1. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. :

    The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, has congratulated his country’s armed forces for doing a “great job” after Russian forces were reportedly pushed back from Snake Island.

    Yermak tweeted:


    No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job.

    More kaboom news to follow. All will be Ukraine.

    Yermak later wrote that the Ukrainian army was “restraining the enemy” and that he was expecting more weapons “to knock the Russian troops out”.

    Here’s a link to this week’s Meduza Ukraine/Russia liveblog. From there:

    The Gogol Center is dead, long live the Gogol Center! On Wednesday, Moscow’s Culture Department announced leadership changes at several of the city’s theaters, including the Gogol Drama Theater, which became better known as the Gogol Center while it was Russia’s leading avant-garde theater. The center’s former director, Kirill Serebrennikov, characterized the removal of directors Alexey Agranovich and Alexey Kabeshev as the center’s effective death. “Yes, the Gogol Center is closed. That’s it,” he wrote on Telegram. City officials say the theater will remain open, however.

    Amnesty declares Russian attack a war crime: Amnesty International has named Russia’s attack on Mariupol’s drama theater in March a war crime. Experts from the human rights organization gathered testimonies from 52 survivors and witnesses, 28 of whom were in the theater or nearby at the moment of the attack, in addition to other evidence. They concluded that the strike was committed by Russian troops, who most likely dropped two 500-kilogram (1102-pound) bombs, which detonated simultaneously, from a fighter plane.

  2. says

    Guardian – “US supreme court hobbles government power to limit harmful emissions”:

    The US supreme court has sided with Republican-led states to in effect hobble the federal government’s ability to tackle the climate crisis, in a ruling that will have profound implications for the government’s overall regulatory power.

    In a move that will seriously hinder America’s ability to stave off disastrous global heating, the supreme court, which became dominated by rightwing justices under the Trump administration, has opted to support a case brought by West Virginia that demands the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be limited in how it regulates planet-heating gases from the energy sector.

    The case, which was backed by a host of other Republican-led states including Texas and Kentucky, was highly unusual in that it was based upon the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era strategy to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants that never came into effect. The Biden administration sought to have the case dismissed as baseless given the plan was dropped and has not been resurrected.

    Not only was this case about a regulation that does not exist, that never took effect, and which would have imposed obligations on the energy sector that it would have met regardless. It also involves two legal doctrines that are not mentioned in the constitution, and that most scholars agree have no basis in any federal statute.

    However, the supreme court has sided with West Virginia, a major coal mining state, which argued that “unelected bureaucrats” at the EPA should not be allowed to reshape its economy by limiting pollution – even though emissions from coal are helping cause worsening flooding, heatwaves and droughts around the world, as well as killing millions of people through toxic air.

    It is the most important climate change case to come before the supreme court in more than a decade.

    But the ruling could also have sweeping consequences for the federal government’s ability to set standards and regulate in other areas, such as clean air and water, consumer protections, banking, workplace safety and public health. It may prove a landmark moment in conservative ambitions to dismantle the “regulatory state”, stripping away protections from Americans across a wide range of areas.

    It could fundamentally change what the federal government is and what it does….


  3. says

    From today’s Guardian US liveblog:

    Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, supreme court rules

    In its second and final decision of the day, the Supreme Court on Thursday said Joe Biden can end a controversial Trump-era immigration policy, known as Remain in Mexico. The ruling affirms a president’s broad power to set the nation’s immigration policy.

    The ruling concludes the most consequential supreme court term in recent memory.

    “I am authorized to announce that the Court has acted upon all cases submitted to the Court for decision this term,” Roberts writes in his end of term statement. The court will now recess from “today until the first Monday in October 2022.”

    Bringing this ignominious and appalling term to an end.

  4. raven says

    Sky News
    Russia says it has withdrawn from Snake Island as ‘gesture of goodwill’
    Russian forces have withdrawn from Snake Island.

    The Russian defence ministry called the decision to leave the strategically important island in the Black Sea a “gesture of goodwill”.

    The ministry said it has demonstrated that it is not hindering UN efforts to organise a humanitarian corridor to allow agricultural products to be exported from Ukraine.

    “This solution will prevent Kyiv from speculating on an impending food crisis, citing the inability to export grain due to total control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea by Russia,” it said.

    “Now it is up to the Ukrainian side that is still not clearing the Black Sea coastline, including the harbour waters.”

    Some good news for once.
    Good news has been rare the last few years.

    Russia is withdrawing from Snake island. They have moved in huge amounts of soldiers and weapons and lost them all to Ukraine. Not a smart decision since Snake island wasn’t defensible.

    Russia is starting to show signs of stress here.
    Since when have they ever made good will gestures to anyone for any reason.
    Lately, all they’ve been doing is threatening to nuke everyone over whatever happened that they don’t like.

    The sea mines Ukraine has put out have been bothering the Russians.

    Today, information appeared in the Russian and Ukrainian media that a Russian landing boat D-106 was blown up by a mine near Mariupol. People’s Deputy of Ukraine Goncharenko also confirmed this information.

    They just lost another ship to a mine.

  5. says

    Whoa. Russian police have arrested Vladimir Mau, one of the technocrat economists who’s been unsuccessfully trying to reform Russia from within for decades.

    Mau was just reappointed to Gazprom’s board today – which suggests this case has come from high up”

    Moscow Times – “Top Russian University Head Vladimir Mau Detained on Fraud Charges”:

    The head of one of Russia’s leading universities was detained Thursday in connection with a fraud investigation targeting a former senior education official.

    Vladimir Mau, head of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), was detained as a suspect in a 21-million-ruble ($399,810) embezzlement case, Russia’s Interior Ministry said.

    Investigators have requested house arrest for Mau, the RBC business daily reported.

    A prominent economist, Mau, 62, is seen as well-connected to high-level government officials and, in addition to his university post, is also a member of the board of directors of state-owned gas giant Gazprom and the Economic Council Presidium, an advisory body to the Russian president.

    The criminal case in which Mau has been implicated was opened last year against former deputy education minister Marina Rakova, who investigators allege stole about 21 million rubles intended for a state educational program….

    Michael McFaul tweeted: “If Mau can be arrested, anyone can be arrested.”

  6. says

    Re #s 2 and 6 – Guardian liveblog:

    The Russian ministry of defence has used its official Telegram channel to forward a message from an account called “War on fakes”, which purports to be a fact check on the situation on Snake Island, repeating Russia’s claim that it voluntarily withdrew from the island rather than being forced off.

    The message that the ministry has forwarded says that Russia withdrew from the island because “the object is indeed of strategic importance, but at the moment it has fulfilled its role of controlling the airspace.”

    The message goes on to say that “given the constant attacks of the armed forces of Ukraine, large resources were spent on its retention. It is an island of a volcanic type, on which there is practically no vegetation and shelters, and it is difficult to keep it in conditions of open confrontation. At the same time, the Russian garrison successfully withstood several attacks.”

    It then says “the decision was made to remove the garrison from the island in order to avoid losses.”

    The Telegram channel which the Russian ministry is sharing is widely regarded as disseminating propaganda under the guise of fact-checking, and it has over 700,000 followers. The message concludes “The Ukrainian side is trying to turn this into a victory, including with the help of international media.”

    It’s been a few hours, and we’re already at like three different stories: goodwill gesture, mission accomplished, strategic withdrawal. Also, withdrawing because you’re under attack, finding it hard to hold territory, and wish to avoid further losses is…retreating.

  7. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Gazprom abandons dividends for 2021: For the first time since 1998, the Russian energy giant Gazprom will not pay dividends on last year’s earnings. Following the announcement, the company’s shares dropped by almost 30 percent. Deputy CEO Famil Sadygov says Gazprom will focus instead on “regional gasification, preparation for the heating season, and paying increased taxes,” according to Reuters. The board of directors had previously recommended paying a dividend of 52.53 rubles per share.

    State Duma approves additional censorship powers: Russian lawmakers have adopted the third and final reading of legislation that fast-tracks news-media censorship by granting extrajudicial powers to police agencies, allowing the deregistration and blocking of publications believed to have disseminated “fakes,” “discrediting information about the Russian Armed Forces,” and “incitements to sanctions.” First-time offenses can result in suspension for as long as three months, while repeat violations are punishable by suspension for up to six months. The draft law also codifies “reciprocal actions” against foreign media outlets in response to bans against Russian media abroad.

  8. says

    John Fetterman:

    “Hey People Magazine, welcome to my crib(s)” – Dr. Oz, literally

    As a general rule of thumb, celebrity TV doctors with over $100 million in asset$ + several properties NOT IN PA don’t usually fight for working people….

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

  9. says

    Biden just tweeted:

    We have to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

    And as I said this morning: If the filibuster gets in the way, then we need to make an exception to get it done.

  10. says

    TPM – “SCOTUS Will Hear Case Next Term That Could Transform Election Law”:

    After knee-capping the federal government’s ability to address greenhouse gases and other national regulatory issues Thursday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case next term that could effectively eliminate the role of state courts and dramatically increase the power of state legislatures in questions of federal election law, a potentially huge win for the right in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2020 election theft attempt.

    The court on Thursday granted certiorari — meaning it will consider the case next term — to Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina case that centers on the so-called “Independent State Legislature” theory, or the idea that, because the Constitution delegates certain election responsibilities to “the legislature” of the various states, state courts should have no ability to check those legislatures when they violate voters’ rights.

    In Moore v. Harper, North Carolina Republicans argued that the left-leaning North Carolina Supreme Court overstepped its authority under the U.S. Constitution when it struck down gerrymandered congressional districts — a vital check on power grabs that state courts around the country have used, to varying degrees of success, during this year’s redistricting cycle.

    But Independent State Legislature theory goes far beyond just redistricting, and if given credence by the Supreme Court could allow legislatures near unchecked authority on everything from disputes over election results to rules surrounding voting rules.

    Four of the court’s conservative justices expressed openness to the idea earlier this year, but decided to wait to answer the question.

    In effect, the court appears prepared, if it sides with North Carolina Republicans, to dramatically restructure the way election questions are addressed in court, funneling thorny issues up the federal judiciary to the Supreme Court itself — “a power grab by the Supreme Court,” as Carolyn Shapiro, law professor and founder of Chicago-Kent’s Institute on the Supreme Court, told TPM in March.

    “The notion that the legislature should be construed as something divorced from enforcement of the state constitution — and that it should be the federal courts to protect the state legislature from the nasty state courts enforcing the state constitution — is a really bizarre prospect,” Jon Sherman, litigation director and senior counsel at the Fair Elections Center, said earlier this month.

    The case could spell a decrease in the quality of small-d democracy around the country: The right-wing aspirations spelled out in the Independent State Legislature theory would be most impactful in states where left-leaning state officers elected by the popular vote — governors, state Supreme Court justices — are silenced in favor of right-wing legislatures that have benefitted from wildly gerrymandered districts.

    State ballot measures, such as those creating independent redistricting bodies to create fairer districts free of partisan gamesmanship, could also be targeted with fresh lawsuits.

  11. says

    Why the Jan. 6 subpoena for Trump’s White House counsel matters

    When former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the Jan. 6 committee this week, one name came up 18 times. It was former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone who didn’t want Donald Trump to go to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse. It was Cipollone who wanted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to intervene with Trump about the rioters. It was Cipollone who lobbied to keep dangerous lies out of Trump’s pre-riot remarks.

    It was also Cipollone who warned Team Trump not to challenge the election results, even threatening to resign at one point in the post-election process.

    Given all of this, the House select committee’s interest in Cipollone is both obvious and understandable: He’s in a unique position to answer key questions.

    […] the bipartisan panel sent the former White House counsel a subpoena yesterday. […]

    It’s worth emphasizing that congressional investigators spoke to Cipollone in a limited capacity in April, when he voluntarily agreed to cooperate with the probe. But by all accounts, there were some questions the attorney was not prepared to fully answer, and the Q&A amounted to an informal interview.

    The committee’s leaders said in a statement yesterday, “While the Select Committee appreciates Mr. Cipollone’s earlier informal engagement with our investigation, the committee needs to hear from him on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations.”

    The latter part of that sentence was of particular interest: While it might seem unusual for a White House counsel to offer congressional testimony, it’s not at all unprecedented. On the contrary, former White House counsel Don McGahn — Cipollone’s predecessor in Donald Trump’s administration — testified just last year before the House Judiciary Committee.

    What about attorney-client privilege? The legal dynamic is complex, and there are experts who can speak to this with more authority than I can, but as a matter of professional responsibilities, the White House counsel is not the president’s attorney. The counsel’s office represents the interests of the presidency, not the president.

    While in office, Trump had plenty of lawyers representing him and his interests. Cipollone’s job was to represent the presidency as an institution and the White House’s interests.

    With this in mind, Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee, has been increasingly unsubtle in her public and private calls for Cipollone’s testimony. The subpoena from yesterday afternoon was the obvious next step.

    We’ll learn soon enough how the former White House counsel responds, but in case this isn’t obvious, congressional investigators don’t want to talk to Cipollone because they think he did something wrong. It’s the exact opposite: They want to talk to him because they think he did things right and can shed light on others’ wrongdoing.

    If Cipollone wants to do the right thing, and was waiting for a formal legal summons to force his hand, he now has one.

  12. says

    Well, this is dystopian:

    Under a new civics program launched by Gov. DeSantis, the Florida DoE is partnering with Hillsdale College to offer professional training to public K-12 teachers. Here is what teachers were shown last week about:

    1. The Founders’ opposition to slavery;

    2. The argument for Originalism (note: no alternative interpretive theories were discussed);

    3. The political, moral, and social need for religion;

    4. The Founder’s support for religious institutions.

    According to attendees, the principal focus was on Christianity. Says one, “There was this Christian nationalism philosophy that was just baked into everything that was there.”

    The training session was voluntary. However, attendees were given a $3000 bonus, payable out of leftover CARES funding that DeSantis declined to spend on COVID.

    Meanwhile, Orange County’s legal team has introduced guidelines for how public schools should implement HB 1557 (aka the Don’t Say Gay Act). Among the new rules for teachers in that county:

    1. No more rainbow clothing or photographs of same-sex partners;

    2. No more Safe Space stickers. Also, teachers must out gay students to their parents (because parental rights are absolute), but teachers must use a student’s birth pronouns regardless of parental desires (because parental rights are unimportant).

    A spokesman for Orange County acknowledges that some of these interpretations of HB 1557 are extreme, but explains that staff need to “err on the side of caution” because the law is so vague and the penalties so severe.

    Hmmm…where have I heard that argument before?…

    Finally, in Leon County, the school board just approved new guidelines that require (and I fucking swear this is real) schools to let parents know whether any student using a locker room or attending an overnight trip is “open about their gender identity.”

    At the school board meeting, one parent pointed out that pretty much everyone, trans and non-trans alike, is open about their gender identity, so this policy would seem to require a continuous stream of parental notifications.

    But I think we all know better.

    This is Florida on June 30th, one day before HB 1557 goes into effect. 2.8 million students are enrolled in that state’s public schools. Expect much, much more along these lines….

    Examples and links at the (Twitter) link.

  13. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Senator Patrick Leahy, the 82-year-old Democrat from Vermont, will undergo hip surgery today after falling in his Virginia home, his office said in a statement.

    The statement notes that Leahy, a skilled photographer, was born blind in one eye and has had a “lifelong struggle” with depth perception. “He has taken some remarkable dingers over the years but this one finally caught up with him,” it said.

    The statement said Leahy is expected to make a full recovery but did not offer any timeline for his return. In a Senate divided 50-50, his absence could delay Democrats plans to confirm a host of judicial nominations and a new director to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It may also imperil negotiations over a reconciliation bill, that may be the vehicle for Democrats’ scaled-back climate proposals, all the more urgent in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling today.

  14. says

    Followup to SC’s comment #4.

    Andrew Twinamatsiko, associate director of the Health Policy and the Law Initiative:

    The Court’s decision in West Virginia goes beyond the EPA’s power to fight climate change. It will limit federal agencies from implementing and interpreting federal law and give unelected judges the power to second-guess Congress and the White House. West Virginia is especially alarming for those who care about health care and public health because Congress relies on the expertise of federal agencies—such as the FDA, CDC, NIH, etc.—to interpret and implement legislation. West Virginia is sadly yet another stop on the Court’s path to handcuff federal agencies and follows recent decisions to gut the CDC and OSHA’s power to fight COVID-19.


    […] Unlike Roberts or Gorsuch, who truly do not care to understand how the climate crisis will grow all the worse with this decision, Justice Elena Kagan actually cites Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that say as much. In calling out the Supreme Court for its nefarious, continued stymying of the EPA, Kagan does not hold back: “This Court has obstructed EPA’s effort from the beginning. Right after the Obama administration issued the Clean Power Plan, the Court stayed its implementation. That action was unprecedented: Never before had the Court stayed a regulation then under review in the lower courts.”

    True, this case stems from a plan that was never implemented and utterly destroyed by the Trump administration. In bringing it in the first place, the many attorneys general from conservative, polluting states saw an opportunity to argue harm would be done before a policy even went into effect. And it worked. This bodes terribly for the forthcoming Sackett v. EPA, a similarly “murky” case in which the question at its center is whether wetlands constitute waterways of the U.S. I’d be naive to think the Supreme Court would do anything but set its sights on destroying the Clean Water Act next.


  15. says

    Congratulations, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

    Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Thursday, making history as the first Black woman to serve on the high court, The 51-year-old Jackson is also the first justice since Thurgood Marshall, who retired in 1991, with criminal defense experience. And her ascension marks another first: All three justices appointed by Democratic presidents and currently serving are women. It’s also the first time in the Court’s history that white men are in the minority, for what it’s worth.

    In her opening statement at her confirmation hearing, Jackson told the senators, “During this hearing, I hope that you will see how much I love our country and the Constitution, and the rights that make us free. I stand on the shoulders of many who have come before me, including Judge Constance Baker Motley, who was the first African American woman to be appointed to the federal bench and with whom I share a birthday. And like Judge Motley, I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the words engraved on the front of the Supreme Court building—‘Equal Justice Under Law’—are a reality and not just an ideal.” […]

  16. says

    Followup to SC’s comment #2.

    Russia Obeys Instructions, Abandons Snake Island.

    The most famous incident of the start of the Russian invasion of those parts of Ukraine it did not already occupy was Snake Island. […] its defenders told the captain of a Russian warship to “Go F…” themselves. It now appears they have obeyed this request, The BBC’s Sophie Williams reports from Kyiv:

    General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, has thanked “everyone who is helping to defend Ukrainian land” following the news that Russia has withdrawn from Snake Island.

    He says Russian forces were “unable to withstand” Ukrainian artillery, missiles and air strikes on the island.

    “Thank you to the defenders of Odesa, who took maximum measures to liberate a strategically important part of our territory,” he says.

    He also thanks Ukraine’s foreign partners for “providing the means of defeat”.

    Photos and satellite images at the link.

  17. says

    The Jan 6 Cmte has finally broken the dam – the GQP big money is deserting him

    CNBC is reporting:

    GOP megadonors turn on Trump after Jan. 6 hearings, set sights on DeSantis, Pence and other 2024 hopefuls […]

    big money GQP [Grand QAnon Party] donors are scrambling from the lights to the next rock to crawl under. […] They are looking for another horse to back because the now realize TFG [The Former Guy] is a loser in 2024.

    I worry about DeathSantis — he is a more controlled sociopath. CNBC notes

    DeSantis raised just over $10 million in May for his 2022 reelection bid for governor. That brought his total fundraising haul in the current election cycle to over $120 million, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

    Of course, every circus needs a clown. Mike Pence is starting to plan his triumphant climb to the presidency by keynoting $5,000 a plate dinners. Please, oh please, GQP, nominate Pence in 2024.

    This only proves [it is important for] the January 6 hearing to not just reveal the plan but who financed it. Since it is major GQP donors, this is one place I would NOT rely on Liz Cheney to lead the charge — I think too many of her circle of donors could also be implicated.

    I would also like to see the ties between the GQP and Russia brought to the front again. […]

  18. says

    Wonkette: “Overturning Roe Already Threatens Women’s Health, To Surprise Of Nobody”

    It only took an hour and 20 minutes for last Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade to start making one doctor in Wisconsin worried about going to jail for providing good medical care. The doctor sent a group text to colleagues asking what to do to help a woman whose fetus was anencephalic — it was missing parts of its brain and skull, and wouldn’t survive being born, if the pregnancy even made it to full term. Wisconsin’s “trigger law” criminalizing abortion (five year sentence and $10,000 fine, 15 years and $50K if fetus is past 16 weeks) had gone into effect automatically with the Supreme Court ruling, so the doctor cancelled the appointment the woman had for later that day. But what next?

    Welcome to the wonderful new world brought to you by the “culture of life.”

    Dr. Jane van Dis, an OBGYN professor at the University of Rochester, tweeted this week that she’d heard from a colleague in Missouri (where abortion is now a felony carrying a sentence of five to 15 years) who said that, out of fear of prosecution, “We are now observing patients with ectopic pregnancy and hemoperitoneum until they have a documented falling hemoglobin or unstable vital signs.” [JFC]

    You see, these laws may allow emergency abortions when the life of the mother is endangered, but if the procedure occurs while a woman is still relatively healthy, providers might go to prison. As in other countries where abortion is only allowed to save a pregnant person’s life, the laws will definitely cause deaths as doctors try to decide whether their patients are endangered enough to make an abortion legal.

    […] Dr. Lisa Harris, an OBGYN and professor at the University of Michigan, was part of a university task force on the challenges the profession will face in a post-Roe world; the study was cited in the dissent to Dobbs v. Jackson. Harris noted that Michigan’s old abortion ban law — currently on hold due to a court order prior to the Dobbs ruling — makes abortion a felony except when it “shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such woman.”

    “How imminent must death be?” Harris asks. “There are many conditions that people have that when they become pregnant, they’re OK in early pregnancy, but as pregnancy progresses, it puts enormous stress on all of the body’s organ systems – the heart, the lungs, the kidneys. So they may be fine right now – there’s no life-threatening emergency now – but three or four or five months from now, they may have life-threatening consequences.”

    […] Dr. Louise King, an OBGYN at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (she’s also an attorney and medical ethicist, if that’s Type A enough for you), says the laws will almost inevitably mean doctors will have to simply “watch somebody get sicker and sicker and sicker until some point – and where is that point? – where it’s OK to intervene and we won’t be exposed to criminal liability.”

    […] Mind you, these laws are all designed to delay abortion care — as then-congressman Joe Walsh (R-Illinois) said in 2014, legislators no longer want to allow abortions to protect a pregnant person’s health because honestly, women are never endangered by pregnancy anyway:

    There’s no such exception as life of the mother. And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology, “health” of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime under any reason.

    So legislatures will save all the babies by making sure women really are on death’s door before they can get an abortion. And if some go through that door, then maybe Jesus will smile upon them, unless they’re heathens.

    Sure, state legislatures could define things more clearly. But that might allow more abortions. The dilemmas faced by providers and patients

    “could be resolved by a legislature trying to engage in more specificity, which they will not do,” predicts Kim Mutcherson, co-dean of Rutgers Law School whose scholarship focuses on bioethics and reproductive justice. In places where abortion is illegal, legislators will broadly “want to make it as difficult as possible, and one of the ways that you do that is [by] creating a standard where people don’t know with specificity whether what they’re doing is right or wrong.”

    Instead, she says, “You have to wait until somebody gets in trouble. You have to wait until there’s a case. You have to wait until somebody gets arrested. And then you start to understand, ‘OK, this is what the parameters are.'”

    Clarity through the court system is likely to take months, if not years.

    And then there are the laws written so badly that they criminalize treatment of ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. If not removed, the embryo will kill the pregnant person long before it can become viable. That was the case with Missouri’s “trigger” law until it was hurriedly amended in March to remove the specific ban on treatment for ectopic pregnancies.

    Under the first version of the bill, violations would have been a class A felony in some cases, punishable with 10 to 30 years in prison or a life sentence. That included if the abortion was performed on a woman with an ectopic pregnancy. […]

    But please do not worry your little heads about this at all, because Yr Wonkette got a nice email blast from a PR firm for the antiabortion group “Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America” to assure us that NONE of these issues are real! The chirpy missive informs us that

    Contrary to what many pro-abortion politicians may be stating, Dobbs will not affect lifesaving medical care for high-risk pregnancies. Many outspoken critics of the recent ruling are claiming that women experiencing ectopic pregnancies, for example, must choose either death or prison, which is completely false.

    You see, the anti-abortion “American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists” says that ectopic pregnancies really are emergencies, so surely no hospitals will ever delay treatment. Why no, the email doesn’t mention the Missouri law at all, or any other state laws that are so badly written that, if followed to the letter, would result in prosecution of doctors treating ectopic pregnancy.

    Incidentally, just this week, Dr. Donna Harrison, the CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists insisted on NPR’s 1A talk show that there really are no medically necessary abortions. She explained that the only purpose of abortion is to kill a living human being, and after she said “killing babies” a few more times, they thanked her and cut her mic. Maybe someday NPR will screen its guests […] Good luck with your health emergencies everyone!

  19. says

    Supreme Court Kills Tribal Sovereignty Too In Case You Thought It Was Just ‘Women’ And ‘Classrooms Of Kids’

    The Supreme Court tossed out decades of precedent (again) Wednesday, granting state governments wider authority in prosecuting crimes on Indian reservations than had been allowed under previous court decisions. The decision, written by Brett Kavanaugh, deeply undercut a Supreme Court decision from just two years ago. In that case McGirt v. Oklahoma, Neil Gorsuch believe it or not wrote a very good decision in favor of tribal rights.

    […] As with other SCOTUS decisions this term, Wednesday’s decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta hinged on Donald Trump’s addition of one more rightwing jerk to the court. In 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was still around to join the majority in McGirt, but this week, Amy Coney Barrett joined four other rightwing justices to roll back McGirt in a serious way. This time around, Gorsuch wrote a very angry dissent, joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer.

    At issue in this case was a matter that had long been treated as settled law: What power do states have in criminal cases involving non-Indians? (We’re going to use that dubious antiquated word more than we usually do, following the usage of the Court and some prominent Native American legal writers. […])

    Where We Are and How We Got Here
    In cases where a crime is committed on Indian land, the jurisdiction varies on the basis of the identities of those involved: When both the accused and the victim are Indians, tribal or federal courts have authority. If both the offender and the victim are non-Indians, the case is tried in state court. When the accused is an Indian and the victim is non-Indian, the case goes to tribal or federal court. And up until the ruling in Castro-Huerta, the same held for cases where the perpetrator is non-Indian and the victim is Indian. Kavanaugh’s decision holds that states will now have “concurrent” jurisdiction and can prosecute non-Native defendants in crimes committed against Native victims on tribal lands.

    To be sure, the 2015 case at the heart of the decision is horrible: Victor Castro-Huerta, a non-Native man, was convicted of child neglect after his five-year-old stepdaughter, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, was “found dehydrated, emaciated and covered in lice and excrement, weighing just 19 pounds.” The girl is legally blind and has cerebral palsy. The state charged him and convicted him of neglect, and sentenced him to 35 years in prison.

    Brett Kavanaugh Dresses Up As Custer
    Then, while Castro-Huerta’s case was on appeal, the Court handed down its McGirt decision, meaning that the Castro-Huerta case belonged in federal or tribal court. A state court vacated Castro-Huerta’s conviction, and he was charged in federal court. He pleaded guilty and accepted a plea agreement with a seven year sentence.

    That really appears to have pissed off Brett Kavanaugh, who explained in his decision,

    In other words, putting aside parole possibilities, Castro-Huerta in effect received a 28-year reduction of his sentence as a result of McGirt.

    Kavanaugh went on to say he believed that happened way too often:

    After having their state convictions reversed, some non-Indian criminals have received lighter sentences in plea deals negotiated with the federal government. Others have simply gone free.

    So forget all that “precedent” and “our nation’s history and traditions” crap the Court has been banging on about lately. This at least partly comes down to Kavanaugh preferring long prison sentences. The state courts are willing to hand down far harsher punishments, and Castro-Huerta really had done something horrible, so too bad for tribal sovereignty.

    Claiming that the Court had never taken a “hard look” at the legislation that has so far governed prosecutions in Indian country, Kavanaugh ultimately determined, nah, 200 years of settled law was actually just a big oopsie, and so “the court today holds that Indian country within a state’s territory is part of a state, not separate from a state.”

    Non-Sovereign, Citizenship Questionable
    The decision is a major departure from previous understandings of tribal sovereignty, as in it is the exact opposite, and as The New Republic notes, that’s exactly what Oklahoma was after.

    To get around McGirt, Oklahoma took aim at the root of tribal sovereignty itself. The state argued that it has concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute most crimes in Indian country, meaning that it could do so if the federal government could not or would not. Oklahoma’s challenge was that the practice and policy of the last two centuries pointed in the other direction. In 1832, the court ruled in Worcester v. Georgia that the state of Georgia could not exercise jurisdiction within Cherokee lands because the Cherokee Nation was a separate sovereign.

    Other court rulings and laws passed by Congress reaffirmed the principle of tribal sovereignty in criminal cases involving Native Americans, as Gorsuch points out in his dissent, so that

    [In] time, Worcester came to be recognized as one of this Court’s finer hours. The decision established a foundational rule that would persist for over 200 years: Native American tribes retain their sovereignty unless and until Congress ordains otherwise. Worcester proved that, even in the “courts of the conqueror,” the rule of law meant something.

    Kavanaugh’s decision threw most of that in the garbage, contending that for two centuries, everyone had it wrong, and that since reservations fall within state boundaries, state law applies on them unless federal statutes specifically say otherwise. States, Kavanaugh wrote, “do not need a permission slip from Congress to exercise their sovereign authority.” And now that’s the law of the land, tough shit, he likes beer.

    Neil Gorsuch, Surprisingly Right Again
    In his dissent (starting on page 29 of the SCOTUS decision PDF) Gorsuch decried the majority opinion, underlining what its betrayal of the principle established in Worchester:

    Where this Court once stood firm, today it wilts. After the Cherokee’s exile to what became Oklahoma, the federal government promised the Tribe that it would remain forever free from interference by state authorities. Only the Tribe or the federal government could punish crimes by or against tribal members on tribal lands. At various points in its history, Oklahoma has chafed at this limitation. Now, the State seeks to claim for itself the power to try crimes by non-Indians against tribal members within the Cherokee Reservation. Where our predecessors refused to participate in one State’s unlawful power grab at the expense of the Cherokee, today’s Court accedes to another’s.

    The Court’s assertion of state power on reservations, Gorsuch wrote, “comes as if by oracle, without any sense of the history recounted above and unattached to any colorable legal authority,” and is shot through with “astonishing errors.” […] Ultimately, he said, the Castro-Huerta decision belongs in the “anticanon” of terrible, eventually abandoned decisions like Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson.

    ‘An Act of Conquest’
    Native American legal scholars are astonished by the decision. NYU Law prof Maggie Blackhawk said on Twitter that the Court had gone against “hundreds of years of congressional action, against solid SCOTUS precedent, and hundreds of years of history,” and that the Court had effectively “become a superlegislature. Precedent, statutes, separation of powers, reason, the rule of law, these things all mean nothing.”

    Elizabeth Hidalgo Reese, of Stanford Law, called Kavanaugh’s decision “an act of conquest. Full stop.” It’s such an open power grab that she could barely stand to repeat the core betrayal of norms the decision represents.

    The right and power of tribes to rule themselves is being dismissed in favor of state power.

    Tribes are…I can’t even write it…part of states.

    Hidalgo Reese followed that with a brief explanation of why this is important:

    For those wondering, “Why is it bad that states can prosecute too?”

    Three answers:
    1- States/Tribes have a long history of animosity. Fair treatment isn’t a fair assumption.

    2- Tribes want to make different laws for their land than states.

    3- Many resources are a zero sum game. […]

    4- The feds & states can now blow off responsibility while scapegoat e/o for not prioritizing Indian Country (a difficult and expensive area to police and prosecute).

    5- It’ll be harder/complicated for tribes to make the case they need more authority to Congress (too many sovereigns in the kitchen already, why would adding another one help?).

    There’s one potentially bright spot in all this, as Dr. Blackhawk notes: Congress could reverse this very easily with a single brief law. The New Republic explains further: All that would be needed is

    a single-sentence law that explicitly blocks concurrent jurisdiction. (Kavanaugh mocked Gorsuch for writing that sentence in the dissent but did not dispute it.)

    But that needs to happen soon, before the Court decides to erode tribal sovereignty any further in upcoming cases. […]

  20. raven says

    Here is what our new world will look like in the Red states.
    El Salvador has been sentencing women who have miscarriages to 30 years in prison.
    Not abortions but miscarriages. Because almost all the time, no one can tell the difference between a spontaneous abortion and a medically induced abortion.

    Abortion laws: The women jailed for suffering miscarriages
    By Valeria Perasso and Fernando Duarte BBC 100 Women ^/30/2022

    Karen was sentenced to 30 years in prison in El Salvador in 2015 after being accused of having an abortion
    When Karen woke up in an El Salvador hospital, she noticed that she was handcuffed to a bed and there were police officers by her bedside.

    “There were a lot of people around and they were saying I had taken my baby’s life and that I was going to ‘pay for what I had done’,” Karen tells BBC 100 Women.

    She needed emergency care after suffering pregnancy complications. But Karen, who has 22 at the time, found herself accused of having an abortion.

    “I tried to explain what had happened. But they didn’t listen,” she recalls.

    “I had already been tried and sentenced there”.

    Harsh legislation
    El Salvador, in Central America, has some of the world’s harshest anti-abortion laws, which ban all kinds of terminations even if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life or results from rape or incest.

    Charged with aggravated homicide, Karen was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She became known as one of “Las 17”, a group of women imprisoned after losing their babies in obstetric emergencies like miscarriages or stillbirths.

    Karen spent six years behind bars before being released along with three other women in December 2021, following a campaign that drew support from international celebrities such as actors America Ferrera and Milla Jovovich.

    At the time she was incarcerated, Karen was already the mother of a two-year-old boy. She wouldn’t see him again until he was nine. continues

  21. Jean says

    Re #24
    It’s as if Kavanaugh and the other SC assholes wanted to prevent any future escape from abortion prosecution by going to a Native American land. It was not in the case but I’m sure they all discussed it behind the scene. I guess Gorsuch was not comfortable with trampling the rights of the Native Americans for some reason.

  22. says

    Clarence Thomas cites discredited claim about Covid vaccines

    The Supreme Court’s credibility was already suffering. The more justices publish factual errors, the more it further tarnishes the court’s reputation.

    Yep. Clarence Thomas is a dunderhead, and he is determined to prove that on a near daily basis.

    As a rule, when Supreme Court announces that it won’t hear a case, that’s not especially notable. After all, it’s what the justices include in their rulings that matters most.

    There are, however, occasional exceptions.

    Last summer, the state of New York created a Covid vaccine requirement for health care workers, prompting a lawsuit from a group of employees who raised religious objections. Lawyers for the state made the fairly obvious case that health care workers already had to be vaccinated against measles and rubella, and there were no religious exemptions, so the lawsuit lacked merit.

    The plaintiffs nevertheless appealed their case to the Supreme Court, which announced this afternoon that it wouldn’t consider the matter. That wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was the dissent from three far-right justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — who said the high court should’ve agreed to hear the case.

    Writing for the dissenters, Thomas claimed:

    “Petitioners are 16 healthcare workers who served New York communities throughout the COVID–19 pandemic. They object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.”

    That was needlessly inflammatory, and as an NBC News report explained, it’s also not true.

    Pfizer and Moderna used fetal cell lines early in their Covid vaccine development to test the efficacy of their formulas, as other vaccines have in the past. The fetal tissue used in these processes came from elective abortions that happened decades ago. But the cells have since replicated many times, so none of the original tissue is involved in the making of modern vaccines. So it is not true that Covid vaccines are manufactured using fetal cell lines, nor do they contain any aborted cells.

    The NBC News report added that the vaccines “contain messenger RNA — genetic material that instructs our cells to make proteins, which then train the immune system to fight off the coronavirus. They also include fatty substances called lipids that help RNA cross our cell membranes, as well as salt, sugar, and a few substances that help stabilize the other ingredients.”

    The vaccines do not, in other words, come from “aborted children.” […]

    I wonder if Clarence got that bit of discredited information from his wife.

  23. says

    […] You can watch footage from the invasion (titled the “Michiana Proud Boys Rainbow Crash”) via YouTube below. You’ll notice the “grooming” accusations and “perversion” rhetoric are alive and well with these folks [video is available at the link. “You guys [librarians] are ruining children’s minds.”]

    Per social media posts, it appears several of the group displayed white supremacist symbols.

    In a video on their public Telegram channel the Proud Boys posted a video of themselves flashing white power hand signs during the disruption.

    Hate like this cannot be tolerated, it is dangerous. At another disruption in Nevada a gun was pulled.

    Marissa Gebhard serves as the communications manager for the library and gave a statement to a local news station, saying that while the library welcomes everyone, they ultimately “can’t have disruption” and the library abides by a “code of conduct” to keep everyone safe.

    “The library is a safe place,” Gebhard continued. “And we want to continue to make it a safe place.” She went on to say the library is looking more deeply into security measures for future events after this occurrence.

    The canceled event will be rescheduled for sometime in the next few months.


    The disruption looks like it is part of a plan to disrupt similar events in libraries across the USA.

  24. says

    Jean @27, that’s an interesting take on the situation. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll be keeping on eye on this to see what develops.

    In other news:

    Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration on Thursday denied a key permit for a gas powered cryptocurrency mining operation in the Finger Lakes, saying the facility spews too much planet-warming pollution to be allowed under the state’s climate law.

    The decision by the state Department of Environmental Conservation on the Greenidge gas plant is the latest step in New York to curb the pollution from cryptocurrency mining facilities that have started to proliferate across upstate New York for the growing industry.

    “We are applying a new law to a new operation which had significant increases in emissions — almost tripling emissions,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos told POLITICO in an interview Thursday. “The company itself was unable to demonstrate that it could come into compliance with the law.”

    Hochul […] is also being pushed to sign a measure to put a moratorium on any other new fossil powered cryptocurrency mining projects in New York.

    The 106 MW Greenidge gas plant hosts a large-scale Bitcoin mining facility, with about 17,000 miners. The plant has faced aggressive opposition from many local residents, lawmakers and winemakers in the region.

    Greenidge Generation Holdings Inc., the company running the plant that employs about 50 people, said they plan to appeal the decision and that it will keep operating as usual while the process plays […]

    Environmental advocates and other opponents of the project argue the increased emissions from the cryptocurrency mining threaten achievement of New York’s sweeping Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The measure requires emissions to be slashed 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050. […]

    “Governor Hochul and the DEC stood with science and the people, and sent a message to outside speculators: New York’s former fossil fuel-burning plants are not yours to re-open as gas-guzzling Bitcoin mining cancers on our communities,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian in a statement. […]

    Environmental groups have also raised concerns about the water quality and aquatic life impacts. Like many combustion plants located on shorelines, Greenidge sucks up water for cooling and dumps it back at an elevated temperature.


    More at the link.

  25. says

    More bad news courtesy of the conservatives on the Supreme Court:

    The Supreme Court’s recent assault on our rights has gone far beyond Roe and Dobbs. The Supreme Court quietly issued a 6-3 ruling recently on Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez, siding against two Arizonans on death row who sought to challenge their convictions in federal court after receiving shoddy legal support. The majority’s rationale, which was based on a 1996 federal law, was that state sovereignty and legal expediency must be protected at all costs.

    Unfortunately, those costs are clear. The Court’s ruling slashed Americans’ constitutional right to effective counsel by eviscerating the life-saving accountability mechanism that allows people to appeal unjust rulings. The six conservative justices have plainly prioritized the legal system’s power to convict and kill over our human right to live.

    What is less clear is why, in a nation where folks will literally risk children’s lives to maintain their Second Amendment rights, Americans seem perfectly happy to hand over their Sixth Amendment rights with hardly a thought. The silence on social media and in our public discourse about this ruling is alarming — we should be very scared and very, very angry.

    As the executive director and founder of a nonprofit that works to help low-income Americans navigate the complexities of the legal system by bolstering public defense resources, I know all too well that for many, this case — which is shrouded in the deliberately-exclusionary language of legal discourse — feels more like a remote technicality than an assault on basic rights.

    But let me assure you: If you’re worried about your Constitutional rights as a citizen, you should recognize that this is one of the most egregious governmental oversteps of our lifetime, right in line with the current oppressive theme of the Roberts Court.

    People’s lives have been irrevocably changed by the recent Dobbs opinion that overturned Roe, stripping away what protection of our bodily autonomy remained in Constitutional law. The Supreme Court declined to issue any opinions the week after the Uvalde shooting, and those were right who guessed that it was because their ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruenwould would have looked especially ghoulish in the wake of the massacres in Buffalo, Orange County, and Uvalde — as well as the 12 more mass shootings that took place over Memorial Day Weekend.

    The decision in Shinn, though, is no less ghoulish: It tells every American citizen, yet again, in yet another context, that the rights and protections to which we thought we were entitled will no longer protect us […]

    And don’t be fooled — not committing crimes won’t keep you safe on this one.

    We live in a world where innocent people are prosecuted every day. This ruling erodes protections for any American who might — at any time — be perceived guilty of any sort of wrongdoing. Whether it be the person in the midst of a miscarriage who is accused of committing an abortion in a red state, or the person who rented a car to visit family and was accused of stealing it despite a complete lack of evidence. It truly could be any of us at any time. All it takes is running into the wrong cop or prosecutor at the wrong time. […]

    Of course, it’s most likely to be those of us who happen to be Black or Brown or poor. It’s critical to acknowledge that the system disproportionately accuses Black and Brown Americans of wrongdoing, with Black Americans being incarcerated at nearly five times and Hispanics being incarcerated 1.3 times the rate of whites. But when the law no longer protects American life, liberty and property against legal incompetence with lifetime stakes, no individual can consider themselves outside the zone of harm.

    The police and prosecutors we are relying on to arbitrate justice are often wildly ineffective and sometimes operating with ulterior motives. These are the folks who booked a man on charges of possessing methamphetamine because the donut he was eating in his car left a white glaze on the floorboard. I myself have witnessed prosecutors bring cases to court that have no business being there — ranging from felony accusations with no basis and alibi witnesses to baseless drug cases based on the word of a disgraced police officer. Even DNA evidence, so often considered the gold standard of proof, is subject to error and incompetence, resulting in horrifying miscarriages of justice. […]


    More at the link.

  26. says


    The Supreme Court hands Biden the smallest possible victory in its “Remain in Mexico” case

    The Biden v. Texas decision rejects a Trump judge’s absurd reading of federal law, then sends the case right back to that same judge.

    Everything about the Supreme Court’s handling of Biden v. Texas, an important immigration decision it handed down on Thursday, emphasizes how easily the Court can sabotage President Joe Biden’s policies — even as it rules narrowly in Biden’s favor.

    The case involves the so-called “Remain in Mexico” program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, a policy implemented by […] Trump that required tens of thousands of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States to, well, remain in Mexico while their cases were being processed. The Biden administration announced in a June 1, 2021 memo from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that it would end this program — noting, among other things, that it forced many migrants to live in squalid conditions without “stable access to housing, income, and safety.”

    But then Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump judge known for his extreme ideology — Kacsmaryk has labeled being transgender a “mental disorder,” claimed that gay people are “disordered,” and denounced what he called a “sexual revolution” — ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the program last August. [Kacsmaryk is a judge lacking in good judgement.]

    In the Biden decision handed down on Thursday, six justices — the three liberal justices plus Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — all agree that Kacsmaryk misread federal immigration law when he held that the federal government is required to maintain the Trump-era program. (Technically, Barrett dissented from the Court’s holding, stating in her opinion that she agrees “with the Court’s analysis of the merits,” but she would have sent the case back to lower courts to consider a jurisdictional issue.)

    Indeed, as Roberts indicates in his opinion for the Court, Kacsmaryk misread a key provision of federal law so egregiously that, if the Trump judge’s reasoning is taken seriously, no president has ever complied with this law since it was enacted 26 years ago.

    The Court’s decision in Biden goes a long way toward reaffirming that Joe Biden is the president, Alejandro Mayorkas is secretary of Homeland Security, and Matthew Kacsmaryk is neither of these things.

    But, while the Court’s rejection of Kacsmaryk’s misreading of federal law is a victory for Biden, it is likely to be a hollow one. Although the Court decides the important issue of whether federal immigration law requires a Remain-in-Mexico-style policy (it doesn’t), the justices send the case back down to Kacsmaryk to resolve a few other lingering questions, including whether Mayorkas adequately explained the administration’s decision to end the program in an October memorandum.

    Given Kacsmaryk’s past behavior, and his commitment to an extraordinarily conservative ideology, it is very likely that he will find a new excuse to order the Biden administration to reinstate the Remain in Mexico program once the case is back in his hands. And Kacsmaryk’s new decisions will be reviewed by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, an extremely conservative court that has thus far been complicit in Kacsmaryk’s efforts to seize control of much of US border policy.

    […] Last August, not long after Kacsmaryk handed down his initial decision appointing himself border czar, the Supreme Court rejected the Biden administration’s request to block that decision […]

    Kacsmaryk’s decision, in other words, has now been in effect for nearly a year. While the Biden administration most likely will take steps quickly to end Remain in Mexico, Kacsmaryk could once again put a stop to that. And it could be a year or more before the Supreme Court gets around to reversing whatever order Kacsmaryk hands down after the case is sent back to him.

    By slow-walking this case, in other words, the Court has ensured that Judge Kacsmaryk, and not Secretary Mayorkas, will exercise many of the secretary of Homeland Security’s most important policymaking powers. And, at this rate, President Biden could be near the end of his term by the time this case is fully resolved and he finally regains the power to end Remain in Mexico for good.

    [snipped many details, see the link for more information]

    Even though the Supreme Court rejects Kacsmaryk’s egregious misreading of federal law, it leaves him with significant power to sabotage Biden — and to order Remain in Mexico reinstated one more time.

    […] The Supreme Court’s decision also allows Kacsmaryk to determine whether the Biden administration is properly exercising its authority to grant parole to some immigrants “for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” That gives Kacsmaryk another possible rationale to sabotage Biden’s policies. […]

  27. says

    Some good news that may be temporary:

    The Leon County Court in Florida has indicated it intends to block a law banning abortions after 15 weeks. Planned Parenthood’s case against the state was heard before Judge John C. Cooper earlier this week. The judge indicated he’d issue a ruling on Thursday and, true to his word, he made his decision. Cooper called HB 5 “unconstitutional,” saying it violates the “fundamental right to privacy,” which is laid out in Florida’s constitution. Per Section 23 of that document: “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public’s right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.”

    Cooper said the state failed to prove why HB 5 should take effect in the first place and is ready to sign an injunction against it. In the meantime, the law is expected to temporarily take effect. Planned Parenthood said it is seeking to make sure any stays sought by the state don’t go through. For now, this is great news for the organization, which called it “only a first step in fighting this dangerous abortion ban … We are grateful this court recognized that it is an unconstitutional intrusion on our patients’ and providers’ medical decisions,” Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said in a statement. “Once this ban is blocked, Florida abortion providers will be able to offer patients who decide to have an abortion the care they need here at home. Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida will continue to stand with all abortion providers and the patients who turn to them.”

    Under Florida’s current law, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Another case against the law brought forth by a Jewish synagogue has yet to be heard. Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in its lawsuit claims that the state has violated its religious freedom by restricting abortion access. According to Rabbi Barry Silver, who leads the synagogue, he believes a birthing person has the right to an abortion no matter their reason. Other religious groups are expected to file similar lawsuits around the country in protest of abortion bans and near-bans going into effect in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which effectively overturned Roe v. Wade.


  28. says


    Giuliani: ‘She was never present when I asked for a pardon’

    From RawStory, Rudy Giuliani as he tried to undermine Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, said this little gem:

    “The January 6 Witch Hunt Cabal has now exceeded even its prior fraudulent,” he said. “The last witness was a reckless liar. Contrary to her false testimony she was never present when I asked for a pardon.”

    Admitted something, did he?

    He followed up with an attempt to fix that comment with “Actually, I told the President I did not want or need one.”


  29. says

    I wonder to myself when exactly the membership will be official, as in, when is the actual, binding vote? Until then, anything can happen.

    On that point, poor fucking Kurds. Are they ever gonna get a break?

  30. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In his latest denunciation of the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the January 6th committee, Donald J. Trump has denied ever knowing ketchup.

    “This business about me using ketchup is a lie, and Wacko Cassidy knows it,” Trump wrote on his social network, Truth Social. “I have never worked with ketchup, and I don’t know ketchup.”

    “Ketchup is for losers,” he added.

    Trump issued a list of his favorite condiments, notably omitting any mention of the popular tomato-based sauce.

    “I’ve used mustard, I’ve used mayonnaise, and at times I’ve used A-1 stake [sic] sauce,” he wrote. “Using ketchup is a disgrace, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country.”

    New Yorker link

  31. says

    New York Times:

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively handed the Republican-controlled State Senate broad authority over the composition of state boards and commissions, three and a half years into the term of a Democratic governor whose duties include naming board members. […]

  32. says

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren drops new details hinting at Big Lie financial crimes and witness tampering

    […] On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who is on the Jan. 6 committee, suggested that Trump’s fundraising may be connected not simply to crimes of scam artistry, but crimes of coercion of witnesses. It seems that Ornato and Engel may be hiding in the shadows finding out where exactly that money is before they go on the record.

    The fact of the matter is that Ornato’s move from a senior Secret Service official to a political adviser was seen as a betrayal of Secret Service’s nonpartisan position in our government. […]

    It has led to the speculations around Vice President Mike Pence’s reticence to get into a car with Secret Service during the Jan. 6. attack on the Capitol.

    On Thursday, Lofgren explained to Anderson Cooper on CNN that Donald Trump’s intense fundraising off of the Big Lie is a paper trail with many angles. While it is obvious to most people who have ever followed even a little bit of Donald Trump’s history as a corrupt dirtbag (dating all the way back to the 1970s in New York City), there is a high probability that much of his fundraising has gone into people’s pockets. Lofgren spoke to the fact that money can help buy testimony and offer the promise of legal protections for people who may otherwise be forced to tell the truth about Donald Trump.

    REP. ZOE LOFGREN: Let’s just say, we’re concerned. As you know, in a prior hearing, we talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars that the former president raised. Some of that money is being used to pay for lawyers, for witnesses. and it’s not clear that that arrangement is one that is without coercion potential for some of those witnesses. So, let’s just say this: It’s a concern. And anyone who is trying to dissuade or tamper with a witness should be on notice that that’s a crime. And we are perfectly prepared to provide any evidence we have to the proper authorities.

    This goes along with the Hutchinson’s own testimony that she had been contacted by “someone attempting to influence her testimony.” It also follows Rep. Liz Cheney’s assertion at Tuesday’s hearing that two witnesses had also told the committee they were being intimidated by people connected to Donald Trump’s circle of conspirators. […]

    Video available at the link.

  33. lumipuna says

    Re KG 26 and LykeX 35:

    It’s been estimated that it should take between 4 and 12 months for all 30 Nato countries to ratify the membership bids of Finland and Sweden. After that, we in Finland can officially sign in, after having one final vote by our own parliament.

    That is, unless Turkey actually tries to break a new record in obstruction. If I understand correctly, they can’t actually reject a new membership bid, they can only play time by not approving it. They probably can’t or won’t delay the matter infinitely. I hope our own politicians are ready to play the same game and wait patiently, no matter how long it takes.

  34. KG says

    Lynna, OM@35,
    Yes, poor Kurds. People even here may not be aware of the extent of the genocidal repression and violence the Turkish state has meted out over decades to those in Kurdish-majority areas in south-east Turkey – as well as recently in parts of northern Iraq (in this case, with the connivance of the two dominant, highly corrupt Kurdish-led parties there, the PUK and KDP), and in north-east Syria.

    The government of Finland has now denied committing to any specific extraditions to Turkey. I don’t believe Erdoğan is going to agree to their membership of NATO, or Sweden’s, without getting his hands on some actual victims to torture from among those currently sheltering in those countries. While Erdoğan remains in power, no-one at all should be extradited from anywhere to Turkey, for any reason.

  35. raven says

    With Roe versus Wade dead, the battles between Red and Blue states will never end.
    The GOP/christofascists want to prevent pregnant women from traveling out of state for abortions.
    A travel ban like that makes pregnant women into prisoners and slaves.
    Freedom to move about is a fundamental freedom.

    With our current defective Supreme Court, they may even get that travel ban.
    Despite all that talk about Freedom, the GOP is on track to make the USA one of the most unfree countries in the world.

    Will Roe decision lead to interstate travel bans?
    Possible swing vote Kavanaugh suggests he opposes such restrictions, but his intent isn’t exactly clear
    By Mike Damiano Globe Staff,Updated July 1, 2022, 6:28 a.m.

    Will Roe decision lead to interstate travel bans? – The Boston Globe
    Now that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, more than a dozen states over the next month are expected to begin enforcing partial or near-total bans on abortion within their borders. But some foes of abortion have proposed going even further — stopping women from their states from traveling to another where abortion is legal for the procedure.

    Antiabortion groups and state legislators have discussed ways to restrict interstate travel for abortion, according to a Washington Post report. Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, which now bans abortion in almost all cases, said there “will be a debate” about how to handle cases of South Dakota women traveling out of state for the procedure.

    Abortion rights supporters have long decried proposed travel restrictions as unconstitutional overreach. Now they may have an unlikely ally: conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the majority in eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.

    In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health issued June 24, Kavanaugh seemed to tip his hand on the issue of traveling across state borders.

    “Some of the . . . abortion-related legal questions raised by today’s decision,” he wrote, “are not especially difficult as a constitutional matter. For example, may a State bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion? In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”

    Those three lines, buried within his 12-page opinion, have sparked a debate. Some liberal legal scholars believe he may be choosing his words carefully, staking out a narrow position on policies overtly restricting pregnant women’s freedom of movement. Some conservatives think he may be gesturing at a more expansive discomfort with the extension of abortion bans beyond state borders.

    Kavanaugh’s feelings about the issue could prove consequential, because he now sits at the court’s center on many issues. He tends to exhibit more judicial moderation than the four other conservative associate justices. But he is typically less restrained than Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative known to be deferential to precedent and mindful of the court’s credibility with the public. (In Dobbs, for example, Roberts concurred with the other conservatives in upholding the Mississippi antiabortion law at the center of the case, but parted ways with the rest of the conservative bloc on the question of overturning Roe.)

    So Kavanaugh’s stated opposition to abortion-related travel bans may mean that, with Roberts’s backing, the balance of power shifts in favor of striking down any such travel bans, legal experts said.

    “If a state were to pass an interstate travel ban, I think there is definitely a majority to overturn that, now that Kavanaugh has made his reasoning crystal clear,” said Craig Collins, a lawyer who wrote a 2015 book arguing for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. That majority, he and other court observers said, would likely consist, at a minimum, of the three liberal justices, Roberts, and Kavanaugh.

    The issue has taken on new urgency in the wake of the court’s decision, which could lead to an explosion in the numbers of women seeking abortions outside their home states. In Texas, after the Legislature passed an aggressive antiabortion law in 2021, the number of women traveling to nearby states for abortions increased tenfold, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts has said its “doors are open” for women from out of state. Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order that seeks to impede conservative states’ efforts to take action against Massachusetts residents, including abortion providers.

    The prospect of a majority prepared to strike down interstate travel restrictions may come as a relief to supporters of abortion rights. But other threats to interstate access are on the horizon, cautions Greer Donley, a legal scholar who coauthored a paper on the subject that was cited in the Dobbs dissent signed by the three liberal justices.

    The National Right to Life Committee has distributed model legislation that would criminalize as “trafficking” the act of transporting a pregnant minor to obtain an abortion without a parent’s consent. States with abortion bans could attempt to prosecute out-of-state abortion doctors for murder, said Donley, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School.

    The states also could target organizations that provide information and other resources to women seeking out-of-state abortions, said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a liberal think tank focused on reproductive rights. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he may pursue civil penalties against companies that pay to send their employees out of the state for abortions, as many corporations have pledged to do.

    Borrowing from the Texas legislation, some antiabortion groups have proposed allowing private citizens to sue people who help a resident of a state that has banned abortion end a pregnancy outside of that state. Relying on such civil lawsuits instead of prosecutions could prove to be less constitutionally problematic and might not breach the bright line Kavanaugh seemed to draw in his concurrence.

