biden for extending the Trump-era ban, they’ve also blasted the administration for failing to patch the various holes in the order.

    While landlords that violate the ban can face a $200,000 fine and a year in jail, not one has faced federal charges for plowing ahead with evictions despite the order. Federal district courts in Ohio and Texas have also ruled against the CDC order, but it remains in place pending appeals.

    The CFPB rule, set to take effect May 3, would attempt to hit the brakes on thousands of evictions of tenants protected by the ban that may otherwise go forward.

    “With COVID-19 killing hundreds of Americans every day, kicking families out into the street during this pandemic may literally be a death sentence,” said CFPB acting Director Dave Uejio. […]


  21. says

    On the legacy of Jim Crow, Ted Cruz picks the wrong partisan fight

    The Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an important hearing tomorrow: “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.” Among the witnesses will be Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), former state Sen. Stacey Abrams (D-Ga.), and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Sherrilyn Ifill.

    The need for the hearing should be obvious: Republican officials nationwide have launched the most dramatic attack on the franchise in generations. Nevertheless, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the panel, apparently sees a degree of irony to the partisan circumstances. [Cruz tweeted]:

    “Impressive candor for Senate Dems to hold a hearing on the history of Jim Crow laws. Bull Connor, Nathan Bedford Forrest (founder of KKK), George Wallace, Robert Byrd, ALL Democrats. Dems wrote Jim Crow. Sadly, they’ve got a lot of expertise in bigotry [and] discrimination.”

    If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because Cruz has pushed a similar line before. Four years ago, the GOP senator told Fox News, “The Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan. You look at the most racist — you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.”

    As regular readers know, we usually revisit this larger point about once a year, and in light of Cruz’s cheap and misleading rhetoric, now is as good a time as any to set the record straight once more.

    The Democratic Party, in the first half of the 20th century, was home to two broad, competing constituencies: southern whites with abhorrent views on race, and white progressives and African Americans in the north, who sought to advance the cause of civil rights. The party struggled with this conflict for years, before ultimately siding with an inclusive, liberal agenda.

    The result was a dramatic shift in both parties. After “Dixiecrats” began their exodus in 1948, and in the wake of LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Republican Party welcomed segregationists who no longer felt comfortable in the Democratic Party. Indeed, in 1964, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater boasted of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, and made it part of his platform.

    It was right around this time when figures like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond made the transition — leaving the progressive, diverse, tolerant Democratic Party for the conservative GOP.

    […] To be sure, Cruz’s surface-level understanding of history isn’t entirely wrong: Southern Democrats were, for generations after the Civil War, on the wrong side of the issue. Practically all of the major segregationists of that era were Dixiecrats.

    The trouble is the context and the relevance of the observation. Which matters more in contemporary politics: that segregationists were Southern Democrats or that segregationists made a new home in the Republican Party in the latter half of the 20th century?

    […] If either party has reason for embarrassment, it’s the one that welcomed the segregationists, not the party that showed them the door.

    If history ended a half-century ago, Cruz may have a slightly more legitimate point. But given what we’ve seen over the last several decades, the more salient point is that Democrats have been part of the solution, not part of the problem, on race.

    If the Texas Republican is eager to prove otherwise, he can drop his deceptive take on history and start denouncing his own party’s voter-suppression efforts, including those in his adopted home state. […]

  22. blf says

    Republicans demand action against Maxine Waters after Minneapolis remarks:

    Kevin McCarthy and extremist congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene accuse Waters of inciting violence

    The Republican leader in the House of Representatives and an extremist congresswoman who champions Anglo-Saxon political traditions have demanded action against the Democratic representative Maxine Waters, after she expressed support for protesters against police brutality.

    On Saturday, Waters spoke in Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis suburb where Daunte Wright […] was shot and killed by police last week.

    The California congresswoman spoke before final arguments on Monday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin […].

    “I’m going to fight with all of the people who stand for justice,” said Waters, who is Black. “We’ve got to get justice in this country and we cannot allow these killings to continue.”


    On Sunday night the Republican minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, said: Maxine Waters is inciting violence in Minneapolis — just as she has incited it in the past. If Speaker Pelosi doesn’t act against this dangerous rhetoric, I will bring action this week.


    Observers said McCarthy’s most likely course of action is to seek formal censure — a move unlikely to succeed unless enough Democrats support it.

    From the far right of McCarthy’s party, the Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene compared Waters’ words with those of Trump, when he told supporters to march on Congress and overturn his election defeat, resulting in the deadly Capitol riot[insurrection] of 6 January.

    Speaker Pelosi, she tweeted. You impeached President Trump after you said he incited violence by saying ‘march peacefully’ to the Capitol. So I can expect a yes vote from you on my resolution to expel Maxine Waters for inciting violence, riots, and abusing power threatening a jury, right?

    Trump did tell supporters to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. He also said: If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country any more.


  23. says

    Update on the growing Russian military presence on the Ukraine-Russia border:

    The European Union’s (EU) top foreign policy minister warned Monday that tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were at an all-time high, adding that “a spark” could set off a war between the two countries.

    Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, added Monday in an address to foreign affairs ministers of EU nations that the organization commended Ukraine for its measured response thus far, while calling on Russia to “defuse” tensions.

    “We commented about the situation on the border. The Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian border is very concerning. There are more than 150,000 Russian troops amassing at the Ukrainian borders and in Crimea. The risk of further escalation is evident,” he said, though the figure was revised down to 100,000 in an official transcript of his remarks.

    […] His remarks come as the U.S. has moved at least two warships to the Black Sea in support of Ukraine’s government, which is not a member of NATO but has applied for membership, while Russia’s navy has also beefed up its presence in the area and restricted the movement of foreign warships near Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

    In Borrell’s statements Monday, he again referred to the annexation of Crimea as “illegal,” […]

    “All in all, the relations with Russia, are not improving, but the contrary, the tension is increasing in different fronts,” Borrell said.

    “We call on Russia to withdraw their troops,” he added.

    Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have led to fears that Russia’s tens of thousands of troops near the border could soon launch an invasion, forcing the U.S. to choose between watching the country in all likelihood lose a military conflict with Russia or support its much-smaller military.


  24. says

    Watch NASA’s new autonomous helicopter take flight on Mars

    Video and technology details are available at the link.


    […] these machines will battle challenges that terrestrial technology never has to deal with, including Mars’s super-thin atmosphere, limited resources, incredibly cold temperatures, and delayed communication with human overlords on Earth.

    Key to its mission’s success is the ability for Perseverance to self-drive. The vehicle has a computer devoted to its autonomous capabilities, and as Wired explains, it was designed and built specifically for this mission. The autonomous driving feature is essential because Mars is simply too far away for humans to give the vehicle constant, real-time instructions. So the rover needs to fend for itself.

    “One of the fundamental constraints of any kind of space exploration — whether you’re going to Mars or Europa or the moon — is that you have limited bandwidth, which means a limit on the amount of information you can send back and forth,” David Wettergreen, research professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, told Recode. “During the periods of time when the robot can’t communicate, autonomy is important for it to enable it to keep doing tasks, to explore on its own, to make progress, rather than just sitting there waiting for the next time it hears from us.” […]

  25. says

    Follow-up to comment 30.

    Another excerpt:

    […] The blades of the helicopter can make more than 2,000 revolutions a minute, several times the speed of helicopter blades whipping around in Earth’s atmosphere. […]

  26. says

    Wonkette: “Mike And Susan Pompeo Grifted State Department Like A Costco: Cheaply And In Bulk”

    […] “In response to a whistleblower complaint, OIGreviewed allegations that Department staff members were asked to complete tasks of a personal nature by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (the “Secretary”) and his spouse, Susan Pompeo (Mrs. Pompeo),” the report opens. And SPOILER ALERT, it found those allegations to be entirely substantiated.

    What. A. Fucking. Surprise.

    OIG found that both Secretary and Mrs. Pompeo requested that the political appointee and other employees in the Office of the Secretary undertake work of a personal nature, such as picking up personal items, planning events unrelated to the Department’s mission, and conducting such personal business as pet care and mailing personal Christmas cards. OIG found that such requests were inconsistent with Department ethics rules and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.

    In plain English, sounds like the Pompeos were too cheap to pay a personal assistant out of their own pockets, so they put Pompeo’s longtime assistant Toni Porter on the federal payroll and made her run errands and book brunch reservations at the Cheesecake Factory in additional to her official duties. This would be an ethical breach amounting to theft of government service, as Mike Pompeo, a Harvard-trained lawyer, knows perfectly well.

    “On an almost daily basis,” Susan Pompeo would send an email to Porter’s work account telling her to calendar events both personal and professional for her husband.

    She asked Porter to buy extra copies of a magazine article about her husband because “I know Mike’s family would get a kick out of seeing this.” She asked Porter to arrange delivery of flowers and gifts to her personal friends. And the fact that she later reimbursed the government for the cost of the purchases is entirely beside the point — it’s the government employees’ time she stole, not the stuff itself. (Haven’t we been through this with Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator Extraordinaire? We have.)

    Mrs. P asked Porter to accept package delivery for the Pompeos at her home to spare the Amazon guy the hassle of having to run the gantlet of guards at the government residence the Pompeos had wrangled for themselves. She had Porter arrange for delegations of visiting Kansas grandees in emails in which she “stressed the prior political support of several members to Secretary Pompeo’s campaigns for the House of Representatives, but did not reference any connection between the visit and Departmental business.” She also forced Porter to devise a workaround to fund the purchase of hostess gifts and swag for the Pompeos to dole out as they used the Secretary’s official position to schmooze political allies who might help his future career. Apparently she was a big fan of “gold nut bowls.”

    According to the report, there were over 100 inappropriate requests during the two and a half years Pompeo was at the State Department.

    Pompeo’s lawyer Bill Burck took a page from Lindsey Graham in his response to Politico. That’s right, he screamed bloody murder and started lobbing nonsensical counter-accusations.

    Despite the fact that the investigation began under the Trump administration and was substantially delayed by Pompeo’s months-long refusal to sit down for questioning, Burck described it as “a politicized document in the guise of an investigative one” that takes revenge on Pompeo for engineering the ouster of Steve Linick, the former State Department Inspector General. Which makes complete sense if you ignore the fact that the investigation was initiated by a whistleblower long before Linick was fired.

    Burck went on to make a convoluted argument that simultaneously throws Susan Pompeo under the bus while accusing the IG of sexism.

    “We had thought the time was long past that anyone would consider wives to be mere extensions of their husbands, but that antiquated and offensive view animates the entire draft report,” he fumed.

    Pompeo himself took a slightly different angle, arguing that asking staff to come in on weekends to help Susan Pompeo address Christmas cards — which had already been printed up by the State Department’s print shop — was perfectly fine because it was only “a tiny task” and anyway it was “perfectly fine for friends to help each other.” In this version of events, Susan Pompeo was just emailing Porter a daily list of tasks to complete during and after business hours as a “friend.”

    As the IG notes drily, “Unlike other areas of the Standards of Ethical Conduct, the regulation concerning use of a subordinate’s time does not include a personal relationship exception.”

    The Pompeos are unlikely to face repercussions for their habitual grifting — they’re out of office now, and Republicans are too busy trying to get their automated contributions back from the Trump PAC and the NRCC to notice a little government waste. But Mike Pompeo’s successor, Secretary Tony Blinken, has accepted the IG’s recommendation to knock that shit off.

    The earth is healing.


  27. blf says

    Todd Coconato Says Christians Don’t Believe Biden Is President Because God’s Mantle of Anointing Remains on Trump:

    People say, ‘Well, you still think President Trump might become president again?’ [right-wing pastor Todd] Coconato said on his YouTube channel. I do, because I prayed about it, and I’ll tell you what God said to me was kind of shocking.”

    When I prayed about if we’d ever see President Trump as our president again, God just reminded me that he’s the one that chooses the leadership, not us, Coconato continued. He allows certain things to happen, but he also responds to the prayers of the righteous. And what he was telling me is that just like David — and I think I said this in a past livestream — but just like David, President Trump has the mantle of leadership, has the anointing of leadership.


  28. flange says

    @#7, Rieux:
    The first thing it said to me was, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
    And, yes, @#8, The (Dirty?) Vicar, the swallow was a nice throwaway.

  29. marner says

    Maxine Waters:

    “I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,” she said in response to reporters’ questions. “And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

    This could legitimately be interpreted as a call for violence. The defense requested a mistrial, and while the judge denied it, he said:

    “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” said Judge Peter Cahill. He told the defense that Waters’ comments may be grounds for the case to be overturned on appeal.

  30. says

    NBC News:

    Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one Covid-19 shot, the government announced Sunday, marking another milestone in the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign but leaving more work to do to convince skeptical Americans to roll up their sleeves.


    Five people were hospitalized after being shot and injured in Shreveport, Louisiana, CBS-affiliated television station KSLA reported late on Sunday, the third multiple shooting reported in the United States with 24 hours.

    Washington Post:

    Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection, the District’s chief medical examiner has ruled. The ruling, released Monday, likely will make it difficult for prosecutors to pursue homicide charges in the officer’s death. Two men are accused of assaulting Sicknick by spraying a powerful chemical irritant at him during the siege.

    NBC News:

    The Justice Department on Friday sued Roger Stone, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, accusing Stone and his wife, Nydia, of owing nearly $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes and fees.

    Texas Tribune:

    Electricity outages in Texas could occur again this summer — just a few months after the devastating winter storm that left millions of Texans without power for days — if the state experiences a severe heat wave or drought combined with high demand for power, according to recent assessments by the state’s grid operator.

  31. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a leading member of the new America First caucus, is calling for the development of what she called “Anglo-Saxon space lasers.”

    “Anglo-Saxons have for too long ceded space-laser superiority to the airborne laser beams of foreign banking élites,” she said. “This shall not stand on my watch.”

    She took the opportunity to reassure her concerned QAnon supporters that she would be able to serve both QAnon and Anglo-Saxonhood at the same time. “I can multitask,” she promised.

    Greene concluded her remarks by invoking the name of the mighty Anglo-Saxon deity who inspired her space-laser vow. “By Woden’s will, we shall prevail!” she shouted, brandishing an oversized hammer.

    New Yorker link

  32. says

    MyPillow Targets Dominion With Otherworldly Legal Claim

    2020 election truther Mike Lindell’s firm MyPillow launched a bizarre lawsuit on Monday against Dominion Voting Systems, accusing the election software firm of taking part in a coercive and byzantine plot to defame the bedding company.

    The suit portrays Dominion as the puppeteer behind a vast conspiracy that uses “lawfare” to “tear at the fabric of our constitutional order.”

    It’s a lawsuit that likens Dominion to Senator Joe McCarthy and his witch-hunt against Communist in the 1950s. The voting machine company has launched legal battles against those who spread the myth that it somehow juiced vote counts for Joe Biden across the country in the 2020 election.

    Lindell, along with attorney Sidney Powell, spent much of the presidential transition claiming that Dominion took part in an international necro-marxist conspiracy instigated by late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to flip the results of the 2020 election to Biden.

    Dominion sued MyPillow and Lindell in February for defamation over the claims.

    MyPillow, in Monday’s countersuit, wants $1.6 billion in damages from Dominion.

    The new suit also manages to up the zany level of the whole episode, if that were at all possible.

    It characterizes Dominion’s legal claims as those of a “Third World county,” and accuses it of running a national campaign to hunt down and “cancel” its critics.

    “MyPillow employees live in fear. Their lives have been threatened. They have been canceled and shut down. They have been compelled to self-censor,” reads one dramatic portion of the suit, filed in federal court in Minnesota.”In addition, MyPillow has lost numerous major customers who ended their long-term relationships to sell MyPillow’s product line due to Dominion’s highly publicized attacks.”

    In a separate livestream that Lindell said would last 48 hours, the pillow pitchman announced the lawsuit while also appearing with Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Ted Nugent. [All the best clowns.]

    Lindell used the broadcast to hype a social network that he is building called “Frank,” telling viewers that it was meant to go live at 9 a.m. Monday morning, and it would have, if not for a “massive attack” that thwarted it.” Lindell added that it was “probably hacked by the Dems.”

    But the new lawsuit takes pains to allege that MyPillow and Lindell are lone truth-tellers facing a terrifying and powerful array of forces hell-bent on covering up the Truth of the 2020 election.

    The pillow company claims that Dominion, because it engages in contracts with government bodies, “is a governmental actor” and should be treated as such. “In its capacity as — and using its authority as — a governmental actor, Dominion allowed manipulation or changing of votes in the 2020 election [Lie], as well as suppressed public debate about the election which deprived MyPillow of its rights,” the suit reads.

    […] The Dominion lawsuits largely argue that those who falsely accused it of tampering with ballots in the 2020 election defamed it in doing so.

    In the fever swamp of Lindell and his bedding firm, that’s yet another example of creeping authoritarianism.

    “Yet Dominion, an agent of the government, has intentionally and wrongfully inflicted great harm upon MyPillow and its employees,” the company argued.

    Off the deep end.

  33. says

    Follow-up to comment 39.

    Wonkette: “MyPillow Guy Invites Ted Nugent And Michael Flynn To Self-Pity-A-Thon For Non-Functioning Website”

    […] So sad!

    According to Lindell, this is all happening because the site is being attacked by hackers and trolls who want to destroy his dreams because they hate free speech and don’t want there to be a site where people can express their oh-pinions, as long as they don’t include any swearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain. It is the biggest attack ever, in the history of the whole internet.

    But he’s trying to make up for it by having a whole day-long Sad-A-Thon with a bunch of his sad friends where they all talk about how totally oppressed and lonely they are just for wanting to say incorrect things all of the time. They’re not even selling any tote bags.

    When we caught up with the livestream, Lindell was very upset because he was expecting a phone call from Ted Nugent, but kept getting prank calls instead. Eventually, they got in touch with Nugent’s wife Shemane, who spent some time talking about how very sad all of the censorship was. Also she kind of seems like she might be a hologram. Then Ted Nugent got on to talk about all of the very bad censorship he’s had to deal with in his career.

    Now, given that Nugent was in fact a musician during some pretty big times in censorship — back in the heady days of PTA moms and Tipper Gore freaking out over Ozzy Osbourne having bit the head off a dead bat he had assumed was a fake bat (because who throws real dead bats at people during a concert?), whatever it was they were mad at Dee Snider about, and supposed Satanic lyrics and “porn rock,” the latter of which Nugent’s music could certainly be classified as — you might think he’d have at least one story about actual censorship. Or something approximating that. I’m certainly not big into censorship, but I do think I’d think twice about letting my non-existent children listen to songs about gang-raping middle schoolers.

    But no! His big tale of censorship woe came in the form of criticism of his 1998 “Behind The Music” special on VH1, in which an anti-hunting person said stuff about how hunting was bad. […]

    Lindell brought on Michael Flynn, who said we were all very lucky to hear Nugent’s “jewels of wisdom” about how he didn’t like his episode of “Behind The Music,” and also dogwhistled to the QAnon folks by talking about “digital soldiers.” He seemed to think censorship is when you are lonely because you think you’re the only one who believes your own bullshit. He was very happy, he explained, for all of the people who would get to feel less alone thanks to Frank. […]


  34. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @39:

    In addition, MyPillow has lost numerous major customers who ended their long-term relationships to sell MyPillow’s product line due to Dominion’s highly publicized attacks.

    I am pretty sure that customers are not rejecting MyPillow products because of Dominion but because Lindell has proven himself to be a lying liar who advocated the insurrection against the legitimate government of the US, wanted to use the military against those who voted for Biden, and continues to promote The Big Lie.

  35. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow just reported that former vice president and presidential candidate Walter Mondale died to the age of 93. His selected running mate was Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman be on the ballot in that position. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was an intern for him when she was in college, and acknowledged his public service and mentor-ship that lead to her being in her present job.

  36. says

    johnson catman @41, yes, that’s right … and because the pillows are a crappy product full of shredded foam bits.

    Also fun: MyPillow CEO getting pranked into believing he’s talking to Trump is the best thing on internet

    MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has been having a rough go of it. Hitching your huckster caboose to the Trump-train and riding it off the tracks into the land of baseless election fraud claims has led to big losses for the conservative former business fraud-settler. His most recent move is the promise of launching his own social media platform called FRANK. This is the website social media thingy Lindell has been promoting for the past couple of weeks; the “free speech” platform with a list of censored words and things you cannot talk about. True story.

    On Monday, Lindell attempted to hold a 48-hour “FRANK-a-thon” event to support this launch. The event is streaming live on YouTube and last I looked, about 30 people were watching it. He launched it with the news that he was countersuing Dominion, which is suing him for defamation. If you thought watching a two-minute segment of Lindell was 119 seconds too long, wait until you get a load of five minutes!

    Salon writer Zachary Petrizzo has been live tweeting this train wreck of a situation, which included the platform being completely unavailable at launch. But a highlight came a couple hours into the event while Lindell was interviewing a COVID-19 skeptic who has also been “canceled” by “cancel culture.” In the middle of the interview, Lindell looked at his phone and seemed to believe he had a special guest: twice impeached, one term, buried under lawsuits former president Donald Trump! What a get! Well … get ready for the best thing on the internet today.

    While Lindell leaned over, groveling into his phone, we all get to hear what sounds like Trump saying, “Hello everyone.” Lighting up like a true heel, Lindell ebullient tells his FRANK-a-thon audience: “We have the president here, the real president everyone. Hello Mr. President.” Very quickly, it becomes clear that the caller is someone promoting their own website and using some foul language. Lindell quickly hangs up his phone and tells his audience that like his website, this is all a part of the infiltration of the amorphous powers that be trying to take down his “free speech” platform. […]

    Video/audio is available at the link.

  37. logicalcat says

    Ignoring cancel culture where it tends to be akin to left wing #gamer-gate, is problematic. It will destroy the movement just like the toxic elements of the skeptic movement destroyed new-atheism.

  38. says

    Here’s a link to the April 20 Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their morning summary:

    The EU will have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to cover 70% of its adult population by mid-July, internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton told French daily Le Figaro in an interview.

    The European Medicines Agency is preparing to present the conclusions of its investigation into possible links between the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine and very rare cases of unusual clotting disorders detected in the US.

    The US state department is planning to drastically ratchet up the warnings it is giving Americans about international travel during the pandemic. Roughly 80% of countries worldwide would soon be marked at the highest warning of “Level 4: Do Not Travel”.

    Osaka prefecture in Japan is expected today to ask the government to declare a state of emergency in the region, the country’s third most populous.

    British prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to hold a coronavirus press conference this afternoon, after the UK put India on its “red list” of travel destinations.

    Israel has registered eight cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, and believes that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least partially effective against it, an Israeli health official said.

    World leaders are facing a call to act immediately to stop multiple famines breaking out, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and caused by conflict, climate crisis and inequality.

  39. says

    From the Guardian:

    “Alexei Navalny moved to prison hospital amid fears for Putin critic’s life”:

    Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a prison hospital as concerns have grown among supporters that the Russian opposition leader is dangerously ill and could die “at any minute”.

    Navalny’s transfer came after his doctors warned at the weekend that the Kremlin critic, who has been on hunger strike for nearly three weeks, was in danger of a heart attack or kidney failure.

    His doctors and other representatives do not know what regime has been prescribed and whether he freely consented to it.

    Navalny’s supporters say the authorities are hiding information about his condition and described the infirmary in the IK-3 prison colony as specialising in critically ill tuberculosis patients.

    Navalny’s top aides have announced large protests in his support on Wednesday, setting up a potential clash between demonstrators and police. Russia’s Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor has ordered YouTube to take down a video featuring Navalny’s aides Leonid Volkov and Zhdanov announcing plans to hold Wednesday’s protest, saying that it urged people to join an unsanctioned rally. As of Monday evening, YouTube had not taken down the video.

    A court in Moscow has also set a hearing for next week in a case brought by prosecutors to recognise Navalny’s organisation as extremist. If a decision is taken quickly, then the courts could order the liquidation of much of Navalny’s organisation by the end of the month, threatening fines and jail time for those who continue to support him.

    One of his top allies, Vladimir Milov, announced on Monday he had fled Russia for Europe to avoid possible arrest ahead of the rally.

    On Monday, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said “we make the Russian authorities responsible for the health situation of Mr Navalny”, as the US has threatened consequences if Navalny were to die in prison.

    Borrell’s remarks came ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers, where European envoys are expected to discuss Navalny’s case and growing tensions with Moscow over a military buildup on the Ukrainian border, as well as revelations of a suspected GRU plot behind a deadly explosion at a Czech ammunition warehouse in 2014.

    There are few signs the Kremlin is willing to relent or give in to demands by the US president, Joe Biden, and other western leaders for Navalny to be released from custody. On Sunday, Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, accused Navalny of attention-seeking behaviour.

    “He will not be allowed to die in prison, but I can say that Mr Navalny, he behaves like a hooligan, absolutely,” Kelin told the BBC. The ambassador added: “His purpose for all of that is to attract attention for him[self].”

    “US ambassador to leave Moscow as tensions rise”:

    Washington’s ambassador to Moscow has announced that he will return to the US for consultations, days after the Russian government recommended he leave the country during what it said was an “extremely tense situation”.

    John Sullivan’s departure will leave both countries’ embassies without their top diplomats at a crucial moment, with Washington and Moscow recently announcing new sanctions, a Russian military buildup near Ukraine, and concerns about the opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s health while in detention.

    Biden and Putin discussed a possible summit last week, but the Kremlin has said it would take time to organise and would be “impossible” to hold in the coming weeks.

    Russia recalled its ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, for consultations in March after Biden agreed with a television journalist that Putin was “a killer” and said Putin would “pay a price” for its alleged interference during the 2020 elections.

    The Biden administration last week expelled 10 Russian diplomats and announced sweeping sanctions against Russia for its alleged elections interference and role in the SolarWinds supply chain hack. It was the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the 2018 Salisbury poisonings.

    Russia in response expelled 10 US diplomats and targeted US embassy operations, also recommending the ambassador leave the country.

    While Sullivan was not expelled, it appears that Russian government pressure influenced his decision to leave the country temporarily….

  40. says

    Great piece in the Guardian – “The invention of whiteness: the long history of a dangerous idea”:

    …Where the religion of whiteness was not able to win converts with persuasion or fear, it deployed cruder measures to secure its power, conscripting laws, institutions, customs and churches to enforce its prerogatives. Above all, it depended on force. By the middle of the 20th century, the presumption that a race of people called white were superior to all others had supplied the central justification not just for the transatlantic slave trade but also for the near-total extinction of Indians in North America; for Belgian atrocities in Congo; for the bloody colonisation of India, east Africa and Australia by Britain; for the equally bloody colonisation of north and west Africa and south-east Asia by France; for the deployment of the Final Solution in Nazi Germany; and for the apartheid state in South Africa. And those are merely the most extreme examples. Alongside those murdered, raped and enslaved in the name of whiteness, the total number of whom runs at least to nine figures, are an almost unthinkable number of people whose lives were shortened, constrained, antagonised and insulted on a daily basis….

  41. blf says

    Brazil’s Covid-19 response is worst in the world, says Médecins Sans Frontières (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The Brazilian government’s negligent response to Covid-19 has plunged the South American country into a snowballing “humanitarian catastrophe” that is likely to intensify in the coming weeks, the medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières has warned.

    “I have to be very clear in this: the Brazilian authorities’ negligence is costing lives,” the group’s international president, Christos Christou, told reporters on Thursday after Brazil’s official death toll rose to more than 362,000, second only to the US.

    Meinie Nicolai, MSF’s general director, said the actions of the Brazilian government — which under its far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has downplayed the epidemic, shunned containment measures and promoted treatments with no scientific basis — had made it “a threat to its own population”.

    “There is no coordination in the response. There is no real acknowledgment of the severity of the disease. Science is put aside. Fake news is being distributed and healthcare workers are left on their own,” Nicolai said.

    “The government is failing the Brazilian people … All Brazilians can tell you that they have people around them that have been buried or intubated {in places} where there are no drugs and no oxygen. This is unacceptable,” Nicolai added.

    Asked if Bolsonaro’s government had responded worse than any other on Earth, Nicolai agreed on the basis of Brazil’s failure to learn from more than a year’s global experience in the fight against Covid using techniques such as physical distancing, testing and tracing and the promotion of face masks. “Is it the worst by not implementing what is known? I would say yes,” the MSF chief said.

    There is growing international concern over Brazil’s unchecked outbreak and the spread of the more contagious P1 variant […]


    Bolsonaro and his supporters defend the government’s response, claiming their resistance to containment measures is designed to protect the economy. On Monday Bolsonaro’s politician son, Eduardo, falsely claimed on Twitter that lockdown helped the coronavirus to spread. The social media company later said the message had violated its rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information about the pandemic.

    Disclaimer: I am a regular contributer to MSF (Doctors Without Borders).

  42. says

    Some podcast recommendations:

    Straight White American Jesus – “How White Evangelicals Use the Family to Attack the LGBTQ+ Community and Deny Systemic Racism”:

    Dr. Sophie Bjork-James is an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University. She discusses her new book, The Divine Institution: White Evangelical’s Politics of the Family (Rutgers University Press). In her conversation with Brad, Dr. Bjork-James explains how White evangelicalism enforces racial inequality by drawing moral, religious, and political attention away from problems of racial and economic structural oppression, explaining all social problems as a failure of the individual to achieve the strong gender and sexual identities that ground the nuclear family. The consequences of this theology are both personal suffering for individuals who cannot measure up to prescribed gender and sexual roles, and political support for anti-LGTBQ policies.

    The Bunker Daily – “Bulletproof Confidence, Blunted Empathy – How boarding schools produce warped leaders”:

    The English public school is one of the country’s strangest and often most sinister institutions. James Scudamore, author of the moving and gripping novel of memory, friendship and abuse English Monsters, talks to Arthur Snell about his own experience with the mad and petty regime of the English boarding school. How did this culture spread the “profound damage” of men who’d seen true horror in war down to generations of pupils? And why do public schools produce an emotionally damaged elite?

    (Somewhat related, in the Guardian: “Derek Chauvin trial highlights use of restraint holds in Minnesota schools.”)

    Political Philosophy Podcast – “BREXIT & FREEDOM With The Philosopher & The News Podcast”:

    A crossover episode with Alexis Papazoglou of The Philosopher & The News Podcast. We discuss Brexit and Freedom, Berlin’s positive and negative distinction, and J S Mill.

    The new episode of Maintenance Phase, on Olestra, is also worthwhile:

    In 1996, Proctor & Gamble launched an artificial fat substitute that promised all of the taste but none of the calories. There was just one problem.

  43. birgerjohansson says

    I remember when Walter Mondale campaigned against The Asshole. Of course he did not win the election, RR ran on populism.

  44. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The US has warned against travel to India, where cases are rising to staggering levels and a new coronavirus variant has been detected.

    India has registered more than three million new infections and 18,000 deaths this month, AFP reports, ,making its caseload second only to the United States.

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that “even fully vaccinated travellers” should avoid travelling to India. It comes after the State Department said on Monday it would advise against travel to around 80% of the world’s countries.

  45. blf says

    France is first EU member state to start testing digital Covid travel certificate:

    France has become the first EU member state to begin testing a digital coronavirus travel certificate as part of a Europe-wide scheme that Brussels hopes will allow people to travel more freely within the bloc by the summer.

    The TousAntiCovid app [the “test-and-trace app” I frequently refer to –blf], part of the country’s contact tracing programme, has been upgraded to store negative Covid-19 test results on travellers’ mobile phones and is being trialled on flights to Corsica and overseas départements from this week.

    The trial will be extended from 29 April to include vaccination certificates, officials told Le Monde, and the system could eventually be adopted for public events such as concerts, festivals and trade fairs, although not for bars and restaurants.

    The French trial will form one part of a “reinforced, consolidated and standardised” Europe-wide system, the minister for digital transition, Cédric O, said, with talks already under way with several countries and airlines to ensure early recognition.


    The scheme has deliberately not been called a “vaccine passport” to avoid discriminating against people not yet offered a shot. Brussels has stressed that while it should make travel easier, it must not become a pre-condition of free movement.


    In France, people taking a coronavirus test from Tuesday will receive a text message or email giving them access to a state-certified online document that can be downloaded and either printed off or stored in the TousAntiCovid app.

    The same will apply to those being vaccinated from next week, with a complete database of past tests and vaccinations open for download by everyone from mid-May. Antibody test results should be incorporated at a later stage.

    The app will generate a secure QR code containing a range of information including the traveller’s name, the date and type of their test or vaccine, and details of the relevant doctor or laboratory, all of which can be checked against a national database.


    I noticed the additions to the app this morning. Here in France, where vaccine hesitancy is exceptionally high, I’m unsure of the wisdom of making such travel certificates non-mandatory for non-essential travel outside of one’s local area.

    As an aside, this also makes me wonder if the French app is using the joint Generalissimo Google–Archführer Apple bluetooth-based technology (the French app is bluetooth-based & is now non-centralised (the original version, which was not downloaded much at all, was centralised)). Google and Apple have been insistent the data is not centralised (to make it much harder to do nefarious surveillance / tracking), and recently, for example, refused to allow one national(?) app to be updated via their services as its vaccination certificate scheme addition was deemed to be a possible non-anonymous centralisation (apologies for being vague, I cannot recall which country(?) and now cannot find the article on the refusal).

    Somewhat related, my (current) understanding is many of the EU track-and-trace apps are non-communicative; e.g., my French app won’t “talk” to the German app. So if, e.g., a German visitor (or me!) has a positive test, the other person won’t find out, despite both of us trying to be responsible. It seems to me that as travel opens up, this could become a serious problem.

    It’s a mess, but at least there is an actively-maintained app (c.15m downloads, according to the app itself, with c.280,000 reported positive tests, and c.173,000 notifications of close / extended contact with those reported positive tests).

  46. says

    Buddhist monks in Mandalay took to the streets in protest at the military regime for the 73rd day in a row on Apr. 20.”

    Photos at the link. They’re carrying signs proclaiming their support for the NUG (National Unity Government), which was formed on Friday – Reuters – “Opponents of Myanmar coup form unity government, aim for ‘federal democracy'”:

    Opponents of Myanmar’s junta announced a National Unity Government on Friday including ousted members of parliament and leaders of anti-coup protests and ethnic minorities, saying their aim was to end military rule and restore democracy.

    Myanmar has been in turmoil since the Feb. 1 coup that ousted a civilian government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi which had held power for five years and was starting its second term after a landslide election victory in November.

    People have taken to the streets day after day to demand the restoration of democracy, defying crackdowns by the security forces in which more than 700 people have been killed, according to a monitoring group.

    At the same time, political leaders, including ousted members of parliament from Suu Kyi’s party, have been trying to organise to show the country and the outside world that they and not the generals are the legitimate political authority.

    “Please welcome the people’s government,” veteran democracy activist Min Ko Naing said in a 10-minute video address announcing the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG).

    While setting out few positions, Min Ko Naing said the will of the people was the unity government’s priority, while acknowledging the scale of the task at hand.

    One of the unity government’s primary objectives will be to win international support and recognition.

    “We are the democratically elected leaders of Myanmar,” said the unity government’s minister of international cooperation, Dr Sasa, who goes by one name.

    “So if the free and democratic world rejects us that means they reject democracy.”

    International pressure has been building on the Myanmar military, particularly from Western governments that have imposed limited sanctions, though the generals have a long record of dismissing what they see as outside interference.

    The unity government released a list of office holders including members of ethnic minorities and protest leaders, underlining the unity of purpose between the pro-democracy movement and autonomy-seeking minority communities, some of whom have battled the central government for decades.

    Sasa told Reuters the objective was to end violence, restore democracy and build a “federal democratic union”. The military, while playing lip service to the idea of federalism, has long seen itself as the core power holding the country together.

    Unity government leaders said they intended to form a federal army and were in talks with ethnic minority forces.

    The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, a group of international experts including former United Nations officials, hailed the creation of the NUG as historic and said it was the legitimate government.

    After darkness fell over Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon, people clapped at their windows and chanted “our government”, video posted by activists on Twitter showed. Some community groups reported the sound of explosions and gunfire shortly afterwards.

    While the politicians were announcing the unity government, other opponents of military rule observed a “silent strike” staying home to mourn those killed or wearing black in small marches in half a dozen cities and towns, media reported.

    The military has also been rounding up critics and state media announced arrest warrants for 20 doctors on charges of encouraging dissent in the armed forces. The junta is seeking more than 200 people, including several internet celebrities, actors and singers, on the same change….

  47. blf says

    birgerjohansson@50, The thing I remember about that campaign was Ronaddled Raygun’s use of flip-flopping to describe(? assert?) Mondale’s alleged changing of position on various issues.

    So what?

    What I want to know is WHY he changed his position (assuming he did). I don’t care too much that he did (broadly speaking), I am much Much more interested in the rationale, the reasons, the arguments which caused — and the sincerity of — the change.

    Not changing one’s position in the light of (possibly new) compelling evidence, etc., can be much more negative than holding a position one disagrees with.

    This is all(?) in the abstract, of course. Some positions — e.g., bigotry, loonytarianism, nazi, anti-rational / -science, actively pro-magic sky faerie, etc. — (basically anything hair furor claimed) is more than simply a disagreement. Those are unacceptable, full stop, and the only reason to vote “for” such candidates is as a tactical measure to (try and) ensure a even worse candidate is not elected (or, in the case of primaries, is selected as a candidate).

  48. says

    Per the CDC re vaccinations:

    Total population:
    39.9% have received at least one dose
    25.7% are fully vaccinated

    Population 18+ Years of Age:
    50.7% have received at least one dose
    33% are fully vaccinated

    Population 65+ Years of Age:
    80.1% have received at least one dose
    64.9% are fully vaccinated

  49. birgerjohansson says

    blf @ 55
    What I recall from that campaign is the usual platitudes from RR, and getting little critical scrutiny from the media. “We’re number one! The Russkies are bad and those who oppose spending a trillion on weapons are unpatriotic” (not those exact words but that was the gist of it).
    Re “flip-flopping” that was something the conservative media also claimed about its preceived opponents during Dubya.
    (Changing your opinion is good if you are a Republican. Changing your opinion shows you are unreliable if you are a Democrat. The only evil Republican change of opinion is if you decide to raise taxes -as George H Bush did to finace the war)
    I think this preceded Fox News, so the lying was not quite as blatant as it is today. Still, the spectacle was painful to watch.
    BTW back then Saddam was still getting support from USA as was Khmer Rouge, Unita and South Africa. Death squads in El Salvador and genocide in Guatemala. It was not a good time.

  50. blf says

    birgerjohansson@60, As far as I can recall, the idoitic flip-flopping smear has happened in every presidential campaign since then (always a claim made by teh thugs), albeit not perhaps not as blatantly or with as much prominence as Ronalded Raygun’s claims about Mondale. There were numerous other thug lies, but it was the insinuation that changing one’s opinion was always bad which infuriated me at the time (and still does!). And has ensured I will never ever vote thug except as a tactical measure. (Note for the hard-of-understanding: “never ever vote thug” ≠ “always vote dummie”; translation, “never ever vote rethuglican” ≠ “always vote democrat”.)

  51. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Rahul Gandhi, an opposition Congress party leader has said he has tested positive for coronavirus after experiencing mild symptoms.

    Gandhi, 50, said in a tweet on Tuesday “All those who’ve been in contact with me recently, please follow all safety protocols and stay safe.”

    Gandhi last week called off political rallies in West Bengal state where provincial elections are being held.

    On Monday, another Congress party leader and former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, also tested positive. He has been hospitalised as a precaution, citing a mild fever on Sunday.

    India’s Health Ministry reported 259,170 new infections and 1,761 deaths on Tuesday. The country has reported daily infections above the 200,000 mark for six days.

    Experts at the European Medicines Agency have said a warning about very unusual blood clots should be added to labels for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

    Last week, Johnson & Johnson halted its European roll-out of the vaccine after U.S. officials recommended a pause in the vaccine, after detecting six very rare blood clot cases among nearly 7 million people who had been vaccinated.

    European officials said they considered all currently available evidence from the U.S., including eight reports of serious cases of rare blood clots associated with low blood platelets, including one death.

    Johnson & Johnson advised European governments to store their doses until the EU drug regulator issued guidance on their use; widespread use of the shot in Europe has not yet started.

    The delay is a further blow to vaccination efforts in the European Union, which have been plagued by supply shortages, logistical problems, and concerns over blood clots from those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

  52. blf says

    Follow-up to me@28 and marner@35, Maxine Waters says she won’t be ‘bullied’ by Republicans over Chauvin remarks:

    After Republicans launched a long-shot attempt to censure and expel Maxine Waters from Congress over comments on the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, which the judge said could provide grounds for appeal, the veteran California progressive stayed defiant.

    “I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say,” Waters, 82, told the Grio. “This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”

    Waters, who is African American, has served in Congress since 1991. She has a long record of campaigning for civil rights and confronting political opponents in blunt terms […]

    Long a favorite target of Republicans, she attracted such focused ire in 2018, when she said Trump aides and officials should be confronted by the public. Last week, she told the hard-right Republican congressman Jim Jordan to “shut your mouth” during a hearing with Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser.

    […] Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, defended Waters, saying she did not need to apologize.

    “Maxine talked about ‘confrontation’ in the manner of the civil rights movement,” Pelosi said.

    Indeed. The whole kerfuffle is mostly an attempt to redefine “fight” — when said by a dummie (democrat) and no matter what the context — into meaning revolt, insurrection, violence, or similar. But when said by a thug (rethuglican), such as hair furor, and essentially always regardless of context, it means oppose, disagree, disprove, wrong, or so on.

  53. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Jury Begins Deliberations in Derek Chauvin Murder Trial

    Jury deliberations have begun in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter for killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes last May. On Monday, jurors heard closing arguments in one of the most closely watched criminal trials in years. This is prosecutor Steve Schleicher.

    Steve Schleicher: “You can believe your eyes. It’s exactly what you believed. It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes. It’s exactly what you knew. It’s what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your heart. This wasn’t policing. This was murder.”

    Judge Peter Cahill gave final instructions to 12 jurors, who will remain sequestered at a hotel during their deliberations.

    Thousands Protest in Minnesota as Derek Chauvin Murder Trial Wraps Up

    Thousands of students from dozens of Minnesota schools walked out of classes Monday, demanding justice for George Floyd — and for Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot dead by a white police officer during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11. The city’s mayor, Mike Elliott, a Black man who was born in Liberia, told CNN Monday, “It’s not safe to drive in Minnesota while you’re Black.”…

    Ahead of the verdict, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called up 3,000 members of the National Guard, along with 1,100 police officers from around the state….

    U.N. Warns Planet Is “On the Verge of the Abyss” from Relentless Climate Change

    The World Meteorological Organization warned Monday of a “relentless” worsening of the climate crisis in 2020, as average temperatures soared to 1.2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. That’s close to the 1.5-degree upper limit advocated by scientists to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres announced the findings of the annual State of the Global Climate report.

    Secretary-General António Guterres: “We are seeing, indeed, that we live in a triple crisis: a climate crisis, a biodiversity crisis and a pollution crisis. And if we don’t act immediately, we are, as I said, on the verge of the abyss. There is no time to lose.”

    The WMO says record heat has accumulated in the world’s oceans, which are becoming more acidic and less oxygenated. 2020 saw sea level rise from melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, near-record-low sea ice in the Arctic, severe flooding in Asia and Africa, extreme drought in South America and a record 30 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season.

    Hundreds of Climate Scientists Warn Against Criminalizing Peaceful Protests

    Meanwhile, over 400 climate experts have warned that governments are criminalizing and silencing peaceful environmental protesters, including Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement and School Strike for Climate. Their open letter reads, “It has become abundantly clear that governments don’t act on climate without pressure from civil society: threatening and silencing activists thus seems to be a new form of anti-democratic refusal to act on climate.”

    White House Holds Virtual Climate Summit as U.S. and China Pledge Cuts to Emissions

    The United States and China said Sunday the two nations will work together with other countries on tackling climate change. The commitment by the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters came ahead of a virtual climate summit this week hosted by President Joe Biden.

    Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel to Replace Raúl Castro as Communist Party Leader

    The Cuban Communist Party has chosen President Miguel Díaz-Canel as its new leader, replacing Raúl Castro, who announced his retirement last week. This marks the first time the party is led by a person outside of the Castro family since Fidel Castro led the Cuban revolution in 1959. The party’s change in leadership comes amid an economic crisis in Cuba, exacerbated by harsh U.S. sanctions.

    Amazon Hit with 23 Unfair Labor Practices Complaints over Union-Busting Campaign in Alabama

    In Alabama, the labor union that failed in its months-long battle to organize an Amazon warehouse in the city of Bessemer has filed 23 complaints against the online retailer with the National Labor Relations Board. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union says Amazon unlawfully interfered with union efforts by threatening to cut workers’ pay, benefits and time off work, while creating an “impression of surveillance” by installing private mailboxes at the warehouse so it could monitor workers’ votes. This is Bessemer Amazon worker Jennifer Bates.

    Jennifer Bates: “There was illegal things taking place and fear tactics that was done to people who didn’t have any idea about what a union could do for them, young people who thought that they were going to lose their job because the company said, ’We’re going to shut down.’”

  54. blf says

    UK children not allowed to play outside until two years older than parents’ generation:

    Survey finds most children turn 11 before they can play outside unsupervised

    Primary-age children in Britain are losing the freedom to play independently and typically are not are allowed to play outside on their own until two years older than their parents’ generation were, according to research.

    While their parents were allowed to play outside unsupervised by the age of nine on average, today’s children are 11 by the time they reach the same milestone, according to the study, which says not enough adventurous play could affect children’s long-term physical and mental health.

    One expert said the findings showed that British children had been subject to “a gradual, creeping lockdown over at least a generation”.


    The average age a child was allowed to play outside alone was 10.7 years, while their parents recalled being allowed out before their ninth birthday (8.9 years on average). In line with previous studies, the findings confirm that children play less as they get older.

    “In the largest study of play in Britain, we can clearly see that there is a trend to be protective and to provide less freedom for our children now than in previous generations,” said Helen Dodd, a professor of child psychology at the University of Reading, who led the study.

    “The concerns we have from this report are twofold. First, we are seeing children getting towards the end of their primary school years without having had enough opportunities to develop their ability to assess and manage risk independently. Second, if children are getting less time to play outdoors in an adventurous way, this may have an impact on their mental health and overall wellbeing.”


    Whilst indisputably not born in the States, I mostly grew up and was educated there. As far as I can now recall, I was allowed to play “unsupervised” from a fairly young age. Once incident I do recall was learning to ride a bicycle. My father had fitted “training wheels” (albeit deliberately non-level, so as to encourage me to learn to balance), and one afternoon, I was talked into letting a slightly older child remove the training wheels. Perhaps not a good idea, as the path to our garage (driveway) was up a steep hill. The wheels were removed at the top, I climbed abroad, and shot downhill into the street barely under control. I managed to turn and continued down the street for some distance at speed. I recall falling over on my side at the end, but don’t recall now if I crashed or managed to break / slowdown beforehand; as far as I can recall, I wasn’t (seriously) hurt.

    My parents were not amused, but did, to their credit, acknowledge I probably was ready to try riding without the training wheels. Dad then bought a nice bicycle so he could go out on rides with me; I later rode that bicycle for some years and eventually took it to University (where it was, unfortunately, stolen).

  55. says

    MarketWatch – “Ted Nugent tests positive for COVID-19: ‘I thought I was dying’”:

    “So I was officially tested positive for COVID-19 today.” — Ted Nugent

    That was singer Ted Nugent, 72, who has called COVID-19 “not a real pandemic” as well as a “scammy pandemic,” revealing in a Facebook Live post on Monday that he now has the virus.

    “Everybody told me that I should not announce this, but I have had flu symptoms for the past 10 days. I thought I was dying,” he says in the almost nine-minute video. “Just a clusterf—.”

    The “Just What the Doctor Ordered” singer describes suffering symptoms such as “body aches” and “a stuffed-up head.”

    “My god, what a pain in the ass. I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days,” he says.

    Yet Nugent said that he still won’t get one of the available COVID-19 vaccines because “nobody knows what’s in it,” even though half of American adults have safely received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, which has proven to be highly effective in containing the spread of the virus in some countries. [Also, people know what’s in it.]

    His name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday morning — just a week after he went viral for appearing to be confused about what “COVID-19” actually means.

    While complaining about the yearlong pandemic canceling his tour for a second time, he asked in another Facebook Live video, “Why weren’t we shut down for COVID 1-18?”…

  56. blf says

    A touching opinion column in the Grauniad, The world is changing for same-sex parents — and this week I made history:

    My unborn child doesn’t have a name yet, but she has already had her very first court hearing. On Monday, my partner, E, and I made (minor) history when we became the first couple in New York to be granted a pre-birth parentage order under a new suite of laws protecting same-sex families. Because of the pandemic, we had our court hearing virtually, meaning I officially became a mother on Microsoft Teams. Just like I’d always dreamed I would! You know how babies born on planes sometimes get free plane tickets for life? Well, I think I deserve at least a lifetime subscription to Microsoft Office.

    You may be wondering what exactly a pre-birth parentage order is. The situation is this: E is giving birth in a few weeks to a baby we planned to have. After long discussions along the lines of “your womb or mine?”, we decided she would be the one to carry. We picked out a sperm donor together. We paid for the (very expensive) sperm and multiple rounds of artificial insemination together. We went to doctor’s appointments together. We brainstormed names — and have so far failed to decide on one — together. The baby may not be genetically mine but, in our hearts and minds, we are equal parents to She Who Has Yet to Be Named. In the eyes of the law, however, it’s more complicated. We can both be listed as parents on the birth certificate but, as the nongestational mum, my rights aren’t 100% clear.

    Until very recently, lesbian parents in New York had to go through a second parent adoption in order to secure more legal recognition for the non-birth mother. That’s a gruelling process: it can take a year and cost thousands in legal fees. It’s also incredibly invasive: you have to list everywhere you’ve lived in the past 28 years, provide fingerprints for a background check, have a home visit from a social worker and more. You also can’t start the adoption process until the baby is born, meaning you can be stuck in legal limbo if a medical emergency happens during childbirth. Extremely luckily for us, however, a new law came into effect in February streamlining this process. All you need to do now is get several documents notarised and appear before a judge; you can do all this before the baby is born — although it took about 57 phone calls to different people in the court system until we established this to be the case.

    […] Alas, not everyone has it so easy. The EU court of justice is deliberating over the case of a child born to Bulgarian and British lesbian mothers in Spain: the baby is at risk of being stateless because same-sex relationships are not legally recognised in Bulgaria and the child isn’t able to obtain British citizenship from the other mother. […]

    The column does not explain why that child wouldn’t be Spanish (location of birth), nor why the child “isn’t” British (citizenship of a parent (possibly non-biological, but so teh feck what?)). Bulgaria is just being arseholes.

    The hearing in which I was permitted parentage of my unborn kid lasted under 10 minutes, but was a very long time in the making. When I first came out, almost 20 years ago, the Netherlands was the only place in the world where same-sex marriage was legal. Now, I’m able to marry the person I love in our respective home countries of the UK and US — and have our child legally recognised as belonging to both of us. I don’t take any of that for granted. Love may make a family, but legal recognition makes having a family a hell of a lot easier.

  57. blf says

    Great ! If this is the case, I’m not at much risk of dementia, but probably am at risk of undementia (excessive pedantrypenguin?), Middle-aged people who sleep six hours or less at greater risk of dementia, study finds:

    UCL data of 10,000 volunteers shows cases 30% higher among those who slept poorly in their 50s, 60s and 70s

    People who regularly sleep for six hours or less each night in middle age are more likely to develop dementia than those who routinely manage seven hours, according to a major study into the disease.

    Researchers found a 30% greater risk of dementia in those who during their 50s, 60s and 70s consistently had a short night’s sleep, regardless of other risk factors such as heart and metabolic conditions and poor mental health.

    The study does not prove that sleeping too little causes dementia, since sleep loss itself may be one of the earliest symptoms of the disease. But some scientists believe the results bolster evidence that persistent poor sleep may at least contribute to the neurodegenerative disease.

    Researchers do not know whether improving sleep can reduce the risk of dementia, but sleep is known to clear toxic waste from the brain. One hypothesis is that when people sleep less, this process becomes impaired.


    While smoking, heavy drinking and obesity are risk factors for dementia, the chances of developing the disease rise steeply with age. Dementia is estimated to affect one in 14 over-65s and one in six people aged over 80. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia doubles roughly every five years above the age of 65.

    The first pathological changes that lead to dementia occur one to two decades before the disease becomes obvious, as sticky proteins called amyloid and tau build up in the brain. When the […] study [started in 1985 and] first assessed the sleep of volunteers who later developed dementia, this process had probably not started. This meant that if they were sleeping too little, it was unlikely to have been caused by dementia-related brain changes.

    “It strengthens the evidence that poor sleep in middle age could cause or worsen dementia in later life,” said Dr Liz Coulthard, a consultant senior lecturer in dementia neurology at Bristol University, who was not involved in the study. […]

    The article is at pains to point out that poor sleep may be a symptom rather than a part of the cause: “Robert Howard, professor of old age psychiatry at UCL, said: ‘We know that the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease appear in the brain 20 years before detectable cognitive impairment, so it is always possible that poor sleep might be a very early symptom of the condition, rather than a treatable risk factor.'”

  58. says

    Follow-up to comment 69.

    GOP arguments against DC statehood get a little worse

    Republicans have had plenty of time to come up with their best arguments against D.C. statehood. They just can’t seem to come up with anything compelling.

    The Democratic-led House is expected to vote this week on the “Washington, D.C. Admission Act” (H.R. 51), which would welcome D.C. as the nation’s 51st state. The plan entails carving out a new federal district — limited to the National Mall, to the west of Capitol Hill — where there are no residents, while making the rest of D.C. a state.

    Republican opponents are apparently still working on their talking points. Here, for example, was Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) making her case this morning:

    “D.C. wouldn’t even qualify as a singular congressional district and here they are, they want the power and the authority of being an entire state in the United States — and they want that power.”

    At face value, this argument may appear vaguely persuasive. The average population of a U.S. congressional district — not a whole state, just a district — is over 700,000 residents, and D.C.’s population is a little shy of that total.

    The trouble is, two states — Wyoming and Vermont — have fewer people than D.C. By Mace’s reasoning, those states “wouldn’t even qualify as a singular congressional district,” either. The fact that the South Carolina congresswoman was standing a few feet from House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney — Wyoming’s sole representative in the House — made the circumstances a bit more ironic.

    […] Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) noted that D.C. doesn’t have any mining, which is true, but irrelevant. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) insisted that D.C. would be the only state “without a car dealership.” In addition to being irrelevant, this one isn’t even true.

    The Heritage Foundation’s Zack Smith, a witness Republicans invited to testify at the hearing, argued that congressional representation for these 700,000 American taxpayers is unnecessary because local residents “already impact the national debate” — because members of Congress see their yard signs while driving to Capitol Hill. He did not appear to be kidding.

    After the hearing, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) thought it’d be a good idea to argue via Twitter, “The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state.” That’s very likely true, but the Founding Fathers, among other things, also didn’t intend for there to be two Dakotas — 19th-century Republicans created two states out of the Dakota Territory in order to have extra U.S. senators […]

    Not only are these hundreds of thousands of Americans being denied representation in Congress, but the issue took on considerably greater importance during the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 — because the federal government controls the D.C. National Guard. It meant local elected officials, unlike every governor in the country, were powerless as radicalized rioters launched an attack.

    It’s partly why the White House issued an official Statement of Administration Policy this morning, expressing President Joe Biden’s “strong support” for the pending legislation. While Barack Obama also supported D.C. statehood during his time in office, this was reportedly the first time any White House has given its official, written support for the D.C. statehood effort.

    The bill is expected to pass the House this week, before heading to the divided Senate. Democratic leaders have vowed to hold a vote, but overcoming a Republican filibuster will likely be impossible.

    Postscript: For the record, it wasn’t that long ago when Republicans felt differently about this issue. As the Washington Post recently noted, “Both conservative icon Barry Goldwater and former president Richard M. Nixon favored D.C. statehood. The 1972 and 1976 Republican Party platforms endorsed voting rights for Washington in the House and Senate. […]

  59. says

    Associated Press:

    Montana’s Republican-led state government has ended same-day voter registration and changed the state’s voter-ID law to exclude student ID cards. The new restrictions were signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) yesterday.

  60. says

    CNN – “A year before the Indianapolis FedEx mass shooting, the gunman browsed White supremacist websites, police say”:

    The gunman in an Indianapolis shooting that left eight people dead at a FedEx facility browsed White supremacist websites a little over a year before the attack, police said.

    In March 2020, the mother of gunman Brandon Hole contacted police because she was worried about his behavior after he purchased a gun, according to recently released details from Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD). She told police he told her “he was going to point a recently purchased shotgun at police officers so they would shoot him.” And when police went to their home, they observed he had visited White supremacist websites, the report said.

    In an attack that lasted only a matter of minutes, Hole opened fired at the facility near Indianapolis’ main airport before taking his own life Thursday night. Of the eight people killed in the violence, four were members of the area’s Sikh community, Maninder Singh Walia, a member of the Sikh community in Indianapolis, told CNN on Friday.

    The attack marks at least the 50th mass shooting — defined as four or more casualties excluding the shooter — since the Atlanta-area spa shootings March 16. It was the US’s deadliest shooting since 10 people were killed March 22 at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

    The case has also raised concerns over access to guns, as Hole had his gun seized in the 2020 incident.
    After his mother told officers on March 3 that she feared for her safety after her son purchased a gun a day earlier, the IMPD detained Hole, seized the gun, put him on an immediate mental health temporary hold and then transported him to a local hospital for evaluation, the police report said.

    Despite the temporary mental health hold in March, Hole was able to legally purchase assault rifles in July and September 2020, Indianapolis police said.

    The case “illustrates the limitations” of state law, The Marion County, Indiana, Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Monday.

    On Friday night, Indianapolis police released the names of the eight deceased victims. They were Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

    Four individuals remained hospitalized Monday with injuries sustained in the attack, FedEx said.
    While the shooter’s motive isn’t yet known, “he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence,” said Satjeet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh Coalition.

    As of late Sunday night, a verified GoFundMe campaign for the families of the victims set up by the National Compassion Fund has raised more than $1 million, with FedEx donating $1 million.

    The fund said 100% of the donations “will go to the families and those affected by the tragedy.”

    More atl.

  61. blf says

    Lynna@73, “[T]he federal government controls the DC National Guard. It meant local elected officials, unlike every governor in the country, were powerless as radicalized rioters[insurrectionists] launched an attack.”

    Indeed. I recall making, or at least trying to make, that point (albeit perhaps not as simply) at the time, and then getting lectured on how individual state governors control the National Guard — completely missing the point.

  62. says

    […] At this point, 1.1% of people in India have tested positive for COVID-19. The relatively low level of testing—193 tests per 1,000 people puts India 115th in terms of testing per capita—and the 6% rate of positive tests indicate that a real number is likely considerably higher. Even so, India ranks 121 out of 195 nations when it comes to the rate of COVID-19 infections per capita. It’s got a better rate than nations like Norway or Greece that have been held up as exemplars of nations that have taken proper actions and handled the pandemic well.

    So why worry about India? There are four reasons:
    1. In the last month, the daily count of new cases in India is up by 1,500%.

    2. That rise coincides with a new “double mutant” variant.

    3. India has just 0.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people.

    4. India’s population is nearly 1.4 billion.

    At a current 7-day moving average of 232,000 cases per day, the number of new cases in India is currently just under the 250,000 cases a day that the United States experienced for about a week in January.

    […] When it comes to vaccination rates, India is badly lagging. Not only has only 8% of the population been vaccinated, the current rate of vaccination means that it’s unlikely to reach 70% until somewhere around the end of the year. Add that to the relatively existing low percentage of people who have had COVID-19 in India, and the nation stands as a potential pool of over a billion people with a population a dozen times that of the United States.

    […] If, in the next eight months, India were to see the same kind of growth the United States did over the course of 2020, the number of people infected would be 136 million. […] And if India were to see the same kind of death rates seen in the United States, its death toll could easy approach the 3 million now dead worldwide.

    India alone, right now, stands on the brink of an epidemic that could match the scale of the entire global pandemic to date. And that’s without taking into account that 0.5 hospital beds per person. If India were to see case fatality rates like those in Mexico—which has twice the hospital beds per capita—reaching just 10% of the population infected would see over 13 million dead.

    India at this moment represents a unique and massive challenge to global health. As AlJazeera reports, the B.1.617 variant now becoming dominant in India carries a pair of mutations that have been seen separately in variants elsewhere. It has both the E484Q and the L452R changes to the spike proteins. Both of these are thought to make it more evasive of current vaccines and more capable of reinfecting those already infected by past variants of COVID-19.

    A failure to address the rapidly growing case count in India doesn’t just stand ready to create an incredible tragedy for that nation, it threatens to provide the world with a new burst of variants that starts from a base that’s already among the most evasive to current vaccines. India could have more cases, more deaths, and more variants than everywhere else in the world combined, and it could have them incredibly quickly, unless the world—definitely including the United States—moves swiftly to provide additional support in dealing with a crisis there that is threatening to spiral out of control.

    […] A weary world that’s eager to put this pandemic to bed, may find that the greatest crisis is actually only now at hand. And it had better lend that hand now, while it’s still possible.


  63. says

    @#77, Lynna:

    But of course Biden is still backing patent protection for vaccines, which remains the biggest obstacle for mass vaccinations worldwide. Sort of like how they are still backing the Dakota Access Pipeline — we want to save the world, but definitely not if the very rich can’t turn a profit off of it! We’d literally rather die instead!

  64. says

    In restraining our physical desires, Muslims, in monk-like fashion, flex our muscles of self-control in the hope of developing a greater mastery over our beastial nature, allowing our angelic nature to rise.”

    I couldn’t hate this sentence more if I tried. In refraining from reading the article at the link, I, in compassionate fashion, flex my muscles of self-control in the hope of showing solidarity with my animal kin, allowing my rejection of religious claptrap to rise.

  65. says

    What Maxine Waters actually said about the Chauvin trial

    She didn’t tell anyone to riot.

    […] While attending a protest in Minneapolis on Saturday, the longtime Congress member and chair of the House Committee on Financial Services said she thought Chauvin needed to be convicted of murder and urged protesters to “get more confrontational.”

    These comments received enormous attention in conservative media — with critics distorting Waters’s comments to claim she had encouraged protesters to riot if they didn’t like the verdict. (Waters’s actual comments fell far short of that, and she insisted in a subsequent interview that she was “nonviolent.”)

    […] “I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction, and talk about being ‘confrontational,’” said Judge Cahill. “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch.”

    Cahill denied the mistrial request, saying the jury had been told to avoid media coverage and he didn’t think jury members would be prejudiced about Waters’s comments. He also opined that “a congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.” […]

    Those on the right have exaggerated, distorted, and opportunistically spotlighted Waters’s remarks. She didn’t tell anyone to riot. However, the larger context here is that Waters has long believed, as have many on the left, that comfortable, privileged Americans are too willing to turn a blind eye to violence against Black people and other marginalized communities — and riots are, if not justified, at least an understandable response.

    Moderates and conservatives, meanwhile, have long argued that some on the left have been reluctant to fully condemn or work to prevent unrest that can result in death, injury, or financial ruin. This decades-old discourse was revived amid the unrest that followed Floyd’s killing in May 2020 […]

    What Waters actually said:

    While attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis Saturday night, Waters responded to questions about the unfolding trial. She repeatedly said that protesters should “stay in the street” and “fight for justice.” She said that she was looking for a guilty verdict for Chauvin — and for murder, not merely the lesser charge of manslaughter. And then, asked again what protesters should do, she said the following:

    “Well, we’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

    Video of her remarks went viral, particularly among conservatives, who asserted that Waters was urging protesters to riot if Chauvin was not convicted of murder. “Maxine Waters is inciting violence in Minneapolis,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted.

    The “incitement” accusation is vastly overstated. Waters wasn’t addressing or directing a crowd in a speech, she was speaking off the cuff to questioners, and her comments only went so viral because conservatives made them viral.

    And while Waters made clear she wanted a guilty verdict, it’s not clear that her advice for protesters was meant to be contingent on a “not guilty” verdict. One questioner used that framing, but Waters said she couldn’t hear him, and her eventual answer was to the broader question of “what should protesters do?”

    As for the accusation that Waters was urging violence or riots, that hinges on her use of the phrase “get more confrontational.” In a subsequent interview with theGrio, Waters said she was absolutely not endorsing violence, saying, “I am nonviolent.” When she used the word “confrontational,” she said, she was talking “about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that’s going on, I’m talking about speaking up.” And, asked by CNN’s Manu Raju if she stood by the word “confrontational,” Waters answered, “The whole civil rights movement is confrontational.”

    […] Most politicians have tended to speak out against such violence [against rioting and against property damage], with many Democrats viewing it as obviously politically counterproductive to demonstrators’ aims (or, perhaps, to their own political fortunes). “Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” Joe Biden tweeted days after Floyd’s killing last May. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not.”

    […] There has been a strain of thinking on the left that riots motivated by racial injustice are “the language of the unheard,” to quote Martin Luther King Jr. — and that understanding and sympathy, rather than condemnation, are called for. And Waters has long held this belief.

    […] Waters’s core view that many in the US are too comfortably willing to excuse injustice against marginalized people, and that more aggressive protest tactics are often needed as a result, surfaced again in 2018. During the controversies over the Trump administration’s family separation policy, Waters again endorsed public (nonviolent) confrontation of Trump Cabinet officials, and a very similar cycle of controversy to the current one ensued.

    “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them,” Waters said at a rally that year. […]

    The stakes in 2018 — about whether Trump officials could eat in DC restaurants without getting yelled at — were pretty low. But people can and do get killed and badly injured in riots, and property damage that big corporations can shrug off can ruin small business owners.[…]

    Beyond the point about unrest, others have objected to Waters’s insistence that only one outcome in the trial […] the criticism is that such statements from public officials in particular jeopardize the right to a fair trial and risk interfering with that trial — the latter of which is a criticism Democrats often made of Trump as he opined on his associates’ trials during his presidency.

    And as for Judge Cahill’s hope that politicians would “stop talking” about what the verdict should be? President Joe Biden subsequently said Tuesday that he was “praying” for “the right verdict” and that he thought the evidence was “overwhelming.”

  66. says


    BREAKING: Derek Chauvin has been convicted of the murder of George Floyd.

    For the first time in Minnesota state history, a white police officer has been held accountable for killing a Black man.

    While today’s verdict is a small win for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed George to be murdered — ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much — remain fully intact.

    George Floyd will never again play games with his daughter, Gianna.

    He’ll never go on walks through the park with his fiancée, Courteney.

    He will never play basketball with his brother, Philonise.

    True justice would mean George Floyd was never killed in the first place.

    This racist system of policing also resulted in the killing of Daunte Wright by police less than 10 miles from this trial.

    And it will continue taking lives by police violence and incarceration until we overhaul it entirely.

    George Floyd should not have died under an officer’s knee — he should still be alive today.

    So should Daunte Wright, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people killed by police.

    True justice for George Floyd means renewing our conviction to create a world where police do not have the opportunity to use violence to target Black people.

    We must ensure police are not the only resort for addressing harm.

    We must remove police from low-level enforcement of offenses that shouldn’t be criminalized.

    We must divert funding from policing and towards community-based services.

    We deserve to be truly safe.

  67. says

    Guardian – “Top Navalny aides arrested in run-up to mass protests”:

    Russian police have arrested key supporters of Alexei Navalny and begun closing down central squares in Moscow and other cities before demonstrations planned for Wednesday evening in support of the jailed opposition leader.

    One of Navalny’s top aides, Lyubov Sobol, was dragged from a taxi by uniformed police on Wednesday morning, her lawyer said. A press aide to Navalny, Kira Yarmysh, was also arrested by police outside her apartment.

    The Kremlin critic’s regional headquarters have also been raided as police seek to disrupt, and eventually liquidate, his political organisation across Russia.

    The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, who put down mass protests stemming from fraudulent elections last year, is expected to arrive in Moscow on Thursday to meet Putin. The Federation Council, the Russian law-making body that approves foreign policy initiatives, plans to convene on Friday.

    Many in Belarus would see greater integration with Russia as a loss of the country’s sovereignty. Video from the capital, Minsk, on Wednesday showed riot police in the city centre, despite the lack of large protests planned . Meanwhile, in Russia, pro-Navalny demonstrations have been called in more than 100 cities, with the largest expected in Moscow and St Petersburg….

  68. says

    I forgot to include this in my podcast recommendations @ #49:

    Guardian Today in Focus – “What is really behind the riots in Northern Ireland?”:

    The Guardian’s Rory Carroll talks to Anushka Asthana about the recent eruption of violence in Northern Ireland that began at the end of March, triggered, Rory says, by the decision of the police and prosecutors not to arrest or charge anyone who attended the funeral of a former IRA commander Bobby Storey last summer. According to loyalists, the police are now biased towards Sinn Féin.

    It is part of a loyalist narrative, Rory tells Anushka, that set in after the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Instead of a settlement, a new dawn, Sinn Féin and its allies used the agreement to chip away at Northern Ireland, removing royal symbols, removing the union jack from Belfast city hall and erecting Irish-language signs. Brexit has further increased the tensions. Loyalists believe the DUP let Boris Johnson weaken Northern Ireland’s link to the UK in order to clinch a deal.

  69. says

    Here’s a link to the April 21 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The leisure and hospitality industry in the US was hit the hardest by the coronavirus, with overall employment in the industry falling by 23%, roughly 4m jobs. It has also been the slowest industry to start recovering from initial job losses when the pandemic first hit the US.

    And after more than a year, many workers in the industry remain jobless and unsure if they will be offered their jobs back. Those workers have, however, been cheered by some recent good news.

    In California, workers and unions were successful in pushing through a statewide measure that was signed into law on 16 April, granting rehire rights based on seniority to hospitality workers throughout the state.

    “It’s historic,” said Kurt Petersen, president of Unite Here Local 11 which represents workers in California and Arizona. “This is the biggest victory for workers during the pandemic.”

    Marvin Alvarenga, a busser at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California for 11 years, was laid off during the pandemic and is relieved the recall rights legislation passed given the uncertainty and anxiety he’s experienced over the past year, including the loss of his health insurance which his wife relied on as she is currently battling cancer.

    “Luckily, I still have my house but it’s been really tough to make ends meet while not having a job and I haven’t been able to send money to my mom in El Salvador,” said Alvarenga. “I’m really happy this law passed because it gives me and other workers hope we’ll be able to return to our jobs. It’s a lifeline to thousands of hospitality workers going through the same thing I’ve been going through.”

    Similar legislation guaranteeing recall rights for workers in the hospitality industry has been passed in New York City, Philadelphia, New Haven, Honolulu, Minneapolis, Washington and Baltimore.

    From their morning summary:

    India’s authorities scrambled to shore up supplies of medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital, Delhi, as coronavirus stretched medical infrastructure to breaking point. Tuesday marked the seventh day in a row of more than 200,000 new cases being recorded.

    Demonstrators have gathered in Berlin this morning to protest against a law parliament is set to pass giving Germany’s national government power to impose lockdowns on areas with high coronavirus infection rates to curb a third wave of the pandemic.

    The archbishop of Canterbury has called on the UK government to start a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic, saying it should call out “reckless error” and have the power to compel witnesses to attend….

  70. says

    John Burn-Murdoch, FT (via the Guardian liveblog):

    NEW: a deep-dive into the situation in India, where a devastating second wave is overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums, eclipsing global records as it goes…

    250,000 new cases every day, and test positivity is soaring suggesting many are still missed

    To put this into a global context, much has been made of the resurgences in Europe and North America over recent weeks, but India’s wave has accelerated straight past all of them.

    The situation there really is beyond what we’re seeing anywhere else worldwide.

    In many parts of the country including the capital Delhi, cases are doubling every five days. Compared to the steady rise seen in the first wave last year, the current climbs are almost vertical.

    And in many places, test positivity is rising at the same pace. Even as more and more tests are done, the share of them that come back positive is still climbing, suggesting tens of thousands of cases are going undetected.

    All of this is feeding through into a crisis in hospitals beyond what we’ve seen anywhere else in the world over the whole pandemic.

    ICUs are twice as full in Nagpur as they ever got in Lombardy last March. Mumbai’s ICU’s are more full than Liège was in Belgium’s brutal peak.

    The stories on the ground are grim.

    Authorities have taken emergency measures, requiring than any and all oxygen produced anywhere in the state be sent to hospitals as supplies run out.

    With thousands simply unable to find a hospital bed, death tolls are mounting at a similarly rapid pace.

    But a look at this chart shows another issue: although official Covid death counts are rising, the numbers themselves remain incredibly low.

    And I stress in-*credible*

    Essentially, none of those numbers are correct; all are vast undercounts.

    I collated local news reports (HT @muradbanaji) across seven districts, finding that overall, numbers of Covid victims who have been cremated are 10x larger than official Covid death counts in same areas.

    If applied nationally, that would mean that instead of 1,700 deaths per day, India is currently seeing 17,000.

    And as more reports come in, that undercounting estimate has been rising, so the true toll may be higher still.

    Read our full story here with @b_parkyn @jyots43 @SJFindlay @AnnaSophieGross for more, including the debate over the role of the new variant B.1.617 in driving the surge…

    Graphs and FT link atl.

  71. says

    Merrick Garland is announcing that the DoJ is opening a civil pattern/practice investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. (This is separate from the criminal investigation into George Floyd’s death.)

  72. says

    Guardian – “‘The system has collapsed’: India’s descent into Covid hell”:

    Looking out over a sea of jostling, maskless faces gathered at a political rally in West Bengal on Saturday, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, proudly proclaimed that he had “never ever seen such huge crowds”. A mask was also noticeably absent from Modi’s face.

    That same day, India registered a record-breaking 234,000 new coronavirus cases and 1,341 deaths – and the numbers have kept rising since.

    The country has descended into a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. Almost 1.6 million cases have been registered in a week, bringing total cases to more than 15 million. In the space of just 12 days, the Covid positivity rate doubled to 17%, while in Delhi it hit 30%. Hospitals across the country have filled to capacity but this time it is predominately the young taking up the beds; in Delhi, 65% of cases are under 40 years old.

    While the unprecedented spread of the virus has been partly blamed on a more contagious variant that has emerged in India, Modi’s government has also been accused of failures of political leadership from the top, with lax attitudes emulated by state and local leaders from all parties and even health officials across the country, which led many to falsely believe in recent months that India had defeated Covid.

    “Leadership across the country did not adequately convey that this was an epidemic which had not gone away,” said K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

    “Victory was declared prematurely and that ebullient mood was communicated across the country, especially by politicians who wanted to get the economy going and wanted to get back to campaigning. And that gave the virus the chance to rise again.”

    In West Bengal, where Modi’s government has refused to curtail the drawn-out state elections that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to win, Modi and his home minister, Amit Shah, continued their public meetings and roadshows into this week even as queues of ambulances lined up outside hospitals across India. On Saturday, the same day as Modi’s rally, the state registered 7,713 new cases – the highest since the pandemic began. Three candidates running in the election have died from the virus. By Sunday, #ModiMadeDisaster began trending on Twitter.

    Doctors on the frontline broke down, speaking of the deluge of dying Covid patients they had been unable to treat due to a lack of beds and inadequate state and central government preparation.

    States such a Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh stand accused of covering up the true death toll from coronavirus, with the numbers of bodies stacking up in hospital morgues far outnumbering official fatality figures….

    Twitter and Facebook have become a devastating catalogue of hundreds of thousands of urgent pleas for help finding hospital beds, oxygen, plasma and remdesivir, the drug experimentally used to help treat Covid patients, which remains in short supply in hospitals across the country.

    The dead, meanwhile, have continued to overload crematoriums and graveyards in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi faster than they could be burned, and families waited days to cremate their loved ones….

    An edict from the government ruled that all oxygen meant for industrial use would now be diverted to hospitals to meet the unprecedented demand, and Indian railways said they were all set to operate special trains specially designed to carry liquid oxygen and oxygen cylinders, dubbed the “Oxygen Express”. Thousands of Covid beds have also been arranged in train carriages.

    Still, many fear that it is too little, too late. “The seriousness of the situation should have been realised months ago but instead governments were in denial and gave out messages that the virus was not that dangerous any more,” said Thadhani. “I’m worried that we still have not seen the worst.”

  73. says

    Ari Berman:

    Arizona House just passed bill #SB1485 to purge over 100,000 voters from state’s Permanent Early Voting List, which will no longer be permanent. They will no longer automatically receive a mail ballot. Republicans silenced Dems who objected & refused to allow full debate

    Arizona Republicans rolling back voting rights after Latino turnout increased by 5 points & Native American turnout by 8 points in 2020

    Attention @SenatorSinema: this directly impacts voters who elected you to Senate

  74. says

    Reuters – “Myanmar activists hold ‘blue shirt’ protests; report says junta chief to attend summit”:

    Myanmar anti-coup activists launched protests on Wednesday calling for the release of detained prisoners, as junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing was reported to be planning to attend a regional summit to discuss the crisis in the country.

    Saturday’s summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would be its first since the coup in Myanmar on Feb. 1 and a test of how the traditionally consensual organisation will respond.

    The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group, says 738 people have been killed by Myanmar’s security forces since the coup and 3,300 people are in detention. Another 20 people have been sentenced to death and are in hiding.

    On Wednesday, people shared photos on social media wearing blue shirts and holding up a hand with the name of an arrested person written on it.

    The shirts are a tribute to pro-democracy activist Win Tin who was imprisoned by the military for 19 years and died on April 21, 2014. After his release, he pledged to wear a blue shirt until all political prisoners were freed.

    “Please raise your voice and demand the release of all the people who are being unfairly detained under the junta government,” protest leader Ei Thinzar Maung said on Facebook.

    Mynamar’s home affairs ministry has declared the NUG [see #53 above] unlawful, but the NUG says it is the legitimate authority in Myanmar and has requested international recognition and an invitation to the Jakarta meeting.

    A grouping of ASEAN lawmakers also said the NUG should be invited.

    “ASEAN cannot adequately discuss the situation in Myanmar without hearing from and speaking to the National Unity Government,” ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights said in a statement.

    On the invitation to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, it said: “ASEAN must make it abundantly clear that he is not there as a representative of the Myanmar people…”

    Human Rights Watch said the 10-member bloc should immediately withdraw the invitation to the junta’s leader.

    “Min Aung Hlaing, who faces international sanctions for his role in military atrocities and the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, should not be welcomed at an intergovernmental gathering to address a crisis he created,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

  75. says

    Josh Marshall at TPM – “Among the Vaccine Hesitant”:

    …When I see polls of the vaccine hesitant I’m really much interested in these breakdowns because the strategies you would use to vaccinate the vaccine hesitant in the African-American community are quite different from the more current and deeply ideological opposition of white evangelical Trumpers. (The highest resistance is among white Republicans and particularly white evangelical Republicans.) The focus group discussed in this Washington Post article suggests a Trumpite ‘hesitancy’ which is refusal looking for a rationale. The biggest explanation given in the most recent was the Pfizer CEO’s recent statement that booster shots will likely be necessary. Again a ‘hesitancy’ looking for clinical rationales rather than one based on them.

    People who are worried about side effects, unknown health risks or false rumors they’ve heard on social media can likely be convinced in many cases with time, public education and reassurance from trusted community leaders. But among Trump supporters the opposition seems primarily based on ideological commitments unrelated to safety: a generalized refusal to believe that COVID was ever that big a deal and opposition to anything that comes from sectors of society they generally view as enemies, the scientific establishment, the highly educated, COVID hawks generally. The lede of the WaPo article describes the message of the hesitant like this. “Stop talking about the possibility of coronavirus booster shots. Don’t bully people who are vaccine holdouts. And if you’re trying to win over skeptics, show us anyone besides Dr. Fauci.”

    In other words, on the Trump right, vaccines are the new masks.

  76. says

    SC @101, yeah, Tucker Carlson is ranting about “this current insanity” after Derek Chauvin was pronounced guilty. Tucker also claimed that “decent people will leave this country.” I assume he means himself. Is Tucker threatening to leave the USA? Hope so. However, I’m not sure what other country I would send him to if there was a choice. Maybe Putin would welcome him?

  77. says

    Bits and pieces of news.

    * House Republicans will be attending a retreat in Orlando next week, and according to House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the focus will be on “the substance and the policy of conservatism.” Asked if Donald Trump would be part of the event, Cheney told reporters yesterday, “I haven’t invited him.” [LOL]

    * Following a tense committee exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) yesterday, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) was pressed on MSNBC today about a possible U.S. Senate campaign in Florida next year. “What I can tell you is I am going to continue to do what I have tried to do in every position I have had,” the Florida congresswoman replied, “which is to remember my oath and fulfill our most important mission, and that is the protection of the American people, and I am going to continue to do that — regardless of the title that I hold.”

    * The New York Times pointed to an interesting observation related to money in politics: “A dozen megadonors and their spouses contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups since 2009, accounting for nearly one out of every 13 dollars raised, according to a new report.”

    * An unspecified number of employees at Simon & Schuster, one of the nation’s largest publishers, circulated a petition in the hopes that the company would not proceed with a book deal for former Vice President Mike Pence. Simon & Schuster Chief Executive Jonathan Karp announced yesterday that the project is moving forward, employees’ objections notwithstanding.


  78. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @109: The claim of “decent people will leave this country” in response to “this action” or “that action” is and always has been a ruse. Carlson would never leave the US because he is making way too much money spouting his bullshit and his faithful followers would rather stay here and make life miserable for people they don’t like. And NONE of them are “decent people”. If Carlson and his ilk WOULD leave the country for destinations unknown, the US would be a much better place for the rest of us.

  79. says

    What We Know About The Police Killing Of A Black Teen In Columbus Tuesday

    The city of Columbus, Ohio has been gripped by protests after a police killing of a Black girl was reported within 20 minutes of the Derek Chauvin verdict being announced in Minneapolis on Tuesday.

    Local press have identified the teen killed as Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16 year old, citing local government and the teen’s mother.

    Paula Bryant tells me her 16 year-old daughter Ma’Khia Bryant was an honor roll student and a sweet child. Ma’Khia was shot and killed by a @ColumbusPolice on Legion Lane at 4:30p today.

    […] WBNS-TV, a Columbus TV station, cited Paula Bryant and another family member as saying that Ma’Khia Bryant had called the police to help stop a fight outside her house.

    The police said at a Tuesday evening press conference that the caller hung up before identifying themselves and that they had not yet been able to establish the person’s identity.

    Police offered a timeline of the incident. Columbus police said that a 9-1-1 call was made at 4:35 p.m. A caller said that a female was trying to stab people, according to police.

    Body cam footage shown by Columbus police on Tuesday evening and recorded by local reporters appears to show officers arriving at a house in a squad car. Police officials said that officers responded at 4:45 p.m.

    A group of people are standing outside and, as an officer approaches and asks “what’s going on,” two of those gathered appear to tumble over each other.

    The victim begins to run away from the officer towards another woman. The officer draws his firearm and fires at her, and she collapses. The video begins with the officer exiting his car; around 10 seconds elapse between the start of the video and the point at which the officer shoots.

    “She’s a fucking kid, man!” one bystander screamed immediately after the shooting, according to the body cam footage.

    Police said that the victim, subsequently identified as Bryant, was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m.

    Facebook video taken by a local resident appears to show a police officer yelling “Blue Lives Matter” as a group of onlookers discusses the shooting. The person videotaping replies angrily, while another person at the scene describes it as “an insult.”

    It’s not clear whether the teen was armed. Police have suggested she was, but Bryant’s aunt told The Dispatch that her niece had dropped the knife by the time of the shooting.

    Protestors began to gather at the site of the shooting on Tuesday evening. Video from the scene shows protestors gathering and decrying the use of lethal force in the incident. […]

  80. says

    Follow-up to comment 112.

    Posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Yes. I did not hear “drop your weapon” nor “put your hands up” nor STOP!
    The officer instead pulled his gun & yelled “get down” as he shot & killed a child.
    The craziest part is the kid he killed called for the police to come.
    There’s no reason to shoot someone in the back! Cops need to stop using lethal force as their go to method.

    Reading the article, the implication seems to be that the officer shot the girl as she was running towards another girl with a weapon (TBD).

    So let’s hear from the other girl. Was she in danger/afraid? Did she see a knife?

    I need more details and, seriously want to know this girl has a freaking knife in the first place.
    The officer literally shot the girl mid-stab. Another second of hesitation and the girl’s target might have suffered a life-threatening knife wound.

    Like all of you, I was sick when I first heard of this incident. Then I saw the tape.

    One thing is consistent here: people no longer trust the descriptions given by police. There are still a lot of questions to be answered here.

    The knife, and the hand wielding the knife being raised to stab someone are visible in the video.

  81. tomh says

    In the wake of the Chauvin verdict, there is renewed interest in the original press release on the response to “a report of a forgery in progress.”

    Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

    Full Press Release

  82. says

    Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to spout obnoxious nonsense:

    Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) responded to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) calling Black Lives Matter “the most powerful domestic terrorists [sic] organization in our county” by demanding that the NRCC return her donation.

    “In her brief time as a Republican star, she has peddled QAnon inspired conspiracies, promoted rhetoric that egged on the insurrection at the United States Capitol, planned a white supremacist caucus in Congress, and tweeted a racist statement in the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict,” the DCCC chair told Politico. “While Democrats are fighting for racial justice, Republicans continue to let Taylor Greene’s disgraceful actions go unpunished.”

    Greene also tweeted that D.C. was “completely dead” Tuesday night due to “fear of riots.” Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty on all charges related to his May 2020 killing of George Floyd, which sparked protests in D.C. and throughout the country last summer. In reality, D.C. had beefed up security in anticipation of a potential acquittal in the Chauvin case […]

    Maloney homed in on Greene’s $175,000 pledged donation to the NRCC, […] “While they continue to dodge questions about Greene’s racist platform, the NRCC has refused to return the $175,000 in campaign cash Greene funneled into their coffers,” a DCCC press release said. […]


  83. says

    200 million doses? Check. Half of adults vaccinated? Double check. Herd immunity? Still not close

    On April 12, the United States hit a record 4.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in a single day. One day later, the rolling seven-day average of vaccinations in the United States hit its peak. Then, after weeks of steady increases that pointed to the U.S. reaching herd immunity over the next two months, the vaccination rate actually started to fall. It’s now down by 10%, and that decline seems to be continuing.

    […] On April 14, data from Civiqs showed that half of American adults remaining unvaccinated said they would not accept the vaccine. In the week since, those saying “No” to the vaccine has moved slightly ahead of those saying “Yes” among the general population. And the biggest reason is that three-quarters of Republicans who have not yet been vaccinated are turning down their chance to get a jab. [chart available at the link]

    […] Assumptions that Republicans would “quietly” accept the vaccine while continuing to spout anti-science views on other topics have proven unfounded.

    […] At this point, expecting Republicans to “do the right thing” out of the spotlight on vaccines is about as reasonable as expecting that they’ll do the right thing on gun safety or protecting democracy. It is not happening, and will not happen without some incentive. [chart available at the link]

    Republican hesitancy is leading not only to disparity in the rates of vaccination among states, but massive imbalances within states. As the Chicago Tribune reports, clinics in deep-red southern Illinois have been able to fill only about 10% of their vaccine appointment slots, despite dropping all requirements. Meanwhile, vaccine demand is still so great in the Chicago area that area clinics cannot meet the demand.

    One big reason is that communities of color are strongly supportive of the vaccine, and anxious to gain immunity against a deadly disease. […] Vaccine demand also remains high in Latino communities. Meanwhile, thanks to that high level of resistance by Republicans, white Americans overall are 2.5 times more likely to turn down vaccination.

    The same dynamic is being seen in Kansas, where KCUR public radio reports that over half of all counties actually “rejected” their allocation of COVID-19 vaccine this week, even though only about a third of residents have been vaccinated. These counties are hitting a plateau of vaccination well below half of adults. Five counties in Kansas haven’t accepted any vaccine for over a month. Vaccine is actually expiring or being wasted because opened vials contain more than a single dose.

    […] With a week to go before his 100th day in office, President Joe Biden has met the steep goals he set for himself when he came into the White House. More than 200 million doses of vaccine have been administered (213 million and counting). Over half of all adults in the nation have now received at least one dose of vaccine. Those are real accomplishments—huge accomplishments—and they represent turning around a program that was flailing and transforming it into a logistical powerhouse that has mastered providing states with vaccine when promised.

    However, even as this is happening, the United States is still seeing new COVID-19 cases at a rate that matches the highs of the summer spike during 2020. The same goes for the rate of deaths, with the nearly 900 deaths logged on Tuesday being far too typical.

    […]. To achieve herd immunity, the United States needs to vaccinate somewhere between 70% and 90% of the population, where the range of numbers represents different measures of the transmissibility of the many COVID-19 variants. Right now, if every American adult who says they will get vaccinated actually gets the vaccine, the total number vaccinated will hit: 69%.

    […] it’s frightening to see that all the work done to make the vaccine safe, effective, and available is running up against a wall composed of deliberate ignorance and fear. It means that tens of millions of Americans will remain unvaccinated. It means that COVID-19 will never really “go away,” but will become an endemic disease prone to throwing off new variants. […]

    Right now, there are two things that should be done:
    1. Get the vaccine where it’s wanted. There is nothing just, fair, appropriate, or moral about having 90% of vaccine in some areas go unused, while other areas are still having trouble getting enough to meet demand. Delivering more vaccine to communities that are anxious to get a jab will protect more people, more quickly. It’s the right thing to do.

    2. Provide incentives to vaccination. Those incentives can be negative, as in “you can’t board a plane without proof of vaccination.” Or they could be positive, such as providing vaccinated Americans a free pass to national parks. Whatever they are, they will need to be substantial. After all, we’re talking about white people who have already spurned a free Krispy Kreme every day for a year, and that’s a pretty high hurdle.

    President Biden will address the nation today on the subject of vaccines. It’s expected that he will officially announce hitting the 200 million dose target. But hopefully, he will also explain how the nation will go forward with the next 200 million doses.

  84. says

    34 states considering anti-protest bills introduced by Republicans

    Republican lawmakers in 34 states have introduced more than 80 anti-protest bills thus far in the 2021 legislative session […] already more than double the number introduced in any other year.

    […] Among the wave of anti-protest bills is one signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday. Known as the “anti-riot bill,” the measure requires that cities receive state approval before cutting police budgets and makes it a felony to destroy historical structures, including flags and memorials, during protests.

    The law, which goes into effect immediately, also includes a number of other penalties, including increasing the charge for battery on a police officer during a riot to a minimum of six months in jail.

    DeSantis praised the law during a news conference Monday, calling it “the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”

    GOP-controlled legislatures in Oklahoma and Iowa have recently passed bills that seek to grant immunity to drivers who strike or injure protesters with their vehicles in public streets during demonstrations, and a Republican bill in Indiana would prohibit anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from working in a state or local government role.

    In Minnesota, a bill proposed in the state Senate earlier this month would prevent those convicted of an unlawful protest violation from receiving student loans or other forms of financial aid, including unemployment benefits.

    While the measures have secured widespread support from Republicans, Democrats and civil rights advocacy groups argue that the wave of proposals could threaten Americans’ First Amendment rights to free speech and lawful assembly.

    Vera Eidelman, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Times Wednesday that the bills are “consistent with the general trend of legislators’ responding to powerful and persuasive protests by seeking to silence them rather than engaging with the message of the protests.”

  85. says

    Wonkette: “New York Times Real Sad That We Can’t Make Nice With MAGA Thugs Who Want To Destroy Us”

    This week, Nate Cohn at the New York Times suggested that violent rightwing extremism and the demonstrated authoritarian bent within the GOP aren’t exclusively to blame for the fall of American democracy. No, the true problem is that Democrats don’t want to Netflix and chill with unhinged conspiracy theorists.