    The wide array of possible tactics to impede out-of-state abortions has left court observers, on both sides of the political divide, trying to parse Kavanaugh’s brief foray into the matter. Did he mean to say he had reservations only about travel restrictions? Or was he telegraphing a more generalized discomfort with attempts to extend abortion bans beyond state borders?

    Liberals who distrust Kavanaugh, given his apparent about-face from statements during his Supreme Court confirmation vetting about overturning Roe, may be inclined to see gamesmanship in his wording.

    “Justice Kavanaugh wanted to be perceived as being a voice of moderation” in this opinion, Donley said. “He does a lot of maneuvering to say, ‘Both sides have reasonable opinions and I’m not deciding this issue, I’m just returning it to the states.’ His including of that [language about interstate travel] was a little bit of a nod in that direction: Even if I am going to overturn Roe, I’m not going to rubber stamp everything the antiabortion movement does.”

    “But when the rubber hits the road,” Donley said, “how will he actually vote?”

    David Cohen, one of Donley’s coauthors, emphasized that Kavanaugh’s language is narrowly focused on policies that would impede pregnant women from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion. It says nothing of punishments for abortion providers or any helpers who might provide money or a ride.

    But some conservative scholars think liberals may be overthinking the matter.

    “I think [Kavanaugh] is leaving his options open, but it’s clear that he does not feel at ease about extensions [of abortion bans beyond states lines] of that sort,” said Charles Fried, a Harvard Law School professor who as solicitor general during the George H.W. Bush administration argued for the overturn of Roe before the Supreme Court in 1989.

    Kavanaugh has said nothing further about the matter and a public information officer for the Supreme Court said of the justices, “They do not elaborate on their decisions,” which leaves the public, like legal scholars, to interpret Kavanaugh’s words for itself.

  36. tomh says

    Poll: Quarter of Americans open to armed rebellion against government
    Andy Monserud / June 30, 2022

    CHICAGO (CN) — A new University of Chicago poll found that over a quarter of a deeply alienated American public, particularly those who identify as Republican, believe that it may “soon be necessary to take up arms” against the government…..

    In total, 28% of voters agreed with the statement “it may be necessary at some point soon for citizens to take up arms against the government.” That skewed heavily toward Republicans, with one in three Republicans and 45% of self-identified “strong Republicans” agreeing with the statement. The GOP doesn’t hold a monopoly on the sentiment, though – one in five Democrats agreed, as did 35% of self-identified independent voters.

    The poll, a collaboration between Republican and Democratic pollsters Neil Newhouse and Joel Benenson, respectively, surveyed 1,000 registered voters around the U.S.. A slight majority of those, 56%, said they believed the government was corrupt and “rigged against everyday people like me,” with self-identified Republicans polling substantially higher on that question than Democrats…..

    The belief in armed resistance was loosely correlated with actual gun ownership. About 37% of those who said they had guns in their homes also agreed with the “taking up arms” statement.

  37. says

    People who think Russia sanctions “aren’t working” aren’t looking at all the data:

    Some data points: May 22 vs May 21
    Cars: -96.7% (3,700 cars)
    Trucks: -39.3%
    ICE motors: -57%
    Pass. train wagons: -59.8%
    Freight wagons: -51.8%
    Fiberglass cables: -80.8%
    Fridges: -58.1%
    Washing machines: -59.2%
    AC electric motors: -49.9%
    Elevators: -34.7%
    Excavators: -60%

    More at the second Twitter link, including charts showing “Industrial producer prices plummeting,” “Decline of Russia’s population due to Covid and also migration,” etc.

  38. says

    Followup to comment 45:

    […] The consequences for the nation—for the globe—are dire. On everything, from abortion to criminal justice to the environment to voting rights. The only way this centuries-long experiment in democracy will survive is by taking minority rule away from the Court and from the Senate which created it.

    End the filibuster. Expand and reform the court. Or wave goodbye to every freedom that matters.


  39. says

    Merrick Garland Brought AZ Sen Prez Karen Fann A Present, It Is This ‘Fraudit’ Subpoena!

    The bill for the Arizona fraudit is finally coming due. The recount (not an actual recount!) of the 2020 presidential ballots cost about $6 million, much of it funded by Trump supporters hoping to claw back Joe Biden’s electoral votes and falsely claim that Trump won the state. Since then, taxpayers have forked over another $5 million for expenses associated with this public act of onanism, including half a million dollars in legal fees and $3.7 million to replace the voting machines damaged by letting the Cyber Ninjas [have access to the machines].

    Remember the Cyber Ninjas? That was the team of “auditors” hired by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and her colleague Kelly Townsend to “prove” Trump actually won the state by aiming UV lights at Maricopa County’s ballots to figure out which ones were Chinese knockoffs made of bamboo. The team had zero election auditing experience, but chief ninja Doug Logan had already proved his bona fides by appearing in a film about the 2020 election called “Deep Rig,” so it was perhaps unsurprising that his team compiled lists of voters with the same last name, first initial, and birth year, then breathlessly announced they’d caught J. Smith (or some such) voting more than once. Wasn’t 2021 the best?

    But it’s not over yet, because Uncle Merrick just entered the chat! And he brought presents.

    The Arizona Mirror reports that the FBI just dropped subpoenas on Fann and Townsend for records related to their efforts to ratfuck the 2020 presidential election in Arizona in coordination with the Trump campaign.

    “President Fann received a FOIA in the form of a subpoena by the FBI as part of the Biden Administration’s political theatrics as they look into ‘January 6,'” Kim Quintero, director of communications for Arizona Senate Republicans, told the Arizona Mirror. “Nonetheless, President Fann is fully cooperating in releasing whatever emails and text messages they are requesting.”

    What the hell is a “FOIA in the form of a subpoena”? And in what universe is cooperation with a grand jury subpoena voluntary?

    […] in response to an email rebuking her for not supporting Trump, she wrote, “I have been in numerous conversations with Rudy Giuliani over the past weeks trying to get this done. I have the full support of him and a personal call from President Trump thanking us for pushing to prove any fraud.”

    Yes, we are aware of the Trump campaign’s role in corralling these slates of cosplay electors. But thanks for confirming it in writing, brainiac.

    In the past two weeks, the Justice Department has subpoenaed dozens of figures associated with the fake electors scheme in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Mexico. Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward and her husband got those grand jury love notes, as well as state Senator Mark Finchem, who coordinated with Giuliani as well as Rep. Mo Brooks, whose liaison characterized him as “leading the charge on the House side to object to the Electoral College certification in Joint Session on January 6th.”

    It seems pretty clear that the DOJ is centering its investigation on the scheme to substitute fraudulent electoral certificates in an effort to overturn Biden’s victory. Which may sound like taking out Al Capone for tax evasion. But, at the end of the day, they did get Al Capone so … we’ll take it!

  40. says

    They Tried To Witness Tamper Cassidy Hutchinson SPECIFICALLY? Well Then! How Interesting!

    As we have been saying, Liz Cheney has been talking about witness tampering a lot, so we have been having a feeling it’s about to become a great big huge part of the House January 6 Select Committee’s investigation, and perhaps also the criminal investigation over at the Justice Department.

    Cheney made a point at the end of the Cassidy Hutchinson hearing of showing statements from witnesses about how Donald Trump and Company had tried to tamper with their testimony, but she didn’t say who. And now here comes CNN reporting that oh yeah, Trump tried to fuck with Hutchinson’s testimony specifically. […] it had not been reported that they tried to witness tamper Hutchinson specifically.

    Cheney explained during that hearing:

    “We commonly ask witnesses connected to Mr. Trump’s administration or campaign whether they have been contacted by any of their former colleagues, or anyone else, who attempted to influence or impact their testimony,” Cheney said during the hearing, before showing snippets of how witnesses responded to that question.

    You know, because of how witness tampering is a crime.

    CNN adds that the committee was very worried about Cassidy Hutchinson’s safety before the hearing, which says so much about what kind of low-rent mafia criminals we are dealing with here.

    And to be clear, this isn’t a story about, oh, Liz Cheney showed records of Trumpland witness tampering with two unnamed witnesses, so that means they did it twice. CNN says committee folk have been suggesting it’s looooooooootta fuckin’ witnesses, quoting Adam Schiff, who told them that “Certainly we’ve seen a history of the former President trying to influence witnesses or intimidate them.”

    In case you missed it in the hearing, these are the examples Cheney showed at that hearing:

    Cheney said [an] unnamed witness told the committee: “What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect. You know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump world. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts.” The second example Cheney gave is a call a witness received saying, “Quote ‘a person let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal. And you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.'”

    And then on “Good Morning America” yesterday morning, Cheney just casually mentioned that she’s pretty sure the Justice Department takes shit like this pretty seriously, so …


    Oh, and as to the smear campaign the Right is trying to launch against Hutchinson, Cheney said she is “absolutely confident in her credibility.”


    Watch this space, or watch Liz Cheney’s space, yeah probably just watch Liz Cheney’s space, she’s going to fuck them all up and we get to watch.

  41. raven says

    Looks like Belarus is going fast.

    Cultural genocide can work. Speakers of the Belarussian language in Belarus are down to 20% of the population and Belarussian literature is being suppressed by the state itself. It’s getting difficult to be a Belarussian in…Belarus.
    The Belarussian language isn’t all that close to Russian. It’s more similar to Ukrainian and Polish.

    They still don’t like Russia though. Lukashenko, the dictator has a support level of 3%.
    He is propped up by his army and the Russian army in Belarus.

    Putin Says Russia and Belarus Moving Towards Unification
    BY ISABEL VAN BRUGEN ON 7/1/22 AT 9:14 AM EDT Newsweek

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that the Western response to his war in Ukraine is pushing Russia and Belarus towards unification.

    “Unprecedented political and sanctions pressure from the collective West is pushing Russia and Belarus to speed up the unification process,” Putin told a bilateral forum in the Belarusian city of Grodno on Friday.

    “After all, it is easier to minimize the damage from illegal sanctions, it is easier to master the production of demanded products, develop new competencies and expand cooperation with friendly countries,” the Russian leader added.

    In 1997, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty that sought to mend relations that disintegrated following the collapse of the Soviet Union six years earlier. Days after Putin invaded Ukraine, the neighboring countries reaffirmed their commitment to boost state cooperation amid Western sanctions.
    Lukashenko and Putin
    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, attend a meeting on October 24, 2013 in Minsk, Belarus. Putin has claimed that the Western response to the war in Ukraine is pushing Russia and Belarus towards unification.

    “We are taking coordinated measures to protect our economic security and the technological sovereignty of Russia and Belarus,” Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said after meeting his Belarusian counterpart Roman Golovchenko in Moscow on March 14.

    “Above all, we consider it necessary to strengthen integration in the union state,” he added.

    Talks of possible unification between Russia and its ally Belarus gained momentum in late 2020 when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was supported financially and politically by Putin amid protests that broke out after allegations of voter fraud during the country’s presidential election.

    Putin didn’t elaborate Friday on the possible unification process between the two countries.

  42. raven says

    What is happening to Belarus is what Russia wants to do to Ukraine.
    If they overrun Ukraine, in a generation or two, only a few old peasants will be speaking Ukrainian.

    Someone once said, when a language dies, the culture dies.
    That might be too simple but not by much.

    My guess here is that Belarus is toast no matter what.
    They are already heavily controlled by the Russians.

    If Ukraine goes, Georgia and Moldova are toast as well.
    Georgia might fight but Moldova doesn’t have much of an army.
    Armenia is also all but gone. They are heavily dependent and heavily controlled by the Russians. At this point, a Russian invasion would be like you invading your back yard.

  43. says

    Fact check: Trump-backed Michigan congressional candidate John Gibbs falsely claims 2020 election had ‘mathematically impossible’ anomalies

    Republican Michigan congressional candidate John Gibbs is falsely claiming that the 2020 election results could not possibly be correct — and citing irrelevant statistical tidbits as his supposed evidence.

    “I think when you look at the results of the 2020 election, there are anomalies in there, to put it very lightly, that are simply mathematically impossible,” Gibbs said during a televised roundtable […]

    Gibbs has the endorsement of […] Trump. He is a former US Department of Housing and Urban Development official who is trying to unseat incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump after the 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, in the Republican congressional primary in Michigan’s 3rd District.

    To justify his “simply mathematically impossible” claim, Gibbs cited two pieces of supposed evidence that are not evidence at all.

    First, like Trump has since 2020, Gibbs talked about Trump’s performance in so-called bellwether counties — the small list of counties that had for decades been won by the presidential candidate who also won the presidency. “A bellwether county,” Gibbs said, “is a county such that whichever candidate wins it, they won the election with 100% predictability. Well, President Trump won almost every single bellwether county but still ended up losing the election somehow, which is very anomalous to say the least.”

    Next, Gibbs pointed to the fact that Trump got more votes in the 2020 election he lost than he did in the 2016 election he won.

    “Usually — actually, always — if a presidential candidate gets more votes the second time than (the) first time, you always win,” Gibbs said. “But President Trump got something like 15-20% more votes than he got the first time yet still lost, which is probably mathematically impossible — certainly unprecedented in history.”

    Gibbs has made this latter claim in even stronger language in the past, claiming in an April interview that it was “almost certainly mathematically impossible” for Trump to have lost in 2020 while improving upon his vote total from 2016 and that this “never” happens.

    Facts First: Nothing in the 2020 election results was mathematically impossible. Losing the election while winning almost every so-called bellwether county is neither impossible nor a sign that something improper happened; in any given election, any particular county or group of counties can be less aligned with the nation than it had been in previous elections. It is also entirely possible mathematically for a president to legitimately lose a reelection race while earning more total votes than he did when he won his previous race. Trump was the fourth incumbent to have this happen, though the first in more than a century. […]

    The list of ‘bellwethers’ is always changing
    For decades, in the 19th century and early 20th century, Maine was seen as a bellwether state — “widely regarded as a political barometer for the nation,” as one 1932 scholarly paper put it.

    Then it lost its bellwether status with a sudden thud. In the 1936 election, the Republican presidential candidate, Alf Landon, won Maine but only one other state, Vermont, while getting demolished by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    There is, clearly, nothing magical or permanent about being considered a bellwether state. Similarly, there is nothing magical or permanent about being considered a bellwether county. At any time, a county can fall out of step with the nation for an endless list of reasons — reasons that have nothing to do with fraud.

    […] “There is no such thing as a county that can show who won the national election with ‘100% predictability.’ There are over 3,000 counties in the US, and every single one of them has sometimes voted for the losing candidate in a presidential election.”

    […] Also, “bellwether” is an imprecise term that can be defined in different ways. For example, Washington Post journalist Philip Bump reported last week that, if you define bellwether as a county that was carried by the winner of the country’s popular vote in each presidential election from 1980 through 2016, rather than by the winner of the Electoral College, Biden won all six of the counties that were on that bellwether list as of 2020.

    Trump got more votes in 2020 than in 2016. But Biden got more votes than him
    It was not mathematically impossible for Trump to get more votes in 2020 than in 2016 but lose in 2020. In fact, it is not even particularly confusing how this happened. [LOL]

    The population kept growing and kept getting more diverse, voter turnout spiked, third-party candidates earned a much lower share of the vote than they did in 2016 — and, critically, Biden improved on the Democrats’ 2016 vote total by even more than Trump improved on his own 2016 vote total.

    […] The result of Biden’s performance was that he beat Trump 306-232 in the Electoral College.

    The end. There is just no valid reason to declare that there is some sort of statistical mystery here, let alone a statistical impossibility.

    And contrary to Gibbs’ claim, there is precedent, too.

    President Grover Cleveland lost the 1888 election despite earning more than 10% more votes than he did when he won in 1884; President Martin Van Buren lost the 1840 election despite earning more than 45% more votes than he did when he won in 1836; President John Quincy Adams lost the 1828 election despite earning more than 300% more votes than he did when he won in the messy 1824 election in which he was chosen as president by the House of Representatives.

    All of this was a long time ago, under very different social and electoral circumstances. But it still disproves Gibbs’ statement that it was “certainly unprecedented in history” for Trump to lose with more votes than he earned four years prior.

  44. says

    Followup to comment 48

    Mark Meadows connected to messages attempting to intimidate Cassidy Hutchinson before her testimony

    […] At the time, it wasn’t clear either who had sent the messages or who was on the receiving end. New information on those messages indicates that both [messages quoted by Liz Cheney] were directed at Hutchinson. And the name redacted from one message was that of her old boss: former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

    Since Hutchinson’s testimony, Republicans have been desperately racing to refute the deeply damaging things the former White House assistant had to say about Trump. Fox News and other right-wing sources have been flashing up chyrons claiming that Hutchinson has been “debunked” with the kind of persistence they usually reserve for Hunter Biden’s notebook.

    Most of these “debunkings” seem to take the form of an anonymous source claiming that someone in one of the incidents Hutchinson relayed—members of the Secret Service, or other members of White House staff—will step up to deny her testimony. But when it comes to actual agreements to give sworn testimony before the committee, the ranks of Hutchinson refuters appears to be absolutely empty.

    One person who isn’t even getting mentioned as a potential source in correcting the record is Meadows. As Hutchinson’s boss, and the person she spoke with multiple times on Jan. 6, he would seem to be the obvious go-to guy on anything having to do with either the facts she’s relaying or her character as a witness. But Meadows has remained notably silent.

    Though it now seems the former chief of staff did a little talking in Trump circles before Hutchinson’s appearance. One of the two threatening messages shown at the hearing looked like this.

    “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,”

    According to The Guardian, the “[A person]” in that message is Meadows.

    Who actually sent the message hasn’t been revealed, but it’s clearly someone who was in close contact with Meadows and also someone with deep concerns about what Hutchinson might say. That’s a set of people that absolutely contains more than one named “Trump.”

    When it comes to the message on the other slide …

    “What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts.”

    The target of the message also appears to have been Hutchinson. Who sent the message isn’t clear, but in this case, the author appears to be advising Hutchison to play along if she wants to avoid Trump’s ire. While Meadows’ name hasn’t been associated with this second message, it seems very much like a message that could be the ex-chief of staff advising his former aide.

    Hutchinson has reportedly named the sources of both messages to the committee.

    The two messages were examples of how witnesses speaking to the House committee had been subjected to threats and intimidation. The messages contained exactly the kind of language that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen spoke about when he was testifying during the investigation of Trump’s many connections to Russia. And in fact, Cohen himself was ordered to lie when testifying about Trump’s real estate deals in Moscow.

    […] Politico did manage to snag a statement from Meadows’ spokesman. “No one from Meadows’ camp, himself or otherwise, has ever attempted to intimidate or shape Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony to the committee. Any phone call or message she is describing is at best deeply misleading.”

    There’s exactly one thing Mark Meadows could do if he wants to make that statement even slightly believable. He can raise his right hand and give sworn testimony before the committee.

  45. says

    Russian missiles kill at least 19 in Ukraine’s Odesa region

    The airstrikes followed the pullout of Russian forces from Snake Island on Thursday, a move that was expected to ease the threat to nearby Odesa, home to Ukraine’s biggest port.

    Russian missile attacks on residential areas in a coastal town near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa early Friday killed at least 19 people, authorities reported, a day after Russian forces withdrew from a strategic Black Sea island.

    Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, located about 31 miles southwest of Odesa. The Ukrainian president’s office said three X-22 missiles fired by Russian bombers struck an apartment building and two campsites.

    “A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

    Ukraine’s Security Service said 19 people died, including two children. It said another 38, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalized with injuries. Most of the victims were in the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said. […]

  46. says

    “The Supreme Court Tries to Overrule the Climate,” by Bill McKibben

    […] the Supreme Court’s 6–3 ruling in West Virginia v. E.P.A. is the culmination of a five-decade effort to make sure that the federal government won’t threaten the business status quo.

    […] In essence, the ruling begins to strip away the power of agencies such as the E.P.A. to enforce policy: instead of allowing federal agencies to enforce, say, the Clean Air Act to clean the air, in this new dispensation, Congress would have to pass regulations that are much more explicit, as each new pollutant came to the fore. As West Virginia’s attorney general explained, “What we’re looking to do is to make sure that the right people under our constitutional system make the correct decisions . . . these agencies, these federal agencies, don’t have the ability to act solely on their own without getting a clear statement from Congress. Delegation matters.”

    But, of course, the Court has also insured that “getting a clear statement from Congress” to address our deepest problems is essentially impossible. The decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C., in 2010, empowered corporations to game our political system at will. That explains, in part, why Congress has not passed a real climate bill in decades. The efforts that Democratic Administrations have made to try and control greenhouse gasses have mostly used provisions of the Clean Air Act because it is the last serious law of its kind that ever came to a President’s desk (Nixon’s, in this case).

    A train of similar cases now approaches the high court—they would, for instance, make it all but impossible for the federal government to regulate tailpipe emissions or to consider the financial toll of climate change when deciding whether to approve a new pipeline. As the Times reported in a recent investigation, the plaintiffs in these cases “are supported by the same network of conservative donors who helped former President Donald J. Trump place more than 200 federal judges, many now in position to rule on the climate cases in the coming year.”

    […] Wall Street may be the only other actor large enough to actually shift the momentum of our climate system. The pressure on banks, asset managers, and insurance companies will increase precisely because the Court has wrenched shut this other spigot. Convincing banks to stop funding Big Oil is probably not the most efficient way to tackle the climate crisis, but, in a country where democratic political options are effectively closed off, it may be the only path left.

    New Yorker link

    More at the link.

  47. says

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 people, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe, the White House announced Friday…. Biden will also awards medals to actor Denzel Washington; Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Muslim U.S. Army captain; and Sandra Lindsay, a New York nurse who was among the first in the country to receive the Covid vaccine.

    Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to, among others:

    Antonin Scalia, the late conservative Supreme Court justice

    Miriam Adelson, the wife a Republican megadonor

    Orrin Hatch, the late Republican senator

    Roger Staubach, an athlete and longtime conservative Republican

    Arthur Laffer, a derided Republican economist

    Edwin Meese, a highly controversial former Republican attorney general

    Mariano Rivera, an athlete and Trump supporter

    Roger Penske, a businessman and Republican donor

    Rush Limbaugh, the late far-right media personality

    Jim Ryun, a former Republican congressman

    Lou Holtz, a former coach and longtime Republican who was chosen for the honor after attacking Biden’s faith at the Republican National Convention

    Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medalist who campaigned with Trump in Iowa

    Jim Jordan, a Republican congressman who did Trump’s bidding

    Devin Nunes, another Republican congressman who did Trump’s bidding

    Devin Nunes’ cow

    Just kidding about that last one.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    Before Trump, the honor traditionally wasn’t especially politicized, and presidents didn’t treat the medal as a reward for political allies.

    But for Trump, the medal became a party favor for those who advanced his interests. The more Biden can make the Medal of Freedom great again, the better.

  48. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    The United States Supreme Court’s decision to curtail the E.P.A.’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide has drawn a puzzled reaction from the nation’s fetuses.

    A statement from the Association of American Fetuses expressed “bafflement” that the Court would issue a ruling that increased the amount of atmospheric carbon monoxide, which has been shown to have a damaging effect on fetal health.

    “It’s impossible for us to see today’s ruling as anything but flagrantly anti-fetus,” the statement read. “To say that we fetuses are disappointed would be putting it mildly.”

    The fetuses asked John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch to reconsider their ruling in the E.P.A. case. “It just doesn’t seem very pro-life to us,” the fetuses said.

    New Yorker link

  49. says

    Secret Service sources reportedly bolster Hutchinson’s testimony

    According to a Secret Service source, Donald Trump “tried to lunge over the seat” on Jan. 6. Efforts to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson just got tougher.

    There was no shortage of critically important revelations from Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony this week before the Jan. 6 committee. The former White House aide shed light, for example, on Donald Trump wanting to get rid of metal detectors so that armed supporters could hear him lie before they went to Capitol Hill. Just as importantly, the Republican was desperate to join the mob at his remarks.

    Hutchinson similarly testified about Trump telling his team that then-Vice President Mike Pence “deserved” to be hunted by rioters, the warnings Trump received about the prospect of violence. We also learned about cabinet secretaries considering removing the then-president from office, requested pardons, possible witness tampering, and thrown ketchup on a White House wall.

    But there was another part of this week’s hearing that wasn’t nearly as substantive or as legally significant, but which generated plenty of conversation: Hutchinson described a scene, which had been described to her by Tony Ornato, of Trump going a little berserk after his Secret Service agents told him he back to the White House after his speech at the Ellipse, not to the Capitol.

    While the right has targeted this story in recent days, CNN published a report this afternoon […] that appeared to bolster the revelations from Tuesday’s hearing.

    Then-President Donald Trump angrily demanded to go to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and berated his protective detail when he didn’t get his way, according to two Secret Service sources who say they heard about the incident from multiple agents, including the driver of the presidential SUV where it occurred.

    […] According to the version events that had been described to Hutchinson, Trump got into the backseat of a presidential suburban and said, “I’m the f’ing president, take me up to the Capitol now.” When that didn’t happen, again according to the version events that had been described to Hutchinson, Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the Suburban he was riding in.

    According to the former White House staffer’s understanding, Trump also reached toward the throat of Secret Service agent Robert Engel during the incident.

    The former president has subsequently insisted that there was no such skirmish, but CNN’s sources said stories about the incident — including the details Hutchinson described in her sworn testimony — circulated among Secret Service agents early last year. From the network’s report:

    While the details from those who heard the accounts differ, the Secret Service sources say they were told an angry confrontation did occur. And their accounts align with significant parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, which has been attacked as hearsay by Trump and his allies who also have tried to discredit her overall testimony. Like Hutchinson, one source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that the agents relaying the story described Trump as “demanding” and that the former President said something similar to: “I’m the f**king President of the United States, you can’t tell me what to do.” The source said he originally heard that kind of language was used shortly after the incident.

    One of CNN’s sources said, in reference to Trump, “He had sort of lunged forward — it was unclear from the conversations I had that he actually made physical contact, but he might have. I don’t know. Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he tried to lunge over the seat — for what reason, nobody had any idea.”

    CNN’s report added that the same unnamed source said he’d heard about the incident multiple times as far back as February 2021 from other agents, including some who were part of the presidential protective detail during that time period but none of whom were involved in the incident.

    It would appear that the right’s desperate efforts to undermine Hutchinson’s credibility have just suffered another blow.

  50. says

    WOW! Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony for the January 6th Committee Breaks TV Viewing Records

    On Tuesday the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection that Donald Trump incited held a previously unscheduled hearing. It featured jarring testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who Trump incredulously claimed he hardly knew. […]

    Contrary to Trump’s repeated lying, the Committee’s televised hearings have been watched by millions of concerned Americans. And Hutchinson’s testimony drew even more viewers than all of the other sessions, with the exception of the first one that aired in primetime. In fact, it drew more viewers than all but the last of the NBA championship games.

    According to the Los Angeles Times:

    “Cassidy Hutchinson testimony set audience record for a daytime Jan. 6 hearing.”

    “More than 13 million Americans tuned in to watch bombshell testimony from a former White House aide this week, making the Jan. 6 committee’s latest hearing its second-most-viewed thus far.

    “The Tuesday afternoon hearing, which the committee announced just a day ahead of time, featured 25-year-old Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Her dramatic testimony attracted 13,231,000 viewers across all major networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC, according to numbers from Nielsen, a ratings firm. This total topped the previous four hearings, which won audiences of about 10 million to 11 million people. The first Jan. 6 hearing, on June 9, drew about 20 million viewers, but it aired in prime time.”

    Notably absent from the list of networks above is Fox News. That’s because it barely contributed to the viewing totals. Fox’s audience is apparently so attached to the lies that shape their alternative reality, that they will even tune out Fox News – the source of the lies that shape their alternative reality. Then, when the frightening truth-telling is over, they stream back to watch Sean Hannity and the network’s other propaganda pushers.

    The hearings are being closely followed by a majority (58%) of Americans. And they are having a noticeable impact on public opinion. When asked in a recent poll if “misleading Americans about the outcome of an election” is a crime, a massive majority of 69% said definitely/probably “Yes,” including 59% of Republicans. The numbers were almost identical when respondents were asked whether “the Department of Justice should bring legal action against” the offending elected officials.

    What’s more, the L.A. Times quoted pollster Celinda Lake saying that…

    “The support for the hearings has increased over time. And what is emerging very, very strongly from the hearings is not just that Trump was responsible, but there was a faction of the Republicans, Trump Republicans, who were responsible as well. And that this was about overturning the will of the people, overturning the elections.” […and that…]

    “There is an evolving narrative. People see it as a crime, but they also see it as a criminal conspiracy. They demand accountability, and they’re very serious about what they consider accountability. And we are seeing these numbers increase quite dramatically over the course of the hearings.”

    As for Trump, he has been behaving in precisely the deranged manner that is expected of such an emotionally stunted man-baby. Throughout the hearings the former reality TV game show host (who is psychotically obsessed with TV ratings) has flung flagrant falsehoods about the unprecedented audience the hearings have generated. His gaslighting lies included…

    “Really BAD T.V. Ratings for the Unselect Committee.”
    “…a total lack of interest leading to very poor television ratings.”
    “…the T.V. Ratings are absolutely abysmal.”
    “…the good news is a lot of people aren’t watching.”

    It remains among the most puzzling aspects of the Trump era that he can so shamelessly foster such easily provable lies, and that there are still people so indoctrinated into his cult that they believe him.

    And that’s what makes him so dangerous. What’s next? Will Trump merely continue with his grifting and the fleecing of his followers? Will he attempt to start a civil war? Will he pass out cups of “Kool-Aid” at his next rally? Unfortunately, there is no way to predict what depths Trump might sink to. Nor is there any way to calculate the bottom. After trying to violently overthrow the U.S. government, He is literally capable of anything.

  51. says

    Texas board of education strikes down proposal to call slavery ‘involuntary relocation’

    Well, thank goodness for that.

    […] Nine educators, including a professor from University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, were behind the suggested language change.

    The Tribune reported the proposal was struck down by the board unanimously. [Yay!]

    While involuntary relocation isn’t an entirely unknown term in social studies, it often “has relationships to refugees and forced displacement due to violence or ethnic cleansing,” said Neil Shanks, clinical assistant professor of middle and secondary education at Baylor University.

    In this case, Shanks added, the term appeared to be “intended to water down the issue of slavery.” […]

  52. says

    Kathleen Parker Colossally Wrong About SCOTUS And Abortion, Regrets Nothing, Should Retire

    Pulitzer Prize-winning meathead Kathleen Parker wrote a very bad prediction back in 2018, after Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court. At the time, everyone in America who is not a dunderheaded Beltway idiot knew that Donald Trump would nominate some antiabortion fiend to replace him. Being antiabortion is a litmus test for GOP judges and has been for years, even if they blatantly lie about their position in confirmation hearings and everyone knows they are blatantly lying. And Trump, being too lazy to have any beliefs outside of believing that Donald Trump is the greatest human to ever walk the earth, was perfectly happy to let the Federalist Society, proctors of said litmus test, tell him whom to nominate.

    Everyone knew this. Dogs knew it. Yr Wonkette knew it. Those weird deformed mutant fish that live at the bottom of the Marianas Trench knew it.

    But Kathleen Parker didn’t know it. She wrote a column titled “Calm down. Roe vs. Wade isn’t going anywhere.” In that column, she predicted that no potential nominee would want to be “that person” who overturned a right approved of by better than half of the country. Perish the thought! She also condemned the “wild-eyed jackassery” of the Cassandras of the Left who were predicting the end of Roe.


    So flash-forward nearly four years. Roe is gone, a result that Kennedy’s replacement Bret Kavanaugh — who Parker specifically predicted would replace Kennedy and specifically predicted would not want to overturn Roe — enthusiastically voted to turn America’s women into a bunch of broodmares.

    Is Parker feeling any regret? Even a tingle? Her Post colleague Erik Wemple asked her if she had even the tiniest sliver of an iota of an inkling of feeling a bit chastened at having been so galactically, catastrophically wrong.

    Parker, naturally, did not:

    Asked whether she stands by her column, Parker responded, “One hundred percent. At the time it was written, it was accurate–it was on the nose.” Timing is critical to her point, she argues: The column appeared two years before Ginsburg’s death and Barrett’s confirmation.

    This is absolutely absurd. Kavanaugh was the fifth vote to overturn Roe. He would not have been nominated to replace the swingy Kennedy otherwise. One does not get onto a Federalist Society judicial shortlist if there is any doubt. Barrett’s later confirmation just gave the conservatives a cushion.

    “I have had excellent sources on the Supreme Court for many, many years,” said Parker, who sees Gorsuch, Roberts and Kavanaugh as incrementalists disinclined to undo important precedents in a single ruling.

    Ha ha ha, okay. Please note that these same three justices voted for some very non-incremental rulings reversing a whole bunch of hot-button social issue cases besides abortion just in the last couple of weeks, which would seem to render this thesis a load of horse hockey.

    Had the “jackals” of the abortion rights movement not protested at Kavanaugh’s house, Parker said, he might well have switched sides in the Dobbs case.

    People who are not Kathleen Parker may remember that the abortion rights protests at Kavanaugh’s and other justices’ homes started after the draft of the opinion overturning Roe leaked. Brett Kavanaugh had signed on to that opinion.

    In other words, Kavanaugh had already voted in favor of overturning Roe before the “jackals” showed up at his house. Now here comes Kathleen Parker to proclaim — in public! Where people can hear her! — that linear time does not exist.

    This makes no sense. It’s an excuse. It’s the Supreme Court version of that old wingnut game, “Look What the Liberals Made Me Do!” It’s the sound of the rockets attached to Kathleen Parker’s career screaming out of the atmosphere towards deep space.

  53. says

    Trump Pitches Tantrum After Cassidy Hutchinson Fires Lawyer He Assigned Her

    If there’s one thing that Donald Trump hates, it’s lying.

    HAHAHAHA we are silly on Fridays, particularly when every goddamn thing is on fire thanks to the Supreme Court. But we can’t help but laugh at the guy who drew a dick on a weather map — and lied about literally everything his whole life — throwing a tantrum about Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the House January 6 Select Committee.

    Mediaite reprinted that weirdo’s latest rant from his janky, knock-off social media platform:

    Social Climber Hutchinson lied about my attack on our great Secret Service, lied about her writing the White House note, lied about my throwing food at a wall in the Oval Office, & lied about my wanting to be surrounded by “people with guns” during my “Go Peacefully and Patriotically” speech (how crazy is that?), yet no guns were found in the Capitol. These lies, among others, were made UNDER OATH. What is the Justice Department going to do about this? Do we have a two tiered system of Justice?

    Cassidy Hutchinson also forgot to tell the Unselects that she was desperate to go to Florida with certain others of the Trump staff, long after January 6th had come and gone. If I was so evil, why did she fight so hard to stay a part of the MAGA TEAM? This is all documented in writing! Why did it take her so long to tell (make up!) these ridiculous and obviously Fake Stories, even after previously sitting for four long depositions? Was it, just maybe, her brand new lawyer? Lying under oath???

    Wow! Really miss waking up to this shit every morning in life … said no one EVER. Good to know that lying to Congress is bad now. Heads up, Roger Stone!

    President Crime Boss’s tighty-whities are in a bunch after Mark Meadows’s former top aide testified about all the insane shit he did trying to hold onto power after losing the election. But his rants about Hutchinson’s choice of lawyer are particularly reminiscent of the mafia don he fancies himself.

    Because Hutchinson’s former counsel, Stefan Passantino, has represented Trump for a long time and in multiple capacities. Passantino was Trump’s White House ethics lawyer (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one). He fought to keep Trump’s tax returns from both Congress and prosecutors in Manhattan. He’s represented the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign. And not for nothing, but one of Trump’s many money groups was paying Passantino for his services. In fact, Trump has been footing the bill for a whole lotta witnesses here.

    Tell us, New York Times!

    According to financial disclosures, in May alone, Mr. Trump’s “Save America” political action committee paid about $200,000 to law firms. That including $75,000 to JPRowley Law, which represents Cleta Mitchell, a pro-Trump lawyer who has filed suit to try to block the committee’s subpoena, and $50,000 to Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, which has represented Stephen K. Bannon, a close ally of the former president who refused to meet with the panel and has been charged with criminal contempt. The managing partner at the firm representing Mr. Bannon declined to comment.

    […] Meanwhile, Trump’s not the only one whipping out the old checkbook. In the wake of news reports that Sidney Powell’s “charity” Defending the Republic is subsidizing lawyers for the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, prosecutors are now asking whether there’s anything hinky about the arrangement, specifically, if the defendants understand the potential conflicts here. Because the government really doesn’t want to score a conviction only to have these militia assholes turn around and appeal on the theory that they had ineffective assistance of counsel because their lawyers were serving two masters.

    But how did Cassidy Hutchinson wind up with a new attorney? Turns out, her buddy Alyssa Farah, who worked alongside her in the Trump White House, put her in touch with alternative counsel after Hutchinson said, “There is more I want to share that was not asked in these settings, how do we do this?” [video at the link]

    Farah connected Hutchinson with Rep. Liz Cheney, who led her to Jody Hunt, whom Trump himself nominated in 2018 to head the Civil Division at the Justice Department. Hunt is a longtime ally of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (speaking of Trumpland roadkill) who cycled in and out of the DOJ for decades, eventually returning as Sessions’s chief of staff in 2017. In July of 2020, Hunt resigned from the Civil Division and returned to private practice. It’s not clear whether this resignation had something to do with Bill Barr’s attempt in June of 2020 to Saturday Night Massacre the Southern District of New York and make Geoffrey Berman, then the US Attorney at SDNY, the head of the Civil Division. But shortly thereafter, a relatively unknown environmental lawyer named Jeffrey Clark found himself in charge of the division … and the rest is history.

    TL, DR? Trump’s pissed that a witness quit taking his money and started saying stuff he didn’t like. And he’s actually admitting it in public.

  54. says

    What The Hell Is Happening In Wisconsin?

    […] This week, the Wisconsin high court ruled 4-3 that Republican political appointees can refuse to leave and hold their offices for as long as they want, at least until a Republican is elected governor.

    Yes, quite literally. The outcome in Wisconsin v. Prehn is a rule that will only benefit the justices’ fellow Republicans.

    In 2015, Scott Walker appointed Frederick Prehn (who owns a gun shop, because of course he does) to the state Natural Resources Board. Board members serve staggered six-year terms, and Prehn’s term was up in 2021. Prehn, however, just decided he was going to stay in his seat, because fuck you is why. And since the Republican state Senate refused to confirm any of the Democratic governor’s appointees in his place, the state supreme court let him.

    This isn’t just about the NRB, though Prehn and his GOP buddies are pretty excited about continuing to use the board to do things like bring back wolf hunting. It’s part of a larger scheme by Republicans to stop Democrats from holding any power in the state, even when they win statewide elections. And now, that ratfucking has been heartily endorsed by the state supreme court.

    So that’s just lovely, isn’t it?

    Here’s the thing about Wisconsin: It’s almost a perfectly purple state, if you look at the voters. We’re a swing state in presidential elections, go back and forth in gubernatorial elections, and have both the lovely Tammy Baldwin and the Dumbest Republican in the Senate as our US Senators. But you wouldn’t know this from looking at our state legislature.

    Can you guess why? CAN YOU?!

    That’s right! Extreme gerrymandering that goes against the very principles of representative government!

    Wisconsin has been called the most gerrymandered state in the country for good reason. In 2018, for example, Democrats received 54 percent of the popular vote for the state Assembly and won just 36 percent of the seats. Not great.

    So, despite having a relatively moderate, swingy electorate, Wisconsin has an extreme rightwing legislative branch. And Republicans are gonna do what Republicans do, so the mega-gerrymandered Republican Legislature does everything in its power to obstruct Democrats who win statewide office. And since Governor Tony Evers beat that cretin Scott Walker in 2018, it has done just that. After Evers won his election but before he was sworn in, the Legislature held a special session specifically to strip him of some of his power.

    Four years later, the Wisconsin GOP is continuing to do everything it can to stop the democratically elected governor from governing. […]

    With the two appointments Governor Evers was set to make to the NRB, the balance of the board would have shifted to Democrats. (One might not think that the state natural resource board is a place likely to spark constitutional crises that strike at the heart of our republican system of government, but here we are.) So Republicans, who no longer believe in the most basic tenets of democracy, decided to simply take what they couldn’t win at the ballot box and stage a coup. Prehn refused to vacate his seat when his term expired and barred Evers appointee Sandra Naas from doing her job.

    […] Now, according to the state’s highest court, Republican appointees can serve for however long they want, in order to block any Democrats from ever assuming their appointed positions. The court’s conservatives used Senate Republicans’ blatant obstructionism as their excuse for the ruling, saying that no one can force the man whose term expired more than a year ago to leave his post until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate. Which the Senate has no intent of ever doing.

    The court’s rightwing justices made this ruling knowing full well that there is no chance of it benefiting anyone but Republicans for the foreseeable future. This spring, it chose new legislative maps that are even more gerrymandered than the 2011 Scott Walker version. With these maps, Republicans in the supreme court secured Republican control over the state Legislature until at least 2031. And now, even when Democrats win statewide elections, Republicans know that they can simply throw a fit and refuse to leave the office with impunity. (Who does that remind you of?)

    […] Mirroring its federal counterpart, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has become the judicial branch of the Republican Party.


    Unlike the US Supreme Court, which is fucked beyond reason or belief for the foreseeable future, there is hope for the Wisconsin Supreme Court! The next supreme court election is April 2023, when rightwing Justice Patience Roggensack’s seat is on the ballot. The balance of the court will be decided in this election and an additional liberal justice would flip most of the court’s major decisions to the side of democracy.

    Wisconsin’s April elections are for nonpartisan offices and tend to have very low turnout. Next April, the balance of the state’s highest court will depend entirely on getting out the vote.

    Everything is terrible right now. But at least in Wisconsin, there is still a sliver of hope.

    Vote like your life depends on it; it very well might!

  55. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In a chorus of derision, leading Republicans ripped the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed freeze on handgun sales as an “insane” and “illogical” response to gun violence.

    “With all due respect, Prime Minister Trudeau’s so-called solution to gun violence is misguided, at best,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “There is no verifiable link between guns and shooting.”

    The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, shared McConnell’s view. “Canada’s solution to gun violence ignores the fact that people who shoot people inside buildings first have to enter those buildings,” he said. “The problem isn’t guns—it’s doors.”

    Senator Ted Cruz, also of Texas, could barely contain his contempt for Trudeau’s plan. “So Trudeau thinks that you can reduce gun violence by reducing the number of guns?” Cruz said. “Earth to Justin!”

    New Yorker link

  56. raven says

    Biden predicts states will try to arrest women who travel for abortions
    Women’s right to mobility is the next battleground between Red and Blue states.
    If women can’t move about where they will, they are prisoners and slaves.

    What the Red states want to set up is something we’ve seen often over the centuries.
    A Police state.
    With the target population being women, especially pregnant women.
    It’s all there, repressive laws, lack of freedom, lots of police to enforce those laws, and lots of prisons and concentration camps for those who get caught.

    Biden predicts states will try to arrest women who travel for abortions
    By Jeff Mason and Rami Ayyub July 01, 2022

    WASHINGTON, July 1 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden predicted on Friday that some U.S. states will try to arrest women for crossing state lines to get abortions after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedures nationwide.

    Thirteen Republican-led states banned or severely restricted the procedure under so-called “trigger laws” after the court struck down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling last week. Women in those states seeking an abortion may have to travel to states where it remains legal.

    Convening a virtual meeting on abortion rights with Democratic state governors on Friday, Biden said he thinks “people are gonna be shocked when the first state … tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services.”

    He added: “And I don’t think people believe that’s gonna happen. But it’s gonna happen, and it’s gonna telegraph to the whole country that this is a gigantic deal that goes beyond; I mean, it affects all your basic rights”.

    Biden is right that the Red states will try to extend their laws to the Blue states.
    He is wrong that anyone is going to be surprised.
    Those laws have already been passed.

  57. raven says

    Supreme Court makes it clear there’s a red America and a blue America
    Analysis by Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter Updated 12:08 AM ET, Sat July 2, 2022
    Spurred by the Supreme Court, a Nation Divides Along a Red-Blue Axis
    On abortion, climate change, guns and much more, two Americas — one liberal, one conservative — are moving in opposite directions.
    NYTimes July 02, 2022

    These are the headlines this morning.

    The articles just point out that the USA is splitting into Red and Blue states and these two factions are fighting among themselves.
    This isn’t really new though. It started before 1860 and has continued ever since.

    What the Supreme court has done is make these conflicts even more severe.
    It has set things up so there are more things for them to fight about.
    The latest will be women’s right to travel and trying to make the abortion drugs illegal.

  58. says

    During Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony earlier this week before the House Select Committee, Trump used his scam app, Social Truth, to complain that “She changed lawyers a couple of days ago, and with it, her story totally changed! SHOCKER???”

    How would Trump have known that Hutchinson’s “story” changed? He might just be lying. Or, maybe her former lawyer has some ’splainin’ to do.

    Hutchinson sat for the Select Committee four times (not counting her live testimony). During the first three interviews, she was represented by Stefan Passantino, a formerTrump White House lawyer now in private practice. According to the NY Times, Passantino was recommended to Hutchinson by Trump aides and his fees were being covered by Trump’s political action committee.

    Recently, Hutchinson fired Passantino and hired Alabama lawyer Jody Hunt. Hunt is a long-time DOJ attorney; he was AG Jeff Session’s Chief of Staff, served in the Office of Legal Policy, and was Trump’s pick to head DOJ’s Civil Division. Hunt is a conservative Republican, but he is not a whacko (for example, he represented the State of Georgia against Texas’s frivolous effort to overturn Georgia’s election results). Hutchinson was represented by Hunt for her fourth Committee interview and live testimony.

    The Committee did not release transcripts of Hutchinson’s interviews. So, how did Trump know what “story” she changed? It is unlikely that the Committee leaked her testimony. Would Hutchinson have disclosed her testimony to Trumpworld? It’s possible.

    But, let’s circle back to the facts that Passantino was recommended to Hutchinson by Trumpworld and that he was paid by Trump’s PAC. The reason such arrangements are considered problematic is because there is a risk that the lawyer’s loyalty to his or her client could be compromised—in this case, perhaps both for ideological and pecuniary reasons.

    So, unless Hutchinson disclosed her closed-door testimony herself, it would seem that Passantino is a conduit to Trump.


  59. says

    Inside Russia’s war camps: Ukrainian POWs detail torture, abuse

    An activist-turned-soldier whose fingers were mangled by metal tools. Women photographed naked and forced to hold their hands above their heads or be beaten. Hospitalized prisoners of war mocked, threatened and left to die.

    The Hill spoke to a half dozen former prisoners of war and their families this month about what life was like for those captured by Russian forces since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine more than four months ago.

    Thousands of Ukrainians have been detained during the war, with many being exchanged for Russian prisoners of war and set free. Among them was Igor Kurayan, a 55-year-old Ukrainian activist who joined the fight against Russia and was captured in April
    He said Russian soldiers discovered that he had been running supplies to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines since 2014, when Russia took over Crimea, and accused him of financing terrorist organizations and preparing a terrorist attack on Russian soldiers.

    During weeks in Russian captivity, Kurayan said soldiers beat and electrocuted him for information, and twisted and cut his fingers using pliers and metal scissors. Other prisoners were beaten so badly they died, he added.

    “Every day he would be called out for the torturing and they wanted him to hand over his friends,” said a translator with PR Army, an organization that helped connect the former POWs to The Hill and translate interviews.

    “They even offered for him to become mayor of Kherson but he refused all their offers,” he added.

    The Russian forces also allegedly took Kurayan’s phone and used his social media accounts to post previous photos he took with Ukrainian forces, but adding captions making it appear that he was advocating for Ukrainian forces to surrender to Russia.

    Kurayan’s daughter, Karina, provided screenshots of some of the posts Russian soldiers made on her father’s account […] Kurayan deleted all the posts as soon as he was exchanged and free from Russian captivity.

    While Russian forces kept some captured Ukrainian soldiers in Ukraine, others were transported to Russia.
    Anzhelika Todorashko, 32, said her mother, a Ukrainian soldier, and her sister, a civilian, were captured by Russian forces shortly after the invasion began.

    Russian soldiers were able to quickly take over her small village near the Russian border, cutting off all supplies to the town and encouraging residents to take a bus to Russia, where they would be sent to a “filtration camp,” according to Todorashko, who spoke English.

    She said her mother, 52-year-old Viktoria, was captured in February for her work with the Ukrainian army, then taken to Russia where she said she was electrocuted, photographed naked, given little food and water, and heard screams from other prisoners asking for death.

    Todorashko said the Russian soldiers would humiliate prisoners, with her mother telling her that prisoners had to hold their hands above their head for hours a day, and if they dropped their hands they would be beaten. Soldiers also shaved the heads of the women and suffocated others.

    “[Russia] had all their people in masks. You will never see their faces,” Todorashko said.

    […] The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to questions from The Hill about the abuse and torture described by former Ukrainian prisoners.

    Twenty-five-year-old Hlib Stryszko told The Hill he was defending a bomb shelter in Mariupol shielding women and children when he was wounded by Russian forces.

    He said he was standing on a third-floor balcony when he saw a Russian tank approaching the building. The tank fired at him, causing him to fall from the third floor with debris collapsing on top of him.

    Stryszko was taken to the hospital where he found out he broke his pelvis, was unable to open his eyes and injured his jaw. He said he received treatment for his injuries, but two days later Russian forces took over the hospital and he was transferred to another hospital where doctors refused to treat anyone speaking Ukrainian.

    Even after speaking Russian, Stryszko said he was hardly treated for the injuries he sustained during the blast.

    “He said that he spent about a week in the hospital without receiving the necessary help or treatment,” Natasha Sennett, another translator from the PR Army, said of Stryszko. “Basically, they were kind of sarcastically coming up to him every morning, saying ‘Hey, hang in there soldier, maybe something will come up for you.’”

    Along with the limited treatment, Stryszko said music would be blasted at the soldiers, and Chechen fighters, notorious for their ruthlessness, would come into the hospital and taunt the injured.

    “They will take out their knives and take the knife and start grazing the knife on the wounded soldiers’ bodies,” Sennett said.

    Stryszko said he was eventually transported to Russia, where authorities realized he couldn’t be sent to prison due to his condition. He was eventually transported to Russian-controlled Crimea, where he was exchanged and brought to a Ukrainian hospital, where he is still recovering.

    Family members, meanwhile, went weeks not knowing whether their loved ones were dead or alive

    “It was hell on earth,” Karina, the daughter of Kurayan, said in an interview, assisted by translator Natsya Popandopulos, another member of the nonprofit PR Army, which works to share the stories of Ukrainians with the world.

    Only Karina, who is currently in the United Kingdom, could speak out about her father’s captivity, with family members fearing their own freedom and livelihood if they spoke out.

    Todorashko, whose mother and sister were captured, said she was unaware her mother was captured by Russian forces until she was released and able to contact her. She only learned of her sister’s captivity because her younger brother, who was in the village with her sister, was able to hide a phone and message her.

    Todorashko’s brother had to hide the device because Russian soldiers would go into homes and take anything they wanted, including phones and laptops, according to Todorashko.

    “It was terrifying. It was terrifying,” Todorashko told The Hill of not being in communication with her mom and sister for so long amid the war.

    For Ukrainians in Russia-annexed Crimea, the fear and abuse was nothing new.

    Volodymyr Balukh, a 51-year-old activist, said he saw his home in Crimea overrun by Russian forces in 2014. He refused to obey orders by the soldiers, continuing to fly his Ukrainian flag and switching from speaking Russian to Ukrainian.

    He said he was running food and supplies to the Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines for years as he was arrested multiple times by Russian forces, who eventually planted ammunition and explosives at his house in an attempt to frame him as a terrorist.

    Balukh then spent three years in prison from 2016 to 2019, where he says Russian soldiers waterboarded him, stripped him naked, electrocuted him, threatened him with rape and gave him limited food.

    “In captivity, there is a struggle for modesty to preserve your honor and dignity every second, 24 hours,” said Popandopulos, one of the translators, relaying Balukh’s words. “The Russian system is built to push everything, every human being from yourself and feel only fear.”

    Today, Balukh is still trying to assist Ukraine’s war efforts and has been working to raise money for vehicles needed to defend its territory.

    After his time in Russian captivity, he had some advice to share for Ukrainians who find themselves under Russian control.
    “Endurance, faith and steadfastness are very important in captivity,” Popandopulos said for Balukh. “It’s important to know, what are you fighting for? What are you living for?”

  60. says

    Whiplash of news concerning access to abortion in Texas:

    Legal wrangling over abortions in Texas took a further twist late Friday, after the state Supreme Court blocked a lower court order issued just days earlier that had temporarily allowed the procedures to resume.

    The Texas Supreme Court in Austin granted an “emergency motion for temporary relief” that was filed Wednesday by the state’s attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, staying a temporary restraining order that had been granted earlier this week by a judge in Harris County. A further state Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for later this month.

    Texas has left a nearly century-old abortion ban on the statute books for the past 50 years while Roe v. Wade was in place. With Roe struck down, Paxton had advised that prosecutors could now enforce the 1925 law, which he called a “100% good law” on Twitter. However, the claimants have argued that it should be interpreted as repealed and unenforceable. […]

    On Tuesday, a Harris County judge granted a temporary restraining order until at least July 12 to allow clinics to offer abortions for at least two weeks without criminal prosecution, days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade to end a constitutional right to abortion.

    Clinics that had sued the state stopped their abortion procedures after the ruling but raced to take advantage of a fleeting reprieve Tuesday after elected Judge Christine Weems (D) ruled that a pre-Roe ban enforced by Paxton and prosecutors would “inevitably and irreparably chill the provision of abortions in the vital last weeks in which safer abortion care remains available and lawful in Texas.”

    Paxton then asked the state’s highest court, which is stocked with nine Republican justices, to temporarily put the lower court order on hold, which they did in Friday’s decision. The state Supreme Court order allows civil, but not criminal, enforcement of the ban.

    The flurry of litigation has thrown abortion clinics and patients in Texas into disarray, with many people rebooking and canceling appointments and travel plans as they scramble to navigate the new legal landscape.

    “These laws are confusing, unnecessary, and cruel,” Marc Hearron, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights advocacy group, said in a statement following Friday’s ruling. The American Civil Liberties Union, also a party to the legal proceedings, said it “won’t stop fighting to ensure that as many people as possible, for as long as possible, can access the essential reproductive health care they need,” according to staff attorney Julia Kaye. […]

    Washington Post link

  61. says

    […] Ukraine called on Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship, loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain, that it said had sailed from the Russian-controlled Berdyansk port bound for Turkey’s Black Sea coast. Millions of metric tons of grain await export from Ukraine, as Russia blockades shipping lanes and poorer countries bear the brunt of shortages and rising prices. […]

    Washington Post link

  62. says

    How the Russian Media Spread False Claims About Ukrainian Nazis

    New York Times link

    In the months since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called the invasion of Ukraine a “denazification” mission, the lie that the government and culture of Ukraine are filled with dangerous “Nazis” has become a central theme of Kremlin propaganda about the war. [chart showing the sharp rise in Russian articles about Ukraine that mention Nazism, going from about 100 or less per day to more than 2,000 per day on February 24, 2022]

    A data set of nearly eight million articles about Ukraine collected from more than 8,000 Russian websites since 2014 shows that references to Nazism were relatively flat for eight years and then spiked to unprecedented levels on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. They have remained high ever since.

    The data, provided by Semantic Visions, a defense analytics company, includes major Russian state media outlets in addition to thousands of smaller Russian websites and blogs. It gives a view of Russia’s attempts to justify its attack on Ukraine and maintain domestic support for the ongoing war by falsely portraying Ukraine as being overrun by far-right extremists.

    News stories have falsely claimed that Ukrainian Nazis are using noncombatants as human shields, killing Ukrainian civilians and planning a genocide of Russians.

    […] Multiple experts on the region said the claim that Ukraine is corrupted by Nazis is false. President Volodymyr Zelensky, who received 73 percent of the vote when he was elected in 2019, is Jewish, and all far-right parties combined received only about 2 percent of parliamentary votes in 2019 — short of the 5 percent threshold for representation.