    The country is increasingly split into camps that don’t just disagree on policy and politics — they see the other as alien, immoral, a threat. Such political sectarianism is now on the march.

    Eric Boehlert pointed out how Cohn “could only find examples of rightwing behavior that threatens our democracy, yet he insisted Both Sides were to blame.” […]

    Cohn is regurgitating conservative rhetoric that buries the larger problem rather than appraising it.

    The first image we see in Cohn’s piece after the headline, “Why Political Sectarianism Is a Growing Threat to American Democracy,” is a photo of MAGA supporters confronting Joe Biden supporters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center as ballots were still being counted after the election. One of President Lost Cause’s supporters is wearing a “Not Today Satan” shirt. We’re presumably supposed to wonder why these fellow Americans are so angry with each other. […]

    almost everyone who voted for Biden wanted to move on, to heal. […] Democrat Pete Buttigieg shared similar sentiments: “If someone you love and care about voted the other way, today might be a good day to reach out. Not to talk politics, but to talk about things that will remind them (and yourself) why you love and care about them.”

    The one-term loser’s supporters spat in our faces. They didn’t congratulate us however insincerely. Instead, they embraced a Big Lie and rejected both democracy and reality. […] a sitting president had refused to concede an election he lost.

    Cohn acknowledges MAGA’s “efforts to subvert the peaceful transition of power,” but laments that “the two political parties see the other as an enemy.” […]

    It’s an outlook that makes compromise impossible and encourages elected officials to violate norms in pursuit of an agenda or an electoral victory. It turns debates over changing voting laws into existential showdowns. And it undermines the willingness of the loser to accept defeat — an essential requirement of a democracy.

    Yes, it is awful that REPUBLICANS keep doing these things. This paragraph reads as if dictated by Mitch McConnell. Republicans attempting to disenfranchise minority voters is literally an existential showdown. Black people aren’t behaving like melodramatic teenagers over white supremacists’ efforts to disenfranchise us. Baseless accusations of voter fraud aren’t policy differences. This was cruel slander.

    Whether religious or political, sectarianism is about two hostile identity groups who not only clash over policy and ideology, but see the other side as alien and immoral. It’s the antagonistic feelings between the groups, more than differences over ideas, that drive sectarian conflict.

    This is blatant whitewashing. White supremacists stormed the Capitol, some of whom were carrying the Confederate flag, and Cohn still can’t describe the “two hostile identity groups” as angry white people and minorities who just want to exist. This “sectarian conflict” isn’t a result of liberals and conservatives disagreeing over marginal tax rates. […]

    Defending his article on Twitter, Cohn accused Democrats of feeling that “Republicans are an immoral, alien enemy.” A self-described “very liberal” white guy agreed with Cohn and claimed Democrats believed Republicans were “evil and subhuman,” which proved Cohn’s point about sectarian hostility. This is what Malcolm X described as the oppressors’ guilt complex. They feel as if you’re calling them “evil and subhuman” if you just accurately describe their actions! […]

    Cohn infantilizes the modern GOP, suggesting they are simply acting out because they are in the minority. But Republicans are just as brutal to us when they’re in power. Cohn also can’t offer examples of Democrats embracing violence or authoritarianism in reaction to the past four years. Democrats nominated Joe Biden for president, and Republicans still refused to accept the election results.

    […] The New York Times might’ve published The 1619 Project, but I wonder if everyone who works there bothered to read it.

  86. blf says

    Both arrggghhhh!!!1! and Yea!!!, France ‘to start easing Covid-19 travel restrictions in May’ — arrggghhhh because whilst R is just below 1, J&J’s vaccine will start to used, and the number of vaccinations is (slowly) creeping up, everything else isn’t so good (ICU occupancy is still notably over 100%, etc), and Yeah because outdoor dining, etc — which is very Very much missed! — will be allowed (albeit it is probably too early, so arrggghhhh):

    France plans to lift travel restrictions and ease a nationwide curfew on May 2 on expectations that daily Covid-19 cases will soon begin falling, but new entry restrictions on travellers from India will be imposed to fight the spread of a contagious coronavirus variant, a government official said.

    President Emmanuel Macron also intends to stick to a goal of allowing restaurants to serve patrons outdoors from mid-May, while also reopening cinemas, theatres and museums with reduced capacity, a source close to the presidency told AFP.

    Non-food businesses will also open their doors mid-May, after Macron announced their closure from April 3 to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections that have again pushed hospitals to the brink.


    Government spokesman Gabriel Attal confirmed Wednesday that France would lift its ban on domestic travel as planned on May 3, but said it would maintain its nighttime curfew, now in place from 7pm to 6am.

    Non-essential shops, closed since the partial lockdown of the country at the beginning of April, won’t reopen before mid-May, he said


    Macron will chair a meeting with top ministers Wednesday to evaluate the government’s efforts to combat the crisis.

    Hopefully they will tell him to stop waffling and put as much people and resources, and encouragements & incentives to get vaccinated, and (increasing?) disincentives for the vaccine-hesitant (a major, major problem here in France; a famous poll end of last year found only c.40% will willing to be vaccinated!). There are other recommendations and issues (and successes) to “evaluate”, but the lackadaisical vaccination campaign — the best known method of ending the pandemic — needs some serious focused attention.

    The prospect of relief from the quasi-lockdown reflects the government’s conviction that the number of daily Covid cases will fall to around 20,000 within a month, the source said. [fantasy? (I have not checked the trends), today‘s total is just over 43,000 cases! –blf]

    Macron is also betting that France will meet its target of vaccinating 20 million people with at least one dose by mid-May, up from 13 million currently. […]

    Fantasy! (Probably.) Vaccination started at the very end of last year, c.15 weeks ago. Only 13m vaccinations(? jabs?); i.e., an average of less than 1m a week. There are 3–4 weeks to “mid-May” (let’s call it 4), and 7m vaccinations(? jabs(probably)?) to meet that rather low target of 20m; i.e., c.2m each week (on average) — double the average to-date. Whilst I’m happy the goal (probably) requires an ever-improving trend in the correct direction, I’m disappointed the goal is so modest, and fairly skeptical even that modest goal will be reached. And it’s a possible example of a missed incentive; e.g., one can only make a reservation for outdoor dining, or work at a restaurant, with proof of a jab (or having a legitimate medical reason preventing vaccination). The willfully unvaccinated can still dine, but no reservations (critical point here is reservations will probably be highly recommended, at least at first)… and no essentially public-facing work.

  87. says


    Woke culture FTW! And by woke culture we mean “treating children with basic human decency and getting the hell out of their underpants and doctors’ offices.” In a season of repeated assaults on the health and safety of trans kids, let’s celebrate the fact that two such bills died yesterday in the Montana and Florida legislatures. […]

    The GOP has decided the best new wedge issue for 2022 is to cancel trans kids. Because the biggest danger to the Republic, after BLM and “Marxism” of course, is this little girl. [video available at the link.]

    This season’s best-dressed bigots are styling themselves as protectors of “the children.” They’re either “helping” trans kids by barring them from receiving medically necessary treatment, even going to so far as to remove them from their homes if their parents accede to doctor’s recommendations to administer gender-affirming care (FOR THE CHILDREN!), or they’re protecting female athletes by barring trans kids from playing on the appropriate team. This requires them to invoke a horde of giant, hairy boys slapping on pink shirts and stealing the mountain of full college scholarships from girl athletes.

    Spoiler alert: Neither one of those things exists.

    As the parent of kids who play league sports in a state that allows for full participation by trans athletes, I can tell you from personal experience that this is not a thing. If approximately 1 person in 250 is transgender, and the average high school has 526 students, we’re talking about two kids. One of them is probably a boy, in which case no one cares. And if the girl wants to participate in college sports, she has to be taking testosterone suppressants to be eligible to play at all under current NCAA rules.

    […] But this is a nicetimes post, so we get to write today that state legislators are finally starting to get the message that this might be bad politics — in addition to being unspeakably bad generally.

    Yesterday in Montana HB 427, a bill to deprive trans kids of healthcare, was indefinitely postponed in the Senate after eight Republicans crossed party lines to oppose it. And it appears that the legislators have grokked that they risk a fight with the Biden Department of Education if they try to exclude trans kids from school sports. […] There’s also concern that the NCAA will make good on its threat to withhold sanctioned events from states that bar trans athletes. Because actions have consequences!

    Florida bigots had high hopes for a bill which would have forced trans girls to undergo hormone therapy for a year before participating in school sports. […]

    SB 2012 empowered any member of the school community to challenge the gender of an athlete, forcing the child to submit to invasive medical testing or genital inspection. It was extremely gross, and the public outcry over it means it’s extremely dead right now.

    As Florida Politics notes, currently a trans student has to attest that their gender identity does not confirm to their birth gender when requesting to play on the appropriate sports team, and only 11 kids in the entire state have done so. Because this is a “problem” which does not exist.

    Republicans are going to keep coming with this bullshit. They’ve already passed anti-trans laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. But clearly they’re getting the message that this isn’t the magic bullet in the culture war that they dreamed it would be.

    Keep shouting, it’s working.

  88. says

    An update on the Biden administration’s climate goals:

    President Biden will announce a goal of cutting U.S. emissions in half by the year 2030 […]

    Biden is expected to announce the updated target under the Paris Agreement in conjunction with both Earth Day and a climate summit that will feature 40 heads of state.

    The announcement follows Biden’s return to the agreement, under which countries are expected to periodically update their interim targets.

    […] The Obama administration had aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 when compared to 2005 levels.

    The administration has said that it will raise ambition with its own target and push other countries to do the same. […] some progressive groups, including those that had been pushing for a 70 percent reduction by 2030, reacted with disappointment at the news.

    “While many will applaud the President’s commitment to cut U.S. emissions by at least half by 2030, we have a responsibility to tell the truth: it is nowhere near enough,” Sunrise Movement Political Director Evan Weber said in a statement. “If the US does not achieve much, much more by the end of this decade, it will be a death sentence for our generation and the billions of people at the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

    Biden will meet with world leaders on Thursday as part of a climate summit, where he and other administration officials are expected to broadly outline their climate goals for the coming years. Other heads of states are likely to offer similarly ambitious goals.

    The United Kingdom on Tuesday announced it would aim to slash its carbon emissions by 78 percent by the year 2035.


  89. blf says

    In perhaps the least-surprising news, Right-Wing Activists Attack Conviction of Derek Chauvin, Engage in Whataboutism:

    […] Right-wing reaction to the verdict was just as one would expect: ugly.

    As protests erupted across the country protesting the death of Floyd and killings of Black Americans last spring, right-wing operative Candace Owens ​cast Floyd ​as a horrible human being​, ​implying that Floyd somehow deserved to be killed. But she didn’t stop there: Owens also criticized the outrage ​expressed over his death as catering to the bottom denominator of our society. So it came as no surprise last night when we learned that she thought the verdict was wrong, telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Tuesday that the verdict was mob justice​.

    No person can say this was a fair trial, ​she added.

    Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis [… bellowed] Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd because the jury was influenced by leftists to make him pay for the sins of white people, collectively.

    [… and on. and on. and so on. and still some more loons…]

    Omar Navarro, who was arrested in 2019 for stalking his ex, DeAnna Lorraine, also blamed Waters for the conviction. George Floyd was a crack head and Chauvin was not guilty. Sad part a bunch of leftist jurors are biased because of people like Maxine Waters, he said on Twitter. Navarro unsuccessfully ran against Waters in 2018 and again in 2020.

    Far-right podcast host Ethan Ralph, who was accused of posting revenge porn of an 18-year-old woman last summer, lashed out at Black Lives Matter. BLM has their knee on the neck of America right now, he claimed on Twitter.

    Scott Morefield of Townhall suggested that the jury chose the verdict they did not because of the video from multiple angles showing Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, but because they felt threatened by protesters.

    [… yet more loons wailing…]

    Gun activist Kaitlin Bennett claimed, There is only institutional racism against whites. There is only police brutality against conservatives and small business owners.


  90. says

    Yeah, like that’s going to work:

    […] So Republicans are working on their counterproposal to Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which will fall somewhere between $600 and $800 billion and will contain the things they would support to pass through regular order. They reject the very popular corporate tax hike in Biden’s plan and instead want to pay for the bill by—get this—punishing people who drive electric vehicles and by taking away any of the unspent state and local assistance they hated in the coronavirus relief bill to spend here.

    They want to tax people who are trying to save the environment […] Biden has ruled out a gas tax hike in part because it is regressive, disproportionately hitting low-income and rural people who don’t have access to public transportation and have to drive. […] Republicans once again are completely missing the mark on this.

    There are 10 Republicans, led by West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, on the effort. They say their proposal could come as early as the end of this week. Capito claims that “lines of communications are open” between Republican senators and they will likely “settle on a conceptual sort of idea” for their proposal this week. She’s also endorsing the plan that Thune rejected last month: bipartisan cooperation on the stuff they can agree on and leaving the rest for Democrats to do by reconciliation.

    “I’m already engaged with Senator Carper on the water bill and also on the highway bill so you know these engagements are not just—they’ve been ongoing, in some areas,” Capito said, referencing the water infrastructure bill under consideration in the Environment and Public Works Committee, with Chair Tom Carper. “So hopefully we can use our committee process to work through that and do it the old fashioned way. Give and take,” Capito said. Good luck with that. A $287 billion, five-year highway bill like she’s talking about passed unanimously out of committee in 2019, but died afterward because Republicans couldn’t come up with a way to pay for it. Finding consensus among Republicans on a way to pay for this could be the largest obstacle to getting even the GOP behind this effort.

    […] Democrat Chris Coons […] is playing along. “Out of the whole, more than $2 trillion worth of things proposed in the jobs and infrastructure plan, that means we would take, let’s say $800 billion of it out, move that in a bipartisan bill, partly paid for with fees. And then several weeks later passed by reconciliation, a Democrat-only bill that would do the rest of that agenda,” Coons told reporters. Never mind getting the fee-based stuff passed by Democrats and in the House. And never mind Republicans like Wicker low-balling the package.

    And never mind that Republicans, spearheaded by Lindsey Graham, are already plotting how they won’t let Democrats pass anything by reconciliation. For now, though, Coons and his magical bipartisan unicorns aren’t the story.

    The story is that Republicans have a glimmer of an idea that they’ve been losing. Sure, Mitch McConnell might bluster on the floor, declaring, “It won’t build back better. It’ll build back never.” But the thing Republican leadership said they absolutely wouldn’t do last month, they’re doing now. When the whole thing crumbles because 10 Republicans can’t agree among themselves, much less get any of the remaining 40 on board, Democrats like Coons and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are going to get the clue. It’s time to cut them out, and time to end the filibuster.


    Best thing you can say about this is that at least Republicans are doing some work. Usually they refuse to work at anything other than propaganda or PR.

  91. says

    Good news:

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) broke Republican ranks on Wednesday to advance the nomination of Vanita Gupta for associate attorney general.

    Murkowski joined all Democratic senators in voting to advance Gupta’s nomination 51-49 toward a final vote, which is expected to take place later Wednesday.

    Murkowski said on the Senate floor that after an “extensive” sit-down with Gupta, she was impressed by her professional credentials and her level of experience as well as the “passion that she carries with her with the work that she performs.”

    Murkowski said that although Gupta has made some “troubling and concerning” statements in other areas, she was “going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated through her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice.”

    “And so I will be casting my vote in support of her in about an hour here,” Murkowski concluded. [….]


  92. blf says

    Judge orders Los Angeles to shelter all homeless Skid Row residents:

    Judge lambasts worsening crisis amid ‘rhetoric, promises and plans’ and requires housing within 180 days

    A federal judge overseeing a sweeping lawsuit about homelessness in Los Angeles ordered the city and county to find shelter for all unhoused residents of Skid Row within 180 days.

    In a fiery 110-page order, Judge David O Carter on Tuesday condemned Los Angeles officials’ inability to address the rise in homelessness in the region.

    “All of the rhetoric, promises, plans, and budgeting cannot obscure the shameful reality of this crisis – that year after year, there are more homeless Angelenos, and year after year, more homeless Angelenos die on the streets,” Carter wrote in granting a preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiffs last week.

    Carter ordered the city and county to find shelter for all women and children on Skid Row within 90 days, and every homeless person in the downtown area must have a place to stay by mid-October.

    In addition, Carter mandated the city auditor examine all public money spent in recent years to combat homelessness, including funds from a 2016 bond measure approved by voters to create 10,000 housing units over a decade. That project has been slow to ramp up.

    Carter’s filing was made a day after the Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, vowed to spend nearly $1bn in the coming year to get people off the streets. Carter on Tuesday ordered “that $1bn, as represented by Mayor Garcetti, will be placed in escrow” with a spending plan “accounted for and reported to the Court within seven days”.


    Skip Miller, an attorney representing LA county, said the judge’s order goes well beyond what the plaintiffs asked for in their preliminary injunction.

    We’re now evaluating our options, including the possibility of an appeal, Miller said, adding that the county had spent millions on proven strategies that have produced measurable results throughout the region, not just on Skid Row.


    The mayor [Garcetti] also raised doubt about the judge’s timeline under which the city and county would be required to provide shelter to every person on Skid Row by October. That would be an unprecedented pace not just for Los Angeles but any place that I’ve ever seen with homelessness in America,he said.


    “This order is a vote of no-confidence in the mayor, the city council and county officials,” said Daniel Conway, policy adviser for the alliance [“of business owners, residents and community leaders” who filed the lawsuit].

    Conway said he was struck by Carter’s grand prose in the court filing, which quoted Abraham Lincoln and traced the history of homelessness back from slavery through decades of redlining, containment, eminent domain, exclusionary zoning and gentrification.

    “Carter is able to put together a history of racist and discriminatory policies and connect them to the policy failures of today. It shows the culpability of the city and county of LA for decades. Now they have to make it right,” Conway said Tuesday.

    Gary Blasi, professor emeritus of law at University of California, Los Angeles, agreed that the judge’s order contained “a compelling description in all the ways that public policy has failed poor people and homeless people in particular”.


    Professor Blasi points out Judge Carter didn’t define “shelter”, creating a loophole big enough to fly the Starship Enterprise through (the not-excerpted remainder of the article is about this loophole and the dubious “shelter” antics already in-use).

  93. says

    Wonkette: “Senate GOP Never Guessed Voting Law Expert Stacey Abrams Would Know So Much About Voting Laws”

    It’s quite a treat watching Stacey Abrams [respond to] Republicans during the Senate hearings about voting rights. They clearly didn’t expect that this fierce Black woman would come correct. It’s as if they assumed she’d melt under the pressure of their rigorous questioning and confess that she knows nothing about voting laws or birthing babies.

    That didn’t happen.

    […] Texas Senator John Cornyn tried to push the rightwing talking point that Georgia’s new voter suppression laws are no more restrictive than similar laws in so-called “blue” states. […] This is a dumb argument even if it were based in facts, which it’s not.

    CORNYN: Georgia has a no-excuse absentee voting provision in that law. As Miss Jones, I think, has said, certainly in her written statement, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York do not have any no-excuse absentee voting. Are the voting laws in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York racist?

    ABRAMS: I would say that they are behind the eight-ball and they need to be improved. And that’s why I support For the People Act voting rights provisions that would expand access to no-excuses absentee voting.

    See how seamlessly she dropped that promo for the H.R. 1 bill? […]

    ABRAMS: The state of Georgia targeted communities that used these resources for the first time to their benefit. And thus, after 15 years of Republican-dominated use of absentee balloting, it suddenly changed its mind about the utility, the processing, the timeliness, and the ability —

    The lady was making too much sense, so Cornyn cut her off and kept trying to press her on whether states that vote for Democrats are racist. When she wouldn’t fall for his clever ruse, he accused her of “filibustering” his question. […] Eventually, Abrams told Cornyn, “I’m happy to respond to your questions. But if you’re going to mischaracterize my responses, that’s inappropriate.” She might’ve sent him to his room, as well.

    Republicans had tried to grill Abrams on voter ID, which polls show most voters support, but apparently no one of their staff informed them that Abrams very much supports voter ID. There was no “gotcha” there. Instead, she explained, without breaking a sweat, that she opposed “restrictive voter identification laws that narrow the set of permissible materials.” Glad that was cleared up.

    They spent a lot of time defending the honor of perfect angel GOP officials who just wanted to pass a racist voting law without people calling them racist. Abrams had to remind these dummies that Jim Crow laws were covertly racist. That was the point. If they could’ve flat-out banned Black people from voting, they wouldn’t have bothered with poll taxes and jellybean jar quizzes. […]

    ABRAMS: The intent always matters, sir. And that is the point of this conversation. That is the point of the Jim Crow narrative, that Jim Crow did not simply look at the activities. It looked at the intent. It looked at the behaviors. And it targeted behaviors that were disproportionately used by people of color. […]

    Then came Louisiana Senator and Foghorn Leghorn impersonator John Kennedy. His grand plan was for Abrams to just tell him what she didn’t like about Georgia’s voter suppression laws. Maybe he thought she’d forgotten. […]

    KENNEDY: Tell me specifically, just give me a list of the provisions that you object to.

    Oh, the clever old white man’s got her! […]

    ABRAMS: It shortens the federal run-off period from nine weeks to four weeks, it restricts the time a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application, it requires that voters have a photo identification or some other form of identification that they are willing to surrender in order to participate in the absentee ballot process …

    He’d gone about 50 seconds without interrupting her, which few men can do without exploding. He asked, “What else?” and she kept telling him while he kept trying to interrupt before he gave up and said, “I get the idea.” (He doesn’t get any ideas. He’s a fucking idiot.)

    I could watch Stacey Abrams outclass Republican men all day […]


  94. says

    Education, education, education. The Biden administration plan aims to reduce inequities by infusing hundreds of billions of dollars into virtually every level of the education system.

    The federal government has long been a bit player in education. Under an expansive vision being rolled out this spring by President Biden, that would change.

    Biden has proposed […] a half dozen education programs that would constitute the largest federal investment in education in at least a half century. Any one of them would be significant on its own. Taken together, if approved by Congress, they form a cradle-to-college plan that aims to reduce inequities that course through American schools by infusing hundreds of billions of dollars into virtually every level of the system.

    […] Much of Biden’s strategy is focused on cold, hard cash, a show-me-the-money plan that would more than double federal support to high-poverty districts, rebuild crumbling schools and subsidize pre-K and community college alike. […]

    Should Biden’s entire agenda become law, the U.S. educational system could morph from a 13-year guarantee — where children are entitled to free education from kindergarten through 12th grade — to a 17-year promise, where prekindergarten is available starting at age 3 and tuition is free through two years of community college.

    “Think of it this way: Joe Biden is adding four years to a student’s education. It’s the largest increase in educational time since high school became universal,” said Rahm Emanuel […]

    Already, Biden has signed into law the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which injects $125 billion into the K-12 system and nearly $40 billion for higher education — more than doubling the Education Department’s annual budget. It also included a one-year expansion of the child tax credit, expected to reduce child poverty by half, that Democrats hope to make permanent.

    Then Biden proposed a huge infrastructure package, which includes $100 billion to rebuild schools, plus $48 billion for the workforce development system and $12 billion for community colleges.

    This month, Biden unveiled a discretionary budget proposal that seeks a 41 percent increase in the Education Department pre-pandemic budget, far more than any presidential request since the agency was created in 1979. It includes additional money for community schools, students with disabilities and school counselors. Biden also signaled that he would request a big increase in the Pell Grant, which subsidizes college tuition for low-income students, when he makes his full budget request.

    A $200 billion pre-K plan, along with tuition-free community college and $225 billion for child care, is expected this month as part of a package the White House calls the American Families Plan.

    […] The Biden program could, in some cases, reach far into the middle class — such as with the pre-K and community college plans. Much of it is targeted, though, to those who need it most.

    Because schools are funded primarily by local property taxes, there are large gaps between tax collections in wealthy, mostly White school districts and high-poverty districts, which are more likely to educate students of color. The big boost to Title I could close some of the gap because the funding would disproportionately aid school districts with large concentrations of poverty.

    At the college level, Biden is asking for an increase of $600 million more for programs at minority-serving institutions, historically Black and tribal colleges, and community colleges. These schools have fewer resources than others, and most of their students have low incomes.

    […] “He’s investing in things like apprenticeships and community colleges and pre-K and all kinds of things that moderate Democrats love,” said Lanae Erickson, who heads social policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank. “There’s something in there for everybody in the party and that’s how he’s keeping folks on board.” [chart available at the link]

    […] Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say government should do more, but the share has risen among people in both parties. […]

    Washington Post link

  95. blf says

    Lynna@126, Quotes “I could watch Stacey Abrams outclass Republican men all day”.

    So the author isn’t interested in Ms Abrams having, e.g., loonie Greene for a quick snack ? </snark>

    Snarking aside, I’d would have put that as something like “I could watch Stacey Abrams outclass Republicans all day”.

  96. says

    blf @130, thanks. I appreciated the cartoon reference to “government whitewash.”

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In a chorus of outrage directed at the President, Republicans accused Joe Biden of making millions of Americans’ arms hurt in his first hundred days in office.

    Leading the attack was Senator Ron Johnson, who claimed that Biden was hurting “between three and four million arms a day.”

    “Once your arm stops hurting, don’t get too comfortable,” he said. “In a few weeks, Joe Biden will make your arm hurt for a second time.”

    Johnson did not speculate about why the President wanted Americans’ arms to hurt, but said that Biden bears “full responsibility” for the nation’s epidemic of sore arms.

    “None of this would be happening if Donald Trump was President,” he charged.

    New Yorker link

  97. says

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden announced a new tax credit Wednesday to reimburse small businesses that give workers paid time off to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as he touted reaching his goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days.


    Negotiators trying to get the U.S. and Tehran back into compliance with the Iran nuclear deal are making progress, according to officials, with some even saying the talks have reached a halfway point.


    The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee, Lisa Monaco, as deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position at the Justice Department. Monaco, approved by a vote of 98-2, will oversee a vast portfolio encompassing criminal and national security investigations, as well as all U.S. Attorney’s Offices across 94 districts.

    Wall Street Journal:

    Brazil’s government, widely criticized by environmental groups as a negligent steward of the Amazon rainforest, has made an audacious offer to the Biden administration: Provide $1 billion and President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration will reduce deforestation by 40%.

    NBC News:

    Taiwan electronics manufacturer Foxconn is drastically scaling back a planned $10 billion factory in Wisconsin, confirming its retreat from a project that former President Donald Trump once called ‘the eighth wonder of the world.

    Orlando Sentinel:

    Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed into law late Monday a bill that will cost Florida consumers who shop online an estimated $1 billion a year in sales taxes, with the money used to cut business taxes.

  98. blf says

    me@129, Another Oops!
    Creeps of England bribing people to not ignore bigotry → Creeps of England bribing people to ignore bigotry
    Sorry sorry !

  99. says

    Guardian – “Joe Biden set to formally recognize Armenian genocide, officials say”:

    Joe Biden is expected to formally recognize the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the first world war as an act of genocide, according to US officials.

    The anticipated move – something Biden had pledged to do as a candidate – could further complicate an already tense relationship with the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Administration officials had not informed Turkey as of Wednesday, and Biden could still change his mind, according to one official who spoke to the Associated Press.

    Lawmakers and Armenian-American activists are lobbying Biden to make the announcement on or before Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which will be marked on Saturday.

    One possibility is that Biden would include the acknowledgement of genocide in the annual remembrance day proclamation typically issued by presidents. Biden’s predecessors have avoided using “genocide” in the proclamation commemorating the dark moment in history.

    A bipartisan group of more than 100 House members on Wednesday signed a letter to Biden calling on him to become the first US president to formally recognize the atrocities as genocide.

    “The shameful silence of the United States government on the historic fact of the Armenian genocide has gone on for too long, and it must end,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to follow through on your commitments, and speak the truth.”

    Turkey’s foreign minister has warned the Biden administration that recognition would “harm” US-Turkey ties.

    The relationship between Biden and Erdoğan is off to a chilly start. More than three months into his presidency, Biden has yet to speak with him….

  100. says

    Guardian – “Thousands of Russians attend rallies calling for Alexei Navalny’s release”:

    Tens of thousands of Russians have rallied in cities across the country in a last-ditch effort to secure the freedom of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

    The unsanctioned demonstrations have shown the determination of Navalny’s core supporters, who called for “freedom for political prisoners” in tense standoffs with riot police in helmets and body armour, who had vowed to disperse any gatherings.

    The nationwide protests fell short of the 500,000 demonstrators that Navalny’s team had sought to bring out on to the streets, but large crowds of up to 10,000 in Moscow and a similarly robust turnout in St Petersburg may at least let them call the evening a draw.

    The show of strength is important as the Kremlin prepares to deliver a potentially lethal blow to Navalny’s political organisation nationwide by declaring it extremist.

    “Even if they lock [Navalny] up, tonight shows that other figures will come forward, people will come out, that there is a future for the opposition,” said Arkady, a university professor, who was standing among Navalny supporters on a street corner across from the Kremlin.

    On Wednesday morning, police arrested Navalny’s aides Lyubov Sobol and Kira Yarmysh, and raided his regional headquarters in cities across the country in a show of strength designed to keep people off the streets.

    The day of action coincided with Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the nation, in which the Russian president warned western leaders they would “regret” crossing Russia’s “red lines”.

    At least 1,500 people have been arrested nationwide, with nearly half of them in St Petersburg.

    Before the speech, the Ukrainian president gave a televised address, saying that the country did not want war and calling on Putin in Russian to meet for talks….

  101. says

    Here’s a link to the April 22 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their morning summary:

    India’s desperate Covid situation has worsened. The country has set a new world record for daily recorded infections at 314,835 cases.

    Some hospitals in New Delhi have run out of oxygen, with officials complaining that neighbouring states are refusing to send supplies.

    Australia will reduce the number of its citizens able to return from India and other red-zone countries to contain the risk of more virulent strains of Covid-19 spreading, the government has said.

    Pfizer has said it is in discussions with India, and has committed to make its Covid-19 vaccine available for deployment in the country on a not-for-profit basis.

    The global vaccine-sharing initiative Covax has so far delivered about one in five of the Oxford/AstraZeneca doses it estimated would arrive in countries by May, according to a Guardian analysis, starkly illustrating the cost of exports bans, hoarding and supply shortages on a scheme that represents a key lifeline for many in the developing world.

    There are more concerns in Japan about whether it can really host the Summer Olympics. Tokyo has announced it will not host its motor show in October-November this year because of the global pandemic, and a police officer who was assisting with the Olympic Torch relay at the weekend has tested positive for coronavirus, further denting optimism about the Olympics.

    Coronavirus was no longer the leading cause of death in both England and Wales in March, new figures show. That’s the first time since October….

  102. blf says

    Big To-addict is still at it, Scientific paper claiming smokers less likely to acquire Covid retracted over tobacco industry links:

    A scientific paper claiming current smokers are 23% less likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 compared to non-smokers has been retracted by a medical journal, after it was discovered some of the paper’s authors had financial links to the tobacco industry.

    The World Health Organization has warned that because smoking impairs lung function, there is an increased risk of severe symptoms if respiratory infections, including coronaviruses, are acquired by smokers. Covid-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs.

    But the paper, published in July last year by the European Respiratory Journal, found current smoking was not associated with adverse outcome in patients admitted to hospital with Covid, and claimed smokers were at a significantly lower risk of acquiring the virus. The paper was reported on by several mainstream media outlets.

    The latest edition of the European Respiratory Journal included a retraction notice for the paper, stating: “It was brought to the editors’ attention that two of the authors had failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest at the time of the manuscript’s submission.”


    The retraction notice said the authors did not agree with the decision. It said while failure to disclose a potential conflict of interest was not normally sufficient grounds for retraction, the editors felt the decision was justified based on the nature of the undisclosed relationship, and “in the context of the sensitive subject matter presented”.


    The senior author of the paper, Konstantinos Farsalinos, said in a statement to the website Retraction Watch that the conflicts of interest were irrelevant to the study’s main aims and objectives.

    Additionally, I proposed to publicly release the full dataset and the statistical script so that all findings could be independently verified, he said. The editors declined. I requested my proposal to be mentioned in the retraction letter, but that was also rejected by the editors. I disagree with the retraction and I consider it unfair and unsubstantiated.

    People more familiar with submissions, etc., to such journals can explain(correct?), but I myself seriously doubt they need the permission or resources of the journal to publish the data, analysis scripts, etc. Whilst the editors may have refused (albeit isn’t it standard practice nowadays to require the data, etc., to made readily available as a pre(?)-condition to publication?), I’m finding it difficult to believe the implication that the alleged refusal somehow prevents the data, etc., from being made readily available. This smells, to me, like stale tobacco smoke in the eyesobfuscation; and with the history of the industry, quite possibly deliberate obfuscation.

    An analysis for the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine “identified several biases and knowledge gaps which may give the false impression that smoking is protective in Covid-19”.

    The authors of that paper said there had been several studies that reported a so-called “smoker’s paradox” with Covid-19, suggesting smokers might somehow be protected from infection and severe complications.

    “As of now, the data supporting smoker’s paradox claims are limited and questionable,” the review found.

    “In the context of smoking and Covid-19, poor data collection can lead to several erroneous conclusions. If patients with missing smoking data are not eliminated from the total pool, smokers may be wrongly underrepresented. Furthermore, it is difficult to get accurate history from patients who are either intubated or in respiratory failure.

    “If data from these patients are missing, and these patients are not removed from the denominator, it can give a false impression that smokers are less likely to develop severe disease. Second, it must be noted that most published studies have not reported the duration (years) or frequency (number of cigarettes) of smoking, hence these cannot be accounted for.”

  103. says

    From yesterday’s DN! headlines:

    Judge Denies Dismissal of Prison Sentence for Officer Who Shot and Killed Walter Scott in 2015

    A judge has denied a motion to toss the 20-year prison sentence of former police officer Michael Slager, who murdered unarmed Black motorist Walter Scott in South Carolina in 2015. Slager tried to argue that his defense was ineffective, but the federal judge ruled “a careful review of this entire tragic episode makes plain that [Slager] has no one to blame for his present predicament and sentence but himself. What sealed his fate … was [his] own willful act of shooting an unarmed man in the back five times as he ran for his life.”

    Idriss Déby’s Son Named Interim Leader Following Chadian President’s Death

    In Chad, Mahamat Idriss Déby, the son of late President Idriss Déby, has been named interim head of state by a military council after his father died, reportedly while visiting frontline soldiers as they battled a rebel advance in the north of the country. The army has also enacted a nationwide curfew and announced Chad’s land and air borders will be shut down. Rebel forces threatened to move toward the capital, prompting fears of further unrest. Idriss Déby had been in power for over 30 years and was just announced the winner of a recent presidential election before his death. Rights groups are calling for a quick transition to democratic civilian rule and an accounting of human rights abuses under Déby’s reign.

    Journalists in Over 100 Countries Have Been Blocked from Reporting on Pandemic

    A new report by Reporters Without Borders says journalists in over 100 countries have been blocked from reporting on the coronavirus pandemic and other stories or retaliated against for their work. In its annual report on press freedom, the group also highlighted attacks on U.S. journalists by law enforcement while covering racial justice protests last summer.

    Standing Rock Activist Who Was Jailed After Refusing to Testify Before Grand Jury Is Released

    Standing Rock water protector Steve Martinez has been released after more than 60 days behind bars for refusing to give testimony to a federal grand jury. Martinez was summoned as a witness in the case of Sophia Wilansky, a water protector whose arm was severely wounded during a police crackdown on anti-pipeline protests in 2016. Prosecutors were attempting to shift blame for Wilansky’s injuries from law enforcement to water protectors. The campaign to free Steve Martinez blasted the use of grand juries as a “divisive and cruel tool of repression.”…

  104. blf says

    And some great news, The Gambia[] becomes second African state to end trachoma:

    The Gambia has become the second country in Africa to eliminate trachoma, one of the leading causes of blindness.

    The achievement, announced by the World Health Organization on Tuesday, came after decades of work on the disease, which has damaged the sight of about 1.9 million people worldwide. Ghana was the first country in Africa to eliminate the disease in 2018.

    The Gambian government and aid organisations have spent years identifying and treating patients in rural areas, often going from door to door. It can cause a person’s eyelashes to turn inwards and scratch against the eyes, causing permanent damage.

    Trachoma is one of the WHO’s 20 neglected tropical diseases, which predominantly affect low-income countries and are historically underfunded in research for treatments.

    Despite a decline in the number of people with the condition, from 1.5 billion to 135,000 over the past 20 years, it remains a problem in 44 countries.

    Sightsavers, which supported the Gambia’s campaign against trachoma, said the success was the result of antibiotics, surgery, and improving sanitation. The charity’s director Balla Musa Joof said: “To know that elimination can be achieved through hard work, commitment and collaboration is important and acts as an encouragement to other countries to keep going with their own attempts.

    He said the elimination of the illness meant “the government will be able to use resources previously spent on defeating trachoma on other public health problems”.

    Congratulations to the Gambia!†

      † British media has a habit of adding “the” to a country’s name; the Argentine is(? was?) a common way to refer to Argentina (República Argentina).‡ So I checked, the Gambia’s official name (in English) is Republic of the Gambia, so “the Gambia” is a reasonable shortened version. Indeed, as that link points out, “The [definite] article is also officially used by the country’s government and by international bodies.” So the Gruaniad — please consider supporting the Grauniad if you can — isn’t doing anything offensive here in using “the Gambia”.

      ‡ Albeit Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge does note “the typical Spanish usage [is] la Argentina“.

  105. blf says

    birgerjohansson@124, “before Hitler set out to invade Poland, he urged ruthlessness, adding no one thinks of the Armenians today.”

    A small caveat: There is some reasonable scholarly dispute whether or not such a thing was actually said, and the allegedly-contemporaneous document (known as L-3) containing the quote (Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?) was not accepted at the Nuremberg trials. However, since then, the consensus seems to be it was said.

  106. blf says

    me@144, Oops! That was referring to @142, not @124.

    And I do hope Biden goes through and formally recognises the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the first world war as an act of genocide. As the cited Grauniad article notes, Obama chickened out despite his campaign pledge.

  107. blf says

    Arizona Republicans to begin auditing 2020 ballots in effort to undermine election results:

    Audit will include a hand recount of all 2.1m ballots cast in Maricopa county in alarming consequence of Trump’s baseless lies

    Nearly five months after Joe Biden was declared the official winner of the presidential race in Arizona, state Republicans are set to begin their own audit of millions of ballots, an unprecedented move many see as a thinly-veiled effort to continue to undermine confidence in the 2020 election results.

    The GOP-controlled state senate ordered the audit, set to formally get underway this week, which may be one of the most absurd and alarming consequences to date of Donald Trump’s baseless lies about the 2020 election. It will be executed by a private Florida-based company. It also reportedly will be supported from far-right lawyer Lin Wood and observers from the far-right news network One America News Network.

    Find the most biased “observers” possible for seems likely to be an opaque procedure carried out by a very likely biased private for-profit, Cyber Ninjas (more on them below). And paid for in an opaque manner (more on this below). Geesh!

    The audit will be solely focused on Maricopa county, the largest in the state and home to a majority of Arizona’s voters. Biden narrowly defeated Trump in the county […]

    […] The audit also comes as Arizona Republicans are advancing legislation in the state that would make it harder to vote by mail.

    “They’re trying to find something that we know doesn’t exist,” said Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who serves as the state’s top election official. “It’s ludicrous that people think that if they don’t like the results they can just come in and tear them apart.”

    David Becker, an election administration expert and the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, said the effort was so shoddy he was hesitant to acknowledge it as a legitimate investigation.

    “I’ve never seen an ‘audit’ that was remotely similar, and given the fundamental flaws, I don’t think this process can even be described as an audit,” he said in an email.

    Other voting rights groups have expressed similar concerns.


    Alarm over the audit has escalated in recent weeks after Republicans announced the firms that would be leading the effort. The company that will lead the audit, a Florida-based company called Cyber Ninjas, is led by Doug Logan, who supported several baseless conspiracy theories about the election. In December, he retweeted a post that questioned the validity of Maricopa’s ballot count and falsely said Trump may have gotten 200,000 more votes than were reported in Arizona, according to the Arizona Mirror, which first reported his involvement in the audit.

    He also made statistical comparisons between elections in Venezuela and the 2020 race in a tweet that included a stop the steal hashtag, according to the Mirror. Cyber Ninjas is not accredited by the US Election Assistance Commission to inspect voting machines, the Washington Post reported.

    “You’re bringing in this firm that’s on a treasure hunt,” Hobbs said. “They are not qualified, they don’t even know what they’re doing.”

    Alls teh bestingerist peoples !

    It’s not clear how Cyber Ninjas was chosen to lead the audit. Karen Fann, the president of the Arizona senate, did not return a request for comment. […]

    The Arizona state senate is renting a Phoenix arena to conduct the audit and there is growing scrutiny over how the process is being funded. While the state senate has allocated $150,000 towards the effort, it is also being backed by private donors. L Lin Wood, an attorney who promoted some of the most inflammatory lies about the 2020 election, told Talking Points Memo he had donated $50,000 to a fundraiser to support the effort. Wood also told the outlet that he hosted Logan at his South Carolina home last year.

    “That should scare a lot of people,” said Martin Quezada, a Democrat in the Arizona state senate. “Who are the people that are gonna be donating to this? It’s already shown that this is the people who have an agenda and that agenda is to show that there was some sort of fraud, that there was a stolen election.”

    It’s also unclear how much access media and other independent observers will have to the audit. Reporters will be prohibited from using pens and paper and will have to sign up to serve as official observers, a spokesman for the audit told an Arizona Mirror reporter on Wednesday. The Arizona Republican party also tweeted that the process will be live-streamed and that observers from One America News Network, the far fight outlet, would ensure nonpartisan transparency.

    There is also concern the audit could lead to voter intimidation. In its statement of work, Cyber Ninjas wrote it had already performed non-partisan canvassing in Arizona after the 2020 election and knocked on voters’ doors to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address. The company said it would continue that work during the audit to validate that individuals that show as having voted in the 2020 general election match those individuals who believe they have cast a vote.

    Such activity could amount to illegal voter intimidation, a group of voting rights lawyers wrote to Cyber Ninjas and others involved in the audit earlier this month.


    “[Teh thugs] want to justify all of the changes that they are already proposing to election laws because they need to have some sort of legitimacy behind it to justify the severe restrictions they’re hoping to put in place here,” [state senator Martin Quezada] said. “Every element of this audit, from the beginning, to the end, it just stinks to high hell.”

  108. blf says

    Apropos of not really anything, whilst browsing the local specialist beer bar’s site (they are currently offering a takeaway service only due to the pandemic), I noticed a “Fake News” series of beers from a French microbrewery, Brasserie Sainte Cru (Colmar, near-ish Strasbourg, on the German border). Each bottle (well, actually, can) is illustrated with a portrait of a well-known source of fake news (scroll about halfway down that link):

    ● El Dorado, hair furor.
    ● Motueka, Xi Jinping.
    ● Nelson Sauvin, Putin.
    ● Idaho 7, Kim Jong-un.

    All(?) the names are of hops varieties, so they missed a snark, albeit in Spanish El Dorado means (I think) “golden”, something of a snark on hair furor’s questionable tastes.

  109. tomh says

    Texas GOP Bill to Bar Drive-Thru Voting Advances
    CAMERON LANGFORD April 21, 2021

    AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Texas state Republican lawmakers Wednesday advanced a bill that would bar drive-thru voting, legislation critics say is aimed at the state’s largest county, a Democratic stronghold where more than 100,000 voters cast ballots from their cars in the November election.

    Then-Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins rolled out drive-thru voting with resounding success for the November elections, as more than 127,000 people cast votes in this manner, with residents of the county seat Houston raving about how easy it was, how it only took 10 to 20 minutes and expressing hope it would be an option for future elections.

    Jen Ramos of the Texas Democratic Party’s executive committee said a study found that while nonwhite voters make up about 30% of Harris County early voters, they made up 54% of voters who used a drive-thru polling location for the November elections….

    Record numbers of Texans cast their ballots in last year’s presidential election and state election officials assessed it as “smooth and secure.” Still, … HB 4322 is one of numerous Republican-sponsored bills ostensibly aimed at preventing elections from being undermined by fraud.

    The Houston Chronicle wrote in a recent editorial that since 2005, 174 Texans have been prosecuted for election fraud, a period in which 94 million votes were cast in state elections.

    “Together, they represent 0.000185 percent of the total votes cast — or 1 in 540,000 voters. Statistically, voters are more likely to get struck by lightning (1 in 500,000) than to commit voter fraud,” the editorial states….

    HB 4322 … is expected to easily pass both the House and the Texas Senate and be signed into law by Governor Abbott.

  110. blf says

    Ingenuity, Nasa’s helicopter on Mars, has successfully performed its second flight: Up 5 metres, sideways 2 metres, hover and turn to take multiple colour images, then return and land (about 50(?) seconds in total). Data is downloading to Earth now as I type.

  111. blf says

    Follow-up to @147, a snippet from Fight to vote: Arizona county’s ‘ludicrous’ election audit (perhaps a slightly misleading title, as Maricopa county isn’t doing the audio, the state-level thugs are):

    The Maricopa county board of supervisors, which is controlled by Republicans, isn’t on board with the effort. It agreed to turn over ballots and election equipment after Republicans got a court order, but refused to allow the audit to take place in a county-owned facility. Republicans are now paying to rent out an entire stadium to conduct the audit.

    The thug-controlled county — which has already done two legitimate audits — isn’t co-operating! (The article doesn’t say, but I presume the county also thinks this new audit is absurd.)

    Some snippets from The Arizona Senate’s audit of the Maricopa County election starts Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:

    The Senate passed up a pitch from a firm specializing in elections and instead hired four different companies to run the audit for a $150,000 contract.

    As per @147, “Cyber Ninjas is not accredited by the US Election Assistance Commission to inspect voting machines […] ‘You’re bringing in this firm that’s on a treasure hunt,’ [Arizona secretary of state Katie] Hobbs said. ‘They are not qualified, they don’t even know what they’re doing.'” Cyber Ninjas is leading / controlling the fraud-of-an-audit, the other firms are presumably subcontrators.

    [… T]he effort has attracted a host of former Trump aides and supporters who see this as just the start of a process they have waited for since his defeat in November.

    We’re at the top of the first inning of this. The lawsuits are going to come. This is where the grind really starts, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon said on his podcast Wednesday.

    Whatever happens, the Senate is on its own. The county, which normally takes great care to ensure proper custody and security of the ballots, has absolved itself of all liability and county officials trained in election audits and security will not provide advice and guidance as the contractors take on the work.

    [… T]he county made the Senate sign an indemnification agreement. This means the county is not liable for any loss or damages.

    The county’s Elections Department said it followed careful procedures to ensure that the voting machines and ballots are safe during transport — at least while they had custody of them. […]

    It turns out the security at the rented site is being provided a private firm (see the link for details).

    Observers who already were approved to watch the audit were told Wednesday to send in three letters of recommendation. A new online form for volunteers posted on the Twitter account for the effort included this requirement, as well.

    Local reporters were first told that they could observe the audit inside the coliseum. Later, they were told that they would need to serve as official observers in order to watch the audit. Journalists would be required to serve five 6-hour shifts like other observers and would not be allowed to bring in recording devices or notebooks.

    The auditors will attempt to validate the legitimacy of voter rolls. Not much information was released about how this will happen. [… A]uditors [sic] will use the information to find invalid voters such as deceased voters and non-citizens, and find people whose votes weren’t counted. It’s unclear where the Senate will get its information to verify that voters who cast ballots are dead or are not legal US citizens.

    What could be a critical player in this fraud is a company called CyFIR, which will apparently attempt to inspect the voting machines (and tabulators?). I have no idea how legit or experience this company is, or whether or not there are any warning signs (red flags) like there is with Cyber Ninjas and their CEO(?) Doug Logan. (The Cyber Ninjas site doesn’t seem to say anything about their management, which is very weird for the industry.)

  112. blf says

    Trump delayed $20bn in aid to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, report finds:

    The Trump administration delayed more than $20bn in hurricane relief aid for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General.

    The efforts to deliver recovery funding to the island were “unnecessarily delayed by bureaucratic obstacles”, according to the 46-page report. The hurricane, which hit the island in 2017, killed thousands of people and left thousands more without electricity or water for months.

    One of the main hurdles was the requirement imposed by the Office of Management Budget, which established an interagency review before grant approvals, according to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The process, which was never before required for allocating disaster funds, prevented HUD from publishing its draft notice of funding by the target date.

    The investigators were unable to determine why the extra layer of review was required due “denials of access and refusals to cooperate”, according to the report.

    The Office conducted 31 interviews of 20 current and former HUD officials and two now-former Puerto Rico Department of Housing senior officials to write the report. However, investigators did not have access to former HUD Secretary Ben Carson and other political officials. The investigators were also denied or delayed HUD information on several occasions.

    [… the pandemic used as an excuse by HUD to delay funding the report…]

    On Monday, HUD removed restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on access to $8.2bn in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation. The agency stalled the release of the disaster relief aid in 2019 and imposed additional restrictions on how the island could access the funds The agency cited corruption and financial mismanagement concerns for the blocks.


  113. says

    Bits and pieces of news.

    NY Times:

    A group of seven House Republicans, led by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), announced yesterday that they would no longer accept campaign contributions from major tech companies or their top executives. The group claims tech companies are conspiring against conservative voices, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Washington Post:

    Despite the group’s alleged bankruptcy, the National Rifle Association announced plans yesterday for a $2 million campaign against the White House’s agenda, including a focus on trying to derail President Joe Biden’s ATF nominee.

    President Biden has nominated David Chipman, policy adviser to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    Atlanta Journal:

    Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R) has resigned from the Republican Attorneys General Association, citing, among other things, the group’s role in promoting the Jan. 6 event that precipitated the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

  114. says

    Following Chauvin’s conviction, many on the right slam jurors

    It stood to reason that some on the right would be critical of Derek Chauvin’s conviction in Minnesota this week, but I didn’t fully expect so many conservatives to slam the members of the jury in his case.

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported yesterday, for example:

    Gov. Ron DeSantis implied that the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial could have happened because “the jury is scared of what a mob may do.”

    The Florida Republican appeared on Fox News the night of the verdict and heard Laura Ingraham raise the prospect of jurors voting guilty because of fear of possible violence.

    Though the governor said on the air that he wasn’t explicitly saying jurors were definitely swayed by public-safety fears, DeSantis also said, “[I]f that’s what a lot of people think, and I don’t know what happened with this verdict, but if that’s something that can potentially happen, where you basically have justice made meted out because the jury is scared of what a mob may do?”

    Others on the right were even less subtle. Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis argued, for example, that jurors must’ve been “influenced” by leftist “social-justice warriors.” Soon after, Tucker Carlson added, “The jury in the Derek Chauvin trial came to a unanimous and unequivocal verdict this afternoon: ‘Please don’t hurt us.'”

    Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, a leading Republican candidate for governor this year, said the guilty verdict made her “sick,” adding that she believes the jurors in the case didn’t acquit the murder because they feared a violent backlash.

    In other words, after a year of national and international scrutiny into George Floyd’s death, many on the right have settled on a new culprit worthy of their scorn: members of a jury in Hennepin County, Minn., whom some conservatives perceive as cowards.

    It’s an argument predicated on the idea that the evidence was on Chauvin’s side — reality notwithstanding — and those rascally jurors put the facts aside in order to prevent social unrest.

    The idea that the jurors did their duty, honored their oaths, evaluated the case on the merits, and rendered a fair judgment based on the evidence and the law is apparently too fanciful for some on the right to believe.

    But for the American mainstream, it seems far more reasonable to express gratitude to the jurors for their willingness to do their duty under difficult circumstances.

  115. says

    Josh Marshall:

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have created a special section at Dodger Stadium for fans who are fully vaccinated. A few other teams have introduced similar set asides. This is a good idea and we need more of it. The reward for being vaccinated should be to get back to life as usual as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Now that vaccines are pretty widely available for people 16 and over there’s no reason you should need to be seated near or with others who’ve chosen not to get vaccinated when you’re enjoying a ball game.

    That language can sound a bit forbidding. But remember, not being vaccinated isn’t a class or an identity, as much as some would like to make it one. It’s mainly a decision to be reckless with your own health and indifferent to the well-being of the society at large. Creating these safe zones for the vaccinated is not only fair to those who are vaccinated. It creates incentives for people to get vaccinated. So it’s win-win all around.

    I say this with the knowledge that there is a very, very small population of people with medical conditions which prevent them from getting vaccinated. In those very few cases where there is a genuine clinical reason why someone cannot be vaccinated there can and should be some accommodations. But this doesn’t change the calculus; it strengthens it. Those who really can’t be vaccinated are the ones most in need of mass vaccinations because their only protection will come in the form of herd immunity.

    I concede there are some complicated questions at the margins. What’s a no-brainer for a baseball game implicates different equities for governmental or essential services. Kids under 16 still can’t get vaccinated. But in general public policy should avoid indulging and coddling those who make the anti-social decision to forego vaccination.

  116. blf says

    Putin may have blinked, Russia to pull back troops from Crimea and Ukraine border:

    Russia has said that it will recall many of its troops from Crimea and the border regions of Ukraine, rolling back an aggressive military buildup that had sparked fears that Moscow was preparing an invasion force.

    The decision, announced by defence minister Sergei Shoigu, came after video on social media and satellite imagery last month revealed a buildup of tanks, artillery, fighter jets and even short-range ballistic missiles massing just 150 miles from Ukraine. US officials called it the largest muster of Russian military power along the border since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

    Russian officials announced military exercises after the buildup was exposed, but western observers believe that Moscow had an ulterior motive and was sending a pointed message to Kyiv and to the Biden administration that it was ready to use force to defend what Vladimir Putin this week called Russia’s core security interests.

    On Thursday, after several days of exercises, the Russian military command announced personnel from Russian army and airborne units would return to their bases. But some heavy artillery, including powerful rocket artillery and other missiles, will remain behind, leaving Russia with more heavy firepower on the Ukrainian border than it had before.


    The troop movements will be closely watched in the coming days, which are set to begin on Friday and continue through to the end of April. All soldiers would go back in their usual “deployment points” by May 1, Shoigu said, according to Russia’s defence ministry.


    Meanwhile, Putin is still trying to intimidate the Czech Republic (from the same article, and quoting essentially in full):

    [… T]he Kremlin has been embroiled in worsening spy scandal with the Czech Republic. On Thursday the Czech government said it would expel more Russian diplomats from the embassy in Prague, in addition to the 18 already told on Saturday to leave the country.

    The move comes after the Czech security service blamed Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency for a 2014 explosion at a weapons dump which killed two people. It said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two assassins who allegedly poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury [England (2018)], had been in the country shortly before the explosion took place.

    The pair, real names Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, had arranged to visit the depot using false passports. The open source outfit Bellingcat revealed that four other GRU officers flew into Prague during the operation, including the commander of the GRU’s secret 29155 military unit, Gen Andrei Averyanov. The depot had been due to send the weapons to Ukraine.

    Russia responded to Saturday’s expulsions by ordering out 20 diplomats from the Czech Republic’s mission in Moscow. The Czech embassy is much smaller than its giant Russian counterpart. The Czech government said it had now been paralysed and gave the Kremlin a deadline for its staff to be reinstated — without success.

    On Thursday Czech foreign minister Jakub Kulhánek said more Russian diplomats would therefore be expelled in order to equalise staffing at the two missions. They had to leave by end May, he said. “We do not want to escalate. But the Czech Republic is a sovereign country,” he pointed out.

    He described Kremlin spying as a “huge security challenge” and said the stand-off with Moscow over the GRU’s clandestine activities was “the biggest problem in this area in several decades”.

  117. says


    BREAKING: The House just passed a bill that would make DC a state.

    The Senate must follow suit.

    It’s about time Congress use its constitutional authority to grant full representation to DC residents.

  118. says


    Nominations for the Postal Board of Governors are being considered in the Senate right now.

    A full, functioning board of governors is critical for a strong USPS.

    We urge the Senate to fill these vacancies immediately.

    Join us in demanding a USPS that’s committed to its mission….

  119. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The Covid situation is improving in France, three weeks after the country entered its third lockdown to rein in the disease, Prime Minister Jean Castex is reported by Reuters to have said during a press conference.

    PA Media reports:

    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said there had been 168 cases up to 14 April of blood clots with low platelet counts in the UK in people who had had the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

    The cases, reported through the Yellow Card scheme, occurred in 93 women and 75 men aged from 18 to 93 years old.

    The regulator, which gave the figures in its weekly summary of Yellow Card reporting, said the overall case fatality rate was 19% with 32 deaths.

    One case was reported after a second dose.

  120. says

    Postmaster General DeJoy is running a ‘covert operation’ to monitor social media

    U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy can’t be bothered to ensure that his organization, the U.S. Postal Service, does its sole job of delivering the mail on time. In fact, he’s working to undermine that mission […] While he’s not running the Postal Service, he is apparently overseeing a covert operations program monitoring Americans’ social media activity. Yes. You read that right. DeJoy has a force of federal law enforcement officers who are monitoring internet activity. To make it worse, he has pulled the officers who protect the actual mail and letter carriers off the streets. Clearly his priority is not the U.S. mail.

    This bombshell exclusive in at Yahoo News is real, uncovered by a document sent to state, local, and federal law enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security detailing one of its operations. The law enforcement branch of the USPS has been conducting surveillance, in what they call iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, for an undetermined length of time according to the document obtained by Yahoo News. It is tracking and collecting social media posts, including information about planned protests.

    [snipped details from the document] That the government is monitoring those groups is not a surprise. That the USPS is doing it is just bizarre.

    […] “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the primary law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service,” the statement said. “As such, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has federal law enforcement officers, Postal Inspectors, who enforce approximately 200 federal laws to achieve the agency’s mission: protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail.” Again, how that mission is furthered by this iCOP is not made clear in this statement. “The Internet Covert Operations Program is a function within the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which assesses threats to Postal Service employees and its infrastructure by monitoring publicly available open source information,” the statement read.

    […] This could be a joint venture between DeJoy and whichever Trump DHS acting chief was around at the time—Ken Cuccinelli or Chad Wolf. In fact, it sounds very much like Trump DHS kind of thing that the Biden administration didn’t know exists. Who knows who’s burrowed into the DHS or Department of Justice from the last guy’s administration and has been working with DeJoy to keep this thing going.

    Here’s one thing we do know about DeJoy and law enforcement. Last August, he ordered Postal Police Officers (PPO), the uniformed police force of the Postal Service, to stop patrolling. The order was to “end all mail-protection and other law-enforcement activity away from the confines of postal real estate,” according to a complaint filed by the the Postal Police Officers Association (PPOA). That meant ending protection for letter carriers on unsafe routes. It meant patrols to protect blue mail collection boxes and mail vehicles.

    […] “It seems that the Inspection Service trusts its predominantly white criminal investigators with law enforcement authority which is ostensibly unbounded, but the opposite is true for the predominantly Black and Brown postal police officers,” Albergo told Daily Kos. “I would argue that PPOs are one of the most successful police forces in America insofar as respecting the rights of citizens. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the Agency. Our officers are the wrong color. It’s disgraceful.”

    It could also be coming to an end. The confirmation hearing in the Senate Homeland Security Committee for President Joe Biden’s nominees for the Postal Service Board of Governors is Thursday morning. The board will have the power to fire Louis DeJoy and the power to reinstate the PPO force and its mission to protecting postal employees and the mail. It even has the power to make delivering the mail quickly and efficiently the USPS main mission once again.

  121. says

    blf @156, I thought I recognized those names.

    It said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two assassins who allegedly poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury [England (2018)], had been in the country shortly before the explosion took place.

    SC, your comment 158 and the news I posted in comment 160 go together to show just how urgent it is to get rid of DeJoy. I can see his end coming soon.

  122. says

    At one time, the United Mine Workers of America boasted more than 800,000 members. When the union went on strike, it brought the nation to its knees, got U.S. presidents involved in negotiations with mine owners—and became the target of mercenary armies, federal troops, and military bombers sent by the Army.

    But that was then. Today the UMWA still counts 80,000 members, but fewer than 20,000 are actually working coal miners. Considering that there are now just 43,600 people employed in the entire coal industry—and that includes office workers and management—that’s not an unexpected number. It’s also not a recent development. Well before the current collapse of the coal market, which began around 2008 when fracking made natural gas cost-competitive with coal, the number of coal miners in the U.S. had already dropped by over 90%.

    That decline is continuing. In just the last year under Donald Trump, 7,000 coal miners lost their job, In fact, there were 12,000 fewer coal miners at the end of Trump’s time in the White House than there were when he came in. That’s how much Trump dug coal. The industry was never more than a prop to him—it was just another way to “own the libs.”

    For decades, the idea of coal mining has been much bigger than the number of actual coal miners. Even so, this is still a very big deal: The president of the largest coal mining union has acknowledged it’s time to stop talking about preserving coal jobs, and to move on to talking about what happens next. […]

    The president of the UMWA, Cecil Roberts, made an online speech to the National Press Club on Monday in which his main concern was not keeping miners in the mines, but dealing with the fact that many workers in fossil fuels—not just coal, but also oil and gas—are losing them jobs, or soon will be, as both the market and climate change demand a switchover to clean power. And Roberts introduced a plan for “preserving coal country” that, notably, includes endorsement of expanding federal tax incentives for renewable energy, supporting Biden’s plan to plug old oil and gas wells, and additional funding to clean up abandoned mines.

    Roberts announced that he was willing to support President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, if that plan includes helping to provide jobs for those displaced from mining. “I think we need to provide a future for those people, a future for anybody that loses their job because of a transition in this country, regardless if it’s coal, oil, gas or any other industry for that matter.″ […]


  123. blf says

    Protests across Malawi as mobile phone charges soar:

    Mobiles are now a luxury in world’s fifth most costly place for data as cooking oil tax adds to rising prices

    Hundreds of people have taken to Malawi’s streets to protest against rising mobile call and data charges.

    There were demonstrations in Lilongwe, the capital, in the city of Blantyre, and in the southern district of Mulanje on Wednesday.

    Sylvester Namiwa, executive director of the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), a pressure group, said: “Malawians are struggling to make ends meet due to … the high cost of essential commodities and services such as water, electricity, cooking oil, fuel and mobile phone charges.”

    Namiwa described the mobile tariffs as “exorbitant” and said vulnerable and marginalised Malawians were being punished. He added: “It is against this background that CDEDI has launched a crusade to liberate Malawians from decades of economic bondage.”


    Gospel Kazako, the information minister, has held meetings with the country’s regulatory authorities to engage mobile companies to reduce charges.

    “To own a smartphone is like a crime because of the cost of data,” Kazako was quoted by the Malawi News Agency as saying last year. “Internet data is being sold at 80 cents per second and expires within the specified time usage yet in our neighbouring country, Tanzania, the cost of data is as less as 4 cents per second.”

    The Grauniad is unclear on what currency Minister Kazako is refering to. The Malawi currency is Malawian kwacha, which “is divided into 100 tambalas”, so his use (as quoted (in translation?)) of “cents” suggests USD, albeit other currencies are also divided into cents. People in the States can perhaps correct me, but 0,80USD per second is very exorbitant. (I cannot meaningfully compare to my plan here in France, which is up to so-and-so many gigabytes per month on a fast network for a flat fee.) The recently-published Worldwide mobile data pricing 2021: The cost of 1GB of mobile data in 230 countries (cited in the Grauniad’s article), puts Malawi at, on average, 25,46USD, Tanzania at 0,75USD, France at 0,41USD, teh “U”K at 1,42USD, and the States at 3,33USD (all figures per 1GB (and transcribed by hand, so apologies for any errors)).

    “Malawians feel like they are being skinned alive and they are much worried with the development because it is the mobile companies that are celebrating for making huge profits.”


  124. says

    School apologizes for teaching fourth-graders that slaves freely chose to come to America

    A fourth grade teacher at Jefferson Road Elementary in Pittsford, N.Y., used a worksheet that asked “Why did slaves come to America?”

    A fill-in-the-blank answer was provided that read “As an exchange for the trip to America, African Americans agreed to work for colonists for _____ years, but then were kept as slaves.”

    While the incident occurred in January, a parent brought the worksheet to the attention of district officials Tuesday. […]

    “The worksheet was in no way an accurate depiction of slavery during Colonial Times and was highly insensitive in tone,” school officials said. […]

  125. says

    Tucker Carlson’s college yearbook reveals he belonged to club for Harvey Milk’s murderer

    Carlson’s Trinity College yearbook entry listed him as part of the “Dan White Society” and the “Jesse Helms Foundation.”

    White was the man who killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, in 1978.

    Helms was a former North Carolina senator who vehemently opposed homosexuality and the integration of schools. […]

  126. says


    Here’s some good news for people who don’t like it when children go hungry. The USDA announced Tuesday that it’s extending the universal free lunch services through the 2021 to 2022 school year. This will (positively!) impact the estimated 12 million kids who experience food insecurity. It also (positively!) impacts all the children.

    In March, the USDA said the waivers that made school meals more flexible to administer during the COVID-19 pandemic would extend only to September 30. This left schools and families uncertain about what would happen during the next school year.

    The Washington Post reports:

    Child nutrition program waivers, which aimed to cut through red tape to allow kids to eat free even outside normal meal times, were implemented at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, at a time when millions of families faced financial strain, hunger and hardship. The waivers allowed schools and community organizations to adapt programs to better meet the needs of children and families.

    The waivers provided access to free, nutritious meals for all children, which they could pick up outside of traditional group settings and rigid mealtimes. Parents could pick up multiple days of food at once for students learning at home. Meals in many cases were also dropped off at a student’s home if they were remote learning either part or full-time.

    “States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall. USDA answered the call to help America’s schools and childcare institutions serve high quality meals while being responsive to their local needs as children safely return to their regular routines,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It’s a win-win for kids, parents and schools.”

    Lisa Davis, a senior vice president at Share Our Strength, a charity combating hunger, said the advance notice regarding the upcoming school year offers much-needed lead time for schools and community organizations to plan and budget. According to Davis, last year was more chaotic than necessary. This was because the previous White House squatter’s administration resisted calls to extend the benefit last summer. This was while childhood hunger rates were rising to the highest levels in decades.

    It apparently bugged the past horror show administration that, as the pandemic raged through the nation, families were able to pick up free meals at whichever school was closest to them. They also weren’t required to provide evidence of their poverty. Keep in mind that Betsy DeVos was still Education secretary, and she famously boasted about telling Bernie Sanders to his face that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” […] In fairness, though, the school lunch program falls under the purview of the Agriculture secretary. That was Sonny Perdue, who Made School Lunches Great Again! by freeing children from the tyranny of vegetables, we guess.

    Anyway, the waiver increased the reimbursement rate to schools from $3.60 per lunch served at the free rate to the summer rate of $4.25. This helped fund the higher costs for boxes and bags for to-go options, increased transportation and labor costs, as well as additional personal protective equipment. […]

    Universal free lunch programs can also address the “lunch debt” crisis, where K through 12 students didn’t have enough money to pay for meals in the school cafeteria so they were racking up debt. According to 2018 survey of 1,550 districts nationwide by the School Nutrition Association, 75 percent of US school districts had unpaid student meal debt. Betsy DeVos could’ve covered that debt with the change from her couch cushions. Sonny Perdue could’ve chipped in, as well.

    A family of four had to make less than $32,630 a year to qualify for free lunch under the National School Lunch Program. That’s a set level across every state, except for Alaska and Hawaii. Kids who lived in high-cost regions, such as Washington DC, Los Angeles, and New York, for example, were at a disadvantage compared to (mostly white) children in rural areas. We’re sure that was a coincidence. […]


  127. says

    Wonkette: “Whiny-Ass Republicans Don’t WANNA Go To President Joe Biden’s First Address To Congress”

    […] President Joe Biden is giving his first address to Congress next Wednesday, which will roughly coincide with his 100th day in office. It’s not a State of the Union, because those don’t happen in a president’s first year. And it’s not going to be the same foofaraw it usually is, because of this damned pandemic.

    Nevertheless, the show will go on!

    But Punchbowl News reports that a number of Republicans don’t WANNA go. “The GOP leadership tells us the appetite by the rank-and-file members to be there in person is nil,” Punchbowl says, noting that the House isn’t in session that day, which means some members would have to make special arrangements […]

    As far as GOP senators, Tom Cotton says “Ha. No comment.”

    […] Josh Hawley says, “I don’t know the answer to that” and “I haven’t decided.” He probably is just never sure whether he’ll be busy helping incite a domestic terrorist attack against the Capitol on any given day, and if this event is also at the Capitol, that could just make things confusing.

    Over in the House, Rep. Rodney Davis says, “I’m not going to go. They announced it late and we already have plans for our week not being here.” […] Cathy McMorris Rodgers says “I haven’t been invited.” And it’s true, not everybody is getting invited this year, because pandemic. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is giving out invites evenly between Rs and Ds, but some House Republicans are very upset about this and fired off a letter earlier this week demanding Pelosi reschedule the address for a time that’s better for them and to please invite everyone. Pelosi has not seen fit to respond […]

    […] Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is in, and Lindsey Graham says, “I don’t agree with his policies but he’s a fine man.” Even Marsha Blackburn says, “I imagine we’ll attend.”

    As for the whiny-asses, we figure we’ll be hearing from people both-sides-ing over the next week about how some Democrats didn’t go to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union, or to his inauguration. And you know what? Good point, Chuck-Todd-Of-The-Future!

    […] Donald Trump was an un-American authoritarian white supremacist who lost the popular vote by millions in 2016, and it’s increasingly clear he only pulled his Rust Belt squeaker in the Electoral College because of a direct pipeline between his campaign and Russian intelligence services.

    Joe Biden, on the other hand, won the popular vote by approximately seven million and won the Electoral College by the same margin Russia won it in 2016. He is a legitimate president, and not an authoritarian un-American white supremacist. This is different.

    Punchbowl notes that it’s going to be quite a visual, as for the first time in the history of everything, the president will be flanked by TWO women. We’re used to seeing Speaker Nancy Pelosi up there, but now she’ll be sitting next to Vice President Kamala Harris.

    So that’ll be very cool.


  128. blf says

    It’s unclear if this was a prank, or more skullduggery by Russia, European MPs targeted by deepfake video calls imitating Russian opposition:

    Politicians from the UK, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania tricked by fake meetings with opposition figures

    A series of senior European MPs have been approached in recent days by individuals who appear to be using deepfake filters to imitate Russian opposition figures during video calls.

    Those tricked include Rihards Kols, who chairs the foreign affairs committee of Latvia’s parliament, as well as MPs from Estonia and Lithuania. Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the UK foreign affairs select committee, has also said he was targeted.

    “Putin’s Kremlin is so weak and frightened of the strength of @navalny they’re conducting fake meetings to discredit the Navalny team,” Tugendhat posted in a tweet, referring to the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “They got through to me today. They won’t broadcast the bits where I call Putin a murderer and thief, so I’ll put it here.”

    Kols uploaded a photograph of Leonid Volkov, an ally of Navalny, and a screenshot of his doppelganger taken from the video call. Volkov said the two looked virtually identical. “Looks like my real face — but how did they manage to put it on the Zoom call? Welcome to the deepfake era …” he wrote.

    [… tangled tale of who may, or may not, be responsible…]

  129. says

    On the Supreme Court, Ted Cruz pretends to forget his own record

    “You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game,” Cruz claimed, referring to the Supreme Court. Actually, senator…

    Realistically, the odds of Democrats approving major judicial reforms aren’t great. A group of Democrats unveiled a bill this week to increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court from 9 justices to 13, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters she has “no plans” to bring the proposal to the floor.

    […] the bill now has just 12 co-sponsors, and in the Senate, a companion bill was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), but it currently has zero co-sponsors.

    Nevertheless, Republicans are pretending to be deeply concerned about the matter, leading Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) to hold a press conference in front of the Supreme Court this morning. Much of the rhetoric was boilerplate — there were several references to a “power grab” — but Cruz went a little further than his GOP colleagues with this line:

    “You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court.”

    Well, a couple of things.

    […] when there was a GOP majority in the Senate, Republicans didn’t have much of a need to “rig the game,” because the Supreme Court was already conservative. Remember, at no point in Ted Cruz’s lifetime has a majority of the high court been appointed by Democratic presidents.

    […] The late Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly on Feb. 13, 2016. Exactly one day later, the Texas senator appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to insist that the Senate had “no obligation” whatsoever to consider any nominee to fill the Supreme Court’s vacancy. In fact, Cruz endorsed an unprecedented partisan blockade, insisting that the high court have eight members for 11 months.

    He and his party, in other words, were eager to “rig the game” in their favor.

    As Election Day 2016 drew closer, and Cruz — like nearly everyone else on Capitol Hill — assumed that Donald Trump would lose, the Texas Republican went further and suggested he was prepared to leave Scalia’s vacancy unfilled for another four years.

    […] Cruz wasn’t alone. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in the runup to Election Day, “If Hillary [Clinton] becomes president, I’m going to do everything I can do to make sure that four years from now, we’re still going to have an opening on the Supreme Court.” […]

    Four years later, after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, Senate Republicans conveniently abandoned every principal they swore to value in 2016 and confirmed a new Supreme Court justice – eight days before Election Day 2020, as tens of millions of voters cast early ballots.

    All of which brings us back to Cruz’s insistence this morning: “You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game.”

    Yeah, senator, we did.

  130. blf says

    Johnny Enlow Claims Trump Is on Assignment From God to take down George Soros, Bill Gates, and Others:

    QAnon conspiracy theorist and supposed “prophet” Johnny Enlow […] claimed that former President [sic] Donald Trump is working with angels, specifically the archangels Gabriel and Michael, to take down Bill Gates, George Soros, and other powerful figures who supposedly control the world. [what? no Trilateral Commission, Club of Rome, Illuminati, poopyhead and teh evil cat, &tc? the loons seem less creative these days… –blf]

    [This loony] insisted that Trump is still the legitimate president but was removed from office by God so that he could work behind the scenes to take down members of the evil cabal that secretly controls world events, such as the Rothchild and the Rockefeller familes. [ah, good, some old-fashioned antisemitism… –blf]

    President Trump is on assignment and he’s anointed by God and the archangels are working with him, Enlow continued [eyes spinning furiously as spittle dripped off the microphone… –blf]. Michael is working with — it’s not that he’s serving Trump, it’s the other way around — and Zerachiel and Gabriel; but what they are going after and what is being contended for — and it’s just about done — is the seats that we’re talking about, like the Soros and the Gates and the Rothchilds, those seats that really control and effect world dynamics. Those things are being taken care of behind the scenes, and it would have been harder for President Trump to do so staying seated in the other seat. [and we’ll prove the Chicago Cubs didn’t win the 2016 World Series, π = 3, and flying saucers from outer space are colluding with Bigfoot to put a taco truck on every street corner! –blf]

  131. birgerjohansson says

    The British local elections are up. They have a tradition of joke candidates, and one running for mayor of London has some excellent ideas. You could try google
    “Count Binface has released his political manifesto for London”

  132. blf says

    Follow-up to @173, Count Binface (formerly known as Lord Buckethead) Mayoral Manifesto 2021:

    (4) No shop to be allowed to sell a croissant for more than £1. [1,15€ or so (croissants locally sell for around 1€)]
    (5) Free parking between Vine Street and The Strand (for electric vehicles only). [broadly, from Piccadilly Circus to The Strand, around 2km, through central London …]
    (8) At Trafalgar Square, Sir David Attenborough to be placed on the Fourth Plinth. Or a statue of him. Either’s fine.
    (9) Speaker phones on public transport to be banned. Offenders to be forced to watch the movie version of Cats every day for a year.
    (10) London to join the EU.
    (11) All government ministers’ pay, including the mayor’s, to be tied to that of nurses for the next 100 years. [YES! …]
    (15) I will create a Smart Speaker’s Corner, replacing the usual nutters who stand around at Hyde Park Corner with state-of-the-art technology that (a) understands the Earth is round, and (b) will perform a fart sound on command. The current incumbents can only do the latter.

  133. says

    blf @174, all very good ideas as far as I can tell. :-)

    In other news, Republicans Erupt After Dem Rep. Calls Their DC Statehood Arguments ‘Racist Trash’

    Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) took the floor Thursday morning, one of a long line of representatives getting a minute of floor time to make the case for D.C. statehood before the House passed it this afternoon.

    “I have had enough of my colleagues’ racist insinuations that somehow the people of Washington D.C. are incapable or even unworthy of our democracy,” he started.

    “One Senate Republican said that D.C. wouldn’t be a ‘well-rounded working class state,’” he chuckled, referring to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). “I had no idea there were so many syllables in the word ‘white.’”

    “One of my House Republican colleagues said that D.C. shouldn’t be a state because the district doesn’t have a landfill — my goodness!” he exclaimed. “With all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to this debate, I can see why they’re worried about having a place to put it.”

    About halfway through his sentence, the Republican side of the chamber erupted. “Mr. Speaker, point of order!” someone shouted. Jones glanced over, but continued speaking.

    “The truth is, there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising over 700,000 people, Mr. Speaker, most of whom are people of color,” he said.

    The yells on the Republican side grew louder, as representatives demanded that Jones’ words be struck from the record.

    “Do your job!” Republicans yelled at the presiding speaker. “Read the rules!”

    Jones gave his consent for his words to be withdrawn, then finished his speech.

    “These desperate objections are about fear — fear that in D.C., their white supremacist politics will no longer play,” Jones said. “Fear that soon enough, their white supremacist politics won’t work anywhere in America. Fear that if they don’t rig our democracy, they will not win.”

    With that, Jones left the microphone, leaving Republicans stewing in his wake.

    The House voted on H.R. 51 Thursday, passing the bill along party lines that would make Washington D.C. the 51st state, with one representative and two senators.

    Republicans are adamantly against the measure, offering up a series of arguments — people in D.C. don’t have “real” jobs, D.C. isn’t capable of self-governance — that many have panned as racist in a city in which Black residents comprise 47 percent of the population. The largely unspoken crux of their resistance is that if bright blue D.C. does become a state, its senators and representatives would reliably be Democrats.

    Some Republican arguments have become targets for mockery: earlier this week, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) claimed that “D.C. wouldn’t even qualify as a singular congressional district.” Standing over her shoulder was Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) whose entire state is less populous than Washington D.C.

    Republicans also like arguing that granting D.C. statehood would be unconstitutional, because the Constitution gives Congress the power “to exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over “the Seat of the Government of the United States.”

    The House bill addresses this though, and would silo “the principal federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and the federal executive, legislative, and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building” into a federal district separate from the rest of the city, which would become a state.

    Still, while GOP objection to D.C. statehood is more rooted in political calculus than anything else, the House bill’s passage through the Senate faces long odds with the legislative filibuster still in place. And even aside from the near certainty that it would attract no Senate GOP support, multiple moderate Democrats have so far declined to come down one way or another.

    The Biden administration officially came out in favor of D.C. statehood this week in a policy statement.

    “For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress,” the statement said. “This taxation without representation and denial of self governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our nation was founded.”

  134. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States politics blog:

    The Senate has passed the anti-Asian hate crimes bill in a vote of 94 to 1, after Democrat Mazie Hirono worked with some of her Republican colleagues to ensure bipartisan support for the legislation.

    Josh Hawley, a Republican of Missouri, was the only senator to vote against the bill. Five others — Republicans Marsha Blackburn, Mike Lee and Rand Paul and Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith — did not vote.

    (Klobuchar and Smith were both in their home state of Minnesota to attend the funeral of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center police earlier this month.)


    The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to pass. Joe Biden has also signaled he will sign the bill once it reaches his desk.

    The legislation would create a new justice department position to more quickly review hate crime reports linked to the coronavirus pandemic and provide support to state and local officials responding to hate crimes.


    According to CNN, Senate overwhelmingly passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill:

    Last week, Hawley indicated his opposition to the bill, saying it was too broad and open-ended since it mandates all this data collection in expansive categories that the federal government will collect and maintain.

    Vox explains what Hawley might be objecting to, The Senate strongly condemns anti-Asian hate crimes by passing new bill:

    The legislation, while somewhat narrow, intends to bolster hate crime tracking by designating a Justice Department official to specifically review potential hate crime incidents, providing grants for regional law enforcement agencies to set up reporting hotlines, and offering training to police on how to handle hate crime response.


    The passage of this bill […] makes some inroads to gathering better information about hate crimes in general: Currently, thousands of hate crimes go unreported each year, and federal data is also lacking since local law enforcement agencies don’t always keep tabs on or communicate their numbers.

    As ProPublica’s Ken Schwencke reported in 2017 [Why America Fails at Gathering Hate Crime Statistics], there are serious gaps in the records that law enforcement agencies keep:

    The evidence suggests that many police agencies across the country are not working very hard to count hate crimes. Thousands of them opt not to participate in the FBI’s hate crime program at all. Among the 15,000 that do, some 88 percent reported they had no hate crimes. According to federal records, the Huntsville Police Department has never reported a hate crime.

    Local law enforcement agencies reported a total of 6,121 hate crimes in 2016 to the FBI, but estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the federal government, pin the number of potential hate crimes at almost 250,000 a year — one indication of the inadequacy of the FBI’s data.

    [… many more details…]

  135. tomh says

    Sotomayor Pens ‘Brutal’ Dissent by Repeatedly Citing Kavanaugh Back at Himself as Conservative Majority ‘Guts’ Precedent in Juvenile Punishment Case
    COLIN KALMBACHER Apr 22nd, 2021

    The Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday significantly rolled back the rights of juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole.

    Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of a 6-3 conservative majority over the objection of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was joined by liberal colleagues Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan in a “brutal” dissent that repeatedly cited Kavanaugh’s own words back at him.

    Details of the case at the link, including quotes from the dissent. Sotomayor is the best.

  136. says

    tomh @177, this text seems to also be very important:

    “Rather than read Miller and Montgomery fairly, the Court reprises Justice [Antonin] Scalia’s dissenting view in Montgomery that Miller requires only a ‘youth-protective procedure,’” the dissent argued. “Justice Scalia’s view did not prevail, however. Montgomery’s interpretation of Miller is binding precedent, just as Miller itself is.”

  137. says

    Follow-up to comments 177 and 178.

    The Supreme Court spent more than a decade putting limits on the punishments dealt out to people who commit crimes as children. The Trump Supreme Court abruptly turned back that progress on Thursday, with a 6-3 decision making it easier to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent for the ages, shredding Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s majority opinion with repeated reference to Kavanaugh’s own past writing in which he preached respect for precedent.

    “Today, the Court guts Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana,” Sotomayor wrote—the first a decision banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles and the second making Miller retroactive and banning not just mandatory life-without-parole sentences but going a step further, limiting life without parole to “all but the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.” In Jones v. Mississippi, the case decided Thursday, a man who killed his grandfather as a 15-year-old in 2004 challenged a judge’s imposition of life without parole because the judge did not describe him as permanently incorrigible.

    […] In prison, he [Brett Jones, the man seeking to be released from a life sentence without parole] has earned his GED. His grandmother—the widow of the man he killed—is “steadfast in her belief that Brett is not and never was irreparably corrupt.”

    To Kavanaugh, the fact that the judge exercised discretion without formally considering whether Jones was permanently incorrigible was good enough. To Sotomayor, “the court is fooling no one” in the pretense that this was not a major rollback of earlier decisions—the kind of rollback that should require an admission that a precedent is being overturned.

    ”The Court simply rewrites Miller and Montgomery to say what the Court now wishes they had said, and then denies that it has done any such thing,” Sotomayor wrote. “The Court knows what it is doing.”

    Of course it does. But it comes as no surprise that the man who, red-faced and screaming, lied his way through his confirmation hearing would write opinions lying about what he was doing to precedent once he was on the court. […]


    We also learned that Brett Jones “was a victim of abuse by multiple people in his life, including the grandfather he stabbed to death—then tried to save with CPR.”

    Kavanaugh’s brain does not work well enough to be a Supreme Court Justice. He is a disgrace.

  138. says

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) excommunicated a prominent sex therapist on Wednesday, citing her criticism of the church and its leaders on social media.

    Natasha Helfer was excommunicated in a letter from a regional LDS official, Stake President Stephen Daley, who wrote that her “clear and deliberate opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, and its leaders” prevented her from being a member in good standing, according to The Washington Post.

    The expulsion occurred after she was summoned to a disciplinary hearing in Derby, Kan., despite living in Utah, which she refused to enter after from being barred from entering the hearing with her cellphone upon which she had written notes for her defense.

    Helfer has contended, according to the newspaper, that her expulsion was due to her work as a therapist, which Daley denied in his letter.

    “After carefully and prayerfully considering this matter,” read the letter, according to the Associated Press. “it was the decision of the council to withdraw your church membership in response to conduct contrary to the law and order of the church.”

    “Your professional activities played no part in the decision of the council,” Daley wrote, according to the Post. “Rather, as stated in my prior letter to you, the sole purpose of this council was to consider your repeated, clear and public opposition to and condemnation of the church, its doctrines, its policies and its leaders.”

    In one social media post with which church officials took issue, Helfer referred to high-ranking LDS members as “patriarchal pricks,” a term she defended in an interview with the Post as a response to homophobia being spread by church elders.

    “When will they stop calling homosexual people degenerate and perverse and unholy?” Helfer told the Post. “They’re upset that I called them patriarchal pricks. If they want me to stop saying bad words, they need to stop calling other people bad words.”

    The Mormon church has traditionally taken a combative stance towards the LGTBQ community, including opposing gay marriage and more recently opposing Utah’s bill to ban “conversion therapy,” a widely discredited field that seeks to alter a person’s sexual orientation, for minors. That opposition failed, despite the political power of the church in Utah, and the practice was banned for minors in 2020.


    She’s better off being out of that religion.

  139. blf says

    New Oklahoma law targets protesters while protecting drivers who hit them:

    A new Oklahoma law [HB 1674] protects drivers who unintentionally injure or kill demonstrators from any liability, while simultaneously subjecting protesters who block roadways to jail time and hefty fines.


    “They are targeting groups of protesters who are just wanting to use their freedom of speech, passing bills that will intimidate them in the hopes of keeping people from using their first amendment rights, passing bills that decriminalize the murder of protesters, which is absolutely insane,” said Adriana Laws, founder of the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition.

    Because of HB 1674, a driver who unintentionally causes injury or death while exercising due care will not be criminally or civilly liable if they reasonably believe they’re fleeing from a riot where they will be harmed.

    Obstruction of a public street, highway or road will now constitute a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in a county jail and fees as high as $5,000. Anyone who commits the offense will be liable for damages.

    [… C]ars have become a weapon among those hoping to disrupt demonstrations, or drivers who get flummoxed and enraged. People drove their vehicles into protests more than 100 times last summer, and at least two protesters were fatally struck, according to USA Today.


    The bill was among a series of reactionary legislative proposals that some fear could hinder Oklahomans’ ability to protest. Another — which criminalizes posting personal information about law enforcement officers online, and which advocates believe could deal a blow to accountability — has also become law.


    Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, spoke in a video from February about his desire for legislation like HB 1674. Beyond protecting drivers who run people over, he hoped those who were obstructing traffic would be held liable — I guess if they’re alive — if there’s anything left of ’em.

    If you’re unlawfully blocking a roadway for the intent purpose of possibly doing damage, to scare people, to harm people, he warned, folks, you could be treaded on with the car tires.

  140. says

    Navalny in an Instagram post:

    “People are marching in the street. It means they know and understand everything,” said Navalny. “They won’t give up their future, the future of their children, their country. Yes, it will be difficult and dark for some time. But those pulling Russia back historically are doomed. There are more of us in any case.”

    The entire post, in Russian, can be viewed Here

  141. says


    People need money in order to live. In order to get money to live, those people need jobs. Not just any jobs, mind you, they need jobs that pay them enough to live on. Unfortunately, in these United States, we don’t currently have enough living wage jobs for everyone to have one, which means that 9.71 million American adults are currently unemployed and 30 million American adults are earning less than $15 an hour. That’s really, really bad. That’s “the population of the state of California” bad. Or “78 Wyomings” bad. We only have 328 million people in this country.

    We also need to start doing more to take care of the planet because, well, we live here.

    This week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Ed Markey, and other congressional Democrats introduced legislation to do something about both of those problems. The plan is to create a Civilian Climate Corps that will help the United States get its act together environmentally while also providing 1.5 million good jobs for people who need them. Nice!

    The bill states:

    The Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act of 2021 establishes a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service within AmeriCorps. A diverse and equitable group of 1.5 million Americans over 5 years will complete federally funded projects that help communities respond to climate change and transition to a clean economy. CCC work will reduce carbon emissions, enable a transition to renewable energy, build healthier and more resilient communities, implement conservation projects with proven climate benefits, and help communities recover from climate disasters. At the same time, participants, or “corpsmembers,” will receive education and training in coordination with local institutions, including labor unions, to usher them into good jobs, and especially good union jobs. The corps will coordinate closely with local groups to help develop career pathways and union opportunities in new green sectors.

    It’s like chocolate and peanut butter — two great tastes that taste great together. And America agrees. According to a poll conducted by Data for Progress, 60 percent of us are behind the idea of a Civilian Climate Corp, and only 14 percent strongly oppose it. The Biden administration supports it, progressives like Markey and AOC are drafting it up, and moderates like Pete Buttigieg are behind it as well, so … unity! […]


  142. says

    WTF? What kind of fuckery is this?

    “Minnesota gasps at the financial damage it faces from the Texas freeze.”

    Washington Post link

    When Texas’ natural gas supplies froze up, prices soared, and now Minnesota’s customers are looking at an $800 million bill. One utility, headquartered in Houston, is taking an especially aggressive tack.

    When that big freeze hit Texas in February, the Lone Star State couldn’t help but share its pain.

    With its ill-equipped natural gas systems clocked by the cold, Texas’s exports across the Rio Grande froze up and 4.7 million customers in northern Mexico went without electricity — more than in Texas itself. The spot price of gas jumped 30-fold as far west as Southern California. And all the way up by the Canadian border, gas utilities in Minnesota that turned to the daily spot market to meet demand say they had to pay about $800 million more than planned over the course of just five days as the Texas freeze-up pinched off supplies.

    “The ineptness and disregard for common-sense utility regulation in Texas makes my blood boil and keeps me up at night,” Katie Sieben, chairwoman of the Minnesota Public Utility Commission, said in an interview. “It is maddening and outrageous and completely inexcusable that Texas’s lack of sound utility regulation is having this impact on the rest of the country.”

    […] in a state that eschews regulation, driving energy producers to cut costs as deeply as they can to remain competitive, things went spectacularly wrong the week of Valentine’s Day.

    Minnesota’s biggest gas companies are putting forward plans to recoup their expenses by adding a surcharge to customers’ bills, which the state utility commission would first have to approve. Normally, such adjustments to account for winter prices go into effect in September, but Minnesota’s biggest gas utility, Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, says the financial pinch is so great it wants to start billing customers next month — and charging them nearly 9 percent interest until the extraordinary costs are paid off.

    At the same time, the company’s CEO, David Lesar, has been assuring investors that the company has access to plenty of cash and its weather-related costs nationally are not a concern.

    […] In Minnesota, where the temperature dropped below minus-20 degrees in February and scarcely a single customer lost gas or electricity, state officials are struggling to come up with an equitable solution to a debacle made in Texas.

    Gas prices in Minnesota rose to 70 times their normal level, as deliveries to the state’s main trading hub dropped by 39 percent.

    “I don’t think we even yet truly understand what happened,” said state Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), a former Minnesota legislature majority leader. “I hope they realize they better get their system a little more solid,” he said of Texas. “Unfortunate. You could use stronger words, but I better not. […]

    Senjem sponsored a bill that would provide $115 million in state funds as relief for hard-pressed residents and municipally owned small utilities. It passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House. He said he hopes federal funds from the American Rescue Plan act could also come into play.

    […] CenterPoint says it needs to impose a monthly surcharge on its customers for the next two years to recover the extra $500 million it spent on gas during that one week in February. Tacked onto the surcharge would be interest of 8.75 percent. The total, the company says, would amount to between $300 and $400 per residential account. And it wants to begin billing right away, even before the utility commission has sorted out its position on what CenterPoint calls the “February market event.”