    “We tolerate in most Western democracies significantly higher rates of far-right extremism,” said Monika Richter, head of research and analysis at Semantic Visions and a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.

    The common Russian understanding of Nazism hinges on the notion of Nazi Germany as the antithesis of the Soviet Union rather than on the persecution of Jews specifically said Jeffrey Veidlinger, a professor of history and Judaic studies at the University of Michigan. “That’s why they can call a state that has a Jewish president a Nazi state and it doesn’t seem all that discordant to them,” he said.

    Despite the lack of evidence that Ukraine is dominated by Nazis, the idea has taken off among many Russians. […]
    “I think many Russians actually believe this is a war against Nazism.”

    […] Mr. Putin alluded to that history in a speech on May 9 for the Russian holiday commemorating victory over Nazi Germany. “You are fighting for our motherland so that nobody forgets the lessons of World War II,” he said to a parade of thousands of Russian soldiers. “So that there is no place in the world for torturers, death squads and Nazis.”

    A key feature of Russian propaganda is its repetitiveness, Ms. Richter said. “You just see a constant regurgitation and repackaging of the same stuff over and over again.” [Reminds me of Trumpism.]

    Experts say linking Ukraine with Nazism can prevent cognitive dissonance among Russians when news about the war in places like Bucha seeps through. “It helps them justify these atrocities,” Dr. Doroshenko said. “It helps to create this dichotomy of black and white — Nazis are bad, we are good, so we have the moral right.”

    The tactic appears to work. Russians’ access to news sources not tied to the Kremlin has been curtailed since the government silenced most independent media outlets after the invasion. […]

    Part of what makes accusations of Nazism so useful to Russian propagandists is that Ukraine’s past is entangled with Nazi Germany.

    “There is a history of Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis, and Putin is trying to build upon that history,” Dr. Veidlinger said. “During the Second World War there were parties in Ukraine that sought to collaborate with the Germans, particularly against the Soviets.”

    Experts said this history makes it easy for the Russian media to draw connections between real Nazis and modern far-right groups to give the impression that the contemporary groups are larger and more influential than they are.

    The Azov Battalion, a regiment of the Ukrainian Army with roots in ultranationalist political groups, has been used by the Russian media since 2014 as an example of far-right support in Ukraine. Analysts said the Russian media’s portrayal of the group exaggerates the extent to which its members hold neo-Nazi views. […]

    Russia’s false claim that its invasion of Ukraine is an attempt to “denazify” the country has been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and dozens of scholars of Nazism, among others.

    “The current Ukrainian state is not a Nazi state by any stretch of the imaginiation,” Dr. Veidlinger said. “I would argue that what Putin is actually afraid of is the spread of democracy and pluralism from Ukraine to Russia. But he knows that the accusation of Nazism is going to unite his population.”

  63. says

    Researchers say flu shot connected to 40% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease

    One of the many tragic turns the politicization of COVID-19 and our country’s response to it has been the deleterious effect it has had on public health consensus. […] the public’s trust in medicine and science as entities above politics and money has dwindled. The novel coronavirus pandemic, as it did with everything else, expedited the trend of deteriorating public trust.

    One of the places that has seeped into is the annual, and for some demographics semiannual, flu shot. Polling has shown that this past fall, 4 in 10 Americans said they weren’t planning on getting the flu shot, regardless of their feelings about—or whether or not they had received—the COVID-19 jab. Unfortunately, what many Americans continue to take with them is the age-old wisdom that getting the flu and building up a natural immunity to whatever specific strain you may catch, is preferable to either immunizing yourself from catching it at all, or simply blunting the severity of suffering infection.

    The fact is that the flu shot helps save tens of thousands of people’s lives every year, while also preventing millions of hospital visits, and millions more from ever getting seriously ill. It is a win-win, considering that the cost is mostly an uncomfortably sore arm for a few hours. Now researchers out of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have added another reason to look forward to getting your flu shot.

    Combing through a large nationwide sample of U.S. seniors (65 and older), including 935,887 flu-vaccinated patients and 935,887 non-vaccinated patients, researchers found that a single flu shot provided a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease “for several years.” That is not all. Avram S. Bukhbinder, MD, a recent alumnus of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston explained in a statement that the “strength of this protective effect increased with the number of years that a person received an annual flu vaccine—in other words, the rate of developing Alzheimer’s was lowest among those who consistently received the flu vaccine every year.”

    During four-year follow-up appointments, about 5.1% of flu-vaccinated patients were found to have developed Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, 8.5% of non-vaccinated patients had developed Alzheimer’s disease during follow-up.

    The fact of the matter is that it is unlikely the flu shot itself is the determining factor. What is known is that there is link between various vaccinations and the flu shot with reduced Alzheimer’s outcomes. Researcher Paul Schulz explained in a statement:

    “Since there is evidence that several vaccines may protect from Alzheimer’s disease, we are thinking that it isn’t a specific effect of the flu vaccine. Instead, we believe that the immune system is complex, and some alterations, such as pneumonia, may activate it in a way that makes Alzheimer’s disease worse. But other things that activate the immune system may do so in a different way — one that protects from Alzheimer’s disease. Clearly, we have more to learn about how the immune system worsens or improves outcomes in this disease.”

    Researchers say that testing whether or not immunizations like the flu shot may also help slow or lessen the progression of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the next steps that need to be undertaken. For many Americans, getting immunizations from contagions is an important community responsibility in helping protect those around you. As someone who believes in stopping the communal spread, I can also tell you, having caught the flu about 8 years ago, it is preferable not to get the flu at all.

  64. says

    Ukraine update: Kherson news blackout lifts just enough to hint at Ukrainian progress

    During World War II, the folks back home could read about the progress of the conflict in daily papers, listen to the voices of journalists in Europe or the Pacific coming to them over the radio in the evening, and visit the local movie theater for a glimpse of the action on the latest newsreel. Over the course of more than a decade in Vietnam, Americans got used to the bizarre nightly ritual of the official body counts, magazines loaded with searing photographs, and reporters bringing news footage showing a war that never seemed far from chaos. In both cases, the action reports the public was receiving were heavily filtered and optimistic, but they at least gave a sense of how things were moving.

    With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, most of the major media seems to be providing … not very much, really, especially when it comes to answering questions about the tactical or strategic progress of the war. […]

    Anyone seeking an answer to “yes, but, what’s actually happening in Ukraine?” is forced back to the one place that it seems holds all answers these days: social media, where actual news has to be sifted from tens of thousands of propaganda accounts. At the start of the war, Twitter made a concerted effort to purge Russian bot accounts, but any dip in those accounts was purely temporary (India seems to be the current server location of choice). It’s debatable whether Russia even needs these one-note accounts, since more than half the U.S. right wing, as well as right-wing accounts from Brazil to Hungary, seems to be regularly “explaining” how Ukraine is corrupt, the war was started by Joe Biden, and they’re excited to announce that Russia is win-win-winning. Some of these accounts have tens of thousands of followers, all eager to sign on and give a big cheer for Vladimir Putin.

    […] The same rules apply on social media as apply on any other source of news: Beware of finding any report that is too friendly to your own deeply held hopes.

    Can Russia win the war in Ukraine? No. There’s no way for Russia to come out on top economically, militarily, or diplomatically. By any measure, Moscow is much weaker now than when this war began. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has turned his country into an international pariah, revealed the Russian military as an ugly parody of what many believed, derailed Russia’s chief source of revenue, permanently impoverished the Russian populace, and placed the nation in a position where it can not determine its own fate.

    Putin cannot even determine when this war ends—not unless he’s willing to hand every inch of Ukrainian territory, including the Crimea, back to Kyiv. […] Putin can declare victory tomorrow, and every day thereafter. No one will listen. This war ends when Ukraine says it ends.

    Can Russia’s ongoing effort to simply crush Ukrainian cities and towns into rubble using artillery, then camp conscripts on the rubble be halted? The answer appears to be “not yet.”

    All of this was a very long prelude to this question: So, what’s happening over around Kherson?

    Well, what’s happening, and what’s been happening over the last two weeks, is that Ukraine has been very, very quiet about Kherson. […] they’ve been working hard to stop the flow of chatter from their forces. The last two weeks have seen few pictures of Ukrainian troops in the area and many fewer reports of detailed action in the midst of a declared “blackout.”

    That doesn’t mean nothing has been going on there. Russian (and some Ukrainian) soldiers have continued to talk s#it on Telegram, making the usual claims that are 80% just intended to intimidate the other side. […]

    However, in the last 24 hours, there has been a little light let into this blackout. What’s happening in Kherson? As best I can tell, this is where things stand. [map at the link]

    […] quite a few things have changed, though it’s not all that easy to see them on a map. Ukraine is still fighting to take the same key locations at Kyselivka, Snihurivka, and Vysokopillya. The front line of forces are still about 15km out of Kherson proper. But just looking at those locations disguises a lot of action—so much so, that I’ve actually pulled out a new crayon to illustrate the changes.

    As has happened so often on the Kherson front, Ukraine has made advances in between the major points of Russian occupation. […] the action seems to be in the zone from Kyselivka to Snihurivka. The light blue area on this map indicates a zone of villages and towns that Ukraine has either flipped from Russian occupied, or from disputed, to Ukrainian controlled in the last two weeks. It’s … quite a lot, actually. It represents, if nothing else, a significant solidification of Ukrainian positions.

    Note that several sources are still placing that whole wedge along a line from Novopetrivka down to Zahoryanivka under Russian control. However, there are good reasons to believe that the lines of control indicated on the map above are a fairly accurate representation of current conditions.

    […] At the north end of the line, there has been very little news on what’s happening near Vysokopillya, which still represents a major distribution and command center for Russia. There have been continued reports of fighting at Arkhanhel’s’ke, which would seem to represent an opportunity for Ukrainian forces to isolate the Russian troops at the extreme north of the Kherson front. But there is no confirmation of progress.

    After two weeks of very limited news out of Kherson, the dam is starting to break. Ground sources are talking again. Soldiers are posting videos. It’s unclear if the Ukrainian MOD is in favor of bringing light to the situation, but the news is certainly appreciated by those of us who have been anxiously waiting for an update.

    Videos of Russian stuff blowing up are available at the link.

  65. raven says

    The end of Roe v. Wade raises fear of more prosecutions for pregnancy loss

    Women are already being prosecuted and jailed for miscarriages and stillbirths.
    That is going to continue and get worse for sure.
    Doctors can’t tell the difference between a miscarriage and a medical abortion so women who show up in the ER with a miscarriage are already suspects.
    Also, the cops are busy and many of them probably aren’t that interested or capable of being the Zygote Police. So they will just wait until some unfortunate woman ends up in the hospital and then arrest her.

    In the case below, Chelsea Becker was ratted out by the hospital itself. In Red states, they may make health care workers into mandatory reporters for suspected abortion. It is the kind of thing they do in police states.

    The end of Roe v. Wade raises fear of more prosecutions for pregnancy loss
    July 3, 20225:27 AM ET Robert Baldwin III NPR

    Chelsea Becker spent 16 months in a California jail awaiting a murder trial after her pregnancy ended in a stillbirth. “I was prepared to just stay at least for the next 15 years in prison,” she told NPR.

    Becker’s 2019 arrest drew national attention. With the backdrop of the Supreme Court blocking a Louisiana law that would shutter nearly all abortion clinics in that state, advocates warned that Becker’s arrest would empower more prosecutions for pregnancy outcomes.

    As Roe falls, criminal defense lawyers sound the alarm about mass incarceration
    In less than three years, a radically reconstituted Supreme Court ruled again on an anti-abortion law — this time using a Mississippi law to abolish federally protected abortion rights. And advocates, again, warn that pregnant people will be prosecuted for pregnancy loss — including miscarriages and stillbirths.

    “What we have seen in cases where we have provided legal defense, mothers who experience a stillbirth or a miscarriage are blamed for that loss,” Dana Sussman, the acting executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), tells NPR.

    “Because of behavior or exposure of an alleged risk of harm to the fetus, they are then blamed for causes the pregnancy loss,” Sussman says.

    Prosecuting pregnancy loss is not new
    Prosecuting pregnancy loss has been a quiet, but upward trend across the nation — to such an extent that organizations like the NAPW have emerged to provide legal defense for people who have been charged due to their pregnancy outcomes. That is how Sussman’s organization came to represent Becker.

    In 2013, NAPW partnered with Fordham University to track the arrests and prosecutions of pregnancies. They found just over 400 cases where pregnancy, including pregnancy loss, was used in a criminal investigation or prosecution from the time Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 until 2005. But from 2006-2020, that number nearly quadrupled. While this research is ongoing, Sussman suspects 200-300 cases in this range will involve pregnancy loss.

    Abortion-rights advocates in the 13 trigger law states refuse to give up post-Roe
    Abortion-rights advocates in the 13 trigger law states refuse to give up post-Roe
    There is one striking detail that stands out for legal experts: States are using laws to target pregnant people that were originally used to protect them.

    At least 38 states have laws that makes it a crime to harm a fetus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legal experts say that these laws were originally intended to stop violence against pregnant people.

    These so-called “fetal harm” laws enhance penalties for crimes against a pregnant person. By treating a fetus as a separate crime victim, these laws recognize crimes against pregnant people as two separate crimes. But, in practice, they have been used to investigate and prosecute different forms of pregnancy loss, including miscarriages, stillbirths and self-induced abortions.

    Fetal personhood, anti-abortionist’s argument that the fetus deserves the full rights and protections as people, are at the heart of these fetal harm laws and other traditional murder laws being applied to pregnant people.

    Applying these laws in this manner criminalizes a pregnant person’s behavior during the course of their pregnancy. And now that federal abortion protections have been abrogated, more people can be at risk of criminal charges for what they do — or don’t do — while pregnant.

    For doctors, abortion restrictions create an ‘impossible choice’ when providing care
    For doctors, abortion restrictions create an ‘impossible choice’ when providing care
    In Becker’s case, the prosecution attributed her stillbirth to her use of methamphetamine during pregnancy. She admittedly struggled with addiction during pregnancy. Although, California’s primary murder law makes it a crime to kill a fetus in many circumstances, mothers are explicitly exempted from prosecution.

    Nevertheless, the state argued that what Becker did during her pregnancy caused her stillbirth. This line of reasoning is widely rejected in the medical field.

    Experts say women aren’t responsible for their losses
    “There is no biological basis for that opinion, specifically with methamphetamine,” says Dr. Harvey Kliman, the director of the Reproductive and Placental Research Unit at Yale School of Medicine.

    Kliman attributes prosecutions of pregnancy outcomes based on drug use to a misunderstanding about pregnancy.

    “One has to have something called biological plausibility,” he says. “And methamphetamine has no biological pathway to lead to the end of a pregnancy. It just doesn’t.”

    He says that pregnancy outcomes are determined by the health of the placenta, and there are no mechanisms for meth to harm the placenta.

    This Texas district attorney is one of dozens who have vowed not to prosecute abortion
    This Texas district attorney is one of dozens who have vowed not to prosecute abortion
    Twenty percent of pregnancies in the U.S. end in a loss, according to Kliman, who has worked as an expert witness with NAPW on several cases. He says over 90% of these losses are caused by genetic abnormalities, which are often undiagnosed.

    Sussman adds that, though the science does not support it, data shows that drug use makes up the most prosecuted pregnancy losses. But Kliman says that’s because prosecutors and pathologists misinterpret drug use as a causation, instead of a mere association.

    Pregnant people are charged for ordinary conduct
    Still, people using illicit drugs are not the only ones at risk of criminal charges for pregnancy outcomes. Sussman adds that she has worked with people who have been prosecuted for prescription medication such as legal medical marijuana, painkillers for preexisting conditions, or Adderall, which is medication commonly used to treat ADHD.

    “We’ve had cases where a woman has fallen down a flight of stairs while light-headed during pregnancy and charged with attempted feticide because they suspected she did it on purpose,” Sussman adds.

    Yveka Pierre is the senior litigation counsel at If/When/How, a reproductive justice nonprofit that in part provides legal defense for people charged with crimes stemming from pregnancies.

    Alabama Prosecutors Dismiss Charge Against Woman Indicted In Death Of Her Own Fetus
    Alabama Prosecutors Dismiss Charge Against Woman Indicted In Death Of Her Own Fetus
    Pierre points to the case of Marshae Jones, an Alabama woman who was indicted for manslaughter in 2019 after being shot in the stomach while five months pregnant. Police said Jones started the fight that led to the shooting and failed to remove herself from harm’s way. But the district attorney later dropped the charge after a groundswell of national support.

    “When someone wants to punish a group of people, they will get very creative in the ways that they try to effectuate a punishment,” Pierre tells NPR. Experts agree that confusion around what actions or inactions are punishable creates untenable legal ground for pregnant people.

    Pierre says that before abortion rights were overturned in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision last month if prosecutors could not charge someone for an abortion, they would charge them with murder. “But it’s a murder case that’s kind of imbued in the stigma of abortion,” she adds.

    “So it’s not an abortion case, but they need to be able to put in front of the jury that this person considered an abortion or this person took pills to end their pregnancy, even though that has nothing to do with the facts they need to prove,” Pierre says.

    Prosecuting losses in the Dobbs era
    Pregnancy loss prosecutions were already rising under the protections of Roe, Sussman says. Now that the Supreme Court has stripped away the constitutional right to abortion, legal experts expect that prosecutions may continue to increase.

    “Without Roe and Casey pushing back the line on fetal person, we are about to see the full re-imagination of criminal and civil codes in this country in the states that have already redefined fetuses and fertilized eggs and embryos as children or as human beings,” Sussman says. “Our data shows 1,700 cases [involving pregnancy loss] since 1973 and a rapid acceleration in the past 15 years.”

    With Roe overturned, state constitutions are now at the center of the abortion fight
    With Roe overturned, state constitutions are now at the center of the abortion fight
    Pierre agrees that the Dobbs decision could portend more criminal charges for pregnancy outcomes, but she stresses that there are resources to help.

    “I want folks to understand that just because someone is being prosecuted does not mean that the law actually supports that prosecution,” Pierre says, as she points to state constitutions and case law that can work in defense. She also points to organizations like hers which help highlight the various laws surrounding pregnancies.

    But even if a person is able to obtain a lawyer and mount a successful defense, it may already be too late.

    By the time NAPW successfully convinced a California judge to dismiss the murder charge against Becker, the penal system already owned 16 months of her life. But there are other costs associated with battling the criminal legal system.

    The criminalization — and the participation of medical providers in the investigation — of pregnancy loss may dissuade people from seeking medical care. That leads to worse outcomes for pregnant people, mothers and babies, experts say. Sussman points to Tennessee’s 2014 fetal assault law, which was allowed to expire two years later. Medical officials have warned that this law discouraged women from being forthcoming about their pregnancies.

    Becker says her experience discouraged her from another pregnancy. But she is inspired to advocate for reform measures to ensure no one else endures her experience. In partnership with the NAPW, Becker submitted testimony in support of a California bill that would, in part, remove the requirement that a coroner investigate deaths surrounding known or suspected abortions.

  66. StevoR says

    Well, it seems these protesters :

    or a similar group managed to get onto the Silverstone track at the start of the British F1 GP. Theer could easily have been been multiple fatalities although that was avoided.The race was red flagged (stopped ) on the first lap but already due to a massive crash at the start. Nobody hurt. But risky as fuck. Race restarted now..

  67. says

    We’re going to have to pay attention to the details:

    In the last three weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci tested positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test after experiencing mild symptoms. Within the next day, the symptoms grew slightly worse and Fauci took the recommended step, obtaining a prescription for the anti-viral drug Paxlovid and taking a five day course of treatment. During this treatment, he reportedly felt well, did not experience any serious side effects, and at the end of the treatment he tested negative for COVID-19. Case closed.

    Only not so much. Because within the next few days, Fauci began to experience symptoms again. On taking a second test, he found that he was once again COVID-19 positive. In an remote appearance at the Global Health Forum, Fauci described his symptoms as “much worse” than at the time of his initial test. He launched into a second round of treatment with Paxlovid, and at the time of the interview on June 28 reported that he felt “reasonably good” though he still had symptoms.

    Taking a second course of Paxlovid is controversial, as it is currently not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (though it has been suggested by Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer). However, the more interesting thing here is that the 81-year-old Fauci experienced something that until recently has been a rare phenomenon: rebound COVID.

    Rebound COVID is generating a buzz that Paxlovid is ineffective, or that it somehow makes things worse. Don’t you believe it.

    When COVID-19 first appeared, the version that circulated through China, Europe, and then around the globe appeared to very rarely cause reinfection. For most people with a healthy immune system, the response to this initial version of COVID-19, and to the alpha and beta variants, provided a response that, while less powerful than the response generated by vaccines, was still broadly effective in preventing reinfection over a period of weeks to months. Researchers combed carefully through the initial wave of cases in China, looking for possible reinfections, and they did find a few. But “few” was the defining term.

    That changed somewhat with the delta variant, where those who had been infected with past variants found that their previous illness offered little protection against the just-different-enough newcomer. Even so, infections with delta seemed to provide good protection against another infection with delta, so while those who had already suffered with a previous variant found themselves vulnerable a second time, it wasn’t the start of an endless round-robin.

    With omicron, that’s changed again. Almost from the first appearance of the variant, there have been reports that not only were those who had previous forms of COVID-19 more open to infection by omicron, but that reinfections from omicron were much more common than with previous variants. There were frequent accounts of people being reinfected weeks, or even days, after their first experience with omicron.

    Some of this remains true—omicron is more capable of causing reinfection, even among those who have had previous infections from omicron—but there was another factor that wasn’t initially recognized. On Dec. 20, 2021, the CDC first noted that omicron had become the dominant variant of COVID-19 in the United States, accounting for about three-quarters of new cases. On Dec. 22, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided an emergency use authorization to Paxlovid as an oral treatment for those already infected by COVID-19.

    One of the things that was happening wasn’t that omicron was so much better at causing reinfection. It was Paxlovid rebound.

    As with many antiviral drugs, Paxlovid can rapidly drive down the viral load to an undetectable point. Researchers saw, and continue to see, this same phenomenon with HIV. But with the end of the five-day treatment, a small number of remnant viruses can come roaring back, generating a rebound infection.

    Please note: It’s not that Paxlovid is causing the second infection. It’s that the infection never went away. The treatment merely masked the fact that some virus remained in system, and that the immune system response was not strong enough to fight it off when treatment ended. This doesn’t change the recommendation that Paxlovid be taken to address COVID-19 infections. In fact, those people experiencing rebound infections are likely to be those who benefited the most from the anti-viral treatment, as their immune systems were unable to suppress even a low level of SARS-CoV-2 infection. [As was probably the case with Dr. Fauci. The reason being quite simple: he is 81 years old.]

    […] Paxlovid continues to be an effective treatment with good outcomes. A clinical study in preprint shows that “there was no evidence of severe disease or impaired antibody and T-cell responses in people with rebound symptoms.” A report from earlier this month conducted the first broad review of outcomes from Paxlovid and found that “Among 5,287 persons over 12” who received Paxlovid in the last six months, 39 were treated in emergency departments and just six were admitted for hospitalization.” That’s well under 1% of patients treated with Paxlovid. That report concluded just what the CDC and FDA have said from the beginning:

    When administered as an early-stage treatment, Paxlovid might prevent COVID-19–related hospitalization among persons with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 who are at risk for progression to severe disease.

    In fact, the original studies on over 1,000 patients showed that “Paxlovid significantly reduced the proportion of people with COVID-19 related hospitalization or death from any cause by 88% compared to placebo among patients treated within five days of symptom onset.”

    So, Paxlovid drastically cuts the incidence of severe illness or death. Less than 1% of patients experience rebound symptoms strong enough to seek treatment. Less than 0.1% of patients in rebound following Paxlovid were hospitalized.


  68. says

    Wonkette: “Republicans Still Pretty Sure All Those January 6 People Were Secret Liberals”

    For a year and a half now, conservatives have been absolutely outraged by all of the January 6 arrests, some even finally figuring out that our prison system is horrific and solitary confinement is torture now that it’s happened to people they like. They’ve cried for Ashli Babbitt, declared her a martyr. They’ve desperately tried to compare the events of that day to normal protests that don’t call for literally hanging anybody, and they’ve claimed these other protests were the real “insurrections.” The background information on those who have been arrested is widely available and many of those who participated were already well-known right-wing trolls and extremists.

    And yet.

    According to a recent Yahoo/YouGov poll, many of them are still quite sure that the blame for the events of January 6 lies with “left-wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad.” As if any of us have to get out of bed to do that.

    When asked who was to blame for January 6, the largest total share of Republicans — 43 percent — said it was these definitely not imaginary left-wing protesters. Comparatively, only 9 percent blamed Trump, 4 percent blamed Republican elected officials who said the election was stolen, 8 percent blamed Trump supporters who had gathered at the US capitol, 13 percent blamed right-wing groups like the Proud Boys and 19 percent said they just weren’t sure.

    When restricted to just those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, that number went up to 55 percent (with 82 percent saying they were at least somewhat responsible), and it went up to 68 percent when restricted to Fox News voters. Granted, given the influence of Trump and troll culture on the Republican party, we can’t exactly count on these people to be sincere. Part of right-wing culture now is insisting that obviously untrue things are true for the purposes of “owning the libs.”

    […] Strangely, despite an incredible amount of footage from that day and over 840 arrests, there has been only one self-identified leftist who was even there — a guy who has been kicked out of several activist groups across the US because everyone thought he was shady, whose brother was one of the people organizing the “Stop the Steal” event.

    Is it that they think these people are so good at what they do that between Fox News, InfoWars and every other right-wing outlet and the incredible “researchers” of the QAnon movement, they haven’t been able to find and identify any of them? That is impressive. Hell, they’ve barely even bothered to just make something up, as they so often do in these situations. And mind you, they’ve still been very upset about the arrests and about the conditions of the DC jail where many of the insurrectionists have been held.

    This is nothing if not one of the most impressive feats of cognitive dissonance our nation has ever witnessed.

  69. raven says

    Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said during an interview aired Sunday that “I don’t believe” the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would stand for long.

    I’m posting this not because I agree with it but because I don’t.
    It sounds more like wishful thinking than anything likely to be helpful.
    The overruling of Roe versus Wade by the Supreme Court is going to stand for decades. This court isn’t going to reverse itself. It might be reinstated but by that time, I’ll be long dead.

    The Democrats could pass a nationwide law making abortion legal. In theory anyway.
    They probably don’t have the votes right now to do that though. They need 60 and might not even get 50. They should try anyway so at least the GOP senators are on record as supporting criminalizing abortion.

    HHS secretary: ‘I don’t believe’ Roe will be overturned for long
    by Caroline Vakil – 07/03/22 9:00 AM ET

    Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said during an interview aired Sunday that “I don’t believe” the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would stand for long.

    “I’ve been around long enough to know that nothing’s ever totally safe. But remember, we still haven’t even been able to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. And so this country has a way to go. But certainly I don’t believe this decision by this court and Dobbs is going to stand long. This is just not America,” Becerra said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    The Supreme Court last month ruled it would be overturning Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion. Some Democrats have voiced frustration over leaders of their party and the president for not taking more forceful action in the wake of the high court’s ruling or for their immediate response to the decision.

    President Biden on Thursday did call for an exemption to be made to the filibuster for codifying abortion rights.

    “Well I tell them, ‘Give us some good ideas.’ We’re going to explore everything we can,” Becerra replied when he was asked by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd about what he would tell Democrats who feel that the party is not fighting hard enough.

    “And I also would ask them to please pass a law. They have it in their power, if they can find the votes to actually codify the Roe decision, which is what we need more than anything else … We will find what we can and do as much as we can,” he continued. “But when you are stripped of a right, as the Supreme Court has just done to every woman of childbearing age, it is tough to overcome. It took 50 years for us to get as far as we did. Now we have to figure out how to do this. It will not be easy.”

    The Health and Human Services secretary explained that while proposals have been offered, it does not necessarily mean the Biden administration can readily act on them.

    “We have to make sure, Chuck, that we stay within the confines of the law, and that we have the resources to do it, and that our authorities allow us to do it,” he responded when he was asked to elaborate on one idea of transporting women to other states to receive abortions.

    Becerra’s comments come as a patchwork of states across the country have quickly rolled back abortion access, though some state laws are now paused amid legal challenges that were soon filed after the Supreme Court’s decision.

  70. says

    Texts, web searches about abortion have been used to prosecute women.

    Washington Post link

    The data privacy risks associated with abortion aren’t hypothetical. Cases in Mississippi and Indiana could preview how digital evidence could be used post-Roe.

    […] “Lots of people Google about abortion and then choose to carry out their pregnancies,” said Laurie Bertram Roberts, a spokeswoman for Fisher. “Thought crimes are not the thing. You’re not supposed to be able to be indicted on a charge of what you thought about.” Fisher declined to comment.

    Despite mounting concerns that the intricate web of data collected by fertility apps, tech companies and data brokers might be used to prove a violation of abortion restrictions, in practice, police and prosecutors have turned to more easily accessible data — gleaned from text messages and search history on phones and computers. These digital records of ordinary lives are sometimes turned over voluntarily or obtained with a warrant, and have provided a gold mine for law enforcement. […]

    Seeking an abortion? Here’s how to avoid leaving a digital trail.

    Washington Post link

    Everything you should do to keep your information safe, from incognito browsing to turning off location tracking.

    […] A Google search for a reproductive health clinic, online order for abortion pills, location ping at a doctor’s office and text message about considering ending a pregnancy could all become sources of evidence. People constantly share data about their fertility online, privacy advocates say — even if they don’t realize it. Other obvious sources of health data include period-tracking apps and digital check-in forms at hospitals.

    “People should not be responsible for doing everything perfectly, when they’re in a stressful situation, to protect our own privacy,” said India McKinney, director of federal affairs for the privacy advocacy organization Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Privacy is a fundamental human right, and it should be protected in law and statutes.”

    […] Limit who you tell
    […] “The biggest vector for criminalization is the health-care system,” […] When someone goes to a health provider with medical issues related to an abortion, medical professionals can report them to the police, who can then seize their phones or computers. With a device in hand, police can just look through the browser and text messages directly.

    Diaz-Tello recommends being judicious about what information you share in an emergency room or doctor’s office. A miscarriage and a self-managed abortion using pills will look identical to most health-care providers and require the same treatment, she said.
    Limit who you tell in your own life as well, including friends or family. If you’re experiencing intimate partner threats, take these steps to protect your communications and devices.

    Chat on a secure, encrypted messaging app
    When you do discuss your situation, use private messaging apps that use encryption. Apple’s iMessage, Meta’s WhatsApp and Signal are all end-to-end encrypted by default, which means messages are obscured from everyone except the sender and receiver.

    Signal may be the most secure option. Apple has the key to decrypt iMessages that are backed up using its iCloud service, and law enforcement could ask it to do so. WhatsApp, for its part, leaves room in its privacy policy to share data with Facebook parent company Meta. Depending on what data it shares, that could raise privacy problems.

    Protect your devices
    Don’t turn your phone or laptop over to law enforcement without a warrant, privacy experts advise, and turn off biometric authentication such as Face or Touch ID if you’re worried about someone pressuring or forcing you to unlock them. Make sure your phone, tablet and computers all require a passcode or password to use them. Avoid wearing any health-tracking wearables while managing your health.

    Browse the internet securelyAlways use incognito or private browsing mode on your browser to avoid leaving a trail on your own devices. When choosing a browser, go with Safari, Firefox or Brave, which all have robust privacy features. Make sure any options to prevent cross-site tracking are turned on, and instead of Google, use a search engine such as DuckDuckGo or Brave.

    To minimize what is recorded about your browsing, use a VPN or Apple’s iCloud Private Relay, which acts like a more secure VPN. Avoid using third-party apps for searches. If you want an extra layer of protection, use Tor Browser, a tool for anonymous internet use that cloaks both your identity and your location, Rescorla said. […]

    Turn off location sharing, or leave your phone behind
    Some apps collect your location throughout the day and night and share it with third parties including data brokers, who sell that data to whoever wants to pay. To turn off location sharing on an Apple device, go to Settings → Privacy → Location Services and toggle the slider so that it shows gray. (Note that this will make apps that depend on location, such as Uber or maps, stop working.) On an Android device, go to Settings → Location and toggle the switch to “off.”

    Unfortunately, turning off location sharing won’t stop your cell carrier from collecting your location. Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said a Faraday bag, which blocks electromagnetic fields, could help in cases when a person wants to keep their phone on them but prevent location tracking from service providers. […]

    Maximize your privacy settings
    To make sure your phone or social media sites are collecting as little data as possible, lock down your privacy settings. You can find a list of the biggest app and device’s options in our Privacy Reset Guide.

    Avoid period tracking apps
    […] Each period-tracking app has different privacy practices, and understanding the nuances can be tricky. A password-protected spreadsheet or paper calendar will serve you better. If you decide to delete your period-tracking app, consider sending a data-deletion request as well, said Alan Butler, executive director and president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Some companies only honor these requests from people in California because of the state’s privacy law, but others accept requests from anywhere.

    Limit where you share health information
    Your dentist and even your workout instructor may hand out forms asking whether you’re pregnant. If you’re not comfortable sharing, say so, and save that conversation for a doctor you trust. […]

    Be cognizant of physical surveillance technology
    In some cases, law enforcement may pull data from license plate readers or facial recognition software systems that have been strategically set up along state borders, said Granick of the ACLU. If you’re in need of reproductive services, you may want to consider taking alternate modes of transportation vs. driving your own car, for example.

    ​​ “People should not give up, even though this is hard and may seem like a lot,” Granick said. “People should take advantage of what they can do while pushing the powers that be to do more.”

    These are the kinds of things we have to think about when rightwing dunderheads turn pregnant people into criminals.

  71. says

    […] Yes, abortion bans will disproportionately affect poor women and women of color in a country that already has appallingly high maternal mortality rates, no federal paid family leave and little support for parents who struggle to provide for their children financially. As Rebecca Traister pointed out in New York Magazine, this is nothing new: The Hyde Amendment and state restrictions have already made abortion effectively inaccessible to many women without means or mobility.

    […] we should not lose sight of the reality that the Supreme Court decision has created a crisis for all American women. Even the richest Americans — the one-percenters and the upper middle class — will not escape the effects.

    Attenuating the rights of half of the population will have systemic effects akin to climate change. Just as no amount of investment in Mars-bound space colonization, air-conditioned bunkers and private firefighting services will save the rich from terrible outcomes if the planet becomes uninhabitable, the rich cannot avoid the effects of the overturning of Roe. Residents of blue states won’t be exempt. And men who think the ban won’t affect them are mistaken; it will affect women they know and love, and it will change the political economy in which they live and operate.

    The persistent myth that the wealthy will be unaffected is predicated upon the vague notion that they’ll be able to access and purchase abortion pills by mail, travel to places where abortion is legal or get an abortion from a local provider willing to break the law.

    And sure, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where a red state one-percenter has his daughter or wife airlifted to another state for an abortion — or, potentially, for in vitro fertilization, if it becomes illegal to terminate embryos. We are accustomed to different rules and privileges for the wealthy, and witness these injustices daily. People with more money and privilege conferred by race and class — people who have access to better lawyers — experience our justice system differently. They also get better health care and pay less in taxes as a share of income. We hold the rich to a lower, not higher, standard and tacitly accept that they will get away with cheating various systems.

    But the wealthiest are in for some unpleasant surprises when it comes to abortion. The scenarios where a woman needs an abortion include medical emergencies where any delay in treatment can have severe, even fatal consequences — and in those circumstances abortion pills obtained by mail won’t help. […] ectopic pregnancies, for example, where a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. The embryo must be removed, and delaying that treatment can result in sepsis, internal bleeding and death. Placental abruptions must be addressed immediately to avoid extensive bleeding, renal failure and even, in some instances, death. Any woman who finds herself in either of these scenarios is not going to be able to pack her bags and go for a long drive. Even for someone with the means, an airlift to a medical facility in another state may not be quick enough to save her. She will need to be treated locally and immediately. Some of the bans going into effect around the country include medical exceptions for these situations, but if there’s any ambiguity about what the law allows, the time it takes a medical professional to consult a lawyer may be the difference between life and death.

    Some states are expected to try to ban interstate travel for abortions. Bans in Texas and Oklahoma leave room for that possibility. Planned Parenthood’s Montana branch has reportedly decided that it will no longer provide medication abortions for patients from certain states where bans are in effect or in the works, citing the “rapidly changing” legal landscape. It’s also clear that many Republicans view the Roe reversal as an inroad to a total federal ban. If they gain electoral victories in 2024, this is a very likely outcome, and in that case there will be no blue state abortion clinics to travel to. Even now, the lines and waiting times at abortion clinics in safe haven states are likely to get very long. […]

    The reality is that women from every demographic need abortions. Well-off conservative women are not immune to contraception failures, gynecological emergencies, miscarriages, incest or rape. Many women find that despite their beliefs, carrying a pregnancy to term is just not something they can go through with, for a range of reasons. Pregnancy itself can be life-threatening for women with certain pre-existing medical conditions, and even for women who don’t have those risks, it is life-altering. The kind of person who might need or want an abortion is, put simply, any person capable of getting pregnant.

    Women will die because of this — disproportionately poor and middle-class women, but not just poor and middle-class women. Rich women could just as easily suffer and die too — even those who think they would never need an abortion, or that they would never be denied essential medical care in the United States of America in 2022. […]

    New York Times link

  72. says

    Big data is making so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ more dangerous than ever

    So-called “crisis pregnancy centers”—organizations that try to lure people in by implying they provide medical care, only to pressure and harass and even lie in an attempt to prevent people from obtaining abortions at real clinics—are constantly innovating in their quest to be as wretchedly scummy as possible. Their new tactics include using social media to reach teenagers and then using all of the gaps in social media privacy policies to collect data. Still worse, crisis pregnancy centers are hoarding data on the people who get sucked in to contacting them by other means or visiting them in person, Bloomberg reports.

    […] A Florida 19-year-old who got a pregnancy test at a crisis pregnancy center before she realized it wasn’t a medical facility told Bloomberg that when she begged a receptionist for reassurance that her information wouldn’t be made public or used against her, “I remember her saying: ‘Well, honey, this is what happens when you have sex.’”

    Crisis pregnancy centers bring sophisticated tools to terrorizing teenagers this way. There are digital marketing companies teaching them how to reach young people on Snapchat, and software companies offering products like “Next Level Center Management Solution,” which can store data on up to 20,000 people for just $100 per month. […]

  73. says

    Good news: Jan. 6 Panel Members Say New Witnesses Have Come Forward After Hutchinson’s Testimony

    The two Republican members of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), on Sunday said that new witnesses have come forward wanting to testify before the panel after explosive testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, last week. […]

    After declining to go into details about the new witnesses, Kinzinger praised Hutchinson for “inspiring” more people to come forward.

    “Every day, we get new people that come forward and say, hey, I didn’t think maybe this piece of the story that I knew was important, but now that you guys are talking — like, I do see this plays in here,” Kinzinger said.

    Kinzinger added that the committee is set to hear from witnesses they did not expect to hear from. […]

  74. says

    Ukraine update: Russia’s big counterattack at Kharkiv has so far come to nothing

    At the beginning of May, Russian forces still occupied the ring of towns and villages just outside Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv. From that position, they rained down a constant barrage of artillery into the city, damaging over half the apartment buildings and homes, reducing some neighborhoods to smoldering wreckage, and making anything that looked like normal day-to-day life impossible. It’s not clear that Russia had any intention of trying to capture Kharkiv, but the constant shelling killed dozens of civilians each day and made life there hellish … and that seemed to satisfy Vladimir Putin.

    Then, in a period of just over two weeks, Ukrainian forces surged out of the city, capturing the ring of suburbs just outside the city, places like Bobrivka and Zutuzivka and Tsrykuny. Days later, those forces were up the road at Cherkaski Tyshky and Mykhailivka, another 5 km from the city. And days after that, locations like Shestakova, a full 15km from the city. In the next week, Ukrainian forces bypassed Russian-held positions north of the city to capture Staryi Saltiv. while also cutting up roads northwest of the city to capture Tsupivka.

    This wasn’t the kind of wholesale withdrawal of Russian forces that was seen in areas around Chernihiv or Kyiv. This was active, daily fighting, with Ukrainian forces outflanking, outthinking, and simply outfighting Russian forces and conscripts from the Russian-controlled area of Luhansk.

    When Ukrainian forces captured Ternova, right on the Russian border, in the second week of May, then somehow managed to cross the reservoir east of Staryi Saltiv to threaten Russian supply lines, it was tremendously exciting for everyone who had been waiting for the moment when Ukraine would strike back, make advances, and garner some measure of revenge against an invasion force that had been absolutely rampaging across their nation.

    However, that was also around the time when Russia, finally aware of the danger at the northern end of the line, pulled back some battalion tactical groups that had been down near Izyum, as well as pushed across reserves from Belgorod. Those forces contended with the Ukrainian bridgehead on the east of the Siverskyi Donets River, pressed back at the town of Rubiznhe, and managed to shore up Russian positions around Lyptsi and Kozacha Lopan.

    The daily excitement of seeing Ukraine liberate village after village, town after town, was over.

    But that doesn’t mean the fight north of Kharkiv was over. Russia has a high regard for artillery, not just as means of grinding down forces in their front, so that their army can eventually advance across the rubble, but as a psychological weapon. For Russia, keeping the body count in Kharkiv ticking ever upward, and preventing the people of the city from returning to the kind of stability now seen in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy, was important. So much so that when Russia hasn’t been able to generate their quota of destruction through dumb, cheap, artillery shells, they’ve supplemented with much more expensive rockets fired from GRAD systems. And when Ukraine has made using even those GRAD systems difficult, Russia has pumped in short range ballistic missiles fired from from across the border in Belgorod.

    In Russia’s attempt to straight-up conquer Ukraine, the forces in and around Kharkiv forcefully repelled every Russian advance. The city also acted as a base from which Ukrainian forces were able to destroy columns of Russian hardware attempting to travel toward Kyiv from the east. Russia wants Kharkiv punished, it wants to beat the fighting spirit out of the city. It wants to make sure that the next time a column of Russian tanks appears, Kharkiv just lies down and surrenders.

    Except … yeah, that’s not happening. And neither is the big Russian counterattack at Kharkiv. [map at the link]

    Just over a week ago, Ukrainian forces finally managed to take Vesele, located along the road east of Lyptsi. This position was the last remains of a small Russian salient that jutted down along a chain of villages, and was one of the few remaining positions from which Russian forces could lob plain old artillery into Kharkiv, about 20km to the southwest.

    In mid-June, Russia announced a counterattack in the Kharkiv area, and for days Russian sources have been insisting that their troops were “right back on the outskirts of the city” and had retaken almost everything Ukraine gained in the May counteroffensive. For days now, pro-Russian sources on Twitter have been claiming everyone would see proof that Russia was back in Staryi Saltiv, back in Shestakova, back in even the suburbs of the city. Except a lot of days have passed, and the Russian counterattack seems to have been limited to contesting Ternova (again) and Rubizhne (again).

    Instead, there has come fresh evidence that the Ukrainian bridgehead on the east side of the river is still there, and is continuing to contest with Russian forces for the positions across from Rubizhne. Also, Ukrainian forces are fighting in Slobohanske, on the south edge of Lyptsi, as well as securing positions to the east.

    About the only Ukrainian action that doesn’t seem to have translated into a gain was a move ten days ago in which Ukraine bypassed Lyptsi on the east and was said to be disputing control of Hlyboke. If anything more is happening up there, I haven’t been able to find it.

    Looking at the same area on FIRMS, there are some interesting things to see. [map at the link]

    In this image, I’ve colored blue the fire that is likely to be coming from Ukrainian artillery. What’s immediately obvious is: there’s more blue than red. Even if that block of “who knows?” hot spots north of Slobohanske actually originated from Russia, it’s the Ukrainian guns that are delivering more impact on Sunday. In particular, it’s interesting to see Ukraine apparently pushing hard in the area of Kozacha Lopan. Russian forces northwest of Kharkiv retreated to this area in the very early days of the Ukrainian advance, and reportedly began immediately preparing defensive positions. This is also the area that has been reportedly reinforced with reserves from Belgorod and with newer equipment — that brand new T-90M tank that Russia lost? it was right up there.

    Exactly what Ukraine is doing up near Kozacha Lopan is unclear. The area doesn’t seem to be the source of Russian counterattacks, and its main goal seems to be to safeguard the highway crossing into Russia just to the east. Maybe that’s why Ukraine is going after it, to once again threaten Russian supply lines and push against the major route into the region. Maybe they just want those Russians off their land.

    The other thing that may be most interesting about all this artillery fire is that essentially none of it is going into Kharkiv. There are still reports of random shelling into the city. But if there was a real Russian counterattack that had taken it to the edges of the city, this whole map would look very, very different. Mostly, it would look like a ring of fire, with Russian forces pumping shells into the streets of Kharkiv, as they did every day for two solid months.

    One of those hotspots caused by Russian fire does appear to be significant—that one little spot north of Staryi Saltiv is reportedly a Russian air strike against a Ukrainian supply depot at Verkhnii Saltiv (Upper Saltiv). But it’s also significant that Russia is reporting this because it shows just how far their forces actually are from moving toward Kharkiv. They’re still way up there where even reaching Verkhnii Saltiv requires an air strike.

    That doesn’t mean they’re not still causing misery in Kharkiv. [Tweet at the link]

    Because Kharkiv has to suffer, not matter what the price tag.

    On Saturday, an explosion in Belgorod reportedly killed three people and injured four others, according to Russian sources. Those same sources tagged the center of this explosion in a civilian area of the city, and has blamed a Ukrainian missile for the attack.

    For some Ukrainians, it’s safe to say that launching a single missile into a city that has hosted hundreds of Iskandar missile launches into Ukraine, as well as provided the base for MLRS systems making long-range strikes into Kharkiv, seems more than justified. However, Ukraine has previously been extremely careful in their attacks on Belgorod, such as the daring attack by two Ukrainian helicopters that cut across the city to take out Russian fuel supplies while firing no weapons into other areas.

    Other Ukrainian sources have insisted that the point of attack actually was a military position, and not the civilian home that Russian officials have insisted was at the heart of the explosion. Meanwhile, angry Russian voices have insisted that this attack justifies “carpet bombing Kharkiv” because apparently killing three Russians is worse than the 10,000+ civilians Russia has already killed in Kharkiv. And honestly, if Russia could carpet bomb Kharkiv and come away with a surviving air force, they would probably be doing it already.

    Go back to the Ukrainian side, and there are voices saying that the whole explosion in Belgorod was staged by Russia as an excuse for making a formal declaration of war and conducting a general mobilization and draft.

    Honestly, I do not know.

    However, the explosion in Belgorod — which seems to be pretty darned explosive for just a house … [video at the link]
    Looks pretty similar to another explosion in Melitopol … [video at the link]

    And followed explosions that took out a Russian command and control center in Izyum. [Tweet and images at the link]

    It seems likely that, assuming the Belgorod explosion was caused by Ukraine, that it was also another strategic target.

    In the occupied part of the #Kharkiv region, #Ukrainian symbols continue to be destroyed

    Meanwhile, in the areas still under Russian occupation… “We are not vandals, we will change them for our, Russian symbols,” said the guy with Putin’s swastika on his T-shirt.

  75. raven says

    Antiabortion lawmakers want to block patients from crossing state lines
    WashingtonPost July 03, 2022

    Several national antiabortion groups and their allies in Republican-led state legislatures are advancing plans to stop people in states where abortion is banned from seeking the procedure elsewhere, according to people involved in the discussions.

    The idea has gained momentum in some corners of the antiabortion movement in the days since the Supreme Court struck down its 49-year-old precedent protecting abortion rights nationwide, triggering abortion bans across much of the Southeast and Midwest.

    Here is the next abortion war.
    The Red states want to make pregnant women into prisoners and slaves.
    Under our laws, state laws stop at state borders.
    The Red states want to extend their laws into the Blue states.
    This can’t be legal. Except with the current Supreme Court, they can make up any laws they want.

    …advancing plans to stop people in states where abortion is banned from seeking the procedure elsewhere, …

    FFS, how are they going to enforce this?
    Put a collar around the necks of pregnant women and chain them up in the yard or a dungeon?
    Set up pregnancy camps where pregnant women will be imprisoned until they give birth?
    Put up an Iron Curtain fence at their borders with mine fields, dogs, and guard towers. Shoot any pregnant women who try to escape?

    We’ve seen this movie before in places like the USSR, Serbia during the Bosnian genocide, and Romania under communism.
    What they Red states want to do is set up Police States with pregnant women as their first victims.

  76. raven says

    From the Washington Post article above.

    Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.”

    Yeah it does.
    The Thomas More society is a Catholic extremist legal organization.
    They almost always lose their cases.

    In relying on private citizens to enforce civil litigation, rather than attempting to impose a state-enforced ban on obtaining abortions across state lines, such a law is more difficult to challenge in court, because abortion rights groups don’t have a clear person to sue.

    Like the Texas abortion ban, the proposal itself could have a chilling effect, prompting doctors in surrounding states to stop performing abortions before courts have an opportunity to intervene, worried that they may face lawsuits if they violate the law.

    This is dumb.
    Civil litigation at the state level is only enforceable in the state you live in or have some sort of ties to. If I get sued by someone in Georgia, it either goes Federal or it goes nowhere. I’m not under the jurisdiction of Georgia state courts.

    California and several other states have already passed laws nullifying the Red states attempts to take over their legal systems.

  77. says

    Former President Trump on Monday swiped at Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who serves as vice chair of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, a day after she signaled that the panel is leaving the door open to possible criminal referrals of Trump to the Justice Department.

    During an interview that aired on ABC News on Sunday, Cheney said the committee may make a criminal referral, or multiple criminal referrals, to the DOJ about the possible crimes it has found in its investigation.

    “The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the Committee to make a criminal referral,” Cheney said. “There could be more than one criminal referral.”

    A day after Cheney’s comments aired, Trump disparaged her in a post on his knockoff Twitter app TRUTH Social. The former president also, again, pushed his familiar and false claims that he was “cheated” in the 2020 election.

    “Warmongering and despicable human being Liz Cheney, who is hated by the great people of Wyoming (down 35!), keeps saying, over and over again, that HER Fake Unselect Committee may recommend CRIMINAL CHARGES against a President of the United States who got more votes than any sitting President in history,” Trump wrote.

    “Even the Dems didn’t know what she was talking about! Why doesn’t she press charges instead against those that cheated on the Election, or those that didn’t properly protect the Capitol?” the former president continued.

    Trump went on to jab the committee by complaining that the panel is made up of the “same people” who were involved in both of his impeachment trials and the Russia probe— despite the fact that Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), both of whom are the only Republicans to serve on the committee, voted against impeaching Trump in his first impeachment trial. The former president also fear-mongered about a so-called “massive crime wave.” (Trump did not specify what he is referring to.)

    Trump’s latest attack against Cheney comes a week after the panel’s explosive public hearing featuring Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Among the damning revelations in her testimony, Hutchinson detailed Trump’s fury on Jan. 6 as he faced resistance from his inner circle when he demanded that he be able to march to the Capitol with his supporters after the rally on the Ellipse. Additionally, Hutchinson recalled Trump demanding the Secret Service remove metal detectors at the pre-insurrection rally on the Ellipse so that his armed supporters could attend and increase the crowd size.

    In her interview with ABC News, Cheney noted that she found Hutchinson’s testimony to be “very chilling.”

    Pressed on whether she was concerned about prosecuting a former president who could potentially launch a presidential bid in 2024, Cheney replied that she is more concerned about “what it would mean if people weren’t held accountable for what’s happened here.”


    Nice to see the January 6 Committee getting under the skin of the orange man-baby.

  78. says

    Followup to comment 89.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    so he repeats the lie about winning the election again, mindbogglingly expanding his rotund ego into realms of claiming the highest popular vote in history

    in so repeating the Big Lie, defying his advisors’ repeatedly proving he lost, he continues to make the Committee’s case

    he’s joining the “Blame Pelosi” train? Mystifying trying to shimmy shake attention onto they who “failed to protect the Capitol”? “How dare you not stop the attack that I inspired, invited, kickstarted, directed, targeted, celebrated & congratulated!”

    they who failed to protect the Capitol? Yam, you mean like you?
    He also got more impeachments than any sitting president in history.
    It is entirely true that Fat Donnie Two Impeachments received more votes in 2020 than any other incumbent president in history.
    That bit is actually tightly constructed in the Kelkyanne fashion

    It is intended to give the impression that he got the most votes of anyone ever but that is not actually what it says. What it says is that he got the most votes of anybody who was a sitting President at the time of the election. Totally accurate piece of information used to create a false impression.
    He’s an out of control psychopath – totally incapable of self-management … so keep pinging his twisted brain … his going to relentlessly threaten & disparage any & every person that he deems to have offended him … until he strokes out
    That’s a weird way to keep score. “Best Loser”
    Well, Donald, on this Independence Day it sucks to be named “Trump”. Get used to it because it ain’t gonna change anytime soon.

    You will be remembered in the history books along side Benedict Arnold. NOT George Washington, Abe Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt.

    Those men were patriots and American icons. You were a traitor and a parasite to We the People

  79. says

    Ukraine Update: Whoever controls the south, controls Ukraine’s economic destiny

    Ukraine wants to push Russia out from around Kharkiv in the north in order to spare the city incessant rocket and artillery attacks. Putting the Russian city of Belgorod, a military logistical hub, within artillery range would be a bonus.

    Ukraine wants to stop Russian advances in the Donbas, because every inch of territory lost is an inch that will later have to be retaken, with a heavy cost in blood.

    But the south? That’s the region that will make or break Ukraine. [map at the link]

    Russia has held the Crimea and half of Donetsk Oblast since 2014, while it captured a swatch from Kherson to Mariupol in the early days and months of the war. A limited Ukrainian counteroffensive over the last couple of months has rolled back Russian advances around Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih, and are within 15 kilometers of Kherson city itself. A second limited counteroffensive has clawed back some territory on that eastern chunk of land, north of Berdiansk. While Ukraine would love to retake Crimea and all of the Donbas, its more immediate wish would be to liberate the cities of Berdiansk, Kherson, Mariupol, and Melitopol.

    That desire isn’t just a matter of wounded national pride, however. The very economic lifeblood of Ukraine flows through those cities—all but Melitopol important ports. The last two remaining port cities under Ukrainian control, Odesa and Mykolaiv, are effectively blockaded by the major Russian naval presence in Sevastopol. Ukraine needs all of these cities to export the mass of agricultural products that feed millions in Africa and the Middle East.

    Rail can’t transport Ukraine’s harvest to its international customers. The country and its European partners are working on hacks to gets some out via rail, but that offers only a fraction of the capacity of ocean freight at much greater cost. Ukraine needs those ports back for the same reason Russia prioritized their capture—whoever controls those ports controls Ukraine’s economic destiny.

    On Saturday night, HIMARS rocket artillery shelled the airpot at Melitopol, an aviation hub for Russian aircraft. [tweet and video at the link]

    At $135,000 per guided MLRS rocket (GMLRS), Ukraine has to be judicious in what it strikes. One pod carries $810,000 worth of ordinance. They won’t be using those to hit armored conveys, better to save this long-range expensive stuff for ammo depots, concentrations of high-ranking officers, and airports. Anything that degrades Russia’s air capabilities will make Ukraine’s southern advances easier.

    (This also shows why more MLRS/HIMARS launchers aren’t necessarily helpful, when each rocket salvo costs nearly $1 million. Ammunition will always be the greatest constraint in operating these.)

    The use of at least two of Ukraine’s four HIMARS launchers on Melitopol shows a curious shift in tactics—all four had been reportedly been used, oftentimes in concert, against Donbas-front targets. But Russia has lost over a dozen major arms depots in the region over the past week, and defensive lines are moving to the Bakhmut-Sivers’k line, where M777s and other Ukrainian artillery can provide solid cover. That has clearly given Ukraine space to shift some of that precious HIMARS support south.

    Russia now has to decide whether to remain all-in on the Donbas front, driving toward the twin fortresses of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, or reinforce the southern front to halt Ukraine’s slow advance. Regardless what they choose, Ukraine’s key priority seems obvious—liberate the port cities, and perhaps even make a move on Crimea (and the Russian naval presence supporting its economic blockade of Ukrainian sea trade), before looking toward a Donbas region that serves little strategic or economic purpose—particularly since many of those cities are rubble or impoverished from eight years of Russian occupation.

    We’ve long detailed the cost of advancing on Kherson—the flat, open terrain is unforgiving to advancing forces, easy pickings for enemy artillery (from both sides). Ukraine will need more of the high-powered artillery to cover their advances, suppressing enemy defenses and artillery batteries. By all indications, very few of the modern western NATO-standard guns have made it to the Kherson front. Official Ukrainian forces and military analysts still says August-September is the most likely timeline for a real counter-offensive.

    Yet despite those challenges, Ukraine continues to advance, daring Russia to either move forces out of the Donbas front, or continue losing territory that both sides consider critical to their strategic war aims.


    On the ground, Russia has captured all of Luhansk Oblast. [map at the link]

    Vladimir Putin gets a big propaganda victory out of these developments, but it has zero effect on the broader strategic picture. Even Russian sources admit that they were unable to trap any significant number of Ukrainian forces—failing to deal Ukraine a strategic defeat. Losing any territory sucks, but this one is of little real value. The soldiers and their equipment? That would’ve been irreplaceable.

    More videos and images at the link, including a photo that shows the flag of Ukraine flying again on Snake Island.

  80. says

    Mass Shooting erupts during a 4th of July Parade in Highland Park Ill. – a number of people shot

    Breaking news at a 4th of July Parade in Highland Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago.

    The shooter has NOT been apprehended. Multiple people were shot.

    From The Hill:

    […] The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the parade began around 10 a.m. but was suddenly halted 10 minutes later after shots were fired. Several witnesses told the newspaper that they heard gunfire.

    Hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers and blankets.

    A Sun-Times reporter saw blankets placed over three bloodied bodies.

    Police told people: “Everybody disburse, please. It is not safe to be here.”

    Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident, said she was on a parade float with coworkers and the group was prepared to turn onto the main route when she saw people running away from the area.

    “People started saying ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there a shooter,’” Glickman told the Associated Press. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.” […]

  81. says

    Romney: Trump’s return would likely make ‘malady of denial, deceit and distrust’ in US ‘incurable’

    Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Monday said that former President Trump’s return to office would feed into the “national malady of denial, deceit, and distrust” that the senator said President Biden has not been able to break through.

    In an opinion piece published in The Atlantic, Romney said that many Americans on both sides of the aisle are continuing to dismiss various threats against the country, including inflation, global climate change, illegal immigration and water insecurity in the West. He cited the reactions of “MAGA loyalists” to the recent congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as another such example of Americans’ denial. [AAAARRRRGGGGHHH! Blatant both-sides-ism.]

    “If we continue to ignore the real threats we face, America will inevitably suffer serious consequences,” Romney wrote.

    The Republican senator called Biden a “genuinely good man,” though he said the president has not been able to resolve the nation’s dismissal of serious issues, then warned that the possible return of Trump could inflate that denial beyond repair.

    […] The Utah Republican has frequently criticized Trump since the 2016 presidential race, during which he called the real estate mogul and then-GOP hopeful “a fraud.” He voted to convict the former president following both of his impeachments.

    In the article, Romney also called out Congress, saying it has been disappointing in its failure to take action. […]

  82. says

    Followup to comment 93.

    The Washington Post is reporting that at least five people were killed at the Chicago-area parade.

    At least five people were dead, 16 were hospitalized and a gunman was at large Monday afternoon in a mass shooting that targeted Fourth of July paradegoers in Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, authorities said.

    Video from the scene appeared to show blood pooled on the sidewalk and police talking to people in downtown Highland Park.
    Others showed the chaos while loud bangs could be heard on the downtown street where chairs, toys and blankets were strewn.

    The City of Highland Park confirmed on its website that 16 people have been sent to hospitals and five are confirmed dead. Police are searching for the gunman, and the city advised residents to shelter in place as it remains an “active incident,” the website said. […]


  83. says

    Disinformation concerning abortion:

    False and misleading information about abortion is spreading online, and researchers fear it will only get worse in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs.

    On TikTok, videos suggesting that people use herbs to self-manage an abortion have racked up thousands of views. Antiabortion activists have shared false information on Twitter about the supposed dangers of abortion. And the New York attorney general sent a letter to Google last week urging the company to point abortion seekers on Google Maps to valid health-care offices that offer the treatment, rather than to “crisis pregnancy centers,” which try to dissuade people from getting abortions.

    Disinformation researchers, as well as reproductive rights advocates, are concerned that what abortion-seekers find online can sometimes leave them even more confused and point them toward options that may be misleading or even dangerous.

    […] One trend has been the posting of videos, tweets and images of herbs including mugwort, pennyroyal and blue cohosh. Those posts advise that these herbs “can be used to cause a miscarriage.” One video on TikTok, which has since been removed, showed a caption that read, “Herbs that can cause abortion since the gov. is being sus,” which means suspicious. It had racked up more than 23,000 views.

    Abortion rights supporters are trying to help people access care, experts say, but their methods could be harmful.

    “There are no safe, effective herbs or botanicals to cause abortion,” Jen Gunter, a gynecologist and author of “The Vagina Bible” said in her own TikTok video in response to the trend. “People might be spreading this with good intention, but they’re wrong.” […]

    Washington Post link


    [Some pregnant] people can do this [self-managed abortion] now with medications like misoprostol.

    The so-called herbal (or “natural”) remedies are being advertised by people who are making a lot money. Their products are ineffective or unsafe … or both.

  84. says

    “Updated Covid Shots Are Coming. Will They Be Too Late?”

    New York Times link

    The government has greenlit new vaccines to defend against the latest Omicron variants. But the shots won’t arrive until the fall, and cases are rising now.

    […] American regulators committed last week to updating the 2020 vaccine recipes for this fall’s booster campaign with new formulas meant to defend against the ultra-contagious Omicron subvariants […]

    Vaccine updates are becoming more urgent by the day, many scientists said. The most evasive forms of Omicron yet, known as BA.4 and BA.5, appear to be driving a fresh surge of cases across much of the United States. The same subvariants have sent hospital admissions climbing in Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium and Israel.

    Covid deaths in the United States, which had been hovering for months near their lowest levels of the pandemic, are rising again. In the worst case, epidemiologists have predicted some 200,000 Covid deaths in the United States within the next year.

    […] Many scientists believe that updated boosters will be critical for diversifying people’s immune defenses as subvariants eat away at the protection offered by vaccines. Catching up with a virus that has been so rapidly mutating may be impossible, they said. But it was far better to be only a few months, rather than a couple of years, behind the pathogen. […]

    “Omicron is so different that, to me, it seems pretty clear we’re starting to run out of ground in terms of how well these vaccines protect against symptomatic infections,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona. “It’s very important that we update the shots.”

    Now, the question is whether those modified boosters will arrive in time. In a bid to match the latest forms of the virus, the F.D.A. asked vaccine manufacturers to tailor their new shots to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, rather than to the original version of Omicron from last winter.

    Virologists said that a subvariant vaccine would generate not only the strongest immune defenses against current versions of the virus, but also the type of broad antibody response that will help protect against whatever form of the virus emerges in the months ahead.

    But building a fall booster campaign around vaccines at the forefront of the virus’s evolution could also come at a cost. Pfizer and Moderna said that they could deliver subvariant vaccine doses no earlier than October. Some F.D.A. advisers warned in a public meeting last week that the timeline could be slowed even further by any number of routine delays. […]

    Now I get to find out if I live long enough to get a new, effective vaccine … or not.

  85. says

    Followup to comment 95.

    The death toll is now up to six. The number of wounded is up to 26.

    The “person of interest” is a 22-year-old white male.

    NBC News:

    The person of interest was identified by police as Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 22, from the area. They’re looking for a silver, 2010 Honda Fit compact vehicle with Illinois plate DM80653.

    He was described as armed and dangerous, and members of the public were warned not to approach him if he’s spotted.

    Police wouldn’t reveal what led them to Crimo.

    A high-powered rifle has been found, and police are searching for a gunman, described as a white man ages 18 to 20 with long black hair, who opened fire about 10:14 a.m. CT, Highland Park Police Cmdr. Chris O’Neill told reporters. […]

  86. Jean says

    Re #98
    It wouldn’t surprise me if they found the body of a member of his family killed before the mass shooting.

  87. says

    Jean @99, I see that law enforcement officials have now apprehended the “person of interest.” Still don’t know any more about him.

  88. Akira MacKenzie says

    Just like they right-wing initially blamed the Uvalde massacre on a “transgender illegal,” I wonder what marginalized groups they’re going to wrongly accuse this shooter of being affiliated with this time?

  89. StevoR says

    On the recent British GP Climate protest here – some more details. It seems to have not had much publicity – deliberately ignored (?) by the mainstream media sources :


    Plus an inteview with one of the ‘Stop Oil’ protest spokespeople – James Skeet here – nealy nine minutes long and with hostile interviewers but still gets to put their side of it with some notable facts cited.

  90. blf says

    Lynna@100, Thanks! That was a unique, different, and effective rendition of a almost-unsingable song set to the tune of a olde British(?) pubdrinking tune. Here’s an HD link (including the short message at the end), Привітання до Дня Незалежності США / Greetings for the Independence Day of the USA (video). One of the commentators there put it quite nicely (quoted in full):

    I usually don’t care about over the top patriotic stuff about USA, since I’m on the other side of the world.
    But this was… Different. And amazing. USA, as weird, dramatic and internally divided as she is, is also a friend. And a protector. Not just for Ukraine, but also for all Eastern flank. And we can count on USA probably more than those two unsure and fearful European countries, of which Sauerkraut and Baguettes come 😁
    Jokes aside, this was an epic and most beautiful arrangement of Star Spangled Banner I’ve ever heard. And I got tears. Friendship between nations.
    Happy 4th of July!

  91. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    A Ukrainian mathematician who proved the best way to pack spheres in eight dimensions to take up the least space, and an Oxford expert who has solved conundrums in the spacing of prime numbers, are among the winners of the Fields medal, considered the equivalent of a Nobel prize for mathematics.

    The winners of the prize, presented at the International Mathematical Union awards ceremony in Helsinki, have been announced as Prof James Maynard 37, from Oxford University, Prof Maryna Viazovska, 37, of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Hugo Duminil-Copin, 36, of the University of Geneva and Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, and June Huh, 39, of Princeton University.

    While the first Fields medal was awarded in 1936, there was a hiatus until 1950, since when it has been presented every four years to up to four mathematicians who are under 40.

    Viazovska, who was born and grew up in Kyiv, is only the second woman to receive the award, after the win by Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who became a medalist in 2014. Mirzzakhani died of breast cancer in 2017.

    A Russian-flagged ship carrying thousands of tonnes of grain is being held and investigated by Turkish authorities in the Black Sea port of Karasu over claims its cargo was stolen from Ukraine.

    Turkish customs officials acted after Kyiv claimed the Zhibek Zholy was illegally transporting 7,000 tonnes of grain out of Russian-occupied Berdyansk, a Ukrainian port in the south-east of the country.

    Officials in Karasu said the ship was waiting off port while inquiries were undertaken into the provenance of the shipment….

    Russia’s parliament has approved the first stage of laws that would allow the country to move to a war economy.

    The two bills would authorise the government to oblige businesses to supply the military with goods and their employees to work overtime to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports….

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said he held further talks with Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, about the latest situation in Ukraine.

    The call between the two leaders came as Johnson faces mounting pressure over his decision to appoint the former Conservative deputy chief whip, Chris Pincher, who resigned last week over allegations he groped two men at a private members’ club in London….

    Finland and Sweden sign ‘historic’ Nato accession protocol

    The 30 Nato member countries have signed accession protocols for Finland and Sweden, sending the membership bids of the two Nordic countries to allied parliaments for approval.

    The protocol means Finland and Sweden can join in Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence, but will not be protected by an alliance defence clause – that an attack on one ally is an attack against all – until ratification….

  92. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian UK liveblog (featuring l’affaire Pincher).

    They share a tweet from David Lammy:

    Michael Ellis has just confirmed Boris Johnson did know the details of the 2019 Chris Pincher complaint, but was “unable to immediately recall them”. Let that sink in. The Prime Minister’s defence for promoting Pincher despite the complaint is seriously that he forgot.

  93. says

    Guardian – “‘Go home’: Honduran islanders fights against crypto colonialists”:

    …Perched on an incline where the road splits the countryside as much as the community, Webster’s home on the island of Roatán is at the center of a battle over land rights and sovereignty that has galvanized Honduras.

    It’s also symptomatic of a broader phenomenon throughout the region, where foreigners – often cryptocurrency enthusiasts, libertarians or both – have flocked in recent years, supporting controversial projects – such as the proposed “Bitcoin City” in El Salvador – threatening to displace local residents and drawing comparisons to colonialists.

    Webster has a message for the ones who moved in next door: “Go home.”

    When the new Honduran government repealed a pair of laws in late April that had allowed for the creation of semi-autonomous zones called a ZEDE, it sent a similar message. But investors in the ZEDE on Roatán, known as Honduras Próspera, have challenged the move.

    The result is a standoff in which investors are gambling with millions, the government could be at-risk of a costly lawsuit and the fate of the affected communities hangs in the balance.

    The controversy dates back roughly a decade, when the Honduran [illegitimate coup regime] reformed [LOL] the constitution and passed a law that paved the way for the creation of Employment and Economic Development Zones (ZEDE). The idea was ripped from economist Paul Romer’s proposal of charter cities, which the Nobel-prize winner theorized could promote development in areas plagued by poor governance.

    Romer proposed that a foreign nation act as a guarantor for the governance of charter cities. But the Honduran law instead allowed corporations to build a private city.

    The issue fell into the background until 2020, when word spread that the first charter city had been established in Crawfish Rock – to the surprise of the village’s residents. “We didn’t even know what a ZEDE was,” said Luisa Connor, president of the local community association.

    Investors had first appeared in Crawfish Rock about three years before as a charitable foundation, opening a community center and talking about plans to build a tourist center nearby. Residents said they saw no reason to be suspicious.

    “It’s not anything out of the way for people to come and start building around us or starting projects,” said Connor.

    Representatives of Próspera have said that they informed the community of their intentions in June 2019, citing a document that was signed by a couple dozen residents that contains the word ZEDE, but doesn’t explain what it is. “They deceived us big time,” said Connor.

    Further enflaming the situation, Própsera posted on its website drawings of three stages of expansion that appeared to include the center of Crawfish Rock within its jurisdiction, stoking fears that investors could invoke a legal clause that would allow for the expropriation of the land the community has lived on for generations. Representatives of Próspera promised that they would not go that route, but their words provided little comfort.

    As the controversy spread across the nation, a movement was born that demanded the protection of land rights and decried the concession of sovereign territory to foreigners and corporations.

    President Xiomara Castro, who was elected in a landslide in November, made the ZEDE a signature issue of her campaign. When Castro sanctioned the repeal in April, she called it the most important day in her presidency thus far.

    For the people of Crawfish Rock, it most certainly was. “Words cannot describe how happy we were,” said Connor.

    But the elation was short-lived. Just before the repeal, Próspera announced a new round of investments totaling $60m and the adoption of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal tender. In the weeks and months since, the company has continued to operate as if nothing’s changed, moving ahead with construction projects and clinging to their plan to build a libertarian oasis of sorts.

    Government officials said that any ZEDE currently operating has one year to conform to another kind of legal framework. But investors cite a sunset clause in the ZEDE law that gives them a term of at least ten years, as well as other international trade agreements that they claim grants them decades more.

    Legal analysts consulted by the Guardian suggested that in order to avoid a lawsuit, the government could either strike an agreement with investors, or challenge whether the ZEDEs were created in strict accordance with the now repealed law.

    Meanwhile, the residents of Crawfish Rock remain vigilant. “We have our eyes open,” said Connor. “We don’t trust no one.”

  94. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian US liveblog. From there:

    Americans are continuing to grapple with the supreme court’s ruling last month allowing states to ban abortion – including the founder of the country’s largest provider of the procedure. Jessica Glenza spoke to Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, about how the group plans to help women continue accessing abortions:

    In the time after the US supreme court rescinded the constitutional right to abortion in America and thereby allowed nearly a dozen states to outlaw the procedure, the president and CEO of the US’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, has worked feverishly with three goals in mind.

    Alexis McGill Johnson wants to get women where they need to be to access abortion, whether that means helping patients cross state lines or flying doctors to states where abortion remains legal.

    Then, she wants to win in state courts. Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed 11 lawsuits seeking to delay abortion bans or, perhaps optimistically, strike them down entirely.

    “What we can see, essentially, is just a lot of chaos, a lot of confusion and a lot of concern for patients on the ground being able to get the care they need,” McGill Johnson told The Guardian. “What we’ve also seen is a significant amount of rage.”

    That will power her third goal – to win at the ballot box.

    “Our work right now is to maximize the care that we can in the states that we can, and also take this moment as an opportunity to maximize mobilization.”

  95. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Conservative MPs are escalting their campaign for second no confidence vote in Boris Johnson in the light of the latest developments in the Chris Pincher scandal, ITV’s Paul Brand reports….

  96. says

    Guardian podcast – “Understanding the cryptocurrency crash”:

    When the global financial system went into meltdown in 2008, banks collapsed and governments around the world were forced to step in to prevent the entire financial system from collapsing. It cost billions of dollars and, as well as that, it proved a pivotal moment: it profoundly shook the confidence that many had in their governments.

    As Alex Hern tells Nosheen Iqbal, this period also coincided with the rise of a new technology allowing a new type of currency: one that is not underwritten by governments but instead exists purely online: bitcoin was born. At first it was a novelty, useful for buying illicit goods on the dark web and not much more. But bitcoin grew and grew and despite some significant bumps along the way, it reached a peak of $69,000 per bitcoin. Anyone who’d invested in it, or a swathe of other competing cryptocurrencies, found themselves incredibly rich – in theory anyway.

    But this year things took a dramatic turn. As the economies were buffeted by inflation fears and investors headed for safer bets, cryptocurrencies began to drop dramatically in value. Some – like Alex Koh, an investor and YouTube personality, found themselves all but wiped out after sitting on small fortunes. For those who have ridden out the storm so far, there is hope that this year is a blip. But can bitcoin bounce back?

  97. says

    Text quoted by SC @107:

    Representatives of Próspera promised that they would not go that route, but their words provided little comfort.

    Don’t trust Crypto dudes.

    blf @104, glad you enjoyed that. The Ukrainian rendition of the song was one of the few things I enjoyed about July 4th.

  98. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Minister prompts laughter in House of Lords as he tells them of ‘robust system for upholding public standards’

    The statement that Michael Ellis, the Cabinet Office minister, read out to MPs as he answered the urgent question about standards in public life… was particularly pompous and circumlocutionary. “We are fortunate in this country to have a sophisticated and robust system for upholding public standards,” Ellis told MPs. “That system is multi-faceted; it is made up of interlocking and complementary elements.” You can read the rest of it in its glory on the Hansard website.

    After a UQ in the Commons, a minister in the House of Lords reads out the same statement, word for word, before taking questions. Lord True, a Cabinet Office minister, read Ellis’s statement to peers this afternoon and as he opened they responded by laughing. They seemed to find the line about “a sophisticated and robust system for upholding public standards” particularly amusing. Even Natalie Evans, the leader of the Lords sitting alongside True, seemed to see the funny side….

    They provide this (Twitter) link to the video. I don’t know why, but I’m struck by this. I felt nauseated watching it.

    The Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall is urging cabinet ministers to mount a coup against Boris Johnson. Mangnall, MP for Totnes, voted against Johnson in the no confidence ballot.

    [They link to his tweet: “It is time for cabinet colleagues to recognise the appalling damage that the Prime Minister is doing to the party, government and country.

    It isn’t good enough and each day that passes those who sit in cabinet will be more complicit with this farcical situation.


    There were a lot of Tories making similar appeals just after the two byelections defeats in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton. They were ignored, but this time the mood is more ominous for the PM.

  99. says

    Summarized from a CNN report:

    Kristina Karamo, the Trump-backed Republican nominee for Michigan secretary of state, is on record describing abortion as a “satanic practice.” A CNN report on this added Karamo also said on a podcast that demonic possession is real and can be transmitted through “intimate relationships.”

    Yeah. That sounds about right.

  100. says

    Steve Benen’s commentary:

    […] in a metaphor that was a little too on the nose, Georgia Republican Herschel Walker’s car broke down during a parade over the weekend. The Senate hopeful’s car certainly looked nice on the outside, but there were apparently some troubles below the surface.


  101. says


    Donald Trump’s media company was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in connection with a criminal probe, according to the company with which the former president’s firm plans to merge. Digital World Acquisition Corp. said in a filing Friday that Trump Media and Technology Group received a subpoena from the grand jury in Manhattan on Thursday. The Trump company also received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a civil probe on Monday, DWAC said.


    […] It was last fall when the former president and his team launched the Trump Media & Technology Group, which appeared to have bold, multimedia ambitions: It said it intended to compete with both Twitter and Netflix. To that end, the operation even hired a high-profile CEO: Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, despite his lack of media experience, announced he’d resign from Congress to lead the nascent company.

    It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. […] the Twitter-like Truth Social app was plagued by technical difficulties and missed deadlines. Some top executives’ resignations made matters worse.

    But the most dramatic problem relates to the venture’s financing.

    Because the former president has a history of bankruptcies and loan defaults, he couldn’t simply go to a major American financial institution to help bankroll his media venture. So, Trump agreed to merge his operation with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), called Digital World Acquisition. As The New York Times has reported, “To get his deal done, Mr. Trump ventured into an unregulated and sometimes shadowy corner of Wall Street, working with an unlikely cast of characters.”

    [Trump] ended up working with a dubious Chinese operation, all of which apparently drew the interest of investigators at the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which typically investigates things like insider trading.

    […] the shell company that intends to merge with Trump’s company said its board of directors received subpoenas from a federal grand jury — and now that same federal grand jury, as part of the same criminal investigation, has subpoenaed Trump’s company, too.

    […] this isn’t the only criminal investigation surrounding [Trump], but it is one of the former president’s biggest headaches. As Axios recently reported, “Truth Social’s financial prospects are heavily reliant on investment tied to the merger.”

    The more the investigations delay the merger being finalized, the more it’s an open question as to whether Trump’s venture will ever get the capital it’s looking for.



  102. says

    A White House reference to the “liberal world order” caused a massive freak-out on the right, but the apoplexy was wildly misplaced.

    In June 2019, as a G-20 summit was poised to get underway, Russia’s Vladimir Putin echoed one of this favorite claims about Western-style liberalism: It’s “become obsolete,” the authoritarian leader declared.

    Soon after, at the same international gathering, a reporter asked Donald Trump for his reaction. The problem was, the then-American president quickly made clear that he didn’t understand the question at a conceptual level.

    “Well, he may feel that way,” the Republican said, referring to his counterpart in Moscow. “He says what’s going on. I guess you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look, and what’s happening in San Francisco, and a couple other cities which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people, I don’t know what they’re thinking…. We can’t continue to let that happen to our cities.”

    In other words, Trump heard a reference to “Western-style liberalism” and immediately thought of Democrats in California. That’s because the Republican has probably never taken a political science class, which would’ve taught him that Western-style liberalism refers to free countries with advanced economies in Europe and North America.

    When Putin dismissed the West as “obsolete,” he wasn’t referring to San Francisco; he was condemning the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, et al.

    All of this came to mind late last week, after President Joe Biden connected Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to American consumers paying higher gas prices. Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, was asked about this on CNN. He responded:

    “Well, what you heard from the president today was a clear articulation of the stakes. ​​This is about the future of the liberal world order and we have to stand firm. But at the same time, what I would say to that family and Americans across the country is you have a president and an administration that is going to do everything in its power to blunt those price increases and bring those prices down.”

    The phrasing wasn’t especially unusual — Biden made nearly identical comments in March and May, generating effectively zero pushback — but Deese’s comments nevertheless caused a surprisingly robust freak-out on the right.

    One Fox News personality declared, “That one sound bite should be in every commercial for every Republican campaign.” Donald Trump Jr. insisted that the phrase confirmed right-wing conspiracy theories. Pretty much every conservative outlet you can think of joined the outrage parade — the gist was that a White House official had “admitted” something nefarious — and as of this morning, the clip of Deese’s comments on CNN has been viewed nearly 4 million times on Twitter.

    The apoplexy is misplaced. As Politico summarized:

    For those not steeped in international relations jargon, the “liberal world order” (or the “liberal international order”) refers to the rules and norms that have governed global affairs since the end of World War II — and is not related to domestic American liberal politics. In other words, Deese’s answer basically boils down to “If the West doesn’t defend Ukraine, then democracy around the world is undermined and threatened.”

    In fairness, it’s worth noting that some on the left weren’t altogether pleased with Deese’s phrasing, arguing that White House officials should use less sophisticated language that would be more difficult for Republicans to manipulate and exploit.

    Maybe so. But let’s not pretend that Deese said something scandalous, when in reality, he stated a simple truth. For generations, Democrats and Republicans have both supported the liberal world order, and it’s likely that some of the conservatives who went berserk on Friday know that.

  103. says

    ‘New Lows’: Kinzinger Posts Audio Of Violent Threats His Interns Have Had To Field For Him

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of two Republicans who serve on the Jan. 6 Select Committee, posted audio on Tuesday exposing the violent threats his office has received in recent weeks and months — graphic and disturbing threats that have been fielded by interns serving in his D.C. office.

    In a tweet, Kinzinger shared audio that he described as a “new low” in terms of the attacks he’s received over the last few years. Kinzinger has faced backlash since he became a vocal critic of former President Trump following the deadly Capitol insurrection last year.

    The video — which Kinzinger noted was compiled by his new interns, who are in high school or college — contains audio of voicemails and phone calls with profanities and ominous language threatening the lawmaker and his family’s safety. Some of the callers are heard attacking Kinzinger for his defiance of Trump. [Video containing foul & graphic language is available at the link]

    Kinzinger has previously given stark warnings about the dangers he and others on the Jan. 6 Select Committee face as they expose evidence on Trump’s incitement of the insurrection, all while GOPers continues to push the Big Lie heading into the 2024 presidential election.

    In an interview with ABC News last month, Kinzinger described a letter mailed to his house. The writer threatened to execute him, his wife and his five-month-old child at the time.

    Kinzinger urged the public to take the threat of political violence seriously moving forward. He argued that kind of violence can only be avoided if his GOP colleagues “get a grip” and stop adhering to myths about a stolen 2020 election.

    “There’s violence in the future, I’m going to tell you,” Kinzinger said last month. “And until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can’t expect any differently.”

  104. says


    Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin considers abrogating the 2010 treaty between Russia and Norway on maritime borders

    The Russia-Norway clash over Svalbard is escalating and creates an important new fault-line in the Arctic

  105. says

    The Guardian liveblog has links to two tweets by reporter Dan Hodges:

    Tory MPs being phoned to go to the Tea-Room to meet Boris. Significant number suddenly have prior engagements.

    Mood this evening consistent. Tory MPs have snapped. View is enough is enough.

  106. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #117:

    In fairness, it’s worth noting that some on the left weren’t altogether pleased with Deese’s phrasing, arguing that White House officials should use less sophisticated language that would be more difficult for Republicans to manipulate and exploit.

    Oh, for the love of fuck.

  107. says

    Oh, FFS.

    […] One key piece of the American Rescue Plan was a prohibition on states using its funds for tax cuts. This money was about recovery from the COVID-19 economy, not about giving rich people and corporations yet another tax break. That’s the piece Republicans really want to unwind, because giving rich people and corporations yet another tax break is a very large chunk of the Republican agenda.

    […] Republicans have repeatedly prevailed in court in their insistence that they can use the federal money for something other than what it was allocated for. Rather than investing in public health, vaccinations, state or local government capacity to deliver services, or education—where staffing is a crisis, having dropped by nearly 5% since the beginning of the pandemic—Republicans are playing budget games where they claim they’re paying for a tax cut out of the state’s general coffers, then move federal relief money into said general coffers from the agencies that were supposed to be spending it on the purposes for which it was intended.

    […] At the urging of the Chamber of Commerce, more than a dozen states have spared businesses tax increases by pouring billions in federal money into replenishing their unemployment insurance funds, which had been drained by the early-pandemic jobs crisis. That $14 billion hasn’t gone to other priorities, all to protect businesses from fulfilling their responsibilities when they cause workers to become unemployed.

    In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a plan paying for a $200 million pause in the state’s gas tax with COVID-19 relief money, a move that at least didn’t exclusively benefit the wealthy, but was nonetheless in violation of the federal law—and damaging to people in Florida, who will miss out on the investments the ARPA was supposed to cover.

    […] Tax breaks over services is a standard Republican move. What’s different right now is that Republicans are using federal money that came to their states with specific intentions, diverting the money from doing the work Congress allocated it for in order to slash taxes. That weakens the economy and will be a real liability if a recession hits. But Republicans don’t care—if anything, they embrace it.


  108. says

    From this week’s Meduza liveblog:

    Making it harder to remove children from abusive homes: Conservative lawmakers in both houses of Parliament have drafted amendments to Russia’s domestic relations code that would require a court order to remove children from a home, erasing the power of child services to make this decision independently in the event that they determine a child is in danger. The proposed reforms introduce “temporary child-protection measures” that prioritize transferring minors to the custody of relatives when parents are suddenly unable to care for their children for whatever reason. Most importantly, the legislation establishes “a presumption of parents’ good faith,” meaning that all parenting acts will be considered sincere (and legal) unless proven otherwise.

    Russia models new youth program on Soviet past: Damir Fattakhov, the federal youth affairs official who will likely manage Russia’s revamped government youth program, says the state is “returning to past experience” and modeling its “Great Change” movement on the three stages of Soviet youth movements: Little Octobrists (grades 1–4), Pioneers (grades 5–8), and Komsomol members (grades 9–11). State Duma lawmakers adopted the first reading of legislation on June 7 that would make President Putin the chairman of the Great Change movement’s supervisory board.

    Griner appeals to Biden on July 4: WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner sent a letter to President Biden on Monday from Russia, where she has been jailed since mid-February after airport security in Moscow found multiple cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison for “importing narcotics.” “As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner told Biden in her letter.

  109. says

    Another – Guardian liveblog:

    And Rishi Sunak has resigned as chancellor too, saying the government should be run “properly, competently and seriously”.

  110. says

    Ukraine Update: HIMARS has even longer range, thus more effective than its official specs

    The ELINT News Twitter account plotted HIMAR strike locations on a map and learned that the rocket artillery system has an actual range of around 85 kilometers, much longer than the 70 kilometers claimed on the system’s spec sheet. [map at the link]

    This might explain Ukraine’s use of HIMARS almost exclusively at night, as it has been driving close to the front lines to hit targets well behind them. Now Russia will be forced to reassess the location of those supply depots, lengthening supply lines it already has a hard time maintaining.

    I wrote yesterday that each guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket cost $135,000 based on some news stories. I dug deeper to confirm, and the cost of GMLRS in 2000 was around $43,000 per rocket. But it’s 22 years later, and the latest contract with Lockheed Martin priced the rockets at $1.1 billion for 9,000 GMLRS rockets and 2,000 cheap practice rounds. Average price is $100,000 per rocket, but given the practice rounds are likely significantly cheaper, $135,000 per actual GMLRS makes sense. That means the bottleneck will continue to be hyperexpensive ammunition. One pod is $810,000, and supply is limited—only 50,000 of the rockets have been produced, not all of them delivered to Ukraine’s partners, some used up in Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and smaller operators won’t surrender their expensive and limited supply to Ukraine. Only 9,000 are produced per year. Older rockets have cluster munitions banned by international treaty, and there seems to be little appetite to deploy them. (Assuming those rockets still exist somewhere, unexploded cluster bombs would dramatically complicate post-war cleanup.)

    HIMARS […]—a launcher costs $5.1 million, or just six rocket volleys. It’s the ammo that breaks the bank, which is why the allies have committed to just 15 launchers that fire those pods. Yet there’s a reason these rockets cost so much: They are satellite-guided. So while Russia’s equivalent MLRS systems have a margin of error of around half a mile (adequate, since they’re just leveling cities), a guided MLRS rocket will hit within 1 meter of its intended target.

    That level of accuracy allows Ukraine to target Russian ammunition depots nestled in populated areas: [Tweet and video at the link]

    One of the wonders of HIMARS is that each rocket can be individually programmed to hit a different target. You can see the trajectory vary in these rocket launches: [Tweet and video showing “Independence Day fireworks from HIMARS” available at the link]

    It takes little time to reload a HIMARS, but given likely ammunition shortages and Russian desperation to take these systems out, it’s more important for HIMARS to stay mobile to increase its survivability. It likely won’t fire a second volley anywhere near a launch site. [video of Ukrainian forces reloading a M142 HIMARS in the field is available at the link]

    Note how the HIMARS arrives at a location with a fresh pod already lying on the ground. Supply trucks will sprinkle pods at various locations, making them 1) nearly impossible for Russian drones to find, and 2) easy to limit the damage if they are found and targeted. Even if the HIMARS vehicle itself is found and targeted, the toll would be the single vehicle (which, remember, at $5 million is relatively inexpensive) and three crew members. [JFC, the cost of war, and the relatively blasé accounting, astounds me.] A typical artillery emplacement, with supply vehicles in tow, could easily lose 20 soldiers or more if successfully targeted.

    HIMARS can drive 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour), with a range of around 500 kilometers on a tank of gas. That means it can float freely between the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia fronts. (Sloviansk to Zaporizhzhia city is 330 kilometers, or four to six hours of driving depending on the condition of roads.) The Kherson front is too far, however, so it will need to be covered by some of the HIMARS or M270 MLRS launchers that will be arriving in country later this month.

    The Kherson front is starved of modern artillery, per local reports. No HIMARS for sure, but also no M777 howitzers. Despite that, Ukraine continues to advance on that front. [map at the link]

    Snihurivka, that pointy red area in the center of the map, has seen fierce fighting the last week as Ukrainian forces have been trying to displace entrenched Russians on the northern edge of the village. Ukraine seems to be having more luck on that northwestern approach to Kherson and has also been rolling back Russians from the Kryvyi Rih approach, the top-right corner of this map.

    Look at NASA FIRMS fire data overlaid by territorial control. (Open in new window to see better details.) [map at the link]

    Ukraine may not have the latest long-range artillery on this front, but that’s not stopping it from absolutely smacking the shit out of Russian positions. We have never seen this level of fire on this front before. Here it is without territorial control overlay: [map at the link]

    Ukraine says a full-scale counteroffensive isn’t in store until August and September, but Ukraine is already working hard to “shape the battlefield.” [snipped details concerning Ukraine’s retreat from Severodonetsk and Lysychansk; and the controversy over the decision to defend those positions in the first place]

  111. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Javid/Sunak resignations – snap analysis

    It could all be over for Boris Johnson – although quite how long it will take his enemies to finish him off is not at all clear and his defenestration does not look immediate. The two byelection defeats almost two weeks ago prompted calls for cabinet ministers to mount a coup against Boris Johnson, and it finally it seems to be happening.

    We have not had confirmation yet, but it is impossible to believe that the resignations of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak were not coordinated. Perhaps there are more to come.

    The Sunak resignation is the most serious of the too. Since the spring statement, the chancellor has not been the obvious heir apparent he once was. But he is still a powerful figure in the party. The resignation of Nigel Lawson helped to bring down Margaret Thatcher, although it took just over a year for that to eventually play out.

    Even if there are no more resignations, the mood in the Conservative party has already turned against Johnson – perhaps decisively.

    Under current rules Johnson is safe from another leadership challenge until next summer. But the executive of the 1922 Committee can change the rules whenever it wants. A new anti-Johnson executive is expected to be elected next week, but even the current executive – more evently split between loyalists and critics – could act now if it felt there was a consensus in the party.

    Johnson is famously stubborn, and he is unlikely to quit just because two ministers have decided to go. But increasingly Conservative MPs believe they have no chance of winning the next election under his leadership. Ultimately that assessment should prove decisive.

  112. says

    Julia Davis:

    Meanwhile on Russian state TV: Apti Alaudinov, the commander of the Chechen detachment “Akhmat” fighting in Ukraine, tells state TV host Olga Skabeeva that Russian forces “already pinned down NATO and the U.S.” and are ready “to put all of Europe on its knees.” She’s thrilled.

    Subtitled video at the (Twitter) link. Worth watching in full.

  113. says

    In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the fact checkers are at great pains to issue lectures on the subject of ectopic pregnancy treatment. Is it abortion or is it not? More importantly, should we be tut-tutting over viral social media posts describing it as abortion?

    Here’s the reality: It doesn’t matter whether the fact checkers or the average layperson consider ectopic pregnancy treatment to be abortion. What matters is whether the treatment is available to people whose lives are endangered by ectopic pregnancy—and there’s a lot of evidence that abortion bans will restrict the availability of this lifesaving medical care.

    […] if you consider a procedure or spontaneous bodily event to be abortion only if the product of conception is expelled or removed specifically from the uterus, then termination of an ectopic pregnancy is not, by definition, abortion.

    We can talk definitions all day long, but reality is being affected by laws sloppily written by people who do not care about how to properly define the terms associated with medical treatment. For instance, state abortion bans often refer to the “unborn child,” but “that’s a word that means nothing to me as an obstetrician, because I deal in the words of ‘embryo,’ ‘fetus,’ and perhaps ‘neonate,’” Louise Perkins King, director of reproductive bioethics at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Vox.

    Fact checkers splitting hairs over the definition of abortion do not help if doctors and pharmacists (and hospital lawyers) are concerned about prosecution for treating an ectopic pregnancy. The reality that doctors and patients face is this: “I am worried that people will [delay treating] very sick, pregnant patients longer than they should, in fear of being prosecuted,” Jeannie Kelly, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Kansas Reflector. “This isn’t just our licenses, this isn’t malpractice. This is a criminal felony charge with jail time.”

    “When people are unclear about what these laws mean, and you’re talking large penalties for physicians, you know, loss of license, jail time, felony charges,” Amy Addante, an OB-GYN and fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, […] “The delays that are occurring as they seek legal clarity to make sure that they can legally do what they know to be medically right, it’s really dangerous for that patient.” [!!!]

    If you want to understand how easily the treatment of ectopic pregnancy can be twisted to imply that it’s something other than the removal of a nonviable conception causing serious risk of fatality, consider this trash New York Times op-ed, which argues, “From a pro-life perspective, delivering a baby who is ectopic is closer to delivering a baby very prematurely because the mother has life-threatening eclampsia.” There is, as many, many people pointed out on Twitter, no such thing as “a baby who is ectopic,” yet those words made it into The New York Times. While that piece is arguing that ectopic pregnancy treatment is acceptable in an anti-abortion framework, the existence and high-profile validation of language like “baby who is ectopic” is an active danger to people whose pregnancies are ectopic.

    […] there have already been cases under existing abortion bans where medical providers hesitated to provide ectopic pregnancy treatment out of fear of the legal consequences, waiting until the emergency was visible and undeniable enough that they were sure they wouldn’t get in trouble—despite the cost to person whose care was delayed. Your abortion ban can leave something officially legal, but if doctors are too frightened to provide it, the effect is the same as if the ban were explicitly written in the law.

    These concerns about delayed care don’t just affect ectopic pregnancies. While many abortion bans have exemptions for cases where the life of the mother is endangered, they’re really unclear what that means.

    A Texas abortion provider said, ”My lawyer told me, ‘Unless they are on that table dying in front of you, you cannot do an abortion on them or you are breaking the law.’”

    Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, Lisa Harris, a professor of reproductive health at the University of Michigan, asked, “What does the risk of death have to be, and how imminent must it be? Might abortion be permissible in a patient with pulmonary hypertension, for whom we cite a 30-to-50% chance of dying with ongoing pregnancy? Or must it be 100%?”

    […] ”What’s really important and sad is that you really can’t keep the patient’s best interest in mind,” sociologist and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California San Francisco Lori Freedman told Vox. […]

    Abortion bans will kill—not just when people seek unsafe, unregulated care and pay the price, but when doctors look at patients whose lives are genuinely threatened by their pregnancies and … hesitate. Republicans are intimidating doctors away from providing lifesaving care, and “the law has a life-of-the-mother exception” is no defense against the real-world outcomes here.


  114. says

    Anti-Putin jokes:

    What will Vladimir Putin be remembered for?
    Turning the world’s second most powerful military into the second most powerful military in Ukraine.
    Vladimir Putin visits an elementary school in Siberia. After he gives a speech, the children have a chance to ask their leader questions.
    Eventually, little Sasha raises his hand and says, “I have two questions.”
    “1. Why did Russia invade Crimea?
    2. Why are Russian soldiers currently in Ukraine?”
    Before Putin has a chance to respond, the bell rings, and all the children run out for recess.
    When they return, another child, Vova, raises his hand and says, “I have four questions.”
    ”1. Why did Russia invade Crimea?
    2. Why are Russian soldiers currently in Ukraine?
    3. Why did the bell ring early today?
    4. Where is Sasha?”
    A man is standing in Red Square in Moscow with a handmade sign that says:
    “Stop the insanity! End the reign of the bloody madman!”
    Two FSB agents walk up to him and get ready to arrest him.
    Protesting, the man says: “Why are you arresting me? My sign is meant to be against Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky — the bloody madman!”
    ”Right, right,” says the FSB agent. “We all know who you’re referring to.”
    Viktor Orban, Marine Le Pen, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump all go out to a bar. Who picks up the tab?
    Vladimir Putin.

    Anti-Donald Trump jokes:

    Did you hear the Trump Presidential Library burned down?
    This was a tragedy, not only because both of the books were burned, but Donald had only colored-in one of them.

    Why did the Pentagon change the U.S. nuclear code to 141 characters?
    So that Donald Trump couldn’t tweet it.

    What is the main difference between a chickpea and a kidney bean?
    Donald Trump has never paid to have a kidney bean on his face.

    And if anyone thinks it’s inappropriate to be telling jokes about Vladimir Putin in the midst of a brutal invasion, the only thing I can say in my defense is: if I know anything about Ukrainians, their soldiers are probably telling these very same jokes (or ones very similar) as they face down Russian artillery in the trenches. Slava Ukraini.


  115. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A Georgia grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election result in the state has issued subpoenas to a number of the former president’s attorneys and allies, including senator Lindsey Graham.

    The special grand jury empaneled in Fulton county, where the capital and largest city Atlanta lies, issued the subpoenas today, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    In addition to Giuliani, among those being summoned are John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesbro and Jenna Ellis, all of whom advised Trump on strategies for overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s wins in Georgia and other swing states.

    The grand jury also subpoenaed South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s top allies in the U.S. Senate, and attorney and podcast host Jacki Pick Deason.

    The subpoenas, were filed July 5 and signed off by Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who is overseeing the special grand jury. Unlike subpoenas issued to Georgians, the summons were required to receive McBurney’s blessing since they are for people who reside outside the state.

    Viewers of the January 6 committee’s hearings will remember Eastman, the lawyer who, according to testimony from witnesses before the lawmakers, worked with Trump on his plot to undermine the results of the 2020 election. Eastman is among those who asked Trump for a pardon before he left office.

  116. says

    Police believe suspect planned Highland Park shooting for ‘several weeks’

    Police said at a news conference Tuesday that the suspect in the Highland Park, Ill., shooting planned the attack for “several weeks” before killing six and wounding dozens more at a Fourth of July parade
    Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said Robert “Bobby” Crimo III brought a “high-powered rifle” similar to an AR-15 and accessed the roof of a local business through a fire escape ladder before he allegedly opened fire on the crowd.

    He said that after Crimo stopped firing, he escaped into the crowd wearing women’s clothing to conceal his identity and tattoos.

    Covelli said the suspect allegedly fired more than 70 bullets. He added that there are “no indications” that anyone else was involved in carrying out the attack.

    Covelli said investigators are still reviewing leads and will meet with the state’s attorney to discuss charges to file against Crimo once they are ready to review the information gathered.

    He said police are in discussions with Crimo but declined to share additional information. He said law enforcement is still working to determine a motive.

    Thus far, officials have “no reason” to believe that the attack was motivated by race, religion or any protected minority group, according to police.

    Highland Park has a significant Jewish population, with at least a third of the suburb’s residents identifying as Jewish, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

    Covelli said Crimo went to his mother’s house after the shooting and borrowed her car. Police do not believe he told his mother what happened.

    […] Crimo was arrested without incident after a short pursuit.

    Covelli said police found a second rifle when they stopped him, and other firearms were recovered in Crimo’s home. He said his guns were legally purchased.

    Covelli also noted that Crimo is 21 years old and will turn 22 in September. Law enforcement had previously announced that he was already 22.

  117. says

    New omicron subvariant BA.5 now a majority of US COVID-19 cases

    A new omicron subvariant known as BA.5 now comprises a majority of U.S. COVID-19 cases, according to data released Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The data is a sign of the rise of the highly transmissible subvariant, which has prompted concern about a new increase in cases.

    BA.5, along with a related subvariant known as BA.4, has mutations that have shown an increased ability to evade the protection from vaccines and previous infection.

    Vaccines still offer important protection, especially against severe disease and hospitalization, and experts say the rise of the new subvariants make it even more important that people get their booster shots if they have not already. […]

  118. says

    SC @131, yeah. And it is good to laugh.

    Wonkette: “White GA Candidates Who Ratf*cked Black Lady’s School Job Lose Elections Like Big Old Losers”

    You might recall that ProPublica story back in June about how rightwing activists in Georgia mobilized a bogus panic over “critical race theory” to drive a Black woman, Cecelia Lewis, out of an administrative job with the Cherokee County School District last year. Lewis had never actually heard of the rightwing moral panic over CRT at the time she took the job. But the position had “diversity, equity and inclusion” in the job title, so clearly, the astroturf groups insisted, Lewis had to be a communist trying to brainwash little white kids into hating America and themselves. Lewis resigned before even starting the job.

    Then, when Lewis was hired to supervise social studies teachers in neighboring Cobb County, the same crowd of rightwingers howled even more, because why would the schools hire this known Marxist that they had driven out of a job by lying about her? The school district bravely knuckled under to pressure, gave Lewis busywork that had nothing to do with teaching, and she left that job, too.

    And now, the Nice Time we promised you with our headline: Three of the white people who’d organized to force Lewis out of her jobs lost their election bids in Georgia’s June 21 primary runoff elections. Two lost elections for seats on the Cherokee County school board, and a third finally sort-of conceded Saturday that she’d lost a run for the Georgia House of Representatives, although she insisted the local board of elections had cheated her by not allowing a recount, even though she claimed to have evidence of serious “discrepancies” in the vote.

    ProPublica reports that the two Cherokee County school board candidates, Sean Kaufman and Ray Lynch, were “defeated by wide margins” after running as part of a four-candidate slate that promised to make the school board much more conservative.[Yay! Defeated!] (The other two members of the “4CanDoMore” slate lost their primary runs outright May 24, without getting enough votes to force a runoff against the incumbents.)

    The third losing candidate, Noelle Kahaian, was a key figure in the effort to smear Lewis; she lost her bid for the state House by just 23 votes, just a hair over the half-percent margin that would have allowed her to request a recount. In a video posted to Facebook Saturday, the day after the vote was certified, Kahaian complained that the elections board had completely ignored her requests for a recount on the basis of all the cheating she’s sure happened, although she somehow managed to leave out the little detail about how the vote wasn’t close enough to actually qualify for a recount. Instead, she suggested the elections board had “no intention of investigating” her evidence that she was ROBBED.

    Curiously, Kahaian doesn’t appear to have sued to have her compelling evidence of fraud examined in court, where it might get a less credulous reception than on Facebook.

    At a spring 2021 meeting for concerned white parents who were upset about all the diversity and inclusion, which are extremely divisive, Kahaian explained how to make a big fuss at school board meetings, and to make sure to get good video “in case Tucker Carlson wants to put you on air.” She also walked attendees through how they could harass schools by filing grievances against board members, and urged them to partner with “outside forces” to file public requests for emails and curriculum plans, in search of evidence of nasty nasty CRT and other “indoctrination.” […]

    Following the primary election runoffs, Cherokee County School District’s chief comms officer, Barbara Jacoby, sent ProPublica a statement making clear that the rightwing activists who targeted Lewis

    do not speak for our community, as was illustrated when their candidates failed in their recent attempt to win a majority on the School Board. We do not support hate, and we are deeply sorry for how Ms. Lewis and her family were treated by these members of our community.

    Following June’s ProPublica story on the harassment campaign aimed at ousting Lewis, one parent in a private Facebook group fretted, “Looks like we should prepare for antifa here in Cherokee County. I’m genuinely concerned for those names listed in that piece.” As far as we can tell, none of those who hounded Lewis out of two jobs have received torrents of email calling them communists or accusing them of grooming kids. (No, we are not saying they should.)

    And local parents who were sympathetic to Lewis are now cautiously optimistic that the bullies might keep losing. Mandy Marger, whose family moved to Cherokee County 10 years back, said, following the runoff,

    The idea that groups who had such extreme views thought that they could grab a hold of our community was frightening […] They made it very clear that those of us who did not align with them were going to have to stand up, and I’m really, really proud of our community — especially today — that we did.

    So hooray for the good voters of Cherokee County and of state House District 117 for saying no to the extremists. Now all good Georgians need to do is turn out in droves this fall to throw out the rest of the loonies.

  119. says

    Trumps Basically Just Logan Roy’s Family But Stupider And Poorer, According To Jan. 6 Documentary Trailer

    The past few weeks we’ve been hearing a bunch about this documentary filmmaker named Alex Holder, who got just crazy access to Donald Trump and his democracy-murdering crime consortium in the months and weeks surrounding the election Trump tried to steal and the terrorist attack he successfully incited. And apparently Holder was given all this access without anybody ever really telling the Trump campaign about it.

    Politico Playbook got a look-see at the trailer for the documentary series, which is called “Unprecedented” and will air on Discovery+. The House January 6 Select Committee already had all this footage. And now we all get to watch, hooray! [Trailer available at the link]

    We all knew that there was footage of Ivanka Trump maybe not being the democracy-protecting single-teared bald eagle warrior she wants us to believe she is. But this trailer really captures the “Logan Roy’s Family But Stupider And Poorer” thing the Trump family has going on. (That is a reference to the well-known television program “Succession,” if you are not aware of all pop culture happenings.)

    It’s got the dramatic classical music of Vivaldi, cut with Ivanka complaining about how her dress looks and asking her makeup artist if she could maybe hold their dog, to keep people from seeing how her dress is making a crease she does not like.

    It’s got Donald Trump Jr. telling rally attendees, “We will make liberals cry again!” Because “MLCA” is the new “MAGA,” we guess. And then it’s got Donald Trump Jr. washing his hands, as his voice, breaking, explains that he’s “washing my hands after giving a bunch of fist-bumps, you know!”

    Eric Trump is on the phone at one point, and he says, “For the sake of this country, we’re going to get these guys,” like a real patriotic action hero.

    Donald Trump The Daddy worries that there is a glass of water in the camera shot with him, we guess because he hadn’t flung all his dishes at the wall yet that day. And then he worries about the water some more. And some more. Pretty much every clip in the trailer of Trump speaking is him worrying about the water on the table in the shot next to him. And then there’s Ivanka wanting to put the dog on her lap to cover up her dress again. And Donald Trump Jr. and Eric having those faces.

    Jared Kushner is in the clip.

    Oh yeah, and there is just some really good January 6 footage. It’s got clips of Trump’s Ellipse speech where he said, “Let’s all walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.” If you’ll remember from Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, he was obsessed with getting to go on a field trip to the Capitol that morning, even though everybody had told him no. And it’s got clips of the terrorist attack as it unfolded.

    The Vivaldi really is a nice touch, though. Just really provides a nice contrast with the garbage on the screen.

    Can’t wait to see the whole docu-series, either on Discovery+ or when Liz Cheney informs America she’s pre-empting all the channels to hold a surprise January 6 committee hearing that is basically just movie night.

  120. says

    Wonkette: “New York Times Back On Its Bullsh*t, Finds Some Young Women Who Hate Abortion”

    In its continuing effort to raise everyone’s blood pressure, the New York Times on Saturday delivered a glowing profile of a hip new counterculture phenomenon: young women who see the end of constitutional protection for abortion rights as a really great thing. Sure, they may be vastly outnumbered by young women who would prefer the right to control their own bodies — but the Times not only reports what these young anti-abortion activists say; it headlines its story on their cause ‘”The Pro-Life Generation’: Young Women Fight Against Abortion Rights” before noting 11 paragraphs down that it’s not that at all.

    Here, let us steal a chart for you, which the Times must have forgotten: [chart at the link]

    Why yes, young people who make up “Pro-life generation” are in fact stridently pro-choice, and kids 18 to 29 have never been more pro-choice than today.

    How bad is this Times article? We learn that activist Lauren Marlowe, the 22-year-old social media coordinator for “Students for Life of America,”

    launched a small line of “trendy pro-life clothes” as an undergraduate at Liberty University. The line touts a T-shirt with the word “pro-life” spelled out in the “Friends” font, and a hoodie with the cheeky slogan “Just a clump of cells.”

    And oh, how the libs were owned by having that line thrown back at them!

    To be sure, the story does acknowledge that its subjects are outliers, among women overall and in their age range overall, noting a Pew survey from March finding that

    Women ages 18 to 29 are significantly likelier than older women to say abortion should be generally legal, and that it is morally acceptable. Just 21 percent of young women say that abortion should be broadly illegal.

    But then, citing Daniel K Williams, a historian of the anti-abortion movement, the story suggests that part of the reason these cool young women oppose women’s full citizenship is that it’s just so contrarian and rebellious, because the antiabortion movement is so darn good at framing itself as “countercultural” but also totally in favor of stuff young Americans really like, such as “broadly popular beliefs about the importance of justice and equality for the vulnerable” — the Times’s language, not a quote from Williams. Heck, in that sense, the story chirps, the effort to restrict women’s freedom regularly cites

    Historical touchstones — commonplace within the movement and much-disputed outside it — include the Civil Rights movement and 19th and early 20th century suffragists.

    Again, thanks for that “much-disputed” bit for at least the tiniest acknowledgement that most people find such comparisons odious. Similarly, before plunging headlong into fawning over these young rebels, the story does note that

    For the majority of American women who support abortion rights, other women’s enthusiasm for stripping away their own constitutional rights can be baffling and enraging, a profound betrayal.

    You can smell the “but” coming a mile off, can’t you? Turns out that these young women see themselves as “human rights activists — happy warriors on the right side of history.”

    Isn’t that just charming? They’re the real feminists, they say, because women can have it all, as long as “it’ includes an unwanted pregnancy carried to term. One, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, explains that

    “This is 2022, not 1962,” she said, observing that women’s legal rights to do things like secure loans have advanced dramatically since the pre-Roe era.

    Not that we need to keep all those dumb rights, because most of these happy warriors also want to see the Supreme Court roll back the right to contraception, but not all of them do. Hawkins’s group only opposes contraceptives that it COMPLETELY INACCURATELY labels “abortifacients” (IUDs plus the Pill and any other hormonal methods), but it’s cool with condoms and the rhythm method, which it calls “natural family planning/green sex.” We thought that only involved Kermit/Pepe slash fiction.

    The story takes great pains to suggest that these kids aren’t really all that extreme, either. Oh, sure, most favor a complete ban on abortion from the moment of fertilization, with no exceptions. But hardly any of them want to see anyone punished for seeking an abortion, just jail sentences for anyone else involved. How moderate!

    To give a sense of just how diverse these young antiabortion crusaders can be, the story even suggests that not everyone in the Junior Anti-Sex League has to be a rightwing “Christian,” heck no! Again, the language is so bizarrely chirpy, claiming that non-religious anti-abortion activists “make up a small but boisterous niche.” Take, for instance, 20-year-old Kristin Turner, who is a fan of climate activism and Black Lives Matter, but is also the

    communications director for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, whose goals include educating the public about “the exploitative influence of the Abortion Industrial Complex through an anti-capitalist lens.”

    She even started a “punk band band called the EmbryHoez” which did a song called

    “The Hotties Will Dismantle Roe”:

    They say it’s empowerment / They say it’s women’s rights / But all I see’s oppression / And might makes right.

    Yr Wonkette sought comment from actual punk rock women, but they all died after hearing those lyrics, the end.