    That approach is similar to plans the company is apparently preparing to put forward in Oklahoma and Arkansas. […]

  143. says

    Republicans are plotting to use economic blackmail. Here’s how Democrats can stop them.

    Washington Post link

    As Republicans ponder the government’s fiscal landscape, they see nothing but reasons for despair. In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the recession, Congress passed enormous spending bills which not only addressed short-term problems but threaten to alter Americans’ expectations for how much support they should receive from the government. The deficit is extremely large — and Republicans tell themselves that contrary to their own record, they really do hate deficits.

    Perhaps worst of all for Republicans, a Democratic president and Congress are no longer intimidated by talk of rising debt, no longer cowed into accepting austerity policies. President Biden is ignoring the deficit and riding high in the polls.
    So what are they to do? Some of them are contemplating an economic suicide bombing, in the form of a refusal to raise the debt ceiling: […]

    This would be a rerun of Barack Obama’s presidency, when Republicans used the threat of a default on the United States’ debts to blackmail him into accepting spending cuts while the economy was still recovering from the Great Recession, making that recovery longer and slower than it needed to be.

    One suspects that Democrats, including Biden, have learned the lesson of those years, which is to not negotiate with economic terrorists. But they need to go farther.

    They have to kill the debt ceiling entirely. Kill it with fire. Drown it and shoot it and bury it. Strap it to a rocket and launch it into the sun. Enough is enough.

    The debt ceiling is a bizarre quirk of the U.S. budgeting process that exists in almost no other country in the world. Its history dates to World War I-era conflicts between the executive and legislative branches, but what’s most important about it is that it does not determine how much debt the government takes on.

    The debt ceiling is an extra vote Congress has to take. Budget and tax bills actually determine how much the government spends and takes in — and therefore what the deficit and debt will be. After that, they have to pass another bill raising the debt ceiling to cover the difference.

    Until a decade ago, the debt ceiling vote was just theater: A few members of the opposition party would condemn the majority’s profligate ways and vote against it, but it would always pass. Until Obama became president and Republicans realized that if they credibly threatened to block it, the potential economic consequences of the world no longer trusting the United States’ willingness to honor obligations would be so catastrophic that it would make Obama do anything they wanted.

    Of course, they had to convince him they were reckless enough to make good on the threat. But given how crazy the GOP had become during the tea party era, it wasn’t a hard sell. At one point, Standard and Poor’s downgraded America’s debt for the first time, just on the possibility that Republicans might follow through.

    And now they want to put us through that again?

    We have to end this madness. In the past, Congress has always raised the debt ceiling to cover the spending in the budget — but only by enough to last for a year or two, ensuring that they have to keep coming back to do it again.

    So there are two ways Democrats can take care of this problem. The first is simply to write the debt ceiling out of U.S. law. Nothing about our budget will change. It won’t mean more spending or more debt, it will just mean that neither party will be able to threaten a global economic crisis to get what they want.

    If they feel that goes too far, there’s another option: Keep the debt ceiling, but make this the last time they have to vote on it. They could raise the ceiling by, let’s say, 50 quadrillion dollars. It would still be on the books, but it would be high enough that we’d never have to worry about it again.

    And they can do it through reconciliation, which they’re probably going to have to use in order to pass an infrastructure bill anyway.

    It should have happened a long time ago. So Democrats need to take this step for the good of the country, both now and in the future. Let Republicans squawk all they want.

  144. blf says

    Biden to propose nearly doubling capital gains tax for the rich:

    US President Joe Biden will propose almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for wealthy individuals to 39.6 percent, sources tell Bloomberg News.

    President Joe Biden will propose almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for wealthy individuals to 39.6%, which, coupled with an existing surtax on investment income, means that federal tax rates for investors could be as high as 43.4%, according to people familiar with the proposal.

    The plan would boost the capital gains rate to 39.6% for those earning $1 million or more, an increase from the current base rate of 20%, the people said on the condition of anonymity because the plan is not yet public. A 3.8% tax on investment income that funds Obamacare would be kept in place, pushing the tax rate on returns on financial assets higher than the top rate on wage and salary income, they said.


    The proposal could reverse a long-standing provision of the tax code that taxes returns on investment lower than on labor. Biden campaigned on equalizing the capital gains and income tax rates for wealthy individuals, saying it’s unfair that many of them pay lower rates than middle-class workers.

    […] Biden is expected to release the proposal next week as part of the tax increases to fund social spending in the forthcoming “American Families Plan.”

    That proposal, expected at around $1 trillion, will come as Congress debates how to proceed on Biden’s separate $2.25 trillion infrastructure-focused package known as the American Jobs Plan, which would be funded by tax increases on corporations.


    Congressional Democrats have separately proposed a series of changes to capital-gains taxation, including imposing the levies annually instead of when they are sold.

  145. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In what might be the boldest initiative of his Presidency, Joe Biden announced that he would strive to cut [Tucker] Carlson emissions by as much as ninety per cent by 2025.

    Underscoring the urgency of his proposal, Biden observed that Carlson emissions, even when compared to other notorious polluters like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, were especially toxic.

    The President’s ambitious plan, which includes retrofitting the nation’s televisions to automatically change the channel when Carlson appears, is unlikely to garner Republican support, but Biden remained undaunted.

    “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do this,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  146. says

    Bits and pieces of news.

    * Climate: “The U.S. aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 as part of its new commitment to the Paris climate agreement, President Joe Biden announced Thursday. Biden made the pledge, called the ‘nationally determined contribution,’ while speaking at a two-day virtual climate summit attended by dozens of world leaders Thursday morning.”

    * Ma’Khia Bryant: “Police in Columbus, Ohio, released more body-camera video Wednesday showing an officer’s point of view as he pulled his weapon, opened fire and killed a 16-year-old girl while responding to a 911 call.”

    * D.C. statehood: “A decades-long movement to reshape the American political map took a further step Thursday as the House of Representatives approved a bill to make the nation’s capital the 51st state. Voting along party lines with minority Republicans in opposition, the House approved the bill 216-208.”

    * […] “The Senate passed legislation Thursday targeting anti-Asian hate crimes after an uptick of incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lawmakers approved the measure in a 94-1 vote. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the only member to oppose the bill.”

    […] * Lowering the temperature: “Russia has ordered its troops to withdraw from the border with Ukraine after a massive military buildup that raised alarm from Western Europe to Washington. Moscow said Thursday that forces should begin returning to their permanent bases, signaling a potential end to the standoff that sparked fears of a fresh military conflict.”

    * She’ll require Senate confirmation: “President Biden on Wednesday nominated Stacey A. Dixon, an expert in intelligence technology, to serve as the nation’s No. 2 intelligence official. The nomination of Dr. Dixon, the former head of the intelligence community’s advanced research project agency, to be the office’s principal deputy director reflects the Biden administration’s interest in making technological innovation in intelligence gathering a priority.”

    * Kahl deserves better than this: “Vice President Harris cast her fourth tiebreaking vote in the Senate and her first on a nomination Wednesday night to advance Colin Kahl to be the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy. The Senate split 50-50 along party lines on a vote to discharge Kahl’s stalled nomination from the Armed Services Committee, which was deadlocked last month on moving him to the Senate floor for confirmation.”

    * It’s not your imagination that we’re still learning more about Trump-era controversies: “The Trump administration put up bureaucratic obstacles that stalled approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed an investigation into the holdup, according to an inspector general report obtained by The Washington Post.”

    * The intra-party debate over earmarks continues to be quite odd: “Senate Republicans on Wednesday afternoon stuck with their conference’s internal earmark ban, but that won’t prevent those who want funding for home-state projects from requesting it.”


  147. says

    Vague and incomplete, that’s fairly good description of the Republican infrastructure plan:

    A group of Republican senators unveiled a thin outline of their infrastructure counter-proposal Thursday, an attempt to give their members something to support rather than just opposing President Joe Biden’s expansive infrastructure package outright.

    After introducing the plan in a press briefing — $568 billion for narrowly-defined “roads and bridges”-type infrastructure — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the effort’s leader, was candid with reporters about the pressure her conference was under to put some plan forward, even a vague one that seems to ensure its own failure by taking most payment methods off the table.

    The White House, she said, wanted to see a proposal encompassing the points of Republican dissension and their own proposals “sooner than later,” she said.

    “That’s why I went ahead and insisted that we go ahead and put something out that our members can talk about, because if we don’t put any ideas on the table — shame on us,” she said.

    […] The infrastructure counterproposal skimps on the details. What it does not skimp on, however, is messaging.

    Replete with statements of principle like that the bill should raise neither taxes nor the national debt (call us if you can figure out how that would work), the GOP “plan” does exactly what Capito said: provide talking points against the Biden proposal.

    Part of this is theater, making a show of the pains they’re taking to compromise while flaunting the thought and effort that went into the counterproposal. It conveys the message that they’re hardworking legislators just like everyone else, and why can’t we all just roll up our sleeves and compromise?

    But the lack of substance speaks not only to earlier failures to define an alternative to Democratic legislation, but to a broader point: when your party has spent the last 12 years on obstruction and then repealing whatever President Obama was able to pass, there’s not much of a positive legislative agenda to push.


    Republicans still don’t know how to do the hard work it takes to come up with an actual counter proposal to anything the Biden administration has proposed.

  148. says

    A political operative who was behind robocalls urging Trump supporters to march to the Capitol on the day of the joint session of Congress ratifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory was hired on Thursday by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) — a prominent GOP group that has come under fire for promoting the rally that occurred shortly before the deadly Capitol insurrection.

    The board of RAGA voted to appoint Peter Bisbee as its new executive director, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Thursday. Bisbee previously served as the head of RAGA’s policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which financed robocalls urging its backers to “stop the steal” at the Capitol on Jan. 6. […]


    What could go wrong?

    Posted by readers of the article:

    he story here–connecting this piece with all the other stuff TPM is reporting–is that the GOP is quickly regrouping and preparing, at the state level, to steal or contest forthcoming elections with a beefed up personnel of judicial/legal criminals.
    Hopefully the DOJ and FBI and Georgia police investigative arms are closing in on RAGA associated operatives.

  149. says

    Police arrest man in connection with not one but two anti-Asian hate crimes in California

    Despite the declining reporting of anti-Asian crimes, hate crimes against the AAPI community are continuing to rise. In California a new case is reported almost every day. Multiple incidents are also going unreported, therefore remaining under the radar of media outlets. In a recent incident, a man was arrested in connection to not one but two hate crimes.

    The man—identified as 25-year-old Michael Orlando Vivona—was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and committing a hate crime, according to the Orange Police Department. Vivona allegedly punched an elderly Asian man and woman in their 70s while they were walking through a park on April 18. According to officials, Vivona ran up to the couple and first punched the man and then the woman. After the incident, bystanders quickly crowded around the suspect before officers arrived.

    […] According to the Associated Press, during Vivona’s arrest, he told police he had a “hate” or “fixation” about Asians. This led police to believe the attack was racially motivated. Vivona has been charged with two felony counts of elder abuse, two felony counts of battery hate crime causing injury, and two felony hate crime enhancements for the “unprovoked attack” against the Korean couple, District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. Vivona pleaded not guilty to every charge.

    But that’s not all: Vivona has also been identified as the same man who threatened U.S. Olympian Sakura Kokumai earlier this month. He is currently under investigation in connection with that incident.

    In a video of the incident from April 1, Vivona can be heard telling Kokumai to “go home” and calling her “Chinese” and “disgusting.” Kokumai, a Japanese American Olympic athlete, told NBC News she was on a run in a park she normally trains in when he started berating her. “When he walked closer, that’s where I did get scared a little bit, because you just never know what could happen,” she said.

    Kokumai said she shared the video to spread awareness of the harassment and fear Asian Americans are facing. “I want everybody to know, especially in the AAPI community, that you’re not alone,” Kokumai told NBC News. “I think it’s really important to have compassion, share love and look out for one another.” She added that “it makes me emotional just to think about it because at the time I did feel that I was alone.” […]

  150. blf says

    Oxford Malaria vaccine proves highly effective in Burkina Faso trial:

    A vaccine against malaria has been shown to be highly effective in trials in Africa, holding out the real possibility of slashing the death toll of a disease that kills 400,000 mostly small children every year.

    The vaccine, developed by scientists at the Jenner Institute of Oxford University, showed up to 77% efficacy in a trial of 450 children in Burkina Faso over 12 months.

    The hunt for a malaria vaccine has been going on the best part of a century. One, the Mosquirix vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, has been through lengthy clinical trials but is only partially effective, preventing 39% of malaria cases and 29% of severe malaria cases among small children in Africa over four years. It is being piloted by the World Health Organization in parts of Kenya, Ghana and Malawi.

    The Oxford vaccine is the first to meet the WHO goal of 75% efficacy against the mosquito-borne parasite disease. Larger trials are now beginning, involving 4,800 children in four countries.


    The vaccine will be manufactured at large scale and low-cost, say the researchers, who have arranged a deal with the Serum Institute of India, which is involved in manufacturing the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

    The Serum Institute has had to delay supplies of the Covid vaccine to the rest of the world because of the huge rise in cases in India, but has promised to deliver 200m doses a year of the malaria vaccine if it is licensed.

    [Director of the Jenner Institute, Prof Adrian] Hill said the best-case scenario was approval by the end of 2022, by which time the Serum Institute would have plenty of capacity.


    The children in the trial, which is published in the Lancet journal, were five to 17 months old and lived in Nanoro, an area encompassing 24 villages with an approximate population of 65,000 people. They were split into three groups; two had the vaccine, but with either a low or high dose of adjuvant, while the third group were given a rabies vaccine, so acted as a control.

    The children had three doses and have since had a further booster jab. The Mosquirix vaccine is also given as four doses.

    Hill said mothers were keen to bring their children back for further shots because of their experience of malaria. Efficacy was 77% in the high-dose adjuvant group and 74% in the lower dose group.


  151. says

    From Maddow last night (YT links):

    “Arizona Republicans Embrace The Ridiculous Pursuing Recount For Trump”:

    Rachel Maddow reports on the bizarre conspiracy theories that underpin the effort by Arizona Republicans to conduct (another) taxpayer funded recount of only the presidential election ballots from last November from Maricopa County in the belief that they’ll discover that Donald Trump secretly won.

    “Kavanaugh An Ill-Considered Choice To Pen Ruling On Incorrigible Childhood Offenses”:

    Rachel Maddow points out the bitter contradiction in the Supreme Court choosing Brett Kavanaugh as the one to write a majority opinion that shatters the precedent of a judge considering whether a teenager’s crimes should be held against them for the entire rest of their life.

    “To Protect Bottom Line, Chevron Aims To Tie US Hands Against Military Junta In Burma”:

    Rachel Maddow looks at the Democratic effort to end taxpayer subsidies for the oil and gas industry while at the same time Chevron is reportedly lobbying the U.S. to get in the way of potential sanctions on the oil revenue that funds the new military junta in Burma.

  152. says

    From yesterday’s DN! headlines:

    Latin American Nations Suffer “Worst Moment” of Coronavirus Pandemic

    In Latin America, Uruguay and Colombia are reporting record deaths this week, Brazil is averaging over 3,000 deaths a day, and Argentina just passed 60,000 deaths in a year. Argentina’s health minister called this week the “worst moment” of the pandemic.

    In Turkey, Health Ministry data suggests about 1% of the working-age population — or more than a half-million people — currently has an active COVID-19 infection. Turkish officials have so far delivered about 20 million vaccine doses nationwide for a population of over 80 million people.

    U.S. Vaccination Pace Slows as White House Hits Goal of 200 Million Doses in 100 Days

    The United States reported another 63,000 coronavirus cases and over 800 COVID deaths on Wednesday as the White House said it has reached a goal of administering 200 million vaccine doses within President Biden’s first 100 days. The pace of U.S. vaccinations has begun to slow, with an 11% drop in a weekly rolling average. Polls show about one in four U.S. residents might not get vaccinated. On Wednesday, President Biden urged U.S. employers to provide paid time off for workers to receive vaccines and time to recover from any side effects.

    NC Protesters Demand Release of Footage Showing Police Killing of Andrew Brown

    In North Carolina, protesters took to the streets of Elizabeth City overnight, demanding the release of body-camera footage showing the police killing of Andrew Brown, a 42-year-old father and Black man. Police haven’t revealed details of the shooting, though an eyewitness said Brown was fired on multiple times while trying to drive away from officers. This is Keith Rivers, president of the local NAACP chapter.

    Keith Rivers: “People are feeling tired, people are frustrated, and people want this to stop. And the only way it’s going to stop is if we first have transparency, because transparency brings about trust. And when you have trust, then we can move forward in the march and the fight for justice.”

    Manhattan District Attorney Will Stop Prosecuting Sex Work

    Here in New York, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced it will stop prosecuting sex work and “unlicensed massage.” The DA is also dismissing over 5,000 cases of “loitering” connected to sex work, or what’s commonly known as the “walking while trans” law, which was repealed earlier this year. Advocates welcomed the news but said full decriminalization of sex work is still needed….

  153. says

    Here’s a link to the April 23 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    In the depths of Mount Everest, the first cases of coronavirus have been identified at an Everest base camp, renewing the controversy over the decision by Nepal to open the world’s highest mountain to climbers.

    The Norwegian climber Erlend Ness was originally thought to be suffering from pulmonary edema – a condition associated with altitude sickness – and was evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu, where he tested positive for coronavirus.

    “My diagnosis is Covid-19,” said Ness. “I’m doing OK now … The hospital is taking care (of me).”

    With access from the Chinese side of Everest closed to outside climbers, and some expedition operators on the Nepalese side increasing prices, the Nepalese decision in the midst of a global pandemic has come under scrutiny….

    Japan has declared “short and powerful” states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures, as the country attempts to contain the virus just three months ahead of the Olympics…

    Under a new state of emergency from 25 April to 11 May, restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlours serving alcohol will be required to close, while big sporting events are to be held without spectators, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

    Breaching the restrictions will in some cases carry penalties under a recently revised law, he added.

    “We absolutely have to limit the movement of people, and we have to do it decisively. We need powerful, short and focused measures,” Nishimura said, asking people to remember the lockdowns of last spring and stay at home.

    The state of emergency – a third round for Japan that also includes Kyoto and Hyogo – will cover nearly a quarter of the population and last through the “Golden Week” holidays, dealing a further blow to the tourism and services industries.

    In some news from Australia, health authorities have said another three cases of rare blood clots – including in an 80-year-old Victorian man – are very likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    The medicines regulator on Friday night said the suspected cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome were in a 35-year-old New South Wales woman, a 49-year-old Queensland man and the 80-year-old.

    Symptom onset ranged from nine to 26 days after vaccination with AstraZeneca, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said in a statement. The Vaccine Safety Investigation Group “concluded all three of the cases were likely linked to vaccination”….

  154. says

    Guardian – “Delhi hospitals issue SOS alerts over oxygen supplies as India’s Covid crisis mounts”:

    Hospitals in Delhi issued SOS alerts on Friday morning, warning they had just a few hours supply of oxygen left, as another unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases overwhelmed health systems in major Indian cities.

    Hospital staff posted emergency messages on social media throughout Thursday and Friday, saying they were unable to cope with demand and pleading for assistance from government….

  155. says

    David Lammy in the Guardian – “This war graves report shows Britain must face its colonial past with honesty”:

    …There is not only one injustice in this story. The first is clear: hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown soldiers who died for Britain were not given the graves, memorials or commemoration that they deserved. The second is that it took so long for this travesty to be recognised, let alone corrected. It should not have taken me to present a TV documentary for action to be taken or for apologies to be made. The research that The Unremembered was based on was completed by academic Michèle Barrett a decade previously, but it was ignored. This fact reflects poorly on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but it is typical of so many institutions in this country that are reluctant to see prejudice even when it is staring them in the face.

    Let this teach us a lesson: we cannot hide from the worst parts of our history if we want to move forward as a nation….

  156. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The CEO of Moderna has said the firm was working hard to have a booster vaccine against Covid variants approved by the late summer or early autumn, Reuters reports.

    Speaking at a virtual event on vaccine manufacturing, Stéphane Bancel added that the US pharmaceutical company was on course to make up to a billion doses of Covid vaccines this year and up to 1.4bn in 2022.

  157. says

    Politico – “Trump’s bleach news conference happened one year ago today. We’ve never been the same.”:

    One year ago today, President Donald Trump took to the White House briefing room and encouraged his top health officials to study the injection of bleach into the human body as a means of fighting Covid. It was a watershed moment, soon to become iconic in the annals of presidential briefings. It arguably changed the course of political history.

    Some ex-Trump aides say they don’t even think about that day as the wildest they experienced — with the conceit that there were simply too many others. But for those there, it was instantly shocking, even by Trump standards. It quickly came to symbolize the chaotic essence of his presidency and his handling of the pandemic. Twelve months later, with the pandemic still lingering and a U.S. death toll nearing 570,000, it still does.

    “For me, it was the craziest and most surreal moment I had ever witnessed in a presidential press conference,” said ABC’s chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl, who was the first reporter at the briefing to question Trump’s musings about bleach.

    For weeks, Trump had been giving winding, stream-of-consciousness updates on the state of the Covid fight as it clearly worsened. So when he got up from the Oval Office to brief reporters gathered in the The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on April 23, there was no expectation that the day’s proceedings would be any different than usual.

    Privately, however, some of his aides were worried. The Covid task force had met earlier that day — as usual, without Trump — to discuss the most recent findings, including the effects of light and humidity on how the virus spreads. Trump was briefed by a small group of aides. But it was clear to some aides that he hadn’t processed all the details before he left to speak to the press.

    “A question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world,” Trump began, clearly thinking the question himself, “So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that, too. It sounds interesting. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”

    That Trump was even at the lectern that day was head-scratching for many. For weeks, he and his team had downplayed the severity of the Covid crisis even as the president privately acknowledged to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward that it had the potential to be catastrophic. But as it became clearer that the public was not buying the rosy assessments, Trump had decided to take his fate into his own hands — assembling the press on a daily basis to spin his way through the crisis.

    He loved it. The former administration official said Trump was elated with the free airtime he was getting on television day after day. “He was asking how much money that was worth,” the aide recalled. The coverage was so ubiquitous that, at one point, Fox News’ Bret Baier attended the briefing and peppered the president with questions because his own show was being routinely interrupted.

    The bleach episode changed all that….

    More atl.

  158. says

    BREAKING: The Virginia GOP will not allow religious Jews who cannot travel due to Shabbat to participate in its convention. There were 38 votes in favor of providing a religious exemption, 28 against, and 3 abstentions. The motion needed 75% in favor to pass.”

  159. blf says

    Climate crisis has shifted the Earth’s axis, study shows (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The massive melting of glaciers as a result of global heating has caused marked shifts in the Earth’s axis of rotation since the 1990s […]

    The planet’s geographic north and south poles are the point where its axis of rotation intersects the surface, but they are not fixed. Changes in how the Earth’s mass is distributed around the planet cause the axis, and therefore the poles, to move.

    In the past, only natural factors such as ocean currents and the convection of hot rock in the deep Earth contributed to the drifting position of the poles. But the new research shows that since the 1990s, the loss of hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice a year into the oceans resulting from the climate crisis has caused the poles to move in new directions.

    The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.

    Since 1980, the position of the poles has moved about 4 metres in distance.

    “The accelerated decline {in water stored on land} the team, led by Shanshan Deng, from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


  160. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    In Brazil, the Covid vaccination program is being put at risk by people failing to show up for their second shot, with 1.5m missing appointments for the follow-up dose, according to the health ministry.

    Authorities involved in the campaign said the low turnout seemed to be due to poor communication, with people either not realising the importance of the second shot or simply forgetting when they were meant to go, Reuters reports.

    Specialists say that is particularly concerning after a recent real-world study from Chile found that the Sinovac Biotech Covid vaccine, which has accounted for some 80% of Brazil’s program, is just 16% effective after one shot.

    In total, Covid-19 has claimed more than 380,000 lives in Brazil, the world’s second highest death toll behind the US.

    The European Commission said it expects to seal the world’s biggest vaccine supply deal within days, buying up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for the next few years, Reuters writes.

    Speaking during a visit to Pfizer’s vaccine plant in Puurs, Belgium, Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines would be delivered over 2021-2023.

    The agreement would be enough to inoculate the 450m EU population for two years.

    It is the third contract agreed by the bloc with the two companies, which have already agreed to supply 600m doses of the two-dose vaccine this year under two previous contracts.

  161. says

    BBC – “East Jerusalem clashes leave over 100 injured”:

    Scores of people have been injured in clashes in East Jerusalem between far-right Jewish activists, Palestinians and Israeli police.

    The violence erupted as police tried to keep Palestinians and ultra-nationalist Jewish protesters apart.

    It follows nights of confrontations in the Israeli-occupied sector amid rising nationalist and religious tensions.

    East Jerusalem has long been a flashpoint, with an uneasy coexistence there between Jews and Arabs.

    Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war and considers the entire city its capital, though this is not recognised by the vast majority of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a hoped-for independent state.

    The worst fighting in days broke out on Thursday night after hundreds of Jewish extremists from the ultra-nationalist Lehava group marched towards the Damascus Gate entrance of Jerusalem’s Old City – where large numbers of Palestinians had gathered – chanting “Death to Arabs”.

    Stones and bottles were thrown between the two sides, and police used stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon to try to disperse the crowds.

    The Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 100 Palestinians were injured, while police said 20 officers were hurt. More than 50 people were arrested.

    Tensions in East Jerusalem have escalated since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on 13 April….

  162. birgerjohansson says

    Tom Meyer at Shasta Bible College is going nuts over the discovery of a dinosaur fossil he thinks proves the world is 6000 years old.

  163. tomh says

    Covid Vaccine Mandatory at State Universities in California
    April 22, 2021 NATHAN SOLIS
    Over one million college students and faculty will need to get their Covid jab by this fall under a new plan announced by two of California’s biggest university systems.

    (CN) — For more than a year, state university campuses across California have been largely empty and students and professors have been forced to adapt to an online college experience. But the CSU and UC systems have their eyes set on reopening this fall, announcing Thursday they will require Covid-19 vaccines for students and faculty in order to return to campus

    The California State University and the University of California’s vaccination requirements affect more than a million students and faculty across the Golden State.

    CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro called the approach “the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for Covid-19 vaccines in the country.”

    ….officials announced the plan now to give students, faculty and staff time to prepare. Students will need to update their vaccination records or provide an approved exception or medical exemption before they enroll for their fall semester….

    News of the university vaccine plan comes as California has one of the lowest case rates in the country.

    As of Thursday, roughly 43% of all Californians 16 years and older have received at least one vaccine dose.

  164. says

    The Israeli far right:

    “Does ‘Burn their towns’, ‘Death to Arabs,’ represent you?” star reporter @SuleimanMas1 asks young Lehava marcher. “Maybe more like ‘when you leave the towns we’ll move in– like we’re doing in the Old City!’” she tells Maswadeh, who grew up in the Old City

  165. says

    Oh, FFS.

    RonJon Wants To Know: Why Is The Government Rushing To Vaccinate Everyone?

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is just asking questions.

    […] In an interview first noticed by Forbes, Johnson told right-wing Wisconsin radio host Vicki McKenna on Thursday, “Why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine, to the point where you’re gonna impose it, you’re gonna shame people.”

    “I see no reason to be pushing vaccines on people, and I certainly am going to vigorously resist any government use of vaccine passports,” Johnson added.

    Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 in October, as Wisconsin faced a large outbreak. The senator later used that as a justification to avoid getting the vaccine, against CDC guidelines, telling a Wisconsin CBS affiliate that he had no plans to get the shot.

    The vaccine skepticism expressed by Johnson puts him at odds with party leadership, but likely won’t come as a surprise to those who have followed the Wisconsin senator’s career. Johnson has used his platform to push COVID-19 pseudoscience, narratives that it was really “agents provocateurs” who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, [etc.]

    […] Johnson’s remarks to McKenna came as part of a larger conversation about alleged leftist plots to “take control,” be it via COVID-19, climate change, or convincing people to trust the government.

    “You heard President Biden address the nation, begging Americans, please, trust the government, trust Dr. Fauci,” Johnson told McKenna. “Eh, sorry. I’ve got my doubts.”

    The Wisconsin host replied: “Please trust the government? The guy can’t figure out what flavor of pudding he wants for lunch.”

    She went on to ask the senator whether he believed that efforts to combat climate change would replace COVID-19 as “the next step to locking Americans down and controlling them in perpetuity.”

    “That and the vaccine passports,” Johnson replied.

    He added that the government “should have limited distribution” of the COVID-19 vaccine “to the vulnerable” because its not “fully approved.”

    […] “You’re talking about climate change as the next step — I don’t think they’re going to let go of COVID-19 anytime soon,” he added.

    Johnson then doubled down on the idea that there is no reason to get vaccinated beyond protecting one’s own health. Studies show that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 95 percent effective, Johnson said, “So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? What is it to you?”

    “I’m getting highly suspicious about whats happening here,” Johnson concluded.

    McKenna then closed the segment, reiterating that “it’s about control and power,” before ending with: “Sen. Ron Johnson, I hope you have a wonderful Earth Day.”

  166. says

    Right Wing Watch:

    On Thursday, [Marjorie Taylor] Greene posted a video on her Facebook page announcing that she has now read the 14-page [Green New Deal] bill and is ready for the debate, declaring that if Ocasio-Cortez refuses to participate, she’ll just be showing the world that she’s “a scared little girl that is pretty stupid and doesn’t know anything about the economy or economics.”

    “I’ve read all 14 little pages, and I’m very ready to debate her on the House floor,” Greene said. “She better show up. If she chickens out, then she shows exactly who she really is: a scared little girl that is pretty stupid and doesn’t know anything about the economy or economics. She boasts that she does because she has ‘a degree’ in economics, but she doesn’t have enough common sense to actually be able to produce anything in the real world, she just has a government job.”

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    LOL OK, a couple things here.

    Greene’s qualifications for this “debate” appear to be “What do I know? I just like to read a lot EMOJI,” which is what she literally wrote on Facebook when she advanced her Jewish Space Laser theory of wildfires. Now she’s read a 14-page summary of the Green New Deal, so she’s READY. […]

    Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez was a double major at Boston U., graduating with degrees in international relations and economics. So there’s that. Which Greene acknowledges in her post, while calling AOC stupid.

    Also, Greene may not be clear on this, but “she just has a government job” is not a very good insult when you have the exact same government job as the person you are insulting. […]

    And what, praytell, has Marjorie Taylor Greene produced in her life? This garbage internet troll who literally buys into the QAnon conspiracy theory out here talking about the “real world”? [She] got a construction company from her daddy and then changed careers to “CrossFit”? OK. […]

    We’re not mad, we’re just trying to wrap our heads around all of this.

    One more thing about “government job”: Has anyone told MTG that when you are in Congress and the person you are harassing to DEBATE ME! is also in Congress, you don’t actually have to get on Twitter to yell DEBATE ME? Because, like, debating them is part of their “government job”? Happens on the floor of the House of Representatives? Has she heard about that?

    She may not have heard about that.

    Of course, this is just MTG’s latest [rude] behavior. Earlier this week, she was on Twitter spreading racist bullshit about how DC — a place the people who voted for her are scared of — was completely dead and impassable after the Derek Chauvin verdict, because of how she imagines everybody else was as scared of Black people as she seems to be. Or, you know, maybe she was just lying for lying’s sake.

    […] Marjorie Taylor Greene is just so goddamn stupid […]

    It’s a thing to behold.


  167. says

    “Ted Cruz maintains ties to right-wing group despite its extremist messaging.”

    Washington Post link

    On Aug. 4, 2019, the day after a gunman who had posted a hateful diatribe against Hispanics fatally shot 23 people at an El Paso Walmart, a leader of a tea party group in Texas said on Facebook: “You’re not going to demographically replace a once proud, strong people without getting blow-back.”

    […] Ten days later, amid a brewing backlash over the comments by Fred and Julie McCarty, the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party posted an undated testimonial from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wishing the group a happy 10th anniversary as it rebranded itself as True Texas Project.

    “Thank you for the incredible work you do,” Cruz said, in the only on-camera endorsement from an elected official posted on the group’s Facebook and YouTube pages to mark the occasion. “Julie, Fred, thank you for your passion.”

    A Washington Post review of True Texas Project’s activities and social media shows that Cruz has continued to embrace the group, even as its nativist rhetoric and divisive tactics have alienated some other conservative elected officials. Cruz’s father, a frequent campaign surrogate for his son, spoke at a meeting of the group shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, at a time when the group’s leadership was defending the pro-Trump mob on social media.

    […] Cruz’s ongoing ties to TTP contrast with the group’s fraught relationship with much of the Republican establishment in Texas. The group has lashed out at Republicans it perceives as too moderate — including Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) and Gov. Greg Abbott — and has backed candidates against officeholders it once helped elect. “We are not here to be best buddies with our electeds,” Julie McCarty says in a recruitment video.

    […] James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, said Cruz appears to have “turned a blind eye” to the group’s most extreme rhetoric. Many Cruz supporters would not view the group’s messaging as racist, he added.

    “From a political standpoint, there probably isn’t a downside for him supporting this group because they represent a large segment of the Republican Party in Texas,” he said. “So Cruz sees no downside, but he does see the upside because they have organization and can bring votes.” […]

  168. says

    Donald Trump’s attack on American democracy after he lost the 2020 election has seeped down into his cultists as GOP lawmakers rush to restrict voting access due to his baseless insistence that the election was marred by fraud. In more than 60 trips to the courthouse, Trump lawyers never proved a single instance of fraud, and now those claims are being abandoned by the attorneys themselves as they face a barrage of defamation suits.

    But forget about the facts. Trumpers are wrongly convinced fraud occurred, and their support for many formerly noncontroversial voting access initiatives has taken hit, according to Pew Research Center polling released Thursday. As The New York Times notes, the share of Republicans and GOP leaners who now back no-excuse early absentee voting has dropped nearly 20 points, from 57% in 2018 to 38% now. Nonetheless, the concept still enjoys broad popularity at 63% overall. […]


  169. says

    Quoted in #215:

    One more thing about “government job”: Has anyone told MTG that when you are in Congress and the person you are harassing to DEBATE ME! is also in Congress, you don’t actually have to get on Twitter to yell DEBATE ME? Because, like, debating them is part of their “government job”? Happens on the floor of the House of Representatives? Has she heard about that?


  170. tomh says

    Rick Hasan of Election Law Blog has an op-ed in the NYT.
    Republicans Aren’t Done Messing With Elections
    By Richard L. Hasen April 23, 2021

    A new, more dangerous front has opened in the voting wars, and it’s going to be much harder to counteract than the now-familiar fight over voting rules. At stake is something I never expected to worry about in the United States: the integrity of the vote count. The danger of manipulated election results looms.

    Some of these efforts involve removing from power those who stood up to President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Georgia law removes the secretary of state from decision-making power on the state election board….

    …. Michigan’s Republican Party refused to renominate Aaron Van Langevelde to the state’s canvassing board. Mr. Van Langevelde voted with Democrats to accept Michigan’s Electoral College vote for Mr. Biden as legitimate. He was replaced by Tony Daunt, the executive director of a conservative Michigan foundation that is financially backed by the DeVos family.

    Republican state legislatures have also passed or are considering laws aimed at stripping Democratic counties of the power to run fair elections. The new Georgia law gives the legislature the power to handpick an election official who could vote on the state election board for a temporary takeover of up to four county election boards during the crucial period of administering an election and counting votes…. A new Iowa law threatens criminal penalties against local election officials who enact emergency election rules and bars them from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications….

    Combating efforts that can undermine the fair administration of elections and vote counting is especially tricky. Unlike issues of voter suppression, which are easy to explain to the public (what do you mean you can’t give water to voters waiting in long lines?!?), the risks of unfair election administration are inchoate. They may materialize or they may not, depending on how close an election is and whether Mr. Trump himself or another person running for office is willing to break democratic norms and insist on an unfair vote count….

    Too long to quote, but the whole thing is worth reading. For those who have a problem with NYT articles…try Reader View on Chrome, Reader Mode on Firefox, or Reader Mode on iPad/iPhone. Most browsers have a Reader mode that strips clutter (which often includes subscription requirements.)

  171. says


    Harvard’s big @harvardiop poll of young Americans is out today, and the findings are striking…

    First of all: Biden has the highest favorability among 18-29 year olds of any first-term President in the entire history of the poll. Higher than Obama. That’s huge.

    Much of that favorability comes from support from young people of color.

    In 2017, only 17% of young Black Americans felt hopeful about the future. Now: 72% feel hopeful. A FIFTY-FOUR point increase

    AND young Americans are significantly more politically engaged now than at any time over the past decade.

    In 2009, 24% of young ppl considered themselves politically active- that has now increased by HALF, to 36%. (Among young Black people, more than 40% are politically active)

    Trump has a net unfavorable of 65% with people under 30. A full 30% believe he was the WORST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY.

    Only 56% of young Republicans said they want Trump to play a role in the future of the GOP. 42% of young Rs say they ID more as Rs than as Trump supporters

  172. says

    Nick Martin:

    So… the people “auditing” Arizona’s 2020 election are using pens that could be used to change the appearance of ballots that were cast in November.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding the situation, this seems like a monumental fuck up.

    Democrats in Arizona were already suing to stop the QAnon election “audit” nonsense. It appears from this thread [at the link] that the use of potentially ballot-altering pens by the “auditors” helped convince a judge to halt everything immediately.

    The pause is to last until noon on Monday, before which there will be another hearing.

  173. says

    Follow-up to comment 214.

    […] it was just a few weeks ago when [Senator Mitch] McConnell, seemingly aware of recent polling, explicitly issued an appeal to GOP men, urging them to get vaccinated. “I can stand here as a Republican man — as soon as it was my turn, I took the vaccine,” the senator said at an event in his home state. “I would encourage all Republican men to do that…. Take the vaccination.”

    That’s good advice — which one of McConnell’s members is eager to undermine.

    Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, questioned the need for widespread COVID-19 vaccinations, saying in a radio interview “what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Johnson, who has no medical expertise or background, made the comments Thursday during an interview with conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna.

    To the extent that the senator’s question wasn’t rhetorical, Johnson might care whether his neighbors are vaccinated because he doesn’t want them to get sick, die, or put others at risk. Even if the senator is indifferent to his neighbors’ wellbeing, Johnson might well care about local hospitals and morgues being pushed to the breaking point — a problem many communities have confronted since the start of the crisis.

    […] The problem is not just that the senator’s rhetoric is dumb, it’s also the risks associated with his irresponsible nonsense. There were likely unvaccinated people who heard this radio interview and were persuaded not to get the shot because they heard Johnson’s ridiculous, dangerous rhetoric.

    What’s more, let’s not lose sight of the larger context. As regular readers may recall, in mid-March 2020, as the scope of the coronavirus crisis was just coming into view, the Wisconsin Republican went further than most in downplaying the importance of mitigation efforts. As part of his case, the senator told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “[W]e don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about.” This was a tragically bad argument, for reasons he didn’t seem to fully grasp.

    A couple of months later, Johnson was seen on the Senate floor without any facial covering. “I wear a mask when I go into grocery stores, that type of thing,” the GOP senator said. “I think around here, we probably won’t have to.” This, too, was wrong.

    In July 2020, Johnson argued that the United States “overreacted” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which was unfortunate at the time, and which is a perspective that looks much worse now, as the death toll approaches 570,000 Americans.

    In late 2020, Johnson sunk lower, holding multiple Senate hearings to promote pseudo-science and conspiracy theories. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean at Brown University School of Public Health, appeared as a witness at one of the Senate hearings and was amazed by the Wisconsin senator’s apparent suspicion that there’s a “coordinated effort by America’s doctors” to deny patients hydroxychloroquine because of a corrupt scheme involving physicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

    All of this, of course, is unrelated to Johnson’s ugly rhetoric about immigration and efforts to “remake the demographics of America,” his efforts to downplay the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and his ridiculous conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential election.

    The far-right senator’s second term ends next year. He has not yet said whether he’ll ignore his earlier term-limits pledge and run for re-election.

    Postscript: Just as I was publishing this, Johnson’s office issued a statement on his latest controversy. It read:

    “Everyone should have the right to gather information, consult with their doctor and decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated. I strongly supported Operation Warp Speed, and celebrated its astonishingly rapid success. Now I believe government’s role (and therefore my role) is to help ensure transparency so that people have as much information as possible to make an informed decision for themselves. It is a legitimate question as to whether people at very low risk of suffering serious illness from Covid, particularly the young and healthy, should be encouraged to take a vaccine that is being administered under an Emergency Use Authorization — in other words, before it has been fully tested and fully approved. I was the champion of ‘Right to Try’ legislation. A reasonable corollary to that is the right to choose or not to choose treatment. I also support health privacy laws and will vigorously oppose any efforts by the government to utilize or impose vaccine passports.”


  174. says

    As Dr. Fauci said, we have emergency authorizations for vaccines because we are in an emergency. Almost 570,000 people have died.

  175. says

    Follow-up to comments 214 and 224.

    […] As Forbes reports, Johnson has declared himself “highly suspicious” of the “big push to get everyone vaccinated.” Part of this appears to be back to that not understanding math thing. Johnson has argued that because the vaccine is 95% effective, that means “only a limited number” of people really need to be infected. How that works in Johnson’s head is unclear, and no one really wants to go in there, but however this is supposed to work, it doesn’t.

    Johnson then went on to encourage young people not to get vaccinated, and pushed back against the use of any sort of vaccine passport to protect public safety, calling it “a very freedom-robbing step.”

    Johnson then turned to the ultimate basis of all Republican policy: selfishness. “If you have a vaccine quite honestly what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” said Johnson said. “What is it to you? You’ve got a vaccine and science is telling you it’s very, very effective. So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?”

    The Republican Party no longer has a platform beyond “Obey Trump,” but if they were adding planks, “I’ve got mine, why the hell should I care about anything else?” would certainly be high on the list. Only it shouldn’t be surprising that Johnson has this thing completely upside down. […]

    looking at it from Vladimir Putin’s point of view, convincing people not to get vaccinated does make America weaker. So … good job, Ron.


  176. blf says

    An important, albeit uncodified, part of trial by jury is jury nullification (or jury equity), where (in general) a jury “believe that a defendant is guilty, but choose to acquit the defendant anyway, because the jurors consider that the law itself is unjust”. This just happened in the UK, Jury acquits Extinction Rebellion protesters despite ‘no defence in law’:

    Six Extinction Rebellion protesters have been cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters despite the judge directing jurors that they had no defence in law.


    Prosecutor Diana Wilson told jurors that each of the defendants deliberately sprayed graffiti or smashed windows of the Shell building in Belvedere Road, central London, on 15 April 2019.

    The protest, which saw activists pour fake oil, glue themselves to windows and doors, break glass, climb on to a roof and spray graffiti, was part of wider Extinction Rebellion demonstrations across the capital.


    All those who stood trial explained they had targeted the Shell building because the oil giant was directly contributing to the climate crisis, thereby causing serious injury and death, and argued that it was a “necessary” and “proportionate” response to the harm being caused.

    [Senan] Clifford quoted Sir David Attenborough and former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his evidence.

    He said: “I believe if I don’t do whatever I can to protect our Earth, to protect life on this Earth, to stop the death and injury that is and will be happening, I’m committing a crime, a really serious crime, and I’m willing to break a window, to paint a message on a wall, I’m willing to break the glass on that emergency button, even if some say that’s a crime.

    “Because this is a much bigger crime and I’m trying to stop that crime, I’m trying to protect life in the only way I feel I can.”

    Judge Gregory Perrins directed jurors that even if they thought the protesters were “morally justified”, it did not provide them with a lawful excuse to commit criminal damage.


    But the jury of seven women and five men took seven hours and four minutes to acquit them of both charges. Some of the defendants waved at jurors, several of whom were visibly emotional, as they left court.

    Before reaching their verdicts, the jury had asked to see a copy of the oath they took when they were sworn in.

    Thanking jurors for their “care and attention”, the judge said: “This has been an unusual case.”


  177. blf says

    Dr Jen Gunter has some antivax loons for a snack, ‘No data’ linking Covid vaccines to menstrual changes, US experts say:

    Experts are trying to assuage concerns and combat misinformation about how the Covid-19 vaccines may affect menstrual cycles and fertility, after anecdotal reports that some people experienced earlier, later, heavier or more painful periods following the jab.

    [… C]onspiracy theorists on social media […] have spread outlandish myths about individuals experiencing period abnormalities or miscarriages simply by being in the presence of others who have been vaccinated.

    “I suspect the awful people who invented this lie saw the reports of menstrual irregularities post Covid-19 vaccine online and decided to warp it for their campaign of chaos,” Dr Jen Gunter, an obstetrician-gynecologist and pain medicine physician, wrote in an explanatory post [The COVID-19 vaccine is a vaccine, not a spell].

    “No, the Covid-19 vaccine is not capable of exerting reproductive control via proxy. Nothing is. This is because it is a vaccine, not a spell.”


    Even with medical experts trying to clear up confusion, the misinformation could stir even more vaccine hesitancy among women, many of whom have already fallen for false narratives about the shots causing infertility or posing risks to nursing children.

    Meanwhile, “actually catching Covid-19 has a very good chance of messing with your menstrual cycle”, Gunter wrote, and “the best way to protect your overall health and your menstrual cycle is to get vaccinated”.

    “Think of potential menstrual irregularities as a vaccine side-effect like fever, it’s a sign the immune system is being activated,” she continued. “And in the same way that fever doesn’t make people permanently hot after a vaccine, menstrual irregularities will not be permanent either.”

  178. lumipuna says

    (Re: vaccine fearmongering and some other semi-recent stuff)

    US rightwing pundits earlier this year: “Why is Jill Biden regularly using the ‘Dr’ title when she’s a scholar of humanities? People might mistake her for a medical doctor in some contrived emergency scenario!”