  121. says

    If it’s a day in America, chances are it’s the day after a grotesque mass shooting, or the day before one, or the day of one. This time it was in Highland Park, Illinois, outside of Chicago, where a gunman fired into the 4th of July parade and murdered six and injured dozens more. The suspect is in custody as of last night, and we don’t know a ton of details yet, but of course Democratic politicians are making it political by saying, if you can even believe it, that guns may have played a part — the gun was apparently bought legally — while Republican politicians are saying “mental health, mental health, mental health!”

    But GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is taking it over and above, like she’s got some inside information about this massacre that happened in a state she doesn’t represent in Congress. To be fair, she could also just be hallucinating. Point is, she’s not just blaming it on mental illness, she’s blaming it on SSRIs and “Big Pharma” and asking totally sane questions like “Are we really going to keep pretending?” [Tweet at the link]

    Does Marjorie Taylor Greene know something we don’t, and did she find out about it in a secret transmission from a Jewish space laser that only she can interpret? We are just asking, for journalism.

    Because in case you were wondering, according to The Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo, who is kind of a specialist in reporting on MTG/MyPillow types, “no one in any position of authority has said the man in custody, Robert Crimo, is a drug user or has a mental illness diagnosis, and his uncle said he knew of no such problems.” Nada. This, very shockingly, appears to just be MTG pulling things out of her butt and waving them around.

    Ever since that first series of tweets last night, she’s been going and going and going, just running with it, spreading conspiracy theories, demanding his “prescription drug history” and “recreational drug history.” She’s wilding out, claiming that “they are erasing every bit of searchable history” on the suspect. She tweeted, “They always delete everything about these shooters off of any searchable database and hide the truth about these young men.” Who is she talking about? Who does she think is doing this? What does she see? How many fingers are they holding up? Unclear.

    […] So all of this is pretty much what we expect from Marjorie Taylor Greene. Thoughts and prayers for the squirrels who live in her brain, sounds like they’ve been banging around pretty hard the past few hours.

    In related news, Darren Bailey, the Trump-endorsed GOP wingnut running for governor of Illinois, is now very sorry after saying during a prayer livestream yesterday, just a few hours after the massacre, that it was now time to “move on and celebrate the independence of this nation.” Yee haw, time to git back to fireworks, we guess. But again, he’s very sorry. That was very insensitive of him.

  122. says

    Some surprisingly related podcast episodes:

    NBN – “Archie T. Wright, Satan and the Problem of Evil: From the Bible to the Early Church Fathers:

    Satan’s transformation from opaque functionary to chief antagonist is one of the most striking features of the development of Jewish theology in the Second Temple Period and beyond. Once no more than an “accuser” testing members of the human community, Satan, along with his demons, is presented by Jewish apocalyptic texts and the New Testament as a main source of evil in the world. In Satan and the Problem of Evil, noted scholar Archie Wright explores this dynamic in both its historical and theological trajectories.

    Interactions with Zoroastrianism led Jewish and Christian writers of the Second Temple Period to separate God from responsibility for evil in the world. This led to the emergence of a heavenly being that is responsible for evil and suffering: Satan. Satan and the Problem of Evil charts the development of Satan traditions and the problem of evil from the Hebrew Bible and its various translations in the Greek Septuagint to Jewish literature from the Second Temple Period to the Greek New Testament. It concludes by examining the writings of the early church theologians, from the late first century through the fourth century CE. Wright argues that these latter writers present a shift in the understanding of Satan to one that is significantly different from the Jewish Scriptures, extrabiblical Jewish literature, and the New Testament.

    Accessibly written and comprehensive in scope, Satan and the Problem of Evil: From the Bible to the Early Church Fathers (Fortress Press, 2022) offers researchers, scholars, students, and even the general reader a definitive treatment of a perennial question.

    [There’s a lot of religiosity in the background here, and I can’t really critically evaluate the arguments (and haven’t read the book), but I found this worthwhile.]

    You’re Wrong About – “Go Ask Alice w. Carmen Maria Machado (Part 1)”:

    This week we begin our journey into the totally true not at all made up diary that has been scaring America’s teens for fifty years. Digressions include Jell-O, magic mushrooms, and ironing your hair, and Sarah promises to trip with Carmen….

    There are links to parts 2 and 3, which just became available, at the link. In part 3 they talk to Rick Emerson, who has a new book out: Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries. (It’s interesting that Beatrice Sparks was from Logan, Utah, which is also the hometown of Teal Swan, whose therapist Barbara Snow was also infamously involved in the Satanic Panic…)

    Michael and Us – “#344 – Socialism with Disneyan Characteristics”:

    The Buzz Lightyear origin movie LIGHTYEAR (2022) has become a cultural lightning-rod in the right-wing moral panic over “grooming.” We discuss this controversy (which is ridiculous, by the way), and then discuss the movie, in which we can learn a little bit about how the Disney Company views itself.

  123. says

    Wisconsin court delivers another setback to the state’s democracy

    It’s a common cliché : Elections have consequences. Evidently, it’s going to need an addendum: Elections have consequences, except in Wisconsin.

    At first blush, a fight over Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board will probably seem like an obscure and irrelevant controversy to a national audience, but don’t be too quick to look past this one.

    […] In 2015, then Republican-Gov. Scott Walker appointed Dr. Frederick Prehn — a dentist, a gun store owner, and former cranberry farmer — to a state board that sets Wisconsin policies related to wildlife, air and water resources, etc. It was a six-year appointment, which meant Prehn’s term ended in 2021.

    Now that Wisconsin has a Democratic governor, Tony Evers, he had his own ideas about who should serve on state policymaking boards, and his plans didn’t include Prehn. The trouble is, when Prehn’s term ended last year, he said he didn’t want to leave — or more specifically, he’d only leave if his successor was confirmed.

    Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be problematic, except Wisconsin’s state Senate has a gerrymandered Republican majority, which has decided it won’t even consider the Democratic governor’s nominees, leaving the defeated former governor’s team in place.

    In other words, voters elected Evers, but Evers is stuck with some of his Republican predecessor’s appointees — who are pursuing policies the elected governor opposes — thanks to the intransigence of a gerrymandered legislative majority.

    The good news is, this led to litigation. The bad news is, the Republicans’ allies on the state Supreme Court sided with the state Senate and the Walker appointee. The New York Times reported:

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively handed the Republican-controlled State Senate broad authority over the composition of state boards and commissions, three and a half years into the term of a Democratic governor whose duties include naming board members.

    […] It’s worth emphasizing that in an overly literal reading of state statues, board members are, in fact, supposed to serve until their successors are confirmed, so as to avoid vacancies. But state statutes also set a specific timeline for service.

    In other words, when Wisconsin’s laws were created, policymakers didn’t envision a system in which state senators would simply refuse to confirm nominees in order to reward the appointees of a defeated former governor.

    The state Supreme Court signed off on all of this anyway, endorsing a governing dynamic in which Walker appointees are now effectively squatting on state boards, despite their terms having ended.

    It’s evidence of a state’s democracy suffering a serious setback, but it’s not the only evidence.

    […] Democrats had a good year in Wisconsin in 2018, with big wins up and down the ballot. As we discussed at the time, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic governor, re-elected a Democratic U.S. senator, re-elected a Democratic secretary of state, and elected a Democratic state attorney general. Even in the state legislature, Democratic candidates easily won the most votes.

    Republican officials in the state could’ve honored the results. Instead, they responded to the defeats in the most unhealthy way possible: They launched a radical power-grab to undermine the winning candidates’ governing options.

    […] In other words, GOP officials disagreed with the voters’ choices, so they felt justified in ignoring democracy. […]

    Political scientist Seth Masket wrote at the time, “Wisconsin has been one of the best functioning democracies in the U.S. for at least a century. What’s going on in Wisconsin today shouldn’t be dismissed as just one state’s experience. If democracy can die there, it can die anywhere.”

    Two years later, in 2020, Democrats had another good year in the Badger State — the party’s presidential ticket narrowly carried Wisconsin, reversing a defeat from four years earlier — at which point local Republicans grew even more brazen in their rejection of democracy, embracing the fake electors scheme and launching an utterly bonkers sham election “audit.”

    […] The GOP’s posture is based on an elitist arrogance that democracy is an annoyance that must occasionally be ignored. It’s a sentiment that effectively asks, “Who are the voters to tell us what to do with state government?”

  124. says

    Florida punishes public health officials for being right:

    Ordinarily, when we learn of public health officials who’ve been removed from their positions, the first assumption is that they’ve done something wrong. In Florida, this dynamic is sometimes turned on its head: Public health officials are occasionally ousted for doing the right-but-politically-inconvenient thing.

    Earlier this year, for example, Raul Pino, the then-director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, encouraged members of his team to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. State officials soon after put him on administrative leave. […] (He was reinstated months later.)

    Last week, the state punished the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, too. The Miami Herald reported:

    Dr. Lisa Gwynn, a pediatrician with the University of Miami Health System who has been a visible advocate of vaccine access for poor young kids, was removed Wednesday from a state-appointed board for publicly criticizing Florida’s decision to delay access to the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5. Gwynn received an email Wednesday afternoon from Susan Miller, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ deputy chief of staff, informing her she would be removed from her position on the Florida Healthy Kids Board of directors for making “some very political statements that do not reflect the CFO’s point of view.

    t was just a few weeks ago when the public learned that 49 states had pre-ordered Covid vaccines specifically tailored for children — and Florida was the nation’s only exception. Though Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly defended the move, his administration, facing significant political pushback, ultimately agreed to let some health care providers — pediatricians and children’s hospitals, but not county health departments — order the vaccines.

    Last week, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo delivered congressional testimony and conceded that the state’s decision, which he and the Republican governor made together, might end up limiting vaccine access to roughly 30,000 disadvantaged children.

    […] “Quite frankly, we’re just trying to advocate for things, for equitable access to the vaccine,” the pediatrician [Lisa Gwynn] told the Herald. “I’m not a politician, I’m a pediatrician. And there’s no other reason for me to do what I do other than to improve the health of children in our state.” […]


  125. says

    Trump is seeming less alpha all the time, the potential beginning of the end

    […] the recent Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire spells even bigger trouble for Trump. The outfit has been polling top contenders for the GOP nomination since July 2021, when Trump led DeSantis among likely Republican voters, 47% – 19%. By October 2021, Trump’s hold on the GOP base appeared to be softening slightly, but he was still up over DeSantis, 43% – 18%. But Trump’s support looks to be collapsing in the most recent survey of likely GOP voters, conducted June 16 – 20, showing DeSantis now leading Trump, 39% – 37%.

    Republican focus groups conducted by The Bulwark founder Sarah Longwell after the first several Jan. 6 hearings also suggest that while Trump voters still generally support Trump, they are weary of him making a 2024 presidential bid. As Longwell noted on her podcast The Focus Group, “In both of these focus groups, for the first time ever, I had two focus groups back-to-back where not a single person thought Donald Trump should run again.”

    Looking at the totality of this new data, it’s hard not to conclude that Trump has at least sustained some damage with the GOP base in recent weeks and months. […] GOP voters (and donors too) may be embracing the idea of Trumpism without Trump’s baggage, i.e. DeSantis.

    […] If these recent trends hold over the next several months, Democrats stand a good chance of benefitting in November from the internal strife within the GOP. Republicans wanted their voters to be singularly focused on inflation and their disgust with President Biden.

    Instead, GOP voters could be in the early stages of a divisive debate over wether the party should stick with Trump or throw him overboard in favor of a younger Republican whose star is on the rise.

  126. says

    […] After three people were murdered by a gunman who opened fire at a shopping mall in Denmark over the weekend, Boebert [Rep. Lauren Boebert] went to her Twitter account to pretend she had a point.

    Writing, “There was just a mass shooting in Denmark, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. It’s time to admit that gun laws DO NOT stop mass shootings!”, Boebert was once again testifying to how utterly her existence is a waste of space in the world at large. It’s hard to imagine a less intelligent statement being blurted out by a public official. Boebert was roundly lambasted for her newest attempt at fundraising off of human misery.

    Less than 24 hours later, six people were killed and 38 injured after a man opened fire during a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois. […]

    [Facts presented to Boebert via Twitter are available at the link, including this fact: “Colorado had 364 murders in 2021, Denmark had 39. We have the same population as they do.”]

    […] Boebert believes that Jesus would have made sure to carry an AR-15 and arm his apostles as well in order to overthrow who exactly? Spoiler alert: Boebert thinks the Jews, not the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate, killed Jesus of Nazareth. […]

    There’s also Boebert and other Second Amendment fetishists’ proclivity for conflation of the American Revolutionary War with whatever it is they think they’re doing these days. [Examples at the link.]

    There were some attempts at helping Boebert get to where she needs to go. [example at the link]

    And some tried to remind Boebert and others how not scared of things Republicans and other gun-totting faketriots really are. [example at the link]

    And here’s a way to remind you how the guy the traditional media likes to say has a good education and was on a “debate team” is rocking the same analysis of world events. [Tweet about Ted Cruz]

    And finally, because regulating stuff like guns works.

    Gun violence deaths per 100,000 people in developed economies:

    U.S.: 3.964

    Denmark: 0.141

    She’s lying because there are no consequences for her lies.


  127. says

    Christian Nationalists are Plotting to Take Over the United States

    […] Katherine Stewart, who has been reporting on the religious right for over a decade, wrote a guest essay for the NY Times this morning that goes even further than I did: Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next. She does not mince words:


    [M]ovement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project. [emphasis added]The shape of the Christian nationalist movement in the post-Roe future is coming into view, and it should terrify anyone concerned for the future of constitutional democracy.

    […] A good place to gauge the spirit and intentions of the movement that brought us the radical majority on the Supreme Court is the annual Road to Majority Policy Conference. At this year’s event, which took place last month in Nashville, three clear trends were in evidence.

    First, the rhetoric of violence among movement leaders appeared to have increased significantly from the already alarming levels I had observed in previous years.

    Second, the theology of dominionism — that is, the belief that “right-thinking” Christians have a biblically derived mandate to take control of all aspects of government and society — is now explicitly embraced.

    And third, the movement’s key strategists were giddy about the legal arsenal that the Supreme Court had laid at their feet as they anticipated the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

    There is clear and growing evidence that Dobbs, far from satisfying them, has only whetted their appetites. They are going after medication abortions next, and explicitly targeting anyone anywhere who helps (eve inadvertently) someone to get an abortion — which creates a greater climate of fear that they will further exploit. Thomas was also candid enough to invite attacks on other rights the Christian Nationalists object to, such as contraception and same-sex marriage. (One has to wonder, as many have, how he would feel about an attempt to overrule Loving, which allowed interracial marriage. That is based on the same reasoning as Griswold, and also goes against the Bible, as they interpret it.)

    I’m getting close to the fair use limits, but I need to add this quote:

    Americans who stand outside the movement have consistently underestimated its radicalism. But this movement has been explicitly antidemocratic and anti-American for a long time.

    It is also a mistake to imagine that Christian nationalism is a social movement arising from the grassroots and aiming to satisfy the real needs of its base. It isn’t. This is a leader-driven movement. The leaders set the agenda, and their main goals are power and access to public money. They aren’t serving the interests of their base; they are exploiting their base as a means of exploiting the rest of us.

    […] Stewart focuses on the desire for power and money — though I would add that the desire to tell everyone what to think is also high on their list. It’s the “hunger for dominion,” in Stewart’s words.

    Europe, and later parts of the Americas, suffered for centuries under the dominion of the Catholic Church. What broke that dominion was a combination of factors ranging from Luther’s rebellion to the rise of the Enlightenment and the growing ability of secular powers to resist religious demands. […] Various American colonies were also established to empower one or another Protestant sect (Maryland was a Catholic colony), though their rule didn’t last as long as the Catholics’ did.

    The difference this time, for what it may be worth, is that, in addition to the religious sects competing for dominion, we now have a large body of secularists and pluralists who don’t want to be dominated by any religion. That is the great majority of the country, but, as Stewart cautions us, we’ve been ignoring the religionists for too long.

    In short, we may be looking at a multi-front civil war before too long.

  128. says

    Robert Reich:

    Highland Park wasn’t only mass shooting yesterday. Also Boston (4 injured), Kansas City (4 injured), Richmond (6 injured), Sacramento (1 killed, 4 injured), and Chicago (5 injured).

    Mass carnage is worsening.

  129. KG says

    Meanwhile in the Yoo-Kay: two of Johnson’s most senior ministers, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, have resigned, following the collapse of the latest series of lies from Johnson (about appointing Chris Pincher as Deputy Chief Whip, despite knowing about allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him). Their resignations have been followed by those of a string of junior government members, but so far no more of the cabinet. Johnson is clinging to power by his fingertips – he’s appointed one of his closest toadies, Steve Barclay, to succeed Javid.

  130. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A snap poll by YouGov this evening found that 69% of Britons say that Boris Johnson should resign.
    This is 11pts higher than when the pollsters asked the same question on 9th June. The proportion who say Johnson should resign tonight includes a majority (54%) of 2019 Conservative voters. Overall among Britons just 18% say that Johnson should remain in his role, rising to a third (33%) of 2019 Conservative voters.

  131. says

    Minneapolis Star Tribune:

    Gunfire at a park along the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis wounded eight people, some of them with critical injuries, officials said Tuesday.

  132. says

    The parents of a two-year-old toddler that was found at the scene of the Highland Park shooting have both died, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

    At a press conference, Jennifer Banek, the coroner for Lake County, read names of six of the seven victims that died including, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy and 37-year-old Kevin McCarthy of Highland Park.

    Their friends have since taken to social media to mourn the couple and express their grief. A GoFundMe page has also been created to raise money to support their orphaned son, Aiden McCarthy.

    The organizer of the page said it was created on behalf of his family, and with their permission. Aiden McCarthy will be raised by his grandparents and shared that he “is left in the unthinkable position, to grow up without his parents.”

    The GoFundMe page has so far raise more than $130,000 as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

    Aiden was rescued from the shooting after a woman and her companions saw him pinned under his father who was unconscious […]

    The other victims identified by The Lake County Coroner’s Office include, Katherine Goldstein, 64, of Highland Park; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park; Stephen Straus, 88, of Highland Park and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico. […]


  133. raven says

    Russia: Russians secretly help Ukrainians ARTE Reportage

    A network of 8000 Russian volunteers helps Ukrainian war refugees to leave Russia as soon as possible. These Ukrainians mostly came to Russia involuntarily via Russian escape corridors from the Donbass and prefer to leave for the EU.

    The helpers risk their own heads and necks in the process; many of them have already been threatened, attacked or arrested.

    Viktoria and her husband Vova from Mariupol now live in St. Petersburg. Viktoria lost her child while still in the womb, in a Russian bombing raid on her maternity clinic. She herself miraculously survived. Her husband lost a leg in the war. Both were evacuated via an escape corridor to, of all places, Russia. Now they count on the help of volunteers there.

    This is a summary of a German video report on what happened to some of the 1.9 million Ukrainians deported to Russia.

    They were deported to the farthest reaches of Russia and given very little help or support. It’s clear the Russians hope they get lost, die, or get forgotten.
    This isn’t anything new.
    They’ve done it to so many nationalities that it is hard to keep track. Russian Germans, Taters, Chechens, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Karelians, Polish, German Germans, and now it is the Ukrainians turn.

  134. says


    From March – “Ukrainian self-determination: Bandera or Makhno?”:

    In Episode 113 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect the cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism of Putin’s war propaganda, which portrays any expression of Ukrainian identity or national aspiration as “Nazism.” Much of this hinges on the legacy of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis in World War II. Bandera is indeed viewed favorably today by some in Ukraine—just as some in India look favorably upon the Axis-collaborationist independence fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, and some Palestinians lionize the wartime Mufti of Jerusalem who similarly looked to the Axis for support against British imperialism (a reality eagerly exploited by Israel’s propagandists). But there is another tremendously important figure who fought the Russians and Germans alike a generation before Bandera, and is nearly forgotten by both “sides” in the current propaganda war—Nestor Makhno, the great Ukrainian anarchist leader of the period of the Russian Revolution. And there is now an anarchist armed resistance to the Russian aggression emerging in Ukraine, reviving the Makhnovist tradition.

    New – “Ukrainian self-determination: Bandera or Makhno? II”:

    In Episode 130 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his comparison of the two diametrically opposed exponents of Ukrainian armed resistance to Russian rule: the World War II-era right-wing nationalist Stepan Bandera and the World War I-era revolutionary anarchist Nestor Makhno. Contemporary left commentary in the West echoes Russian propaganda in portraying Bandera simply as a Nazi collaborator, while many contemporary anarchists (at least) glorify Makhno as a visionary of agrarian utopia. Much is left out of both narratives. Bandera was quickly betrayed by the Nazis and slapped in a concentration camp after he refused to renounce his declaration of Ukrainian independence. And while historians have had much to say about anti-Semitic pogroms by all factions in the multi-sided 1917-21 civil war in Ukraine, it is only recent scholarship that has brought to light atrocities by Makhno’s forces against Mennonite agricultural colonies.

    “Bill Weinberg slams ‘tankie’ pseudo-left on YouTube”:

    In a series of brief interviews with vlogger and activist songster Geof Bard, CounterVortex producer Bill Weinberg dissects the sinister “tankie” phenomenon on the contemporary Western “left,” which paradoxically supports Russian imperialism in the name of a misguided “anti-imperialism.” This absurd double standard is enabled by the so-called “Chomsky Rule,” which holds that we are only permitted to protest the crimes of US imperialism—and thereby renders the crimes of rival imperialisms invisible to the activist-left milieu. The pseudo-left betrayal of Ukraine to imperialist aggression actually undermines our moral authority to oppose the crimes of the US and its client states in places like Gaza and Yemen….

  135. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    On a bruising day for Boris Johnson, the Chancellor, the health secretary, four Parliamentary private secretaries, the Conservative vice chair, two trade envoys and the solicitor general all resigned this evening.

  136. raven says

    It is clear that the Zygote Police in the Red states are going to go after pregnant women. It’s not yet clear exactly how but it is becoming clearer.

    As are what the rules will be to remain a free person.
    They always go after your communication devices for evidence.
    That would be your cell phone, landline phone, and internet providers.
    Plus all your credit card information.

    I’m sure in a few months, comprehensive instruction manuals on how to travel out of state for abortions without getting caught will be available on the internet.

    Search histories, location data, text messages: How personal data could be used to enforce anti-abortion laws
    By Jennifer Korn and Clare Duffy, CNN Business Fri June 24, 2022 edited for length

    Among the wide-ranging potential implications of the decision are concerns about the potential use of personal data to punish people who look for information about or access to abortion services online.
    In some of the most restrictive states, digital rights experts warn that people’s search histories, location data, messages and other digital information could be used by law enforcement agencies investigating or prosecuting abortion-related cases.

    For example, in states that make it a crime to help an abortion-seeker, data from women’s period-tracking or pregnancy apps could end up being subpoenaed as evidence against the person who helped them,

    A growing number of US lawmakers have expressed alarm about the potential misuse of advertising data to prosecute abortion-seekers. In May, dozens of congressional Democrats wrote to Google saying that the company’s practice of collecting and storing vast troves of geolocation data from cellphones “will allow it to become a tool for far-right extremists looking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care.” And on June 24, the same day the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, another group of US lawmakers wrote to the Federal Trade Commission saying Apple and Google should face an agency investigation over ad practices that they said could end up harming abortion-seekers.
    “Data brokers are already selling, licensing, and sharing the location information of people that visit abortion providers to anyone with a credit card. Prosecutors in states where abortion becomes illegal will soon be able to obtain warrants for location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider,” wrote the group, which included Sens. Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Rep. Sara Jacobs. “The FTC should investigate Apple and Google’s role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance that incentivizes and facilitates the unrestrained collection and constant sale of Americans’ personal data.”

    Much has also changed in the reproductive health care landscape since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Self-managed abortions and online pharmacies that provide abortion medication are increasingly accessible options, especially for low-income people or those in rural areas or states that restrict access to in-person abortion services. The US Food and Drug Administration in December lifted a requirement for patients seeking abortion medications to pick them up in-person, instead allowing the pills to be sent by mail.
    Although a number of states, including Texas, prohibit receiving medication abortions through telehealth, that does not necessarily stop online pharmacies and services in other countries, such as the European-based Aid Access, from mailing the medications to people in those states. Web traffic to online abortion resource site Plan C — which offers information on how to find abortion medications and how to use them — increased from 500 people per day to 25,000 per day immediately after Texas banned most abortions after six weeks in September, before leveling out to about 2,500 a day, according to Elisa Wells, Plan C’s co-founder and co-director.
    “Most people go directly to our ‘Find Abortion Pills’ directory that we have,” Wells told CNN Business. “Disproportionately these people are from states that have laws on the books that restrict access.”
    Various online behaviors could become part of investigations and court proceedings in states where helping to provide access to abortions is criminalized, including internet searches, location history, call and text logs, emails and financial records, according to Cynthia Conti-Cook, a civil rights attorney and tech fellow at the Ford Foundation. Any part of a person’s digital footprint is fair game once a device is in law enforcement’s possession, she said.

    “As long as abortion and abortion-seeking related conduct is what is criminalized, all of that information can be totally fair game,” Conti-Cook told CNN Business. She added that law enforcement has the forensic tools at their disposal to view virtually everything a person does on their device — but only once the device is in their possession. Unless voluntarily handed over, a phone and all its data typically cannot be accessed without a search warrant.
    Various state-by-state laws governing abortion care raise novel questions about what role an abortion-seeker’s internet usage might play.

    In at least one case, search history data has already been used to prosecute people who seek information about abortion services. In 2018, Latice Fisher was indicted by a Mississippi Grand Jury for second degree murder after an at-home pregnancy loss. While the criminal charges against Fisher were ultimately dropped, law enforcement pointed to alleged internet search results such as “buy abortion pills, mifeprisone online, misoprostol online” to argue their case. (Mifepristone and misoprostol are the two pills frequently taken together by women performing self-managed abortions.)

    In anticipation of the passage of more restrictive laws, advocacy groups are promoting education on digital privacy and sharing information on how to seek reproductive health services safely online.
    The Digital Defense Fund created a guide for women on how to keep digital footprints protected when seeking information on abortions. It includes tips such as opting out of personalized ads on Google and social media sites to minimize tracking, turning off location sharing and using privacy-focused browsers like DuckDuckGo or Firefox Focus that do not save search data, collect personal information or allow third-party trackers.

    When seeking abortion information, the guide also recommends using end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like Signal or WhatsApp to keep calls and messages private (these apps also offer timed auto-delete features for messages). Unlike a phone company with access to SMS text messages, the developers of such apps can’t access the content of encrypted messages, and therefore could not be compelled by a court to share them.

    Other privacy steps individuals seeking abortion information can take to protect their internet browsing include using anonymous browsing service Tor or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and using incognito search windows, according to the Digital Defense Fund. While it is nearly impossible to completely hide digital history, experts say such methods can help to minimize risk and make it difficult for law enforcement to seize data.

  137. StevoR says

    For those who haven’t seen it already, this is a disturbing bit of news :

    Brace for the anti-trans hate because Robert Crimo wore women’s clothes during his shooting:

    He is NOT transgender.
    He was arrested in men’s clothes.
    He attended Trump rallies and was active in fascist communities.
    He’s likely trolling while engaging in mass murder.

    Source :

    In other news :

    Police have charged 12 members of a religious group over the death of an eight-year-old girl in southern Queensland earlier this year. Elizabeth Struhs died at her Rangeville home in Toowoomba on January 7, 2022 after she was allegedly denied medical care for type 1 diabetes for about six days.

    The exact religious group is question seems not to be named annoyingly.

    Plus on abortion locally (for me nyhow) :

    South Australia’s new abortion legislation will come into effect tomorrow, but for these women removing the stigma is just as important as changing the law.It has been more than a year since the abortion reform’s bill passed State Parliament, but will become law tomorrow.

    A group of Adelaide women have shared their experiences with the ABC, and say they hope the changes to the law – which will remove abortion from the state’s criminal code and allow people to access them via telehealth – will avoid unnecessary trauma.

    The group believed it was important to speak in solidarity on the topic of abortion.

    Source :

  138. KG says

    Bandera was quickly betrayed by the Nazis and slapped in a concentration camp after he refused to renounce his declaration of Ukrainian independence. – SC@153, quoting CounterVortex

    Well, kind of. According to what I’ve read, Bandera was kept under good conditions (in the expectation that he might come in useful later), even being allowed external contacts, and in 1944 was released again. I haven’t listened to the podcast, so I don’t know if it covers Bandera’s pre-WW2 terrorism against Poles, and Ukranians who were prepared to accommodate to the Polish authorities (what is now western Ukraine was part of Poland between the wars), or the fact that he remained an unrepentant fascist to the end of his life (at the hands of a KGB assassin in 1959). The Ukranian ambassador to Germany recently caused unfavourable publicity by publicly praising Bandera – his words were repudiated by the Ukranian government, but AFAIK he is still in post.

    I have a book on the Makhnovists not mentioned at your link – an English translation of History of the Makhnovist Movement 1918-1921 by Peter Arshinov, which I picked up second-hand somewhere; the text is now available online.

  139. says

    Here’s a link to the Guardian (support them if you can!) Ukraine liveblog. From their most recent summary:

    At least two people have been killed and seven injured after “massive shelling” pummelled the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, officials say. City mayor, Vadim Lyakh, called on residents to evacuate after Russian forces struck a market and a residential area.

    The governor of the Donetsk region has also urged 350,000 civilians to evacuate in light of an imminent Russian offensive. Pavlo Kyrylenko said that getting people out is necessary to save lives and to enable the Ukrainian army to better defend towns from the Russian advance.

    Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk said on Wednesday that fighting continues in the villages around Lysychansk. Serhai Haidai said “some settlements have already been under one or another control twice”. He repeated that up to 15,000 civilians remain in Lysychansk and 8,000 in Sievierodonetsk, adding “today’s videos from Lysychansk are painful to watch”.

    The battle for Sloviansk is likely to be the next key contest in the struggle for Donbas as Russian forces approach within 16km of the Donetsk town, the UK Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday. Russian forces from the eastern and western groups of forces are likely now around 16km north of Sloviansk as central and southern groups of forces also pose a threat to the town, according to the latest British intelligence report.

    Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin is in Ukraine today, and has visited the Borodyanka area on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv. The Irish prime minister said: “The people of Ireland stand with Ukraine and its people in the face of Russia’s immoral and unprovoked war of terror. The bombardment and attacks on civilians are nothing short of war crimes.”

    Austria has begun the process of ejecting the Russian energy company Gazprom from its major gas storage facility at Haidach….

  140. says

    Some interesting bits in the Guardian’s review of the Chanel fall/winter show (I love the third evening dress in the photo):

    Chanel is one of a number of luxury brands now more explicitly courting the most super of the super-rich – the consumers who have the budget to actually buy couture clothes. Balenciaga will open a couture-only store in Paris this week, selling items including sunglasses for €3500 (£3009). Next year, Chanel will open a series of boutiques in Asia exclusively for its VIP customers, with China predicted to become the biggest global luxury market by 2025.

    The brand remains a popular symbol of luxury throughout the world, so much so that luxury consumers continue to fuel demand for its famous bags despite six price rises since the start of the pandemic in 2020. When Chanel banned sales to Russian nationals in April, the country’s influencers were so upset that they took to social media to cut up their Chanel goods in protest. The revenue reflects this popularity. In 2021, it increased by 50% year-on-year, up 23% from pre-pandemic levels.

    A new exhibition on Coco Chanel’s work, Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto, will take place at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum next year. It will feature over 180 designs, plus jewellery and perfume, showcasing her undeniably huge contribution to modern fashion (and skirting her associations with nazism). Sponsored by the brand, it will no doubt cement its impressive legacy – and likely provide yet another sales boost in the process.

  141. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian UK liveblog. It’s PMQs, which put on full display the corrosive effect Johnson’s had on politics.

    Matt Western (Lab) says people are struggling to pay their mortgages. How could the PM afford a £150,000 treehouse?

    Johnson says, rather than talk about “fantasy infrastructure”, he would rather talk about real infrastructure.

    (I had missed this completely.)

    Johnson privately criticised Tory MPs at Carlton Club for not stopping Pincher from drinking too much, MP reveals

    Gary Sambrook (Con) says when Johnson toured the tearoom yesterday Johnson said there were seven Tory MPs at the Carlton Club last week. Johnson said they should have intervened to stop Chris Pincher drinking so much. Not only was that offensive to those who did intervene, it should [sic] an abdication of responsibility, he says.

    That provokes applause from opposition MPs – which is highly unusual at PMQs.

    Sambrook has not previously been a vocal critic of Johnson.

    Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, reprimands them for clapping.

    Johnson does not address Sambrook’s point, but says it is obvious why Labour MPs want him out.

    The Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey witnessed this in PMQs earlier.

    In response to the suggestion from the PM that he has “a plan”, Tory backbencher Alex Shelbrooke has just mouthed “bollocks” and performed a throat cutting gesture …#PMQs

    David Davis (Con) says the ongoing leadership crisis is paralysing government decision making.

    Johnson says he disagrees. He is getting on with his “active and energetic programme”, he says.

    Three Tories have now used PMQs to tell Boris Johnson to resign, 5News’s Andy Bell says….

  142. says

    Kat Tenbarge and Ben Collins at NBC – “YouTube channel featuring Highland Park shooting suspect showed parade route and an animated school shooting”:

    A YouTube channel with numerous videos featuring the suspect in Monday’s Highland Park shooting posted clips that telegraphed violence, including one that appears to show the parade route that was targeted and another showing an animated shooting.

    The channel, “zerotwo,” has since been removed by YouTube, but archives of the channel and its videos remain online.

    The suspect, Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, ran a separate YouTube account called “Awake,” which was also the name under which Crimo performed as a rapper. That account has been independently verified by law enforcement officials as associated with Crimo.

    The most recent video on the “zerotwo” channel, uploaded eight months ago, included a cartoon figure shooting people and a voice-over that implied violence.

    One of those videos, titled “Robert Crimo Archive Footage: File XM058,” appears to show the site of the parade route that became the location of the deadly shooting that killed seven people and injured dozens more on Monday, during a Fourth of July parade….

    Crimo was highly active on forums focusing on violent videos and extremism in the years before the attack. Crimo was also an active participant on a forum that exclusively aggregated videos of murders and violent incidents on the web, last posting in the week before the shooting. On the chat app Discord, Crimo railed against “commies” under his rap name Awake. The Discord channel, titled “SS,” was first discovered by researchers at the website Unicorn Riot, a nonprofit media group that tracks the far right….

  143. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Europe must prepare for complete cut-off of Russian gas, says Ursula von der Leyen

    The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU needs to make emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off of Russian gas.

    The EU chief accused Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, of using energy as a weapon in an address to lawmakers in Strasbourg today.

    The Commission is currently working on a “European emergency plan” with the first plans to be presented by the middle of the month, she said.

    Von der Leyen said:

    If worst comes to worst, then we have to be prepared.

    She stressed the importance of having a European overview and coordinated approach “to a potential complete cut off of Russian gas”.

  144. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Javid says ‘treading tightrope between loyalty and integrity’ became impossible

    Stuart Andrew resigns as housing minister, saying Tories should not have to ‘defend the indefensible’

    Victoria Atkins resigns as Home Office minister, saying ‘integrity, decency, respect and professionalism’ should matter

  145. says

    BREAKING: Richmond police will hold a press conference at 2pm to address a tip, that they say prevented a mass shooting planned for July 4th. Multiple arrests made, weapons seized. Stay tuned.”

  146. raven says

    Putin is recreating the old USSR.
    They are now arresting anyone who is a dissident.
    It’s all there, exile to Siberia, disappearances, the Gulag, the secret police.
    Human life is cheap and meaningless in the new Soviet Union.
    You can die any time someone with power and money thinks it is convenient.

    Because the old USSR worked so well, so why not?
    (IMO, Russia is turning into a failed nation.)

    The New York Times
    In Putin’s Russia, the Arrests Are Spreading Quickly and Widely
    Anton Troianovski Tue, July 5, 2022,

    They came for Dmitry Kolker, an ailing physicist, in the intensive care ward. They came for Ivan Fedotov, a hockey star, as he was leaving practice with a film crew in tow. They came for Vladimir Mau, a state university rector, the week he was reelected to the board of Gazprom.

    The message sent by these high-profile detentions: Nearly anyone is now punishable in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

    The flurry of arrests across the country in recent days has signaled that the Kremlin is intent on tightening the noose around Russian society even further. It appears to be a manifestation of Putin’s declaration in the early weeks of his war in Ukraine that Russia needed to cleanse itself of pro-Western “scum and traitors,” and it is creating an unmistakable chill.

    “Every day feels like it could be the last,” Leonid Gozman, 71, a commentator who continues to speak out against Putin and the war, said in a phone interview from Moscow, acknowledging the fear that he, too, could be arrested.

    None of the targets of the recent crackdown was an outspoken Kremlin critic; many of the loudest Putin opponents who chose to stay in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, like politicians Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Kara-Murza, were already in jail. But each of the recent crackdown targets represented an outward-looking Russia that Putin increasingly describes as an existential threat. And the ways they were taken into custody appeared designed to make waves.

    Kolker, the physicist, entered the hospital in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk last week for treatment for late-stage cancer, so weak that he was unable to eat. The next day, agents for the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, arrived and, accusing him of treason, flew him to a Moscow jail. Over the weekend, he died in custody.

    “The FSB killed my father,” his son Maxim, 21, wrote in all capitals on social media alongside an image of the three-line telegram sent by the authorities to notify the family of the death. “They didn’t even let our family say goodbye.”

    Maxim Kolker, who is following in his father’s footsteps as a physicist in Novosibirsk, said Dmitry Kolker had been known for hiring students to work in his laboratory, helping persuade some budding Russian scientists not to seek work abroad.

    Now, he said in a phone interview, the family has to return Kolker’s body from Moscow at their own cost.

    It was unclear why the FSB targeted Dmitry Kolker, 54, a specialist in quantum optics. State media reported that he had been jailed on suspicion of passing secrets abroad. But critics of the Kremlin say it is part of a widening campaign by the FSB to crack down on freedom of thought in the academic world. Another Novosibirsk physicist who was also arrested on suspicion of treason last week, Anatoly Maslov, remains in custody.

    The arrests came at the same time as the arrest on fraud charges of Mau, a leading Russian economist who is the head of a sprawling state university, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

    Mau, 62, was in no way a public critic of the Kremlin. He had joined more than 300 senior academic officials in signing a March open letter calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “necessary decision,” and he was reelected to the board of Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, just last week. But he also had a reputation as what scholars of Russian politics call a “systemic liberal,” someone who was working within Putin’s system to try to nudge it in a more open and pro-Western direction.

    His Kremlin ties were not enough, it turned out, to save Mau from a fraud case that has already ensnared the rector of another leading university and that critics said appeared designed to snuff out remaining pockets of dissent in Russian academia.

    “A big enemy of the government and the stability of the government are people who carry knowledge,” said Gozman, who worked with Mau as a government adviser in the 1990s. “Truth is an enemy here.”

    Ekaterina Schulmann, a political scientist who taught at Mau’s academy until April, called the institution “the educational hub for most of the country’s civic bureaucracy” and described his arrest as Russia’s highest-level criminal prosecution since 2016. It indicated, she said, that ideological purity was becoming an ever more important priority for Russian authorities, especially in education.

    “In education, it is important that a person actively profess and share the values that he has to implant in the heads of his students,” said Schulmann, now a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “Here, ambiguous loyalty may not be permitted.”

    Putin has said as much himself. In the speech in March in which he railed about the traitors in Russia’s midst, he called out those who physically reside in Russia but live in the West “in their thoughts, in their slave-like consciousness.”

    He is also increasingly asserting that truly patriotic Russians must be committed to living and working in Russia. He told an economic conference in St. Petersburg last month that “real, solid success and a feeling of dignity and self-respect only occurs when you tie your future and your children’s future to your Motherland.”

    In that context, the news that Fedotov, the goalie of Russia’s silver-medal national hockey team at the Beijing Olympics in February, signed a contract in May with the Philadelphia Flyers was likely to have been seen as a challenge.

    Fedotov, 25, one the hockey world’s up-and-coming stars, was planning to leave for the United States this month, according to Russian media reports.

    Instead, on Friday, as he was leaving a practice session in St. Petersburg, he was stopped by a group of men, some in masks and camouflage, and taken away in a van, according to a television journalist who was filming a special report about him and saw the incident.

    Fedotov’s alleged crime, according to Russian news agencies: evading military service. Russian men under 27 are required to serve for one year, although sports stars are typically able to avoid conscription. On Monday, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported that Fedotov had been taken to an unnamed Russian navy training base.

    The elaborate detention was widely perceived as punishment for his having chosen to play in the United States rather than stay in Russia. “I won’t be surprised if they put him on some submarine and send him out to sea,” RIA Novosti quoted a Soviet sports veteran as saying. “He won’t go anywhere after that.”

    To Gozman, the liberal commentator who remains in Moscow, a common thread running through the recent arrests was their seemingly gratuitous cruelty. In Putin’s system, he said, such behavior is more likely to be rewarded than censured by the state.

    “The system is built in such a way that excessive cruelty by an official is rarely punished,” Gozman said. “But excessive softness can be. So any given official seeks to exhibit great toughness.”

  147. says

    New Fever Dreams – “Multiverse Vibe Shift w/ Baynard Woods”:

    Hope you didn’t get too rowdy on Independence Day — the Large Hadron Collider is about to zap us into another dimension, and July 4th partygoers will be left in the old universe. So goes the thinking in a new TikTok conspiracy theory. On this week’s Fever Dreams, host Will Sommer and guest host Andrew Kirell discuss what they’re expecting to get from the new dimension, and whether the Mandela effect is at play. Also on the podcast: MAGA supporters declare July to be “America Month,” and a Michigan secretary of state candidate gets into sexual demonology. 2020 election deniers build up their local infrastructure. Also: Reporter Baynard Woods joins to talk about his new book, “Inheritance,” an investigation of his family’s history in white supremacy.

  148. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Tory whips can’t find backbenchers to fill vacant ministerial posts, MPs say

    Conservative MPs say that they have heard from party whips that there are now no MPs prepared to fill the vacant positions from those who have resigned en masse.

    One former minister who has stayed loyal to Johnson told their whip that there were absolutely no terms they were prepared to accept and said the whip had agreed with them.

    Another MP said they believed that message had been conveyed in “brusque tones” to Downing Street.

    There’s also reporting that this morning Michael Gove told Johnson he should resign.

  149. raven says

    Mystery as fifth Russian Gazprom-linked executive found dead in his swimming pool
    Yury Voronov, head of a company that held Gazprom contracts, died from a gun shot wound to the head

    Holly Bancroft Independent July 5, 2022
    Another top Russian executive linked to energy giant Gazprom has been found dead at his mansion, local media has reported.

    Yury Voronov, the head of a logistics company that held lucrative contracts with Gazprom, was found dead in a swimming pool at his home in a luxury suburb near St Petersburg.

    Seems to be an internal conflict among the oligarchies in Russia.
    Five Gazprom or Gazprom related executives have been found dead recently.

    No one gets rich in Russia without being a friend of Putin.
    And you can lose your fortune and your life any time it becomes useful to do so.

    The whole trick to being an oligarch in Russia is to transfer your money out of Russia and then get out yourself and hope no one important decides to send the FSB after you to kill you.

  150. says

    Quoted in raven’s #171:

    Kolker, the physicist, entered the hospital in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk last week for treatment for late-stage cancer, so weak that he was unable to eat. The next day, agents for the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, arrived and, accusing him of treason, flew him to a Moscow jail. Over the weekend, he died in custody.


  151. says

    The Justice Department filed suit yesterday, challenging a state law created by Arizona Republicans that requires proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections.


    An attorney employed by the GOP-controlled state House had warned legislators that implementing the legislation, which applies to federal elections, would violate U.S. law.

    […] The law, scheduled to take effect in January, was passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. It puts the onus on election workers and voters to validate citizenship before registrants can vote in presidential elections or cast ballots by mail.

    Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement that the law’s “onerous documentary proof of citizenship requirement for certain federal elections constitutes a textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act” with provisions such as “requiring election officials to reject voter registration forms based on errors or omissions that are not material to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot.” […]

    More at the link.

  152. says

    In the latest national Monmouth poll, Democrats and Republicans are tied on the generic congressional ballot, with each party garnering 47 percent support. A month ago, the same pollster showed the GOP ahead by four points, suggesting some shift in the Democrats’ direction. [summary from Steve Benen]

  153. says

    As Biden shrinks Guantanamo’s population, GOP balks at closure

    At the start of the Obama era, Guantanamo had 242 inmates. It’s now down to 36. Republicans are nevertheless determined to keep the prison open anyway.

    The news didn’t generate a lot of headlines, but the Biden administration announced two weeks ago that it had transferred another prisoner from the Guantanamo Bay prison, shrinking the total number of detainees at the facility to 36.

    […] The Hill reported on renewed Democratic efforts to shutter the prison, which face long odds.

    In the past month, House Democrats have advanced legislation seeking to close the facility in Cuba as part of a larger annual defense spending bill leaders are expected to bring to a vote in the full chamber, where the party holds narrow control, in the coming weeks. But in the Senate, where Democrats will need GOP support to pass the defense funding bill, the move faces a wall of opposition from Republicans.

    “I’m sure it’s not going to happen,” Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill. Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, used nearly identical phrasing while making the same prediction.

    Rep. Kay Granger, top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, added, “These detainees are the worst of the worst, and we need assurance that they will never be moved to the United States.”

    To the extent that reality has meaning, Granger’s argument badly misses the point: Detainees weren’t sent to Guantanamo because they’re the “worst of the worst”; they were sent there because the Bush/Cheney administration wanted to hold the suspects without trial outside of the American judicial system.

    As for moving them to the United States, American prisons on American soil already hold plenty of terrorists. The detainees at the facility often known as “Gitmo” don’t have superpowers. Our prisons have proven more than capable of locking up the “worst of the worst.” […]

  154. says

    Wonkette: “British POTUS Boris Johnson Betrayed By Bunch Of SPLITTERS! No Really All His Cabinet Split.”

    Boris Johnson, the glitchy animatronic figure serving as the UK’s prime minister, wants everyone to know that his government is not in crisis and he has no plans to resign, just never you mind the sudden resignations of 25 members of his government in the last day or so. That would include two of Johnson’s top cabinet ministers, both of whom fucked off in protest of Johnson’s general incompetence and awfulness, as CNBC explains:

    British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak resigned Tuesday evening, saying the government should be run “properly, competently and seriously.” Health Secretary Sajid Javid, likewise, resigned in protest against Johnson’s leadership, which has been beset by controversy and scandal in recent months.

    As a number of senior Tories called for Johnson to quit, the government’s former Brexit negotiator, David Frost, also joined the fray, calling on the prime minister to step down without delay. In a newspaper column Wednesday, Frost echoed other critics of Johnson by stating emphatically that “it is time for him to go,” adding that “if he hangs on, he risks taking the party and the government down with him.”

    CNBC, unfortunately, forgot how to do journalism, and hid the all-important sleaze parts of the story 14 paragraphs in, while the Washington Post properly mentions it right in the lede where it belongs: In addition to previous “partygate” scandals involving Johnson and other government officials partying during COVID lockdowns, there’s now a good old fashioned sexual misconduct scandal, too. That involves Conservative MP Chris Pincher, whom Johnson promoted to be “deputy chief whip” in the House of Commons — as the Post helpfully explains, that’s a “leadership role that involved keeping Conservative Party members voting in line with the government’s legislative agenda.”

    Unfortunately for Johnson, Pincher resigned from that role last week after tabloids reported he had allegedly groped or attempted to grope multiple men at a bar while he was drunk off his ass. Pincher acknowledged as much in a letter to Johnson, saying he “drank far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people,” which is a hell of a self-serving way to admit to being a harassy peengrabber.

    But wait there’s more!

    Pincher had been accused of inappropriate behavior at least twice before. He resigned from his post as government whip in 2017 after a Conservative Party activist accused him of making unwanted advances toward him. And in 2019, after Johnson brought him back into government, Pincher was again accused of similar misbehavior.

    Moral of the story to Conservatives: Don’t let a Pincher whip your members, or you might lose your Johnson, Lebowski.

    There’s also a lot of stuff about what Johnson knew and when, but we’re not going to top that joke so we’ll move along.

    Instead of resigning along with his 10s of cabinet members, Johnson “reshuffled the Cabinet.” Several remaining members of Johnson’s cabinet, perhaps a bit dizzy from all the jostling, nevertheless said they remain loyal and want him to keep on doing whatever it is he’s doing. But the number of faithful Tories keeps declining, and if Tori Amos and Tori Spelling jump ship, he’s toast.

    CNBC notes that since at least some top ministers still support Johnson, it’s unlikely there would be snap elections anytime soon unless Johnson were to actually step down. He survived a no-confidence vote in June, though just barely, and unless his Conservative party changes its rules, there can’t be another such challenge for 12 months. Then again, that rule may be less sacred to the Conservatives than the filibuster is to some American senators, so … maybe?

    The New York Times reports that Johnson “got a scathing reception in Parliament” early today, with Labour leader Keir Starmer mocking the resignations of several ministers who had initially said they’d stand by Johnson but then stepped down anyway:

    “Anyone quitting now, after defending all that, hasn’t got a shred of integrity,” Mr. Starmer said, pointing a finger at Mr. Johnson. “Isn’t this the first recorded case of the sinking ship fleeing the rats?”

    Mr. Johnson, looking embattled, apologized again for backing the lawmaker, Chris Pincher, but insisted that he as prime minister was delivering on behalf of the British people. “The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances, when he’s been handed a colossal mandate, is to keep going,” he declared.

    It appears that quite a few top Conservatives are more worried that Johnson himself is getting in the way of their program, however; the Times notes that the BBC reported later Wednesday that

    Michael Gove, an influential cabinet member, had told the prime minister that it was time to go. Mr. Gove, the housing secretary, has long been seen as a key power broker in the Conservative Party and was noticeably absent from the frontbenches of Parliament during the tense exchanges earlier in the day.

    All in all, it looks like Johnson may run out of defenders, especially since unlike certain American political figures, he lacks a cult of rabid assholes who might turn on anyone who dares threaten their Johnson. It’s not like he even tied the room together, man.

  155. lumipuna says

    According to this Finnish news story:

    Russia is planning to scrap most of its covid-related foreign travel restrictions on 15 July. Finland, meanwhile, scrapped the last restrictions for people entering from non-EU/Schengen countries at the end of June.

    Until now, non-Finns entering Finland from Russia have needed a demonstrable serious reason for their travel, unless they have a Western-approved covid vaccination (which Russians usually don’t have). Non-Russians entering Russia have needed a similar reason, and also a negative PCR test. In practice, most people who traveled back and forth during the pandemic were either dual citizens, or had citizenship in one country and residence/family in the other. It seems (this is somewhat unclear) that Russia will still require the PCR test after 15 July, but that’s it.

    However, due to other reasons, no one is expecting the cross-border tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.

    Public transport across the border, which was already downscaled during the pandemic, was further cut shortly after Russia started the Ukraine war. There are still buses, in addition to personal car access, but no train or plane connection. Finnish authorities currently advise against all travel to Russia. Before the pandemic, many Finns hopped across the border to buy cheap gasoline from Russia, but this practice is unlikely to continue because a) continued PCR test requirement would make it impractical b) due to EU sanctions, you could only import what fuel fits in you vehicle’s own tank c) there is a greatly increased awareness to boycott Russian oil and Russian-owned fuel industry as much as possible.

    Early in the war, there was a modest influx of Russians who traveled west (usually further than Finland), apparently without plans on returning soon. I got the impression these were relatively wealthy, cosmopolitan people with lots of connections abroad. Presumably, many of them had already previously arranged themselves Western covid vaccination for travel purposes. Others. according to a report I saw, were shopping fake papers for such vaccination. It seems many or most citizens of Western countries living in Russia also left.

    Early in the war, some Ukrainian refugees reportedly started entering Finland via Russia. I haven’t seen updates on that recently, but in the light of Russian forced evacuations (see comment 172 upthread) one could expect a growing flux of Ukrainians entering the EU from Russia via Finland.

  156. says

    Wonkette: “GOP Will Investigate Jan. 6 Investigators For Investigating What GOP Did Jan. 6”

    Axios reports this morning that congressional Republicans are promising to take revenge if they are fortunate enough to win/steal back control of one or both houses of Congress in November. Nobody can say Republicans don’t continually show us who they really are. They’re mad at Democrats and the two remaining honest House Republicans, both of whom sit on the House January 6 Select Committee, for investigating and exposing what happened that day and in the surrounding months, when Donald Trump attempted to overthrow America, and a whole shitload of his loyal asslickers — some of them in Congress! — tried to help.

    So they’re gonna make ’em pay!

    Key House Republicans are threatening to subpoena records of the Jan. 6 committee if the GOP retakes the majority next year — an escalation of the party’s effort to undercut the investigation’s findings.

    They’re going to steal the evidence? Is that what they’re saying? Have House Republicans rented one of those big PODS or something? Are they going to put it in the driveway at Mar-a-Lago where Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger can’t get to it? Please ‘splain.

    Ever since the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed GOP members of Congress — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — Republicans have been threatening unspecified subpoenas in retaliation.

    They don’t even know what they want to subpoena, do they? Probably any emails where somebody does Critical Race Theory or the committee makes plans to meet up for drinks at a drag show.

    While Republicans have been eager to move beyond what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, many want to use a GOP-controlled majority to frame their own narrative of what happened that day — and also raise questions about the Jan. 6 committee’s work and spending.

    Lotta funny words Axios used there when the verb “lie” would have sufficed. They want to lie to the American people, like their shithole savior Trump has been doing about the election he lost.

    These are words:

    “When Republicans retake the majority, we will exercise our oversight responsibilities including subpoena authority to review all transcripts and information that the committee has access to in order to identify the truth,” a senior GOP staffer on the House Administration Committee told Axios.

    Sure, OK.

    Axios mentions that some Republicans want to find ways to “prove” Cassidy Hutchinson is a liar — you know, Cassidy Hutchinson, who’s worked with all of them for years, who worked for Steve Scalise before she worked in the White House. It says GOP Rep. Jim Banks, a seditionist Kevin McCarthy wanted to put on the January 6 committee to make it more seditious, has fired off a letter to Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas asking for DHS to look at White House records to verify people were even where Hutchinson said they were during different times she referenced in her testimony. We’re sure that’ll go somewhere and Banks isn’t just wasting all our fucking time.

    Axios also notes that if Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson doesn’t lose in November and if Republicans retake the Senate, he’ll probably do some real dumb fuckin’ shit in the Senate about “what Nancy Pelosi knew, when she knew it” regarding January 6. […]

    As Johnson said to CNN back in January:

    “There’s a larger story to be told about January 6. The House committee’s not interested in looking at it. I mean they’re not asking what Nancy Pelosi knew, when she knew it,” Johnson said, even though Pelosi does not oversee the day-to-day operations of the Capitol Police. “So, yeah, I think the American public needs a full accounting.”

    Johnson, who has downplayed Trump’s role in the attack, said: “My questions by and large have not been answered.”

    As the old expression goes, there are stupid questions and there are stupid senators, and the Venn diagram of all that is Ron Johnson’s stupid mouth.

    Briefly, in other January 6 Select Committee news, it’s just been reported that former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone will go under the committee’s knife behind closed doors this Friday. It will be videotaped […]

    Meanwhile, the committee will have its next public hearing on July 12. Dunno what that’s going to entail, but it was also reported yesterday that former Trump deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews was subpoenaed and has agreed to testify at some point.

    So lots of things happening, and lots of things to make seditious House Republicans stew and rage and throw ketchup-smeared dishes at the wall, like their dumb fucking leader does.

  157. KG says

    Johnson has now sacked Gove for “disloyalty”, but is still clinging on to power.

  158. raven says

    Here is where the Red state Blue state abortion wars stand.
    The Red states are going to try to keep their female slaves from fleeing out of state for health care.
    The Blue states aren’t going to cooperate.

    The various Red state fugitive pregnant female laws are going to be hard to enforce.
    Even some of the local DAs in Red states aren’t going to prosecute.

    States move to protect abortion from prosecutions elsewhere
    by JENNIFER McDERMOTT, GEOFF MULVIHILL and HANNAH SCHOENBAUM | Associated Press Wednesday, July 6th 2022

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Democratic governors in states where abortion will remain legal are looking for ways to protect any patients who travel there for the procedure — along with the providers who help them — from being prosecuted by their home states.

    In North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday to protect abortion providers and patients from extradition to states that have banned the practice. Abortions are legal in North Carolina until fetal viability or in certain medical emergencies, making the state an outlier in the Southeast.

    “This order will help protect North Carolina doctors and nurses and their patients from cruel right-wing criminal laws passed by other states,” Cooper said in announcing the order.

    The governors of Rhode Island and Maine signed executive orders late Tuesday, stating that they will not cooperate with other states’ investigations into people who seek abortions or health care providers that perform them.

    Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said women should be trusted with their own health care decisions, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said Rhode Island must do all it can to protect access to reproductive health care as “other states attack the fundamental right to choose.”

    Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said she will “stand in the way of any effort to undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”

    Their offices confirmed Wednesday that they are preemptive, protective moves, and that neither state has received a request to investigate, prosecute or extradite a provider or patient.

    Their attempts to protect abortion rights come as tighter restrictions and bans are going into effect in conservative states after last month’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the nearly half-century-old holding of Roe v. Wade that found that the right to abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution. The issue reverts to the states, many of which have taken steps to curtail or ban abortions.

    The specific fears of Democratic officials are rooted in a Texas law adopted last year to ban abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected. The law lets any person other than a government official or employee sue anyone who performs an abortion or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” obtaining one.

    The person filing the claim would be entitled to $10,000 for every abortion the subject was involved with — plus legal costs.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear challenges to the Texas law so far.

    Bernadette Meyler, a professor at Stanford Law School, said it’s not clear whether judgments against out-of-state abortion providers would hold up in courts, especially if they are not advertising their services in states with bans.

    But she also said it’s not clear that the liberal states are on firm legal ground to protect their residents from any out-of-state litigation.

    “Probably, they assume that some of the laws that they’re passing won’t be upheld or may not be upheld, and they’re trying to come up with as much as possible in order to resist the effects of the Dobbs decision,” Meyler said.

    The resistance to cooperating with abortion-related investigations could hold up, though, she said. Places that declared themselves “sanctuary cities” and refused to cooperate with federal immigration investigations during former President Donald Trump’s presidency were able to carry out similar policies.

    Connecticut was the first state to pass a law to protect abortion providers, patients and others from legal action taken by other states. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed it in May, before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

    “In accordance with Connecticut law, we will resist any attempt by another state to criminalize or intrude on a woman’s private and lawful healthcare decisions,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement last week.

    The Democratic governors of Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Washington and the moderate Republican governor in liberal Massachusetts all signed executive orders within days of the ruling to prohibit cooperation with other states that might interfere with abortion access.

    “Residents seeking access will be protected, providers will be protected, and abortion is and will continue to be legal, safe and accessible, period,” said New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has described the order as a preventative measure.

    One of the largest abortion providers in Texas announced Wednesday that it’s planning to move its operations to the border of New Mexico. Whole Woman’s Health announced Wednesday that it is looking to establish a new clinic in a New Mexico city near the state line to provide first- and second-trimester abortions.

    The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a bill that aims to protect abortion providers and people seeking abortions from actions taken by other states. Delaware’s Democratic governor signed legislation expanding abortion access, with various legal protections for abortion providers and patients, including out-of-state residents receiving abortions in Delaware.

    New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed two bills Friday that moved swiftly in the Democratic-led Legislature following the ruling. The new laws aim to protect the right of those from outside the state to get abortion services within its borders and bar the extradition of people involved in reproductive health care services should they face charges in another state.

    Murphy said he was “overwhelmingly angry” that he had to sign the bills but equally as proud to do so.

    “These laws will make New Jersey a beacon of freedom for every American woman,” he said during a signing ceremony in Jersey City, not far from the Statue of Liberty.

    In Washington state, the governor prohibited the state patrol from cooperating with out-of-state abortion investigations or prosecutions, but he noted that he didn’t have jurisdiction over local law enforcement agencies. The executive in the county surrounding Seattle said Tuesday that its sheriff’s office and other executive branch departments will not cooperate with out-of-state prosecutions of abortion providers or patients.

    Some progressive prosecutors around the U.S. have already declared that they won’t enforce some of the most restrictive, punitive anti-abortion laws.

    In New Orleans, city council members have introduced a resolution calling on local police and prosecutors to make investigations and prosecutions of abortions “the lowest priority for enforcement.” City Council members in Austin, Texas, another liberal city in a conservative state, have called for a similar policy.

  159. says

    lumipuna @181:

    […] due to other reasons, no one is expecting the cross-border tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. […]

    Masterful understatement.

  160. says

    Bits of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * The latest from Highland Park: “The man accused of killing seven people at a Fourth of July parade confessed in detail to the shooting — and revealed that he had considered a second attack, authorities said Wednesday.”

    * On a related note: “Gun violence spiked over Fourth of July weekend, with shootings reported in nearly every U.S. state. [The violence] killed a total of at least 220 people and wounded close to 570 others, according to the Gun Violence Archive.”

    * Political tumult in London: “A defiant Boris Johnson was battling to stay in power as prime minister Wednesday after his government was rocked by the resignation of several ministers who said they could no longer serve under his scandal-tarred leadership.”

    * A good move from the FDA: “Pharmacists can prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday that’s intended to expand use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid. The Food and Drug Administration said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug.”

    * Another good move from the FDA: “The Biden administration is trying to help foreign makers of baby formula stay on the U.S. market for the long term, in an effort to diversify the industry after the closure of the largest domestic plant sparked a nationwide shortage. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced plans to help overseas producers that have sent supplies to the United States, under emergency approval to address the shortfall, secure long-term authorization to market their formula in the U.S.”

    * At the White House: “President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday with the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner and also plans to send a letter directly to Griner, according to a summary of the call obtained by NBC News. The White House said that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Cherelle Griner ‘to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible.’”

    * Cushman & Wakefield: “A New York state judge on Tuesday held one of the world’s largest real estate firms — which appraised several of former President Donald J. Trump’s properties — in contempt of court in connection with a civil investigation into whether he falsely inflated the value of his assets.”

    * Watch this space: “Sarah Matthews, who served as deputy press secretary in the Trump White House until resigning shortly after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, has been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the insurrection and has agreed to testify at an upcoming hearing, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation. Matthews has been subpoenaed to testify at a public hearing as early as next week, sources tell CNN.” […]


  161. says

    Convoy protesters hit a roadblock when leader was arrested during livestream

    David “Santa” Riddell, anti-vaxxer and leader of 1776 Restoration Movement, a spin-off of the People’s Convoy, is back in Washington, D.C., with a couple of big rigs to protest non-existent mandates.

    The protest hit a major roadblock when he was arrested on a warrant for his July 4 escapades in Maryland. From The Washington Post:

    The Maryland State Police charged Riddell, 57, a trucker from Ohio, with disobeying a lawful order from police and willfully driving a vehicle at a slow speed “impeding normal and reasonable traffic movement.”
    The group had been called the “People’s Convoy.” But a small group spun off and rebranded as the “1776 Restoration Movement,” and drove on I-495 on the July Fourth holiday, slowing traffic.

    For several hours on Wednesday morning, Riddell had been livestreaming on the National Mall. Although he was just out of sight when the arrest was made, you can see the commotion in the distance and someone gathered his belongings shortly afterward. The arrest appears to happen around the 2h 23 min mark of this livestream. [video at the link]

    Quite right. Arrest the dunderhead.

  162. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #187:

    On a related note: “Gun violence spiked over Fourth of July weekend, with shootings reported in nearly every U.S. state. [The violence] killed a total of at least 220 people and wounded close to 570 others, according to the Gun Violence Archive.”

    That’s insane.

  163. says

    Oh, Tucker, you do not have to prove to us that you are a dunderhead. We know already.

    Tucker Carlson blames women and weed—but not guns—for mass shootings perpetrated by angry white men

    The United States had more mass shootings over the holiday weekend—11, to be exact—making us the Joey Chestnut of mayhem, in that no one can even hope to challenge us. Republicans insist the reason we have so many more gun killings than any other country can’t possibly be the guns […]. So when a shooting occurs, the intrepid Fox News team reaches into the past to pluck out tired, long-rejected explanations for our uniquely horrible, very American gun violence problem.

    [..] Sadly, [Tucker’s] take comes straight from the ‘50s.

    Ironically, most people need cannabis’ anti-nausea effects to get through even one episode of Carlson’s show, and so by the time they tune in they’re already well on their way to multiple murder sprees before he can even begin to warn them about modern reefer madness.

    Hoo-boy, Little Choad Fauntleroy was in rare form on Tuesday.

    From the July 5 edition […]: [video at the link]

    CARLSON: “Would you sell a gun to that guy? Does he seem like a nutcase—of course he does. So why didn’t anyone raise an alarm? Well?

    Maybe because he didn’t stand out. Maybe because there are a lot of young men in America who suddenly look and act a lot like this guy. It’s not an attack, it’s just true. Like [Highland Park shooting suspect Robert] Crimo, they inhabit a solitary fantasy world of social media, porn, and video games.

    They’re high on government-endorsed weed. ‘Smoke some more, it’s good for you.’ They’re numbed by the endless psychotropic drugs that are handed out in every school in the country by crackpots posing as counselors.

    And of course they’re angry. They know that their lives will not be better than their parents’; they’ll be worse. That’s all but guaranteed. They know that. They’re not that stupid.

    And yet the authorities in their lives, mostly women, never [stop] lecturing them about their so-called privilege. ‘You’re male; you’re privileged.’ Imagine that. Try to imagine an unhealthier, unhappier life than that. So a lot of young men in America are going nuts. Are you surprised?”

    Really, Tucky? That’s what you’re going with as the fuel for mass shootings? Weed and women?

    Listen, you frozen fish stick fuck. Other countries have weed and “woke” women—as well as social media and video games—and they haven’t become killing fields. (Though they do tend to have stronger gun control laws and social safety nets—hint, hint.)

    [Tweeted by Shannon Watts: It’s not SSRIs. Iceland: biggest user of antidepressants; low rates of gun violence. It’s not weed. Israel: biggest user of cannabis; low rates of gun violence. It’s the guns.]

    I’ve debunked this spurious weed connection before […] but this “blunt” assessment from a 2017 University of Washington study bears repeating:

    Results indicate that the legalization of marijuana, both recreational and medical, does not increase violent crime rates. In contrast, marijuana legalization could lead to a decline in violent crime such as homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.

    The daily Fox News talking points for Tuesday appear to have been crafted specifically to scapegoat cannabis for gun violence. Laura Ingraham went out of her way to defame God’s perfect creation as well. [video at the link]

    […] Occam’s razor still applies. Is it possible that selling AR-15s to young people could be slightly more dangerous than selling them video games? Or that maybe, just maybe, white men are angry because Carlson and his peers keep conjuring phantoms for them to be angry at? Maybe tackling wealth inequality—a notion that gives Fox News and the GOP hives—would go a long way toward soothing the jangled nerves of a generation that increasingly feels left behind.

    Then again, the folks at Fox News are not looking for real solutions. They’re just exploiting people’s already existing fears and biases for cash. It’s not that different than chasing a herd of gazelle into a net and then shooting them all in the head.

    Somehow, though, it seems even less honest.

  164. KG says

    The Westminster farce continues! Now we have cabinet ministers (Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, and Nadhim Zahawi, the newly-appointed Chancellor) publicly calling for Johnson to resign without doing so themselves. This is unprecedented – we’re supposed to have something called “collective Cabinet responsibility”, which means that if a minister can’t support the Prime minister, they resign. Braverman (one of the most unpleasant even among the current crop of Tories) has even announced she wants to be the next PM!

    It’s just this minute (literally) been reported that Johnson has agreed to resign, but wants to stay on until autumn, when a new Tory leader will be elected. They’d be fools to let him – there’s no knowing what crisis he might engineer to prevent that process being completed.

  165. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog.:

    At least one person has been killed and six injured by a missile strike on Kramatorsk which hit a residential area, according to Ukraine’s regional governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko….

    US basketball player Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drugs charges in a Russian court, but said she had not deliberately broken the law….

  166. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian UK liveblog.:

    Labour MP Chris Bryant has said Boris Johnson could put the “country’s security and economy at risk” if he takes too long to make way for a successor.

    Bryant told the PA news agency:

    He hasn’t resigned so far, he said he’s going to resign later on this year.

    It’s now in the hands of the Conservative party to decide how long that is going to take, if it is going to be a few days, OK, maybe he can stay.

    If it is going to be months he cannot stay, because that puts the country’s security and economy at risk because he will be a completely lame duck prime minister.

    I think we either have a new prime minister by the end of next week or there will certainly be a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.

    The whole of the Tory party are to blame for this, they put him in there and they took ages and ages to get to this point, even when he was clearly breaking every rule going.

  167. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    While Boris Johnson boasted about “settling our relations with the continent” EU sources consider the relationship has reached a post-Brexit nadir.

    “It would definitely be a low point,” one EU diplomat said. “It’s very difficult to see how things could be worse than they were under Boris Johnson. Trust has been eroded almost to the point where it is non-existent.”

    “He is seen by the EU as being just an untrustworthy partner and someone who is willing to burn all relationships internationally for short-term political gain.”

    Amid uncertainty about Johnson’s successor, the diplomat said: “If there is anything more positive coming from the UK side we will grasp it and run with it.”

    A second diplomat said one of the big questions for the EU is who will succeed Johnson and what will be their approach to the protocol, adding: “Surely [Liz] Truss will make a run for it, which doesn’t bode well.”

    “There’ll surely be quite a bit of schadenfreude going around [Brussels] today, but his ousting had very little to do with his Brexit approach,” the diplomat said.

  168. says

    Remember Ivan Kulyak, the Russian gymnast who was disqualified for a year after competing in Doha with a Z on his chest?

    Russia’s gymnastics federation has itself now banned him from domestic events for fear of all its other athletes being sanctioned”


  169. says

    Keir Starmer tweeted:

    We are stuck with a government that isn’t functioning.

    The Prime Minister needs to go completely – not cling on for a few months.

    Britain needs a fresh start. If the Tory party doesn’t get rid of him, Labour will act in the national interest and bring a vote of no confidence.

    Short video of him speaking at the (Twitter) link.

  170. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said Boris Johnson was “worse than Neville Chamberlain” and will be remembered as “the worst” prime minister “in our history”.

    Davey told PA:

    He is far worse than Chamberlain, Chamberlain didn’t break the law, whatever he did, and I’m no Chamberlain fan.

    This prime minister will, I think, be remembered for the first prime minister in British history to lie on an industrial scale and to care more about himself than he did the British people.

    He said Tory MPs had “failed to do their patriotic duty” by not getting rid of him sooner, adding “Boris Johnson wasn’t fit to govern our great country”, and calling him a “law-breaking, lying, incompetent prime minister, the worst in our history”.

  171. says

    How are Republicans and their allies trying to deflect attention away from guns in the wake of the Highland Park shooting?

    In the aftermath of deadly mass shootings in May, Republicans and their allies scrambled to deflect attention away from guns. Prominent voices on the right ended up trying to blame, among other things, the multitude of doors at schools, abortion, video games, “secularization,” absentee fathers, and the [lack] of government-imposed school prayer.

    Some of these clearly can’t be applied to the mass shooting in Highland Park — there are no doors to a July Fourth parade, for example, taking away one of Sen. Ted Cruz’s favorite talking points — but as The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman noted, the right is still getting creative.

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson blamed the massacre on medication given to young people, bleak economic prospects, and women nagging young men…. Carlson’s colleague Laura Ingraham homed in on the real culprit: marijuana. “What can regular pot use trigger in young men in particular? Psychosis and other violent personality changes,” she said, blaming the media for “covering up the truth about the growing scourge of violent psychosis in our young people” created by weed.

    Conservative media personality Mark Levin apparently preferred a broader and more traditional approach, blaming “cultural decay, the decay of the civil society, the war on cops, the way that human life is viewed, whether it’s abortion, infanticide, whatever the issue.”

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell added, “The core of the problem is not the Second Amendment.”

    It’s tiresome for a reason: We keep experiencing the same debate, as if we were watching a dispute unfold in “Groundhog Day.” The right keeps looking for ways to avoid blaming the preponderance of guns, while the left keeps explaining that blaming conservatives’ culprits doesn’t make sense.

    There are countries around the world where there’s access to marijuana, abortion, and video games, just as there plenty of international young people on anti-depressants. None of these countries is forced to deal with routine mass shootings — not because they have better societies or better people, but because those countries are not awash in deadly firearms.

    Waldman added:

    There won’t ever be a single factor that explains the psychology of every mass shooter. Some grew up in poverty while others didn’t. Some have diagnosable mental illnesses while others don’t. Some are motivated by a specific ideology of hate while others are driven by nebulous rage at the world. But there’s one thing every last one of them has in common, without exception, and it isn’t pot smoking or being nagged by women. It’s that they were able, with little difficulty, to get their hands on a weapon that they could use to kill as many people as they wished.

    Those looking for “the core of the problem” should start here.

  172. says

    Senate GOP sticks to ugly hostage gambit on competitiveness bill

    The name of the bill — the “United States Innovation and Competition Act” (USICA), though it’s gone by a few different titles — probably makes it sound boring, but it’s proving to be one of the most contentious legislative disputes of the current Congress.

    At issue is a bill that lawmakers in both parties and both chambers have been working on for nearly a year. The point of USICA is relatively straightforward: It intends to bolster American competitiveness and counter China, in large part by addressing domestic semiconductor shortages. It’s not the sexiest of political fights, but it relates to everything from manufacturing to jobs, trade to national security.

    With this in mind, the House and Senate already passed versions of the bill, sending the matter to a conference committee that began work in April on merging the competing measures into one final package. The plan has been to pass USICA before the fall elections.

    Those plans were largely on track, right up until last week, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested he’d kill the bill unless Democrats gave up on an unrelated piece of legislation that Republicans don’t like. Yesterday, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas published a tweet suggesting he’s on board with McConnell hostage strategy.

    “Looks like [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer giving up on USICA, including shoring up the vulnerable supply chain for high end semiconductors. Major chip makers will likely abandon their plans to build manufacturing facilities in the US. Body blow to US national security, economy, and well paying jobs.”

    The Biden White House was not pleased, and when Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pushed back against the Texan’s missive, Cornyn responded, “You people in the Biden administration are very confused.”

    Perhaps. The GOP’s legislative strategies can get somewhat confusing. That said, perhaps I can help disambiguate the details.

    Schumer is not “giving up on” the competitiveness bill. On the contrary, he and Senate Democratic leaders are enthusiastic proponents of USICA. They’re also working, meanwhile, on a separate budget reconciliation package, which is currently focused on lowering the cost of prescription medications.

    Senate Republicans lack the wherewithal to stop the reconciliation bill — as a procedural matter, it cannot be filibustered — but they can derail the USICA legislation, which they ostensibly support, because it can be filibustered.

    In other words, GOP leaders are effectively telling the Democratic majority, “Stop trying to make medication more affordable, or we’ll side with China on semiconductor shortages.”

    Or to borrow Cornyn’s phrasing, Republicans don’t want to deliver a “body blow to US national security, economy, and well paying jobs,” but GOP senators will do this anyway unless Democrats abandon work on an unrelated bill.

    Ironically, it was McConnell who declared last summer, “The president cannot let congressional Democrats hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.” Almost exactly a year later, McConnell and his allies are now effectively saying, “The president must let congressional Republicans hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.”

    […] At this point, it’s not at all clear how, or whether, this standoff will be resolved. That said, the Democratic majority has a few options, one of which is simply passing the Senate’s version of USICA through the House. It’s also possible Democrats could try to add USICA provisions to their reconciliation package, circumventing Republican tactics.

  173. says

    […] Throughout his tenure, the British leader ignored norms and limits, acted as if he were above the rules, repeatedly lied, and then blustered his way through, awaiting the next controversy. By all appearances, Johnson fully expected to weather his latest storm, just as he’d done before.

    But those plans were thwarted by his ostensible allies. As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes summarized last night, “What you are seeing now is what it looks like when a conservative party decides they have had enough — and that a leader is just too much of a menace to be tolerated.”

    Quite right. Johnson didn’t announce his resignation as a result of intense self-reflection and an overwhelming sense of regret; he said he’d quit because Tories forced his hand. The prime minister ran out of friends, which in turn left him with no choices.

    Indeed, in a scene reminiscent of congressional Republicans telling Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate that he no longer had the support he’d need to remain in office, senior cabinet members went to 10 Downing yesterday with the same message. A day later, Johnson grudgingly read the writing on the wall.

    In other words, British conservatives, confronted with a scandal-plagued leader, concluded they could no longer tolerate the constant stream of disgraces and indignities.

    They didn’t bite their tongues in the name of party loyalty; they didn’t keep their heads down fearing blowback from the leader’s followers and allied media. Rather, they concluded that their leader’s record of dishonesty and misconduct was something they could no longer even try to defend.

    Imagine if Donald Trump’s cabinet and Republican allies on Capitol Hill were able to follow a similarly principled course.

    As for the related parallels, I’ll hope that Johnson resists any urge to summon an armed mob to London, as part of a plot to launch a violent attack on parliament.


  174. says

    Evangelical Leader Brags About Secretly Praying With SCOTUS Justices

    Peggy Nienaber, an executive director at evangelical organization Liberty Counsel, was caught on a hot mic claiming that some justices “will pray with us, those that like us to pray with them,” and that “we’re the only people who do that.”

    Nienaber’s comments were made last week during a celebration evangelicals were holding in front of the Supreme Court over its dismantling of Roe v. Wade.

    Nienaber bragged that she and other evangelicals “actually go in there” for the prayer sessions, not at her office or at the justices’ homes.

    One of Nienaber’s prayer sessions with the justices happened the Monday after SCOTUS struck down Roe, the evangelical leader said.

    Not only does Liberty Counsel frequently bring cases in front of SCOTUS, the conservative justices actually cited its amicus brief while striking down Roe. Which is probably why Nienaber insisted that her comments be “totally off the record.” Oops.

    Nienaber didn’t identify the justices by name, but Rolling Stone noted that she’s taken pictures with Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. She also referred to Thomas as a “friend” and praised the conservative justice for “passing by our ministry center to attend church and always taking time to say hello” in a Facebook post, according to Rolling Stone.

  175. says

    Clueless GOP senator blames stimulus checks for the labor shortage

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is either completely out of touch, or (more likely) he’s just decided that he can basically say anything and his base will believe it. His latest inane comment came via a speech Tuesday in Paducah, Kentucky, where he suggested that the nation’s labor shortage will come to a striking end when folks run out of stimulus money.

    “You’ve got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they’re flush for the moment,” the most loathsome GOPer said, via Business Insider. “What we’ve got to hope is, once they run out of money, they’ll start concluding it’s better to work than not to work.”

    As The Root reports, between the Cares Act, the Coronavirus Relief Act, and the American Rescue Plan, Americans received around $3,200 in stimulus payments. […] But that treasure chest of money has long run out for most Americans, and it certainly isn’t behind the “Great Resignation.”

    […] If he and his cronies had had their way, Americans—and by Americans I mean those the GOP say are simply sucking off the hind tit of the government—wouldn’t even have had the much-needed $1,400 direct payments at all.

    According to Business Insider, a few of the reasons behind the labor shortage include the ongoing fallout from a global pandemic—which is still raging, by the way. People are looking to change jobs and try to make a living wage, because $15 an hour won’t cut it. Jobs with more flexibility and those that offer better options for child care, such as working from home, are being prioritized. Stress is a factor. A desire to be your own boss comes into play for some. […] None of these real factors behind the Great Resignation include living off the high hog of a $1,400 stimmie check.

    What the Republicans want is for poor people to stay poor, and to give corporations the opportunity to prosper without having to pay their employees a fair wage.

    What the pandemic revealed to many working-class Americans is that these companies wanted them on the front lines, but had no intention of improving working conditions for them. The brunt of these failures fall on the already marginalized groups who historically make less money, have fewer benefits and resources, and are more vulnerable to the whims of corporate fuckery. To blame a labor shortage on a two-year-old check that was too small to cover a month’s rent in most cities is plainly an attack on poor people, and McConnell knows that.

    McConnell and the party he leads don’t give two shits about American workers. Not about gun violence, bodily autonomy, campaign financing, or the environment. What they care about is staying in power and making money off the backs of workers. […]

  176. says

    SC @211, that is impressive. Yikes!

    In related news: Putin ally goes bonkers: Russia should reclaim Alaska if Russian assets seized to rebuild Ukraine

    [1860 map at the link]
    If some Russian officials had their way, Sarah Palin could some day actually see Russia from her house.

    Russian parliament members can say the craziest things. Why stop at restoring the Soviet Union? Why not restore the Russian Empire to its former glory? After all Putin has compared himself to Peter the Great, the tsar who expanded the Russian Empire.

    In 1725, Peter ordered navigator Vitus Bering to explore the North Pacific for potential colonization. Under Catherine the Great, Russia established its first permanent settlement in Alaska in 1784, a year after annexing the Crimean Khanate.

    And now Russian officials are going bonkers after Canada and some other Western countries indicated that they were ready to go along with a proposal by Ukrainian leaders to use seized Russian assets to help pay the estimated $750 billion bill to rebuild Ukraine.

    On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that they were working on a “legal framework” that would allow the EU members to use assets from Russia and Russian oligarchs for Ukraine’s restoration.

    […] That didn’t sit well with Russia’s lower house speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, a Putin ally. He warned on Wednesday that Washington should remember that Alaska previously belonged to Russia when it freezes or seizes Russian assets. [Tweet and map at the link]

    […] citing a report from the pro-Russian publication RBC, quoted Volodin the State Duma Speaker, as saying:

    “Let America always remember: there is a part of its (Russia’s) territory there – Alaska. So when they start trying to dispose of our resources abroad, before doing so, they should think about the fact that we have something to reclaim too …

    We do not interfere in their internal affairs, and they have been saying for decades that everything that is happening to them, the elections of all their presidents, is because of Russia’s interference. That’s not how you respect your presidents. Well, what do you say? One of them was bad, now the other is falling off the bike. Well, here we are again.”

    […] State Duma Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy proposed holding a referendum in Alaska, according to RBC. And in case you’re wondering, this Putin propagandist is the great-great-grandson of “War and Peace” author Leo Tolstoy.

    But Alaskans shouldn’t lose any sleep over Volodin’s crazed threats. Russian forces, currently bogged down in Ukraine’s Donbas region, aren’t going to be assaulting Juneau anytime soon.

    Steven Pifer, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, had this to say about Volodin: “This is not a serious person.” [Tweet and map at the link]

    In a deal ridiculed at the time as “Seward’s Folly,” Secretary of State William Seward reached an agreement with Russia in 1867 to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million. But now Russia apparently has seller’s remorse. [Tweet and image at the link]

    Back in March, when another Russian lawmaker suggested that Russia wants Alaska back as reparations for U.S. sanctions, Alaska’s Gov. Mike Dunleavy tweeted: “Good luck with that! Not if we have something to say about it. We have hundreds of thousands of armed Alaskans and military members that will see it differently.”

  177. says

    Herschel Walker reportedly lied to his team about his secret kids

    When it comes to the Georgia Republican’s personal controversies, Herschel Walker apparently isn’t above lying to his own campaign team.

    A few weeks ago, Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign ran into an unexpected problem. The Daily Beast reported on a“ secret son” whom the Georgia Republican hadn’t publicly acknowledged, and who “has apparently been estranged from his biological father since his birth a decade ago.”

    Given Walker’s record of criticizing absentee fathers, the revelations were a problem. Nevertheless, the GOP candidate and his team acknowledged the accuracy of the report and issued a written statement that said Walker “had a child years ago when he wasn’t married.” The statement went on to dismiss the idea that “Herschel is ‘hiding’ the child.”

    The problem quickly got worse — we soon learned about other previously undisclosed children — raising all kinds of questions about the candidate. But one thing stood out for me: Why did Walker’s team issue a written statement referencing “a child” and “the child”? Didn’t the Republican’s campaign team get the full story from the candidate?

    As it turns out, that’s an interesting story. The Daily Beast had a follow-up report today:

    When Herschel Walker’s campaign aides approached him this winter to discuss whispers that Walker had a secret child, the Georgia GOP’s Senate candidate told his campaign the rumors were false. Walker’s aides already knew he was lying. They had expected him to lie, and had obtained documents in advance of that conversation verifying that Walker did indeed have another child, The Daily Beast has learned.

    According to the reporting, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, Walker, when confronted with evidence from his team, eventually conceded that he’d lied to them about the existence of his undisclosed son.

    So, aides pressed him further about whether there were other kids. Walker said there were not. That wasn’t true, either.

    In other words, when the Senate campaign issued its statement referencing “a child” and “the child,” it’s because members of Walker’s team had been led to believe — by the candidate himself — that there was only one other kid. They simply didn’t know that their candidate had deceived them.

    It’s against this backdrop that the Daily Beast obtained communications from an adviser “closely connected” to the Walker campaign — which also have not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News — that appear to show members of the candidate’s team who “don’t trust Walker” and who and harbor concerns “that he isn’t mentally fit for the job.” [Not surprised.]

    He spouts falsehoods “like he’s breathing,” this adviser said — so much so that his own campaign stopped believing him long ago. “He’s lied so much that we don’t know what’s true,” the person said, adding that aides have “zero” trust in the candidate. Three people interviewed for this article independently called him a “pathological liar.”

    Those are clearly strong terms, but there’s no denying the degree to which Walker has a credibility problem. As regular readers know, the Georgia Republican has, for example, lied about having a background in law enforcement. And he lied about being a college graduate. And he lied about being his high school’s valedictorian. And he lied about being the founder of a charity for veterans.

    His lies about his private-sector record are so outlandish that Walker appeared to be describing an entirely different person with little connection to himself.

    It’s possible, of course, that the first-time candidate will win anyway, but in theory, Walker’s troubled relationship with the truth seems like the sort of thing that might give voters pause.

    Perfect candidate for Trump to endorse.

  178. says

    NBC News:

    Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey held a campaign fundraising event at which he raffled off a Smith & Wesson AR-15, a weapon nearly identical to the type used in the Fourth of July parade massacre here this week.

    […] A 2019 video posted to Bailey’s campaign page on Facebook shows him standing before a raffle drum to pick the winner when he was a state representative.

    “As promised, we have held a raffle for an AR-15, a Smith & Wesson, and I have possession of that,” he says on the video.

    Bailey, who’s now a state senator, has held numerous raffles for guns over the years.

    The raffle imagery, as well as Bailey’s longtime embrace of bills to expand and protect gun rights, is opening him up to more scrutiny nationally and in his home state when there is fresh momentum to ban assault-style weapons in the state — and nationwide. […]

  179. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 216

    I realize that the right doesn’t care about being accused of hypocrisy the same way Democrats seem to, but it should be obvious there is some incongruity between an ideology that has spent generations lecturing African-Americans about “the family,” the sacredness of “fatherhood,” and that they shouldn’t have sex until they are locked into a boring monogamous marriage and their rabid support for a man who has sired so many “illegitimate” child.

  180. says

    Akira @218, I agree!

    In other news: Group of ‘bedrock’ Pennsylvania Republicans break ranks to endorse Democrat for governor

    A group of nearly a dozen mostly former Republican leaders in Pennsylvania is breaking with their party to endorse Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro for governor.

    The unprecedented move is a rebuke of the GOP gubernatorial nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is simply too extreme for the cohort of Republicans who have served the Keystone State in Congress, the state legislature and executive branch, and the state Supreme Court. Depending on one’s perspective, they are either establishment Republicans who lead the party before it lost its way or RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) by today’s Trumpian standards.

    Mastriano is a right-wing radical who has referred to Pennsylvania as “our promised land,” took part in the Jan. 6 riots, and wants to ban abortions without exception in the state. In short, he has all the hallmarks of a Christian nationalist with the authoritarian instincts to match. Mastriano is also overtly running against the type of old-guard Republicans that once dominated the party and some of whom are currently lining up against him. […]

  181. says

    Wonkette: “Watch Joe Biden Give Medal Of Freedom To People Who Aren’t ‘Dead Rush Limbaugh’ Or Devin Nunes!”

    Remember how garbage Donald Trump’s Presidential Medal Of Freedom winners were?

    Remember how Rush Limbaugh got one? And Devin Nunes? And Jim Jordan? Dead Antonin Scalia? Political donors? Just fuuuuucking garbage.

    President Joe Biden is giving out medals today, and you get to watch, and his list is fucking cool.

    Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe!

    Gabrielle Giffords!

    Khizr Khan, the gold-star father Donald Trump took so many public shits on.

    Denzel Washington, come get a medal!

    Even Meghan McCain’s father gets one, DO YOU KNOW WHO HER FATHER WAS? Well, he was one of Joe Biden’s best friends, so. Steve Jobs also gets a posthumous one.

    It’s 17 medals total, and literally none of them are embarrassments to America like Trump’s were.


    Video at the link.

    Denzel Washington wasn’t present because he tested positive for Covid. He will be given his medal at a later date.

  182. Tethys says

    From #270

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell added, “The core of the problem is not the Second Amendment.”

    True comment from the actual core of the problem. Corrupt POS and his wife are traitorous grift personified.

  183. says

    […] Pfizer has told NBC News that it could have an updated vaccine targeting BA.4 and BA.5 ready to be distributed in October.

    […] The FDA estimates that omicron-specific boosters from Pfizer and Moderna will become available in early to mid-fall.

    […] experts stressed that there may not be a dramatic difference in protection between additional boosts of the current vaccines and omicron-specific shots. Current vaccines still work well to prevent severe illness and death.

    “The virus is moving in a direction of escaping our vaccines more and more, but it has not found a way to escape the vaccines to a really significant degree,” Montefiori said.

    For that reason, he added, people eligible for second boosters — those over 50 or the immunocompromised — may not want to wait.

    “If your last boost was over six months ago, you might want to consider getting boosted again now with the current vaccine to keep your protection strong while we’re still getting through this pandemic,” Montefiori said.

    In addition, Balloux said, it’s hard to predict whether BA.5 will still be dominant later this year.

    “Given the uncertainty, there’s no right or wrong,” he said. “There are only trade-offs.” […]


  184. says

    Politics has exploded in Arizona with Initiative petitions due for turn-in today, grassroots activism growing rapidly, anger rising over the U.S. Supreme Court, a more clear-eyed assessment of how Trump tried to overthrow the government, […] and just the fact that it will soon be 117 in the shade.

    Someone should warn those still bowing low to Trump that it is a bad idea to touch your forehead to the ground when the asphalt reaches 175 degrees. Oh, and we will keep our seats in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, and perhaps take one of the Houses of the Arizona Legislature as the Republicans devastate each other trying to cash in on Trump’s schtick.

    The most exciting thing to watch today will be the turn-in for the petitions to place a codification of Roe onto the ballot. They need 500,000 signatures to do that. A few weeks ago, people were saying no chance. After a genuine explosion of activism, no one wants to be a naysayer, but the smart observers are saying that a half a million is a big number. […] We will know soon.

    Meanwhile, we are scheduled to turn in the petitions for the Arizona Fair Elections Act after a noon news conference at the state capital. Our numbers have gone up dramatically with the pro-choice people coming out in droves, and we will have twice as many as the 238,000 signatures we need. […]

    Having spent most of the signature gathering season in the ultra-rural reservations of northeast Arizona, I was overwhelmed to see the magnitude of intensity in the university city of Tempe. At the Brick Road Coffee Shop, the interior was given over to notaries grabbing piles of petitions from circulators as they walked in the door. Outside, people lined up at tables to sign.

    Before I could step back from a table, a woman started to explain the Fair Elections Act in great detail. I eventually was able to tell her that I had written a large part of it. They quickly saddled me with 40 pounds of petitions to take to the next level of collection point.

    The Arizona Fair Elections Act was endorsed Wednesday by the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Tohono O’odham, the San Carlos Apache, and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Tribe. The endorsements which will appear in a booklet mailed to every Arizona voter are all moving, but I’ll share the words of Fort McDowell President Bernadine Burnette:

    Frank Harrison and Harry Austin, two Fort McDowell Yavapai men, were among many Native Americans who loyally and bravely served their nation in World War II. When they returned home after the war ended, the two men sought to register to vote at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. Their requests were denied, setting in motion events that eventually confirmed the right of Native Americans to vote in state elections.

    After their request to register to vote was rejected, Harrison and Austin filed a lawsuit alleging that they were denied their constitutional right to vote in state elections. They lost in Maricopa County Superior Court but prevailed on appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, who found that the men were American and Arizona citizens and therefore had the right to vote. That 1948 decision affirmed Native Americans’ voting rights in Arizona and helped blaze the path for all Native Americans throughout the country to have the right to vote.

    But even having the law on their side didn’t prevent state and local governments from erecting barriers to Native Americans’ exercise of their voting rights. Numerous laws and procedures have been adopted in recent years that have made it more difficult for Natives to vote. This is particularly true for Natives residing on large remote reservations.

    Many bills were introduced in the just completed 2022 legislative session that make it harder for citizens to vote. These changes would disproportionately impact Native Americans and make it more difficult for them to exercise their hard-won constitutional right to vote.

    Please vote ”Yes” for the Arizona Fair Elections Act.

    It protects voting rights for all of us and honors the many sacrifices of our military veterans.

    Republicans still scramble to proclaim they are the true lover of Trump, while trying to cast their Republican opponents as harlots who don’t know what true Trump love really is. Giant signs have sprouted up across the state showing Republican candidate and former Fox anchor Kari Lake in evening clothes with Obama. She is supposed to have given money to Obama, but a search of many pages of gushing coverage of the donation she made to Obama provides no amount. I am beginning to think the whole point of the signs is to suggest she took Obama to the prom.

    Meanwhile, Trump is determined that Lake will defeat Karrin. Yes, an actual Karrin. She apparently has some additional names but they are too small on her signs to read. When Lake and Karrin finish their battle in the August primary, it’s hard to believe that either one will have momentum to keep a Democrat out of the governor’s seat. (Arizona does not have a governor’s mansion. I had to look it up.). […]


  185. says

    Man, I can’t stop cracking up. Nothing has more seriously dogged Mehmet Oz, the GOP’s candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, than the fact that he’s not actually from, you know, Pennsylvania. So serious props to whichever staffer for Democrat John Fetterman just nailed Oz for recording his latest campaign video in the library of his mansion in New Jersey […]


    Images, tweets, and video at the link.

  186. says

    “Texans are seeing what a post-Roe world looks like. The GOP may regret it.” The article is written by Jennifer Rubin for <a href=""The Washington Post.

    The Texas law making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy (before many women know they are pregnant) is now fully in effect. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, though there is one for women at risk of “substantial impairment of major bodily function.” Goodness knows what that means and how doctors will calculate the odds that a medically advisable abortion will land them in prison.

    The dreadful consequences that will follow the law’s implementation underscore the state’s blatant lack of respect for women’s lives and decisions. They might also be an indication that the forced-birth crowd has overplayed its hand.

    Abortions are all but impossible to obtain in Texas now. Whole Woman’s Health, one of the largest abortion providers in the state, announced it is closing its four clinics in McAllen, Fort Worth, McKinney and Austin and decamping to New Mexico, where abortion is legal.

    In New Mexico, existing clinics have experienced bedlam as women not only from Texas but Oklahoma and other Southwest states with abortion bans flock to get care, resulting in a backlog of four weeks for an appointment. So women will be having abortions later in pregnancies thanks to the forced-birth law.

    The Texas Tribune reports that “those four weeks could mean they would become ineligible for abortion medication in lieu of a procedure, or they could have to spend two days at the Albuquerque clinic instead of one.” If one lives in, say, Houston, the drive may take more than 10 hours, and with the cost of gas spiking, it could be prohibitively expensive.

    The Tribune captures the recent experience of women in Texas with snippets from the University of New Mexico Center for Reproductive Health in Albuquerque:

    “She’s under eight weeks, for an appointment at 8 a.m.,” one clinic employee whispered to her coworker while on the phone with a Texas patient. “But the latest flight out [of Albuquerque] is 5:25 p.m. — do you think she would make that flight?”

    Another employee walked in to tell the receptionists not to count one woman who was supposed to be in the clinic about an hour earlier as a no-show. She was on the way, the staffer said, still driving in from Oklahoma. . . .

    “If they’d just been able to go to Dallas, and they live near Dallas, they could go tomorrow,” said Dr. Amber Truehart, the clinic’s medical director. “But they have to figure out how to travel here and get child care and funding, and all of that stuff is delaying them.”

    Considering that at least some patients have been victims of rape or incest or are otherwise suffering from medical complications, the ordeal seems even more barbaric.

    The implications are profound for the most vulnerable women. If doctors and nurses are unsure about the legality of a medically advisable abortion, a woman carrying a nonviable fetus may have to go through the agony and emotional torment of giving birth. And given the statistics on maternal mortality and complications, Black and Hispanic women forced to continue their pregnancies will die in disproportionate numbers.

    If forced-birth activists thought this situation would be popular, they have greatly miscalculated. A new University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds only 37 percent of the state’s residents support the new law; 54 percent oppose it. Contrary to the new law, the poll reports, only 8 percent and 13 percent of Texas voters would ban access to abortion in the cases of rape and incest, respectively. […]

  187. says

    From the link @ Lynna’s #224:

    Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell also commented, “Let me thank my North Jersey constituent Dr. Oz for cutting his Pennsylvania campaign ads right in our North Jersey district. These commercials help showcase our beautiful Garden State.”

  188. says

    Guardian – “Plant-based meat by far the best climate investment, report finds”:

    Investments in plant-based alternatives to meat lead to far greater cuts in climate-heating emissions than other green investments, according to one of the world’s biggest consultancy firms.

    The report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that, for each dollar, investment in improving and scaling up the production of meat and dairy alternatives resulted in three times more greenhouse gas reductions compared with investment in green cement technology, seven times more than green buildings and 11 times more than zero-emission cars.

    Investments in the plant-based alternatives to meat delivered this high impact on emissions because of the big difference between the greenhouse gases emitted when producing conventional meat and dairy products, and when growing plants. Beef, for example, results in six-to-30 times more emissions than tofu.

    Investment in alternative proteins, also including fermented products and cell-based meat, has jumped from $1bn (£830m) in 2019 to $5bn in 2021, BCG said. Alternatives make up 2% of meat, egg and dairy products sold, but will rise to 11% in 2035 on current growth trends, the report said. This would reduce emissions by an amount almost equivalent to global aviation’s output. But BCG said meat alternatives could grow much faster with technological progress resulting in better products, scaled-up production and regulatory changes making marketing and sales easier.

    “Widespread adoption of alternative proteins can play a critical role tackling climate change,” said Malte Clausen, a partner at BCG. “We call it the untapped climate opportunity – you’re getting more impact from your investment in alternative proteins than in any other sector of the economy.”

    “There’s been a lot of investments into electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels, which is all great and helpful to reduce emissions, but we have not seen comparable investment yet [in alternative proteins], even though it’s rising rapidly,” he said. “If you really care about impact as an investor, this is an area that you definitely need to understand.”

    Meat and dairy production uses 83% of farmland and causes 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, but provides only 18% of calories and 37% of protein. Moving human diets from meat to plants means less forest is destroyed for pasture and fodder growing and less emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane produced by cattle and sheep.

    Scientists have concluded that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet and that large cuts in meat consumption in rich nations are essential to ending the climate crisis. The Project Drawdown group, which assesses climate solutions, places plant-based diets in the top three of almost 100 options.

    Malte said a move towards plant-based meats could also help alleviate food crises. “You are cutting out the ‘middleman’, whether it’s a cow, a pig or a chicken. It’s just mathematics: if instead of feeding all of these crops to animals, and then eating the animals, you just use the crops directly for human consumption, you need less crops overall and therefore alleviate the constraints on the system.”…

  189. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Britain’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has used an urgent question in the Commons to ask if Alexander Lebedev sought to arrange a private phone call between Boris Johnson and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, during a weekend party in April 2018.

    A day after Johnson admitted for the first time that when foreign secretary he had met former KGB agent Lebedev without officials present, Cooper told the Commons there were further questions raised by the trip to the party at an Italian palazzo owned by Lebedev’s son.

    “There are also rumours that Alexander Lebedev was trying to arrange a phone call from the meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is that true? Did that phone call happen?” Cooper asked from the dispatch box.

    In reply, Vicky Ford, a junior Foreign Office minister, said: “I take national security issues seriously” but failed to address the question substantively. She said ministers had introduced “world-leading sanctions packages” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Last month the Tortoise website reported that Lebedev had sought to set up an unmonitored line between Johnson, the then foreign secretary, and Lavrov to discuss the Salisbury poisonings that had happened nearly two months earlier. But the call never took place because Johnson overslept.

    Later on Thursday, Lebedev denied he had sought to set up a call between the two politicians. “Both were utterly capable of calling each other at those time, and they surely did. Why would they need a phone operator?”

    But he confirmed that met Johnson at the party, saying they had shaken hands. “Maybe we uttered a few words to each other at the table with the other guests, but who cares about truth in those times, especially as regards someone who is Russian,” Lebedev added.

    The Russian president has warned Russia has not started its campaign in Ukraine “in earnest”. In a hawkish speech to parliamentary leaders, Vladimir Putin said the prospects for any negotiation would grow dimmer the longer the conflict dragged on.

    Ukrainian forces are finally seeing the impact of western weapons on the frontlines of the war with Russia, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. During his nightly TV address, Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces were advancing in two directions in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions on Ukraine’s southern front and dealing blows to Russia by hitting some of its logistics warehouses.

    Resistance remains ongoing in villages around Lysychansk, where 15,000 civilians remain, according to Luhansk’s governor, Serhiy Haidai. On Telegram, Haidai said: “Today’s videos from Lysychansk are painful to watch.” He accused Putin’s troops of engaging in a scorched earth policy, “burning down and destroying everything on their way”.

    Investigators in Ukraine said they had foiled a criminal gang who forced women into sex work abroad after luring them with false adverts for legitimate employment. Authorities in Kyiv arrested the suspected leader of the gang after months of surveillance resulted in them stopping a woman as she was about to cross the border….

  190. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A Reuters exclusive report has revealed that Ukraine opposes Canada’s handing over a turbine to Russia’s Gazprom that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany. According to a Ukrainian energy ministry source, Ukraine believes that doing so would defy sanctions against Russia.

    Images have emerged of fields of grain in Ukraine set on fire allegedly by Russian forces. According to Ukrainian serviceman Ihor Lutsenko, the “flame sometimes reaches a height of 5 meters, a strip of hundreds of meters in width. Black smoke flies up and spreads across the sky for many kilometers.” The dry stalks of grain are set ablaze “like matches” from incendiary munitions, he added.

    Canada will send 39 General Dynamics-made armored vehicles to Ukraine later this summer in attempts to assist the war-torn country in its fight against Russian forces. On Thursday, Canadian defense minister Anita Anand said that the armored vehicles deal is on top of a separate multi-billion dollar contract for 260 vehicles for the Canadian armed forces which was negotiated with General Dynamics Land Systems in 2019.

    A Russian prosecutor on Thursday requested a seven-year prison term for a Moscow city councillor accused of criticising Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Alexei Gorinov, a 60-year-old lawyer by training, was arrested in late April for spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army and is now on trial. Gorinov is the first elected member of the opposition to face jail for criticising Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine….

  191. says

    Axios – “IRS asks for probe into James Comey and Andrew McCabe tax audits”:

    The Internal Revenue Service said Thursday that it asked the Department of Treasury’s Inspector General to investigate the tax audits of former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, AP reports.

    …The probe comes after the New York Times reported on Wednesday that both Comey and McCabe faced invasive IRS audits, which are rare and the agency says are random.

    …McCabe, a fierce critic of former President Trump, told CNN that “referring it to the IG is the right step, but let’s see if the IG moves on it and then makes their findings public.”

    …IRS spokesperson Jodie Reynolds maintained Thursday that the audits were random.

    …”[It is] ludicrous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits,” Reynolds said, per AP. [That’s an odd sort of statement for an official spokesperson.]

    …Out of nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, the IRS targeted about 5,000 for audits, or roughly one out of 30,600, underscoring the unlikely nature that both Comey and McCabe would be selected, the Times notes….

  192. says

    Too much to excerpt – Guardian – “‘Fonio just grows naturally’: could ancient indigenous crops ensure food security for Africa?”: “Calls are growing to invest more in the continent’s traditional grains as a way to break its reliance on imported wheat, rice and maize…”

    From the article:

    The African Development Bank’s proposal to improve food security by investing $1bn (£840m) in growing wheat in Africa has been met with scepticism because so little of the continent is suited to growing the crop.

    Yes, that’s a terrible idea.

  193. says

    Julia Davis:

    Russian propagandists plot to provoke unrest in the US, harming us in every way they can. They pine for Trump’s return and point out that—despite his looks & other causes for criticism—he is their best option. State TV host exclaims, “Trump, Trump, Trump!”

    Stunning video at the (Twitter) link.

  194. says

    Illia Ponomarenko in the Kyiv Independent (support them if you can!) – “Ukraine targets Russia’s ammunition depots, undermining its artillery advantage”:

    It is an almost everyday occurrence in the Russian-occupied parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

    Russia’s ammunition depots blow up, with large fires erupting as tons of ordnance detonate for hours. Some of these incidents cause giant blasts with a radius of hundreds of meters.

    Now that Ukraine has acquired advanced Western artillery and rocket systems, it has gradually begun a campaign to take out Russia’s key military infrastructure. Over the last four weeks, nearly 20 Russian ammunition depots in Russian-occupied Donbas and Ukraine’s south, including some of the largest, have been hit or completely destroyed.

    As Russia continues with its slow but steady advance in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas, Ukraine’s military is working to undermine Russia’s overwhelming artillery power and disrupt its logistics deep in occupied territories.

    Devastating strikes upon Russian command posts have become increasingly frequent since mid-June when Ukraine began using the first of four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. or HIMARS, provided by the U.S., nearly a week before their arrival in Ukraine was publicly announced.

    Ukrainian strikes upon Russian facilities continue on a daily basis.

    As a result, by July 7, Russia had lost most of its key ammunition depots, and many of its smaller depots in occupied Donbas. Notably, many key targets as much as 50-80 kilometers into Russian-controlled territory have been successfully destroyed.

    This suggests that, along with Western-made rocket systems, Ukraine has also managed to improve its reconnaissance, situational awareness, and target indication, to the point of being able to identify targets even of medium importance deep in Russian-occupied areas.

    According to Russian military bloggers, such as the notorious Russian ultranationalist Igor Girkin, these “unpunished” Ukrainian strikes have already forced the Russian military to be more conservative with its artillery rounds, in preparation for a possible Ukrainian counter-strike in Donbas….

    On June 28, Ukraine’s top general Valeriy Zaluzhniy reported that Russia, just at the front line between Kharkiv Oblast and Sievierodonetsk in Luhansk Oblast, delivered 270 artillery strikes, firing nearly 45,000 rounds in one single day. The ongoing campaign in Donbas showed that artillery dominance compensates for the weak performance of Russia’s infantry.

    As part of its tactics, Russian artillery devastates everything in its way, including dense urban areas, then allows infantry to advance through scorched ruins. And, as the Battle of Sievierodonetsk showed, Ukraine still has difficulty countering such concentrated artillery presence.

    The arrival of HIMARS, even in such small quantities, has been much of a game-changer.

    “Ukrainian forces are increasingly targeting Russian military infrastructure with indirect fire and U.S.-provided HIMARS systems deep in occupied territory,” said the Institute of the Study of War (ISW), a U.S.-based defense think tank, on July 4.

    Due to the long effective range of HIMARS, Russia, severely dependent on railroad transportation, has to unload ammunition from trains much farther from the frontline, at a distance of nearly 100 kilometers in many cases.

    “One must clearly understand that the Soviet Union produced munitions enough to wage a thousand years of war,” says Igal Levin, a Ukraine-born Israeli defense expert.

    “But — if all those forwarded bases, depots, repair facilities, all of the logistics chains are destroyed — they will have to deal with the need to bring supplies from beyond the Ural Mountains, then be thinking how to store and distribute them, how to bring munitions to artillery.”

    “So even if this does not shut up the Russian artillery completely, reducing its ability to deliver fire by 50%, to 3,000 rounds a day or even less, will be of a considerable effect on the battlefield.”

    More at the link.

  195. raven says

    Russia just managed to harm the world some more.
    They halted 1 million barrels a day of oil going to Europe through the Caspian pipeline.

    It didn’t hurt Russia at all because it isn’t even their oil.
    It is mostly Kazakhstan’s oil.

    This will hurt the world and Europe but it will really hurt Kazakhstan.
    That country lives off of mostly oil exports and they live well with a per capital income higher than Russia.
    IMO, after Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, Kazakhstan might be the next country the Russians invade and take over. Big, only 20 million people, full of resources, and not in any major alliances like NATO. Who would stop them?

    Russia Targets Europe With a Commodity Weapon: Kazakh Crude
    Halting flows through the CPC pipeline won’t hurt Russia
    Europe could lose as much as a million barrels a day of crude
    ByJulian Lee July 6, 2022,

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has found another weapon to use against European countries supporting Ukraine — Kazakhstan’s crude — and it will cost him almost nothing, writes Bloomberg oil strategist Julian Lee.

    While a grace period ticks down before European sanctions on Russian oil kick in on Dec. 5 and the G7 group of industrialized countries considers a price cap on Moscow’s crude exports, Putin is getting his retaliation in early. A court in the town of Novorossiysk has ordered the Caspian Pipeline Consortium to halt shipments from its Black Sea export terminal for a month as punishment for violating oil spill regulations.

    The beauty of the move, from a Russian perspective, is that the flow that will be curtailed is not primarily Russian crude, which can be diverted elsewhere anyway, but output from neighboring Kazakhstan. Almost 1.5 million barrels a day of crude supply can be taken off an already tight market at virtually no cost to Russia.

    Supplies to European markets, where about two-thirds of CPC crude ends up, already are being constrained by unrest in Libya, which has slashed the north African country’s exports by half and looks likely to send them even lower, as well as the shunning of Russia’s own barrels by former customers.

    After operating relatively trouble-free for more than 20 years, the CPC pipeline has been hit with a series of outages in the months since Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine and European countries began sending aid and arms to the government in Kyiv.

    March saw a storm damage two of the loading buoys, taking the entire terminal out of operation for several weeks and cutting flows well into April. After a quiet May, a seabed survey in June revealed a World War II mine that required the suspension of loading from two of the three buoys. No sooner were they back in operation than the port was hit again.

    An audit of hazardous operation facilities, ordered by a deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, revealed “a number of documentary violations under the Oil Spill Response (OSR) Plan,” according to a statement on the CPC website. Even though the company was given until Nov. 30 to rectify the violations, an application was made to the court to suspend operations as punishment for the offense.

    The halt, if implemented, will have virtually no impact on Russia’s oil exports. Crude of Russian origin makes up only about 10% of CPC volumes and can be rerouted to alternative outlets. The bigger hit will be felt by Kazakhstan, which relies on the pipeline for almost 80% of its hydrocarbons exports and has little flexibility to reduce that dependence.

    But losing what could be as much as a million barrels a day of light, sweet crude would be a hefty blow for Europe. By halting CPC flows, even if only briefly, Russia could punish its tormentors to the west by stoking already elevated crude prices, while potentially increasing state revenues from its own virtually undamaged exports.

  196. raven says

    Heavily dependent on fossil fuels, Kazakhstan is reliant on Russian pipelines for oil exports to Europe. And how is that working out for Kazakhstan?
    Their main source of revenue just got shut down by Putin.

    Is anyone getting the idea that Russia is an unreliable trade partner?

    July 7, 2022 Reuters
    After Russian move on pipeline, Kazakhstan says it needs other routes

    July 7 (Reuters) – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Thursday told his government to diversify its oil supply routes, a day after a Russian court ordered the Caspian Pipeline Consortium to suspend activity for 30 days.

    A halt to the pipeline, which carries oil from Kazakhstan’s vast Tengiz Field across Russia to the Black Sea, would strain the oil market just as it faces one of the worst supply crunches since the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s.

    Tokayev, who has sought to balance relations with Russia, the West and China, ordered a study into building a pipeline across the Caspian Sea, a previously proposed project that would carry Kazakh oil to Europe while bypassing Russia.

    Tokayev said that improving port infrastructure on the Caspian Sea was a “strategic task” for Kazakhstan’s government, the presidential website said. He did not mention the Caspian Pipeline Consortium according to the website.