    Meanwhile, Dr. Naomi Wolf: “I think these reports that some women have suffered negative health effects from being near vaccinated people should warrant a through investigation”

  179. blf says

    For reasons that should become obvious, I suggest listening to Grace Petrie, You Build a Wall (video), whilst reading Ups and downs: Trump’s $27m-a-mile border wall being scaled with $5 ladders:

    ‘Unlike the wall, these ladders are functional,’ artist and activist Scott Nicol points out to local magazine Texas Monthly

    For millennia two bitter foes have been in constant conflict with one another: the imposing, stout wall and the nimble, convenient ladder. […] A look at this structural struggle came this week in a story in Texas Monthly. In the piece the magazine follows along with a local artist and activist named Scott Nicol, a man who has become an expert spotter of wall ladders, which he often finds discarded after one use and photographs them. “It’s made of cheap, rough wood, quickly nailed together because it is only going to be used once,” Nicol says of one he finds along a walk by the border.

    “Unlike the wall, these ladders are functional.”

    It’s a joke but it also happens to be true, and points up the absurdity of the money poured into what amounts to little more than a broad symbol of xenophobia.

    What’s more, the slapdash nature of the ladders often used to circumvent the efforts of border patrols seems all the more ridiculous when compared with the ever-inflating price tag of building the walls in the first place.

    “These ladders are probably $5 worth of hardware, and they’re defeating a wall that cost $12m a mile in that location,” adds Nicol, himself an opponent of border walls. […]

    Perhaps the framing of this conflict is all wrong. Considering how well the two tools work together, instead of antagonistic, the relationship between walls and ladders should instead be seen as a more complementary partnership. As one border patrol agent tells the magazine: “Ladders and walls go together like peas and carrots.” You can have one without the other, but they go best together.

    One snippet from the Texas Monthly article, A Section of Trump Border Wall in South Texas Cost $27 Million a Mile. It’s Being Foiled by $5 Ladders (link embedded in above excerpt):

    Ladders have been used to counter walls for thousands of years, pointed out Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US–Mexico Boundary. “A wall is a medieval war technology, and the responses to it are antiquated technologies that have been proven to surmount it, that includes ladders, catapults, and tunnels,” said Rael, who made headlines in 2019 with a short-lived art project titled Teeter-Totter Wall, which placed pink seesaws between the slats in the border fence that separates El Paso from Juarez.

    The fact that a DIY ladder is enough to beat it makes spending billions of dollars on further construction seem folly, according to Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. The sections of levee wall that broke ground under the George W Bush administration and continued under the Obama administration cost about $12 million per mile. Though contractors are still billing for Trump’s wall, the average cost per mile in Hidalgo County, based on contracts and appropriations, is roughly double that amount. “The companies that build the wall are the ones who are benefiting, not just from building it, but maintaining it and adding technology to it,” said Correa-Cabrera.

    Despite securing about $6 billion in funding from Congress and diverting nearly $10 billion more from the Department of Defense budget, the Trump administration managed to complete only forty miles of big, beautiful wall, about twenty of them in the Rio Grande Valley. One of its unfinished projects can be found in Granjeno, where a section of levee wall (with no fencing on top) built during the Obama years abruptly ends at the edge of this no-stoplight town. The Trump administration set out to fill in the gap between Granjeno and Hidalgo, building a new section of levee wall topped with steel bollards rising some thirty feet high. But contractors didn’t manage to finish installing all of the bollards before President Joe Biden paused construction. […]

    Sanity Tip: Don’t read the comments.

  180. blf says

    Food pantries for hungry Filipinos get tagged as communist:

    People turn against the Duterte administration after a military-led agency accuses volunteers of a popular feeding initiative of being communist sympathisers.

    In the past week, little charitable grocery booths have sprouted on street corners and alleys all over the Philippines, offering free food to needy people and soliciting donations from anyone willing to give them, as many families in the country go hungry during the extended COVID-19 lockdown.

    “Give what you can afford, take what you need,” read the signs on each booth, which organisers call “community pantry”.

    The movement, helped along by social media, has gone viral in the archipelago, whose economy now languishes because of the pandemic.


    It all began on April 14, when Ana Patricia Non, a young furniture designer and businesswoman, left a wooden cart stacked with food on a street corner in a university village in Manila.

    Passersby initially hesitated to take stuff from the cart — it seemed too good to be true, and the needy tend to be ashamed of their poverty. Non had to assure them there was no catch, and they really did not have to pay for what they would take.

    “I am tired of complaining. I am tired of inaction,” Non told the Manila-based news website Rappler when her community pantry started drawing public attention.

    “This community pantry became a way to prove to ourselves that we can help one another, and we are able to organise ourselves,” she added during a media conference.

    The Philippine government has been widely criticised by experts and citizens for its tepid response to the pandemic. President Rodrigo Duterte recently called the crisis a small thing, even as COVID infections reached record numbers.

    On Friday, the health department reported 8,719 new infections and a total caseload of almost 980,000. The country’s COVID death toll crossed 16,500.


    Days after Non’s initiative attracted popular attention, the government’s military-led anti-communist task force started “checking the background” of organisers.

    Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr, the spokesman of the agency, said some community pantries were distributing leaflets containing anti-government propaganda.

    They distribute food, and with it is the poison of hate and mistrust towards a government that is ceaseless and faithful in its service to the Filipino people. This is simply not right and in defense of our people and State, must be corrected, Parlade said in a statement on Tuesday.


    Although the general has yet to show evidence of his claims, government social media platforms have carried his statements. The local police unit that covers Non’s community pantry later posted a warning on its social media pages claiming that the organisers had links to the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines. The post has since been deleted.

    The government’s response to the citizen-based action quickly sparked fear among organisers, who feared for their lives. Non was forced to briefly suspend her project fearing for her safety and that of her fellow volunteers.


    “In all honesty, I have no links to the communist party. I am sorry, but that question is so malicious,” Non said when she was asked to comment on Parlade’s allegations.

    “I’ve said that I’m disappointed with the {government’s} response. It’s true. I know that the government is working, but, in my opinion, it falls short, because people won’t stand in line that long if they’re getting enough support,” she added.


    Outraged by the government’s response, many Filipinos voiced their support for Non and the community pantry movement on social media. They slammed the government for getting in the way of a good thing.


    The tide has since turned for Non and community pantries after the anti-communist task force’s statements backfired.

    A group of senators spoke defending Non, and proposed to defund the anti-communist task force, which received a budget equivalent to $390m this year.


    Non has reopened her community pantry, with more vendors and displaced business owners offering to help. She said it will remain open as long as donations keep coming.


  181. blf says

    Follow-up to @156 Putin trying to intimidate the Czech Republic, and also @170 deepfake video call imitating Alexei Navalny aide Leonid Volkov, EU’s Baltic states expel four Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague:

    “The decision shows our solidarity with our ally after an unprecedented and dangerous incident in the Czech Republic,” Lithuania’s foreign ministry said, announcing the expulsion of two Russians.

    Lithuania also signalled its readiness to help the Czech embassy in Moscow carry out its functions following the expulsion of the Czech diplomats.

    Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics announced the expulsion of a Russian diplomat, saying: “Latvia will not tolerate subversive activities on its soil or that of its partners and allies.”


    Estonia is also expelling one Russian diplomat.

    Slovakia […] said on Thursday it would expel three Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague and because of information received from its intelligence services.


    On Thursday, the Baltic governments said there had been “information attacks” after their lawmakers were contacted by someone pretending to be a top aide to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

    “These attacks were meant to spread false information, discredit Russian opposition and undermine Baltic politicians’ support for it,” the foreign ministries said in a joint statement.


  182. says

    Another Trump boondoggle that is slowly being cleaned up:

    In the summer of 2017, the newly elected Donald Trump and Wisconsin’s soon-to-be-former governor Scott Walker announced the big deal that only Republican leadership could strike: Foxconn was coming to build manufacturing infrastructure in the Badger state! The promise to the American public was that this would mean more than 13,000 new jobs building LCD screens. The moment anyone took even the most cursory glance at the details of this mega-deal, it became instantly clear that it was bad news for the state of Wisconsin. With billions in corporate tax breaks and environmental regulations waived, estimates predicted that Wisconsin would be mired in 25-years worth of debt.

    By the end of the summer of 2019, […] the promised 13,000 jobs had dwindled to something around 1,000 jobs. The big LCD manufacturing plant touted by Trump, Walker, and Foxconn’s CEO Terry Gou never materialized. […] Foxconn realized that while they were being offered billions in tax subsidies, the deal wasn’t the best business move for the company, and it wanted to try and squeeze out millions in tax payouts, while providing next to nothing. Wisconsin was hoping to at least come away with some working presence of the company in the state.

    This disastrous boondoggle has dragged on into 2021, but a deal has reportedly been struck. Hold onto your seats, as it turns out that Donald Trump, Scott Walker, and the Republican Party lied to workers.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that “Foxconn is scaling back plans” of investing $10 billion into the Badger state. How much will they be “scaling back?” Oh, no less than nine-billion, two-hundred-twenty-eight million dollars back. CNN and the WSJ report that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Foxconn had signed a “revised incentive deal outlining a $672 million investment from Foxconn […]

    One of the reasons this took so long to happen was that when Gov. Scott Walker was defeated by Democratic challenger Tony Evers in 2018, Foxconn was still trying to pretend that while they weren’t sure what they were going to manufacture, if they were going to manufacture anything at all, they still wanted those billions in Republican tax giveaways, and continued to promise that they could figure out a way to reach the 13,000 employment numbers needed to be met by 2032. […]

    The new deal reportedly stipulates that if Foxconn can invest $672 million (that’s a “m” not a “b”) and create 1,454 jobs by 2025, they will qualify for $80 million in incentives. Gov. Evers says this new deal will save Wisconsin taxpayers “a total of $2.77 billion compared to the previous contract, maintain accountability measures requiring job creation to receive incentives, and protect hundreds of millions of dollars in local and state infrastructure investments made in support of the project.” Evers explained that the tax incentives in this new deal match the incentive deals offered to all companies coming to the state.

    Senior economist Tim Bartik at the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research told CNN that the original deal’s incentive package would have paid out “conservatively” more than $200,000 per job created by Foxconn. […]

    But while this news brings back some form of equilibrium to the state, the damage done by Walker and friends’ ill-advised publicity and money grab, remains. The site that was cleared and created for the original deal is reportedly “bigger than Central Park, with nearly 100 homes and small farms bulldozed to make way for Foxconn.”


  183. says

    Follow-up to comments 51, 63, 77, 98, 104, 137, and 196.

    Some details from the ongoing disaster in India:

    […] Indian authorities said they are commandeering trains and using air force planes to speed up the distribution of medical supplies to hard-hit regions. Some of India’s crematories have been put out of service from overuse.

    Many hospitals have suspended new admissions. In New Delhi, hospitals petitioned the city’s high court to compel authorities to ensure oxygen deliveries.

    India reported 346,786 new cases — including 2,624 deaths — the third consecutive day of record-breaking infections […]

    “Urgent sos help,” Moolchand Healthcare, a private hospital chain, tweeted in a message to India’s government Saturday. “We have less than 2 hours of oxygen supply @Moolchand_Hosp. We are desperate. . . . Have over 135 COVID pt [patients] with many on life support.”

    It was already too late at another hospital in New Delhi. At least 20 critically ill patients died late Friday at the Jaipur Golden Hospital after a seven-hour delay in oxygen delivery, according to medical director DK Baluja.

    “Everything we had was exhausted,” Baluja told CNN. “The oxygen was not supplied on time. It was supposed to come in at 5 p.m. but it came around midnight.”

    The hospital’s oxygen supply was close to running out again, Baluja said.

    […] India’s sudden exponential surge, driven in part by highly transmissible variants of the coronavirus, has caught the country entirely off guard.

    At the start of the year, daily new coronavirus cases had dropped to fewer than 20,000. Emboldened by the decline, the government reopened public places and permitted crowded election rallies and religious ceremonies.

    In March, India’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said the country was near the pandemic’s “endgame.” The government began increasing exports of medical resources, including oxygen tanks and coronavirus vaccines.

    By mid-April, infections in India were rising so fast that everything from coronavirus tests to ventilators were suddenly in short supply. On Friday, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said it had restarted its emergency response in Mumbai. […]

    Washington Post link

    New coronavirus cases in India are probably being undercounted, perhaps by a factor of 5.

    “As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted”
    New York Times link

    […] Each day, the government reports more than 300,000 new infections, a world record, and India is now seeing more new infections than any other country by far, almost half of all new cases in a global surge.

    But experts say those numbers, however staggering, represent just a fraction of the real reach of the virus’s spread, which has thrown this country into emergency mode. […]

    Interviews from cremation grounds across the country, where the fires never stop, portray an extensive pattern of deaths far exceeding the official figures. Nervous politicians and hospital administrators may be undercounting or overlooking large numbers of dead, analysts say. And grieving families may be hiding Covid connections as well, adding to the confusion in this enormous nation of 1.4 billion.

    “It’s a complete massacre of data,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan who has been following India closely. “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.”

    At one of the large cremation grounds in Ahmedabad, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat, bright orange fires light up the night sky, burning 24 hours a day, like an industrial plant that never shuts down. Suresh Bhai, a worker there, said he had never seen such a never-ending assembly line of death.

    But he has not been writing down the cause of death as Covid-19 on the thin paper slips that he hands over to the mournful families […]

    “Sickness, sickness, sickness,” Mr. Suresh said. “That’s what we write.”

    When asked why, he said it was what he had been instructed to do by his bosses […]

    Over 13 days in mid-April, Bhopal officials reported 41 deaths related to Covid-19. But a survey by The New York Times of the city’s main Covid-19 cremation and burial grounds, where bodies were being handled under strict protocols, revealed a total of more than 1,000 deaths during the same period.

    “Many deaths are not getting recorded and they are increasing every day,” said Dr. G.C. Gautam, a cardiologist based in Bhopal. He said that officials were doing this because “they don’t want to create panic.”

    The same phenomenon appeared to be happening in Lucknow and Mirzapur — major cities in Uttar Pradesh State — and across Gujarat, where, during a similar period in mid-April, the authorities reported between 73 and 121 Covid-related deaths each day.

    But a detailed count compiled by one of Gujarat’s leading newspapers, Sandesh, which sent reporters to cremation and burial grounds across the state, indicated that the number was several times higher, around 610 each day. […]

  184. says

    Wonkette: “Biden Becomes First US President To Say The Armenian Genocide Happened, Which It Obviously Did”

    On this day, in 1915, Talaat Pasha, one of the leaders of the Ottoman Empire’s “Committee of Union and Progress” (CUP) […] ordered the systemic mass arrests of hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals, most of whom were not so much arrested as killed. A month later, the government would approve his “Deportation Plan,” to remove all the Armenians from Anatolia (an area that makes up the majority of modern day Turkey), sending 800,000 to 1.2 million of them on foot to the Syrian desert, where they were then placed in concentration camps. Most of them would be killed as well, either on the way there or in 1916 when another massacre was ordered. Historians estimate that around 1 million Armenians were killed by leaders of the Ottoman Empire and CUP from 1915-17.

    That is, surely, what any reasonable person would call a genocide. And today, on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, Joe Biden became the first United States President to do so. The US now joins the majority of Europe — with the notable exceptions of the U.K. and Ukraine — in acknowledging it.

    Here is the official statement [full statement is available at the link]:

    Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.

    Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States. […] We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated. […]

    The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.

    This is actually a pretty big deal. There’s a reason other presidents have not officially recognized the Armenian Genocide and that is because Turkey does not recognize it and has basically said, for decades, that any country that does recognize will be on their shit list — which was not a thing the US wanted. […]

    While the Turkish government admits that they “deported” Armenians during that time, they claim this was a reasonable response to “Armenian violence,” that the overall number of Armenians killed has been inflated and that there was never any purposeful genocide. This runs contrary to actual statements and documents from Talaat Pasha and other CUP officials, who were often very explicit in stating their desire to annihilate the Armenian people.

    “In their communications – both with Istanbul and with one another – the governors did not see the need to use vague language or euphemisms in referring to the annihilation of the Armenians, but spoke of it openly, even offering a number of tangible ideas regarding how such an extermination could or should be carried out,” said historian Taner Akcam, a prominent scholar of the Armenian Genocide.

    The Turkish government’s response has not been exactly warm.

    Via Politico:

    [Turkish President Tayyip] Erdogan has been adamant in not referring to the World War I-era events as genocide, and in 2019, Erdogan spokesperson Fahrettin Altun said any such recognition would “endanger the future of [U.S.-Turkish] bilateral relations.” In 2014, the Turkish president called the events “inhumane.”
    […] “We have not forgotten and will never forget our colleagues martyred by Armenian terror!”

    It is hardly as though Turkey has had an unblemished human rights record since then, so it’s unclear what the government believes it is accomplishing by continuing to try to gaslight the world on this. They have certainly no problem with everyone knowing they torture people. They do not exactly have a rep to protect.

    Former Turkish President/Dictator Turgut Ozal (who certainly had some problems of his own) didn’t seem to know either, noting that the country’s insistence on denying that the Armenian Genocide happening was harming their relationships with other countries.

    What happens if we compromise with the Armenians and end this issue? What if we officially recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide and face up to our past? Let’s take the initiative and find the truth. Let’s pay the political and economic price, if necessary.

    That probably would have been the reasonable thing to do. Eventually, hopefully, there is going to be no country left willing to pretend this never happened for fear of hurting Turkey’s feelings and they will either have to get over it or have no allies.

  185. blf says

    Model’s ‘hands off my hijab’ post sparks protest over France’s proposed ban:

    Rawdah Mohamed, whose Instagram selfie went viral, says she wants to fight ‘deeply rooted stereotypes’

    A Somali-Norwegian model whose Instagram post criticising a proposed ban on the hijab in France went viral has said she wants to fight “deeply rooted stereotypes” against Muslim women.

    Rawdah Mohamed posted a selfie on Instagram with “hands off my hijab” written on her hand, starting a campaign that has been trending on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

    #Handsoffmyhijab, along with its counterpart #PasToucheAMonHijab, has been taken up by the Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and the US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, as well thousands of women internationally. They have used the hashtag to protest against the French senate’s vote to ban anyone under 18 from wearing the garment in public. [I was unaware of this presumably recent vote –blf]

    “I started the hashtag as I felt the need to humanise the movement,” Mohamed told the Guardian. […]

    Mohamed added that the proposed legislation “stems from discrimination and deeply rooted stereotypes against Muslim women”.

    France was the first country to ban the niqab in public spaces, in April 2011, and French provinces have banned the burkini, starting a national conversation around nationalism, identity and feminism.

    From memory, the Grauniad is somewhat incorrect about that absurd burkini ban: No “province” banned it, only cites (like Nice) and villages (sadly, including the one I live in). At least one of the bans was overturned in court, in a ruling which was interpreted to apply to all the bans. As far as I am aware, burkinis are no longer banned anywhere in France.

    “I wanted my oppressors to see my face and the women who look like me,” she said. “They don’t get to hide in their luxurious parliament offices and regulate women’s bodies without a fight.”

    On Instagram, Mohamed wrote: “The hijab ban is hateful rhetoric coming from the highest level of government and will go down as an enormous failure of religious values and equality.”

    Go Ms Mohamed ! 🧕🏽 👏👏

    The article continues with examples from Ms Mohamed of times she has been or felt threatened for wearing a hijab.

  186. blf says

    Republicans fret over AOC backing for Biden as 100-day mark draws near:

    As Joe Biden welcomed a series of polls showing majority approval for his first 100 days in the White House, and prepared to address Congress for the first time on Wednesday, Republicans attacked his progressive record in office.

    [Lindsey Graham] said: AOC said his first 100 days exceeded her expectations. That’s all you need to know.


    Graham was not the only senior GOP figure to complain about something many on the left have praised: that Biden campaigned as a moderate but is governing more as a progressive.

    Also speaking to Fox News Sunday, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, accused Biden of a bait and switch. The bait was he was going to govern as bipartisan but the switch is, he’s governed as a socialist.


    Sunday brought a slew of polls. Fox News put the president’s approval rating at 54% positive to 43% negative, nine points up on Donald Trump at the same time four years ago. NBC put Biden up 51%–43%, ABC made it 52%–42% and CBS reported a 58%–42% split.

    Graham also insisted Biden had been a disaster on foreign policy.


    The border is in chaos, Graham said, the Iranians are off the mat … Afghanistan is gonna fall apart, Russia and China are already pushing him around. So I’m very worried.

    I think he’s been a very destabilising president, and economically thrown a wet blanket over the recovery, wanting to raise taxes a large amount and regulate America basically out of business.

    So I’m not very impressed with the first 100 days. This is not what I thought I would get from Joe Biden.

    I’m extremely dubious about Biden’s letting Mohammed bin Salman (Saudia Arabia) off the hook for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, keeping the US Embassy in Jerusalem, deciding to visit teh NKofE on (and as) his first foreign trip, proposing to pay-off Jair Bolsonaro, and so on — none of which probably annoys Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy. Moscow Mitch, or Putin. Albeit, to Biden’s credit (and Congress previously in 2019),† there was a genocide in Armenia.

      † To my surprise, Ronaddled Raygun also called it genocide in 1981, according to Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge. (And yes, for the Putin-trolls, President Obama reneged on his campaign promise to call it genocide.)

  187. blf says

    Nasa’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has successfully completed its third flight, up 5 metres, high-speed (2 metres/second) flight for 50 metres, return and land, about 80 seconds in total. That 50 metres is much much further than ever been flown or tested before (on-Earth testing was limited to less than 2 metres due to the size of the test chamber). At most two more flights in the next week-ish, before Perseverance moves on to its primary mission.

  188. says

    blf @239, I think the Republicans are getting in as many blows as they can before Biden takes the very public stage on Wednesday to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress.

    Biden is more popular than Trump was, and Biden is getting a lot more done that actually benefits middle class and poverty-level people. That has the Republicans running scared and screaming “socialist!” with their hair on fire.

    Biden is far from perfect, but he is such an improvement over Trump that I don’t think the Republicans have a leg to stand on.

    You are right about Jamal Khashoggi, btw.

  189. says

    Idaho indulges in its traditional anti-environmental hysteria with new wolf extermination bill

    Amid hysterical claims that wolves are driving ranchers out of business, Idaho’s Republican state Senate this week approved legislation that would enable hired contractors to exterminate up to 90% of the state’s wild wolf population. The bill, if signed (as expected) by GOP Gov. Brad Little would end tag limits on wolves and allow year-round trapping on private land.

    It may have had the appearance of being a simple anti-environmental move by conservative Republicans taking advantage of a late-tenure maneuver by Donald Trump that green-lighted the state to kill more wolves. But it was also part of a long Idaho tradition of conspiracist fearmongering in which killing wolves is seen as a way of fighting back against the federal government and liberal environmentalists.

    […] The bill passed by a 26-7 vote. Little has not said whether or not he will sign it, but he did sign similar anti-wolf legislation in 2017.

    The door to the legislation was opened by Trump’s decision in late October 2020, just before the election, to hand wolf management decisions over to the states and local tribes. At the time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director claimed the wolf populations were fully recovered, though there was no scientific data to support that claim. The wolves officially lost their federal protection 60 days later.

    […] there is also a powerful political element, particularly in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, that is fueled by far-right anti-government paranoia and conspiracy theories.

    For years, wolf recovery efforts have been depicted in the rural West as the imposition of the “New World Order” on residents of the rural areas where the creatures roam. A number of far-right outlets, including the John Birch Society’s magazine and the conspiracist website World Net Daily, have run pieces describing how wolf recovery is a key component of a plot by radical environmentalists on behalf of the United Nations to destroy private property rights in America. In the Mountain West, holding such views is not uncommon.

    When militias were first organizing in Idaho and Montana in the early to mid-1990s, much of the anti-government sentiment that drove recruitment revolved around resentment for the just-instituted wolf recovery efforts.

    […] “Simply put, the ‘wolf recovery’ program is a form of environmental terrorism. Thus while the U.S. government is working through the UN to fight a war against terrorism abroad, it is collaborating with UN-linked environmental radicals to wage an eco-terrorist campaign against rural property owners here at home.”

    The embodiment of the extreme nature of these sentiments came in the winter of 2013 when a group of men wearing Klan-like hoods posed with the corpse of a freshly killed wolf and an American flag and then posted it on Facebook. […] “Frontier Justice! Wyoming hunters are fed up!”

    […] The problem with Wildlife Services’ numbers is that they were recently changed to be much broader, so that they now include killings even where there is no evidence of predation, injury, or struggle, since the Services claim—without scientific evidence—that cattle can die from overexertion hours or even days after encounters with wolves.

    Moreover, wolf predation represents only a tiny portion of cattle losses each year. While proponents of the Idaho bill note that 753 cattle, 952 sheep, and 54 other animals were killed by wolves between 2015 and 2020, the state is home to some 2.5 million cattle; those losses represent less than 1% of that population.

    Predation overall represents only 4% of all livestock deaths on an annual basis—and the largest portion of that predation (over 40%) is by coyotes. Wolves, at 4%, represent the second-smallest class of cattle predator (with bears coming in last).

    The Humane Society of the United States called the Idaho bill “a blatant attempt to usurp state biologists tasked with managing Idaho’s wolves.

    “This bill doesn’t just cross an ethical line; it sprints right past it. It is an embarrassment to the state of Idaho, and there is absolutely no scientific or ethical justification for this deeply misguided and dangerous legislation. In a race to slaughter one of America’s most treasured animals, this bill allows fear and hate to win. Idaho’s wolves deserve better; the environment deserves better. This bill must be vetoed by Governor Little if it comes to his desk.”

  190. says

    PPP Lending Was Supposed to Help Small Businesses in Kansas City. That’s Not What Happened.

    “You can’t call it anything but redlining: public sector reinforcing private-sector discrimination.”

    […] In Kansas City neighborhoods seared by decades of government-imposed racial discrimination, the Paycheck Protection Program’s forgivable loans arrived last year at lower rates than in the rest of the city. East Side areas “redlined” in the 1930s because Black people lived there—a federal decision that effectively blocked investment—received 17% fewer PPP loans than if they’d gotten an amount proportionate to their share of the city’s small employers. Affluent, largely white ZIP codes given preferential treatment by redlining received 23% more.

    “Sometimes we look at this as an isolated situation,” said Answer, who is active in community development […] “But I think all of these things have to be experienced in light of history.”

    This pattern keeps repeating—here and across the country. In Kansas City, your level of wealth and even the length of your life are often defined by whether you live east or west of Troost Avenue, a longstanding racial dividing line. It’s a similar story in many other once-redlined cities.

    At the same time, most of the government incentives intended to combat blight and joblessness in Kansas City flow downtown rather than to the East Side. Variations on that theme keep happening around the nation, too, an eerie—and legal—echo of what the 1930s federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp. wrought with its red pen.

    “You can’t call it anything but redlining: public sector reinforcing private-sector discrimination,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, which tracks and researches economic subsidies. “The net effect is reverse Robin Hood. You’re favoring places that need help the least.”

    In Kansas City, people determined to put a stop to this may be making some headway. In 2017, Black community leaders convinced voters to earmark a slice of sales-tax revenue for economic development and stability efforts in a portion of the East Side. Some of that money has flowed as COVID-19 relief to small businesses that largely missed out on the federal help. […]

    Congress asked the Small Business Administration to prioritize small firms in “underserved” markets for PPP loans, which should have quickly boosted places like Kansas City’s East Side. And yet assumptions in the program design—about business owners’ access to banking or certain documents or even clear information about who qualifies—didn’t account for the reality that many firms in such markets face, according to interviews with several dozen experts and entrepreneurs.

    Sixty-three percent of eligible applicants for the East Side coronavirus relief grants from Kansas City sales tax revenue did not get a PPP loan. […]

  191. says

    Follow-up to comment 236.

    US sending aid to India as COVID-19 cases spike

    […] A White House spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters that administration officials are “in active conversations at high levels and plan to quickly deploy additional support to the Government of India and Indian health care workers as they battle this latest severe outbreak.”

    “We will have more to share very soon,” the spokesperson added. […]

    A spokesperson for the Indian Embassy told Reuters that both the U.S. and India are engaged at various levels to ensure components for vaccine production from the U.S. reached India. […]

    “To help treat COVID-19 patients and protect front-line health workers in India, the United States has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will immediately be made available for India,” Horne added. “The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.” […]

  192. birgerjohansson says

    A man in Algeria has been sentenced to prison for saying not all statements in the koran are literally true.

  193. blf says

    This is presumably what birgerjohansson@246 is referring to, Algerian author Said Djabelkhir sentenced to jail for offending Islam (BBC edits in {curly braces}):

    Mr Djabelkhir had said the animal sacrifice during the Muslim festival of Eid was based on a pre-Islamic pagan ritual.

    He also suggested that parts of the Quran, such as the story of Noah’s Ark, might not be literally true and criticised practices including the marriage of young girls in some Muslim societies.

    Islam is Algeria’s religion of state. The law imposes a fine or prison sentence on anyone who offends the Prophet or denigrates the dogmatic precepts of Islam, whether it be by writings, drawings, a statement or another means.


    Speaking to AFP news agency after being released on bail, Mr Djabelkhir said: “The fight for freedom of conscience is non-negotiable. It is a fight which must continue.”


    He has been quoted in media reports as calling for “reflection” on Islam’s founding texts.

    He said his accusers believe that everything in the Quran is literally true, and do not distinguish between “history” and “myth” — such as the story about Noah’s Ark.

    “Everyone thinks of history with a capital ‘H’,” he was quoted as saying.

    He recently told AFP that “the traditional readings {of the Quran} no longer meet the expectations, needs and questions of modern man”.


    Rights group Amnesty International’s deputy regional director Amna Guellali described the three-year sentence as “outrageous” and a “chilling setback for freedom of expression” in Algeria.

    “Punishing someone for their analysis of religious doctrines is a flagrant violation of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief — even if the comments are deemed offensive by others,” Ms Guellali added.

    This is not the harshest sentence handed down for offending Islam in Algeria.

    Last year, anti-government activist Yacine Mebarki was given a 10-year sentence after police found a copy of the Quran with ripped pages when they raided his house. The sentence was later reduced to one year.

  194. says

    Update on coronavirus infections in Michigan:

    At Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, in one of America’s worst coronavirus hot spots, entire units are still filled with Covid-19 patients. People weak with the virus still struggle to sit up in bed. And the phone still rings with pleas to transfer patients on the verge of death to units with higher-tech equipment.

    But unlike previous surges, it now is younger and middle-aged adults — not their parents and grandparents — who are taking up many of Michigan’s hospital beds. A 37-year-old woman on a ventilator after giving birth. A 41-year-old father. A 55-year-old autoworker who has been sick for weeks.

    “We’re getting to the point where we’re just so beat down,” said Alexandra Budnik, an intensive care nurse who works in a unit with lifesaving machines, or circuits, that are in short supply. “Every time we get a call or every time we hear that there’s another 40-year-old that we don’t have a circuit for — it’s just like, you know, we can’t save them all.”

    Across Michigan, which is experiencing by far the country’s most dangerous outbreak, more younger people are being admitted to hospitals with the coronavirus than at any other time in the pandemic. Michigan hospitals are now admitting about twice as many coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s as they were during the fall peak, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

    […] the vaccinations of older people do not explain rising hospitalizations among people younger than 60, including those in their 20s and 30s. Public health experts say the outbreak — driven by the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, which is more contagious and more severe — is spreading rapidly in younger age groups. And across the state, doctors and nurses are increasingly reporting a concerning trend: Younger patients are coming in more often with serious cases of Covid-19.

    “I am putting more patients in their 20s and 30s and 40s on oxygen and on life support than at any other time in this pandemic,” said Dr. Erin Brennan, an emergency room physician in Detroit.

    The B.1.1.7 variant — first identified in Britain and now the most common source of new infection in the United States — is believed to be about 60 percent more contagious and 67 percent more deadly than the original form of the coronavirus. A federal estimate of Covid-19 hospitalizations based on a sample of counties in 14 states, including Michigan, showed more patients between the ages of 18 and 49 hospitalized in mid-April than those over age 65. In early December, it was the other way around, and by a large margin, with more than twice as many patients over 65 than in the younger group.

    […] Public health experts point to a number of factors for the changing demographics, including the vaccination of older people. As pandemic restrictions have loosened across the country, younger people are also out and about, socializing and in the work force, at a time when just one-third of American adults are fully vaccinated.

    “The restrictions were our pause button,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “As soon as you press play, you are going to see the virus race back as quickly as it can.” […]

    NY Times link

  195. says

    “C.E.O. Pay Remains Stratospheric, Even at Companies Battered by Pandemic”

    NY Times link

    While millions of people struggled to make ends meet, many of the companies hit hardest in 2020 showered their executives with riches.

    Boeing had a historically bad 2020. Its 737 Max was grounded for most of the year after two deadly crashes, the pandemic decimated its business, and the company announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers and reported a $12 billion loss. Nonetheless, its chief executive, David Calhoun, was rewarded with some $21.1 million in compensation.

    Norwegian Cruise Line barely survived the year. With the cruise industry at a standstill, the company lost $4 billion and furloughed 20 percent of its staff. That didn’t stop Norwegian from more than doubling the pay of Frank Del Rio, its chief executive, to $36.4 million.

    And at Hilton, where nearly a quarter of the corporate staff were laid off as hotels around the world sat empty and the company lost $720 million, it was a good year for the man in charge. Hilton reported in a securities filing that Chris Nassetta, its chief executive, received compensation worth $55.9 million in 2020. [chart of “the highest-paid chief executives last year” is available at the link]

    […] The divergent fortunes of C.E.O.s and everyday workers illustrate the sharp divides in a nation on the precipice of an economic boom but still racked by steep income inequality. The stock markets are up and the wealthy are spending freely, but millions are still facing significant hardship. Executives are minting fortunes while laid-off workers line up at food banks.

    “Many of these C.E.O.s have improved profitability by laying off workers,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has proposed new taxes on the ultrawealthy. “A tiny handful of people who have shimmied all the way to the top of the greasy pole get all of the rewards, while everyone else gets left behind.”

    For executives who own large stakes in giant companies, the gains have been even more pronounced. Eight of the 10 wealthiest people in the world are men who founded or ran tech companies in the United States, and each has grown billions of dollars richer this year, according to Bloomberg. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, which saw profits skyrocket with people stuck at home, is now worth $193 billion. Larry Page, a Google co-founder, is worth $103 billion, up $21 billion in the last four months alone, as his company’s fortunes have only improved during the pandemic.

    […] “We’ve created this class of centimillionaires and billionaires who have not been good for this country,” said Nell Minow, vice chair of ValueEdge Advisors, an investment consulting firm. “They may build a wing on a museum. But it’s not infrastructure — it’s not the middle class.”

    The gap between executive compensation and average worker pay has been growing for decades. Chief executives of big companies now make, on average, 320 times as much as their typical worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In 1989, that ratio was 61 to 1. From 1978 to 2019, compensation grew 14 percent for typical workers. It rose 1,167 percent for C.E.O.s.

    The pandemic only compounded these disparities, as hundreds of companies awarded their leaders pay packages worth significantly more than most Americans will make in their entire lives. […]

  196. blf says

    The tomato fanatic is back! An organic vegetable stall at today’s outdoors market is famous (at least to me) for, in season, having a bazillion types and numbers of fresh (generally local) tomatoes. I joke they have a fetish… Anyways, today they had the bazillion tomatoes, fresh garlic and several different peppers (not quite a bazillion, however), and so on… everything needed for Gazpacho. Now I just need to make enough room in the refrigerator to cool it down after a session with the food processor. (And I’ll still have about half a bazillion tomatoes left (yes, I also went tomato-fetish!)). One annoyance is yesterday one of the best containers for holding / cooling Gazpacho (and many other dishes / leftovers), after years of service, broke. So I’ll need to improvise, so the (lack of) room in the refrigerator may or may not be a problem… (Yes, sorry, first world problems.)

  197. blf says

    More about that fraud of an vote(r) audit in Arizona, Arizona Republicans deploy Cyber Ninjas in pro-Trump election audit:

    Months after Donald Trump’s election defeat, Republicans in Arizona are challenging the outcome with an unprecedented effort to audit results in their most populous county — all run by a Florida company, Cyber Ninjas, with no elections experience.

    The state senate used its subpoena power to take possession of all 2.1m ballots in Maricopa county and the machines that counted them, along with computer hard drives full of data. The materials were then handed to Cyber Ninjas, a consultancy run by a man who has shared unfounded conspiracy theories claiming official election results are illegitimate.

    Elections professionals fear the process will severely undermine faith in democracy.

    “I think the activities that are taking place here are reckless and they in no way, shape or form resemble an audit,” said Jennifer Morrell, a partner at The Elections Group, a consulting firm advising state and local officials which has not worked in Arizona.


    Cyber Ninjas began a manual recount on Friday, a day after Democrats asked a judge to put an end to the audit. The judge ordered the company to follow ballot and voter secrecy laws and demanded it turn over written procedures and training manuals before a hearing on Monday. He offered to pause the count over the weekend if Democrats posted a $1m bond to cover added expenses. The party declined.

    For fecks sake you stoopid seemingly-Putin-influenced judge (Christopher Coury), this about proper election security, etc., procedures, not ensuring Cyber Nijinas makes a profit. You very very appear to be a failure.

    [… hair furor supporter and Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan lying&hellip]

    Logan refuses to disclose who is paying him or who is counting the ballots, and will not commit to using bipartisan teams for the process.

    The Republican-dominated Arizona senate refuses to let media observe the count. Reporters can accept a six-hour shift as an official observer but photography and note-taking are prohibited. It would be a violation of journalistic ethics for reporters to participate in an event they were covering.

    The state senate has put up $150,000 for the audit but Logan has acknowledged that is not enough to cover his expenses. A rightwing cable channel, One America News Network, raised money from unknown contributors which went directly to Cyber Ninjas. Logan would not commit to disclosing the donors and would not provide an estimate for the cost of his audit.

    [… numerous other fraudulent or highly-dubious antics…]

    The audit has been beset by mistakes. Hand counters began the day using blue pens, which are banned in ballot counting rooms because they can be read by ballot machines. A crew from a group of Phoenix television stations, azfamily, had unfettered access to the supposedly secure facility as auditors were setting up equipment and receiving ballots and machines.

    Election experts said hand counts are prone to errors and questioned a lack of transparent procedures for adjudicating voter intent.


    Some snippets from First day of Arizona Senate election audit nearly stopped before it began. Here’s what happened:

    [… A]s the recount was starting, officials seemed to be figuring out rules and training on the fly. Later, the daily press briefings that were promised were placed on an indefinite hiatus.

    An attorney representing Cyber Ninjas asked the state Supreme Court on Friday if it could submit these documents [the “written procedures and training manuals”] to the court under seal, which would keep them private. The court did not rule on that question, but it signaled that the public might not get much insight soon.


    The audit goes on to discuss numerous other problems, irregularities, obfuscations, and so on.

  198. KG says

    The stench of corruption around Johnson and his cronies grows fouler by the day. Now Dominic Cummings has turned on his former boss – enraged by being accused of leaking texts between Johnson and billionaire tory donor James Dyson. Up to now, the flood of stories about cronyism (aka corruption) has not dented the Tory lead in the polls – it appears Johnson’s supporters, like Trump’s, simply don’t care about it (the excuse they give is often that all politicians are corrupt, which is simply not true) – but Cummings’ apostasy must worry Johnson, because he most certainly knows where the bodies are buried – and how they got there. (What’s usually a metaphor in politics is quite literal in this case – dishing out fat contracts to friends and party hacks and donors undoubtedly cost many lives.)

  199. blf says

    ‘An indescribable moment’: Indigenous nation in US has right to lands in Canada, court rules. A somewhat twisty tale:

    In 1955, after the Sinixt [“an Indigenous people whose territory once spanned Canada and the United States”] were pushed down into Washington state, the Canadian government declared them extinct. Nearly 60 years later, Rick Desautel decided to challenge the idea that his people no longer existed.

    In 2010, he crossed into British Columbia without a permit to hunt elk, arguing he had longstanding treaty rights to so. The province of British Columbia disagreed, slapped him with a fine, and fought him all the way to the supreme court.

    At issue for the court was how to interpret section 35.1 of the Canada’s charter, which recognizes the treaty rights of “Aboriginal peoples of Canada”.

    The court concluded that “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” refers to the modern-day successors of Indigenous societies that occupied Canadian territory during European contact, even if those societies and their members, including the Sinixt, are now located outside Canada.

    “Excluding Aboriginal peoples who moved or were forced to move, or whose territory was divided by a border, would add to the injustice of colonialism,” the court wrote on Friday.


    In addition to reaffirming Sinixt rights, legal experts have said, the ruling in Desautel’s favour could affect thousands of Indigenous peoples separated from ancestral territory in Canada when the border was drawn.

    The decision could recognize Canadian hunting and fishing rights for peoples in the United States whose traditional territory was north of the border. The ruling also raises questions over whether the nations whose members live in the US but have treaty rights in Canada need to be consulted over resource projects.

    Despite Desautel’s success, there are no comparable provisions in the US constitution that could apply to Indigenous peoples in Canada who pursue fishing or hunting rights south of the border.


    Congratulations to Mr Desautel, the Sinixt, and Canada’s supreme court.

  200. says

    blf, The Canadian did a lot of things wrong and now they’re going to have to try to right those wrongs. It will be interesting to see to what extent, if any, the USA follows suit.

    In other news: Pope calls migrant tragedy in Mediterranean ‘a moment of shame’

    Pope Francis said Sunday that the assumed deaths of more than 130 migrants after their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea last week was a “moment of shame” for all those who could have intervened to save those onboard.

    The Associated Press reported that Francis condemned the tragedy during his Sunday remarks to onlookers in St. Peter’s Square, telling those gathered: “I confess to you I am very pained by the tragedy that once again played out in the last days in the Mediterranean.”

    “One hundred and thirty migrants died in the sea. They are persons, human lives, who for two entire days implored in vain for help, help that didn’t arrive,″ the pope continued, adding: “Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, let us interrogate all of ourselves about this latest tragedy. It is a moment of shame.”

    He asked his followers to “pray also for those who can help but who prefer to look the other way,” according to the AP.

    Migrants frequently cross the Mediterranean Sea in roughly-constructed vessels in the hopes of reaching better economic prospects and safer lives in Europe. Libyan Coast Guard and Italian Coast Guard vessels as well as international organizations are frequently called to respond to distressed vessels in the area.

    The latest tragedy occurred Tuesday, with merchant vessels and an international aid organization rallying to help the distressed vessel but discovering no survivors in the sea.

    “Today, after hours of search, our worst fear has come true,’’ Luisa Albera, a search and rescue coordinator for the international aid group SOS Méditerranée told The Guardian. “The crew of the Ocean Viking had to witness the devastating aftermath of the shipwreck of a rubber boat north-east of Tripoli. This boat had been reported in distress with around 130 people onboard on Wednesday morning.”

    “We are heartbroken. We think of the lives that have been lost and of the families who might never have certainty as to what happened to their loved ones,” Albera added.[…]

  201. says

    This news story gets worse and worse. The more reporters look into the Trump administration’s handling of funds allocated to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief, the more corrupt (and possibly racist) Trump and his lackeys look.

    A pair of just-issued reports show just how bad “government” was under Donald Trump. A HUD inspector general’s report shows how funds already allocated by Congress to assist in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico were delayed by by a series of Trump officials. A second report from the EPA shows that agency didn’t follow its own processes or perform any technical analysis in issuing a rule that supported a Trump executive order. Further, the EPA under Trump seems to have forgotten to take any notes, so that it “did not document who decided to skip these milestones and why.”

    What the two reports show is agencies being run by people who not only don’t have any experience in the critical roles being performed, they were actually inimical to those roles. Now that most of those in charge under Trump are out of office, they’re still working to cover up the chaos and deliberate sabotage that happened over the last four years.

    In the case of funds for Puerto Rico, The Washington Post reports that during an investigation that began in 2019, access to information was “delayed or denied on several occasions.” HUD’s own inspector general found it difficult to move forward as senior officials refused to provide requested materials. As a result, the 46-page report is a “still incomplete picture” of why some funds for Puerto Rico never made it to the island, while others were awarded to companies or individuals who had neither the experience or ability to provide necessary services. And it took two years to get that incomplete answer.

    Meanwhile, at the EPA, the failure to take notes or follow guidelines doesn’t really stop the agency from identifying the single individual behind the reason the EPA failed to even conduct an evaluation of a vital rule that changed fuel efficiency standards. The reason is that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt simply decided that no technical review would take place, and that the EPA would sign its name to a change it had no part in either writing or evaluating.

    When it comes to getting funds to Puerto Rico, the inspector general’s report identifies a series of key changes that got in the way of taking effective action. […] months of meetings with the Office of Management and Budget about the rules for releasing grants and who should be eligible to bid. As a result, HUD was blocked from even posting notices to release the funds. OMB was still making changes even as HUD was trying to post those notices, and kept batting back the notices even when HUD thought they were done, making for additional delays.

    Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. HUD and OMB were still unable to even get much of the relief funding posted by a self-imposed deadline of May 2019. In fact, much of the funding did not become available until January 27, 2020.

    And that was just one of the problems. Other funds should not have been affected by these delays, as they weren’t subject to the same kind of OMB review that delayed the largest tranche of funds. Except that HUD chose to make them subject to the same negotiations, resulting in the same delays. Even though the funds were then available to distribute through grants, HUD chose that moment to revise the forms needed to apply for grants, and delayed assistance for Puerto Rico even longer while waiting for those new forms to be created.

    The inspector general’s report does not conclude that this was a deliberate effort to slow walk the money and punish Puerto Rico for being insufficiently grateful for Trump throwing them some paper towels … but it certainly isn’t difficult to come to that conclusion. […] OMB had never previously required any agency grants to go through a review process like the one targeted at funds for Puerto Rico.

    In the EPA inspector general’s report, the problem isn’t decisions that were made too slowly or given too much review. It’s decisions that were made more or less instantly, with no review at all.