    Heavily dependent on fossil fuels, Kazakhstan is reliant on Russian pipelines for oil exports to Europe.

    On Wednesday, a court in the Russian city of Novorossiisk ordered the CPC pipeline, which handles around 1% of global oil, to suspend operations, citing issues related to oil spills.

    Their new oil pipeline doesn’t exist and no matter what, isn’t going to do anything for a whole lot of years.
    They should build it anyway.

  197. says

    “Truth Social” was always an odd name for a company founded by an antisocial pathological liar, but as we all know, gaslighting is what the ocher abomination does best. […]

    while Trump […] is keen to take credit when things go well, he’s just as keen to transfer blame (and liability) to others when things go sideways—which in TrumpWorld happens somewhere between infinity times and always.

    So now that the gendarmes appear to be at the door of Trump’s Truth Social, Trump himself is preemptively eyeing the exits and cutting doily patterns in everyone else’s parachutes.

    The Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

    Donald Trump removed himself from the board of his Sarasota-based social media company, records show, just weeks before the company was issued federal subpoenas by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan.

    Trump, the chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, was one of six board members removed on June 8, state business records show. […]

    The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27, according to a regulatory filing. Trump’s media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection.

    In addition to Trump Sr., Don Jr. was removed from the board. Then, four days after the SEC served its subpoena, the Southern District of New York subpoenaed the company, signaling that a criminal investigation could be in progress as well.

    […] the really funny part in all this is who remains on the board: namely, the company’s CFO, Phillip Juhan, and its CEO, former California congressman and fake-cowcatcher Devin Nunes, who is about to discover that decoupling from Trump is a bit like yanking your tongue off a frozen flagpole with a team of shitfaced Clydesdales.

    […] So, yeah, throwing his business partners under the bus when things get rough is kind of his M.O. Not sure why people keep falling for his snake oil pitches, but here we are.

    Of course, it’s possible that Trump removed himself from the board of a company that was about to be subpoenaed by two separate government entities for a totally normal reason. Who really knows? But, as with all things Trump-adjacent, it sure doesn’t smell right.

    P.S. For the record, Truth Social, in a statement that sounds suspiciously like it was drafted by Trump himself, has denied that Trump was removed from the board. And since the denial was posted on Truth Social, you know it must be true.


  198. says


    The headline from the dopes at The Hill says “Tucker Carlson defends his commentary on race in fiery interview.” Oh golly! That almost sounds like Tucker Carlson did a fiery interview where he defended his commentary on race!

    The headline at Media Matters says “There’s no point to interviewing Tucker Carlson.” That’s the ticket.

    Ben Smith has some new goddamn thing called Semafor, because what the world was crying out for was another internet guy to have a new internet guy idea for a new internet guy news website. “Today, readers are overwhelmed by too many options and unsure of what to trust,” says its “About Us” page.

    So of course they decided to [jump] into the discourse by doing a “hard-hitting” interview with Tucker Carlson, who is so much better at this than Ben Smith it’s really truly not funny. Because readers are overwhelmed by too many options and unsure of what to trust.

    A lot of people are making fun of this thing Tucker said, but what you need to see, and what Media Matters does an excellent job of diagramming, is just how skilled Tucker Carlson is at completely stealing an interview from an interviewer. The video excerpt below shows Tucker saying he has never met a white supremacist. You can keep to yourself whatever snarky comments questions your brain is asking about if there are any mirrors in Tucker’s house or if he’s ever met any of his biggest fans, because if we are all thinking the same thing, there’s just no reason. [video at the link]

    BEN SMITH (SEMAFOR FOUNDER): You keep having these sort of explicit white supremacists, who have on secret message boards, who work for you, and I know this has been very painful for you in some cases –

    TUCKER CARLSON (FOX NEWS HOST): I’ve never had a white supremacist – I’ve never even met a white supremacist!

    Tucker has never met a white supremacist. He probably doesn’t even know what the phrase means! That’s one of his gimmicks, like when he pretends he doesn’t know what “great replacement theory” is, even though he promotes it on his show all the time. It is one of his rhetorical tricks, and Ben Smith wasn’t ready for it.

    SMITH: You have people who have posted, large numbers of people –

    CARLSON: Wait, slow down, slow down.

    Tucker needs you to slow down.

    SMITH: Scott Greer, Blake Neff –

    CARLSON: Hold on, hold on. [LAUGHTER]

    Tucker is filibustering, Tucker is giggling like the Girl Scout who sold the most cookies the day of the cookie-selling awards ceremony.

    SMITH: I’m just curious why you’ve been sort of –

    CARLSON: This is fun!

    Tucker is having fun! He likes to parry and ping-pong back and forth with an intellectual adversary!

    SMITH: – flypaper for these people on your staff?

    CARLSON: You’re giving me a lecture, you’re not asking me a question.

    Tucker does not like format of this interview, it is not fun anymore :(

    SMITH: That was the question, why have you been flypaper for these racists?

    CARLSON: Deep breath, deep breath. I’ve never had a white supremacist work for me. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a white supremacist. Please, let me finish.

    Oh no, Tucker is in danger of being silenced.

    SMITH: And I don’t want to talk about labels.

    CARLSON: Hold on, slow down. I’m not sure what that means.

    He doesn’t know what “white supremacist” means. It is a very confusing term. He hasn’t ever had white supremacists work for him, except for all the times they did. He’s never talked to one, except for all the times he has.

    Tucker Carlson is a liar. That’s another thing an important internet news guy like Ben Smith ought to have knownabout Tucker Carlson.

    CARLSON: I know that it’s a slur, it’s the worst thing one can be. I don’t really understand the terms, but let me just say –

    SMITH: You’ve had to let people go who have said objectionable stuff.

    CARLSON: Whoa now, Ben. I believe that people are not defined by their race. Any race, Black, white, Asian, pick a race.

    Tucker Carlson is a Benetton ad bareback fucking the It’s A Small World ride at Disneyland.

    CARLSON: People are defined, their value derives, from a) the fact they were created by God – I believe that, maybe you don’t, I do – and b) by what they do, by the choices they make. By who they are, they have agency, they’re not part of some larger group, they’re individuals. I believe in the individual, and I say that virtually every night. Now if you don’t hear that, or if you for whatever reason want to claim that I’m some racist, I don’t know what to say to you. I’m stating my sincere views as reflected in my personal life and my professional life, as clearly as I can.

    Oh shut the fuck up.

    Isn’t that tiresome? We are tired just copy/pasting it.

    We write about Tucker here, and we call him names that accurately describe him, and we call out his white supremacism and his lies, and occasionally a little bit sometimes we make fun of the masculinity issues he constantly wears on his sleeve.

    But we would never ever be dumb enough to think a conversation with Tucker would be productive in any way, shape or form. And we guarantee we are better at this than Ben Smith, who literally begged at the beginning of the interview, “I’m just hoping you’ll let me ask questions and not steamroll me, because you’re a professional and I’m not.” Jesus! […]

    Media Matters makes a very good point here, about how there is just literally no actual news value in interviewing Tucker:

    The only revelatory Carlson interviews come when he is talking to someone he views as friendly. In interviews with radio host Bubba the Love Sponge unearthed by Media Matters, for example, he credited “white men” for “creating civilization,” called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys,” distinguished between underage marriage and child rape, and said he would “love” a scenario with underaged girls sexually experimenting.

    Those are not statements he would make to the likes of Smith – his guard is up when he is being interviewed by professional journalists.

    “That was fun!” Carlson exclaimed, laughing, at the conclusion of his interview with Smith. Reporters interested in explaining Carlson’s worldview and influence should take notice.

    If Tucker is having fun, literally everyone else is losing. […]

  199. says

    As summarized by Steve Benen:

    This is a bold and interesting move: “Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday a plan to allocate $100 million in state funding to have the state make its own insulin.”

  200. raven says

    More right wingnut/fundie xian terrorism.
    Yeah, I know. Why is this news? It is another day that ends with a y.
    The whole monument was destroyed.

    Georgia prosecutor calls explosion at ‘America’s Stonehenge’ an act of domestic terrorism
    July 7, 2022, 7:13 PM PDT

    A Georgia prosecutor described the apparent targeting of a mysterious monument with an explosive device as an “act of domestic terrorism,” saying Thursday that the alleged crime was aimed at the county authorities that own the site.

    “The destruction of a public building by explosive is inherently intended to influence the actions of the governing authority that owns the structure,” Parks White, the Northern Judicial Circuit district attorney, said in an email about the Wednesday explosion of the Georgia Guidestones.

    “The use of violence to sway or alter the behavior of any government agency is terrorism,” said White, whose office would handle a potential prosecution.

    The Elbert County Board of Commissioners is the site’s governing authority, he said.

    No suspect has been identified in the case. In a statement Wednesday, White said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has “many” leads in its probe of the explosion and “a case is being made against the perpetrator.”

    The agency released new surveillance video Thursday showing what it described as an unknown person leaving the device at the site in northeastern Georgia. The explosion occurred around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

    The agency said one of five massive granite slabs — which are engraved with messages about the conservation of humanity — was destroyed in the explosion. The entire structure was demolished after authorities determined the weakened monument was unsafe for investigators, the agency said.

    The monument — dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” — was unveiled on five acres of farmland in 1980. It was planned by an anonymous group that lived outside of Georgia and described themselves as a “loyal Americans who believe in God,” according to an account of the site’s origins on the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce’s website.

    The group wanted to leave messages for future generations, the account says. According to a lengthy story about the site published by Wired in 2009, the Guidestones functioned as a clock, calendar and compass, and those messages — engraved in eight languages — were intended to function as a post-apocalyptic guide for survivors.

    That guidance included keeping the planet’s population under 500 million “in perpetual balance with nature” and creating a “living new language” to unite humanity.

    According to the Wired account, the site had previously been targeted with spray-painted messages, including “Jesus will beat u satanist” and “No one world government.”

    A recent Republican gubernatorial candidate, Kandiss Taylor, pledged to turn the monument “to dust” if elected. She placed third in the state’s May 24 primary. In a tweet Wednesday, she said she believed God struck down “the Satanic Guidestones.”

    In a separate video, Taylor said she didn’t support demolishing the monument through extra-legal means and added that the person behind the explosion “should be brought to justice.”

    In his statement Wednesday, White said that “regardless of your feelings about the origin of the Guide Stones, their meaning, or the intention of the person who commissioned and erected them, they are a historical landmark, and this destructive act was an assault upon our community.”

    The fundie xians kept on calling the site satanic, despite there being zero evidence for anything satanic and satan himself having the problem of not actually existing.

    Wikipedia: The inscription read:[14]

    Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
    Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity.
    Unite humanity with a living new language.
    Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.
    Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
    Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
    Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
    Balance personal rights with social duties.
    Prize truth – beauty – love – seeking harmony with the infinite.
    Be not a cancer on the Earth – Leave room for nature – Leave room for nature.

    Arguable but nothing particularly controversial.
    Unless you call, “Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.” satanic.

  201. says

    BBC – “Shinzo Abe: Explosives found at shooting suspect’s home – reports”:

    Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died in hospital after he was shot at a political campaign event.

    Mr Abe was shot at twice while he was giving a speech in the southern city of Nara on Friday morning.

    Security officials at the scene tackled the gunman, and the 41-year-old suspect is now in police custody.

    A search of the alleged gunman’s home uncovered what police believe are explosives, local media reported.

    Speaking before Mr Abe’s death was announced, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the attack, saying: “It is barbaric [find a new fucking word, already] and malicious and it cannot be tolerated.”

    “This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable,” Mr Kishida said.

    During a news conference at Nara Medical University Hospital, doctors said Mr Abe had sustained two bullet wounds to his neck, about 5cm (1inch) apart, and also suffered damage to his heart.

    Mr Abe was giving a speech for a political candidate in Nara at a road junction when the attack happened.

    Eyewitnesses said they saw a man carrying what they described as a large gun and firing twice at Mr Abe from behind.

    Mr Abe did have a team of security police with him. But it appears the shooter was still able to get to within a few metres of Mr Abe without any sort of check, or barrier.

    Security officers detained the attacker, who made no attempt to run, and seized his weapon which was reportedly a handmade gun.

    The suspect has been identified as Nara resident Tetsuya Yamagami. Local media reports say he is believed to be a former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japan’s equivalent of a navy. He is said to have left active service in 2005.

    Officials have yet to comment on the suspect’s motives, but local media outlets reported that Mr Yamagami told police he was “dissatisfied with former Prime Minister Abe and aimed to kill him”. He is also reported to have told offices that did not hold a “grudge against the former Prime Minister’s political beliefs”.

    Police also discovered several possible explosive devices during a search of his home, and NHK said bomb disposal technicians are preparing to carry out a controlled explosion on the premises.

    Mr Abe’s speech came as part of a campaign for his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party, as upper house elections in Japan are due to take place later this week.

    Ministers across the country were later told to return to Tokyo immediately, according to local reports.

    On Japanese social media, the hashtag “We want democracy, not violence” was trending, with many social media users expressing their horror and disgust towards the incident….

  202. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    A court in Moscow has sentenced an opposition councillor to seven years in jail for criticising Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, the first long-term prison sentence handed out under the new laws that restrict criticism of the war.

    Alexei Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and trained lawyer, was arrested in April on charges of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army.

    According to the authorities, Gorinov committed the offence when he and a fellow opposition deputy, Elena Kotenochkina, spoke out against the council’s proposal to hold a children’s drawing contest and a dancing festival despite the war in Ukraine, where Gorinov said “children were dying”.

    “I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during the work meeting, which was recorded on video and is available on YouTube.

    The charges against Gorinov fall under a series of new laws that have been introduced since the start of Russia’s invasion.

    Gorinov’s long sentence will be perceived as harsh even in the current political climate in Russia, where authorities have embarked on an unprecedented crackdown on civil society and opposition since the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

    Human rights groups will worry that Gorinov’s case will be the first in a string of rulings against anti-war figures who are awaiting trial.

    At least 50 people face long-term prison sentences or steep fines for “knowingly spreading false information” about the military, while about 2,000 people have received smaller fines for criticising the war, according to a human rights group that tracks cases nationwide.

    The Russian foreign minister left the G20 meeting of leading economies early after telling his counterparts that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not responsible for a global hunger crisis and sanctions designed to isolate Russia amounted to a declaration of war.

    The gathering on Friday was Sergei Lavrov’s first direct confrontation with leaders from the west since Russia mounted its attack on Ukraine, and he accused the west of frenzied criticism of what he claimed were Moscow’s justified actions.

    In a stern if brief lecture at the meeting in Bali hosted by Indonesia, this year’s chair of the G20, Lavrov said: “If the west doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield – because both views have been expressed – then, perhaps, there is nothing to talk about with the west.”

    Lavrov, sitting at the meeting between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, also accused the west of pressuring Ukraine to “use its weapons” in the fighting. He walked out at the point the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, was starting to speak….

    The situation in occupied Sievierodonetsk “is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster” and the city is being widely looted by Russian troops, according to Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, Serhai Haidai.

  203. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian UK liveblog. From there:

    According to the latest YouGov polling for the Times, Labour has the highest lead over the Conservatives since January….

    Starmer escapes fine as Durham police say ‘no case to answer’ and no fines being issued

    Durham police are not fining anyone over beergate, they have announced….

    Labour welcomes Durham police announcement saying Starmer and Rayner cleared of breaking lockdown rules

    Responding to the announcement from Durham police…, a Labour spokesperson said:

    Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have always been clear that no rules were broken in Durham.

    The police have completed their investigation and have agreed saying that there is no case to answer.

  204. says

    Guardian – “Collapsing public support suggests Brexit is anything but done”:

    The mantra right up to the grisly end was that he had got Brexit “done”.

    Boris Johnson’s apparent double miracle was to break the parliamentary impasse that tormented his predecessor Theresa May when trying to pass her withdrawal agreement and then to successfully negotiate a trade deal with the EU in the following 10 months.

    “This deal means a new stability and a new certainty in what has sometimes been a fractious and difficult relationship,” Johnson had said on Christmas Eve 2020 as the ink was drying on the new trade agreement.

    Johnson certainly achieved a political feat in uniting his party after removing May from office and then forming an unlikely electoral alliance in the wider country – despite misleading the Queen, in the opinion of a Scottish court, as he sought to threaten recalcitrant MPs with a no-deal exit back in the dark days of 2019.

    But recent polling suggests support for Brexit in the UK has collapsed – and the outgoing prime minister’s critics might confidently argue today that Johnson leaves a mess of issues behind rather than the “certainty and stability” that he claimed to have secured 18 months ago.

    For all of the talk in 2019 of having struck a great deal, the government has in recent weeks threatened to unilaterally rip up a hard won and crucial agreement over the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland if the EU does not agree to a fundamental overhaul – despite the Conservative manifesto on which Johnson formed his government committing to no renegotiations.

    The problem Johnson has found is that the withdrawal agreement has – as the government’s own impact assessment had said it would at the time, along with everyone else who understood the deal – drawn a regulatory border down the Irish Sea, making it more expensive to import from Britain to Northern Ireland.

    But most worrying of all for those who are protective of Johnson’s Brexit legacy is the changing face of public opinion. The latest YouGov poll has found that every region of the UK now believes Brexit was an error, with 55% of those questioned believing that Brexit has gone badly compared with 33% who say it has gone well.

    Few in Westminster, beyond the Liberal Democrats, are suggesting that the UK is poised to rejoin the EU. But the very manner in which Brexit was “done” appears to have left it brittle, the polls suggest. Britain’s relationship with the 27 EU member states remains a stubbornly open question. For those who believe that Britain’s destiny remains as free-wheeling country outside the EU’s single market and customs union, there can be little confidence that anything on that front has been settled.

    The payoff for this autonomy from the EU’s rules and regulations was to be a welter of trade deals around the world that offered greater access for British goods in emerging markets, along with a bonfire of regulations in the City of London that would make it more competitive.

    But such has been the lack of progress on such aims that Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Commons leader, felt forced during Johnson’s prolonged fight to stay in Downing Street to warn Tory MPs thinking of voting no confidence that Brexit might yet be thwarted. Perhaps more significantly, the lack of a Brexit dividend since 23 June 2016 has led others sympathetic to Brexit to reconsider whether the deals struck really are optimal….

    Those who worked alongside Johnson in government, and in opposition to him at the negotiating table, point to the cause of this mess of issues being not only the substance of what was negotiated but that it was done with a misplaced boosterism….

  205. says

    Guardian – “‘Headed in a bad direction’: Omicron variant may bring second-largest US Covid wave”:

    The BA.5 version of Covid-19 has become the majority variant of the virus in America in a matter of weeks, in a troubling development that comes amidst what may already be America’s second-largest wave of the pandemic.

    It also comes at a time when much of the US has relaxed nearly all Covid restrictions in public and life has largely returned to normal.

    “Covid-19 is very clearly not over. We’re seeing dramatic increases in the number of cases and hospitalizations in many places throughout the United States,” said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.

    As BA.5, one of the Omicron sub-variants, begins buffeting the US, “we’re headed in a bad direction”, Salemi said. “We’ve seen it coming for a while … We’ve seen it go pretty unabated.”

    More than one in three Americans live in a county at medium risk from Covid, and one in five are at high risk, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . That’s the highest proportion of the country facing risks since February, Salemi said.

    There are now more than 100,000 new cases of Covid confirmed in the US every day – a rate that has been fairly steady for the past six weeks. While cases in the Northeast have slowed, surges are now hitting other parts of the country.

    At the same time, hospitalizations have increased steadily since its lowest pandemic dip in April – though the rise has not been as sharp or the peak as high as previous waves.

    “The older you are, the much more likely you are to be hospitalized,” said Salemi. “But hospitalizations are increasing for every age group.”

    Hospitalizations tend to lag behind cases by a few days. But an apparently stable rate of cases with increasing hospitalization means something else seems to be at play, experts said – likely waning immunity in the face of a more contagious, immune-evasive, and pathogenic variant.

    The virus is evolving to evade the protection from infection offered by vaccination or recovery from previous illness with Covid and it seems to be more transmissible as well.

    The immune-evasive properties of the evolving variants makes new waves more likely, says Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University and the lead of the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa.

    But while immunity against infection seems low, prior immunity still holds up well against severe outcomes like hospitalization and death.

    People who have been vaccinated and those who were previously infected “easily acquire BA.4 and BA.5, but they will develop very little disease,” de Oliveira said.

    Even if variants are more pathogenic in the lab, high levels of immunity can help keep severe illness at bay. That’s why staying up-to-date on vaccination is key.

    “The first and second booster are very important,” Salemi said.

    Yet only 34% of eligible Americans – those above the age of 5 – have received booster doses as recommended by the CDC. While first booster uptake has been better among older Americans, the age group at highest risk, second booster uptake has been extremely low.

    “There’s a lot of opportunity for waning immunity and waning protection from the vaccine, without those booster doses, to allow these new circulating variants with some maybe more concerning characteristics to do a little bit more damage,” Salemi said. Waning immunity coupled with a more immune-evasive variant means “you can start seeing a pickup in some of these indicators of severe illness”.

    Pockets of the US with poor immunity levels – including those who haven’t recently been vaccinated or recovered from the virus – could see more severe illness. But places with high vaccination rates and recent surges will likely fare better when it comes to hospitalization and death, he said.

    To keep the effects of a surge, including the risk of economic disruption and long-term issues like long Covid, to a minimum, Americans need to “bring the numbers down as expeditiously as we can”, Salemi said.

    That includes taking the same measures that have proven to help manage the virus in the past: vaccines, masks, distancing, ventilation, tests.

    “Please don’t think about mitigation as all or none,” Salemi said. “There are simple steps that we can take to dramatically reduce risks – not only for ourselves and our family, but for a lot of those members in our community who are very vulnerable.”

    As each infection offers new opportunities for the virus to evolve and escape immunity, scientists and officials across the world must continue monitoring it, de Oliveira said.

    “This virus has surprised us far too many times.”

  206. KG says

    Lynna, OM@209 quoting Steve Benen,
    Benen contrasts UK Tories favourably with US Republicans, but the former elected Johnson as their leader (and hence PM) and enabled his corruption and lies for 3 years; they’ve turned against him only because it’s become clear he’s now a massive vote-loser for them – which is not obviously the case for Trump.

  207. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Starmer says beergate resignation pledge shows how he can restore faith in politics

    In his opening statement at the press conference Keir Starmer sought to link his pledge to resign if fined over beergate to a wider argument about restoring faith in politics. Here is the key passage.

    Our country is stuck in a dangerous rut.

    Everywhere you look things are broken.

    And nothing gets fixed.

    People say to me when they look at those running the country, they see a group of people totally detached from reality, whose words mean nothing, and who put their own interest first.

    Who could blame them for concluding that politics doesn’t matter and doesn’t work.

    This is not just about Boris Johnson.

    This feeling that politics has failed hasn’t emerged in the last few months.

    It’s been bubbling away for years.

    And people have completely lost faith that this can be changed.

    That politics can be a force for good.

    The reason I made the promise that I did was to change their mind.

    Because when politics is done well, when people can have faith that politicians’ words mean something.

    When the power of government sits in the hands of those determined to serve the country,

    Like when Labour created the NHS,

    When we introduced the Equal Pay Act,

    And when we brought people together to deliver peace in Northern Ireland,

    Politics can change lives.

    And that is what I will do as prime minister.

    As an exercise in logic, this did not quite work. Starmer’s promise to resign if fined certainly did show that he was serious about thinking politicians should not be above the law. But, ironically, he would only have been able to use the promise to show beyond doubt that he was a politician who kept his word if he had been fined and resigned (even though that is what is people believe he would have done).

    [Hm. I’m not sure I agree with this. What he wanted to do was create a contrast with Johnson’s endless empty apologies and promises that are always immediately belied by his actions by making a promise that tied his actions to his words. Had he been fined and not resigned, obviously that would have destroyed his reputation for sincerity; but not being fined and therefore not resigning doesn’t leave any doubt. Plus, part of the point of making the promise was to show that he was confident there *was* no case – that he knew that he hadn’t broken the rules, just like Johnson always knew that he *had* broken the rules.]

    But that is not the same as showing that politics can be a force for good. There are politicians of impeccable integrity who have not be able to make policies that change lives for the better. And in the past some policies that have done just that have been implemented by scoundrels.

    However, the beergate affair has enhanced Starmer’s reputation for personal integrity, and he made this point in the final passage of his speech.

    I won’t get everything right.

    I’m certainly not perfect, and I will make mistakes along the way.

    But what you will always get from me is someone who believes honesty and integrity matter.

    Someone who will work every day for the good of the country.

    And someone who will not betray the faith that you place in me.

  208. lumipuna says

    (Vaguely related to my comment at 181)

    Finnish parliament just passed a controversial law that allows increased security measures on the Russian border, particularly in a potential crisis situation where Russia tries to machinate a mass movement of (more or less legitimate) asylum seekers across the border, like Belarus did in an attempt to sabotage Poland and Lithuania last year. Of course, this sort of sabotage would be less effective if people in European countries were less prone to freaking out over large numbers of brown refugees.

    For one thing, the law allows building real barrier fences at the border, as in overriding private landowners. This “build the wall” aspect of the law seems to be getting the most attention in international reporting. The Border Guard estimates that actually only 100-250 km of the 1340 km long border needs barrier fencing, in areas that are easily accessible by roads. Currently, there’s a livestock fence in many places, which is not a significant barrier for determined humans.

    A more serious and controversial aspect is that in extreme circumstances, Finland could effectively stop accepting asylum seekers along the entire Russian border. Presumably that’d mean forcibly pushing people back across the border, which is exactly what Polish authorities were accused of doing last year. Whether this would violate EU law and international human rights treaties has been a subject of some handwaving. It’s said the EU itself is planning to revise the relevant laws in response to modern hybrid-type threats, so the issue is supposedly moot.

    Personally, I hate to see Europe turning more and more into a fortress, with violent rejection of undesirables at its borders.

  209. raven says

    Kazakh President Tokayev continues to destroy any form of interaction with Putin’s Russia. Kazakhstan withdraws from the 1995 CIS agreement on the Interstate Currency Committee.…

    The twitter comment is in cyrilic so the headline is going to be it.

    It is clear that Kazakhstan is moving away from Russia as fast as it can. Which isn’t all that fast but it is the thought that counts.
    I looked on a map. Kazakhstan has a long border with Russia. On the other side, it also has a long border with China. It is also obvious that Kazakhstan wants China as an ally to counterbalance Russia.

    If Russia wins in Ukraine, sooner or later, it will fight a war and take over Kazakhstan.
    Tokayev knows this.

  210. says

    The Army seeks to recoup $38,557.06 from Michael Flynn

    Pentagon investigators found that Michael Flynn received nearly $450,000 from Turkish and Russian interests. The Army now wants some of that money back.

    Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans heard quite a bit about the once-obscure provision of the U.S. Constitution known as the Emoluments Clause. […] the clause prohibits U.S. officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.

    This took on new significance while Trump was in the White House because the Republican appeared to benefit from a system in which foreign governments could spend quite a bit of money at a Trump-owned business. In one especially notorious instance, the then-president explored a scheme in which foreign governments would’ve been required to spend money at one of his properties.

    But the Emoluments Clause doesn’t just apply to presidents; it also applies to servicemen and women in the military and White House national security advisors. Take Michael Flynn, for example. The Washington Post reported:

    Michael Flynn, the retired Army general and onetime adviser to President Donald Trump, was cited by the Defense Department inspector general for failing to disclose lucrative speaking engagements and other business arrangements with foreign entities, prompting the U.S. government to pursue tens of thousands of dollars in penalties against him, according to documents.

    Flynn was one of the most scandal-plagued members of Team Trump for a great many reasons, but among the most jarring was the money he received from foreign governments.

    Indeed, Pentagon investigators found that Flynn received nearly $450,000 from Turkish and Russian interests in 2015, including compensation he received for an event celebrating RT — the Kremlin-run news agency — when Flynn sat next to Vladimir Putin.

    It was soon after when Flynn began advising then-candidate Trump, and after the 2016 election, briefly served as White House national security advisor. (He was forced out after lying to the FBI about his covert communications with Russia. Flynn was ultimately the beneficiary of one of Trump’s most brazenly corrupt pardons.)

    Part of the problem with the payments, however, was the inconvenient fact that Flynn didn’t seek government approval beforehand — which necessarily created an Emoluments Clause problem.

    The Post’s report noted that Craig Schmauder, an Army lawyer, told Flynn in writing, “When there is a finding that a military retiree has violated the Emoluments Clause, the United States Government may pursue a debt collection.”

    In this case, that means the Army wants to recoup $38,557.06 from the disgraced retired general.

    This comes against a backdrop in which the public has learned that Flynn attended a December 2020 meeting in the Oval Office in which participants discussed declaring a national emergency as part of a scheme to keep Trump in power despite his defeat. The retired general also reportedly raised the prospect of deploying U.S. troops, seizing voting machines, and declaring martial law as part of an apparent coup attempt.

    Months later, he sat down with the Jan. 6 committee and repeatedly pleaded the Fifth. Among the questions Flynn wouldn’t answer: whether he believes in the peaceful transition of power in the United States.

  211. says

    Conservative justices in Wisconsin reject ballot drop boxes

    Wisconsin’s democracy was already in dire straits. A state Supreme Court ruling against ballot drop boxes won’t help matters.

    It’s never been altogether clear why, exactly, Republicans grew to hate ballot drop boxes. They’re simply a matter of convenience: Many areas allow Americans to slip completed ballots into a secure box whenever they have the time.

    At some point in recent years, however, Donald Trump convinced himself that drop boxes are a scourge on society. Nefarious schemers, the Republican insisted, “stuff” the boxes with illegitimate ballots, creating fraudulent results.

    The claims have never made any sense, and there’s no evidence of any such thing happening in the United States, but GOP officials, candidates, and voters nevertheless became fixated on the boxes. In fact, in Wisconsin, Republicans and their conservative allies made the case that the boxes are illegal and shouldn’t exist at all.

    This morning, as The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, their ideological allies on the state Supreme Court agreed.

    Voters casting absentee ballots this fall for the highest state offices won’t be able to return their ballots in upcoming elections by using drop boxes following a ruling Friday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority. The 4-3 ruling is a win for Republicans who now oppose the longstanding use of ballot drop boxes after their use proliferated during the coronavirus pandemic and was heavily criticized by […] Trump, who alleged with no evidence that absentee voting was rife with fraud and led to his re-election loss in 2020.

    It’s worth emphasizing for context that in Wisconsin, state Supreme Court elections are technically non-partisan, but it’s painfully obvious which judicial candidates enjoy which parties’ backing — and in this case, it was the Republican-allied justices who sided with the Republican-allied plaintiffs against the drop boxes.

    Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, writing for the minority, said the majority’s ruling “blithely and erroneously seeks to sow distrust in the administration of our elections and through its faulty analysis erects yet another barrier for voters to exercise this ‘sacred right.’”

    Bradley added, “Although it pays lip service to the import of the right to vote, the majority/lead opinion has the practical effect of making it more difficult to exercise it. Such a result, although lamentable, is not a surprise from this court. It has seemingly taken the opportunity to make it harder to vote or to inject confusion into the process whenever it has been presented with the opportunity.”

    To be sure, absentee balloting still exists in Wisconsin, but in the wake of today’s ruling, voters will have to mail those ballots or return them in person, during office hours, to local clerks.

    Or put another way, the new system will be less convenient and offer Wisconsin voters fewer options — which appears to have been the point of the legal dispute in the first place. […]

    There’s also likely to be an upsurge in Coronavirus cases, (fueled by the Omicron variants), during the midterm voting season. Dropboxes help voters avoid crowds of people. This decision by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court is just stupid on many levels.

  212. says

    Following ruling, Biden takes new steps to protect abortion access

    Overturning Roe v. Wade took decades. The White House has now started the process of undoing what Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices did.

    […] NBC News reported:

    The order aims to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception; protect patients’ privacy and access to accurate information; and promote the safety and security of patients, providers and clinics, the White House said in a release.

    To be sure, executive orders are often limited in scope, and as powerful as the American presidency can be, Biden can’t unilaterally snap his fingers and restore reproductive rights nationwide.

    But according to a White House summary, Biden’s new order isn’t just a hollow, face-saving exercise of a Democratic president going through the motions. There are some worthwhile measures in the broader policy, including:
    – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will expand access to abortion care through medication.

    – The White House and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s office will convene “private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.” This will apparently include protecting the right to travel out of state to seek reproductive care.

    – The administration is prioritizing patient privacy, including taking new steps to prevent the transfer and sales of sensitive health data, and blocking digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services. This will apparently include enlisting the Federal Trade Commission to protect the privacy of people seeking information on abortion services.

    Obviously, reproductive rights advocates will keep their celebrations in check in response to an order like this — it’s not as if anyone is going to say, “Whew, problem solved” — but for those who’ve pushed the White House for a more robust response to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, this is certainly a start.

    It’s also a foundation Biden seems prepared to build on, just as soon as Congress sends him legislation. To codify abortion rights, the president said before signing his executive order, “We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House.”

    Biden added that the Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices effectively dared the electorate to choose a Congress that would protect reproductive rights. “Vote, vote, vote,” the president said. “Consider the challenge accepted, court.”

  213. says

    Good news: Payrolls increased 372,000 in June, more than expected, as jobs market defies recession fears

    The unemployment rate was 3.6%, unchanged from May and in line with estimates.

    […] Job growth accelerated at a much faster pace than expected in June, indicating that the main pillar of the U.S. economy remains strong despite pockets of weakness.

    Nonfarm payrolls increased 372,000 in the month, better than the 250,000 Dow Jones estimate and continuing what has been a strong year for job growth, according to data Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The unemployment rate was 3.6%, unchanged from May and in line with estimates. An alternative measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons fell sharply, dropping to 6.7% from 7.1%.

    “The strong 372,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in June appears to make a mockery of claims the economy is heading into, let alone already in, a recession,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

    June’s gains marked a slight deceleration from the downwardly revised 384,000 in May. April’s count was revised down to 368,000.

    Average hourly earnings increased 0.3% for the month and were up 5.1% from a year ago, the latter number slightly higher than the 5% Dow Jones estimate and indicative that wage pressures remain strong as inflation accelerates. […]

  214. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia announces ‘operational pause,’ but Ukraine isn’t slowing down

    Exhausted from its efforts to take Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, Russia has announced an operational pause. […]

    “In units that performed combat tasks during a special military operation, measures are taking place to replenish combat capabilities. Servicemen are given the opportunity to relax, receive letters and parcels from home,” the Defense Ministry noted.

    It was also noted that scheduled maintenance of combat vehicles is taking place at field points.

    Ukraine still reported Russian attacks at several locations, but by all indications these were small-scale recon-type probes. Russia put a great deal of its combat capabilities into taking that last little slice of Luhansk Oblast, and those troops don’t just need to rest, but new logistical supply lines have to be built to support the next phase of Russia’s war: the push toward the twin fortresses of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both already the targets of destructive shelling. This is Russia’s doctrine after all: Reduce target to rubble, march infantry forward to see if any defenders are left, then repeat if any are left.

    Ukraine doesn’t care about any such “operational pause.” For one, Russia’s artillery isn’t taking time off, and they’re the biggest source of Ukraine’s misery. Thus, HIMARS (and M270s MLRS, reportedly) are in action targeting Russian supply depots to spectacular success—over a dozen so far.

    Russian artillery hasn’t slowed any the last few days. Indeed, the entire front was on fire Thursday, as captured by NASA’s FIRMS fire-tracking satellites. [map at the link]

    But with major supply depots exhausted, Russian artillery will eventually exhaust their local supply of ammunition. The hope is that we see a slowdown in Russian fires in the next seven to 10 days. In fact, the “operational pause” may be just as much a reaction to losing those supply depots as any “exhaustion” among Russian forces.

    Meanwhile, Russia starved its southern front to feed the Severodonetsk push, and Ukraine is taking advantage.

    Here’s Snihurivka, north of Kherson, which has been Russian-held and under severe Ukrainian assault for the past one to two weeks. [map at the link]

    Ukrainian artillery has moved past the city to its south. That suggests that someone’s troops are down there, and it’s unlikely it’s Ukrainians. So Russian troops are probably pulling back from the city, and Ukraine is chasing them with fires. There’s a good chance Snihurivka will be declared liberated in the next couple of days.

    And check this out: [map at the link]

    Kherson’s airport in Chornobaivka has been the site of relentless Ukrainian artillery barrages. While Russia is no longer basing aircraft there, they had set up defensive positions to try and stop the Ukrainian advance on Kherson from that direction. Now we see fires targeting the airport move southwest in what little space is left between the airport and Kherson city itself (around 10 kilometers). This suggests Russian troops are falling back, and whether Ukraine has taken the airport yet or not, the artillery is following those withdrawing troops.

    Ukraine has been tight-lipped about advances around Kherson. The terrain is just too hard to hold—flat, open, with few hiding places. Ukraine barrages Russian positions until they pull back. Ukraine moves forward. Russia barrages those new Ukrainian positions until Ukraine pulls back. Russia moves forward. Lather, rinse, repeat. It serves no one to make triumphant declarations of liberation only to lose the territory the next day. But as of now, the story of the fires, as captured by a NASA satellite, says Ukraine is on the advance.

  215. raven says

    Biden issued an executive order on abortion rights.
    It’s not a lot but there isn’t a lot he can do right now anyway.

    Becerra has directed the HHS Office for Civil Rights to issue new guidance related to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to clarify that doctors and medical providers are in most cases not required — and in many instances not permitted — to disclose the private information of patients, including to law enforcement.
    That is nice but probably won’t be too useful.
    There are dozens of women in prison for miscarriages and stillbirths. They were all ratted out by the health care workers they saw for medical care. It just takes one fundie xian doctor or nurse in the ER and here come the cops.
    The standard advice is not to admit you committed a felony to people you don’t know under suspicious circumstances.

    The office will also issue a guide for consumers on how to protect personal data on mobile apps.
    Yes, we will all need guides on how to evade the abortion laws in Red States and be successful criminals.

    Here’s what’s in Biden’s executive order on abortion rights

    By Kate Sullivan, CNN Updated 2:24 PM ET, Fri July 8, 2022
    President Biden calls on Americans to vote to protect women’s rights

    (CNN)President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting access to reproductive health services in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion.

    The executive order attempts to safeguard access to medication abortion and emergency contraception, protect patient privacy, launch public education efforts as well as bolster the security of and the legal options available to those seeking and providing abortion services.

    “President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.

    There is no action the President can take to restore the nationwide right to an abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Biden has acknowledged publicly his options to expand abortion access remain limited, and has called on the American people to elect more members of Congress in November’s midterm elections who will support federal legislation protecting abortion access.
    The White House has dismissed several progressive ideas to protect abortion access, including allowing abortion providers to work from federal property in states where the procedure is banned. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said using federal lands for abortion services would have “dangerous ramifications.” The White House has also reiterated the President does not support expanding the Supreme Court, as many progressives have pushed for.

    Here’s what’s in the executive order that was signed Friday:
    The President is directing Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to submit a report to him within 30 days on the actions his department is taking on the matter. The President is also establishing an interagency task force on reproductive health care access, which will include Attorney General Merrick Garland.
    HHS will take action to expand access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices, or IUDs, according to the White House. The department is tasked with ensuring patients have access to “the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law” and the President has directed Becerra to consider updating guidance that clarifies physician responsibilities and protections under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. Garland has also issued a statement saying states cannot ban Mifepristone — a medication used to end early pregnancy that has FDA approval.
    The department will ramp up outreach and public education efforts on abortion “to ensure that Americans have access to reliable and accurate information about their rights and access to care.”
    In preparation for expected legal challenges ahead, the attorney general and the White House counsel are convening private pro bono attorneys and organizations to provide more legal representation to those lawfully seeking abortions as well as those providing them.
    The executive order also focuses on protecting patient privacy. The President is asking the chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect consumer privacy when seeking information about reproductive health care services. Biden has also directed Becerra, in consultation with Garland and the FTC, to consider options to address deceptive or fraudulent practices and protect access to accurate information.
    The President is directing HHS to consider additional actions to safeguard sensitive information related to reproductive health care, including under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Becerra has directed the HHS Office for Civil Rights to issue new guidance related to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to clarify that doctors and medical providers are in most cases not required — and in many instances not permitted — to disclose the private information of patients, including to law enforcement. The office will also issue a guide for consumers on how to protect personal data on mobile apps.
    The order also looks to ensure the safety of those seeking as well as providing abortion care, including by protecting mobile clinics that have been deployed to provide care for out-of-state patients.

  216. raven says

    The White House has also reiterated the President does not support expanding the Supreme Court, as many progressives have pushed for.

    It’s irrelevant right now anyway.
    Biden and the Democrats don’t have the votes so this isn’t an issue.

    I’d do it in a second if the votes were there.
    The US Supreme court has destroyed its credibility and is now just a political football. Footballs are for getting kicked around.

  217. says

    Republicans in Oklahoma seem to be confused, but they are harassing Tulsa Public Schools anyway:

    Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) took to the Twitters yesterday to call for an audit of the Tulsa School District, to investigate “potential mishandling of public funds,” and also accused the school system — extremely vaguely — of having violated House Bill 1775, the state’s cookie cutter bill banning the teaching of “divisive content.” ([The bills] are all modeled, more or less, on one pile of model legislation crap from rightwing crank Stanley Kurtz. [Elected Republicans are too lazy to write their own bills.])

    In the video, Stitt pledged the state would “get to the bottom of what’s going on at Tulsa Public Schools,” although honestly, even the state Board of Education hasn’t specified how exactly a training session for faculty allegedly broke the law.

    But come on, the school district wouldn’t have been accused if it weren’t guilty, now would it? [/sarcasm]

    Here’s Stitt’s video, in which the governor suggests something very nasty happened in the educational woodshed, whatever it may have been. [video at the link]

    Also, whatever the CRT accusation is about, it appears to be completely unconnected to the alleged financial mismanagement, which the Oklahoma City Oklahoman explains involved something like $20,000 in “contract management irregularities.” Kind of important to keep that in mind, since in the video, Stitt complains about Tulsa schools having received $200,000 in federal pandemic aid, and hints — misleadingly, if you can believe it! — that somehow the entire grant was fraudulent because Tulsa’s schools remained closed for 300 days during the pandemic.

    Golly, mister governor! We know you’re mad about that, but it really appears to have fuck-all to do with the “contract management irregularities” that two members of the Tulsa school board said they’d uncovered, and which they wrote to you about, requesting this investigation.

    As the Oklahoman explains, the “special audit” Stitt requested would check “whether an entity complied with state law and internal control procedures.” So we’re talking bookkeeping here, not crazed liberals making up the pandemic, and not innocent children being indoctrinated to hate America.

    As for the other part of Stitt’s accusation, state education officials have been remarkably — strategically? — vague about what exactly the offense was. The closest thing to an explanation we could find comes from Tulsa’s Oklahoma Eagle, which says there’s been a “veil of secrecy” around the alleged violation of HB 1775.

    All that’s known is that it involved a complaint about “professional development training to school district employees” in March of this year, which was provided by a third-party vendor.

    Oklahoma State Board of Education attorney Brad Clark said at a June 23 meeting of the state board that Tulsa Schools had somehow violated the law. But by golly, the unidentified offense was serious enough to put the school district’s accreditation at risk:

    In the June meeting, Clark did not cite the specific provisions of the law the Tulsa Public Schools may have violated. Instead, he referred to the “spirit of the training or design of it.”

    He further announced to the Oklahoma Board of Education he was recommending the district’s accreditation be downgraded to “accredited with deficiency.” The district has about 33,000 students, 23% of whom are Black – whose education will be affected by the Oklahoma Department of Education’s actions.

    As of yet, the Eagle reports, the state board has not taken any action on the newspaper’s Open Records request. The school district was a bit more forthcoming, although even it still hadn’t been informed of the details of the alleged violation. In a statement, the district said it had contracted with a company called Vector Solutions to provide implicit bias training, to meet a state requirement that school districts offer training on “race and ethnic education.”

    In March 2022, one individual made a complaint about this training, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education has made us aware of their finding of a deficiency related to that complaint. We anticipate receiving a written explanation of the deficiency within the next few weeks.

    So yeah, the state requires annual “race and ethnic education” training, but such training also must not run afoul of the state’s extremely broad prohibition of any content that might be construed as teaching any of a number of divisive concepts such as the idea that “an individual … bears the responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

    As we always say, OF COURSE nobody would teach that, but the concepts are defined so broadly that the laws have been used to attack teaching about school desegregation, because if you point out white people did segregation in the ’50s, then all white children will be unable to handle being told they’re racist, even if you take pains to explain “past” and “present.”

    In any case, nobody has any idea what happened in that training, but it was horrible and Tulsa schools are promoting CRT and maybe when the state board meets on July 28 we’ll finally find out what specifically this was all about. The materials probably said something really horrifying, like racism in the past still has effects today, and how dare you say all white people are racist, the end, fuck Oklahoma, fuck Kevin Stitt, and can we start drinking yet?

    Wonkette link

  218. says

    Wonkette: “Brett Kavanaugh Doesn’t Even Get To Enjoy His Tiramisu At Morton’s, Whaa Whaa Whaa”

    Ladies and gentlemen and Wonkette readers, a grave injustice has been perpetrated this very week in the heart of our nation’s capital. Did the cops shoot an unarmed person, you might be asking? Did Congress pass a law decreeing that all left-handed people must have their left arm surgically removed, forcing them to use their right like normal humans who are not monsters? Did the Supreme Court declare women to be chattel breeding slaves?

    Oh wait, they sort of did do that last one. And then one of the robed clerics who made that decision wanted to eat dinner at a fancy steakhouse in peace, which is when our tale of injustice occurred.

    Take it away, POLITICO:

    On Wednesday night, D.C. protesters targeting the conservative Supreme Court justices who signed onto the Dobbs decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion got a tip that Justice BRETT KAVANAUGH was dining at Morton’s downtown D.C. location. Protesters soon showed up out front, called the manager to tell him to kick Kavanaugh out and later tweeted that the justice was forced to exit through the rear of the restaurant.

    Oh wow, so you’re saying that people showing up on a sidewalk and yelling at you about your life choices is bad now? That’s a shame, but at least Kavanaugh could choose another option to leave Morton’s and avoid the protesters.

    While the court had no official comment […] on Kavanaugh’s behalf and a person familiar with the situation said he did not hear or see the protesters and ate a full meal but left before dessert […]

    So Kavanaugh didn’t see or hear the protesters and managed to finish his steak and seventeen beers and presumably crush all the empties against his forehead in peace? Okay, what’s the problem?

    “Honorable Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and all of our other patrons at the restaurant were unduly harassed by unruly protestors while eating dinner at our Morton’s restaurant. Politics, regardless of your side or views, should not trample the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner.”

    Actually if yr Wonkette understands the Dobbs decision, if the all-seeing Founders did not specifically write into the Constitution that every American has the right to eat dinner, then no, Brett Kavanaugh does not have the right to eat dinner without protesters reminding him of his life choices. It’s a bummer, but we respect the Court’s authority.

    Here is how Morton’s website describes its DC location:

    The patio at the Connecticut Avenue location overlooks Washington’s infamous K Street Corridor, while the dining room caters to DC’s power elite. Mingle amongst the decision-makers of DC, indulging in Morton’s legendary steakhouse favorites for lunch or dinner.

    Don’t advertise to the rabble that they can mingle with DC’s decision-makers such as Brett Kavanaugh while he chows down on his ribeye and side of creamed spinach, and then complain when said rabble take you up on it. That’s poor customer service.

    Look, if public spaces are out, and public sidewalks in front of the justices’ homes are out, and the vast plaza in front of the Supreme Court building is out, where are the people supposed to go to express their displeasure with the decisions of the decision-makers? Brett Kavanaugh is not up for re-election ever and the decision-makers for obvious reasons don’t seem interested in changing that dumb system anytime soon.

    Given all that, the people are going to look for new avenues to express their displeasure to the nation’s leaders. Even if it means that a Supreme Court justice has to scurry out of a restaurant before he can order Morton’s famed Hot Chocolate Cake.

    […] At least Kavanaugh can take solace in knowing he’s not the first unelected official with ridiculous amounts of power to leave a restaurant meal while protesters yelled at him. We’re betting he won’t be the last.

  219. says

    Wonkette: “Here, Have A Nice Round-Up Of Some Good Sh*t Our Elected Officials Are Doing!”

    […] Union Pensions Saved!
    This week, President Joe Biden went to Ohio to talk about how his American Rescue Plan includes a provision that will ensure that union workers will get the pensions they earned, ensuring benefits will remain intact for two to three million workers and retirees across the country.

    Multi-employer and single-employer pension plans are agreed to in contracts by organized labor and management and then insured by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. However, when those plans become insolvent, the PBGC historically only pays out a fraction of the benefits retirees were supposed to get. Also, in 2014, Republicans passed the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act that, for the first time in history, allowed companies that had guaranteed their workers a pension to appeal to the US Government to reduce benefits in order to remain solvent.

    What this will do is fund the PBGC until 2051 — as it was projected to be insolvent itself by 2026 — and instead of applying to be allowed to reduce benefits, struggling multi-employer pension plans will be able to appeal to the PBGC for financial assistance to ensure that their workers get the benefits they earned and were promised. There are approximately 200 near-insolvent multi-employer pension plans that will be affected by this and millions of workers who now do not have to worry about what is going to happen to them when they retire. Yay!

    The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act!
    Last week, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which President Biden signed in December, went into effect. There was little fanfare, what with everything else we had going on — but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. […] The new law will bar any imports from Xinjiang under the assumption that they are made with forced labor in the Uyghur internment camps there unless the manufacturer can prove otherwise. This is a big deal given the fact that one in five cotton garments is produced, at least in part, with cotton from Xinjiang.

    Long story short, although the Chinese government has been oppressing the Uyghurs (and other ethnic minorities) for as long as I’ve been old enough to sign my name to Amnesty International letters, in 2014 they instituted the “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” and started rounding hundreds of thousands of them up and throwing them in brutal prison camps they claim are “vocational training” centers. You know, where professors and doctors and artists all learn a new trade, like making clothes for fast fashion companies, so that they can find work once they are set free.

    The Chinese government denies this, claims all of those who have escaped these prisons are “known liars,” and has gone on offense when companies and countries have made public statements about not using products made in Xinjiang, frequently deploying internet troll armies to attack critics. However, if the US and the rest of the international community can make their forced labor unprofitable, they may have no choice but to end it — even if they continue to insist it isn’t really happening.

    Technically, the Tariff Act of 1930 bars all imports made with forced labor or convict labor into the US […] This Act goes further by making the companies literally prove that their products were not made by forced labor in any capacity, which quite frankly should be the norm for every product known to be frequently made by forced labor (or child labor).

    […] The unfortunate thing here is that even if it is properly enforced, it won’t solve the whole problem — given that a large part of the problem is Uyghurs being sent hundreds of miles from their homes to work in other areas of China and that cotton thread is frequently exported from Xinjiang and then used to manufacture clothing in other areas of the world. However, scientific testing now allows us to tell where fabrics originate, which could be used to determine if items are made using components made by slave labor in Xinjiang.

    There’s also the fact that Xinjiang is sadly far from the only area where cotton is still being picked by forced labor or child labor and in fact it’s a norm for the industry that is only very slowly starting to change. Uzbekistan just had its very first cotton harvest without forced or child labor last year and a very big part of the reason for that was the fact that many countries instituted a ban on Uzbek cotton until this was rectified. It’s still a huge problem in India, where bonded child laborers are frequently forced to work off the debt of their grandparents in the cotton fields and elsewhere. The fact is, slavery, forced labor, child labor will always exist so long as someone can profit off of it — so it is incumbent to make sure they can’t.

    We May Be On Our Way To Build Back Somewhat Better?
    It was announced this week that Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin have been secretly working on a skinny version of a reconciliation bill that Manchin will be willing to accept. The new version of the bill includes provisions to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, increases taxes on the wealthy, and spends some money on climate change — because hey, we can’t do any of the stuff we really want without a planet to do it on.

    Naturally, Mitch McConnell is throwing a hissy fit over even that and threatening to tank a bipartisan tech bill meant to make us more competitive with China if they dare go through with it. Because, you know, he’s gotta protect the wealthy, the pharmaceutical industry and … I don’t know, torch the planet for funsies?

    It’s certainly not everything we want, but it’s enough of an accomplishment to give Democrats something to run on in November, and being able to negotiate pharmaceutical prices instead of being suckers who pay retail is a huge deal. It’s also extremely popular among practically everyone who is not a Republican elected official or pharmaceutical company. It will particularly appeal to seniors, who are known to be pretty good about voting, as well as to younger voters who overwhelmingly want single payer and will see this as a major step towards that goal.

    Also, we will believe it when Joe Manchin doesn’t once again refuse to take yes for an answer and DQ all his own compromises. But this is a hopeful post, so we should have ended it elsewhere.

  220. says

    LOL – Guardian – “Elon Musk withdraws $44bn bid to buy Twitter after weeks of high drama”:

    Elon Musk has withdrawn his $44bn bid to buy Twitter after a dramatic few weeks in the company’s corporate history.

    “Mr Musk is terminating the merger agreement because Twitter is in material breach of multiple provisions of that agreement, appears to have made false and misleading representations upon which Mr Musk relied when entering into the Merger Agreement, and is likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect,” wrote lawyers for Musk to Twitter.

    Musk announced 13 May that the deal was “on hold” while he awaited details supporting Twitter’s assertion that fewer than 5% of its users were spam or fake accounts. He has asserted the number is 20% and Twitter will need to show proof of the lower number for the purchase to go through.

    Twitter chief executive, Parag Agrawal, attempted to address Musk’s concerns in a lengthy tweet thread but his efforts to explain the problem “with the benefit of data, facts, and context” were met with a poo emoji from the world’s richest person.

    Musk later suggested he could seek to pay a lower price for Twitter because of the fake accounts issue. Speaking virtually at a conference in Miami, he said reducing his agreed $54.20 a share offer would not be “out of the question”. However, the terms of Musk’s takeover agreement with Twitter gave him only limited room for manoeuvre, legal experts said.

    The Musk takeover had been controversial among Twitter employees, with consternation among staff growing after Musk engaged with tweets criticizing Twitter staff following the announcement of the agreement.

    According to the 95-page acquisition agreement filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk would have to pay Twitter $1bn if he walked away from the deal. Similarly, Twitter had agreed to pay a $1bn fee to the entrepreneur if, for instance, it accepted a higher bid from elsewhere….

  221. says

    Related to #261, The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 is available for free.

    The East India Company at Home, 1757–1857 explores how empire in Asia shaped British country houses, their interiors and the lives of their residents. It includes chapters from researchers based in a wide range of settings such as archives and libraries, museums, heritage organisations, the community of family historians and universities. It moves beyond conventional academic narratives and makes an important contribution to ongoing debates around how empire impacted Britain.

    The volume focuses on the propertied families of the East India Company at the height of Company rule. From the Battle of Plassey in 1757 to the outbreak of the Indian Uprising in 1857, objects, people and wealth flowed to Britain from Asia. As men in Company service increasingly shifted their activities from trade to military expansion and political administration, a new population of civil servants, army officers, surveyors and surgeons journeyed to India to make their fortunes. These Company men and their families acquired wealth, tastes and identities in India, which travelled home with them to Britain. Their stories, the biographies of their Indian possessions and the narratives of the stately homes in Britain that came to house them, frame our explorations of imperial culture and its British legacies.

  222. says

    Coming to terms with just how armed Trump followers were on Jan. 6

    The more we learn about how armed Jan. 6 insurrectionists were, the more we’re reminded of Republicans who pretended otherwise.

    Among the key revelations from Cassidy Hutchinson’s recent testimony was what the White House aide heard Donald Trump say ahead of his pre-riot rally on Jan. 6. Backstage at the Ellipse, Hutchinson heard the then-president fuming about the crowd size who’d hear his remarks.

    Told that some of his followers were armed, and could therefore not get past metal detectors, Trump rejected the concerns.

    “I don’t f’ing care that they have weapons,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s sworn testimony. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f’ing [magnetometers] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f’ing mags away.”

    It was a striking revelation in large part because it meant the then-president deliberately dispatched his armed followers to Capitol Hill. Indeed, he desperately wanted to join them.

    But it was also of interest to learn just how armed Trump’s followers were.

    About a month after the attack, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson scoffed at the conventional wisdom about the riot. “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” the Wisconsin senator said. “I mean ‘armed,’ when you hear ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms?”

    Even at the time, it was a foolish comment — which was echoed at the time by many on the right — in light of what we knew about the weapons the Trump supporters brought with them to the Hill. But as the investigation into Jan. 6 continued, we’ve learned even more about just how armed these people were. The Washington Post reported today:

    The full picture of how many among the crowd were armed before the riot occurred is unclear, but court records, trial testimony and accounts from police officers and rioters have supplied growing evidence that multiple people brought firearms to Washington for Jan. 6, 2021. Six men were arrested that day for having guns in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol, and a seventh who arrived after the riot ended was arrested the following day. Despite some instances in which alerts about people with guns turned out to be false alarms, accounts from police officers and rioters indicate that many firearms were spotted on Jan. 6 but were not seized as law enforcement focused more on defending the Capitol than on arresting gun-law violators.

    The same report noted one Jan. 6 defendant explaining at his trial that from his vantage point on the west side of the Capitol, he counted eight firearms carried by five people.

    Other rioters have been charged with taking guns onto the Capitol grounds.

    What’s more, we’re not just talking about assorted handguns. The Post’s report highlighted an Alabama man named Lonnie Leroy Coffman.

    The police said they searched Coffman’s truck and found 11 Mason jars filled with gasoline and Styrofoam, allegedly to create a napalm-type effect for a Molotov cocktail. In addition to the gasoline-filled Mason jars, which had holes in the lids, with rags and lighters nearby, investigators reported finding a 9mm handgun, a rifle, a shotgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices, a crossbow with bolts, machetes and camouflage smoke devices. Coffman also was carrying two handguns when he was arrested, authorities said. All the guns were loaded.

    There have been related reports with information about Jan. 6 attendees carrying spears on flagpoles, stun guns, bear spray, and related weapons.

    Despite all of this, Republican lawmakers such as Arizona’s Paul Gosar and Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene have, like Ron Johnson last year, questioned whether the insurrectionists had guns.

    “What evidence do you have that a lot of people were armed that day?” Greene asked at a Rules Committee hearing last month.

    “Oh, just wait for it,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Jan. 6 panel, responded.

  223. says

    Washington Post:

    The pandemic is a relentless race against Mother Nature. Waves of infection took millions of lives, and only highly effective vaccines prevented even more deaths. Now, the coronavirus is speeding up once again, mutating, evading immunity and still on the march. The arrival of subvariant BA.5 should be a reminder that the finish line in this race is nowhere to be seen.

  224. says

    Thread favorite Fintan O’Toole in the Guardian – “Boris Johnson has vandalised the political architecture of Britain, Ireland and Europe”:

    …Johnson’s dark genius was to shape Britain in his own image. His roguishness has made it a rogue state, openly defiant of international law. His triviality has diminished it in the eyes of the world. His relentless mendacity and blatantly self-seeking abuse of power have ruined its reputation for democratic decency. His bad jokes made the country he professes to love increasingly risible.

    This is the level to which Johnson has reduced Britain on the world stage, making it fair game for the taunts of tyrants. Even while Johnson was doing good by supporting Ukraine, he was simultaneously giving Vladimir Putin grounds to believe that the west only pretends to believe in the rule of law. This descent is not just bad for the UK. It is bad for the whole democratic world. Johnson turned one of the great historic democracies into a state in which his own cynicism, recklessness and lack of honour became official policy. In doing so, he has allowed every enemy of democracy to say that it is a hollow system whose rules and values are a sham.

    It isn’t – and there are those who will continue to fight to defend and deepen it. The great question that faces Britain is whether it can rejoin that side of the fight, as an honourable, law-bound and serious presence in international affairs. It is very hard to see an answer coming from within the ranks of those who allowed Johnson to make such a mockery of their own country. The harm that Johnson has inflicted will not be undone quickly – or by those who found it intolerable only when it threatened their own immediate interests.

    More at the link.

  225. says

    Oh, FFS.

    New Arizona law limits bystanders from recording police officers and law enforcement incidents

    […] As of Wednesday, Arizona has made it illegal for people to record police officials in close range. According to House Bill 2319, signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday, it is illegal to record law enforcement activities within eight feet. Those who continue to record after being warned to stop could face a misdemeanor charge.

    Exceptions to the law include people considered to be at the center of an interaction with police, including anyone standing in an enclosed structure on private property where police activity is occurring, and occupants of a vehicle stopped by police. Recordings are allowed in these situations as long as they do not interfere with police actions.

    Sponsored by former police officer and Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh, the law was introduced to protect officers from potential harm or distraction outside of the incident they are already involved in, Kavanagh wrote in an op-ed.

    According to Jurist, earlier drafts of the legislation banned recording within 15 feet of police encounters. The 15-foot restriction was amended due to issues of constitutionality. But despite the amendments, the bill continues to be opposed because it still infringes on First Amendment rights.

    Experts noted that it is not only unconstitutional at its core, but grants police too much discretion and does nothing to enhance transparency.

    “Now I have no problem with people video taping police activity, when they’re a reasonable distance away,” Kavanagh said.

    While the bill concentrates on an eight-foot radius, it gives law enforcement officials the ability to extend the radius if deemed necessary. However, what is considered “necessary” is not specified. […]

  226. says

    Greg Abbott signals to violent white supremacist extremists in latest anti-immigrant order

    Echoing the “invasion” rhetoric used by a number of racist mass murderers, including in his own state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order purporting to give state law enforcement the power to detain and return recently crossed migrants to the border.

    Immigration enforcement is strictly the job of the federal government, but Greg Abbott knows that perfectly well, “testing the limits of state authority” and “stopping short of using state resources to expel migrants from the country,” The Texas Tribune reports. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas called the order “vicious and unlawful” in a statement received by Daily Kos.

    “It will encourage the police and the National Guard to racially profile Black and Brown people in Texas and it could force migrants fleeing violence back into harm’s way,” the statement continued. “Justifying this effort by invoking the rhetoric of ‘invasion,’ which the governor knows fueled the 2019 El Paso shooting that killed 23 people, recklessly fans the flames of hate in our state.” […]

  227. raven says

    Texts, web searches about abortion have been used to prosecute women
    Washington Post July 08, 2022 edited for length

    The 2017 case is one of a handful in which American prosecutors have used text messages and online research as evidence against women facing criminal charges related to the end of their pregnancies.

    Since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on June 24— opening the door to state bans on abortion from the moment of conception — privacy experts have warned that many more pregnant people and their abortion providers could find themselves in similar circumstances. While some fret over data maintained by period trackers and other specialty apps, the case against Fisher shows that simple search histories may pose enormous risks in a post-Roe world.

    “Lots of people Google about abortion and then choose to carry out their pregnancies,” said Laurie Bertram Roberts, a spokeswoman for Fisher. “Thought crimes are not the thing. You’re not supposed to be able to be indicted on a charge of what you thought about.” Fisher declined to comment.

    Despite mounting concerns that the intricate web of data collected by fertility apps, tech companies and data brokers might be used to prove a violation of abortion restrictions, in practice, police and prosecutors have turned to more easily accessible data — gleaned from text messages and search history on phones and computers. These digital records of ordinary lives are sometimes turned over voluntarily or obtained with a warrant, and have provided a gold mine for law enforcement.

    “T​he reality is, we do absolutely everything on our phones these days,” said Emma Roth, a staff attorney at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. “There are many, many ways in which law enforcement can find out about somebody’s journey to seek an abortion through digital surveillance.”

    Women have been punished for terminating pregnancy for years. Between 2000 and 2021, more than 60 cases in the United States involved someone being investigated, arrested or charged for allegedly ending their own pregnancy or assisting someone else, according to an analysis by If/When/How, a reproductive justice nonprofit. If/When/How estimates the number of cases may be much higher, because it is difficult to access court records in many counties throughout the country.

    A number of those cases have hinged on text messages, search history and other forms of digital evidence.

    Digital evidence played a central role in the case of Purvi Patel, …
    Prosecutors also cited her web history, including a visit to a webpage titled “National Abortion Federation: Abortion after Twelve Weeks.” On her iPad, police found an email from Detectives were able to order mifepristone pills and misoprostol pills from that website without a prescription, according to court records.

    Health-care workers and friends also are sometimes forced to provide evidence, McSherry added.

    Activists (in Poland) also use virtual private networks, which can minimize data collected about browsing, and encourage Polish women to contact them on encrypted channels like Signal. They delete all online conversations after the person has had the abortion and caution the person not to post on social media about their experiences, after some faced online harassment. One organization that provides funds for Polish people to get the procedure in Germany pays abortion clinics directly, rather than providing funds to patients, to ensure there are no digital records.

    And there is a fresh worry on European abortion activists’ minds: the introduction of what they describe as a “pregnancy register” in Poland. The Polish government approved a measure last month that requires doctors to save more patient information in a central database — including data on pregnancies.

    Wydrzyńska was arrested after the woman’s partner reported her to the authorities. Police confiscated Wydrzyńska’s computer, as well as her children’s devices, during the investigation. Wydrzyńska couldn’t be reached for comment for this article but previously has told The Washington Post that the case has not dissuaded her from activism.

    The Zygote Police will use digital data from phones and computers to arrest formerly pregnant women.
    They already do so.
    Use a burner phone from a drugstore and destroy it when you are done.

    Poland is already setting up a pregnancy database.
    I’m sure the Red States will do the same.
    They may also make health care workers into mandatory reporters for pregnancies and pregnancy losses.

  228. StevoR says

    A reasonable explanation at last suggested here for why many carnivorouous therapod dinosaurs may have had such small arms :

    Including this newly found one :

    that wasn’t a close rellie despite its similar appearence.

    Meanwhile a sneak peak of what the first JSWT images will be here:

    With July 12th the day we’ll see the first images here.

  229. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. Their most recent summary:

    Luhansk’s governor says Russian forces are creating “hell” shelling the Donetsk region. Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces fired 8 artillery shells, 3 mortar shells and launched 9 rocket strikes overnight.

    The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken expressed concerns about the China’s alignment with Russia, after meeting with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi in Indonesia. Blinken said they see no signs “at this moment in time” that Russia is willing to engage in meaningful diplomacy.

    Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region was also shelled on Saturday, according to the region’s governor. Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote cities Druzhkivka, Slovyansk, Chasovoy Yar, Hirnyk and Svitlodar were attacked.

    Russia is moving forces across the country and assembling them near Ukraine for future offensive operations, according to Britain’s ministry of defence. [Several people have talked about this on Twitter over the past few days.] The latest intelligence update said a large proportion of the new infantry units are “probably” deploying with MT-LB armoured vehicles taken from long-term storage.

    The first cohort of Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in the UK to be trained in combat by British forces. The programme will train up to 10,000 Ukrainians over the coming months to give volunteer recruits with little to no military experience the skills to be effective in frontline combat. Around 1,050 UK service personnel are being deployed to run the programme, which will take place at Ministry of Defence sites across the the UK.

    Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has asked all residents in the Russian-occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to “evacuate by all possible means”. “Please leave – our army will begin retaking these areas. Our determination is rock solid. And it will be very difficult later to open humanitarian corridors when children are involved,” said Iryna Vereshchuk, according to Ukrainian media.

    From an earlier summary:

    …Ukraine’s military says it has destroyed two Russian command posts near Kherson, according to Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for the joint southern command of Ukraine’s armed forces.

    The Ukrainian foreign minister criticised Russia at the G20 summit in Bali, saying it prefers to follow its own rules instead of cooperating multilaterally with the international community. “I am strong supporter of multilateralism,” Dmytro Kuleba said. “But it lacks tools to protect itself from those who disrespect other nations, who prefer to play with common rules instead of playing by the rules. We have such a country at this table today – Russia.”

    The Ukrainian parliament adopted a set of new laws on Friday during its plenary session. The new laws include safety guarantees for journalists working in battle areas, improved social protection for rescuers, and postponed transitioning to keep records of the gas volumes in units of energy.

    The US is sending four more Himars, or high mobility artillery rocket systems, to Ukraine, a US senior defence official said at a press briefing on Friday. The four additional Himars will bring the total number given to Ukraine to 12. According to the official, the first eight were especially useful as the fighting in Donbas against Russian forces evolved into an artillery fight.

  230. says

    New Eastern Europe – “Ignorance of history? Germany’s culture of memory and response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine”:

    …As a German, I am shocked at the ignorant tone of this public discussion, which often ignores Ukraine’s right to self-determination, or even completely denies that it is a fully formed nation state. It seems to me that with regards to Ukraine, the German Erinnerungskultur, the culture or politics of memory that has enabled the country to – up to a point – openly and honestly discuss the crimes and legacy of Nazi Germany, is failing. Instead of developing a deeper understanding of the complex history of Ukraine and its relationship to Germany, or learning more about the Holocaust on the territory of Ukraine and that the Nazi authorities treated the country as a colony to be exploited and eradicated, the discussion is dominated by platitudes, stereotypes and the regurgitation of Russian propaganda. On TV talk shows, German sociologist Harald Welzer stated that Germany’s history as a perpetrator enables us to understand the war better than Ukrainians and advised the Ukrainian ambassador to stop demanding support and instead listen to Germans. At the same time, political scientist Ulrike Guérot declared that there is no invasion but instead a civil war in Ukraine. Her colleague Johannes Varwick stated that Russia has “vital interests” in Ukraine that we need to respect. On social media, I have encountered claims made by politically active and well-informed acquaintances that as the situation is calm in Kyiv there cannot be a genocidal war; that the Euromaidan protests in 2014 were engineered and executed by the CIA; that Putin potentially targeting the Baltic states and Poland if he is successful in Ukraine is “American propaganda”.

    Denying Ukraine democracy is to apply stereotypes and prejudice and puts a lack of knowledge on public display. This discussion is only taking place among Germans and displays a willingness to view the war in the most abstract and simplistic ways possible. Ukrainian voices from all parts of civil society are today as widely available as never before, in books, art exhibitions, podcasts and on social media. However, for some reason Germans have found it difficult to talk to Ukrainians, and there are hardly any Ukrainian voices in public discourse – even the pro-Ukrainian positions on talk shows are represented by Germans.

    I was rightly brought up with the responsibility that the Nazi rise to power and Holocaust must never happen again. Now, Germany faces that responsibility in the need to support a European democracy against a genocidal attack aimed at eradicating the country and its culture. But somehow “never again” has become “no war” for many in Germany and I find it difficult to understand why. It seems the historical experience of a necessary military struggle for a just cause, the experience that violent resistance against a criminal opponent is not only morally imperative but can also be successful…is missing from the current debate….

  231. says

    New On the Media – “The F-Word”:

    Early in the pandemic, weight was named a risk factor for severe covid-19. But what if the greater risk is poor medical treatment for fat people? This week, On the Media dives into the fictions, feelings, and fraught history of fat. Including how sugar and the slave trade laid the groundwork for American beauty standards.

    1. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff…, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at University of Ottawa, on what we do and don’t know about the relation of weight and the severity of a Covid infection.

    2. Katherine Flegal…, epidemiologist and former senior scientist at the Centers For Disease Control, on our flawed understanding of the data around weight and death, and Katie Lebesco…, researcher focusing on food, pop culture, and fat activism, on why the “obesity epidemic” is a moral panic hiding behind a thin veil of scientific language.

    3. Sabrina Strings…, sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, on how European attitudes about fat dramatically changed in the 18th century. and set the standards Americans still see today.

  232. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Earlier, we reported on allegations from Ukrainian officials that Russian forces are “purposefully” destroying crops in the Kherson region.

    In a post on Facebook, local police forces have opened criminal proceedings after constant shelling and Russian forces not permitting the extinguishing of fires in occupied land.

    Police said large-scale fires are a daily occurrence, burning through hundreds of hectares of wheat, barley and other grain crops, in addition to forests.

    The post said:

    Due to constant shelling, it is extremely difficult to extinguish such fires in the de-occupied territories, and in the occupied lands the Russians deliberately do not allow extinguishing the occupation, the immigrants destroy grain warehouses, agricultural machinery and solar power plants.

    Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said sanctions against Russia were working, and echoed calls for more deliveries of high-precision Western weapons, Reuters reports.

    “Russians desperately try to lift those sanctions which proves that they do hurt them. [Good point!] Therefore, sanctions must be stepped up until Putin drops his aggressive plans,” Kuleba told a forum in Dubrovnik by videolink.

    Ukraine president Zelenskiy dismisses several foreign ambassadors

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismissed Kyiv’s ambassador to Germany on Saturday as well as several other top foreign envoys, the presidential website said.
    In a decree that gave no reason for the move, he announced the sacking of Ukraine’s ambassadors to Germany, India, Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary, Reuters reports. It was not immediately clear if the envoys would be handed new jobs. Kyiv’s relations with Germany, which is heavily reliant on Russian energy supplies and also Europe’s biggest economy, has been a particular sensitive matter. The two countries are at odds over a German-made turbine undergoing maintenance in Canada. Germany wants Ottawa to return the turbine to Russian natural gas giant Gazprom to pump gas to Europe. Kyiv has urged Canada to keep the turbine, saying that shipping it to Russia would be a violation of sanctions imposed on Moscow.

  233. says

    Daily Space: The Eagle Nebula

    […] The Eagle Nebula, also known as the Star Queen Nebula, is a cluster of young stars whose birth is lighting a region of gas and dust still involved in star formation. It’s about 5,700 to 7,000 light years away from Earth, and bright enough to be glimpsed by those with good eyesight in good dark sky conditions (that would be not me, not here, and not now).

    It was first cataloged in 1746 by Swiss astronomer Jean-Philippe Loys de Cheseaux who included it in a short list of nebulas he had found. Like other astronomers at the time, de Cheseaux was mostly interested in cataloging nebula for a somewhat negative reason. Since he was obsessed with finding comets, he was always looking for fuzzy objects in the sky. And since nebula are fuzzy objects, keeping a list of them made sure he wasn’t constantly mistaking one for a comet.

    But de Cheseaux did put the Eagle Nebula to another use … he used it to calculate the dates of Jesus’ crucifixion and the end of the world. […]

    Looking at the stars was apparently not a great way to interpret your basic “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” but de Cheseaux did think things could be flipped around, so that the motion of stars and planets could be made to explain some passages of time mention in Daniel.

    It can be frustrating that guys like de Cheseaux can at one moment be doing something that seems perfectly reasonable, and at the next be trying to twist their observations into making an object thousands of light years away say something about an obscure prediction of events on Earth. But even for the most stridently anti-religious people of the 18th century, which de Cheseaux was not, it was impossible to disentangle events in Biblical literature and attempts to date the past.

    That’s because their world lacked depth. They had no concept of how old anything was. Or how far away the stars they were observing actually might be. Thanks to Danish Astronomer Ole Roemer, they did have some idea of the speed of light. But still … they had no deep space, and most importantly, no deep time. It would take Scottish geologist James Hutton to begin pushing back the scale of time at the end of the 18th century, giving room for theories of creation that didn’t involve a heavy load of miracles. Most people lived in a snapshot universe, one whose existence lacked the time or space for rational explanation.

    For de Cheseaux, history was short, the stars were close, and even if the Earth was no longer at the center of the Solar System, it was surely the point of the universe. Suffice to say, de Cheseaux ultimately spent a lot more time calculating “measures of the great revolutions of the diurnal, and lunar and solar periods of the heavens” and trying to fit then into a system of “epoch cycles” than he did spotting additional nebula. It’s frustrating. But understandable.

    But when it comes to the Eagle Nebula, creation does come up in more than a biblical sense. This is, after all, a “star factory.” New stars, and new stellar systems, are being born there. Some 4.6 billion years ago, it’s likely that our Sun came from such a place, born along with a large number of sibling stars, before being borne along to a more rarified location by time, gravity and the breath of the galactic winds. That’s pretty majestic in any book.

    That section of the nebula that look pretty birdish, is also associated with one of the most famous images created by the Hubble Telescope. [“Pillars of Creation” image at the link]

    This mosaic of images from the Hubble Telescope was stitched together by astronomers Paul Scowen and Jeff Hester, then both at Arizona State University. There is some concern that these structures, which are in constant motion from the birth and radiation of those new stars, may actually no longer exist. Nearby the star factory is another, even more violent phenomenon — the expanding wave of radiation from a supernova. Such waves can generation enough pressure to trigger the birth of new stars, but they can also erase these “cradles” leaving the resulting stars in a space where the clouds of dust and gas have been blown apart.

    Whether […] we’re just seeing the ghosts of structures long gone, isn’t clear. However, the most recent evidence seems to suggest this is one cradle of creation that’s still up and running.

    De Cheseaux would probably be confused … but pleased.

  234. says

    Ukraine update:

    The first phase of the Putin’s War ended when Russia was unable to maintain supply lines to forces besieging Kyiv. The second phase shifted predominantly to the eastern Donbas front, where logistics were suddenly less important. [map at the link]

    Russia was able to take Kreminna, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk all within a few dozen kilometers of their main supply nodes—railheads. Note how the Izyum salient, with its longer supply lines, barely budged in three months. But to the east, not only could Russia avoid long, difficult lines of communication (supply), but they could literally send their tanks and artillery guns to nearby railheads to directly load up on ammo: [tweets and videos at the link]

    Russia is so incompetent with logistics, that they literally sent their heavy equipment to get their own supplies and ammo, rather than do what every other army in the world does—use far more efficient trucks. I can’t even imagine how many of these tanks and artillery guns broke down trying to get their own supplies. These vehicles aren’t build for long road trips.

    But as stupid as that might’ve been pre-HIMARS (and other western long-range artillery), it’s now literally impossible. With Ukraine’s ability to reach out and touch anything within 85 kilometers of the front lines, Russia is in serious need of 1) new supply depots, well to their rear, and 2) more trucks to ferry supplies. And they better hurry, because their existing depots are going “boom!” every single night. [tweet and video at the link]

    One Donetsk People’s Republic blogger says his side is in a state of “panic” over such attacks, like the one at Shaktersk, Donetsk, which led to the evacuation of locals.

    Shakhtersk. BC warehouse. Amazing people quite correctly (our army is not mistaken) placed it within the reach of the [Ukrainians] and controlled MLRS and eventually got a successful result. The one they expected. And amazing people kept fuel and lubricants at the tank farm in the frontline district of Donetsk, and also… And again and again […]

    In the city, darkness and panic, ammunition is lost, the amazing person who did not move the stockpile further is unknown. And he won’t be known […]

    [Ukrainians] will destroy everything on the territory of the DPR. Both military and civilian.

    [I think “amazing people” is a euphemism for “fucking dunderheads.”]

    This pre-war look at Russian logistics sketched out the exponential challenges of moving supplies over longer distances:

    It is possible to calculate how far trucks can operate using simple beer math. Assuming the existing road network can support 45 mph speeds, a single truck can make three trips a day at up to a 45-mile range: One hours to load, one hour to drive to the supported unit, one hours to unload, and another hour to return to base. Repeating this cycle three times equals 12 hours total. The rest of the day is dedicated to truck maintenance, meals, refueling, weapons cleaning, and sleeping. Increase the distance to 90 miles, and the truck can make two trips daily. At 180 miles, the same truck is down to one trip a day. These assumptions won’t work in rough terrain or where there is limited/damaged infrastructure. If an army has just enough trucks to sustain itself at a 45-mile distance, then at 90 miles, the throughput will be 33 percent lower. At 180 miles, it will be down by 66 percent. The further you push from supply dumps, the fewer supplies you can replace in a single day.

    Turns out, Russia’s lack of crates or forklifts means that loading and unloading their trucks takes far longer than one hour, more like 2-4x that time. Each Russian artillery shell weighs 114 lbs, and the crate with propellent is around 170 lbs. Each has to be loaded and unloaded by by hand. [photo at the link]

    Imagine loading or unloading an entire truckfull of those crates, with nothing to grab on to, not even any handles. Yeah, that’ll take a while. Then multiply by the thousands of rounds Russian artillery consumes per day.

    Meanwhile, roads close to the frontlines are cratered messes, requiring travel at dramatically slower speeds, mostly during daylight. All the while, Ukraine is doing everything to make those roads impassable. [tweets and map and image at the link]

    The bridge had literally just reopened, rebuilt by Russia’s special railroad troops after retreating Ukrainian forces blew it. It was even blessed by an Orthodox priest. [video at the link]

    But the bridge was within range of Ukrainian artillery, so an easy target. And it’s not the only one now within range thanks to newly arrived Western artillery and rocket systems.

    […] Thus, the war is entering a third phase. The Battle for the Donbas might be ongoing, but this is a new kind of war. Russia’s need to reach deeper into Ukrainian territory to contest the twin strongholds of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk will rekindle the same logistical challenges we saw early in the war. In fact, they’ll be much worse, because Russia will no longer be able to stockpile ammunition next to railheads for easy dispersion to the front. HIMARS will require Russia to multiply and disperse smaller stockpiles away from those railheads, much further from the front. If Ukraine eventually gets ATACMS rockets for their HIMARS as rumored, with their range of 300 kilometers, Russia’s woes will only multiply. And then there’s this: [tweet noting that Ukraine could attack Kerch Strait bridge which links mainland Russia with Crimea —attack using Harpoon missiles.]

    Russian artillery is still burning through their local supply of ammunition. We should see a decrease in fire intensity over the next week if Ukraine is indeed crimping Russian logistics.

    Take a look at the German/Dutch Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000) self-propelled gun in action, there’s nothing like it: [video at the link]

    The cannon can adjust so five rounds all land at the exact same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys were behind this wall of fire down in the Kherson front: [video at the link]

    This certainly looks like Kherson Oblast: [video at the link]

    […] Meanwhile, the U.S. is sending more HIMARS and, for the first time, long-range Excalibur precision-guided artillery munitions.

    […] M982 Excalibur rounds cost $112.8k each (or $112 million in this package alone). HIMARS/MLRS rockets cost around $130,000 each. Don’t be surprised if Ukraine stops getting launchers and guns, and most of the remaining allocated aid package goes to paying for expensive munitions and spare parts. That’s not a bad thing. Odds are good that ammo supply is the current bottleneck, not artillery guns or MLRS launchers.

  235. says

    Missouri Democrat wants men to ‘Step the hell up!’

    Missouri’s Senate race is heating up. The Republican Party has once again put its best foot forward by promoting Eric Greitens, best known for mowing down trees with a high-caliber assault weapon during his elections campaign ads and then being forced to resign after it turned out that he was a next-level scumbag. It turned out that Greitens was not simply having an extramarital affair, but he was accused by the woman he began the affair with of sexual assault, battery, kidnapping, and blackmail in his pursuit to cover that affair up. Donald Trump Jr. even cut an add where both he and Greitens shot weapons and threatened “liberals, RINOs, and the fake media.”

    The Democratic Party has two front running candidates running for Senate, with the primary taking place on Aug. 2. On the one hand you have Anheuser-Busch heiress Trudy Busch Valentine, who is considered a front runner because of her financial resources. On the other hand you have former Marine Lucas Kunce, who has been catching up in the polls. Right now the main criticism facing Valentine is her refusal to appear in public and face off against opponents. […]

    one thing that Kunce and Valentine have going for them is that they are not Eric Greitens. True to form, Greitens has been dealing with a brand-new slew of allegations about how abusive and appalling a person he is—this time from his estranged wife, who left him after he was forced to resign from being governor for being a dirtbag.

    On Thursday, Kunce released a very effective ad that centers reproductive rights and women’s rights while also pointing out the hypocrisy of the archaic toxic masculinity promoted as a virtue by conservatives. This is the kind of messaging the Democratic Party needs to get on board for. [video at the link]

    He opens with: “I’m Lucas Kunce and I have a message for America’s men: Step the hell up!” Throughout the advertisement, a hard “rock” guitar riff plays, reminiscent of penis-pill advertisements one sees and hears during sporting event broadcasts. It’s sort of superb. From there he talks about how reproductive rights and children’s rights are being taken away and conservative men are flexing their muscles by “standing on the sidelines, acting powerless.”

    He also connects the fact that he was a Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq, being told how he was fighting for the human rights of women in other countries, only to come home to a far more tyrannous Republican-led movement at home.

    The video even gives a nice visual shoutout to weak leaders like Sen. Joe Manchin, who has pretended he has no power as a sitting U.S. senator. Kunce also pounds home the middle-American masculinity fallacy implicit in the “pro-life” movement. “Real men fight for choice,” the screen reads as Kunce gives his very simple message to voters: “That’s why I’m running for Senate. In Washington I will kill the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade.” […]

  236. says

    DOJ Says The Oath Keepers Brought Explosives To DC Area Around January 6th And Had A “Death List”

    Don’t ever accuse these morons of being criminal masterminds…


    The Justice Department released new details Friday evening of the alleged extensive planning by the Oath Keepers to prepare for violence in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, including lessons to conduct “hasty ambushes,” a “death list” of Georgia election officials and attempts to acquire homemade firearms. […]

    Among the new details in the government’s allegations is a document with the words “DEATH LIST” that the government says it found in Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell’s home through a search warrant in the weeks after January 6

    The handwritten list included the name of a Georgia 2020 election official and their family member who, according to the new court filing, were both targets of “unfounded conspiracy theories that they were involved in voter fraud.”

    They left an enormous trail of evidence in their wake…
    The Washington Post

    The allegations came days before the Jan. 6 House committee is set to hold its next hearing Tuesday, which is expected to explore connections between extremist groups accused of playing key roles in the violence at the Capitol and former president Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election through false claims of voter fraud.

    […] “That Caldwell made and kept a ‘death list’ that includes officials involved in the presidential election process — contemporaneous with his preparation to travel to Washington, D.C. — illustrates his actions during the alleged conspiracy and intent to oppose by force the transfer of power,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy A. Edwards Jr. of Washington wrote, referring to the seditious conspiracy charge against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and eight others including Caldwell.

    No wonder they want to delay their seditious conspiracy trial…
    CBS News

    A defense attorney for the Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes said Wednesday that members of the group accused of seditious conspiracy will seek a postponement of their upcoming criminal trials amid the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings.

    […] An attorney for Rhodes, Phillip Linder, cited the expected focus on the Oath Keepers in seeking a postponement of the Sept. and Nov. 2022 criminal trials.

    And tell their side of the story to the world…

    Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes offered this week to testify publicly before the January 6th Committee – an offer with little chance of the committee taking it up, but potentially big downsides for Rhodes’ eventually trial.

    Rhodes’ attorney, James Bright, confirmed to CBS News and other outlets Friday that he’d passed along an offer from his client to testify in a public hearing about his and other Oath Keepers’ roles on Jan. 6, when a mob of thousands of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. Rhodes is one of nine members of the militia under indictment on multiple felony charges, including seditious conspiracy, for allegedly plotting to disrupt the joint session of Congress. […]

    Rhodes, a graduate of Yale Law, has previously said he intends to testify at his own trial – currently scheduled to begin in late September. While any such testimony would be public, it would not offer the enormous reach of the January 6th Committee hearings, which have drawn millions of television viewers over the past month. Rhodes’ offer to testify was reportedly contingent upon the hearing being held publicly and broadcast by major television networks. The committee has rejected testimony offers with similar conditions from other potential witnesses, including MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.

    Still waiting for their fearless leader, I guess…
    Business Insider

    When nine accused leaders of the Oath Keepers go on trial this fall to face seditious conspiracy charges for their role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, jurors in the government’s first big showcase trial will hear a defense argument that will sound outlandish to many.

    Jurors will be told that the far-right extremists believed President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act as they gathered at the Capitol — 100 strong in their camo-colored tactical gear — and turn them into his own, ultra-loyal federal militia.

    Their fantasy mission? To “Stop the Steal,” “Defend the President,” and “Defeat the Deep State,” according to since-deleted rhetoric from their website. A defiant Trump would officially be their commander in chief.

    The FBI continues to seek the public’s assistance in identifying individuals who participated in unlawful conduct during the Capitol Insurrection. New images are added frequently… [Tweet and images at the link]

    If you have information about individuals who participated in the largest assault on police officers in U.S. history at the Capitol Riot on January 6th, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-‪800-225-5324) or leave a tip online at the FBI’s website. […]

  237. says

    Followup to comment 210.

    […] Politico reports how Rob Schenck, once head of the same bunch that are now bragging about their prayer sessions […] recruited a score of wealthy supporters to wine and dine Scalia, Alito and Thomas and their wives at Washington’s finest troughs.

    Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister who headed the Faith and Action group headquartered near the Supreme Court from 1995 to 2018, said he arranged over the years for about 20 couples to fly to Washington to visit with and entertain Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and the late Antonin Scalia.

    […] Schenck said the goal was to create an ecosystem of support for conservative justices, as a way of making them more forthright in their views.

    The previously undisclosed initiative by Faith and Action illustrates the extent to which some Supreme Court justices interacted with advocates for the religious right during a period when the court grappled with social issues such as abortion and gay rights.

    The calculated nature of Faith and Action’s efforts shows how outside actors can use social activities and expensive dinners to penetrate the court’s highly sealed environment.

    Ah, yes, “social activities and expensive dinners,” noshes enlivened with such sparkling bon mots as “It’s so important for a child to have a father and a mother” and “You were born for a time like this.”

    […] Prayer’s all well and good, but if you really want to bring some High Court souls to the altar rail, I suggest a stop by the Capital Grille first […]

    If this all seems a bit, um, bribe-y, not to worry. The High Court, in its wisdom, exempts itself from the code of conduct imposed on all others in the federal judiciary, continuing its unbroken tradition since Marbury v. Madison that “the rules are whatever we say they are.”

    Imagine, judges who not only have no rules, but literally decide what laws apply to them. […]


  238. says

    Arizona ‘Patriot’ leader bear-sprays abortion rights protesters, so Mesa police charge a victim

    The extremist ”Patriot” movement is nothing if not adaptable: As a kind of pan-far-right insurgency, it has a history of attacking democracy on a broad range of fronts, from immigration to civil rights to abortion rights. That’s why you can find deranged activists like Jennifer Harrison of AZ Patriots, who made her bones harassing Latino immigrants and Muslims, showing up to a protest over the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade to do a drive-by pepper spray of participants.

    Unsurprisingly, when police arrested her, Harrison claimed it was all in self-defense—a claim belied by video of the incident. Just as predictably, as David Gilbert at VICE reports, police in Tempe, Arizona, also arrested one of Harrison’s victims based on Harrison’s claims that she had been assaulted.

    The incident occurred on Sunday night in Tempe, when Harrison and her frequent partner in her far-right escapades, Michael Pavlock, cruised slowly past a cluster of abortion rights protesters waiting to cross the street on the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive with Harrison in the passenger seat. [tweet and video at the link, "Kids were hit with bear mace too."]

    Videos and photos show that she rolled down her window with a can of bear spray in her hand and directed it twice at the protesters. After the first blast, while the victims were crying for water, they continued to roll slowly past the crowd; a woman standing with them, later identified as activist Vivika Lofton, reached toward the bear spray with a flag in her hand as if to deflect it. Harrison can then be seen unleashing a second blast in her direction.

    Harrison later claimed in a press release (subsequently deleted) that Lofton had “aggressively rushed toward the vehicle, hands raised and flying around as she entered the street and reached her hand into the open window of the vehicle.” Video indicates that this description is at best a gross exaggeration, and that Lofton had not reached inside the car at any moment.

    Lofton, who was briefly hospitalized, was charged with disorderly conduct. She adamantly denies Harrison’s claims. “I’m being charged with the same charges as [Harrison], which isn’t right, because I was the one that was injured and went to the hospital,” Lofton told Gilbert.

    Victims of the mace attack were treated by emergency services at the scene. Some were transported for further treatment at a local fire station, including a 9-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. The mother of the two children set up a GoFundMe page in which she described their agony.

    The pain of being maced is intense and burning, an incredibly strong stinging sensation that does not go away quickly. Additionally, mace reactivates every time it gets wet. This means that every time my children started to cry in reaction to the pain they were feeling, it only made the burning worse. Seeing my children in wailing in pain and unable to do anything about it was the most excruciating thing I’ve ever gone through.

    Everything happened so fast and there was no time to prepare or run away for safety. We were taken away by ambulance to a near by firestation where I had to flush the mace from my children’s face in a decontamination shower.

    On social media, Harrison said she “didn’t expect kids” among the anti-abortion protesters Sunday night. However, as Gilbert notes, she had berated the same group of protesters on Saturday night, acknowledging in her Facebook livestream that a child was there.

    Harrison has a long history of notoriously ugly far-right activism. AZ Patriots (also known as the Patriot Movement of Arizona) won notoriety in 2018 for a Facebook video posted by a leading member of the group showing her entering a Muslim mosque and removing articles, leading eventually to a felony conviction for the woman. Harrison, who was sued by several churches for harassing immigrant children by posting videos of them arriving by bus, also faced a felony identity theft charge in Maricopa County that was later dismissed when she agreed to enter a federal diversion program.

    In the wake of the November 2020 presidential election—which Democrat Joe Biden surprisingly won in Arizona—Harrison was one of the leading figures protesting outside election-counting centers. Harrison also led a small delegation inside the building in the early moments of one protest, where video showed her demanding to be permitted to observe the count and being denied.

    Harrison also has a history of using bear spray to attack her political opponents. In June 2020, she made a video of herself and Pavlock at a Black Lives Matter protest march through downtown Phoenix. In the video, the pair were stopped by traffic police at an intersection to allow protesters to march past.

    She could be seen using her megaphone to shout, “Black rifles matter,” and “Trump 2020,” which drew about six protesters who walked toward their car. Harrison yelled, “You’re going to get sprayed,” while Pavlock chimed in: “You’re going to get shot.”

    Harrison could then be seen bear-spraying a girl, after which a Phoenix police officer told the pair to leave the area.

    Harrison devoted much of her energy in 2021 to harassing border crossers as they entered Arizona, but more recently has turned her focus to counterprotesting at liberal events.

    “I have one comment: This was self-defense. I have an attorney, and we are confident that we’ll see this through,” Harrison told the Arizona Republic.

    Harrison is not the first right-wing extremist to harass Arizona abortion-rights protesters. In early May, a group of white nationalists showed up to try to commit violence at a Phoenix protest.

    Harrison portrays herself as the victim. She is the perp.

  239. says

    Ukrainian Foreign Ministry hits Rep. Spartz over ‘baseless speculation’ on Zelensky chief of staff

    A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry alleged that Ukrainian-born Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) is “​​trying to earn extra political capital” after she sent a letter to President Biden regarding the head of the office of the president of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak.

    “Ukraine is deeply grateful to the United States of America for their unwavering support in the fight against Russia’s aggression. It’s hard to overestimate the political, military, and financial help Congress and President Joseph Biden’s administration provided to our country in four months of all-out war. We celebrate the personal role of the President of the United States in consolidating these efforts,” the spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, said in a post on Facebook on Saturday.

    “On this background of extensive support especially contrasts the recent actions and statements of US Congresswoman Victoria Spartz,” he continued. “They are an undisclosed attempt to bring back into American politics classic narratives of Russian propaganda about Ukraine’s leadership’s seemingly ties to Russia and to drag our state into US domestic politics.”

    A Republican official in the USA repeating Russian propaganda. Surprise, surprise.

    Nikolenko was referring to a letter that Spartz sent Biden on Friday in which she asked for his administration “to brief Congress on the performed due diligence and oversight procedures related to” Yermak and warned that people both in the U.S. and abroad had concerns about the top Ukrainian official.

    “As President Zelensky works very hard to build alliances with the west and our country, it is our responsibility to inform him if we might have any concerns with key people around him. It is also our obligation to the brave Ukrainian soldiers and strong Ukrainian people fighting this fight for freedom and international order for all of us,” she wrote to Biden.

    Nikolenko claimed that Spartz’s comments were “cynical” and “baseless speculation.”

    In a statement on Saturday, Spartz responded to Nikolenko’s Facebook post, making a series of allegations against Yermak. She alleged he had not properly handled peace negotiations with Moscow prior to the war, sought to prevent Ukraine from properly preparing for the conflict and delayed urgent military equipment purchases. Among other accusations, she also claimed that Yermak caused a Ukrainian operation to fail by leaking information about it to Belarus and Russia.

    “I encourage the Ministry to consider my statement with the kind of seriousness these questions about Mr. Yermak demand, instead of launching ad hominem attacks as they have thus far. Ukrainians and Americans will be better served by our governments responding with due diligence – not defensive platitudes,” she said.

    Spartz’s comments come amid the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine, which has raged on for more than 100 days. The Indiana Republican has visited Ukraine a handful of times during the war. […]

  240. says


    North Carolina Republicans want the state to destroy free EV charging stations

    I’m having a hard time getting through HB 1049, the North Carolina House Bill that basically demonizes electric vehicle charging stations because consumers aren’t getting free fossil fuels alongside them. [WF? !!!]

    The bill was sponsored entirely by Republicans: Reps. Keith Kidwell, Mark Brody, George Cleveland, Donnie Loftis, and Ben Moss. It requires businesses to disclose the percentage of what they’re charging customers that is “the result of the business providing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at no charge.” Businesses more than likely would be handing customers receipts showing 0%, given the Energy Department’s estimate that it costs just $6 for an EV with a 200-mile range and a 54kWh battery that is fully depleted to be completely recharged.

    The bill also requires publicly-funded EV charging stations on state-leased or state-owned property to come with free gas and diesel pumps. The same goes for county and city property [LOL LOL LOL]. And if anyone in those groups with EV charging stations on their property can’t adhere to those terms, the bill requires the Department of Transit to develop a system to disperse $50,000 for the sole purpose of using that money to dismantle EV charging stations. Make it make sense. […]

    EVs are significantly better for the planet, but the energy their charging stations receive isn’t being conjured from thin air. Charging stations receive power from local grids, which aren’t exactly the cleanest in this country. According to the Energy Information Administration, 61% of electricity generation in the U.S. came from fossil fuels last year. So if dirty energy is the concern, then rest assured that we’re doing just fine in that department. Plus, it’s not like one state throwing a tantrum over charging stations is going to magically change oil and gas output. CNN’s assessment of rising gas prices includes an industry unwilling to increase production due to fears of environmental rules actually working and demand for oil and gas plummeting. The bill was filed last month and passed its first reading shortly after, so it’s certainly got a ways to go before any North Carolinians should start worrying. This should hopefully give the lawmakers who sponsored the bill enough time to get a clue and drop the legislation altogether.

    Gas and diesel fuel pumps would cost a lot more to install and maintain than EV charging stations.

  241. says

    […] On Friday Trump delivered a campaign speech in Las Vegas for a couple of Republican candidates in Nevada. It was typically rife with lies and unbridled outrage triggered by figments of his overactive imagination. He regurgitated his delusional election fraud claims and flung infantile insults at his political foes. [Of course, you weren’t really thinking that would change, were you?]

    In addition to his standard narcissistic rambling and psychotic sermonizing, Trump also unleashed the following hysterical observation pulled directly out of his asinine recollection of a warped version of the past:

    “We have to stop fighting with each other and unify. That was happening during the greatest period, I believe, in our country’s history in many ways. Just before COVID came in from China – and that’s where it came from, Wuhan. It came from Wuhan. It can happen again. We were more unified just before that. Everybody was happy.”

    Trump is right if what he means by “everybody” is his dimwitted followers and the rage-fueled voices in his head. However, a reality-based remembrance of the Trump years reveals a nation that was more unified in hatred of Trump than happiness. After all, there were unprecedented, massive protests from the very beginning of his term. He had record low approval ratings that never reached 50%. He lost the lost popular vote twice. He lost reelection by over seven million votes. And how could he forget that he was impeached twice? A recent poll shows that even 42% of Republicans don’t want him to run in 2024.

    Does that sound like a nation that was happy and unified? Trump himself was never happy. He exhibited a constant state of outrage, throwing temper tantrums almost daily. And his animus was not reserved for Democrats. He regularly lashed out at Republicans who he deemed insufficiently worshipful.

    Trump’s seething anger has never waned in the months since he was deported back to Mar-a-Lago. He is still spewing the furious tirades that embody the whole of his public life. […]

    These are just two of the most recent examples of Trump’s descent into madness. Calling a Black Attorney General [New York Attorney General Letitia James] racist, and recalling his contentious term in office as a time of unity, are about as far removed from reality as one can get. The only worse mental afflictions would be the ones that infect anyone who continues to support Trump.


  242. says

    Wonkette: ‘Will No One Think Of How Elliot Page’s Abs Have Directly Hurt Poor Jordan Peterson?”

    ordan Peterson first skyrocketed to medium fame by being a dick to trans students in his class, so it is hardly any surprise that he is still clutching onto that rickety ass door frame for dear life. He’s spent the last few weeks on Twitter [complaining] about women failing to comply with his attractiveness standards and also trans people existing. It’s really unfair to him! People just going around living their lives or feeling good about themselves without even asking him if that would be okay with him. Is that freedom? Is this the future liberals want?

    In late June, Peterson was suspended from Twitter for a completely bananapants tweet in which he opined “Remember when “pride” was a sin?,” dead-named actor Elliot Page and raged against the “criminal physician” who removed his breasts. He was then informed that he could get his account back if he deleted the tweet, but Peterson refused, saying he would “rather die.” (he later deleted it, so perhaps that was not entirely true)

    On Friday, Peterson doubled down again on this nonsense in an interview with Kyle Kulinski on the podcast Krystal Kyle and Friends. When asked by Kulinski how exactly he considered her physician a criminal when it is entirely legal to perform such a surgery.

    “So my question is the physician really criminal? If you agree that adults can decide to transition, then why would the physician be criminal? Don’t adults have that right?” Kulinski asked.

    “Not everything legal isn’t criminal,” Peterson explained, clearly not recognizing how words work. “And do they have that right. See, I would’ve left [Elliot] Page alone if [he] hadn’t been parading [his] new abs in a fashion magazine. How many kids do you think [he] convinced to convert? One? A thousand?”

    The only possible answer here is “literally zero” because of how you can’t “convert” people to be trans.

    The implication is clear, though — Elliot Page struck the first blow by posing in a magazine and just existing in public and having abs, and poor, pitiful Jordan Peterson was just doing self-defense. Perhaps the real question is “How many people are just going to pose for magazines without even bothering to ask Jordan Peterson if he is okay with them doing so? One? A thousand?”

    This, by the way, would be what he was referring to: [image at the link]

    Unless someone actually is transgender, they’re not going to look at that and go “Oh wow, that could be me!” any more than they’d look at any picture of any other man and go “Oh wow, that could be me!”

    Kulinski then pointed out to Peterson that many years ago people believed that if gay people were publicly acknowledged that it would result in all of the children deciding to have same-sex relationships, “but really what happened is people are who they are.”

    A very agitated Peterson interrupted him and said “That is what happened” while Kulinski continued saying that the reason more people came out was because it was safer to do so.

    “No! That’s not what happened! You’re completely wrong! You’re utterly wrong! There’s nothing about that that’s right!” Peterson desperately cried.

    He then went on a whole ass diatribe about how he knew from the very beginning when he was asked to use someone’s correct pronouns in a classroom that this whole thing was just going to be a “psychogenic” fad and it was going to lead thousands of vulnerable adolescent girls to decide they want to be trans and to go through with major surgery and yadda yadda yadda. He seemed most concerned about adolescent girls, perhaps due to his interest in “redistributing sex” in order to prevent incel murder sprees.

    Jordan Peterson, I assure you, knows fuckall about teenage girls.

    As someone who was once a teenage girl who went through multiple phases (one of which involved wearing butterfly wings on the regular, plus a few others that were even more deeply embarrassing than that), I will absolutely confirm that during adolescence, widely regarded to be the “age of obsession,” a lot girls do absolutely go through phases and get all “this is who I AM!” about personas they decided to adopt all of 12 minutes ago. I will not deny that. What I will vehemently deny, however, is that any of them last as long as would be necessary to convince psychologists and do everything it takes in order to qualify for any kind of gender affirmation surgery.

    […] The thread that ties all of Peterson’s absurd beliefs together is that he very much believes that he has a certain ownership over women’s bodies and, indeed, any body coded as female. He believes he should get to tell us how to look, whether or not we can feel good about ourselves and our bodies, who we should be allowed to (or forced to) have sex with and even what gender we are allowed to be. If a person who is assigned female at birth realizes they are male and wants to transition, he sees that as them taking something away from him.

    What rang clear throughout this interview is that Peterson is truly a sad, pathetic, venomous creature. He has absolutely no interest in listening to anyone or having his beliefs interrogated, he just very desperately wants to believe he is right and for other people to simply take his word for it that he is right. If people were half as malleable in the way as Peterson claims they are, one would have to imagine that they would be more likely to just go along with the people like him who are pressuring them to fit into a particular mold instead of those of us who are saying “Hey, be whoever you are, that’s fine with us!”

  243. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @281:

    Gas and diesel fuel pumps would cost a lot more to install and maintain than EV charging stations.

    The republicans in the NC Legislature are fucking idiots. Not only would forcing free gas and diesel pumps alongside EV charging stations be impractical because of the environmental regulations related to underground storage tanks, the retail fuel dealers in the area would (rightly) cry foul because it would collapse their sales of fuels to the general public. Just another attempt by republicans to throw a monkey wrench into anything that might be considered progressive. I HATE REPUBLICANS!!!

  244. KG says

    Back in the Yoo-Kay, there are now, I think, ten Tory MPs who have made clear their intention to stand for the leadership: Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat, Jeremy Hunt, Suella Braverman, Grant Shapps, Nadhim Badawi, Penny Mordaunt. They are all pretty repulsive, as one would expect; only Hunt and Tugendhat have not served in Johnson’s government. I’d have said a couple of days ago Tugendhat was perhaps the least unpleasant, but remarks by one of his main supporters about the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the programme of transportation to Rwanda for asylum seekers indicate that he’s joining the rest of the crew in pandering to the far right. Remarkably, five of the ten are people of colour, but this should not fool anyone into thinking they would try to do anything about the systemic racism deeply embedded in policing, legal, educational and other areas: all are of the “I made it, why can’t they?” school of thought (or they wouldn’t be Tories). Sunak, who was Chancellor before he resigned just after Javid at the start of the landslide that forced Johnson to declare he would leave, is the current bookmakers’ favourite, but Johnson and his remaining supporters will do their best to sabotage him, blaming him for Johnson’s downfall. It seems clear Sunak has been planning his campaign for some months, so accusations of disloyalty and hypocrisy will have purchase. The ultra-vile Priti Patel is also thought to be contemplating a run.

    In related news, the Durham police have announced that the Labour leader and deputy leader, Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, have “no case to answer” in regard to claims they had broken Covid regulations in 2020. Both had promised to resign if fined. I’d say this is good news for them, but bad news for Labour, who would have had a chance to elect a more effective leader if Starmer had resigned – he has so far relied on not being either Johnson, or Jeremy Corbyn, to propel him into No. 10 after the next election; in two years as leader, he has completely failed to set out any positive vision or plan for the country. His slogans are “Security, prosperity, respect” – which would have done equally well for the British Union of Fascists (Starmer likes to pose against a backdrop of Union Jacks) – and “Make Brexit work”, while ruling out rejoining the Single Market or Customs Union – at a time when disillusionment with Brexit is at a high (55% in a recent poll said it had gone badly, as opposed to 33% saying it had gone well).

  245. StevoR says

    Legal Eagle has a disturbing new clip out here on what might be coming next post Roe vs Wade’s overturning.

    Other news Antarctica has just one insect species – as this article explains :

    But Global Overheating means it is in big trouble.

    Whilst in better or at least rather fascinating Cambrian era news :

    On a remarkable fossil of an ancestor of the arthropods – Stanleycaris hirpex – that’s recently been found and studied.

  246. says

    […] “We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “The choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream and the extreme, between moving forward and moving backwards, between allowing politicians to enter the most personal parts of our lives and protecting the right to privacy — yes, yes — embedded in our Constitution.”

    “This is the moment,” he continued, “to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans.”

    Biden told the tragic story of a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who had to travel across state lines to get an abortion because of Ohio’s 6-week abortion ban.

    “She was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life,” Biden recounted. “Ten years old — 10 years old! — raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, was forced to travel to another state.”

    Biden also gave a scathing critique of the high court’s ruling—a decision, he said, that wasn’t rooted in the Constitution or in history, but rather was a partisan power grab.

    “What we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power,” Biden charged.

    He further criticized the court for playing “fast and loose with the facts” of the case and said the ruling was driven by a “deep, long-seething antipathy” towards Roe and broader privacy rights.

    Quoting from the dissent offered by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Biden said, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them.”

    President Biden also got specific about what he needs from voters in order to pass a federal law guaranteeing abortion rights nationwide.

    “We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality,” Biden said, urging Americans to swarm the polls this fall and reverse the injustice the high court has visited upon the country.

    Biden also called it “extraordinary” that the majority challenged women to register their rage at the polls. “Women are not without electoral or political power,” Biden said, quoting a passage from the ruling. Riffing off that thought, Biden offered, “It’s my hope and strong belief that women will, in fact, turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights that have taken from them by the Court.”

    Likewise, Biden reminded Americans that things could go the other way, with Republicans gaining power and imposing a national ban on the procedure.

    “The Court’s decision has also been received by Republicans in Congress as a green light to go further and pass a national ban. A national ban,” the president repeated, noting that congressional Republicans are already discussing the prospect.

    “That will mean the right to choose will be illegal nationwide if, in fact, they succeed,” he added, issuing a veto threat. “As long as I’m President, it won’t happen, because I’ll veto it.”

    But ultimately, the president said the final verdict will rest with Americans. […]


  247. says

    Ukraine update:

    […] Prior to last night, there had been anywhere from a dozen to 18 ammo and C2 (command and control) targets hit by HIMARS and other Ukrainian long-distance rockets. But last night, the floodgates opened.

    [Tweet and map at the link, showing at least 11 new missile strikes on Russian military targets by HIMARS]

    This post will be a roundup of those attacks, demonstrating the culmination of years of pent-up Ukrainian frustrations—knowing where Russia kept its weapons stores and being unable to do anything about it. Until now.
    Shakhtarsk [tweet and video at the link]

    Alchevs’k [tweet and video at the link]

    Chystiakove [tweet and video at the link]

    […] [A map showing how drastically Russian ranged artillery fire has been dialed back] […]

    – New Kakhovka, Kherson region. – Yesterday’s attack on the command post of the 49th army, air defense, and warehouses with missiles for air defense. According to preliminary data, more than a hundred were destroyed, about 200 were wounded, half of whom were severe, some of whom would not survive.

    Nova Kakhovka is east of Kherson, and is strategically important for two reasons: 1) it is the mouth of the canal that delivers water to all of Russian-occupied Crimea, and 2) is the location of a major “filtration camp,” Russia’s version of concentration camps.

    Down in Kherson, the barracks of the Russian Rosgvardia national guard—Putin’s personal army—got hit by HIMARS overnight. […]

    Igor has a point—remember when we worried about Russia interdicting arms supplies into the country? That never happened, and Russia has zero capability to do so. Their Air Force is afraid to fly more than a few kilometers from friendly territory, and certainly won’t push deep into Ukrainian airspace. And remember that Russian air strike against an unguarded Snake Island, attempting to destroy equipment they left behind? They dropped four bomb, three missed the island altogether and landed in water. Forget trying to hit anything accurately.

    They lack precision-guided rockets, preferring to use their unguided trash against residential buildings, needing only to target the general vicinity of a neighborhood to accomplish their terrorism. Their vaunted Spetsnaz special forces units (akin to our Green Berets or Navy SEALS) are clearly incapable of operating behind enemy lines. So HIMARS and its ammo pods and 155 mm artillery shells and all that good stuff can be railed and trucked to the front lines with little impediment.

    The same used to be true for Russia and their supplies, so long as units stayed close to their supply railheads. But that’s no longer the case.

    HIMARS is having a notable and real impact on Ukrainian morale. […]

    Man at the site of a vicious Russian attack sees a CNN reporter, and his response is a gleeful “HIMARS!” That certainly cuts across any language barriers.

    It certainly looks like Ukraine has a long list of targets to hit, limited only by the $840,000 ammo pods the United States can deliver. At some point, however, when they’re closer to the big expected late-summer, early-fall counterattack, these strikes will start hitting Russia’s air defenses, preparing the way for drones and warcraft to pummel Russia’s front-line defensive emplacements.

    We can really see why the U.S. Marines are ditching all their tube artillery in favor of HIMARS.