    [snipped details regarding the Trump administration’s handling of SAFE Vehicles rules, fuel efficiency standards and emission standards]

    What both reports show is that under Trump, agencies felt free to ignore existing process, rules, or laws and simply do things as they wanted. Whether that meant the OMB acting to indefinitely stall funds going to Puerto Rico by insisting on a set of unprecedented reviews, or the EPA deciding to skip all reviews and just sign off on work that never happened, the result was giving Trump what he wanted—and hurting those he wanted to hurt.

    And as similar language makes clear in both reports: “Delays and denials of access and refusals to cooperate negatively affected the ability of the [Office of Inspector General] to conduct this review.” So we know it was bad. We just don’t know how bad it was.


    We still don’t know how bad it was.

  202. says

    Follow-up to comments 236 and 245.

    European Union leaders said on Sunday that they were ready to mobilize and provide support to India as it endures a new surge in coronavirus cases.

    “Alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support.,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted. “The EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. We stand in full solidarity with the Indian people!” […]


  203. says

    “Indonesian submarine wreckage found, all 53 crew members dead, officials say.”

    Washington Post link

    Indonesia has found the wreckage of a navy submarine missing since Wednesday and declared all 53 of its crew members dead, the country’s military chief announced Sunday.

    Underwater images captured by a remotely operated vehicle showed the wreckage in the Bali Strait at a depth of 838 meters, officials said. A search and rescue team found debris including a vertical rudder, anchor and safety jackets.

    “Based on the authentic evidence, we confirm that the KRI Nanggala has sunk and all the crew members have fallen,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto told a news conference Sunday.

    The announcement came a day after Indonesia’s navy said the vessel had almost certainly sunk. Officials said Saturday that rescuers had found debris floating in the Bali Strait near the Nanggala’s last known location.

    Adm. Yudo Margono, the navy chief of staff, said the underwater images showed the submarine had split into three parts: the hull, the stern and the “main parts.” He ruled out an explosion, which he said would have been detected by sonar.

    […] The submarine was one of five operated by Indonesia’s military. It was built in the 1970s and refitted in 2012, according to media reports.

  204. tomh says

    Justices to consider constitutionality of donor disclosure rule

    The Supreme Court will close out its April argument session next week with two major First Amendment cases.

    ..on Monday…a challenge to California’s requirement that charities and nonprofits operating in the state provide the state attorney general’s office with the names and addresses of their largest donors.

    The case, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriguez (consolidated with Thomas More Law Center v. Rodriguez), has drawn considerable attention, not only because of what it could mean for nonprofits but also because three Democratic members of Congress have asked the court’s newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, to recuse herself from the case.

    Detailed background and arguments at the link.

    The recusal request, from Senators Whitehouse, Blumenthal and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, is because The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, who announced in September, after Barrett was nominated, that it would spend at least a million dollars on a campaign to ensure Barrett’s confirmation, is the political advocacy arm of Americans for Prosperity (one of the litigants challenging the law.) At the very least, the letter added, if Barrett opts not to recuse, she should publicly explain why she is not doing so.

    Barrett did not recuse herself from the decision to grant review in the foundation’s case, and there has been no indication so far that she will not participate in Monday’s argument.

    On Wednesday, the Court will hear the case of a Pennsylvania student who was removed from her high school cheerleading team after posting offensive messages on social media.

  205. says

    Here’s a link to the April 26 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The EU has launched legal action against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca over delivery shortfalls of its coronavirus vaccine, the European Commission said on Monday, AFP reports.

    EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted about an hour ago:

    Vaccination has helped us beat many diseases. It can be the lasting way out of the [Covid-19] pandemic. Today, at the start of European Immunization Week, we reached 129 million vaccinations in EU.

    We’ll have enough doses to have 70% of adults vaccinated in July.

    In India, hoarding oxygen and vital medicines in homes is “creating panic” and causing shortages in hospitals, according to senior Indian doctors, prompting fears of shortages for critically ill patients amid the worsening Covid crisis.

    It comes as India recorded 352,991 new cases, breaking the global record it set the day before, and 2,812 new deaths, its highest daily figure for fatalities. It was the fifth day in a row that cases topped 300,000.

    Facebook has removed Australia’s federal independent MP Craig Kelly’s page for repeatedly breaching the social media company’s misinformation policy.

    The president of the European commission has offered fresh hope of a summer holiday in the EU for those living outside its borders.

    Ursula von der Leyen suggested in an interview with the New York Times that Americans who were fully vaccinated would be able to visit the EU in what would be a change of policy on non-essential travel….

  206. says

    New podcast episodes:

    QAA – “Episode 139: Mother, Anon feat Charlotte Callanan & Vera Bergengruen”:

    What happens when your mom starts believing in QAnon? Charlotte Callanan is a young woman from Australia who has been in this exact situation for 4 years now. She speaks to us about the process of finding out about her mother’s beliefs, educating herself on the conspiracy theory and attempting to find some peace despite a series of painful arguments plaguing their close relationship. Time reporter Vera Bergengruen also drops by to explore her recent article about QAnon candidates winning local elections.

    Fever Dreams – “Pro-Trump Meet-Up Features Call to Kill Political Enemies”:

    In this episode of FEVER DREAMS, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng go deep on the far-right “Health and Freedom Conference” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where thousands of attendees flocked to reaffirm their commitment to Donald Trump, the QAnon conspiracy, coronavirus denialism, and the belief that their high-profile political enemies deserve to be shot and killed. Sommer recounts his time reporting from the terrifyingly mask-free conference. Suebsaeng and Sommer also welcome Sara Kenigsberg, a former video producer for Biden 2020, who opens up about what it was like to become an object of the Trump campaign’s hate last summer. Her crime? Well, in part, it was loving pigs, and arguing that these animals don’t racially profile humans. Seriously.

    Although it’s not mentioned in the description, the first segment of the QAA episode is about the insane Tulsa event (see Lynna’s #3 above). The audio clips are far more disturbing than transcripts.

  207. says

    Reza Khaasteh:

    #BREAKING Iranian-British national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to 1 year in prison and will be banned from leaving Iran for one year on charge of attending a protest rally in front of Iran’s embassy in London back in 2009 and speaking to BBC Persian, lawyer says

    Zaghari’s lawyer Hojjat Kermani says he will file an appeal. Zaghari had been recently released from jail after serving her term, but was tried for a second accusation, “propaganda activities against Islamic Republic”.

  208. says

    Guardian – “Republican Kevin McCarthy says he walks ‘tightest tightrope’ because of Trump”:

    The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, has said his job involves walking “the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk” – shedding light on his very public refusal to answer a question about a conversation with Donald Trump during the Capitol attack.

    Appearing on Fox News Sunday, the Republican dodged twice when asked whether during the deadly riot on 6 January, when he asked the former president to call off supporters told to “fight like hell” to overturn the election, Trump said: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people were more upset about the election than you are.”

    The question concerned Trump’s refusal to act but McCarthy’s refusal to answer was widely noted – and mentioned in a profile in the New York Times.

    “He could change the whole course of history,” McCarthy told the paper, discussing Trump’s sway on the party. “This is the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk.”

    Critics say McCarthy is not walking it elegantly, given his support for Trump’s lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was caused by electoral fraud. Speaking to the Times, McCarthy said Trump “goes up and down with his anger. He’s mad at everybody one day. He’s mad at me one day.”

    The Times described the scene in McCarthy’s office in the Capitol when the mob broke in, saying a friend, the Arkansas Republican Bruce Westerman, was left there alone, choosing a civil war sword to defend himself.

    “Friends,” the paper said, “describe the post-election period as traumatic for Mr McCarthy, who publicly perpetuated the fiction that Mr Trump had won while privately asking him to stop.”

    The paper also said that “whenever the former president’s name came up in these interviews, Mr McCarthy would lower his voice and speak haltingly, wary of not casting Mr Trump in a way that might upset him.

    “‘Is this story going to be all about Trump?’ Mr McCarthy asked, after back-to-back questions on him. He then paused, seemingly bracing for a ceiling fan to drop on his head.”

  209. johnson catman says

    re SC @262: McCarthy is acting like the victim of a domestic abuser where The Orange Toddler-Tyrant is handing out the abuse.

  210. blf says

    I was drinking some beer at the time I saw, and managed to swallow my sip rather than spraying it onto the screen and keyboard and mouse and opposite wall, Ex-Trump adviser mocked for claiming Biden pushing plant-based beer:

    Larry Kudlow grumbles that Biden’s climate policies would force Americans to drink plant-based beer — instead of meat-based?

    Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has joined a flood of social media users gleefully trolling Larry Kudlow after the former economic adviser to Donald Trump complained that Joe Biden wanted Americans to drink plant-based beer.

    Kudlow made the indignant claim on his Fox Business show on Friday, saying Biden’s climate policies and attempt to slash emissions would force Americans to stop eating meat, stop eating poultry and fish, seafood, eggs, dairy and animal-based fats.

    OK, got that? No burgers on 4 July. No steaks on the barbecue … So get ready. You can throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled Brussels sprouts and wave your American flag.

    Beer is typically made from grains, hops and yeast — not steak, sausages or chops.

    Amid a blizzard of lacerating social media send-ups, the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman offered a sober analysis of what Kudlow was up to.

    “So this seems to be the latest rightwing attempt to smear Bidenomics,” he wrote on Saturday. “There is, of course, nothing about eliminating meat in Biden’s plans; so this is like the imaginary mobs that burned our cities to the ground.

    “If you read what Kudlow actually said, he’s cagey — doesn’t say that Biden proposed this, only that some people say this is what would happen. But Fox viewers won’t notice, which is the intention.”


    “This is what rightwing politics is down to. It’s all false claims about evil liberals, which the base is expected to believe because it’s primed to believe in liberal villainy. They’re not even trying to engage on actual issues.”

    But on Sunday night Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader in the Senate, chose a more sarcastic path.

    “Excited to be watching the Oscars with an ice cold plant-based beer,” he tweeted. “Thanks Joe Biden.”

    I am aware beer is plant-based (except perhaps for fining materials, which are typically animal-based). And I am also aware what the kook is suggestingmocking — a diet less rich in animals — can be sensible from multiple perspectives, such as environmental impact. So why the use of eejit quotes? Because the comments were made in bad faith, were deceptive (as pointed out by Krugman), and were made by a wanna-dalek (a hair furor stooge).

  211. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news:

    * In Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district, Troy Carter (D) defeated Karen Carter Peterson (D) by about 10 points in Saturday’s special election, and he’ll soon fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), who now works in the White House. Once Carter is sworn in, the House Democratic conference will return to 219 members in the narrowly divided chamber. [Yay! I’m celebrating all Democratic Party wins.]

    * Former Rep. Doug Collins (R) unexpectedly announced this morning that he will not be a candidate for statewide office in Georgia next year, issuing a written statement that read in part, “Goodbye for now.” Collins, who came up short in a U.S. Senate campaign last year, was widely seen as a top GOP contender in 2022. [Yay! I’m celebrating Republicans dropping out.]

    * Late last week in Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) vetoed two Republican-backed bill related to voting and elections. Veto overrides in the state’s GOP-dominated state legislature are a distinct possibility.

    * The Democratic National Committee, which has been focusing quite heavily in recent months on billboards, today unveiled a new billboard campaign celebrating the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency. The new signs will be up for a week in 20 states. [Nice billboards!]


  212. says

    blf @266, the saying in Idaho is, “Mormon barley makes the best beer.”

    In other news: Marco Rubio is a hypocrite, and a lying asshat:

    More so than most in his party, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has paid lip-service to the idea that Republicans should expand their electoral reach. Early on in his ill-fated presidential campaign, for example, the Florida senator declared that he intended to make the GOP “the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars.”

    […] Does Rubio support a higher minimum wage? No. Does he support social-insurance programs such as the Affordable Care Act to ensure these families have health security? No. Has the senator championed paid-leave legislation? No. Is he prepared to back stronger labor union protections? No.

    Rubio has, however, helped introduce a bill to eliminate the estate tax. The bill would exclusively benefit millionaires and billionaires.

    So how is it, exactly, that Rubio intends to move the Republican Party toward the interests of bartenders, maids, and mechanics? The Floridian keeps writing op-eds on the subject […]

    he condemned Amazon, not over wages and working conditions, but because he perceives the online behemoth as being “allies of the left in the culture war.” In all, Rubio’s op-ed referenced the so-called “culture war” four times, alongside derisive uses of the word “woke.”

    The Florida Republican fleshed out his perspective a bit more in a new op-ed for the New York Post, in which Rubio initially sounded more like Bernie Sanders than a conservative GOP senator: “[W]ith the profits came a corporate duty to care for the strength of the nation and its citizens. That bargain has broken down. Many in corporate America feel no obligation to act in the best interest of our country.”

    […] Rubio kept going, eventually explaining his underlying concern: corporate America is “waging a merciless war against traditional values.”

    […] corporate America eagerly dumps woke, toxic nonsense into our culture, and it’s only gotten more destructive with time. These campaigns will be met with the same strength that any other polluter should expect.

    […] I haven’t the foggiest idea what “toxic” cultural “nonsense” Rubio is referring to, and he pointed to zero examples.

    […] the senator still doesn’t appear to have anything resembling a policy agenda. […]

    Rubio seemed to suggest that businesses that disappoint him on “traditional values” should expect some kind of legal retribution.

    There are vastly easier and more effective ways for a political party to represent the interests of bartenders, maids, and mechanics. Perhaps Rubio should stop writing unfortunate op-eds and start doing more meaningful policy work?


  213. says

    Republican nonsense and stupidity has consequences:

    It’s tempting to roll one’s eyes at the new “audit” of election results in Arizona. […]

    An official vote tally showed Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump in the state, thanks in part to a strong showing in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa County. Republicans, committed to the Big Lie, cried foul, so Arizona conducted an audit, relying on a federally accredited firm to oversee the process. Then there was a second audit, ordered by the GOP-led legislature. There was also a hand recount, supervised by both parties. All of this turned up nothing: no fraud, no sham ballots, and no wrongdoing.

    Maricopa County’s board of supervisors, which has a Republican majority, voted unanimously to certify Biden as the winner. That was supposed to be that.

    Except, it wasn’t. As the Washington Post reported:

    An extensive effort to recount ballots from the November election moved forward in Phoenix on Friday as a private vendor hired by Republicans in the Arizona Senate began reviewing nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s largest county. The recount of the ballots from Maricopa County was sought by Senate Republicans to examine unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted President Biden’s win.

    […] the list of absurdities is not short. Republicans in the Arizona Senate have, for example, turned to a private firm to oversee this latest process despite the apparent fact that it is not known to have experience in this kind of work. […]

    Late last week, the Arizona Republic reported that this latest ballot count “got off to a shaky start,” with rules and procedures that were finalized on the fly. […]

    The result is a mess featuring lawsuits, court-ordered pauses, procedural changes, widespread confusion, and a general sense that this unnecessary circus is incapable of producing reliable information — all in response to hysterical fraud allegations with no basis in reality.

    It doesn’t help that GOP officials are limiting the audit to the election results in which Democrats won: Republican victories in Maricopa County are not part of this latest review. (The idea, evidently, is that there were systemic problems with parts of ballots, not ballots themselves.)

    All of which again leads us to the inevitable feeling that this nonsense deserves widespread eye-rolling. Except, it may not be quite that simple.

    It’s hardly a stretch to think the fix is in: Arizona Republicans will, in the near future, appear before cameras and effectively declare, “Never mind the count, the hand recount, and the independent audits. Our new review, led by our conspiratorial allies, proves that Donald Trump secretly won Arizona.”

    The idea, obviously, is to create a new truth for Republicans, at which point pro-Trump forces can exploit the lie to justify new voter-suppression efforts and perhaps even related efforts in other states, where Republicans can hire Cyber Ninjas of their own.

    Indeed, Trump was unsubtle on this point in a written statement issued on Friday, envisioning Arizona as the first domino of many. The unhinged former president wrote, “The Democrats are desperate for the FRAUD to remain concealed because, when revealed, the Great States of Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, New Hampshire, and the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, would be forced to complete the work already started.”

    […] The new, Republican-approved version of reality will fuel conspiratorial rage for quite a while, with rank-and-file conservative voters convinced that Americans can’t settle disputes at the ballot box because those rascally Democrats have rigged the system.

    Arizona’s circus is clearly bonkers, but that doesn’t mean the nonsense will be inconsequential.


  214. says

    All of Trump’s “best people” are getting new jobs:

    Remember Cleta Mitchell?

    If you’ve been following our voting rights, voter suppression, ‘vote fraud’ bamboozlement coverage over the last couple decades you likely do. But even if not, you don’t have to back that far. She was the President’s legal advisor on that notorious January 2nd call with Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the soon-to-be ex-President demanded Raffensperger “find” the votes he needed to change the result in Georgia. Mitchell’s participation in that call and the subsequent insurrection, which constituted the last gasp of the President’s efforts, led to what was presumably Mitchell’s forced resignation from the law firm Foley & Lardner. She also appears to be under scrutiny in the Fulton County DA’s investigation into the aforementioned call and potential solicitation of election fraud.

    But things are looking up for Mitchell!

    The Guardian reports that the far-right group FreedomWorks has hired Mitchell to oversee a $10 million campaign to limit voting in seven key swing states, including Georgia, Arizona and Michigan. She’s also tasked with whipping opposition to HR1, the Democrats pro-democracy bill in Congress. She’s also been tapped as a “fellow” by a pro-Trump group called the Conservative Partnership Institute to organize opposition to HR1.

    This should in a way hardly surprise us. Mitchell has been a top GOP voter suppression operative for years. That’s how she ended up on the call with Trump, who she’s apparently still in regular touch with. But it shows how resilient the right-wing money apparatus has been in the aftermath of the insurrection and the President’s broader attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

    Mitchell is still under investigation by the local DA in Atlanta, where she could conceivably be indicted along with Trump. But the key right-wing groups have already signed her up in the current campaign to crack down on voting in swing states around the country.


    The commentary above was written by Josh Marshall.

  215. says

    “Redactions”? WTF?

    lizabeth City, North Carolina, is bracing for the release of body camera footage of the fatal police shooting last week of Andrew Brown, Jr.

    Brown’s family expected to see the footage first at around 11:30 a.m. ET, WAVY reported, followed by a public release of the footage. But by around noon, an attorney for the family, Harry Daniels, said he’d heard from a county official that “redactions” could delay the release of the footage. […]


  216. says

    Correction to comment 272: “lizabeth City” should be “Elizabeth City.”

    In other news, “Biden admin cancels outrageous ICE fines levied against undocumented immigrants in sanctuary.”

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that it is ending a policy set by the previous administration that sought fines as high as $500,000 from undocumented immigrants who had gone into sanctuary. In a statement, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas called the outrageous policy, “ineffective and unnecessary.”

    “After reviewing detailed data regarding the issuance of such fines since 2018, it was clear to Secretary Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson that the fines were not effective and had not meaningfully advanced the interests of the agency,” DHS said. “ICE intends to work with the Department of Treasury to cancel the existing debts of those who had been fined.”

    The federal government has the power to issue such fines but has rarely done so, The Washington Post reported in 2019. Advocates said that when it had, fines had typically been about $1,000. But unable to raid churches where undocumented immigrants had gone into sanctuary, the previous administration had issued the fines as a clear intimidation tactic. Rosa Ortez Cruz, an undocumented mom of four in North Carolina, was fined $314,007. Edith Espinal, another undocumented mom in Ohio, was fined $497,777.

    Attorney David Bennion told ABC News in 2019 that the fines were “so egregiously over the top that it’s laughable.” Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney for Espinal, said that the agency was trying to “intimidate my client and other people like her and they’re trying to intimidate the community.” But there were even more sinister goings-on behind the scenes.

    […] former White House aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller sought to use the fines to pay for the previous president’s racist and useless border wall. In emails obtained through the Freedom of Information act, former Justice Department attorney Gene Hamilton “affirmed that the money could be used for such purposes as outlined, and added that the penalties could amount to ‘[u]p to $500 (now higher for inflation) per day, per alien.’ Miller replied, ‘Remarkable.’” […]


  217. says

    Kevin McCarthy Is Still Whitewashing What Happened on January 6

    In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked again about a conversation he had with then-President Donald Trump during the Capitol insurrection on January 6. In the aftermath of the riot, McCarthy said that Trump “bears responsibility” for it, and suggested the president should face censure. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump,” McCarthy said on the House floor the week after. (Of course, McCarthy himself voted to overturn the results of the presidential election in Arizona, legitimizing the theories of the rioters.)

    He’s in a good position to know exactly what Trump thought about the insurrection as it unfolded. McCarthy spoke with Trump while the Capitol was under attack. And according to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a fellow Republican, Trump had said something pretty chilling: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

    But when Wallace asked McCarthy about his conversation with Trump, McCarthy chose to whitewash what happened. He refused to answer yes or no as to whether Herrera Beutler’s account was accurate—you can interpret what that means for yourself—but insisted that Trump 1) did not know the riots were going on until McCarthy called him, and 2) promised to put a stop to it.

    “And that’s what he did—he put a video out later.”

    McCarthy is right in a very narrow way—Trump did put a video out later. A full two hours after a mob broke into the Capitol, he put out a video in which he told the people who had defaced the Capitol, shit in the floor, shouted racist slurs, and beaten cops, “We love you, you’re very special,” and that “we had an election that was stolen from us.”

    For a brief period on January 6, it perhaps seemed as though there might be some cracks in the Republican party’s wall of support for Trump—as evidenced by McCarthy’s contemporaneous statements. But in the months since, all but a handful of figures (Herrera Beutler being one of them) have committed themselves to a whitewashing of what happened that day. McCarthy would rather cover up what happened and throw his own Republican colleague under the bus than tell the truth about what we all watched with our own eyes, and what he had admitted to initially. It is crushingly cynical, and sort of clarifying; then, as now, Trump’s greatest source of power was the sheer cowardice of those who could have stopped him.

  218. says

    The U.S. will begin sharing its entire pipeline of vaccines from AstraZeneca once the vaccine clears federal safety reviews, the White House said, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.

    The move greatly expands on the Biden administration’s action last month to share about 4 million doses of the vaccine with Mexico and Canada. The AstraZeneca vaccine is widely in use around the world but not yet authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    The move comes as the White House is increasingly assured about the supply of the three vaccines being administered in the U.S., particularly following the restart of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot over the weekend.

    “Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the U.S. already has and that have been authorized by the FDA, and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the U.S., we do not need to use the AstraZeneca vaccine here during the next several months,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients. “Therefore the U.S. is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available.” […]


  219. says

    The Origin Story Of GOP Outrage Over Totally Imaginary Biden Red Meat Ban

    By Sunday afternoon, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) had dubbed President Joe Biden the “Hamburglar.” Pictures of steaks and hamburgers were rocketing around the rightwing media ecosystem, escorted by captions screaming that Biden’s climate plan would force Americans to cut 90 percent of red meat from their diets. We had entered the era of baseless meat fear-mongering.

    But let’s rewind.

    It all started on Thursday, when Biden delivered remarks during the “Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate.” During his speech, Biden sketched out his vision that the United States will cut its greenhouse emissions in half by 2030. His comments were short on specifics as his plan has not yet been released, more of a practice in goal-setting than a detailed outline of how to get there.

    Enter: the Daily Mail. The British tabloid, known to compensate for its paltry fact-checking with all-caps sensationalism, shouldered the responsibility of filling in the blanks of Biden’s plan with shoot-from-the-hip speculation.

    “How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH, cost $3.5K a year per person in taxes, force you to spend $55K on an electric car and ‘crush’ American jobs,” the pithy headline exclaimed, published the same evening Biden made his remarks.

    In the article, the Daily Mail cited a January 2020 study from the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems that explored how various dietary changes would affect greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers ran a number of scenarios, one of which tested what would happen if beef consumption dropped by 90 percent.

    “Further reducing beef by 90 percent of current levels while replacing 50 percent of other animal based foods results in a per capita decrease in [greenhouse gas emissions] of 51 percent,” they wrote.

    The Daily Mail calculated that deprivation to total just one “average sized” burger per month for each American.

    And with that, the GOP faux outrage Rube Goldberg machine was triggered.

    By Friday morning, Fox had sunk its teeth in. Hosts slyly painted the study and Biden’s plan as related, implying that the one-and-a-half-year-old research exercise was actually part of some analysis of requirements to satisfy Biden’s plan, which has still not been released. The topic was introduced on “Fox and Friends” early that morning and hammered by Fox News and Fox Business Network throughout the day.

    “President Biden has been boasting about his plan to save the planet and cut carbon emissions by 50 percent,” said Fox News host Jesse Watters. “That sounds great, but what would Americans have to give up to make that happen? Americans would have to cut red meat consumption by a whopping 90 percent. That means only one burger a month.”

    Fox Business host Larry Kudlow also conflated Biden’s plan with the Green New Deal, legislation re-introduced last week by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

    “Speaking of stupid, there’s a study coming out of the University of Michigan that says that to meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, America has to — get this — America has to stop eating meat, stop eating poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, diary and animal-based fats,” Kudlow said as a meat-grilling montage flashed across the screen. “Okay, got that? No burgers on July 4th. No steaks on the barbie. I’m sure middle America is just gonna love that.” […]


    Sigh. So much faux outrage.

  220. says

    Big Lie-driven Arizona vote ‘audit’ is becoming more and more of a cluster [fuck]

    Donald Trump’s Big Lie continues to bear toxic, conspiracy-theorist fruit in Arizona, where the Republican state Senate’s effort to “audit” the vote from Maricopa County is an ever-worsening cluster in desperate need of oversight—oversight that was disrupted Sunday night when the judge in a case challenging the count was forced to step down. The situation starts with Arizona Republicans getting enthusiastically on board with a series of conspiracy theories bolstering Trump’s sore-loserdom and using the state Senate’s subpoena power to seize all 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County and hand them over to an unqualified company led by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist. And it goes on from there about like you’d expect […]

    Arizona Senate Republicans retained a company called Cyber Ninjas to conduct the so-called audit. Cyber Ninjas has no elections experience—in contrast to the two professional auditing firms previously retained by the county as part of its series of audits and reviews of the vote—and is headed by Doug Logan, a man who has repeatedly tweeted election conspiracy theories, including sharing posts by lawyer Sidney Powell and Rep. Lauren Boebert, and was a witness in a Michigan lawsuit promoting conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems.

    […] In the days leading up to the count, a news team from Arizona Family repeatedly gained access to the areas where ballots and elections equipment were being unloaded and stored—not exactly feeding confidence in the security being employed. Following that, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, called on state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, to investigate potential violations of the law, writing in a letter that reports “suggest that the Senate has failed to secure the election equipment and ballots, resulting in unauthorized and unmonitored access to [ballots and voting equipment].” Brnovich refused to investigate, prompting Hobbs to respond “Apparently, #sharpiegate was more worthy of investigation than actual ballot integrity issues.”

    […] ”I think the activities that are taking place here are reckless and they in no way, shape or form resemble an audit,” Jennifer Morrell, a partner at Elections Group, a consulting firm advising state and local election officials, told the Associated Press. Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, used similar language in a CNN interview. “I have been avoiding calling it an audit to be quite honest with you, because that’s not what it is. They have been making this up as they go along,” she said. “This is just a fishing expedition by people who are determined to find something wrong.”

    ”This is not like any audit I’ve ever seen,” Mark Lindeman, the acting co-director of the nonpartisan organization Verified Voting, said. “If it intends to be perceived as fair-minded and credible, they’ve made some bad mistakes.”

    Sunday night, the judge in the Democratic Party’s suit to stop the effort stepped down, citing the fact that a lawyer for the firm representing Senate Republicans’ lead auditor had been an intern in his office within the past five years. With a Monday afternoon hearing scheduled, a new judge is being assigned to the case. This comes after, on Friday, the judge had ordered a pause in counting over the weekend … but only if the Arizona Democratic Party put up a $1 million bond to cover increased expenses due to the pause. The party refused, so counting continued despite the long list of reasons to question the process.

    The count is expected to take weeks if allowed to proceed. Logan has estimated it will be completed in 16 days, but as has been established, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about in general. The counting is being done in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, which the state Senate has rented through May 14.

  221. blf says

    Lynna@278 quotes “the judge in the Democratic Party’s suit to stop the effort stepped down, citing the fact that a lawyer for the firm representing Senate Republicans’ lead auditor had been an intern in his office within the past five years.”

    So the faux-judge is even more of a fraud then I screamed about in @251.

  222. says

    blf, @279, yep. That was my conclusion too.

    In other news, and as follow-up to comment 272: “Attorneys For Family Of Police Shooting Victim Say They Only Saw ‘Snippet’ Of Body Cam.”

    Another Brown family attorney, Chantel Lassiter, said she viewed the 20-second body camera video 10 or 20 times and took three pages of notes. She described police shooting Brown even though his hands were on the steering wheel of his vehicle.

    “Let’s be clear, this was an execution,” Lassiter said.

    “Andrew Brown was in his driveway,” she continued. “The sheriff truck blocked him in his driveway so he could not exit his driveway. Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn’t touching anything. He wasn’t throwing anything around. He had his hands firmly on the steering wheel. They run up to his vehicle shooting. He still stood there, sat there, in his vehicle, with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at.”

    “I never was talked to like I was talked to in there,” attorney Bakari Sellers told the media. He quoted the county attorney, Michael Cox, saying that “he was not fucking going to be bullied.”

    Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing Brown’s family, said Brown’s family was only shown a 20-second “snippet” of a single body camera from the shooting, even though, Crump asserted, more video was available.


    Attorney Lassiter also made it clear that when Andrew Brown attempted to drive away to escape being shot, he avoided all of the police officers and their vehicles. He did not ever put any police officers in danger with his vehicle, according to the attorney.

    The police officers were shouting contradictory commands, (“Show us your hands!” and “Put your hands on the steering wheel”, when his hands were clearly visible on the steering wheel.) Attorney Lassiter also said that the police were continually shouting epithets at Brown, calling him “motherfucker” etc. The police continued to fire at Brown with an assault rifle and at least two glock pistols as he drove away. The police to continued to fire at Brown after his car hit a neighbor’s tree and stopped.

    Brown’s attorneys said that at least nine police videos should be available, (8 body cams and one dash cam), but the family was not shown all of that video. When the 20-second video they were shown started, the attorney noted that there were already bullet casings visible on the ground. Whatever happened before the 20-second video was not shown to the family.

    Other family members left the viewing room, but Brown’s son remained to watch the 20-second video more than a dozen times with the attorney.

  223. says

    NYT analysis confirms what we’ve known: ICE could have prevented COVID-19 disaster in its facilities.

    The new analysis from The New York Times on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic confirms what immigrant rights advocates and medical experts have been trying to tell anyone who would listen for over a year now: ICE had the power to prevent a health disaster within its facilities, and largely chose not to. Instead, the agency worsened it.

    “Our analysis compared estimated infection rates in ICE detention centers with infection rates in prisons and in the general population,” the report said. “As Covid-19 cases rose last June, ICE detention facilities had an average infection rate five times that of prisons and 20 times that of the general population.”

    “There are a number of reasons Covid-19 hit ICE detention sites particularly hard, including spotty implementation of the agency’s own pandemic guidelines in its facilities,” The Times said in a number of takeaways. The analysis points to an incident described in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General report last month, which found that when immigrants detained at Arizona’s La Palma Correctional Center held a peaceful protest over the lack of sufficient personal protective equipment, they were violently sprayed by guards with chemical agents.

    ”A letter signed by 182 LPCC detainees indicates the facility used pepper spray, pepper balls, and chemical agents, and punished protesting detainees with lengthy stays in segregation. We confirmed LPCC used chemical agents to end the protests,” the report said.

    Advocacy group Detention Watch Network said in a blockbuster report last December that “counties and multicounty economic areas with ICE facilities were more likely to confront serious COVID-19 outbreaks.” That report estimated that ICE’s failure to release more people amid the pandemic in fact added nearly 250,000 cases to U.S. numbers. In its analysis, The Times said “[i]nfections inside detention centers have ripple effects in surrounding communities.” […]


    More details are available at the link.

  224. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 106.

    Former President Obama on Monday said he was “appalled” by the violence against civilians in Myanmar following a military coup in February.

    “The world’s attention must remain on Myanmar, where I’ve been appalled by heartbreaking violence against civilians and inspired by the nationwide movement that represents the voice of the people,” Obama said in a statement. “The military’s illegitimate and brutal effort to impose its will after a decade of greater freedoms will clearly never be accepted by the people and should not be accepted by the wider world.”

    […] “Myanmar’s neighbors should recognize that a murderous regime rejected by the people will only bring greater instability, humanitarian crisis, and the risk of a failed state,” Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Southeast Asia in Indonesia, said. […]


  225. says

    NBC News:

    Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday announced a ‘pattern or practice’ investigation into the Louisville [Kentucky] Metro Police Department, which has faced intense scrutiny and criticism in the 13 months since officers of the department killed Breonna Taylor inside her own apartment as they served a no-knock warrant.

    NBC News:

    The Biden administration on Monday will announce the launch of a summer food program to feed more than 30 million low-income children, the Agriculture Department told NBC News.

    NBC News:

    A majority of the justices on the Supreme Court seemed inclined Monday to rule for conservative groups that don’t want to tell state regulators the names of their biggest donors for fear of chilling contributions.

  226. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Unsparing in his criticism of the President, Donald J. Trump blasted Joe Biden for firing almost no one in his first hundred days.

    “It took me barely over a week to fire Sally Yates, and by March I’d axed forty-six U.S. attorneys,” he said. “I hit the ground running and I never looked back.”

    At the rate Biden is going, Trump said, “He’s going to be looking across his desk at the same losers the entire time he’s in office.”

    In another alleged failure of Biden’s first hundred days, Trump ripped the President for having picked “no fights whatsoever” with TV celebrities.

    “It’s almost like he doesn’t even watch TV,” Trump said. “What does he do all day?”

    New Yorker link

  227. says

    In other food news…

    I’ve had a hard time following what’s happening with this, since the actions of the EU Council are quite opaque, but…reportedly they were debating the absurd Amendment 171 this past week, and it somehow stands a chance. Here’s Oatly’s explainer/petition: “Are you stupid? The milk lobby thinks you are.” (I’m sure there’s a yogurt cancel culture joke here somewhere…)

    Guardian podcast – “The Seaspiracy controversy: should we stop eating fish?”:

    The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy, made by the team behind the award-winning 2014 film Cowspiracy, critiques the idea of sustainable fishing and accuses the industry of using slave labour and other human rights abuses.

    The 90-minute film is one of the 10 most watched Netflix programmes and has been praised by celebrities including Bryan Adams. The Guardian’s George Monbiot is among those interviewed in the film, and he tells Anushka Asthana that it shines a light on some of the murkiest aspects of the fishing industry that have been under-reported in the media.

    The documentary, however, has also been heavily criticised for its approach, style and factual errors. The marine ecologist Bryce Stewart tells Anushka that fishing can be done sustainably, and that Seaspiracy’s take on the issue is overly simplistic.

    (It’s worth noting that Stewart is also a “fisheries biologist.”)

    Plant Based News – “Farm Sanctuary Receives Acclaimed Award Nomination Against Social Media Stars “:

    Farm Sanctuary, a vegan rescue center seeking to end animal agriculture, has been nominated for an award at the acclaimed Annual Webby Awards.

    The sanctuary is nominated in the highly competitive category ‘Social: Animals’ – and it’s up against a host of social media stars.

    Moreover, it’s the only non-dog ’cause-led’ nominee in the category.

    The New York Times described the annual awards ‘the internet’s highest honor’. Activist and podcaster Jameela Jamil is presenting them this year.

    Moreover, the social category celebrates creativity across social media accounts that celebrate animals.

    Each year the category sees a host of pure-bred dogs and cats. This makes Farm Sanctuary’s nomination a ‘seismic shift’ in the way society views animals, the charity claimed.

    Chief Communications and Brand Creative Officer Marie Jones told PBN: “For over 35 years, we have been fighting to make farm animals visible by helping people see them as the thinking, feeling individuals they are.

    “A vote for Farm Sanctuary is a vote for the billions of farm animals caught in the animal agriculture system.”

    Moreover, the charity beat over 13,500 entries worldwide in securing a nomination.

    Winners are announced at the virtual awards on Tuesday, May 18.

    Webby voting is open until May 6.

  228. says

    Follow-up to comment 277.

    Fox Corrects Graphic, Script After Days Of Hammering Fake Biden Red Meat Ban

    I think the correction was so mild and given so little airtime that it won’t really have an effect.

    A Fox News anchor corrected a graphic and accompanying script the network aired last week which summed up the thrust of the disinformation the network and other right-wing media has been peddling for days: the false assertion that President Joe Biden’s climate plan will force a ban on red meat consumption.

    The network seems to have picked up a highly speculative story from the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, that conflated a University of Michigan study from 2020 with Biden’s plan, which is yet to be released in full.

    The researchers of the study ran different scenarios to test how dietary changes would affect greenhouse gas emissions. In one of them, they found that dropping beef consumption by 90 percent along with dropping consumption of other animal-based foods by 50 percent would halve emissions.

    The Daily Mail ran with the 90 percent figure, speculating that Biden’s yet-to-be-released climate change proposal could mean draconian beef limitations for Americans, to the tune of cutting back to one hamburger a month.

    Various shows on Fox News covered the story, producing a graphic that then was frequently shared on social media.

    On Monday, a Fox News host corrected one of those segments that had aired back on Friday.

    “The data was accurate but a graphic and a script incorrectly implied that it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change,” anchor John Roberts said Monday afternoon of the study. “That is not the case.”

    […] “To our knowledge, there is no connection between our study and Joe Biden’s Climate plan,” Gregory Keoleian, director at the University’s Center for Sustainable Systems, and Martin Heller, the Center’s research specialist, wrote. “This appears to be an association made erroneously by the Daily Mail that has been picked up widely.”

    “Our study merely identifies opportunities for emissions reductions that are possible from changes in our diet,” they added. “By no means does it suggest that these changes in diet would be required to meet climate goals.”

    They also wrote that the study, the results of which they published a year and a half ago, was not intended to be a specific policy recommendation. Biden’s climate fact sheet, they noted, does not include a diet shift, making the linkage to their study “baseless.”

  229. says

    Follow-up to comment 286.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    This is the equivalent of running an egregiously erroneous story above the fold on page 1, then printing a correction deep within the classifieds. Somewhere between “17 year olds wanted for interstate trafficking, excellent remuneration” and “best prices for your assault weapons; no registration, no problem”.
    They will, no doubt, spam the correction across the same “news” shows at the same frequency they did the fake graphics, right?
    Doesn’t matter. It’s still the “truth” as far as the KKKult is concerned. Once they’ve adopted something as a “fact” they believe is useful to repeat in order to get what they want and establish their power, there is no taking it back. None.

  230. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #268:

    Early on in his ill-fated presidential campaign, for example, the Florida senator declared that he intended to make the GOP “the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars.”


    These campaigns will be met with the same strength that any other polluter should expect.

    So, a total pass from Republicans, then.

  231. says

    Guardian – “Myanmar: ethnic armed group seizes military base near Thai border”:

    A prominent ethnic armed group in Myanmar says it has captured a military base near the Thai border, as clashes escalated days after the junta chief committed to immediately end violence in the country.

    The junta has launched brutal crackdowns against civilians in an attempt to suppress the opposition it faces from the public. Some of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups, which have spent decades fighting the military for greater autonomy, have voiced support for anti-coup protesters.

    The Karen National Union (KNU), which is fighting the military near Myanmar’s eastern border, said on Tuesday morning it had occupied and burned down an army outpost.

    The group’s head of foreign affairs, Padoh Saw Taw Nee, told Reuters the group was still determining deaths and casualties. The spokesman said there had been fighting in other locations, too, but did not give details.

    Video footage of the clashes showed fire and smoke rising from the hills, as shots were heard in the distance.

    Local people told Agence France-Presse many villagers had fled their homes, fearing the military would launch a harsh crackdown in retaliation.

    Over recent weeks, intensified violence, including airstrikes, has forced more than 24,000 people to flee their homes in the border region, according to the aid group Free Burma Rangers.

    The latest clashes comes days after the head of Myanmar’s junta, Min Aung Hlaing, attended a regional summit in Jakarta, where he agreed to end violence and enter dialogue.

    The meeting by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) marked the first concerted international effort to find a resolution to the crisis in Myanmar, though rights groups pointed out that its concluding statement lacked specifics and made no mention of freeing political prisoners.

    More than 750 people have been killed by security forces, including dozens of children, since the coup on 1 February, while 3,441 have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.

    On Tuesday, the military appeared to backtrack from the statement it had agreed to at the Asean meeting….

    Killings and detentions have continued in recent days….

    Dozens of people have been taken from their homes by the security forces, which have continued to inflict terror through night-time raids.

  232. says

    Wild Guardian news:

    “Jerusalem rabbi accused of being undercover Christian missionary”:

    A man in Jerusalem who has worked for years as a rabbi and raised his family in an ultra-Orthodox community has been accused of faking his religion to mask his true identity as a Christian missionary from New Jersey….

    “Boris Johnson ‘isolated and at risk of becoming uncontrollable’”:

    …There are still many strands of the lobbying scandal that can be pulled, from Johnson’s flat to the lobbying of Greensill Capital, the departure of Lister and the texts between Johnson and business leaders, as well as world figures such as the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

    One Tory source said the government was “lucky in a way to be fighting a war on so many fronts” and suggested it may mean the public may find the story confusing….

  233. says

    Here’s a link to the April 27 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    India has welcomed vital medical supplies as it battles a major surge in cases. The external affairs ministry tweeted pictures of ventilators and oxygen concentrators that arrived in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    Even though India’s case load was down from Monday’s global record (323,144 new cases, down from 352,991) some medical experts warned it was due to reduced testing, not a reduced infection rate.

    Gilead Sciences said yesterday it will give India at least 450,000 vials of its antiviral drug remdesivir and help boost production.

    The World Health Organization says it is “doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies,” to India as its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters the situation there was “beyond heartbreaking”.

    The WHO said it was sending oxygen, mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies and had transferred more than 2,600 experts from various programmes, including polio and tuberculosis, to work with Indian health authorities.

    The World Health Organization said it was still in discussions about the Russian-made Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and had not yet set a date to evaluate the shot’s clinical data for possible emergency use listing.

    Brazil’s health regulator has denied a request from several states to import the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, saying it did not have the data needed to verify the jab’s safety and efficacy.

    In England, the NHS coronavirus vaccine booking system has opened to healthy people aged 42 and over.

    Also in England, MPs and peers have said that all 85,000-plus Covid fines issued during the pandemic should be reviewed, after more than a quarter of prosecutions in the first two months of the year for breaching the regulations were shown to have been wrongly brought.

    Athletes representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympics and their support staff will be prioritised for vaccination ahead of the July Games.

    Japan – which has been criticised for slow vaccine rollout – will open a mass vaccination centre in central Tokyo next month ahead of the Olympics….

    US president Joe Biden marks 100 days in office on Friday, 30 April, and has more than fulfilled his promise of 100 million shots of Covid vaccine in Americans’ arms by his first 100 days in office: Some 290 million shots have been distributed, more than 230 million administered, and about 96 million Americans are fully vaccinated, 29% of the population.

    In response to harsh effects of the pandemic on the US economy and rising unemployment, Biden will on Tuesday continue his push for a national $15 minimum wage with an executive order that raises pay to at least that level for hundreds of thousands of federal contract workers, according to senior White House officials.

    The move will increase the current minimum wage of $10.95 by nearly 37% by March of next year and continue to tie future increases to inflation, Reuters reports.

    It will apply to federal workers from cleaning and maintenance staff to food service contractors and laborers, sweeping in tipped workers who were previously left out of the last increase under former president Barack Obama….

  234. says

    From yesterday’s DN! headlines:

    Anger and Grief After at Least 82 People Killed in Baghdad COVID Hospital Fire

    In Iraq, a fire at a Baghdad hospital treating COVID patients killed at least 82 people Saturday, most of them patients. The blaze was sparked by an exploding oxygen cylinder. The hospital had no smoke detectors, sprinkler system or fire hoses. This is a family member of one of the victims.

    Athar Al-Maliki: “Shouldn’t there be supervision over the hospital? Ministerial supervision? A supervising authority? This is neglect. Neglect. A hospital burnt, and there are no firefighting trucks immediately available on site?”

    Maryland Will Review Cases Handled by Ex-Medical Examiner David Fowler

    In Maryland, officials say they will review all cases of police-involved deaths that were handled by ex-chief medical examiner David Fowler, who testified in Derek Chauvin’s murder case. Fowler said the murder of George Floyd was not a homicide despite the overwhelming evidence. He has been sued by the family of 19-year-old Anton Black, a Black teen who died in 2018 after he was electrocuted with a Taser and pinned down by three white police officers….

    Also from DN! – “GOP Criminalizes Dissent with Anti-Riot Laws Targeting Black Lives Matter & Anti-Pipeline Protests”:

    We look at a slew of anti-protest laws pending in Republican-led states, and some that have already passed, such as in Florida, where Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial measure known as the “anti-riot bill” that is widely viewed as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to “defund the police.” Under the new law, a public gathering of three or more people can be classified as a “riot,” and anyone who “willingly” participates in such a gathering can be charged with a third-degree felony. Many of the anti-protest bills pending in other states have the exact same language as the Florida plan. “These are really extreme laws,” says Nick Robinson, a senior legal adviser with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which has tracked 81 anti-protest bills introduced in 34 states so far this year. They “expand the definition of rioting” in order “to target protesters,” Robinson tells Democracy Now!…

  235. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Authorities in Delhi ordered a luxury hotel to be converted into a Covid-19 health facility for the exclusive use of high court judges and their families, drawing outrage in a city that has no hospital beds or life-saving oxygen for hundreds of people.

    The local government said in a public notice on Monday night that it had received a request from the Delhi High Court because of the rapid rise in coronavirus infections and had reserved 100 rooms at the Ashoka Hotel for the higher judiciary, Reuters reports.

    A top city hospital will run the facility, it said.

    Jaiveer Shergill, a lawyer and spokesman of the main opposition Congress party, said the government decision flew in the face of the right to equality enshrined in the constitution and the court itself must reject the special treatment.

    “For sake of justice, integrity and faith in the judicial system, Delhi’s high Court must quash the order,” he said.

  236. says

    TPM – “All Of The Things That Matt Gaetz Most Definitely Did NOT Exchange For Sex”:

    The list of things that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has absolutely positively not exchanged for sex is long and growing.

    The crux of Gaetz’s defense to the spiraling and sordid allegations against him is that he never paid for sex. Period. End of sentence.

    “I have never, ever paid for sex,” Gaetz wrote in an April 5 op-ed for the Washington Examiner.

    Those gifts? Nope. The vacations? Nah. Legislative favors? Why, never.

    It was never about sex, Gaetz strenuously maintains.

    So we set to compile a list of the things Matt Gaetz did not exchange for sex….

  237. says

    “Colette: The French resistance fighter confronting fascism – Oscars 2021 Short Documentary Winner”:

    90-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine confronts her past by visiting the German concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora where her brother was killed. As a young girl, she fought Hitler’s Nazis as a member of the French Resistance. For 74 years, she has refused to step foot in Germany, but that changes when a young history student named Lucie enters her life. Prepared to re-open old wounds and revisit the terrors of that time, Marin-Catherine offers important lessons for us all….

    25-minute video at the (YT) link. The film was presented by the Guardian.

  238. says

    Right wasted no time touting bogus story about Kamala Harris’ book

    Republicans appear to be having so much difficulty undermining Biden and his team that they’re leaning on manufactured nonsense.

    The trouble started on Friday with a report in a conservative daily newspaper. The New York Post told readers, “Unaccompanied migrant kids brought from the U.S.-Mexico border to a new shelter in Long Beach, Calif., will be given a copy of [Vice President Kamala Harris’] 2019 children’s book, ‘Superheroes are Everywhere,’ in their welcome kits.” The article ran on the front page, along with a photo of a copy of the book alongside a backpack.

    In theory, this raised the prospect of a legitimate controversy: if the Biden administration was using funds to purchase and distribute copies of the vice president’s book […]

    The trouble, of course, was that the report was wrong. As the Washington Post explained this morning:

    Long Beach city officials told The Washington Post that Harris’s book is not being handed out in welcome kits. A single copy of the book was donated during a citywide donation drive, officials said.

    It turns out that reality is surprisingly simple. Long Beach has welcomed migrant children, and officials have taken up collections to provide the kids with food and other aid. Some locals donated books, and one person in the community donated one copy of the vice president’s children’s book.

    Why is that controversial? It’s not.[…]

    But after one conservative outlet ran with the false claim that every welcome kit for the migrant children will receive Harris’ book, others quickly followed. Fox News ran with the story, as did the Republican National Committee.

    It wasn’t long before the nonsense spread to Capitol Hill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) yesterday demanded to know whether “taxpayers paying for copies of the Vice President’s book to be handed out at migrant shelters.” A day earlier, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked whether Biden administration officials are “forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris’s book to give to those illegal immigrants.”

    [Sean] Spicer, whose wisdom knows no bounds, added that the Biden White House “refuses to answer how or why” this happened.

    That’s because it didn’t happen. It’s a made-up story.

    The timing of this unfortunate mess doesn’t help matters: as many conservatives touted this fake controversy, the right also pushed the bizarre claim that the president intends to ban Americans from buying meat.

    The larger context is jarring: Republicans […] conceding that they’re unable to find actual controversies worthy of criticism. […]

  239. says

    David Corn at MoJo – “In Sworn Testimony in Inauguration Scandal Case, Donald Trump Jr. Made Apparently False Statements”:

    On February 11, Donald Trump Jr. sat in front of his computer for a video deposition. He swore to tell the truth. But documents and a video obtained by Mother Jones—and recent legal filings—indicate that his testimony on key points was not accurate.

    The matter at hand was a lawsuit filed in 2020 against Donald Trump’s inauguration committee and the Trump Organization by Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, DC. The suit claims that the inauguration committee misused charitable funds to enrich the Trump family. As the attorney general put it, the lawsuit “alleges that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel. Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events. The Committee also improperly used non-profit funds to throw a private party [at the Trump Hotel] for the Trump family costing several hundred thousand dollars.” In short, the attorney general has accused the Trump clan and its company of major grifting, and he is looking to recover the amounts paid to the Trump Hotel so he can direct those funds to real charitable purposes.

    As part of the case, Racine has taken depositions from Tom Barrack, the investor and Donald Trump pal who chaired the inauguration committee; Rick Gates, the committee’s former deputy chair, who subsequently pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation; and two of Trump’s adult children: Donald Jr. and Ivanka. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a top producer for the inauguration committee, was deposed as a lead witness cooperating with the investigation. Racine has also collected internal emails and material from the committee, its officials, and others who worked on the inauguration.

    During his deposition, Trump Jr. frequently replied, “I don’t recall,” and he downplayed his involvement in preparation for his father’s inauguration in January 2017. In several exchanges, he made statements that are contradicted by documents or the recollections of others and that appear to be false….

    All of the details atl.

  240. says

    SC @291, Rick Santorum is so irritating. He is pompous beyond belief … and he bases his pomposity on ignorance. And Fox News gives him a platform. I hope he is buried under the negative feedback he will get for his ignorant comments about Native Americans.

    In other news, discussing threats from within the DHS:

    […] The New York Times reported overnight:

    The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism in its ranks as part of a larger effort to combat extremist ideology in the federal government, officials said on Monday.

    “Recent events, including the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol, have highlighted that domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a message to department employees. “As we work to safeguard the nation and our values, we must be vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat domestic violent extremism within both the broader community and our own organization. Violent extremism has no place at DHS and we will work with urgency and focus to address it.”

    The Times’ report added that yesterday’s announcement, among other things, represents “a pivot from the approach taken by President Donald J. Trump, who pressured federal agencies to divert resources to target the antifa movement and left-wing groups, even though law enforcement authorities concluded that far-right and militia violence was a more serious threat.”

    […] a Washington Post report added that congressional Democrats “have pressed DHS officials to increase scrutiny of Customs and Border Protection and of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the country’s most important enforcement agencies.”

    […] As David Ignatius noted in a recent column, the United States is “finally catching up” to the threats posed by domestic extremists. It’s about time.


  241. says

    […] For our discourse and our democracy to function, there needs to be something resembling a common reality. And for government to function, we need governing parties that care about the substance of policymaking.

    And yet, there’s the Republican Party, in the midst of serious challenges, spending the first third of 2021 at the national level preoccupied with Dr. Seuss, Potato Head dolls, Muppets disclaimers, and now a meat ban that exists only in the imaginations of fringe far-right personalities.

    House GOP lawmakers are in Orlando for a conference retreat, and party leaders keep telling reporters Republicans are focusing much of their attention on “policy.” That sounds like a delightful change of pace, though given the circumstances, I’d recommend some skepticism.


    See comment 277 for the origins of the bogus meat ban story.

  242. says

    Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming:

    If we minimize what happened on Jan. 6th and if we appease it, then we will be in a situation where every election cycle, you could potentially have another constitutional crisis. If you get into a situation where we don’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, we won’t have learned the lessons of Jan. 6.

    And you can’t bury our head in the sand. It matters hugely to the survival of the country.

    Yes, she’s right. It’s a pity that she an almost lone voice crying out against the Republican misinformation campaign. See comment 275.

  243. says

    Good news from some Republicans: “GOP Doctors’ Caucus Puts Out PSA Urging Constituents To Get COVID Vaccine”

    The Republican Doctors’ Caucus put out a PSA on Monday endorsing the COVID-19 vaccine amid higher rates of vaccine hesitancy among Republican-identifying Americans — especially the men — compared to the rest of the population.

    In the ad, caucus chairs Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) and several other members highlight the safety of the vaccine and the government’s “vigorous and transparent” process of making it.

    The PSA is largely framed around how receiving the vaccine will lead Americans to regain “freedom” and “end the government’s restrictions on our freedoms.”

    […] The PSA is part of some Republican lawmakers’ push to combat their voters’ disproportionate refusal to receive the vaccine after ex-President Donald Trump downplayed the importance of getting vaccinated and refused to receive the shot publicly.

    “I’m a Republican man and I want to say to everyone, we need to take this vaccine,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said earlier this month. “These reservations need to be put aside because the only way, I think, we get to finally put this pandemic in the rearview mirror is with herd immunity.” […]


    You can view the PSA at the link.

  244. says

    ‘Embarrassing Racist’: Native American Orgs Rip Santorum For Claiming There Was ‘Nothing’ Before Colonizers Arrived

    The leaders of organizations for Native Americans are raking CNN commentator Rick Santorum over the coals after he claimed that white European colonizers “birthed a nation from nothing” in America and that “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

    Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), ripped Santorum’s “caveman mentality” on Monday night and demanded that CNN fire the former GOP senator.

    “Before I correct the record, let me address Rick Santorum directly without mincing words: Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” Sharp said in a statement.

    The NCAI leader asserted that CNN giving someone with Santorum’s views on Native American genocide a platform “is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust.”

    “Make your choice. Do you stand with White Supremacists justifying Native American genocide, or do you stand with Native Americans?” Sharp said.

    “Not much Native culture in American culture … could that be because of America’s colonial genocide, cultural genocide, displacement, systematic erasure and dehumanization of Native peoples?” Tara Houska, the founder of Giniw Collective and a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, tweeted. “We’re still here. We aren’t ‘nothing,’ we’re why you’re on this land. Read a book.”

    IllumiNative also called on CNN to oust Santorum, saying that he “continues a long history of white supremacy by erasing the history of Native Americans.”

    “The contributions of Natives are everywhere,” the organization tweeted. “Our land, ways of being & systems of [government] were, in fact, so important that they were stolen by the people who arrived here.”

    Santorum made the racist comments during a speech to the conservative group Young America’s Foundation on Friday.

    “We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here,” he said. “I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

  245. says

    Follow-up to comment 308.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I live in Issaquah, on the slope of Squak mountain. I like Native American names so here’s one for Santorum:

    “Little Big Mouth”
    How an Iroquois Chief Helped Write the U.S. Constitution

    History has largely forgotten Canasatego, the Iroquois chief who eloquently introduced American colonists to the federalist ideas that would shape their government.
    The federal structure of the US is modeled on the Iroquois Confederacy.
    suggesting that that racist homophobe attempt anything like understanding the complex civilizations that predated Columbus, or the savage slaughter of those civilizations is as useless as his existance.
    This seems to encapsulate the essence of the right-wing mind. Just a profound inability to recognize the value or even independent existence of anything that is not me or what I identify with at this moment. Whether it’s Native Americans, people of color, immigrants, poor people, liberals, non-Christians, the natural world, the planet—none of that has anything to do with me, so why should I care in the slightest? It’s a fundamental attitude of aggression and overriding indifference toward everything outside of the tiny circle of things I recognize as mattering.

  246. says

    Tucker Carlson has crossed the line into reckless endangerment:

    […] On Monday, Carlson devoted a large portion of his Fox News show to encouraging the harassment of people wearing masks. In this segment, Carlson walked through a series of lies to claim that: most liberals are crazy, the only reason to wear a mask is because you’re crazy, and that it’s the job of right-thinking Americans to harass these crazy people until they shape up.

    Carlson started his tirade with statements clearly tuned to his favorite themes: right-wing victimhood and turning back the clock to the pre-Civil Rights era.

    “They’re the aggressors,” said Carlson. “It’s our job to brush them back and restore the society we were born in. So the next time you see somebody in a mask, on the sidewalk or on a bike path, do not hesitate. Ask politely but firmly, ‘Would you please take off your mask? Science shows there is no reason for you to be wearing it. Your mask is making me uncomfortable.’ We should do that, and we should keep doing it … It’s repulsive.“

    All of that is ugly, and laden with dog whistles and calls for taking action against the “aggression” of other people doing something that not only causes no harm, but is a demonstrable public good. However, that’s just the start. Following this, Carlson had a particular message for how to handle children wearing masks.

    “Your response to seeing children wearing masks when they play should be no different from seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart,” said Carlson. “Call the police immediately. Contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse, and you’re morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”

    On the one hand, what Carlson is doing here is aimed not at an individual person, but at a group of people: those who wear masks. […] Carlson is calling for very specific actions that would not only cause harm to both parents and children, but also damage the proper operation of both police and child services.

    […] Carlson could just as easily be encouraging people to harass someone for wearing a hijab, or telling his viewers to order Black people to get off the sidewalk because their presence “makes them uncomfortable,” or encouraging people to call the police if they don’t think someone’s child is dressed “gender-appropriately” in Walmart. None of those statements might meet the definition of calling for imminent violence. However, they are clear and specific calls to cause harassment and assault in response to specific situations. It’s unclear that any of these still qualify as protected speech.

    As for the argument that Carlson’s statements deserve special protection because they are political speech, they’re not. They’re politicized speech, and that’s something very, very different. Carlson—along with a large portion of the right—has chosen to take scientific facts and medical recommendations and incorporate them into false claims. A virus is not political. A mask is not political. Defining this as political speech casts a wide net that invites further abuse.

    […] Carlson telling his viewers to remove their own masks may be foolish, and it may achieve no legitimate political goal, but it’s foolishness that can at least pretend to a tradition of protected speech. However, when it comes to calling for people to specifically harass those who are wearing masks in an attempt to protect their health, the health of their families, and the health of the nation, that tradition is much, much harder to find.

    The American tradition of strong protection of free speech is a vital part of this nation. The robust defense of free speech is vital, ongoing, and worthy of support at every turn. […]

    But what Carlson—and others like him—are doing when they encourage their viewers to take aggressive action toward American citizens who are doing their best to safeguard the lives of their families and others … it’s simply unclear whether this is protected speech. It’s unclear that it should be. And if this statement doesn’t cross the line, what does?

    Ugly as Carlson’s statements may be, there’s little doubt that they’ve been pre-screened by the attorneys at Fox News. They’re likely confident that, even if someone should suffer the exact abuse that Carlson specified, there would be little chance of those victims having standing to sue Carlson directly. The chance of any public prosecutor seeking charges of endangerment or culpable negligence are so vanishingly small as to be safely ignored. Still, there can be no doubt that with these statements, the dial on the stove has been turned up another notch, bringing the frog ever closer to boil. There will be a point at which courts are brought in to rule on statements such as this. […]


  247. says

    Follow-up to comment 308.

    […] #RemoveRick began trending before you could spell G-A-R-B-A-G-E F-I-R-E.

    […] erasing Black Americans from our white supremacist history, and being wildly incorrect about the history of other regions in the world, all at the same time.

    Santorum’s offensive ideas—if they can be called ideas—on everything from race and culture to women and the rights of people not named Rick Santorum, are just some of the reasons he shouldn’t be allowed on television as a pundit. […] #RemoveRick very quickly became a trending topic on Twitter as calls grew for Santorum’s tenure on CNN to end. […]

    Washington Post reporter Jeremy Barr reported that Santorum had this piece of new revisionist history to add to the conversation, tweeting: “I reached out to CNN PR for comment on this and got the following statement from an outside comms person representing Rick Santorum: Santorum: ‘I had no intention of minimizing or in any way devaluing Native American culture.’ That is the whole statement.” […]


    The Lincoln Project:

    Rick Santorum should be removed from @CNN

    Jemele Hill:

    I can’t decide what’s worse — the ignorance, stupidity or the racism.

  248. says

    Arrests, evidence keep mounting in Capitol siege prosecutions, GOP gaslighting notwithstanding

    […] the Justice Department made clear over the weekend that it expects to charge more than 500 people in the matter.

    And in fact the arrests and accompanying charges […] continue to pile up. The cases against some of the insurrection’s leading components, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, not only have deepened, but also appear to be expanding to include militiamen who were not members of those groups. At the same time, the FBI’s cozy relationship with the Proud Boys was underscored with the revelation that the FBI collected information from at least four members of the group about leftists, but does not appear to have used that opportunity to examine the organization itself.

    […] The scope of the threat certainly is now clear to the Justice Department, which in a filing made Thursday warned federal judges that it anticipates charging another 100 people in connection with the attack on the Capitol. Currently, some 440 people have been charged.

    […] about 90% of those charged have been men, with an average age of 40. Another study found that 40% of the Capitol arrestees are business owners or hold white-collar jobs. Their occupations include CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants—and notably, only 9% are unemployed. Two-thirds of them are 35 or older.

    […] Several dozen face more serious charges, such as assaulting police officers or damaging government property.

    Among the recent Jan. 6-related arrests:

    A New York man, Robert Chapman, was arrested after he boasted to a would-be date on the dating platform Bumble about his participation in the siege. He texted her on Jan. 6 that “I did storm the Capitol,” adding that he had “made it all the way into Statuary Hall” and that he had been interviewed by members of the media. His correspondent replied: “We are not a match.” She promptly reached out to the FBI and provided screenshots of the conversation; he was charged on April 13.

    A Proud Boy from Syracuse, New York, named Matthew Greene, was charged last week in a superseding indictment along with Proud Boys Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe—who are believed to have stolen a police shield and used it to break a window that provided the rioters their first entry point into the Capitol. Greene was fired from his job as chief technology and operating officer at Happy Mushroom, a virtual art studio. “We are extremely appalled to learn Mr. Greene held beliefs that are so counter to what Happy Mushroom stands for,” said CEO and Creative Director Felix Jorge.

    A North Texas couple, Mark and Jalise Middleton, were charged last week with assault of a law enforcement officer, interference with a law enforcement officer during civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, unlawful entry on restricted grounds, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, bringing Texas’ total number of indictees to 22. Video shows Mark Middleton pushing against police barriers and his wife striking officers trying to prevent him from doing so. […]

    Two Kansas women, Jennifer Ruth Parks and Esther Schwemmer, were arrested last week for their roles in the Capitol siege. They told FBI agents that they believed they were participating in a peaceful pro-Trump rally. […]

    A 61-year-old man from Westminster, California, was charged Friday with participating in a violent brawl with a police officer that left the latter man with serious head injuries. Kevin Galletto, an engineer and conservative Orange County activist, was charged with assaulting a police officer, obstruction of law enforcement, obstruction of justice, and knowingly entering a restricted building and committing physical violence. […]

    the documents involving three self-described “Patriots” who were unaffiliated with the other conspiracies—Josiah Colt of Boise, Idaho; Ronnie Sandlin of Memphis, Tennessee; and Nate DeGrave of Las Vegas, Nevada—indicate that the three men coordinated a plan to attack the Capitol and ended up playing key roles in the invasion of the Senate chambers.

    […] “For months, the government has seemingly focused on the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to the detriment of a focus on the more organic networks formed online or in in-person protests,” she writes. “That may be about to change.”

  249. tomh says

    Democrats Criticize Justice Barrett for Declining to Recuse from Case of Koch-Funded Group that Spent Heavily on Ads to Confirm Her
    COLIN KALMBACHER Apr 26th, 2021

    Democrats criticized Justice Amy Coney Barrett over her decision not to recuse herself from a case that the Supreme Court heard on Monday morning involving a conservative group who financially supported her confirmation last year.

    “Justice Barrett is ignoring important ethical standards to rule on a case that could open our democracy to further infiltration by dark-money influence, perhaps permanently,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told Forbes. “Her choice to press forward in spite of recusal laws also creates a troubling new precedent, and undermines public confidence in the integrity of the Court.”….

    The nation’s high court heard oral arguments in two consolidated cases stylized as Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez and Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta on Monday morning….

    The lead petitioner in the case is a nonprofit run by billionaires David Koch and Charles Koch. During Barrett’s relatively painless confirmation process, the group spent in excess of $1 million on ads boosting her image….

  250. says

    In Sworn Testimony in Inauguration Scandal Case, Donald Trump Jr. Made Apparently False Statements

    On February 11, Donald Trump Jr. sat in front of his computer for a video deposition. He swore to tell the truth. But documents and a video obtained by Mother Jones—and recent legal filings—indicate that his testimony on key points was not accurate.

    The matter at hand was a lawsuit filed in 2020 against Donald Trump’s inauguration committee and the Trump Organization by Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, DC. The suit claims that the inauguration committee misused charitable funds to enrich the Trump family. […] In short, the attorney general has accused the Trump clan and its company of major grifting, and he is looking to recover the amounts paid to the Trump Hotel so he can direct those funds to real charitable purposes.

    […] During his deposition, Trump Jr. frequently replied, “I don’t recall,” and he downplayed his involvement in preparation for his father’s inauguration in January 2017. In several exchanges, he made statements that are contradicted by documents or the recollections of others […].

    One of the clearest instances of Trump Jr. not testifying accurately came when he was asked about Winston Wolkoff. As the lawsuit notes, during the organization of the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Melania Trump, had raised concerns with the president-elect, Ivanka Trump, and Gates about the prices the Trump Hotel was charging the inauguration committee for events to be held there. This included a written warning to Ivanka Trump and Gates that Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space. (Gates ignored the warning, the lawsuit notes, and the committee struck a contract with the Trump Hotel for $1.03 million, an amount the lawsuit says was far above the hotel’s own pricing guidelines.)

    During his deposition, Trump Jr. was asked about Winston Wolkoff: “Do you know her?” He replied, “I know of her. I think I’ve met her, but I don’t know her. If she was in this room I’m not sure I would recognize her.” He added, “I had no involvement with her.”

    […] Here Trump Jr. can be seen profusely praising Barrack and Winston Wolkoff for the “incredible” work they did. It seems he did know her. [Video is available at the link]

    And documents obtained by Mother Jones shows there’s evidence that Trump Jr.’s claim of having “no involvement” with Winston Wolkoff was false. On January 17, 2017, an assistant for Ivanka Trump texted Winston Wolkoff and said that Trump Jr. wanted to speak to her, providing Winston Wolkoff with his cell number. […]

  251. says

    CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors

    […] According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks during small, outdoor gatherings even if there’s a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

    Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households is also considered a safe activity for vaccinated people to do without a mask, the agency said.

    “The release of these new guidelines is a first step at helping fully vaccinated Americans resume what they had stopped doing because of the pandemic, at low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others,” the CDC said.

    People are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. […]

    CDC emphasized that it’s ultimately up to individuals to consider their own personal situation and the risk to themselves, their family and community before venturing out without a mask.

    Even vaccinated people should wear a mask when outdoors in a crowded public space, indoors in public spaces like a mall, or even a small indoor gathering with a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

    […] the guidelines for unvaccinated people have not changed. The agency still recommends wearing a mask when outside in public spaces. […]

  252. says

    Wonkette: “Miami Private School Will Only Employ Staff Open To Spreading COVID-19 To Kids”

    Conservatives have expressed hesitancy about the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as skepticism compounded with banana pants conspiracy theories. […]

    You can’t reason with stupid, but you also can’t ignore it. Stupidity spreads more quickly than COVID-19, and it’s mutated to the point that idiots aren’t just refusing to get vaccinated themselves. They’re now making it harder for sensible people to do so.

    […] The Centner Academy, a private school in Miami’s Design District, sent a letter to its faculty and staff decreeing that if they took the COVID-19 vaccine, they’d have to stay away from students.

    The school’s co-founder, Leila Centner, shared this news with supposedly a “very heavy heart” and, we assume, an empty head. Centner is a flake who’s shared anti-vaccine screeds on Facebook. She claims in the letter that “reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated.”

    This is not in any way how vaccines work. […]

    From the New York Times:

    “Even among our own population, we have at least three women with menstrual cycles impacted after having spent time with a vaccinated person,” she wrote, repeating a false claim that vaccinated people can somehow pass the vaccine to others and thereby affect their reproductive systems. (They can do neither.)

    Centner gave employees three options of dubious legality: 1) Inform the school if they’ve already been vaccinated, so they can be kept physically distanced from students (only teachers lousy with COVID-19 can apparently get up close and personal). 2) Let the school know if they get the vaccine before the end of the school year because Centner won’t allow “recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known.” 3) Wait until the school year is over to get vaccinated.

    Teachers who receive the vaccine during the summer can’t return to the Centner Academy at all until “clinical trials are completed.” The vaccines were already tested before their release to the general public. […]

    Ms. Centner directed questions about the matter to her publicist, who said in a statement that the school’s top priority throughout the pandemic has been to keep students safe. The statement repeated false claims that vaccinated people “may be transmitting something from their bodies” leading to adverse reproductive issues among women.

    “We are not 100 percent sure the Covid injections are safe and there are too many unknown variables for us to feel comfortable at this current time,” the statement said.

    The Centner Academy has made continued employment contingent on refusing to take the vaccine. This seems like it would violate Florida state law, as Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this month signed an executive order banning “vaccine passports,” and Centner has implemented the Bizarro World version. […]

    […] Republican governors were happy to jeopardize public health to appease the MAGA dummies, but there’s no satisfying these people. Now they want to impose their vaccine resistance on the nation. […].


  253. says

    Tucker Carlson says wearing a mask outside is equivalent to “watching a grown man expose himself in public”

    CARLSON: I agree with you completely. I would even actually up the analogy and say a vaccinated person, someone with the antibodies wearing a mask outside is like watching a grown man expose himself in public. “That’s disgusting, put it away please. We don’t do that here.”

    Video snippet is available at the link.

  254. says

    Paul Krugman:

    […] where Bernie Madoff comes in.

    The revelations about Madoff’s immense Ponzi scheme and how he pulled it off introduced many of us to the concept of affinity fraud: scams that prey upon people by exploiting a sense of shared identity. […]

    A similar approach has long been an essential part of the Republican political strategy. As the party’s economic policies have become ever more elitist, ever more tilted toward the interests of the wealthy, it has sought to cover its tracks by running candidates who seem like regular guys you’d like to have a beer with.

    The flip side of this strategy is a continual attempt by the G.O.P. to convince voters that Democrats, who represent a much more diverse set of voters than Republicans, aren’t people like them; call it disaffinity fraud.

    The goal is to portray Democrats as woke feminist vegetarians who don’t share the values of Real Americans. Hence the right’s obsessive focus on “cancel culture” and Democratic women of color, and the continual assertions that the white male senior citizen who leads the party [Biden] is somehow a passive puppet.

    Right-wing media are pushing this narrative nonstop. According to a Morning Consult poll last month, more Republicans said they’d heard “a lot” about the move to withdraw some Dr. Seuss books than said the same about Biden’s huge Covid-19 relief bill.

    It doesn’t matter that Joe Biden isn’t actually trying to ban hamburgers or — to take another false claim right-wing pundits and politicians keep repeating — that he hasn’t “taken down” the border with Mexico. Republicans have pretty much given up even trying to make a case against Biden’s actual policies, let alone proposing serious policies themselves.

    […] the point is that Kudlow and others consider it OK to throw out wild claims about what Democrats are up to […]

    Will the public go along? The Biden administration thinks not, betting it can overcome the power of affinity fraud with policies that offer real benefits to working Americans. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this strategy will work.

    New York Times link

  255. says

    Here’s a bit of nice news, now that Joe Biden is president and closing in on the end of his first 100 days in office, and Donald Trump is not president: The world hates America a little less!

    Obviously the world is not going to be able to unsee the Trump era, nor is it going to ignore that America is currently a nation with one viable democratic (little “d”) political party and one authoritarian, conspiracy-theory-obsessed insurgency (big “R”). And the world got a really stupid education in our stupid, undemocratic system in 2016, which allowed the Electoral College to team up with Russia and the Trump campaign to create a “win” for a man who lost the vote of the people by almost three million. The world saw that. It was not impressed.

    But things are getting a little better, because the world also saw in 2020 that the good guys still outnumber the bad guys, and enough of us came out to vote that, our fucked up system be damned, we resoundingly put a decent American president back in office.

    […] On average, people like America nine percent better than they did before Biden became president.

    We assume Morning Consult wouldn’t lovingly make a nice chart like this if they didn’t want us to lovingly borrow it, so here, have a Morning Consult chart! [chart is available at the link]

    As you can see, just about everybody likes us better than they did six months ago. Germany’s numbers have moved bigly, with now 46 percent of Germans definitely liking us, up from 24 percent. France went from 29 percent amour to 46 percent. Most European democracies feature similar shifts in public opinion of America.

    Another big increase is in Japan, from 36 percent to 55 percent. Haha, that’s a majority! Thanks, Japan! (We have so much work to do, Jesus Christ.)

    As for our neighbors, during the Trump Times, 26 percent of Canadians had a good opinion of America. Now it’s up to 40 percent. Still not a ringing endorsement. […]

    Russia went from 40 percent “we guess you’re OK” to 43 percent “we guess you’re OK.” Which isn’t impressive, but is also only marginally less support than we get from Western Europe. […]

    “Biden is widely considered as a more than welcome relief, especially with the return to the Paris Accord and his administration’s attempt to recover the transatlantic bond.” […]

    “International opinion of the United States, in many nations, is genuinely contingent on American actions,” said Dr. David Farber, a University of Kansas professor who edited the book, “What They Think of Us,” on post-9/11 international perceptions of the United States. “People in many nations around the world are, I think, hopeful, that the election of Joe Biden marks a rejection of Trump’s ‘America First’ bullying and go-it-alone international policies and a return to a more collaborative, pro-democracy approach to international affairs.”

    So this is nice. We got a Biden bump. A big one. […]

    Wonkette link

  256. snarkrates says

    Thanks, but you know, I made the mistake of reading the replies to the tweet, and the fuckers responding need to go fuck an electrical outlet.

  257. blf says

    Convicted Greek nazi Golden Dawn MEP Ioannis Lagos arrested in Brussels as soon as his parliamentary immunity was lifted. Some snippets:

    Belgian police scrambled to seize Lagos amid widespread speculation the far-right extremist was poised to flee the country. A Greek government spokeswoman, Aristotelia Pelonia, said steps had been taken for the European arrest warrant to be issued “immediately” after he lost his immunity.

    Writing moments after his arrest, Lagos tweeted: I am in a Belgian police van. The thieves, atheists and anti-Greeks are taking me to prison. I remain faithful to Christ and Greece.

    A founding member [of golden dumbshites], Lagos sat on the group’s central council. He was its top official in the working-class districts of Athens where Golden Dawn hit squads reaped terror, targeting immigrants, leftwing trade unionists and other perceived enemies before it began to unravel following the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a Greek rap artist.

    The brazenness with which Lagos had evaded justice was source of embarrassment in both Athens and Brussels.

  258. says

    Follow-up to comment 280.

    NBC News:

    The Black man who died during an attempted arrest in North Carolina last week was shot five times, including once in the back of the head, his family said Tuesday. And less than hour after an independent autopsy concluded Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was killed by a bullet in the back of his head, the FBI announced it was opening a federal civil rights investigation into this police shooting.

  259. says

    New York Times:

    President Biden, in an effort to pay for his ambitious economic agenda, is expected to propose giving the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years to help crack down on tax evasion by high-earners and large corporations, according to two people familiar with the plan.

  260. says

    Well, this funny … and it serves as a good schadenfreude moment:

    […] Imagine you are a person who has a job that’s say, 851.64 miles from your house, if you use roads, and are willing to travel through Canada to get there. By air it is 573.44 miles.

    Imagine there is only one airline that takes that flight, which takes about an hour and a half.

    Yes, you might have imagined that your job is in Alaska.

    Do you think it would be an A) good idea or a B) bad idea, to really piss off the one airline that operates the flight that takes you to work?

    Alaska state Senator Lora Reinbold (R-obviously) thought it was a good idea. And you know what she did? She was a fucking [dunderhead] about Alaska Airlines’ mask policy, which is in place because there’s this whole pandemic. […]

    So Alaska Airlines said fine, you don’t get to fly with us. Maybe you could use a different airline, HAHA WE’RE THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN […]

    “We have notified Senator Lora Reinbold that she is not permitted to fly with us for her continued refusal to comply with employee instruction regarding the current mask policy,” spokesman Tim Thompson said by email.

    […] The Anchorage Daily News explains that Reinbold “drove more than 700 miles from her home in Eagle River through a swath of Alaska and part of the Yukon to the Southeast town of Haines, where she caught a five-hour ferry ride to Juneau.” That’s right, she literally had to drive through Canada and then take a five-hour boat ride. It took 14 hours when all was said and done. All because she’s a stupid asshole.

    Of course, like a cartoon dipshit, she’s pulling the whole “I MEANT to do that!” card, braggin’ about how fun ferries are and bellyaching about the “monopoly in air transport.” Also she ruined her husband’s birthday. […]

    We’ll see how fun that 14-hour Yukon expedition and ferry ride is in a few weeks, depending on how long this MENSA-ready brain wizard is banned from Alaskan airspace.

    Reinbold is also complaining on the internet, in a public post, about how Alaska Airlines gave her name to the media, we guess by confirming that her poor behavior resulted in this ban.

    Here are some videos of Reinbold at the Juneau airport being an asshole to flight staff a few days back. This is what apparently got her cancel cultured from airplanes: [Video is available at the link.]

    Back in November, Reinbold got on the internet and complained that airline staff are “mask bullies” who did “mask tyranny” to her. She said she got in trouble because a “scaredy cat Karen” (LOL heal thyself, asshole) decided to be a “Tattle tail” (really) who got her in big trouble. In another post, she gave hot tips for how to evade requirements for showing a recent COVID test, saying you should “sneak by if you are bold fir they cannot force you” [sic].

    […] Reinbold reportedly sent some flight staff a cake that said “I’m sorry if I offended you.”

    Look at this stupid goddamn cake. [Photo is available at the link.]


  261. says

    New York Times:

    The [Biden] administration estimates that giving the I.R.S. an additional $80 billion over a decade could raise at least $780 billion in new tax revenue, for a net gain of at least $700 billion. Mr. Biden plans to use money raised by the effort to help pay for the cost of his “American Families Plan,” which he will detail before addressing a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. It will be the largest single revenue raiser for the plan.

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    […] Over the past decade, IRS enforcement declined precipitously as the agency was starved of resources and staff. […] millionaires in 2018 were 80 percent less likely to be audited than their wealthy peers in 2011. And indeed the top 1 percent of earners were audited at the same rate as those making less than $20,000, people who are likely to wind up owing no federal income tax at all (more or less).

    Even Larry Summers (hardly a bleeding heart liberal) says Uncle Sam is leaving trillions of dollars on the table. […] scholars emphasized that concentrating on high earners would drastically improve the efficiency of American revenue collection, while maximizing the bang for the buck.

    In 2013 the IRS estimated that an extra hour spent auditing someone who earns $200,000 annually generated only $650. An extra hour spent auditing someone who earns $5 million or more per year generated around $4,900. It is thus hard to explain from an efficiency perspective why in 2018 individuals who made $500,000 or more were audited at similar rates as earned income tax credit recipients whose top income is below $50,000.

    […] What exactly is the purpose of auditing someone who makes minimum wage? Why is the federal government expending the same amount of energy chasing down a waitress’s unreported tips as it does on a titan’s failure to report income?

    That’s a trick question — it’s bad optics, and bad math, any way you slice it. The real issue is how Republicans are going to spin effective collection as woke socialism. Particularly since we’re not talking about raising taxes to soak the rich; this is money people owe, and they’ve just decided not to pay it. […] a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that high income earners underreport their income by as much as 20 percent on average.

    […] Let [Republicans] try to explain to Americans that we can’t have universal pre-school because the GOP opposes auditing millionaires. […]

    Shit, no wonder they’d rather make up nonsense about Biden banning cheeseburgers.


  262. says

    “Wayne LaPierre has cultivated his image as an exemplar of American gun culture, but video of his clumsy marksmanship—and details regarding his Rodeo Drive shopping trips—tells another story.”

    After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in 2012, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, told Americans agitating for new gun regulations, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Less than a year later, LaPierre and his wife, Susan, travelled to Botswana’s Okavango Delta, where they hoped to show N.R.A. members that they had the grit to take on a different adversary: African bush elephants, the largest land mammals on Earth. The trip was filmed by a crew from “Under Wild Skies,” an N.R.A.-sponsored television series that was meant to boost the organization’s profile among hunters—a key element of its donor base. But the program never aired, according to sources and records, because of concerns that it could turn into a public-relations fiasco.

    The Trace and The New Yorker obtained a copy of the footage, which has been hidden from public view for eight years. It shows that when guides tracked down an elephant for LaPierre, the N.R.A. chief proved to be a poor marksman. After LaPierre’s first shot wounded the elephant, guides brought him a short distance from the animal, which was lying on its side, immobilized. Firing from point-blank range, LaPierre shot the animal three times in the wrong place. Finally, a guide had the host of “Under Wild Skies” fire the shot that killed the elephant. Later that day, Susan LaPierre showed herself to be a better shot than her husband. After guides tracked down an elephant for her, Susan killed it, cut off its tail, and held it in the air. “Victory!” she shouted, laughing. “That’s my elephant tail. Way cool.”

    For three decades, LaPierre has led the N.R.A.’s fund-raising efforts by railing against out-of-touch “élites” and selling himself as an authentic champion of American self-reliance and the unfettered right to protect oneself with a gun. But the footage, as well as newly uncovered legal records, suggest that behind his carefully constructed Everyman image, LaPierre is a coddled executive who is clumsy with a firearm, and fearful of the violent political climate he has helped to create. […]

    The footage of LaPierre in Botswana first shows him walking through the bush dressed in loose-fitting safari attire and an NRA Sports baseball cap. He is accompanied by several professional guides and his longtime adviser, Tony Makris, a top executive at the N.R.A.’s former public-relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, and the host of “Under Wild Skies.” The heat, at times, causes LaPierre to sweat. As he walks, his wire-framed glasses slide down his nose. After a guide spots an elephant standing behind a tree, LaPierre takes aim with a rifle. As LaPierre peers through the weapon’s scope, the guide repeatedly tells him to wait before firing. LaPierre is wearing earplugs, doesn’t hear the instructions, and pulls the trigger. The elephant drops. “Did we get him?” LaPierre asks.

    The guide at first says yes, but then, as he approaches the elephant, it appears that the animal is still breathing. The guide brings LaPierre within a few strides of the elephant, which lays motionless on the ground. He tells LaPierre that another bullet is needed. “I’m going to show you where to shoot,” the guide says. “Listen, hold your rifle—I’m going to tell you when. Just hold it up.” The guide pushes the rifle’s barrel skyward as other men involved in the expedition move around in the distance. “I’m going to point for you where to shoot. Just waiting for these guys.”

    The guide walks over to the elephant, crouches down, and points near the animal’s ear, telling LaPierre to shoot the elephant there. Makris directs LaPierre to shoot low, accounting for the rifle scope.

    LaPierre fires and a confused expression comes over his face. Once again, he shoots the elephant in the wrong place. It’s still alive. The guide tells LaPierre to sit down and reminds him to reload, as he physically moves LaPierre into place. Now on one knee, the N.R.A. leader asks, “Same spot?” and then shoots again. The bullet misses the mark.

    “I don’t think it’s quite done yet,” the guide says to Makris. “Do you want to do it for him?” The guide then says to LaPierre, “I’m not sure where you’re shooting.”

    ““Where are you telling me to shoot?” LaPierre responds, sounding frustrated. The guide again walks over to the elephant and points toward the ear. “Oh, O.K.,” LaPierre says. “Alright, I can shoot there.” He takes a third shot at point-blank range.

    “Uh-uh,” the guide says, indicating that LaPierre has missed his mark again.

    “No?” LaPierre asks.

    As the guide chuckles, Makris asks, “Do you want me to do it?”

    “Go ahead, finish him,” the guide says.

    Makris cocks his rifle and shoots. “That’s it,” the guide declares, before turning to the N.R.A. chief to congratulate him.

    Makris, ignoring his own role, praises LaPierre’s marksmanship, “You dropped him like no tomorrow.”

    Later, LaPierre and the guide chat beside the dead elephant, a species that was declared endangered earlier this year. LaPierre acknowledges that his initial shot wasn’t “perfect.” The guide encourages him. “He went down, so that’s what counts.” Looking sheepish, LaPierre lets out a laugh and says, “Maybe I had a little luck.” […]

    New Yorker link to an article by Mike Spies.

    The article also provides details of Susan LaPierre shooting an elephant, as well as details of Wayne LaPierre spending obscene amounts of money on his clothes: “nearly three hundred thousand dollars in payments that Ackerman McQueen made to Ermenegildo Zegna, a luxury men’s fashion retailer on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, to dress LaPierre between 2004 and 2017.”

  263. johnson catman says

    Lynna @327: That is HORRIFYING! It nearly brought me to tears thinking of the poor elephant. If only people like LaPierre could be turned out without weapons onto the African plains and have to fend for themselves, the animals could show them what nature is all about. I would include Don Jr. and Eric in that group because they are of the same mindset that the wild animals are only there for them to take pleasure in shooting. I apologize if this violates the blog policy against violence.

  264. says

    Marina Hyde in the Guardian – “Decor without decorum – this is home economics, Johnson-style”:

    …As for where all this will or won’t lead, one of the worst aspects of British political life is that no piece of alleged wrongdoing is permitted to emerge without a load of the in-crowd rushing to the airwaves to explain loftily how the out-crowd don’t understand or care about it. Talking about whether people are really talking about something now accounts for about 80% of the commentator economy. In not so many words, these know-alls suggest the public are too thick or busy surviving for whatever it is to “cut through” – more in-group lingo – which probably doesn’t end up being the anti-elitist look they were going for.

    The Conservatives are doing rather a lot of this at the moment. If Johnson did make the remark about allowing the bodies to pile up, opined his biographer Andrew Gimson, it will simply “strengthen his reputation as a man who talks as a man in the pub would”. Elsewhere, I very much enjoyed Thérèse Coffey’s haute-Ladybird book explanation of the flat saga for Sky News viewers this morning. As the work and pensions secretary put it: “These sorts of things often get tidied up in something called the annual accounts.” Something called the annual accounts … Okaaaaay, Thérèse, I THINK I get it? Just about? You’ve gone on something called a television to tell something called the public that something called money is normally featured in something called the annual accounts? Sorry, we’re probably being idiots – does that sound right? Also: let us know when the prime minister tidies up the accounts of how many something-called-kids he has.

    Maybe the geniuses of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street will keep insulting the public’s intelligence. But you don’t have to be in with the in-crowd to have a stake in politics or a deep understanding of how you’re viewed. I keep reading that Dominic Cummings “knows where the bodies are buried”. Unfortunately, so do 127,000 families.

    Here’s Ian Dunt’s livetweeting of PMQs this morning.

  265. says

    Guardian – “Brazil begins parliamentary inquiry into Bolsonaro’s Covid response”:

    Brazil’s congress has launched a parliamentary inquiry into what critics call Jair Bolsonaro’s disastrous and potentially criminal response to a Covid pandemic that has killed nearly 400,000 Brazilians.

    The politically charged investigation, which rivals of Brazil’s far-right president hope will torpedo his chances of re-election, will be conducted by 11 of the country’s 81 senators, including several of Bolsonaro’s fiercest opponents.

    Officially, their task will be to scrutinise the government’s overall handling of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks on Earth. Brazil has suffered the world’s third-highest number of infections after the US and India and second-highest death toll, with at least 392,204 fatalities.

    The inquiry, which Bolsonaro’s detractors call the “CPI da Morte” or “death committee”, will pursue multiple lines of inquiry. They include why the government promoted ineffective treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, why three health ministers were removed during the pandemic, and what caused January’s devastating healthcare collapse in the Amazon when hospitals ran out of oxygen and patients died of asphyxiation. Investigators will also examine the government’s failure to impose lockdowns or promote social distancing and the conduct of Bolsonaro’s former health minister Eduardo Pazuello, an army general who was appointed despite having no background in public health.

    The most potentially damaging areas of investigation are likely to revolve around Brazil’s failure to acquire sufficient vaccines to protect its 212 million citizens and Bolsonaro’s allegedly calculated pursuit of herd immunity by letting Covid run wild. Critics claim that strategy cost many thousands of Brazilians their lives.

    “The CPI is going to want to show that there was a deliberate push for herd immunity – and the ultimate manifestation of this herd immunity is the 400,000 deaths we have, which could well reach 600,000,” Fernandes said.

    There were reports on Tuesday that Brazil’s health ministry had ignored at least 11 offers to supply vaccines, including a proposal for 70m Pfizer shots last August.

    The inquiry catches Bolsonaro, a 66-year-old Trump-admiring populist, at arguably his lowest ebb since he took office in January 2019. Polls suggest rising anger at his pandemic response, although he retains the backing of perhaps a third of voters. Bolsonaro appears rattled by the political revival of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the charismatic former union leader who was president until 2011 and looks likely to challenge him for the presidency next year.

    On Friday Bolsonaro, a former paratrooper notorious for his praise of Latin American autocrats, threatened to deploy the army if state governors tried to prevent citizens going to church or work with Covid lockdowns.

    Cláudio Couto, a political scientist from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said such braggadocio betrayed Bolsonaro’s irritation and anxiety over the investigation: “It’s the reaction of someone who is clearly shaken and understands the danger he’s in.”…

  266. says

    Here’s a link to the April 28 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    WHO boss urges people to donate $7 and fund a Covid vaccine

    People across the world are being encouraged to donate $7 for a dose of coronavirus vaccine in a World Health Organization-led push to raise extra funds for the COVAX international Covid-19 vaccine-sharing programme.

    Launching the “Go Give One” campaign on Wednesday, the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it would allow anyone who wants to “to play their part in vaccinating the world with a simple donation” and, in time, help end the pandemic.

    The WHO estimates that $7 would cover the cost of buying and delivering a vaccine dose for someone in a low income country.

    The campaign also will seek matching funds from businesses whose employees and customers make contributions.

    “The best way out of this pandemic is by getting vaccines to everyone, starting with health workers and the world*s most vulnerable people,” Tedros said in a statement.

    The campaign is scheduled to launch country by country over the coming year, starting with the UK, the US, Israel and Kenya. It is backed by global charities and companies, with an online giving platform at:

    The COVAX facility is aiming to secure 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses for lower-income countries by the end of 2021.

  267. says

    CNN – “DC police officer: ‘It’s been very difficult’ seeing elected officials trying to whitewash brutal insurrection”:

    A DC Metropolitan Police officer who was brutally assaulted while defending the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection said Tuesday evening that it’s been difficult to watch some elected officials and others “whitewash” the episode in its aftermath.

    Michael Fanone, who was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the attack, told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN T