1. says

    More good news:

    A judge has ruled that Dominion can call Murdoch to testify in the lawsuit against Fox News.

    Former V.P. Mike Pence will not appeal the judges order for him to testify in Jack Smith’s January 6 probe. So, yes, Pence will testify under oath.

  2. says


    A Maryland sheriff has been accused in a federal indictment of requesting machine guns for the sheriff’s office but sending the weapons instead to a gun dealer to loan out to customers for profit, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

    Frederick County Sheriff Charles Austin Jenkins worked with firearms-related business owner Robert Justin Krop to request the weapons for “evaluation and demonstration” to law enforcement — despite knowing there would be no such demonstration, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. […]


  3. says

    This is probably good news:

    […] McConnell, who hasn’t spoken to Trump since December of 2020, didn’t make any statement in response to the former president’s arrest Tuesday. He didn’t say anything when news of Trump’s indictment broke Thursday, either. […]


  4. says

    For the convenience of readers of this thread, here are a few links back to the previous group of comments:
    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strikes 1931 abortion ban from Michigan law
    Grand jury hears how Trump tried to seize voting machines despite being told he lacked authority
    Ukraine Update: What happens next in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be down to a single word: Ammo
    Today’s dose of homophobia on [Russian] state TV:

  5. says

    Exonerated Central Park Five member mimics Trump with full page ad against former president

    A member of the Central Park Five has taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times as an open letter to former President Trump after he was arraigned on 34 felony counts related to hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

    “Over 30 years ago, Donald Trump took out full page ads calling for my execution,” Yusef Salaam, a candidate for New York City Council, tweeted Tuesday. “On the day he was arrested and arraigned, here is my ad in response.”

    Salaam detailed how his wrongful conviction, his time entangled with the justice system, and Trump’s ads and subsequent news show appearances was an experience that changed his life.

    “Now, after several decades and an unfortunate and disastrous presidency, we all know exactly who Donald J. Trump is — a man who seeks to deny justice and fairness for others, while claiming only innocence for himself,” Salaam wrote.

    In 1989, Salaam was one of five Black and Latino teenagers wrongly convicted of sexually assaulting a white woman in New York’s Central Park. At the time, Trump bought a full-page ad in The New York Times calling for the state to adopt the death penalty over the case.

    “I want to hate these murderers and I always will,” Trump wrote in his ad. “I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.”

    Despite Salaam and the four others — Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray — being exonerated in 2002, as well as DNA evidence identifying the actual attacker, Trump never walked back his comments.

    […] Salaam also took time to ridicule Trump’s social media posts since his indictment.

    “Here is my message to you, Mr. Trump,” Salaam said. “In response to the multiple federal and state criminal investigations that you are facing, you responded by warning of “potential death and destruction,” and by posting a photograph of yourself with a baseball bat, next to a photo of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. These actions, just like your actions leading up to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, are an attack on our safety.”

    Salaam said Americans should fight to uphold the civil liberties grounded in the Constitution every day, even as people like Trump seek to “obliterate” them.

    “Now that you have been indicted and are facing criminal charges, I do not resort to hatred, bias or racism — as you once did,” Salaam said. “Even though thirty-four years ago you effectively called for my death and the death of four other innocent children, I wish you no harm.”

    Salaam said he is putting his faith in the judicial system to get to the truth of this case and that he hopes Trump gets what the Exonerated Five did not — “the presumption of innocence and a fair trial.”

    “And if the charges are proven and you are found guilty, I hope that you endure whatever penalties are imposed with the same strength and dignity that the Exonerated Five showed as we served our punishment for a crime we did not commit,” Salaam said. […]

    See also:

  6. says

    Wonkette: “Good News! NJ Now Safe State For Trans Refugees! Bad News: Idaho Creating Many Trans Refugees”

    Idaho Gov. Brad Little yesterday signed into law House Bill 71, banning all gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. That makes Idaho the 10th state in the US to ban such care. Doctors who provide gender-affirming care could face up to 10 years in prison for providing care that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and most other medical professional groups. Rightwing Idaho lawmakers are quite certain that they know better than trans kids, their parents, and medical professionals what’s good for them.

    In a statement to lawmakers, Little attempted to frame the ban as a very moderate, thoughtful compromise, writing

    “I recognize our society plays a role in protecting minors from surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies. […] However, as policymakers we should take great caution whenever we consider allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children.”

    You can ignore that last sentence about being cautious, unless perhaps Little was congratulating himself and the state Lege for not trying again to pass the 2022 version of the bill, which would have imposed life sentences on medical staff who provided such care, and for parents who authorized it.

    You can see in the bill text that the first version kept that life sentence, so how’s that for a break for doctors, huh? [image of bill’s text is available at the link]

    The 2022 bill would also have penalized parents who sought gender-affirming care for their kids outside Idaho, while the new law doesn’t mention it. No doubt that’s on the way in a future session.

    As with similar laws in other states, HB 71 prohibits the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatments. It also prohibits gender-affirming surgery for patients under the age of 18, although even the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Bruce Skaug (R), acknowledged during hearings that there’s no evidence that any Idaho doctors or clinics provide such surgery in the first place.

    Not surprisingly, as the Idaho Statesman reports, the state Lege brushed aside testimony from trans youth and their families, who said that gender-affirming medical care was life-saving:

    Eve Devitt, a 17-year-old transgender girl, in February told a House committee that taking estrogen for the last three years improved her mental health, and that hormone therapy helped save her life.

    “I’ve been able to get myself off a cliff that I wasn’t sure if I would ever find myself off of,” Devitt said. “I feel so much better and more complete with myself.”

    Presumably, Devitt will still be able to get hormone treatments outside Idaho, so we suppose the Lege will somewhere down the line find a way to ban that, too, to “protect” her and other trans kids. OK, ACLU and Human Rights Campaign, bring on the federal lawsuits!

    Fortunately, as more states pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws, other states are pushing back via “safe haven” laws or executive orders, which is wonderful but also gets me a little weepy because Jesus Christ on a solar electric scooter, how the hell is that even necessary in America? New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order Monday to make the state safe for people from states where gender-affirming care is banned or restricted.

    The order, Murphy’s office announced, directs

    all state departments and agencies to protect all persons, including health care professionals and patients, against potential repercussions resulting from providing, receiving, assisting in providing or receiving, seeking, or traveling to New Jersey to obtain gender-affirming health care services.

    […] The executive order forbids the extradition of any person in the state, whether they’re a New Jersey resident or from elsewhere, to any other state for “providing, receiving, or otherwise facilitating gender-affirming health care service” that’s legal in New Jersey. It also forbids state agencies from cooperating with other states’ criminal or civil investigations aimed at punishing providers or recipients of gender-affirming care.

    […] Republican state legislators in New Jersey have tried to jump on the trans-panic bandwagon, filing six bills that would target LGBTQ+ rights, including a ban on gender affirming care, but both houses of the state Legislature have Democratic majorities, and Murphy would also say — what’s that charming New Jersey phrase? — “Do not remember it!” [Forget about it! Otherwise written as “Fuhgeddaboudit”]

  7. says

    Elite Russian security officer who defected calls Putin a paranoid ‘war criminal’

    A former officer with President Vladimir Putin’s elite security unit has defected and labeled the Russian leader a paranoid “war criminal” who has lost his grip on reality.

    Gleb Karakulov said he served as captain and engineer in a field unit of the presidential communications department, the Federalnaya Sluzhba Okhrany (FSO), or Federal Protective Service, one of the most secretive branches of Russia’s security services.

    In a sweeping interview released Tuesday, he said that the Russian president has become increasingly paranoid, and that he prefers to avoid airplanes and travels on a train that looks like a regular train but has been adapted for Putin’s needs.

    Karakulov, the first official of his rank — and with depth of knowledge about Putin’s life — to speak on record, told the Dossier Center, a London-based investigative group funded by former Russian oligarch-turned-opposition-figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky, that he fled his homeland in October because of his objections to the war in Ukraine.

    The group released on its website a transcript of his interview in Russian, which NBC News has translated.

    “I consider this man a war criminal,” Karakulov said about Putin. “It’s time to end this war and it’s time to stop being silent,” he added, before explaining that he was sharing his story in the hope that other Russians would speak out, too.

    Putin had become “very closed off,” shielding himself from the rest of the world and “his perception of reality is distorted,” he said, adding that his former boss was living in a “kind of information vacuum,” because he does not use the Internet or a cellphone and receives information only from people who are directly close to him.

    He added that the Russian leader had become increasingly “paranoid” about his personal security and used a train that cannot be easily tracked to get around. […]

    Karakulov is currently on the wanted list in the publicly available database of the Russian interior ministry, where the charges against him are not specified.

    […] He also denied he was unpatriotic. “Patriotism is when you love your country,” he said. “In this case, our homeland needs to be saved. There is a crazy and terrible war going on.”

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ohio Republican lawmaker falsely claims to be MIT graduate

    A freshman state lawmaker in Ohio falsely claimed to have graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the prestigious university, and he has stepped down from a House committee leadership post after that revelation.

    Rep. Dave Dobos, a Columbus-area Republican, attended MIT in the 1970s and 1980 and studied economics but did not receive a degree, MIT’s deputy director of media relations, Sarah McDonnell, told, which first reported the discrepancy Tuesday.

    House Speaker Jason Stephens has since accepted Dobos’ resignation as vice chair of the Higher Education Committee

    Bolded for extra irony.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    Vatican says China has unilaterally appointed bishop to Shanghai

    Chinese authorities have appointed a new bishop to Shanghai, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in China, the Vatican said on Tuesday, in an apparent violation of a bilateral pact between the two states.

    The Holy See was informed “a few days ago” of the decision by China to transfer Bishop Shen Bin from Haimen, in Jiangsu province, to the diocese of Shanghai, the Vatican said.

    It added that it had learned of his official instalment earlier on Tuesday from the media…

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    Putin sacks top general over disastrous failed assault

    Vladimir Putin has fired one of the top generals leading Russia’s forces in Ukraine, after an attack on the eastern town of Vuhledar ended with dozens of tanks being destroyed.

    General Rustam Muradov was sacked in the aftermath of the failure, the Moscow Times reported, citing officials in the Russian defence ministry.

    Michael Kofman, a military analyst, told the newspaper: “Muradov had the Russian military repeatedly attacking in small mechanized formations through minefields, across open terrain. And they accomplished nothing in Vuhledar.”

    The battle for Vuhledar, some 100 miles south west of Bakhmut, is said to have been one of the most embarrassing defeats suffered by Moscow in the entire war, with Russian forces reportedly losing 130 armoured vehicles…

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    Explosions heard in signs of Ukraine counter-offensive

    Explosions have been heard in Russian-occupied Melitopol amid growing rumours that Ukraine is laying the groundwork for a counter-offensive.

    Ivan Federov, the ousted Ukrainian mayor of the city, wrote on Telegram: “An explosion was just heard in the northern and western districts of the city. We are clarifying the information.”

    There have been reports over the past couple of weeks of more explosions than usual around the town. On Monday, a car bomb reportedly injured a pro-Russia local politician in Melitopol.

    It comes as Ukraine ramps up its plans to conduct a counter-offensive in the coming weeks.

    Russian forces are also reportedly building up their forces in preparation for an attack and apparently trying to get local people to leave the town…

  12. says

    Billy Kenber, The Times:

    Tory MP Scott Benton offered to table parliamentary questions, leak a confidential policy document and lobby ministers on behalf of gambling industry investors who proposed paying him thousands of pounds a month. Undercover investigation for The Times: [video at the (Twitter) link - pretty incriminating!]

    Breaking: Scott Benton HAS had the whip suspended following Times investigation

  13. says

    Meduza – “Standup comics investigated after performing parody skit of Tatarsky assassination”:

    State Duma Deputy Yana Lantratova called on Russia’s Investigative Committee to conduct an inquiry into a parody performance mocking the assassination of the war propagandist Vladlen Tatarsky.

    Tatarsky, the self-styled “war correspondent” whose real name is Maxim Fomin, was killed by a blast last Sunday, after one of the guests at his public reading in St. Petersburg handed him a plaster statuette filled with explosives.

    The two standup comics, Garik Oganisyan and Alexander Dolgopolov, performed a skit, in which Dolgopolov handed a statuette to Oganisyan. The parody took place in a Berlin venue, and there was laughter in the room, according to the video footage.

    [short video clip at the link]

    Deputy Lantratova insists that “humor based in human tragedy is a crime,” and that “society must react” to incidents like this.

    The Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin has ordered an inquiry into the performance and its possible criminal content.

  14. tomh says

    Rupert Murdoch Can Be Forced to Testify in Defamation Trial, Judge Says
    Katie Robertson / April 5, 2023

    The witness list for the Fox News $1.6 billion defamation trial now has more big names than a prime-time lineup.

    Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch could be forced to testify in person, the judge overseeing the trial said on Wednesday.

    Other high-profile Fox employees expected to testify in the case, which was brought by Dominion Voting Systems, include the hosts Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and Bret Baier.

    In a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, the judge, Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court, said that if Dominion issued a subpoena for Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corp, and other corporate officers, he “would not quash it” and “would compel them to come,” because they were directors of a Delaware corporation.

    Lawyers for Dominion have indicated they want Mr. Murdoch to testify, as well as Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and the chief executive of Fox. Dominion said it might also call Viet Dinh, Fox’s chief legal officer, and Paul Ryan, a Fox board member, to the stand.

    “Both parties have made these witnesses very relevant,” the judge said.

    Last week, Judge Davis dealt a major blow to Fox’s defense, saying in a decision that there was enough evidence to conclude that the statements aired on Fox about Dominion were not true…

    Judge Davis said the case would proceed to a trial, and it would be up to a jury to determine whether Fox had knowingly spread the false claims and to decide on any damages.

    The trial is scheduled to begin on April 17.

  15. says

    MIA – “[Viewpoint Piece in] JAMA Psychiatry: No Evidence that Psychiatric Treatments Produce ‘Successful Outcomes'”:

    In a viewpoint piece published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers write that there is no evidence that psychiatric interventions lead to “successful” outcomes. Successful outcomes, they write, include “the prevention of undesirable events, such as death and disability, and the achievement of desirable ones, such as remission.”

    Psychiatry, unlike other medical specialties, has not developed efforts to investigate this question. They write:

    Despite advances in measurement-based psychiatric care, clinical [success rate] reporting systems do not exist for most psychiatric services. This applies to all psychiatric treatments, including pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and neuromodulation.

    The viewpoint was written by Kenneth Freedland and Charles Zorumski at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

    One way to measure “successful outcomes” is to assess whether current treatments are more effective “for a variety of clinically important outcomes” than previous treatments. Other medical specialties can point to such progress.

    Freedland and Zorumski write, “Cardiologists, oncologists, and other medical specialists can point to temporal trends in success rates for a variety of clinically important outcomes to confirm that current treatments are more effective than the ones that were available 20 or 30 years ago.”

    Yet, they note, “Similar data are hard to find for psychiatric disorders.”

    The two authors don’t delve into the outcomes data that do exist, which tell of a public health failure in psychiatric care. Instead, all the data today tells of worsening mental health in the United States, particularly among the young….

    And the data also shows that current interventions may contribute to that decline….

    The way the authors present their argument

    suggests that psychiatric treatments have been shown in the past to lead to successful outcomes; yet, as they write here, there is no data on whether medical treatments for psychiatric disorders, past or present, produce that bottom-line result. As such, this paper highlights the fact that there is no evidence that psychiatric interventions do more good than harm.

  16. says

  17. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 20.

    […] Former George W. Bush official Ari Fleischer [spoke about retaliation].

    Here’s what I hope happens, Sean. I earnestly hope that conservative prosecutors in rural areas of America indict Bill Clinton, indict Hillary Clinton, indict Hunter Biden. Their only way and return to the norms is for one side to realize if they go too far the other will match them. And that is not the way we settle our disputes in America, they should be settled at the ballot box, not through the courts, but Republicans cannot unilaterally disarm. You can’t let them try to interfere in the 2024 election by doing to Donald Trump what they’re doing. And I say that as somebody who will criticize Donald Trump when he goes too far. The Democrats are violating the norms and they’re especially doing it through this case, this weak case, in Manhattan.

    Bill Clinton? Hillary Clinton? Republicans are also complaining that the crimes Trump is charged with should have passed the statute of limitations, but Fleischer wants local prosecutors reaching back to, what, the 1990s to get Bill Clinton? And it seems safe to assume that if the Justice Department under Trump could not find a way to “lock her up,” there’s nothing to prosecute Hillary Clinton for. Maybe Hunter Biden went on a bender in a county with a Republican prosecutor sometime, but this is a ridiculous idea unless you’re solely motivated by revenge—which Fleischer can confidently assume his audience on Sean Hannity’s show is.

    Fleischer, as a Republican of the Karl Rove school, also knows that projection is the way to go, accusing Democrats of trying to interfere in the 2024 election to distract from the fact that Trump’s alleged crimes are about an effort to cover up his sexual encounters until after the 2016 election, and shifting the burden of “violating the norms” from Trump onto Democrats. But we’re not talking about norms here. We’re talking about laws, and whether Trump broke them.

    Republicans cannot be allowed to shift the question from where it belongs—can the Manhattan DA prove that Trump broke the law and get a jury to convict him? […] There are enough ambitious Republican prosecutors in this country that if they thought they could get a court to allow them to charge Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden with a crime, they would already have done it. This isn’t a serious threat of legal action, it’s a media strategy, and it’s the media’s job (outside of Fox News, which is obviously pushing it) to ensure that it fails to gain traction.


  18. tomh says

    On the same day that Trump was charged…
    ABC News:
    Stormy Daniels must pay $122K in Trump legal bills for failed defamation lawsuit: appeals court

    LOS ANGELES — Stormy Daniels must pay nearly $122,000 of Donald Trump’s legal fees that were racked up in connection with the porn actor’s failed defamation lawsuit, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

    Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement days before the 2016 presidential election.

    She sued him for defamation after he dismissed her claims of being threatened to keep quiet about the tryst as a “total con job.”

    In all, Daniels has been ordered to pay more than $600,000 in Trump’s legal fees, tweeted Harmeet Dillon, one of his attorneys in the case.

    That includes some $300,000 in attorney’s fees that Daniels previously was ordered to pay.

    [From CNN] ” Dismissing the lawsuit in October 2018, District Judge S. James Otero said Trump’s statement was protected by the First Amendment.

    “The Court agrees with Mr. Trump’s argument because the tweet in question constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States. The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement,” Otero wrote at the time.”

    After a federal appeals court upheld that award last year, Daniels stated: “I will go to jail before I pay a penny.”

    After a federal appeals court upheld that award last year, Daniels stated: “I will go to jail before I pay a penny.”

  19. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian (support them if you can!) Ukraine liveblog. Their latest summary:

    President Emmanuel Macron met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, and told Xi: “I know I can count on you to bring back Russia to reason.” The French president, who arrived on Wednesday for a three-day state visit, shook hands with Xi outside the Great Hall of the People, the heart of power in China’s capital. Reuters quotes the French president saying: “The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to stability. I know I can count on you to bring back Russia to reason and everyone back to the negotiating table.” Macron has said during his trip that Beijing can play a “major role” in finding a path to peace in the conflict and welcomed China’s “willingness to commit to a resolution”.

    Ukraine has made what the Financial Times calls its “most explicit statement of Ukraine’s interest in negotiations” since cutting off peace talks last year in April, saying that it is willing to discuss the future of Crimea. In an interview with the Financial Times, Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said: “If we will succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and when we will be on the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open a diplomatic page to discuss this issue. It doesn’t mean that we exclude the liberation of Crimea by our army.”

    It remains unclear who was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines between Russia and Germany which spewed gas into the Baltic last year, Sweden’s prosecution authority, which is investigating the incident, said on Thursday. “We are working unconditionally and turning over every stone and leaving nothing to chance,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement. Ljungqvist told Reuters that “the clear main scenario” was that a state sponsored group was behind the sabotage, but that an independent group was still “theoretically possible”. He also said that the type of explosive used in the bombings ruled out “a large portion of actors”.

    The Russian girl sent to an orphanage after drawing an anti-war sketch at school has been taken from the facility by her mother. Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, said: “Masha did not want to go to her mother at first, and her opinion is legally required to be taken into account. Now her position has changed – she told me this herself on the phone. Olga has already taken Masha from the social rehabilitation centre. Let’s hope that everything will work out for mum and daughter.” Lvova-Belova published a picture on her official Telegram which she claimed showed the reunited child and mother. The Hague-based international criminal court (ICC) last month issued an arrest warrant against the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Lvova-Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting children from Ukraine and the unlawful transfer of people to Russia from Ukraine.

    Bilateral relations between Sweden and Hungary are at a low point, prime minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyás, told a media briefing on Thursday, calling on Stockholm to take steps to boost confidence. Hungary is one of two countries holding up Sweden’s accession to Nato.

    Also from there:

    The head of Russia’s private Wagner militia group has said there are no signs of Ukrainian forces leaving the eastern city of Bakhmut, the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle of Russia’s war.

    Fighting continued to rage on in the western part of the city, Yevgeny Prigozhin posted to his Telegram account today. He wrote:

    It must be said clearly that the enemy is not going anywhere.

    [You’re the fucking enemy. Get out of their town and their country.]

    Prigozhin’s remarks came a day after Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, hinted at the potential for a withdrawal of forces from eastern Ukraine’s devastated “fortress” city.

    Ukrainian troops face a difficult situation in Bakhmut, Zelenskiy said at a Wednesday news conference in Poland, but Kyiv would take the “corresponding” decisions to protect them if they risk being encircled by Russian forces.

    The Ukrainian leader said his country’s troops in Bakhmut sometimes advanced a little only to be pushed back by Russian forces, but that they remained inside the city.

  20. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “French unions to hold day of strikes after talks with prime minister fail”:

    Hundreds of thousands of people across France are expected to protest on Thursday against Emmanuel Macron’s rise in the minimum pension age from 62 to 64, after talks between trade unions and the prime minister failed to ease tensions.

    Cyril Chabanier, speaking on behalf of France’s eight main unions, said: “We again told the prime minister that the only democratic outcome would be the text’s withdrawal. The prime minister replied that she wished to maintain the text, a serious decision.”

    Macron is facing the biggest challenge of his second term as president over his controversial changes to the pension system – raising the minimum age from 62 to 64, and accelerating an increase in the number of years required to qualify for a full pension. Trade unions have been leading coordinated on-off strike days since January and polls have shown two-thirds of the French public oppose the government’s changes.

    France’s constitutional council will give its final say on the pensions proposals on 14 April, the last step before the changes are signed into law.

    While Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT trade union, warned of a “serious democratic crisis” in France, Macron was on a visit to China, where his entourage denied any democratic crisis at home, saying the pensions changes had been central to Macron’s election manifesto and he was voted in based on that manifesto.

    Protesters at Paris demonstrations in recent weeks have said that a significant number of people on the left voted for the centrist Macron last spring in order to keep out the far-right Marine Le Pen, not in support of his manifesto, and he must therefore adapt his policy.

    “Indian government accused of rewriting history after edits to schoolbooks”:

    The Indian government has been accused of rewriting history to fit its Hindu nationalist agenda after school textbooks were edited to remove references to Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to Hindu nationalism, as well as mention of a controversial religious riot in which the prime minister, Narendra Modi, was implicated.

    Textbooks were also revised to remove chapters on the history of the Mughals, the Muslim rulers who controlled much of India between the 16th and 19th centuries.

    Since the BJP came to power in 2014, there have been multiple amendments to textbooks, with critics alleging a “saffronisation” of the curriculum in schools and universities, a reference to the colour favoured by Hindu nationalists….

    “Silvio Berlusconi diagnosed with leukaemia, Italian reports say”:

    Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been diagnosed with leukaemia, according to reports, a day after he was admitted to intensive care with breathing problems.

    The 86-year-old was admitted to Milan’s San Raffaele hospital on Wednesday, where he is being treated in the cardiology unit.

    Corriere della Sera reported that the media tycoon, who was only discharged from the same hospital last week, has leukaemia while Ansa news reports that he is being treated for “a serious blood disorder” and related cardiovascular problems….

  21. says

    Guardian – “Revealed: royals took more than £1bn income from controversial estates”:

    King Charles and the late Queen Elizabeth II have received payments equivalent to more than £1bn from two land and property estates that are at the centre of a centuries-old debate over whether their profits should be given to the public instead.

    An investigation by the Guardian has established the full scale of income extracted by the royals from the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, which run giant portfolios of land and property across England.

    The duchies operate as professionally run real estate empires that manage swathes of farmland, hotels, medieval castles, offices, shops and some of London’s prime luxury real estate. They also have substantial investment portfolios, but pay no corporation tax or capital gains tax.

    Duchy accounts, held in parliamentary and state archives, reveal how the queen and her first-born son, in his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall, benefited from a huge increase in their revenues from the duchies during her seven-decade reign.

    When Charles, 74, became king last year, the Duchy of Cornwall automatically passed to his son, Prince William, 40, transforming him, on paper, into a billionaire and one of the largest landowners in England. He can expect an annual payment of at least £20m.

    The royal family’s claim to the income from the duchies stems from archaic charters dating back to when the country was divided into medieval fiefdoms.

    Ever since the advent of parliamentary democracy, however, generations of MPs have challenged the arrangement and called for duchy profits to be paid to the Treasury instead. Parliamentary debate has often coincided with the accession of a new monarch, amid renewed scrutiny over their public and private sources of wealth.

    The royals insist their duchy income is “private” and the government treats it as entirely separate from the sovereign grant, the annual payment the royal family receives from the government to cover its official costs. That too has risen dramatically in recent times, and costs the taxpayer £86m a year….

  22. says

    Some YT videos:

    All In – “Hayes: Why Trump’s indictment may not be a ‘political gift’”:

    Chris Hayes: “Since 2016, there is pretty good evidence that has accrued—maybe counterintuitively, but robust—that the more attention voters pay to Donald Trump, the less they like him.”

    All In – “New texts reveal how Fox became one giant infomercial for MyPillow”:

    In addition to being a major advertiser for Fox, Mike Lindell also regularly promotes outlandish conspiracy theories. Thanks to the Dominion lawsuit we now know how Tucker Carlson’s producers handled that predicament behind the scenes.

    Taylor Swift, “Lavender Haze (Acoustic Version)”

    Sault, “Up All Night”

  23. says

    Ruslan Trad:

    Reports of shooting in two villages in Ingushetia. It is not clear how many fighters are involved, but it is an attack on Russian security forces, with reinforcements arriving on the scene. This is another security incident in the region after a recent attack in Chechnya.

    On March 27, on the border of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, a Road Patrol Service (DPS) post was attacked. On April 3, a regime of counter-terrorist operations was introduced on the territory of the Malgobek area because of security accidents.

    The fighters who last night attacked the Russian troops in Ingushetia were most likely not killed in the fight with the reinforcements, as was previously stated by official sources. The militants retreated to the mountainous areas. 2 Russians were killed, 6 wounded in the attack. [RFE/RL is now saying three were killed.]

    Russian authorities are already offering 3 million rubles ($37,000) for any information about the whereabouts of the fighters that attacked the Russian troops in two villages in Ingushetia. The official statements said earlier that the fighters were killed.

  24. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    “ISW: Putin likely creating conditions for further repressions in occupied territories”:

    Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s recent comments on “terrorism” and threats to Russian security are likely meant to set the conditions for further repressions in occupied territories of Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update.

    During a meeting with the Russian National Security Council on April 5, Putin framed Russia’s efforts to consolidate its control over Ukraine’s occupied territories “as a matter of internal security and rule of law,” the ISW said.

    “Putin called for the continued economic, legal, and social integration of occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts into the Russian Federation and emphasized the importance of Russian “restoration” efforts in occupied areas in facilitating the integration process,” the update read.

    He also accused Ukraine of “threatening civilians in occupied areas” and spoke of recent “terrorist attacks” against Russian collaborators in occupied territories, referring to Ukrainian partisan actions.

    Recently on April 3, a car bomb that went off in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast seriously wounded local collaborator Maksym Zubariev. According to Russian state-controlled media, Ukrainian partisans also targeted Serhii Skovyrk, a Melitopol collaborator responsible for policing, on March 23.

    In response to Ukrainian partisan activities, Putin called on local Ukrainian citizens to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, “explicitly encouraging collaborators and informants in occupied areas,” the ISW wrote. [Alternatively: get the fuck out of their country.]

    “Lithuania to send $44 million worth of military aid to Ukraine”:

    The Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas on April 6 announced that his country will provide Ukraine with a new military package that will amount to 41 million euros ($44 million).

    “It (the aid) will consist of sent equipment, new acquisitions, contributions to international funds,” Anušauskas said on Twitter.

    Just a day before Lithuanian announced the new aid, the Czech Republic and Poland on April 5 also announced their latest military package for Ukraine….

  25. says

    J.F.C. – ProPublica – “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire”:

    In late June 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.

    If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.

    For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat, and to Crow’s sprawling ranch in East Texas. And Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks.

    The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said….

    So much more at the link.

  26. says

    Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted:

    About basics. The basis for real negotiations with RF is the complete withdrawal of Russian armed groups beyond the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine in 1991. Including #Crimea. There is no question of any territorial concessions or bargaining of our sovereign rights.

  27. says

    Meduza – “Ukrainians install screen on border with Belarus and broadcast war footage”:

    In Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, a large screen has reportedly been set up on the border with Belarus and is being used to show footage from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

    In a video posted by the Polish-owned Belarusian-language broadcaster Belsat, the screen is shown playing statements from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko about his support for Russia, as well as clips of Russian strikes on Ukraine that were purportedly fired from Belarus.

    The video also shows photos of the bodies of civilians in Bucha who were killed during Russia’s occupation of the town, as well as an address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Belarusians.

    [video at the link]

    According to Belsat, its readers confirmed that the broadcast is clearly visible and audible from Belarusian territory. The Belarusian authorities have not commented on the screen’s appearance, the independent Belarusian outlet Zerkalo reported, though Belarus’s State Border Committee has previously complained that Ukrainian border guards have engaged in “provocations” such as singing the Ukrainian national anthem and yelling, “I’m going to throw a grenade!” [LOL]

  28. StevoR says

    A senior member of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament Working Group has slammed the Liberal Party’s decision to oppose a referendum on the Voice as “deceitful” and accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of “lying”. Speaking to ABC 7.30, Professor Marcia Langton, co-chair of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament design group, said Mr Dutton’s announcement will fuel confusion in the community.

    “I think his opposition to the Voice relies absolutely on deceit and misrepresentations. And, and I have to say, a great deal of ignorance,” she said.

    “He wants to sow confusion and doubt, so that the undecided people and the people who are wavering, because they’re starting to think ‘Yeah, I haven’t seen any detail’ … they think that he’s able to, you know, swing them to a No vote to secure what he believes is his constituency.”

    Source :

    First Nations communities have accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of taking conversations he had with them out of context, and using them as a reason to oppose a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament. … (snip)…Mr Seelander said the Voice was not a key issue of discussion with Mr Dutton.

    “We were a bit confused by his comments, because that certainly wasn’t discussed when we recently visited Canberra,” he told the ABC.

    “Ninety-nine per cent of the meeting was to do with the issues in our community and around the abolishment of the CDC card. There was not much time spent on gaining our perspective on the Voice.”

    ‘They are Aboriginal too’
    Mr Dutton said he expected the Voice would be filled with academics, rather than community leaders.

    But Palm Island Bwgcolman elder Elizabeth Clay told the ABC she disagrees with Mr Dutton’s statements that Aboriginal academics won’t represent the wider Indigenous community. “I believe the academics will represent us all, who cares if they are academics or not, they are Aboriginal too,” she said.

    “It has to be a Canberra voice, because that’s where Parliament House is. It has to come from Canberra, I think they will represent us all,” she said.

    Source :

    On ABC’s Q&A, opposition spokeswoman for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said: “The Australian constitution is the only constitution of a first world nation with a colonial history that does not recognise its first people.”

    “That’s the truth,” she said.

    Is that correct? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

    The verdict
    Ms Burney’s claim checks out.

    Fact Check contacted experts for assistance in determining which countries fit the criteria of a “first world nation with a colonial history” and have first people.

    The common candidates among these experts were Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America.

    Fact Check considered and rejected other potential countries, so the list is a short one.

    Having said that, Canada, New Zealand and the United States all provide greater constitutional recognition of their first people than Australia.

    Source :

  29. Reginald Selkirk says

    Foxconn founder Gou says he will seek Taiwan presidency

    Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, said on Wednesday he would seek the presidential nomination for Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), for a second time.

    Gou stepped down as Foxconn chief in 2019 and made a presidential bid that year, but dropped out after he failed to win the nomination for the KMT, which traditionally favours close ties with China.

    Speaking to reporters at a hotel next to Taiwan’s main international airport at Taoyuan on his return from a weeklong trip to the United States, Gou said the only way to avoid war with China was to reduce Sino-U.S. tensions and get Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) out of office.

    “We must honestly tell young people that it is dangerous to vote for the DPP, which ‘exalts Taiwan independence and hates and opposes China’,” Gou said, citing a wording Taiwan opposition parties typically use to describe the DPP’s politics…

    He sounds pro-capitulation. Maybe it’s not Taiwan that needs to change in Taiwan-China relations.

  30. says

    Guardian US liveblog:

    New York congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has called for conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas’s impeachment.

    AOC’s calls follow reports that Thomas failed to disclose luxury gifts that he accepted from Republican billionaire, Harlan Crow, a megadonor to conservative organizations.

    “This is beyond party or partisanship. This degree of corruption is shocking – almost cartoonish. Thomas must be impeached,” she tweeted.

    “Barring some dramatic change, this is what the Roberts court will be known for: rank corruption, erosion of democracy, and the stripping of human rights,” she added, referring to chief conservative justice John Roberts.

    France 24 French protest liveblog:

    Protesters disrupted vehicle traffic at Paris’s main airport and police fired clouds of teargas in other French cities as people marched in their thousands in a new round of strikes and nationwide demonstrations Thursday, seeking to get President Emmanuel Macron to scrap pension reforms that have ignited a months-long firestorm of public anger.

    Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets for the 11th day of protests against French pension reforms on Thursday. Walkouts are expected to impact the transport, education, health and energy sectors, with petrol shortages hitting particularly hard in Paris.

    – The strikes come amid a deadlock in discussions between unions and the government. On Wednesday, union representatives met with French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne for discussions that unions branded “a failure”.
    – President Emmanuel Macron is on a state visit in China until Saturday. His office rejected responsibility for the failed talks and laid blame on the unions, notably the moderate CFDT, who it said “did not want to compromise” with the government.
    – Public anger was further ignited after Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne used Article 49.3 – known as the “nuclear option” – to push pension reform through parliament without a vote on March 16, sparking widespread anger. Days later, the government narrowly survived two no-confidence votes.
    – French President Emmanuel Macron insists the proposed changes, which include raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, are needed to reform a moribund system. But some of the government’s own experts have said the pension system is in relatively good shape and would likely return to a balanced budget even without reforms.
    – Clashes between protesters and police were reported Thursday in cities around France including Nantes and Rennes….

  31. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has arrived in Greece for a visit where he was promised more artillery and small arms ammunition shipments, access to Greek hospitals for wounded military personnel and additional Soviet-era BMP infantry fighting vehicles.

    Greek defence minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, said Athens “will provide every support to Ukraine at this very important, crucial stage of the war” during a joint news conference with Reznikov.

    Panagiotopoulos added:

    We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes – that’s a very clear position that we have taken from the outset.

  32. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The judge involved in Donald Trump’s arraignment has received multiple threats alongside his family following the arrest of the former president.

    On Thursday, NBC reported that since Trump’s arrest and arraignment earlier this week, judge Juan Merchan and his family have received “dozens” of threats, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

    The threats, which have also been directed towards Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg as well as other officials in his office, have come in the form of calls, emails and letters, the outlet reported.

    In addition to increased security by court officers surrounding Merchan and the court, NYPD is also providing “extra security to all affected staff members,” according to NBC.

    As part of other precautionary measures, the online bios of the employees at Bragg’s office have also been removed from the DA’s website, a source told the outlet.

  33. KG says

    Nicola Sturgeon’s former justice secretary has been asked to reveal what was discussed at a meeting with the most senior police officer in Scotland, a week before the first minister resigned.
    Speculation that Sturgeon knew about the impending arrest of her husband, and even that the police were pressured to delay it until her successor was in office, is inevitable. I have no idea if it is accurate, although I do know the issue the arrest appears to be about – the alleged misuse of donations to the SNP for purposes other than they were collected for – has been under investigation for months if not years.

  34. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    Why Is This Happening? – “The Fixation on Anti-Trans Legislation with Chase Strangio”:

    State legislatures have significantly advanced a record number of attacks aimed at restricting LGBTQ+ rights this year. Our guest this week points out that “the number one priority, without any ambiguity” of Republicans has been attacking trans people. Nearly half of the country could see health care bans for trans adolescents by May. This tidal wave of anti-trans legislation, which restricts gender affirming and medically necessary care, continues to have wide-ranging and deleterious impacts, especially on adolescents. Chase Strangio, who is transgender, is deputy director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project and a nationally recognized expert on trans rights. Strangio joins WITHpod to discuss how politics has eclipsed healthcare in some cases, anti-transgender legislation being used as a gateway to broader government control and why conversations about trans people is often predicated on fear and confusion. He also talks about the ongoing political and legislative fights to protect bodily autonomy, gender expression and personal freedom.

    On the Media – “When Presidents Go to Trial”:

    On Tuesday, April 4, former President Donald Trump was arrested and appeared in court for his arraignment in New York. The charges stem from hush money paid to Stormy Daniels in 2016, allegedly to cover up an extramarital affair. The entire case leads to larger questions about how democracies, where everyone is supposed to be equal under the law, do or don’t hold their leaders to account. Guest host Ilya Marritz spoke with Rick Perlstein, a journalist, historian, and author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, about perhaps the most famous case of a former US president alluding [sic] punishment. On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who resigned from office one month earlier. The pardon rocked a nation still in the throes of the Watergate scandal, and perhaps permanently altered the trust of the public in the executive branch. But a quieter, separate movement had begun within the Republican Party. Perlstein explains how the groundwork for our struggle to prosecute, even the most guilty seeming presidents, can be traced back to that fateful fall day in 1974.

    This is a segment from our September 9, 2022 show, Lock Him Up?.

    Citations Needed – “News Brief: How Brandon Johnson’s Win Upends US Media’s Patronizing, Simplistic ‘Crime’ Narratives”:

    In this public News Brief, we break down Johnson’s “surprise” win and how it undermines every lazy media trope involving local Democratic politics pushed over the last two years.

    The Josh Marshall Podcast – “Ep. 268: Winning Bigly”:

    Josh and Kate discuss the Trump indictment and liberal triumphs in Wisconsin and Chicago.

    Michael & Us – “#416 – One Insular Tahiti”:

    With Trump’s indictment in the news, we thought it might be a good time to watch the movie that has been more influential on QAnon than any other: Ridley Scott’s little-loved seafaring adventure WHITE SQUALL (1996). We parse this half-forgotten film to figure out why, exactly, the QAnon people love it so much. “Where we go one, we go all!”

  35. says

    Victor Shi:

    Wow. The three Tennessee lawmakers who are facing expulsion for simply standing with gun safety activists are met with overwhelming & uproarious cheers this morning. People see right through what Republicans are doing & they will regret this.

    This isn’t normal. This is what happens in fascist countries & we should all be alarmed. Republicans are showing us exactly who they are. They’d rather expel lawmakers than address real issues. Enraging. I stand with all of these Tennessee lawmakers now & forever.

    MORE footage. Students & young people from across the state are there too. This is what it looks like when you mess around with our lives. Republicans will never get the end of this. The youth are alright.

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

  36. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Right-wing conspiracist and congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is facing backlash online after calling New York City disgusting, filthy and repulsive.

    Following Greene’s visit to the city in support of Donald Trump during his arraignment on Tuesday, the Georgia representative went on Fox News and told host Tucker Carlson:

    I compared it to what I called Gotham City… The streets are filthy, they’re covered with people basically lying [I thought she said “dying”], on drugs. They can’t even stand up. They’re falling over. There’s so much crime in the city. I can’t comprehend how people live there.

    Greene’s comments swiftly stirred backlash with blogger Aaron Rupar writing, “Imagine if [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] went on MSNBC and said this about a town in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district. Republicans would try to expel her from Congress.”

    Vanity Fair special correspondent Molly Jong-Fast tweeted, “She’s welcome to not come back” while Kim Masters, an editor at The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “NY would say the same about her.”

    Another user poked fun at the irony of the situation as Carlson interviewed Greene from the Fox News studio in the city.

    “Where is Tucker’s studio located again? Oh that’s right…” the tweet said.

  37. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 36

    AOC’s calls follow reports that Thomas failed to disclose luxury gifts that he accepted from Republican billionaire, Harlan Crow, a megadonor to conservative organizations.

    Sigh… Nonexistent Gawd bless you, Alexandra. If we were governed by a functioning, modern democracy operating on 21st century ideas rather an Old Boys Club following a 235-year-old scrap of paper that secures the power of rich, white, male, cis-hetero, slave-owners, maybe you’d actually succeed. Sadly, our sainted, infallible, Founding Fathers–in their infinite wisdom–made sure you needed the permission of the corrupt official’s party and political allies to remove them from office rather than a just a straight up popular vote.

    This shithole country deserves to die.

  38. Akira MacKenzie says

    I compared it to what I called Gotham City… The streets are filthy, they’re covered with people basically lying [I thought she said “dying”], on drugs. They can’t even stand up. They’re falling over. There’s so much crime in the city. I can’t comprehend how people live there.

    I’m sure NYC is a desolate hellscape compared to the white trash shit hole that’s your district, Madge. New York may have art, culture, and history, but Rat Fucker, GA has the outhouse where Jerry Falwell lost his virginity to his sister-cousin-mother. Free hover-round charging and half-off chitterlings and grits every Wednesday!

  39. says

    Ukraine Update: Melitopol turns out to be a very bad place for Russia to park a train

    On both Telegram and Twitter, there are reports out of Melitopol that Ukrainian partisans, operating 80km behind the lines, have blown up an armor transport train waiting at the station. Reports suggest that this train was relocated after a drone attack on the area on April 2, but partisans tracked it down and got out the gasoline. No word on whether the train was carrying Russian equipment at the time it was destroyed.

    That’s pretty interesting all on its own, and possibly a significant blow to Russian forces in the area, but here’s what makes it extraordinary. As Yahoo News reported on May 18, 2022: “In captured Melitopol, the Ukrainian resistance movement has managed to blow up a Russian armoured train as it was transporting soldiers and equipment.” So this is the second train to be blown up at Melitopol.

    […] Except it’s not. As the Kyiv Post reported when Ukraine made a series of drone strikes on Melitopol last month, the precise targeting again took out a train that had paused in the railyard, this one reportedly carrying a number of Kalibr missiles of the type that have been used against Ukrainian cities. So if reports that partisans have taken out another train on Thursday are accurate, that’s at least three trains, and any equipment on those trains, that Russia has lost at Melitopol.

    The thing about Melitopol is that Russia would have a very, very hard time transporting troops or materiel in southern Ukraine without going through it. [map at the link]

    The rail lines to and from Crimea run along that road that juts southwest out of Melitopol. This is not only the location Russia uses to move equipment by rail to locations closer to Zaporizhzhya, it’s where almost everything that comes through Crimea gets off the train and on the highway. It is, by far, the most important transportation hub in the region.

    But of course, all those roads leading out of Melitopol also lead into Melitopol. Its location at the midpoint of Russian-occupied territory in southern Ukraine and its importance to Russia in moving equipment across the region had made this city a leading contender for the first place Ukraine might hit in any counteroffensive.


    This week, satellite imagery Maxar and The Washington Post made available some hires satellite imagery of Crimea. While this was done primarily in support of the Post story on Russia’s construction of an extensive network of trenches and other defensive structures, imagery expert Brady Africk noticed something else—a lot of Russian equipment formerly kept in this area is now missing. That includes “tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery” formerly stored in this area. [Tweet and video at the link]

    This location is about 10km northeast of the city of Dzhankoi. It’s tempting to believe that Russia moved this materiel after Ukraine demonstrated its ability to strike in this area with an attack on the Dzhankoi rail junction in March. However, the second round of imagery is actually from March 16, which is about a week before Ukraine’s big strike in the area. It’s also possible that this equipment has simply been moved to Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Vuhledar, and other locations where Russian equipment has been expended at a rapid clip.

    In any case, it’s worth hitting the clip above to see the difference. This is a large amount of equipment, and it’s certainly gone somewhere. Is it supporting a Russian offensive, preparing to meet a counteroffensive, or already broken along roads in eastern Ukraine?

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  40. says

    France 24 liveblog:

    According to Le Parisien, unions will call for a 12th day of protests on April 13 – a day before the country’s constitutional council is set to issue its verdict on whether the reform is valid.

    The council has the power to strike out some, or even all, of the legislation.

  41. says

    Steve Benen poses a question:

    Would Republican lawmakers in Montana alter their state election laws, but only for one election cycle, as part of a scheme to undermine Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s re-election prospects? Yep, that’s exactly what they’re on track to do.

    Associated Press: “Republicans seek to change Montana primary to thwart Tester”

    Republican state lawmakers in Montana are advancing legislation that would alter next year’s U.S. Senate primary in an apparent bid to thwart the reelection of Sen. Jon Tester, one of several Democrats on the ballot in GOP-leaning states.

    The measure would allow the top two candidates in the primary, no matter their party, to win slots on the 2024 general election ballot. It’s now before House lawmakers after passing in the Senate by a 27-23 vote on Tuesday.

    Seven Republicans joined all of the chamber’s Democrats in voting against the measure.

    In January Tester announced his bid for a fourth term in a seat that Republicans are eager to recapture after more than two decades. He’s the last remaining Democrat to hold a statewide political office in Montana after the GOP dominated recent elections.

    Democrats in the U.S. Senate hold a 51-49 majority heading into the election. They will be defending 23 seats, including three held by independents who caucus with Democrats. Republicans will be defending just 10 seats.

    “I think we all know what this is about,” Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers said Monday as Montana lawmakers debated whether to alter the primary. “This is just brazen partisanship targeting a single race. This isn’t fair. This isn’t what Montanans want. They don’t want one-party rule, they want us to have fair elections and this bill is not that.”

    […] The primary format for other offices, including election to the U.S. House, would not be changed. If the bill passes, it would only affect the 2024 U.S. Senate race. […]

  42. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, as reported by Steve Benen:

    * Though he’s never held elected office, Robert Kennedy Jr., perhaps best known for saying bizarre things about vaccines, has filed the paperwork to run for president of the United States. His apparent plan is to challenge incumbent President Joe Biden in a Democratic primary.

    * On a related note, don’t be too surprised if Kennedy’s effort receives some GOP backing: CBS News reported that Steve Bannon sees RFK Jr. as “a useful chaos agent” in the 2024 race and has been “encouraging” the effort for months.

  43. Reginald Selkirk says


    The measure would allow the top two candidates in the primary, no matter their party, to win slots on the 2024 general election ballot.

    I don’t understand. Could you explain how that is supposed to hurt Tester? Are they expecting 2 Republicans to get more primary votes than Tester?

  44. tomh says

    Maryland AG releases church sex abuse report into Archdiocese of Baltimore
    Greg Ng, Blair Young, David Collins / Apr 5, 2023

    BALTIMORE —The Maryland Attorney General’s Office report (full text) detailing the investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore reveals decades of child sexual abuse and leadership’s efforts to cover it up.

    “Today, certainly in Maryland, is a day of reckoning and a day of accounting,” Attorney General Anthony Brown said at a news conference ahead of the report’s release. “This is a full accounting. There are details of repeated torturous, terrorizing, depraved abuse.”

    The report lists 156 current or former Catholic clergy, seminarians, deacons, members of Catholic religious orders, teachers at Catholic schools, and other employees of the archdiocese known to the attorney general’s office to have been the subject of credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed in the Archdiocese of Baltimore or to have relocated to the archdiocese in the wake of child sexual abuse committed in other dioceses. Of the 156 people listed, 42 are still alive, according to the report.

    The report also indicates the church coverup included a judge, a media outlet and state’s attorney’s office. Investigators wrote that even when sexual abuse was prosecuted, the judicial system and the press colluded with the church to avoid transparency and accountability.

    From the report:

    As the case descriptions in this Report make clear, from the 1940s through 2002, over a hundred priests and other Archdiocese personnel engaged in horrific and repeated abuse of the most vulnerable children in their communities while Archdiocese leadership looked the other way. Time and again, members of the Church’s hierarchy resolutely refused to acknowledge allegations of child sexual abuse for as long as possible. When denial became impossible, Church leadership would remove abusers from the parish or school, sometimes with promises that they would have no further contact with children. Church documents reveal with disturbing clarity that the Archdiocese was more concerned with avoiding scandal and negative publicity than it was with protecting children.

    Many more details at the link above.

  45. says

    Followup to comment 48.

    More Ukraine updates:


    Including this video mainly because of the location. It appears to be happening at a location about 5km northeast of Torske and about 10km west of Kreminna. This appears to indicate that, while Ukraine continues to report Russian attacks on the village of Dibrova just west of Kreminna, Russian forces may have bypassed this village to the north along Lymanska Street (the main road between Lyman and Kreminna). [Tweet and video at the link]

    This could explain how, over the last two months, there have been both continuing fights at Dibrova and sporadic reports of fighting close to Torske or Yampolivka. This does not seem to indicate any new advance on the part of Russian forces. However, there was at least one awful event reported on Wednesday. That earlier video in which Ukrainian forces used a trench clearing UR-77 “Meteorite” to blast a path through Russian forces in Bakhmut? Russia apparently returned the favor by using a Meteorite against Ukrainian troops in the forest south of Kreminna on Wednesday. Ukrainian military is regarding this as a big intelligence failure as the UR-77 has a very short range and shouldn’t have survived long enough to approach Ukrainian lines. [Bad news indeed]

    In any case, expect an updated map in this area when I can gather some more information on what’s happening here.

    Notice once again that the weapon in use by Ukraine is a modified FPV drone. These are turning out to be the weapon of choice for these kamikaze attacks, and the VR goggles used with these drones make for very effective and precise targeting and the drones themselves are extremely inexpensive. These are the kind of drones that reportedly make up a large part of that Ukrainian “attack swarm” that kos discussed last week.

    If you want to see how quickly and deliberately drone technology is advancing in Ukraine, check out the video below. This isn’t happening through random selection. People are watching very closely the videos of how drones are being used and getting feedback from soldiers on the front line. Also included in this video, a glimpse of a drone actually carrying one of those improbably large shells. [video at the link]


    What I like about this particular one-minute walk is that it seems like it could be anywhere. Except for a few unfamiliar cars at the curb, this location seems like something I might find in part of St. Louis, Chicago, Seattle, New York, or just about any city in Europe. I like that. Kyiv should be just another normal, lively city. [Tweet and video at the link]


    The text says, “Bakhmut in the evening. The fortress is holding.” [video at the link]

    Not that the video here, which is by all accounts new, no longer shows the heavy snow that fell on Bakhmut just five days ago. Some videos and images from the area still show spots of snow in areas of trees or in shaded areas, but for the most part, Bakhmut appears to be back to just mud—though there are predictions of possible snow again this week. After a very warm winter, spring is making a reluctant start in eastern Ukraine.

    In Bakhmut, Russia reportedly brought a TOS-1 into the eastern area of the city on Wednesday and began systematically reducing blocks along the river with thermobaric weapons. This doesn’t appear to be an area where Ukrainian troops were present. It’s just making rubble for rubble’s sake.

    There is a weird story circulated on Telegram this morning that a Russian T-80 tank was hit by artillery, which revealed that what were supposed to be reactive armor panels were actually seat cushions packed with cardboard egg crates. I have zero evidence for this, and it sounds like a joke based on the “Russia stole everything out of their tanks” idea. But I’m passing it along, because it seems like such a strange joke there just might be something to it.


    When picking spots where Ukraine might launch a counteroffensive, New York probably wasn’t at the top of the list. But this is Nui-York, the town in eastern Ukraine just west of occupied Horlivka. There are reports on Thursday that Ukraine has made an advance down the highway to the south of this location. [map at the link]

    It’s not possible yet to tell the scope of this operation. It could just be little more than the kind of tentative advance that both Ukraine and Russia have been making along the southern part of the front. Hopefully, there will be more information today, but there has already been speculation this is intended to relieve pressure on Avdiivka to the south.

    Link. Same link as in comment 48. Scroll down to view the updates.

  46. says

    Reginald @52, yeah, that reporting is not really clear. Here is some more information.

    By allowing only two candidates to advance, it could keep third parties off the general election ballot. Past races for Tester’s seat were close enough that the absence of third party candidates hypothetically could have tipped the balance in favor of Republicans.

  47. says

    Here’s a YT link to the AP’s live coverage of the Tennessee legislature.

    They’re not talking about expelling the three representatives yet. They just talked about some bill having to do with radiology, and one of the three the Republicans want to expel tried to cite emails his office has received from radiologists but wifi isn’t working so he wasn’t able to and they just blew past it and voted. WTF.

    Oh, no. Now they’re talking about pot. Nothing good can come of this.

    Oh god, now arbitration.

    Overall, seeing a legislative chamber like this run by reactionary white men in 2023 like it’s the 19th century is…disturbing.

  48. says

    Five Points On Idaho’s Newly Passed, First-Of-Its-Kind Abortion Ban

    Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed a first-of-its-kind law Wednesday evening, which bans minors from traveling out of state for an abortion without parental consent.

    Experts warned TPM back when the Supreme Court let Texas’ bounty-hunter law stand that these jurisdictional disputes would be the new front in the abortion war: red states seeking to police the procedure across their borders, and blue states trying to protect their providers from out-of-state prosecutions. With Idaho’s new law, that reality is taking shape.

    In Idaho’s neighboring Washington, for example, a “shield” bill is working its way through the state Senate that would protect people who travel to the state for abortion care from warrants, subpoenas or other court orders. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) wrote Little a letter urging him to veto the travel ban bill, promising that Washington “will protect our providers, and we will harbor and comfort your residents who seek health care services that are denied to them in Idaho.”

    Some, including the regional Planned Parenthood hub that plans to challenge the Idaho law, have hopefully pointed to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurrence in Dobbs as proof that even this far-right Supreme Court won’t let such bans stand.

    “As I see it, some of the other abortion-related legal questions raised by today’s decision are not especially difficult as a constitutional matter,” he wrote. “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.”

    The Idaho law tries to sidestep this issue by only criminalizing the part of the trip to another state that takes place within Idaho. This ban may prove the test case in whether the Supreme Court will accept that fairly flimsy workaround as a blueprint for other states to follow.

    A person convicted under the new Idaho law could be sentenced to two-to-five years in jail for helping a person under the age of 18 get an abortion or get abortion pills without permission from a parent or guardian. It also creates a pathway to sue doctors who perform abortions, even if they live out of state.

    […] Multiple Idaho hospitals have already announced that they’re shuttering their labor and delivery wards, citing staff shortages and difficulty in recruiting qualified physicians amid the state’s “political climate.”

    The Idaho lawmakers made sure to add a clause that would circumvent any local prosecutors resistant to enforcing the new law by giving the Idaho attorney general the “sole discretion” to step in and prosecute instead. […]

    QAnon infection: Supporters of the legislation refer to it as the “abortion trafficking” law, an attempt to shift the criminality from a person who raped the minor to the person helping her get an abortion.

    The roots in QAnon, which has a particular fixation on child sex trafficking and accusing prominent Democrats and celebrities of doing it, are evident in the terminology. It’s also seeped into other right-wing rhetoric, including “ballot trafficking,” an attempt by Big Lie proponents to assert that ballot collection is infused with insidious, illegal behavior.

    Despite the Supreme Court’s mealy-mouthed insistence, anti-abortion activists will never be content to leave the decision to the states. They’ve always sought to ban abortion everywhere. […]

  49. Reginald Selkirk says

    @58: … which bans minors from traveling out of state for an abortion without parental consent.

    Once again I point out the contradiction: in the anti-abortionists’s view, a zygote has full rights of personhood from the moment of conception; but actually born children are the property of their parents until they turn 18.

  50. says

    […] In contrast with the ludicrous Peter Baker article in today’s Times (See comment 323 in the previous chapter of this thread), the New York Times has by far the best analysis and support for the Bragg indictment I have read. The op-ed, We Finally Know the Case Against Trump, and It Is Strong, by Karen Friedman Agnifilo and Norman Eisen: explains in plain language the basis for the Indictment, and debunks the main criticisms we’ve seen on cable et al. The piece notes:

    * creating phony documents to cover up campaign finance violations is routinely prosecuted by the NY DA.

    *This is the 30th false records case prosecuted by Bragg since he took office in January 2022.

    *The acts were perpetrated to help Trump win in 2016 and therefore were attempts to violate both state and federal election law.

    * There is ample NY precedent for convictions “when the crimes covered up were campaign finance violations, resulting in false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity.”

    * Contrary to some analysts, there is no NY requirement that to show “intent to defraud” the DA must show the scheme involved cheating or depriving another party of property.

    * There is broad agreement in many states that “state authorities can enforce state law in cases relating to federal candidates.” The law’s “intent to commit a crime” requirement can be either a state or federal crime.

    * The piece does not even mention tax law violations, another crime that may be applicable under the statute.


    New York Times link. Excerpt from the NYT article:

    Mr. Bragg’s bringing a state case concerning a federal campaign is hardly novel. In an abundance of caution, he not only alleges violations of state campaign finance law but also alleges federal violations. We believe that is permitted, given that the fraudulent books and records and other relevant statutes refer simply to covering up “another crime” or using “unlawful means” and do not specify whether they need be federal or state.

    This approach is wise because to throw out the case, a judge would have to rule that Mr. Trump is covered by neither state nor federal campaign finance law. We think that is unlikely […]

    Whatever happens next, one thing is clear: Mr. Trump cannot persuasively argue he is being singled out for some unprecedented theory of prosecution. He is being treated as any other New Yorker would be with similar evidence against him.

    The indictment is therefore anything but political. If anything, the more political choice would have been not to indict when there is so much scrutiny. Mr. Bragg appears to have the backbone to avoid such considerations in charging decisions. Good for him — and for the rule of law.

  51. says

    ‘Just the way the Nazis did’: Evidence suggests Russians are stealing art from Ukraine on a World War II scale

    “Our research suggests that this looting is state-sponsored by Russia,” said a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution, which is preparing a report on the massive scale of the theft.

    Last fall, Ukrainian troops were closing in on Kherson, rolling back Russian forces who had seized the city after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.

    At the Kherson Regional Art Museum, a team of armed Russians in civilian clothes arrived along with several large trucks and buses. Over five days, they hauled away more than 11,000 pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures, graphics and other works from Ukraine and around the world, said Alina Dotsenko, the director of the museum.

    […] The theft, verified by human rights monitors and independent scholars, was not an isolated incident.

    A growing body of evidence suggests Russian forces are systematically stealing art and cultural artifacts from Ukraine on a scale not seen in Europe since the Nazi plunder of World War II, according to researchers and experts documenting the damage.

    The theft includes precious Scythian gold jewelry dating to the fourth century B.C., ancient coins and thousands of paintings from museums and private collections, researchers said. Some art and cultural sites have been severely damaged and destroyed, including centuries-old Orthodox Christian churches, libraries and paintings by one of Ukraine’s most beloved artists, Maria Prymachenko, whose work was hailed by Pablo Picasso as an “artistic miracle.”

    […] “They are trying to erase Ukrainian identity, just the way the Nazis did,” said Chris Marinello, an art restitution lawyer and the founder of a stolen and looted art recovery firm.

    […] In some cases, museums or other cultural sites have been targeted far away from any front line, according to satellite imagery and researchers on the ground.

    Just days after the Feb. 24 invasion, the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum near Kyiv came under bombardment, even though it was not near any fighting or military targets, according to researchers. The shelling ignited a fire that destroyed and damaged multiple works by Prymachenko, whose vivid, fantastical paintings of animals inspired painter Marc Chagall.

    The attack on the Ivankiv museum is part of a pattern of “targeted destruction” of cultural sites […] “Our research suggests that this looting is state-sponsored by Russia,” Hanson said.

    […] Using satellite photos, thermal imaging, artificial intelligence tools and on-the-ground research, the U.S.-funded Smithsonian team is sometimes able to verify an incident within hours after it occurs, said Susan Wolfinbarger, the team lead in the State Department’s Office of Advanced Analytics. […]

    Using a database of more than 28,000 cultural sites in Ukraine, the Smithsonian team was able to spot an attack on the museum in Ivankiv from a combination of thermal imaging from NASA and commercial satellite photos, she said.

    […] “We’ve seen this playbook before,” he said. “We’ve seen this since 2014, where Russia has removed artifacts, demolished gravesites and shuttered churches in the Donbas region and Crimea.”

    The Hague Convention of 1954 prohibits militaries from targeting and looting museums or other cultural sites. […]

    As of March, UNESCO said it had verified damage to 248 cultural sites in Ukraine […] The World Bank recently estimated that the cost of the damage so far to Ukraine’s cultural buildings and art collections from the invasion amounts to nearly $2 billion.

    International cultural organizations and Interpol are warning authorities across Europe and around the world to be on the lookout for art stolen from Ukraine. The International Council of Museums has issued an “emergency red list” of artworks at risk, which UNESCO now uses to train border officials in other countries, U.N. officials said. […]

    More at the link.

  52. says

    When Republican Rep. Andy Biggs first started talking up the idea of defunding federal law enforcement, it was relatively easy for political observers to shrug it off. The far-right Arizonan isn’t seen as an especially serious policymaker, so his opinions on the matter were deemed largely irrelevant.

    When other radical GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, endorsed the same concept, the reaction was similar. When fringe figures espouse outlandish goals, the political mainstream tends not to care.

    But the idea of Republicans denying funds to the FBI and the Justice Department took on a greater significance this past weekend, when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan expressed support for “limiting” funds to federal agencies he believes are engaged in some kind of conspiracy he’s struggled to explain.

    Yesterday, the story reached an entirely new level when Donald Trump — the Republican Party’s most powerful voice, the former American president, and the apparent frontrunner for the GOP’s 2024 nomination — joined with his party’s fringe and said he too wants Congress to “defund the DOJ and FBI.”

    It was against this backdrop that Punchbowl News published an interesting report this morning:

    There are 18 House Republicans who represent districts President Joe Biden won in 2020. … We wondered how those 18 members would reply to Trump’s Wednesday morning Truth Social post, where he called on Hill Republicans to “defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses.” The answer — just three would go on the record distancing themselves from Trump’s screed.

    […] “Rejecting Trump’s demand to defund law enforcement should be a slam dunk,” Punchbowl News’ report added. “Yet the silence from the majority of the vulnerable Republicans is evidence of the hold Trump still has on the party.”

    It would be an exaggeration to say no one in GOP politics was willing to denounce the former president’s extremism. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — a newly announced presidential candidate — called Trump’s idea “ludicrous.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina took a break from begging people to send their money to Trump long enough to say he disagrees with him on this point.

    But much of the party adopted a familiar posture, kept their heads down, and hoped the story would go away — even as Democrats took steps to claim the political high ground.

    “There are no circumstances under which we will defund federal law enforcement,” Sen. Brian Schatz told NBC News. The Hawaii Democrat added, “There will be enough bipartisan votes to ignore this demand. It’s nonsense, it’s bad policy, and it’s worse politics.”

    White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson added soon after that President Joe Biden “will fight hard against any congressional Republican attempt to defund the FBI, ATF, and local law enforcement officers who keep our communities safe.”


  53. says

    Followup to SC’s comments 57, 59 and 64.

    Tyranny Alert: Tennessee Republicans set to expel three legislatures who are trying to pass gun laws

    he Republican Party continues to find new lows. The most profound depth of conservative hypocrisy is its unwillingness to do anything to diminish the public health crisis created by guns. The most recent tragic school shooting—at a Nashville Christian private school on March 27, which left three 9-year-old children and three staffers dead—has once again exposed the perils of living in an environment governed by impotent Republican lawmakers.

    Tennesseans, joined by the nation as a whole, have long demanded that their representatives do something of substance about gun safety legislation. Before the mass shooting at the Christian Covenant school, the only bit of Republican legislation around guns was when their right-wing Gov. Bill Lee signed a law in 2021 to lessen gun safety with a permitless carry law into existence.

    The first and only responses from Tennessee Republican lawmakers like Tim Burchett have been literally, “We’re not gonna fix it.” The result is that students and teachers, and anyone with a moral compass not set to “greed,” have been lifting their voices in protest while putting their feet to the pavement.

    There have been nonstop protests at the Tennessee state house in Nashville since the shooting. On Thursday, three Democratic lawmakers face an egregious vote by the Republican supermajority to decide whether they are expelled from office. This tyrannical threat comes after Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson joined in protests on the floor of the state house, calling for any meaningful gun safety legislation.

    The Republicans in the Tennessee legislature are attempting to equate the protests at their capital with the Jan 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington, D.C. Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (who sounds like he grabbed two surnames from a Patrick O’Brian book and sailed away with them), says he agrees with expelling the three Democratic reps. Sexton had an “I know you are, but what am I” defense of his indefensible support for authoritarian parliamentary maneuvers, telling NewsChannel 5 Investigates:

    “They’re the ones that has done something that’s never happened, and they are the ones that pulled out a megaphone on the House floor and led the protest to the gallery, which shut us down.”

    But when pressed, he couldn’t actually give one single example of how the three had “incited violence.” When pressed on the charge, Sexton said, on camera, “Well they were trying to jazz people up.”

    Rep. Justin Jones did not mince words, telling reporters: “They’re trying to make us an example. This is a political lynching. But we will not back down.” On Monday, Jones attempted to break through the faux-Christian veneer of conservatives. Speaking on the House floor, he said: “Jesus engaged in an act out of decorum because he knew that the dignity of the people who were being dishonored was more important than decorum. God is not pleased with injustice, and that light will shine, and no matter what you do to us, we will not bow down.”

    Rep. Johnson, speaking about the move to expel her and her fellow lawmakers, told Mother Jones: “I feel like North Korea has more democracy than we do in the state of Tennessee, and it’s terrifying to me that we’re in this march to fascism. … When my folks sent me here, they knew I was vocal, and they knew I would stand up and I would be their voice. And that’s why they sent me here. There’s no question about that. Everybody in the state knows that.”

    To put the tyranny of this move into perspective:
    – The last person to be expelled (by both Tennessean Democratic and Republican reps) was Republican Jeremy Durham in 2016, after an investigation into sexual misconduct charges from no less than 22 women.
    – Before that, it was Republican Rep. Bob Fisher, in 1980, who was convicted of taking a bribe in office.
    – Before that? Six assholes in 1866, who tried to “prevent Tennessee from ratifying an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to provide citizenship to former slaves.”

    So a reminder: Little children are murdered by a person who should not have been allowed to easily purchase and own more than half a dozen guns. The Republican Party refuses to do anything but will move to expel three lawmakers demanding smart public health legislation be enacted. Got it.

    How are things going in Tennessee? […]

    More at the link.

  54. says

    Followup to comment 67.

    Excerpt from Wonkette’s live coverage:

    2:17 PM: Arguments over a motion to show a 7-minute video of the accused legislators’ crimes; nobody seems to know what the video even is — is it edited, possibly selectively?

    2:22: Rep Joe Towns (D) is arguing for a more deliberate, orderly process to provide the three Democrats a fair process. They haven’t even seen the video Republicans want to show.

    2:25: Rep. Johnny Garrett (R), who sponsored the expulsion resolution, says the video doesn’t show anything any surprises, since they were all there during the protest, so let’s vote on showing the video.

    2:30: The motion to show the video passes immediately.

    2:35: I was wrong! This is the video they showed. It depicts Rep. Justin Pearson, one of the three targets for expulsion, who brought his bullhorn. He was joined by Rep. Justin Jones. They led a chant of “Power to the People” and the galleries joined in. This was all during March 30 protests, and I missed that it was the recording. Dumb me!

    2:43: Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons points out that the video they all just watched appears to have been taken by a Republican on the floor of the House. in violation of House rules. Clemons also notes that the video includes clips from a press conference the day after the protest.

    House ethics rules also require that anyone who fails to report a violation of House rules has also violated House rules. So maybe half the House should be expelled.

    2:47: Clemmons wants to know when exactly the video was taken. A Republican says it wasn’t a violation of the rules since it was recorded while the House was in recess. If that’s the case, Clemmons asks, then weren’t the three Democrats also speaking during a recess, and not interrupting House business? His motion to refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee is quickly rejected by the Republican majority.

    2:52: Rep. Bo Mitchell (D) notes that he’s just been texted pictures showing who was videotaping the three; he “accidentally” names the Republican. After some back and forth, the House moves immediately to vote on the resolution to expel the three Democrats.

    2:54: The resolution to expel Justin Jones is being read aloud. He will now have a chance to speak on his behalf.

    2:56: Jones says the world is watching, and that the majority has already made its verdict known. Calls the proceedings a lynching, “not of me, but of democracy” in Tennessee.

    […\] 3:14: Jones’s mic is suddenly cut in mid-sentence.

    3:15: Rep. Garrett (R), being the prosecutor, asks Johnson a bunch of questions about their actions on the day that they did insurrection by walking to the well of the House without being recognized.

    3:20: Jones says that after he was denied recognition several times, yes, he did go to the well and shout his support for the kids yelling for their lives. Garrett demands that Jones answer specifically if he understands that he went to the well without being recognized, and that Speaker Sexton gaveled him out of order.

    Does not sound like a fair process.

  55. says

    Followup to comment 69.

    Posted by readers of the Wonkette article:

    If I’m following the narratives here, they came to the floor to speak loudly, and the Chair got pissy and immediately went into recess to silence them. But they didn’t stop. So the angry white dudes in power dug into the books to find a way to really stick it to them. “Technically in session when they started! That’s it!”
    Sounds like a real kangaroo clusterfuck, Republicans never fail to disappoint.
    Garret is equivocating, using procedural semantics. It is some of the most petty shit I have ever witnessed.
    expelled for ten seconds of disruption. sure sign of excessive power.

  56. says

    SC @71, yep.

    One example: Rep. Harold Love Jr. (D) notes that Tennessee has declared the Bible the state book, and suggests the House might consider the Bible’s many invocations of grace.

  57. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    Me: “It’s just error after error, Matt?”
    @mtaibbi: “Well, that is an error.”

    Watch me confront Matt Taibbi with multiple, unacknowledged, and glaring mistakes in his Twitter Files reporting.

    Full @MehdiHasanShow interview later tonight. Preview:…

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

  58. says

    More excerpts from Wonkette’s live blog of the Republican anti-democratic actions in Tennessee:

    4:35: Jones says the reason the nation is watching Tennessee now is that this could happen anywhere. This isn’t about me, he says, it’s about the young people begging for their lives. “The world is watching”

    The lightning fast vote expels Jones 72-25.

    Jesus fuck why did they bother?

    4:36: Clemons moves to adjourn, speaker Asshole asks if he wanted to ever reconvene, maybe in two years. Clemons asks for until Monday, and the motion is rejected.

    4:40: Rep Bulso brings up the expulsion resolution against Gloria Johnson, the longest-serving member of the three. You know where this will go, I’ll keep liveblooging anyway.

    4:42: Won’t be surprised at all if there’s a vote to cut off debate immediately after Johnson gets her 20 minutes.
    4:55: An attorney for Ms. Johnson notes that the murders at the church school are a very personal matter for people in Nashville, calls the expulsion unprecedented, anywhere in any Legislature in the US, and has been reserved for only the worst behavior.

    5:00: Idaho makes it into the record as our guy points out that a legislator was expelled — but only after being convicted of fraud. Calls for a step back, and an orderly investigation, not a rushed expulsion. The members have “committed no crimes, no acts of moral turpitude,” and no acts that deserve expulsion. A vote for expulsion, he says, is a vote against due process, against rule of law, and against the will of the people.

    5:08: Looks like the attorneys’ comments will come out of the 20 minutes that Rep Johnson is allowed.

  59. tomh says

    What happens next in Tennessee? The expelled representative will be replaced by an interim member selected by the district’s county legislative body, until a special election is held. Not only can the expelled member run in the election, they could also be appointed as the interim representative. Then I suppose they could be expelled again. And again. And again.

  60. says

    Rand Paul, Mike Lee lie about NPR as Elon Musk continues his war against the free press

    Rand Paul weighed in on Wednesday to brownnose billionaire trollboy Twitter owner Elon Musk in Musk’s still-unexplained and one-sided battle against … NPR [National Public Radio], of all things. Earlier in the week Musk had, after getting through his previous top priorities of stripping The New York Times of its “verified” Twitter status and replacing the Twitter logo with a “doge” meme, told the site’s engineers to add a “state-affiliated media” warning label to NPR’s site account.

    He did this despite NPR plainly and factually not qualifying for that “state-affiliated” tag according to Twitter’s own declared rules—which became awkward when journalists and internet meanies alike took screenshots of those rules in which Twitter itself had used NPR as a named example of a media account that wouldn’t qualify for the tag. Twitter eventually removed NPR as its example, but didn’t change the public rules it had presented.

    Twitter itself explains that the “state-affiliated” warning label is meant to designate media sites “where the state exercises control over editorial content,” such as Russian media site RT. It’s a designator to warn Twitter users against propaganda sites sponsored by foreign governments.

    The American government does not have any means of controlling the editorial content of NPR […] it can apply no pressure other than by whatever regulatory pressures it might use against any other media organization. NPR doesn’t get any significant direct funding from the federal government. It was created by Congress a half century ago, but in its current incarnation receives its funds from sponsorships, foundational grants, donations, and “membership” fees paid by public radio stations that broadcast NPR-produced shows like Morning Edition or All Things Considered. Those public radio stations themselves get the vast majority of their funding through sponsorships and pledge drives, but they do get some federal grants. These come from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which … is not NPR.

    So Elon, whose companies rely extensively on government money and have been repeatedly saved from bankruptcy due to that federal money, is just flat-out wrong on this one. If anyone cares.

    That brings us to Rand Paul weighed in […] Perennial twit and sitting Sen. Mike Lee weighed in to be even wronger than Elon was.

    “To be clear, NPR is state-funded media,” Lee tweeted with a link to the story.

    Nope! Calling it “state-funded” is much, much wronger than Elon’s “state-affiliated” label is. Mike Lee, who has been in the Senate long enough to know how to look these things up, is just lying.

    But Rand Paul can do better! “If @NPR doesn’t want to be state-run media, we could always cut off their federal taxpayer funding…” Rand tweeted.

    See now, that’s just a flat-out lie and then some. Calling NPR “state-run” is disinformation. It’s simply a hoax. NPR was spun off from a congressional edict a half century ago, and the “state” has not a damn speck of influence in NPR’s programming. If NPR lost all of its “federal taxpayer funding” tomorrow, it would be … just fine. Absolutely fine. The same cannot be said of Tesla or of SpaceX; government subsidies and contracts are the stuff that keeps Elon Musk’s companies from collapse.

    […] While it is tempting to believe that Paul and Lee are sucking up to Musk on Musk’s website because they are spineless little weasels looking for his attention, it’s probably more accurate to say that this is about Republicanism’s hostility towards the news media in general. […]

    Paul, in particular, has been fuming at the media for not going along with his disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul is quite convinced that Anthony Fauci helped China build COVID-19 in a Chinese laboratory, or something (?) like that, and he is peeved that neither scientists nor the free press is buying what he’s trying to sell.

    Again, though, what’s going on here is that a narcissistic billionaire has bought himself a social media mini-empire so that he himself can spread disinformation against his perceived enemies, and high-profile Republicans like that very much. That’s precisely what they’ve wanted all along. If the news makes you look bad, goes the Republican mantra, call it fake and invent a “better” version of the news that makes you look better.

    Couple this with Elon Musk’s new efforts to boost the known state-sponsored propaganda sites that Twitter used to police, and Twitter’s turning into quite the Elon Musk-centered free-for-all. Musk is just fine with disinformation on the site. His only concern is how to best monetize it.

    Eeeesh. I still say this ends with Elon either selling Twitter for a massive loss or with the site simply crashing and staying crashed due to a lack of anyone left who both knows how to fix it and gives a damn, but Musk is getting into weird Howard Hughes territory with this obsessive need to retaliate against news organizations that report on him. It’s not going to be long before he’s using his Twitter powers to change news account icons to dog pictures or sneaking into the system to write “I love Elon Musk” tweets from the accounts of The Washington Post or other high-profile accounts that have pissed him off.

  61. says

    More excerpts from Wonkette’s live blog of the Republican anti-democratic actions in Tennessee:

    5:16: Bulso asks Johnson to clarify that she and her colleagues went to the well, and she agrees. As to shouting, she notes that when the microphone was still on, her colleagues were speaking in normal tones. They only resorted to a megaphone after the mic was cut, and after the recess was called. But she agrees that she chanted, without yelling, “Enough is enough.” She emphasizes that she stood with her colleagues, and that she never raised her voice.

    5:21: Bulso wants Johnson to confirm that even though she may have spoken during the recess, she went to the well without being recognized. What a monster!

    5:24: Rep. Sam McKenzie (D) notes that Democrats in the House have put up all session with having their mics cut, and that it’s nice today that they’re allowed to speak. He adds that the local Republican leaders in Knoxville are planning to replace Johnson with a Republican, big surprise. McKenzie calls for the members of the House to treat each others with grace.

  62. tomh says

    Two of the three county commissions are headed by Democrats, who would presumably appoint Democrats. However, in Johnson’s case, the Knox County Commission is made up of a Republican supermajority.

  63. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    The approximately forty million Americans who have paid off porn stars feel “embattled and persecuted” as a result of recent events, a prominent psychologist reports.

    Harland Dorrinson, who has treated countless people who have paid off porn stars, said that many of his patients have been experiencing “acute anxiety and stress” during the past week.

    The porn-star compensators, who represent roughly twelve per cent of the U.S. population, believe that their basic constitutional right to silence an adult-film performer with a financial emolument “is in jeopardy like never before,” he said.

    “These are individuals who have taken great comfort in their ability to pay off porn stars, and suddenly they feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under them,” he said. “They’re in a lot of pain right now.”

    As the country heads into a Presidential-election year, the millions who have paid off porn stars could emerge as “a force to be reckoned with,” a leading political scientist warns.

    “Republicans have been casting around for a kitchen-table issue that can energize a wide swath of voters,” Davis Logsdon, of the University of Minnesota, said. “The God-given right to pay off your porn star could be that issue.”

    New Yorker link

  64. says

    Mississippi Free Press:

    For the fourth year in a row, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signed a proclamation declaring April as Confederate Heritage Month in Mississippi, keeping alive a 30-year-old tradition that former Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice first began. Black people make up 38% of Mississippi’s population, which is the highest for any state.

  65. says

    Actual groomer: Republican donor convicted of sex trafficking teenagers

    On Friday, March 31, Anton “Tony” Lazzaro was found guilty by a federal jury of “orchestrating a sex trafficking conspiracy in which he trafficked multiple minor girls.” Assistant United States Attorneys Melinda Williams, Laura Provinzino, and Emily Polachek released a statement on the verdict, saying, “today’s guilty verdict recognizes the bravery of the five young victims who were trafficked by Lazzaro. We are humbled by their courage and inspired by their journeys to regain their power.”

    The government only needed a 10-day trial to make the case against the now-32-year-old Lazzaro, using his much younger associate Gisela Castro Medina as their star witness. Lazzaro’s defense—that he wasn’t preying on “broken” girls, but instead was trying to “fix” them—doesn’t seem to have been effective. The former big-time Minnesota Republican strategist was arrested in 2021 following an investigation and raid that turned up a mountain of evidence showing that, with help from then-19-year-old Castro Medina, Lazzaro had plied young girls with gifts and money in exchange for sex.

    Lazzaro was connected to many elected Republicans in Minnesota, including then-Minnesota state Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan. Carnahan, who was already facing pressure for a terrible workplace culture, resigned shortly after Lazzaro’s arrest.

    […] Lazzaro was sexually trafficking teenage girls aged 15 and 16 […]

    Photo of Lazzaro with Trump:

    Same Twitter thread shows Lazzaro with Pence. Other online photos show Lazzaro with Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Tucker Carlson.

  66. says

    Harris promotes huge community solar deal in Georgia visit

    Continuing its efforts to promote renewable energy, the Biden administration on Thursday announced what it says will be the largest community solar effort in U.S. history, enough to power 140,000 homes and businesses in three states.

    Vice President Kamala Harris announced the deal during a visit to the Qcells solar panel factory outside Atlanta. The South Korean company’s corporate parent, Hanwha Solutions Corp., said in January it will invest $2.5 billion to expand its Dalton, Georgia plant and build another plant in nearby Cartersville. Qcells projects it will supply about 30% of total U.S. solar panel demand by 2027, including making solar panel components usually manufactured outside the United States.

    A deal announced by Harris calls for Qcells and Virginia-based Summit Ridge Energy to deploy community solar projects capable of generating 1.2 gigawatts of electricity in Illinois, Maine and Maryland. Community solar projects allow people to tap into solar power generated at a shared site rather than on individual rooftops and are a way for renters and those without access to rooftop solar panels to receive the benefits of clean energy.

    Community solar results in an average of 10% in annual savings for customers, the White House said. The new plan will require the manufacturing of 2.5 million solar panels at Qcells’ plant in Dalton, Georgia — the largest community solar order in American history, officials said.

    The solar project is made possible by tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate and health law Congress approved last year, Harris and other officials said. […]

    Good news.

  67. says

    Another Russian high-ranking executive of an energy company died under mysterious circumstances

    Igor Shkurko, First Deputy General Director and Chief Engineer of Yakutskenergo, was found dead in a Yakutsk detention center. The court sent the top manager to the pretrial detention center on March 31, the day after he was detained in the bribery case. After that, the “United Russia” party, of which the senior executive was a member, rushed to suspend his membership.

    The Yakutia Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service claims that Shkurko committed suicide. According to the department, it happened as early as April 4. “Shkurko was found in a cell of the detention center without any signs of life. Arriving medical workers ascertained his death,” states the press release.

    It is noteworthy that Shurko disagreed with the arrest and appealed it just before his death, on April 3. The Investigative Committee refused to comment on what happened. “Yakutskenergo” ignored official requests from the media.

    Shkurko was responsible for the technical management of “Yakutskenergo”. He had a wife and two sons.

    Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, a series of mysterious deaths of Russian high-ranking managers and businessmen began. Over the past 15 months, more than 40 top managers, businessmen, and other Russian executives have died under unclear circumstances.

  68. says

    Followup to comments 48 and 55.

    More Ukraine updates:

    US-delivered Strykers are already in Ukraine. The leading Stryker in this video has mine-rolls attached and is followed by an infantry carrier vehicle (ICV). [video at the link]

    The video is impressive.


  69. says

    Followup to all of the comments upthread that discuss the travesty in Tennessee:

    7:15 PM: After the vote against her failed, Gloria Johnson took some questions from the press. Asked why she thought she survived the expulsion attempt and Justin Jones was booted, she gave an honest answer: “It might have to do with the color of our skin.”

    […] 7:50: Pearson: We have too many guns and a proliferation of gun violence. This expulsion process is taking us away from that reality. If members are just repeating their pat positions, they’re not listening to the people. He calls for transformation of attitudes. “It is possible for this body to pass more just laws. It’s up to you to decide” whether to pass red flag laws, safe storage laws, something to keep AR-15s out of the hands of people who have no business having them. […]

    The Republicans just voted to expel Pearson. So they expelled the two black legislators and the did not expel the white woman.

    Surrounded by Black Democrats, Pearson says that he will keep fighting, points out it’s Holy Week, recalls the government lynched Jesus on a cross. I can’t possibly summarize. “We are still here and we will never quit.” Thunderous applause from the gallery, and Pearson is expelled by a 69- 26 vote. We’re looking for video for you.

  70. says

    Pres. Biden tweeted:

    Three kids and three officials gunned down in yet another mass shooting.

    And what are GOP officials focused on?

    Punishing lawmakers who joined thousands of peaceful protesters calling for action.

    It’s shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.

  71. says

    Rep. @Justinjpearson: ‘You all heard that. How many of you would want to be spoken to that way?’

    Pearson responds to Rep. Farmer’s belittling, disrespectful rant.”

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

    I watched a lot of this legislature today, and the culture of the body was one of the most shocking aspects. Even when they knew people were watching!

  72. says

    This is the full interview from #82 above (YT link) – “Mehdi debates Matt Taibbi on the ‘Twitter Files’ and Elon Musk”:

    Matt Taibbi says the “Twitter Files” are “the most grave story that I’ve ever worked on personally.” But is it really as big, as damning, as revealing as he and Elon Musk claim it is? And why don’t they comment on Twitter agreeing to censorship requests from India’s government?
    Last month, Taibbi asked Mehdi on Twitter to invite him on the show to discuss this.

  73. says

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

    Moscow wants any Ukraine peace talks to focus on creating a “new world order”, the French press agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) quotes Lavrov as saying.

    Any negotiation needs to be based on taking into account Russian interests, Russian concerns. It should be about the principles on which the new world order will be based.

    According to the agency, he added that Russia rejects a “unipolar world order led by ‘one hegemon’.”

    Russia has long said it was leading a struggle against US dominance over the international stage, and argues the Ukraine offensive is part of that fight….

    Russian forces have very likely seized the centre of the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and are threatening a key supply route for Ukrainian forces to the west, according to a British intelligence assessment.

    The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said his troops would pull back from the small city, which has been the main focus of Russia’s assault on Ukraine for months, if they came under risk of encirclement.

    Asked to comment on the British report, a Ukrainian military command spokesman told the Reuters news agency the situation was difficult in Bakhmut and that Russian forces were concentrating all efforts to take the city but were not having “strategic success”….

  74. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “Mayor closes museum of memories in battle over story of Peru’s violent past”:

    …In January, the former presidential candidate said the museum was an “offense to the nation” and should be put under the control of the armed forces, insisting it was time to “take control of the narrative”….

    “Harvard professor lobbied SEC on behalf of oil firm that pays her lavishly, emails show”:

    The Harvard environmental law professor at the centre of a conflict-of-interest row lobbied the regulator on behalf of the oil and gas company that pays her more than $350,000 a year, a new investigation can reveal….

    “30 under 30-year sentences: why so many of Forbes’ young heroes face jail”:

    Ex-CEO Charlie Javice, 31, is just the latest from the magazine’s list to see criminal charges…

  75. says

    One of my favorite parts of the interview (Twitter link, but it’s in the video @ #107) – Mehdi Hasan:

    Me: How did you go from being the scourge of Wall Street to being unable to say anything critical of a rightwing billionaire, Elon Musk?
    Matt Taibbi: “I like Elon Musk.”
    Me: “Would you like to criticize Musk now?”
    Taibbi: “No I don’t particularly want to.”

  76. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine has rejected the suggestion from the Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that it give up Crimea to end the war with Russia, which annexed the peninsula in 2014.

    The French press agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) quotes Oleg Nikolenko, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman, as saying:

    There is no legal, political or moral reason that would justify us having to yield even a centimetre of Ukrainian land. Any mediation efforts to restore peace in Ukraine should be based on respect for the sovereignty and the full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

    On Thursday, Lula said the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky “could not get everything” and suggested Ukraine could give up Crimea to begin peace discussions.

    Lula has issued a vague proposal to end the Ukraine conflict, expected to be discussed during a trip next week to China, which also put forward a plan. He has proposed creating a group of countries to mediate in the war in Ukraine.

    The Brazilian leader said he was “confident” that this group “would be created” after his trip.

  77. says

    Kyiv Independent – “Melitopol Mayor reports explosions at temporary Russian base”:

    Explosions were heard in the village of Vesele near the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast late on April 6, exiled Mayor Ivan Fedorov said on national television, cited by Ukrainska Pravda publication.

    According to Fedorov, Russian troops had been transferring their equipment and personnel to the village in the previous four days.

    “The enemy tried to do this while mobile communications and the Internet were turned off in the village so that our residents could not report anything to Ukraine’s Armed Forces and special services. But they didn’t manage to hide it (the transfer of equipment),” said Fedorov, who is now in Ukrainian-controlled territory and reports based on sources in Melitopol.

    Earlier this week, explosions were heard near the Melitopol airport, where Russian forces had brought “a lot of their extremely important cargo” by helicopters, according to Fedorov.

    “But in one night, all this cargo exploded. And it’s gone. And this situation is already the second week in a row, which sows panic among the occupiers,” added the mayor.

    Explosions occur regularly in Meltipol and other Russian-occupied cities of Ukraine where partisan movement is active, targeting local collaborators or reportedly destroying Russian military equipment and personnel. Moscow usually blames Ukraine for such incidents, while Kyiv doesn’t take responsibility for the explosions.

    Melitopol, a city with a population of about 150,000 people, has been occupied since late February 2022. The city serves as a railway center for Russian forces in southern Ukraine and is part of the land bridge that links Russia to the occupied Crimean peninsula.

  78. says

    Barack Obama:

    This nation was built on peaceful protest. No elected official should lose their job simply for raising their voice – especially when they’re doing it on behalf of our children.

  79. says

    A summary of bad news from Idaho, posted by Reclaim Idaho:

    The Legislature and Governor passed a bill making it a felony for physicians to provide gender-affirming care to minors, even as medical experts predicted the bill will increase the suicide rate among Idaho teens.

    The Legislature refused to consider any legislation that would restore reproductive rights in cases where the health of the mother is at severe risk, even as hospitals in Sandpoint and Emmett announced the discontinuation of labor and delivery services due to staff shortages.

    Chairman of the House Health & Welfare Committee John Vander Woude blocked a bill that would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to mothers for a full year after childbirth, up from just 60 days. Of the 13 states with abortion bans in place, Idaho is now the only state in the nation that does not provide Medicaid coverage for a full year after childbirth.

    Good or hopeful news from Idaho: Activists won a victory for education when they stopped the passage of school-voucher legislation.

    Activists blocked the “Silence the Voters Amendment,” a constitutional amendment that would’ve made future citizen initiatives virtually impossible.

    Activists worked to promote the largest investment in Idaho public schools in a generation.

    From Reclaim Idaho:

    […] As a direct result of our Quality Education Act campaign, the Legislature has now appropriated $428 million in new ongoing investments in education. This includes:
    – $145 million earmarked for teacher salaries—enough to increase salaries by $6,359 per teacher and to establish a minimum statewide teacher salary of $47,477
    – $97.4 million to increase wages for support staff including paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers.
    – $80 million for high school graduates to receive up to $8,500 per student for community college or career-technical programs
    – $48.8 million in new ongoing discretionary funding for school districts
    – $27.9 million to improve health insurance benefits for teachers

    On top of all that, the Legislature approved $100 million for school districts to help pay off bonds and levies and another $50 million in one-time funds to improve career technical programs in junior high and high schools. […]

    Many of the policies passed by the 2023 legislature will inflict severe harm on thousands of Idahoans. Even when it comes to education funding, we still have a long way to go before we fulfill our obligation to Idaho’s children.

    But despite these hard realities, it cannot be denied that our effort is making a positive difference. When it comes to some of the most important issues affecting our rights and our quality of life, we are making progress.

    And where there’s progress, there’s hope. […]

  80. says

    Oh FFS. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a weird theory he’s eager to share.

    I saw some weird guy on Twitter this week peddling an unhinged conspiracy theory about liberals secretly plotting to use the Federal Reserve and some unnamed digital currency to prevent Americans from buying firearms and gasoline. We’ve probably all seen assorted oddballs peddling strange ideas online, but this one was a doozy.

    Wait, did I say the idea came from some weird guy on Twitter? What I meant to say was that it came from the governor of Florida — who also happens to be a leading (albeit unannounced) candidate for Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

    The Miami Herald reported this week that Gov. Ron DeSantis has been directing much of his rhetorical fire of late on the Federal Reserve and its Trump-appointment chairman, Jerome Powell. But it was The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell who flagged the GOP governor’s amazing recent remarks about the Fed. From Rampell’s column:

    Don’t get me wrong. The Federal Reserve has made mistakes in recent years. It’s not immune from criticism, including criticism of its record on financial oversight or inflation. And yet, somehow, it still seems pretty bonkers for a major, supposedly mainstream politician to attack the Federal Reserve for trying to steal your guns. Which is what Florida governor and likely 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis (R) suggested in recent remarks.

    That might sound like an exaggeration. It’s not. In remarks that were televised via C-SPAN, the Floridian delivered remarks in Pennsylvania this past weekend that were so odd, I feel like they should’ve come with a fringe-to-English translation guide.

    DeSantis began by boasting to his conservative audience that Florida would soon ban “the idea of a central bank digital currency,” adding, “They want the Fed to control a digital dollar,” failing to identify who the nefarious “they” might be.

    But then he kept going. “Guess what’ll happen?” the governor said, in high dudgeon. “They’re going to try to impose an ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance] agenda through that. You go and use too much gas, they’re going to stop it. They’re not going to honor the transaction because you’ve already bought more than what they think. You want to go buy a rifle, they’re going to say, ‘No, you have too many, too many of those, you can’t do it.’ So it’s ceding the power of our financial freedom to a central bank which does not have our interest at heart.”

    To the extent that such a vision can be fact-checked, let’s go ahead and state for the record that while there is some discussion about the Federal Reserve creating a central bank digital currency, there is no secret leftist plot to use the Fed to control firearm and gasoline purchases. [Correct!]

    Let’s also state for the record that it’s a little unsettling that DeSantis sees this as a legitimate concern — and feels strongly enough about his fears that he spoke publicly about them while gearing up for a national campaign.[…] giving political insiders reason to question whether he’s truly ready for prime time.

    Indeed, the closer the Floridian comes to the presidential campaign, the more ridiculous he becomes. [snipped list of whacko actions] he’s signed a wildly unpopular measure to weaken his state’s gun laws; and he’s endorsed radical new restrictions on reproductive rights.

    And then, of course, there’s the governor’s weird ideas about a secret plot to use the Fed to limit purchases of guns and gas. […]

  81. says

    The Republicans in the Tennessee legislature are experiencing major blowback:

    […] over the course of this week, the story about the Tennessee Three made the transition from local controversy in Nashville to a national outrage.

    As the dust settled on yesterday’s developments, for example, the White House issued a statement condemning the expulsions. “Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent,” President Joe Biden said. “Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence, and expel duly-elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.”

    He wasn’t alone. There were related condemnations from the Congressional Black Caucus, among other congressional Democrats from both chambers. Barack Obama added a statement of his own.

    The Republican majority in Nashville, in other words, set out to silence the Tennessee Three. In the process, the GOP helped make the Democrats heroes to a worthy cause.

    What’s more, if Republicans think they “won” the broader fight by kicking Jones and Pearson out of the legislature, they’ll soon learn otherwise: There’s nothing stopping the two men from running anew for the seats they held. In fact, it’s a safe bet they’re going to win, rejoining the institution that unjustly expelled them.

    They may not even have to wait too long: Local officials have the authority to appoint temporary legislators to fill the vacancies, and no one should be surprised if they choose Jones and Pearson. […]


    In case anyone needs it, here is a short summary of what the Tennessee Three did:

    The series of events began with last week’s school shooting, which generated large demonstrations at the state Capitol, with Tennesseans pleading with Republicans to take steps to protect the public from gun violence.

    As part of the protest, three Democratic members of the state House minority headed to the chamber’s floor to voice their support for the demonstrators’ cause. Silenced by GOP leaders, the trio — Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson — spoke through a megaphone, calling on their colleagues to “protect kids, not guns.”

    Having broken the decorum rules of the institution, the Democratic lawmakers were soon after stripped of their committee assignments. But for members of the Republican majority — some of whom equated a peaceful protest with the Jan. 6 attack, despite the fact that no one broke into the state capitol, no one was harmed, and there was no property damage in Nashville — that level of retaliation was deemed insufficient.

    Note that GOP leaders had turned off the mics of the Tennessee Three … and that silencing Democratic Party members was part of the GOP’s modus operandi.

    Note also that punishment for breaking decorum rules had already been administered (stripped of committee assignments).

  82. says

    Republicans who voted against free school lunch turn around, vote to get more for their own lunches

    On Monday, March 27, the North Dakota Senate failed to pass HB 1491, 23-24, with only Republicans voting against it. HB 1491 would have earmarked $6 million to help provide school lunches for children from low-income families. It would not have covered all school children […] At the time, Republicans like state Sen. Mike Wobbema argued that North Dakotans shouldn’t have to pay for “parents being negligent.”

    On Thursday, April 6, only five business days later, the very same “Republican-dominated” North Dakota Senate held a vote and passed SB 2124, 26-21. This bill raises the amount of money North Dakota senators and their staff can be reimbursed by the state for meals. It’s like lunch money that North Dakotans pay for! For adults!

    Oh, and the bill also directs the office of management of the state to “establish a policy to set the lodging reimbursement at an amount equal to ninety percent of the rate established by the United States general services administration for lodging reimbursement in this state. A political subdivision may reimburse an elective or appointive officer, employee, representative, or agent for actual lodging expenses.”

    Guess who voted to get themselves some free meals?

    […] You remember Wobbema—Wobbema is the state senator who began his bootstrapping speech not five business days earlier, saying, “I’ll be the ogre in the room,” and followed that up by arguing:

    “We talk about personal responsibility as one of the major principles that the Republican Party stands on. Yes, I can understand kids going hungry, but is that really the problem of the school district? Is that the problem of the state of North Dakota? It’s really the problem of parents being negligent with their kids.” […]

    There’s a video at the link, showing “maroon-suit-hypocrite Wobbema explain once again how children from low-income families need to take some “personal responsibility” for their food budget, while taking a handout for himself.”

  83. says

    Ukraine Update: Could loose lips sink the whole counteroffensive? Maybe, but not this time

    The actual fighting in Ukraine isn’t taking a break. Already on Friday, Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian Su-25 that was supporting an attempted Russian advance at Marinka, a town that has been on the front lines of the Russian invasion since before the tanks rolled in 2022. That Russian assault, like hundreds before, has been turned back.

    In Bakhmut fighting continues to be fierce, with the mercenary forces of the Wagner Group connecting their southern and northern pushes along the river at the east side of the city. Russia has also reportedly brought a TOS-1 system into eastern Bakhmut and is systematically smashing blocks using thermobaric shells to extinguish any remaining pockets of Ukrainian resistance. Any civilians who remained in this area and survived previous fighting, no matter what the reason for their remaining, have almost certainly been killed under this barrage.

    But this morning, the biggest story about Ukraine isn’t happening in Ukraine. It’s actually hard to say where it is happening, because the biggest story about the war this morning concerns a potentially massive break of operational security, one in which details of Ukrainian troop locations and planning for the coming counteroffensive may have been leaked to social media. If true, it’s a leak that may have already cost Ukrainian lives and put plans to push back Russian forces at risk.

    And right now it looks like this was done just to win an internet argument.

    This Twitter post from Bellingcat researcher Aric Toler collects several messages that originally appeared on infamous site 4Chan: [available at the link]

    This shows someone in an argument over Ukrainian and Russian positions within the last two weeks. The argument isn’t too unusual, except that the someone seems to have very precise values for the number of Ukrainian troops in each location—and some pretty official-looking images that seem to have come directly from military sources.

    Those images look official because it appears that they are. Widespread reporting, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times indicates that these images are taken from a classified presentation involving NATO officials. The images from 4Chan (which are much larger and more detailed in the originals) are part of a set of six that circulated on pro-Russian channels on Telegram. However, it looks like these 4Chan posts were the first appearance.

    The images don’t just include information about the current status of operations in Ukraine, they also include details of a supposed Ukrainian counteroffensive. It’s unclear if this information reflects U.S. or NATO evaluation of Ukrainian plans, of if these are plans that originated in the West as a suggestion to Ukraine. As The Wall Street Journal notes:

    The photographs that appear to be of printed presentation slides and maps posted online don’t show the planned routes and timelines for the Ukrainian offensive, but they do contain information that, if true, could be of value on the composition and readiness of the new military units that Kyiv and its allies are preparing and equipping for the spring campaign.

    There’s also a chance—a really good chance, actually—that the “plans” are actually disinformation. In fact, all of the information contained in the images may be part of a disinformation campaign. Which could be from the U.S. or Ukraine or Russia or … who knows?

    In some of the images as they appeared on Telegram, information has been altered to appear more favorable to Russia. For example, the number of Russian casualties has been dropped from “35.5k — 43.5k KIA” to “16k — 17.5k KIA.” At the same time, Ukrainian losses have been massively inflated to make it appear that Ukraine has lost far more than Russia.

    The 4Chan posts seem to be deliberately attempting to troll pro-Russian posters, holding up evidence that even in areas where Russia enjoys a tremendous numerical advantage, it hasn’t been able to translate boots on the ground into military success. The versions on Telegram tell a nearly opposite story even though some of the numbers remain the same. On Telegram, the images are used to prop up a narrative that the Ukrainian military is exhausted, that Russia has plenty of reserves, and that Russian victory is inevitable.

    Interestingly, one of the images found on 4Chan didn’t become part of the set that is circulated on Telegram. That would be the image attached to this post, which shows a detailed situation around Bakhmut. [available at the link]

    I’m not going to report on what’s shown on this map because whether it’s disinformation or actually NATO top secret status details of the situation on the ground, going over it in detail would seem to fall in the category of A Bad Thing. However, it’s clear that what’s shown in this map doesn’t please pro-Russian sites, or at least was not easily modified into something favorable enough to be a part of the pro-Russian version that was packaged up for Telegram consumption.

    Does this look like disinformation? Honestly, it does not. But then … isn’t that what good disinformation should look like?

    Is it something that will represent a serious threat to Ukrainian plans for the counteroffensive? That seems very, very unlikely. For one thing, there must be room fulls of people at the Kremlin right this moment, going through the military equivalent of this: [video at the link]

    They don’t know if it’s real, or if it’s a fake, or if it’s disinformation they were intended to find. And sure, they could shift troops to locations where the “plans” indicate Ukraine is going next, but would that be exactly what Ukraine wants them to do? […]

    The more important factor here is that assuming this is real, and assuming it wasn’t deliberately posted with the intention of falling under Moscow’s gaze, it represents a serious breach of operational security that could place a damper on trust between Ukraine and military intelligence at NATO and in the U.S.

    The U.S. and others have been providing Ukraine with detailed intelligence since before the invasion began, but there have been frequent reports that this exchange has rarely been mutual. Ukraine has had some deadly serious OPSEC on its actions. That’s helped things like the Kharkiv counteroffensive to launch without anyone getting so much as a peep that it was coming.

    Intelligence officers in Kyiv have reportedly long been concerned that sharing their plans with Washington was just inviting Vladimir Putin to lean over their shoulder and read. In recent months, a greater trust had been growing and Ukraine has been more open with NATO and the Pentagon about their plans, in part because it helped them make the case for what equipment, training, and ammunition they would need.

    This leak, assuming it is a leak, could be a big setback to that improving relationship.

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  84. says

    This sounds like a good idea:

    Vice President Harris is making a previously unscheduled stop in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday [today] to meet with two state lawmakers who were expelled from the Tennessee House for leading gun violence protests in the wake of a local school shooting, a spokesperson confirmed.

    Harris will meet with state Reps. Justin Jones (D) and Justin Pearson (D), who on Thursday were expelled from the legislature for their participation in the recent demonstrations on the House floor. Rep. Gloria Johnson (D), who also participated in the protests and is white, narrowly survived her expulsion vote.

    […] The vice president will use the meeting to elevate the White House’s broader push for tougher gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons. President Biden has renewed his calls for such a ban in the aftermath of a shooting at a Nashville grade school that left three 9-year-olds and three teachers dead.

    […] “Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville,” Harris tweeted Thursday night. “How did Republican lawmakers in Tennessee respond? By expelling their colleagues who stood with Tennesseans and said enough is enough. This is undemocratic and dangerous.” […]


  85. says

    Research assessed democracy in every state. Tennessee came in last place.

    After his expulsion Thursday from the Tennessee House in response to a peaceful protest for gun control, state Rep. Justin Jones — one of two Black Democratic legislators expelled by the Republican-controlled statehouse — said that “what the nation is seeing is that we don’t have a democracy in Tennessee.”

    Chillingly, data offers some support for Jones’s contention. According to one scholar’s research on democracy in the US, Tennessee is indeed the least democratic state in the entire country.

    The research here comes from University of Washington political science professor Jake Grumbach, who wrote a 2022 paper (later expanded into a book) developing the first-ever numerical system for ranking the health of democracy in all 50 US states.

    Grumbach’s State Democracy Index (SDI) grades each state on a series of metrics — like the extent to which a state is gerrymandered at the federal level, whether felons can vote, and the like — and then combines the assessments to give each state an overall score from -3 (worst) to 2 (best).

    The following maps, taken from his paper, shows each state’s grade on the SDI in 2000 and in 2018. You’ll see that Tennessee is by far the lightest-colored state on the 2018 map — meaning it has the lowest score of any state in the country: [map at the link]

    Tennessee’s low score in 2018 has a lot to do with its egregious partisan gerrymanders at both the state and federal level — a problem that only got worse in the post-2020 census redistricting cycle. Research from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project shows that there is not a single competitive seat in the state senate — Democrats are so efficiently packed in a handful of strongly Democratic districts that Republicans have a near-guaranteed super-supermajority (over 80 percent of seats!) in the statehouse’s upper chamber.

    […] The state is part of a general trend where democracy has degraded in Republican-controlled states.

    “The results are remarkably clear: Republican control of state government reduces democratic performance,” he writes in his book Laboratories Against Democracy.

    To ensure his results were robust, he ran 100,000 different tests of the SDI factors, each time giving different ones (say, partisan gerrymandering) more or less weight. This massive examination confirmed that “Republican control of government has a large negative effect on democratic performance across the many simulated measures.”

    “When it comes to state governmental choices over democratic institutions, the key question is not about racial politics within a state but whether the state government is part of the national Republican party,” Grumbach concludes.

    In this sense, Tennessee isn’t really an outlier: It’s just ahead of the curve.

  86. says

    You know how sometimes, when you’re in a particular mood, you think of the absolute most ungenerous interpretation of why someone believes the thing they believe or does the things they do? Like when you see a car a half mile away start speeding up the second you try to take a left turn and think “What? Is this guy trying to cause an accident? Does he want me to die?”

    Well, every time there is one of these shootings, one of the first things I think is, “Shit, these creeps truly do see the lives of these people as a fair price to pay for their ability to own as many stupid guns as they want!” But then I calm down and I tell myself, “No, that’s unfair, they’re probably not thinking about it in that specific way.”

    Alas, I am too naïve.

    This week, at a Turning Point USA Faith event, Charlie Kirk gave a speech in which he explained, in no uncertain terms, that he is perfectly happy with people dying in mass shootings for his right to bear arms. [video at the link]

    Transcript via Media Matters:

    We must be honest with the population. Having an armed citizenry comes with a price, and that is part of liberty. Driving comes with a price — 50,000, 50,000, 50,000 people die on the road every year. That’s a price. You get rid of driving, you’d have 50,000 less auto fatalities. But we have decided that the benefit of driving — speed, accessibility, mobility, having products, services is worth the cost of 50,000 people dying on the road. So we need to be very clear that you’re not going to get gun deaths to zero. It will not happen. You could significantly reduce them through having more fathers in the home, by having more armed guards in front of schools. We should have a honest and clear reductionist view of gun violence, but we should not have a utopian one.

    But here’s the thing! Car fatalities have been steadily decreasing for years since wearing seat belts became the law of the land and other safety measures have been implemented. And 50,000 people don’t, actually, die on the road every year. Car accident fatalities went up during COVID and they still did not reach 50,000. [chart at the link]

    In 2020, there were 38,824 traffic-related deaths in 35,766 fatal car accidents, out of 5 million car accidents in total. The primary reason for these deaths were “driving under the influence, speeding and seatbelt nonuse” — which is why we make all of those things illegal to do.

    That same year, there were 45,222 gun deaths. Of those deaths, 4,357 were children and teenagers. [Chart at the link showing that the U.S. has by far the highest child and teen firearm mortality rate among peer countries. By far!]

    Who does Charlie Kirk think he is that he has any right to volunteer 4,357 of other people’s children to be sacrificed at the altar of “Maybe I’ll decide to overthrow the government sometime”? There are a lot of things we all might want to do someday, many of which are far more our legal right than overthrowing the governments. Few people would say that the thing they might want to do is worth the lives of 4,357 children. The New York Times reports that at the rate we are going, “one in 25 American 5-year-olds now won’t live to see 40, a death rate about four times as high as in other wealthy nations” — and “firearms account for almost half of the increase.”

    We do all kinds of things to make cars more safe. We require licenses, we require drivers to take tests before they can get those licenses, we have speed limits, we require people to wear seatbelts, we make it illegal to drive while under the influence, we require people who drive cars to be insured and for their cars to be registered, we require car manufacturers to have certain safety features, we do not allow people to put their cars in unsafe places, and we do not allow people to let their children drive their cars unless those children are licensed and insured. We take people’s ability to drive away if they are caught using a car under the influence. They are charged more for insurance if they are bad drivers who get into accidents all of the time.

    We do none of this for guns. Other countries do many of these things for guns, which is why they don’t have mass shootings every other day.

    Also, the idea of “reducing” gun deaths by “having more fathers in the home” is ridiculous and not actually a thing anyone can regulate without getting, frankly, tyrannical about it. There are lots of regulations we could have on guns, but we don’t have them because some dipshits think they’re totally gonna overthrow the United States government. Uvalde had armed guards, and in fact had its own damned police force. Nashville had armed teachers. Neither of these things proved the least bit helpful.

    We know what is helpful. We can look at other nations and see what is helpful. Of our peer countries, Canada had the second highest gun death rate for children. You know how many they had? 48.

    If some leader were to somehow rise to power in this nation and demand the sacrifice of 4,357 children, you know what we’d call that? We’d call that tyranny. […]


  87. says

    Lynna @ #123, thank you for sharing that. Even though, as they note, TN isn’t an outlier but just an extreme, it’s almost comforting to read that it isn’t the norm. I’m still trying to process what I saw yesterday, including in the time before they got to the expulsion resolutions. I had a visceral reaction to it, because it wasn’t just majority steamrolling but relentless microaggressions in which the Republicans showed they didn’t view the minority as colleagues, equals, or legitimate voices representing their constituents.

    On several occasions, as @ #s 72 and 106, it was almost like the Democrats (smartly, recognizing they had a rare opportunity because people were watching) broke the fourth wall, basically saying to the audience “Can you believe this shit?” More than one Democrat pointed out that this was the Republicans on their best behavior and it’s usually far worse than this, which is very easy to imagine.

    There’s been so much lately about the Republicans’ increasingly open anti-democratic and authoritarian actions, but it’s shocking to see it playing out in these local interactions. Someone could write an interesting dissertation studying the Tennessee legislature for the past few years to examine the cultural and interpersonal aspects of democracy/anti-democracy.

  88. says

    Followup to comment 121.

    More Ukraine updates:


    If there’s something in that Bakhmut map that makes Russian sources unhappy, it’s probably how much of the city remains in Ukrainian control and how little progress Russian forces have made around the city in the last three weeks. [Tweet and Special Operations Forces of Ukraine video]

    The last few days, the number of Russian losses reported by the Ukrainian General Staff has been drastically lower than it was last week, and not even half of the 1,000+ numbers that were routinely reported in the previous two weeks. That happened again on Friday. [List at the link]

    In part, this is due to the overall decrease in the number of assaults that Russia has been launching lately. The report from Friday morning showed just 40 attempted advances over the previous 24 hours. Almost half of these—16—took place in the city of Bakhmut and just north of the city near the village of Berkhivka, meaning that everywhere else along the nearly 1,000-kilometer front line, Russia attempted just 24 advances at any scale.

    One other thing worth picking up from this report: While the number of men, tanks, and APVs being lost on a daily basis may have declined, Ukraine continues at an accelerated pace when it comes to taking out Russian artillery. Whether that’s happening through drones (as has been seen in several recent videos) or more accurate counterbattery fire, these numbers show Ukraine continuing to effectively whittle away at the one piece of equipment most vital to Russia’s strategy.


    I’m taking off my journalist hat for a moment and popping on my armchair analyst propeller beanie. I’ve tried to avoid making predictions about the course of this war, but I’m going to make one now:
    [Image: Ukrainian soldier with drone]

    Many analysts came into this fight saying that the time of the tank was over. They were wrong. Tanks aren’t being used the way they were in World War II, but they are still a vital part of capturing positions when used in combination with other vehicles and infantry. That’s still going to be true at the end of this war.

    Throughout the war, Russia has had just one successful tactic, one in which heavy artillery bombardment reduces Ukrainian defensive positions over an extended period while infantry, with light armor support, continues to probe for weaknesses. When Russia has sufficiently reduced the area through continued use of artillery to level potential defensive positions, the whole show slides forward and the process begins again.

    Here comes the prediction—this tactic is on its way out. It’s not the tanks’ role that is going to be seriously diminished by the end of this invasion, it’s the one piece of hardware that has done the most damage and been the most essential to Russia in this conflict and others—that “king of battle,” the artillery gun. By the time this fight is over, both precision-guided ammunition and the proliferation of drones are going to greatly diminish the importance (and the life span) of artillery, making the kind of tactic Russia has so far employed almost impossible to sustain. The king of battle is going to run into a palace coup.

    Okay, putting the beanie back into my official Cecil the Seasick Serpent Fan Club box. Back to work. Get back to me in a few months and I will accept a flounder across the face if this prediction turns out to be a dud. And yes, I did mix together some Bullwinkle and Cecil. I will face the appropriate charges at the Hague.


    On the list of obstacles to Ukraine launching a major counteroffensive, what’s happening on 4Chan is probably way, way down at the bottom. They still have to get enough forces trained on all the new Western equipment coming into the country. They have to work out a logistical chain that is now almost infinitely more complex than it was when every Ukrainian unit was moving around a mix of Soviet and homegrown equipment. They have to form all this new gear into something that looks like coherent units. They had to determine how equipment that was originally designed to fight light infantry in Northern Africa or take out militants in the mountains of Afghanistan is best used in the fields, hills, forests, and cities of Ukraine.

    If Ukraine conducts a successful counteroffensive over the next few months, there are going to be a lot of very tired heroes who never came near the battlefront but spent thousands of hours in spreadsheets and on maps working out how to make what must now be the most equipment, training, and experience-diverse army on the planet work in actual combat.

    And when all that’s done, there is still this. [Image at the link: A local resident rides bicycle along a flooded street in the town of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region on April 4, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – On April 4, in the village of Gorodeshchyne in the town of Kramatorsk, a spillway sluice on one of the ponds was damaged. 260 households on 30 streets were flooded]

    General Mud? Please stand by for Admiral Flood. Kramatorsk, April 4, 2023.

    The weather today in Bakhmut? Rain. Tomorrow? Rain. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week? Rain. The good news is that on Monday, it’s only cloudy.

    It’s one thing to try to plan around General Mud, but right now many areas of Ukraine are under the control of Admiral Flood. To say that things are unlikely to dry out real soon now is an understatement. But hey, at least eastern Ukraine seems to not be headed for another round of this … [Image at the link: A woman walks her dog in a snow covered park after snowfall in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on April 6, 2023.]

    Snow blanketed parts of western Ukraine again this week and had been predicted in the east. However, it now looks like temperatures are going to remain above freezing along the front so it’s going to be rain, rain, and more rain. It’s going to be slightly drier at the northern end of the front near Kupyansk, where rain is expected only four of the next seven days, but that area tends to have the worst off-road conditions, so it’s not a great help.

    Honestly, all of this rain is likely just what Ukraine wanted to see at the moment. Getting prepared for a counteroffensive is a monumental task. If General Mud and his comrades just keep things mired in place for the next couple of weeks, that’s a good thing. Ukraine is only getting more prepared and Russian forces, for better or worse, aren’t going anywhere.

    MEANWHILE, IN RUSSIA [Tweet and video at the link: “💰🏃 St. Petersburg residents ran to change dollars and euros amid the collapse of the ruble

    The dollar is trading at 83 rubles, while the euro has reached 91 for the first time since last April. The Russian ruble has been weakening all week, but the authorities are trying to prevent panic and say that the rate will soon level off due to higher oil prices.”]

    Link. Scroll down to view the updates.

  89. says

    Followup to comment 121.

    Kyiv Independent:

    Ukraine’s intelligence dismisses classified war documents leaked online as ‘fake’

    Ukrainian military intelligence said that the supposed classified war documents recently leaked online were forged by Russia.

    Russia or pro-Russian elements are likely behind the leak, undisclosed U.S. officials told Reuters on April 7.

    “In recent decades, the most successful operations of the Russian special services took place in Photoshop,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate spokesperson Andrii Yusov said on national television on April 7.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Some parts of it were fakes, there were badly faked versions going around talking up Ukrainian losses and down russian losses and such. But the docs behind it, which these fakes were ripped off of, are apparently real enough.
    Some People are saying the coalition is breaking down over this.

    Some People are saying it is a stunt to confuse Russia to act recklessly in false confidence.

    Some People are saying ‘wut?’ (me) [And me.]
    It seems to me there’s a silver lining in that the leak became public. At least UA knows what is out there, and can change plans accordingly. Much better than finding out when the operation goes live.
    Doesn’t speak well for Russian OPSEC does it.

    Tinker with it, then release/leak it so Ukraine then knows they have been rumbled?

  90. says

    SC @126: “[…] the Republicans showed they didn’t view the minority as colleagues, equals, or legitimate voices representing their constituents.”

    Yes, that was my main takeaway as well. It was startling to see the Republican attitude so blatantly exposed. And, as you pointed out, that was Republicans on their best behavior because they knew they were on camera. It’s good that the entire nation got to see the truth, awful as it is.

    And, of course, the Republican’s retrograde attitude led to their ill-conceived actions.

  91. says

    Followup to comment 130.

    […] MSNBC’s Alex Wagner mentioned during the handoff between Chris Hayes’ show and hers that other Republicans in other states had pointed to Tennessee as a leader in how these things get done; and that in fact the Republican supermajority in Wisconsin was already openly discussing how they might impeach the newly elected Supreme Court justice, before she has even taken up her role, before she has made any official decisions.

    Tennessee, to these Republicans, is a beacon. It’s a template.

    […] What conservatives are communicating to their base is this: “We have the power. We can remove these people without any consequences whatsoever. We don’t have to work with them; we can just get rid of them. This is how we take our country back. […]

    This has been a terrible two weeks, but it’s important to reexamine the landscape. We have a former president under criminal indictment. GOP House Representatives, led by the MAGA caucus, disrespected the separation of powers by interfering in the criminal proceedings, demanding that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg come before them and divulge his evidence and materials before even the advent of the trial, before they even know the charges leveled against Trump (who, unfathomably, remains their standard-bearer). Trump, for his part, has called Bragg an “animal” whose “master” is an international Jewish banker whose very name has become a slur.

    These are not undertones, and they are not disconnected. […]


  92. says

    Months into the Republicans’ debt ceiling crisis, with a dangerous deadline looming, the GOP — in a rather literal sense — has no idea what it’s doing.

    Late last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy once again pleaded with President Joe Biden to negotiate over the debt ceiling, suggesting that the Democrat was putting the nation at risk by refusing to engage in hostage negotiations. The argument was ridiculous on its face: It’s McCarthy, not Biden, who’s threatening to hurt Americans on purpose.

    As part of the same remarks, the California Republican added, in reference to the talks he’s desperate to have, “I would bring lunch to the White House. I would make it soft food, if that’s what he wants. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes to meet.”

    This was apparently intended to be a cheap shot at the president’s age — as if Biden might be more inclined to sit down for hostage negotiations after the hapless House speaker insulted him.

    But hanging over head was a problem McCarthy has long been reluctant to acknowledge: There’s still no point in having such a meeting, not only because the president won’t negotiate with those threatening to impose deliberate harm on the nation, but also because House Republicans still don’t have a plan that could serve as the basis for a constructive dialog.

    In January, McCarthy declared that the House GOP’s “very first responsibility” would be “to pass a budget … so the country can see the direction we’re going.” He and his party have since walked away from their “very first responsibility,” even as they beg Biden to enter negotiations.

    Making matters far worse, the principal impediment to progress isn’t the difference between Republicans and Democrats, it’s between Republicans and other Republicans.

    House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington told reporters two weeks ago, for example, that the GOP conference was finalizing a list of specific budget cuts to be brought into negotiations with the White House. McCarthy added soon after, “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

    It was against this backdrop that The New York Times reported yesterday:

    Mr. McCarthy has told colleagues he has no confidence in Mr. Arrington, the man responsible for delivering a budget framework laying out the spending cuts that Republicans have said they will demand in exchange for any move to increase the debt limit. Aside from the perceived disloyalty, Mr. McCarthy regards Mr. Arrington, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, as incompetent, according to more than half a dozen people familiar with his thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

    [raised eyebrows —really?]

    […] the House speaker has also told colleagues and allies that he cannot rely on House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, describing the Louisianan as “ineffective, checked out and reluctant to take a position on anything.”

    In other words, months into the Republicans’ debt ceiling crisis, with a dangerous deadline looming, GOP leaders — in a rather literal sense — have no idea what they’re doing.

    The scariest thing about this crisis is that Republicans are threatening to impose an economic catastrophe on all of us. The second scariest thing is that the GOP leaders who created this crisis are both clueless and at odds with one another.

    The Republican party’s plan to pass a budget has been discarded. The party’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years is also gone. The party has no timeline, no opening offer, no blueprint, no proposed compromise, and no proposed cuts. So what is it, exactly, that McCarthy wants to talk to Biden about?

    In the hopes that the House speaker might see this, let’s briefly review Hostage Taking 101.

    Step 1: Identify and take hostage.

    Step 2: Reach out to hostage’s loved ones, telling them you’ll harm the hostage unless your demands are met.

    Step 3: Tell the hostage’s loved ones what your demands are.

    Step 4: Wait for a response.

    GOP leaders seem to have some rudimentary understanding of this process, but they appear to be skipping past Step 3.

    […] If leaders worked out a compromise, who could say with any confidence whether the House speaker could deliver the votes to pass it? Especially if his right-hand man is “ineffective, checked out and reluctant to take a position on anything””

    Biden has a plan. It’s simple and effective. As the president sees it, Congress can and should simply raise the debt ceiling and prevent default. The beauty of this plan is that it doesn’t cost anything; it’s a step both parties have taken dozens of times over the course of generations; it only takes a few minutes; and it prevents an economic disaster.

    Republicans don’t agree with one another, except in their dislike of the president’s plan. With our economic stability on the line, that’s not good enough.

  93. says

    […] Pomerantz [Mark Pomerantz, a former county special assistant district attorney] not only concluded that Trump committed multiple felonies, he also wrote that he considered it “a grave failure of justice” not to hold the former president accountable.

    In case anyone needs a refresher, let’s not forget that Pomerantz has a unique background. He was, after all, in private practice before the district attorney’s office recruited him to help oversee the Trump investigation, in part because of his relevant experience: Pomerantz was an accomplished organized crime prosecutor.

    And after spending a year examining the former president’s financial practices, Pomerantz came to believe that Trump could be charged, prosecuted and convicted.

    “His financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, the national media, counterparties, and many others, including the American people,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

    Pomerantz then wrote a book elaborating on his beliefs that Trump committed a great many crimes.

    This is the guy Jordan [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan] wants to bring in for testimony? The phrase “don’t threaten me with a good time” comes to mind.



  94. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article/Video: Mediaite

    Sabi Kumar, an Indian-American Republican legislator in the Tennessee House of Representatives, slammed his newly-famous ex-colleague […] shortly before the body voted to expel Jones
    Kumar said that it was the first instance, in the 53 years since he immigrated to the United States, that he had a “slur” directed toward him […]

    [Excerpt of Kumar from the video]: You should join the House. Become one of us. Make the transformation from […] demonstrating […] to be a representative who represents. […] You have mainly interrupted the procedings. You have attacked fellow representatives. You’ve attacked the chairman almost in all committees. That is not representing your people. That is not going to build credit to the people that you claim to represent.

    Jones responded to the allegations:

    There’s a lot to unpack there, Representative Kumar […] said ‘You see everything under the lens of race, when you join this body, you should just become one of us. Just assimilate.’

    That’s very disappointing to hear, my friend. And what I told you was, what you just exhibited, as the only member of their caucus that’s not of the Caucasian persuasion, I said that you put a brown face on white supremacy. That’s what I said.

  95. says

    Bothsidesism strikes again:

    […] some mainstream outlets struggled to resist both sides-ing the reality.

    Take this Associated Press headline: “Amid polarization, minority party lawmakers face penalties.”

    It’s hard to imagine a worse summation of current political dynamics. Based on the headline, you’d think it’d be a litany of Tennessee-esque vindictive actions taken by both parties. But look at the opening.

    “Oklahoma Republicans removed the state’s only nonbinary legislator from House committees after the lawmaker provided refuge to a transgender rights activist,” it reads. “In Florida, two Democratic leaders were arrested for participating in a protest over abortion restrictions. And in Tennessee, three Democratic House members are facing expulsion for using a bullhorn in the House chamber to show support for demonstrators demanding gun control.”

    Notice a pattern? In each example, Democrats are being punished for protesting, for publicly taking positions that Republicans oppose. And in the two examples where the punishments are political in nature, it’s Republicans who are doling them out.

    These are not examples of “polarization.” They’re examples of a Republican party on an authoritarian, rightward-march, growing increasingly comfortable taking an iron fist to democratically elected lawmakers who express opinions they oppose.

    The failings of the coverage range in severity.

    Take this New York Times piece. The headline is informative: “Tennessee G.O.P. Punishes 2 Democrats by Throwing Them Out of House.”

    But then you reach the sub-heading: “The unseating of the lawmakers threatened to further inflame partisan rancor in a state that is divided over issues like how to respond to a school shooting in Nashville.”

    “Partisan rancor” is the evil being “threatened,” and not the reaction of a healthy democracy to years of chipping away at it.

    Then you have the more minor, but frustrating, sins of omission.

    This NPR headline — “Tennessee House votes to expel 2 of 3 Democratic members over gun protest” — and this Washington Post Twitter description of its article — “Over 100 state and federal Black lawmakers assembled in an emergency Zoom meeting Thursday evening to offer support to Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who were unseated from the Tennessee House” — omit critical information. Republicans in the Tennessee House voted to expel them. They were unseated by Republicans.

    It all stems, consciously or not, from the idea that to pin the action on one party, rather than to avoid assigning accountability through the passive voice or by citing the chamber without clarifying its partisan lean, would reveal some kind of bias on the part of the reporter.

    As soon as you step into the land of right-wing outlets, things get, predictably, worse.

    The chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner writes: “Three Tennessee lawmakers occupy the state House floor, acting in tandem with protesters to bring House business to a halt. A week later, all hell breaks loose.”

    The editor-in-chief at Crooked Media (and TPM alum) Brian Beutler responds: “This is perfect weaseldom. Active voice for the libs who nefariously ‘occupy’ their workplaces. Passive voice for his Bull Connor-wannabe allies, who lack all agency as ‘hell’ breaks loose and expels two black legislators.” [Correct]

    All of this brings us to our crescendo, the worst of the worst. Let us turn our gaze to that cathedral of journalism, that foundry of fact, Fox and Friends. This morning, host Ainsley Earhardt had this to say:

    “Everyone agrees, though, you can’t be chaotic in a state building or a government building, the Capitol of the United States.”

    Thank God everyone agrees, otherwise we might be under the threat of partisan rancor.

    Many of these articles clarify and report on the dynamics well in their bodies, but it’s not enough. This was a clear-cut example of the growing danger of a Republican Party further emboldened, in a Trumpian style, to break norms and crack down on dissidents. Shrouding that peril in mealy-mouthed fretting about both parties being mean to each other is a disservice to readers and to citizens, and obfuscates the truth and clarity journalism is supposed to provide.


  96. says

    Followup to comments 112, 127, and 129.

    More Ukraine updates:

    Reported fighting near the train station in Bakhmut. If so, then Wagner has managed to move several blocks north and west from previous positions. Collecting detailed positions and will have an updated map tomorrow. [video at the link]


  97. says

    Apparently Substack started Substack Notes or something which is a potential Twitter-like thing, so Musk’s free-speech factory is now not only disabling engagement with any tweets with Substack links but any tweets that share those tweets and so on.

    It’s funny because I saw something about Substack Notes maybe yesterday but had already forgotten about it but now I’m kind of interested. Also, LOL (Twitter link).

  98. Reginald Selkirk says

    US Justice Clarence Thomas responds to unreported luxury travel

    United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has responded to a report detailing his failure to disclose luxury trips provided by a Republican megadonor — a possible violation of the law.

    In a statement to US media on Friday, Thomas said he had “always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines”…

    And by “always” he means “after I got caught.”

  99. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article: WaPo

    The Biden administration […] proposed new regulations that would allow schools to bar transgender athletes from […] sports, but disallow blanket bans
    schools would need to […] justify it based on educational grounds, such as the need for fairness.
    The long-awaited proposal, which is subject to public comment, puts forth a framework for how schools can comply with Title IX […] all public K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities that receive federal funding.
    activists said the proposal provided a welcome set of protections for trans students but also worried the regulations could offer a road map for those who want to discriminate.
    that would, in effect, wipe out blanket bans on transgender athletes passed in recent months by 20 states.

    * The hypothetical threat of a possibility of potential for unfairness, in sports has long been a canard among transphobes.

    * I was unable to find where public comment is taking place. Presumably at the Federal Register, under Ed Dept’s proposed rules, but it’s not listed there (yet?).

    * The fact sheet links an unofficial pdf, dated 2023-04-06, which says it “has been sent to the Office of the Federal Register and is being scheduled for publication.”

  100. tomh says

    Re: #138
    Speaking of Shasta County,

    Redding (CA) Record Searchlight
    With more costs to come, Shasta County will spend $950,000 on new voting system
    Damon Arthur / April 7, 2023

    Shasta County officials on Thursday approved spending $950,000 to hire a company to provide the equipment needed to hand-count ballots, something that hasn’t been done in California in decades, at least not on the scale proposed in the county.

    The Board of Supervisors’ action comes even as elections officials try to develop a process that does away with machine counting and instead manually tallies ballots. County officials are also trying to figure out all of the costs associated with converting from machine counting.

    The board’s vote was driven by the majority of supervisors’ distrust of the vote counting machines it was using, Dominion Voting Systems. The Board of Supervisors previously terminated Shasta County’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems which had been set to run through December 31, 2025.

    Public comment before Thursday’s board vote reflected the divide in the community over hand-counting versus machine tabulation.

    Joann Roskoski, past president of the League of Women Voters in Shasta County, criticized the supervisors for adopting hand counting without knowing all of the costs involved.

    “We don’t even know if it can be done. But for sure, the money you’re looking at today is the tip of the iceberg. That money is going to get larger and larger and larger. And I agree with the last speaker that not having come up with a plan before you set sail on the Titanic was a big mistake,” Roskoski said.

    But Terry Rapoza, a leader in the State of Jefferson movement, told the board he felt they made the right decision to scrap machine counting because it can’t be trusted.

    [For those who don’t know, the State of Jefferson movement dates back to the 19th century, and would fuse rural areas of southern Oregon and northern California to form a new state. Similar to the wacko Greater Idaho movement which would absorb 3 eastern Oregon counties into Idaho. All to get away from those evil, liberal big cities.]

    “When you look at situations where we the people have the right to protect our vote, to protect our liberty, are we going to give that to a machine? Are we so dependent now on technology and what we believe in some cases of infallibility of machines? Who programs the machines?” Rapoza asked.

    In a report submitted to the board March 28, Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen estimated her office may have to spend more than $1.6 million on more than 1,200 additional employees to count ballots. She has opposed hand counting ballots and urged the board to continue to work with Dominion.

    One speaker asked if MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell planned to pay the cost of hand-counting ballots in the county.

    Supervisor Kevin Crye said in February he had been in contact with Lindell, who said he offered the county financial support.

    Crye at Thursday’s meeting did not answer the speaker, so Supervisor Mary Rickert asked Crye if Lindell would pay the cost of a manual tally. Crye said Lindell offered to financially help the county if it was sued over hand counting.

    In a follow-up, Rickert asked Crye Thursday if Lindell had put money into an escrow account the county could use to pay for its election costs. He replied “No.”

    Rickert said she was upset the county was unnecessarily spending money on a new way to count votes when the funds could be used for other important programs.

    “As a fiscal conservative, I’m highly offended by the fact that the majority of the board is willing to spend over $2 million to replace the Dominion system,” she said.

    “It’s my understanding that there’s no other counties of this size that would undertake this procedure by hand-counting versus machines. And I feel like you’re almost kind of setting up the elections office to fail,” Rickert said.

  101. Reginald Selkirk says

    Army sergeant guilty in fatal Texas shooting of protester

    A U.S. Army sergeant was convicted of murder for fatally shooting an armed protester in 2020 during nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice, a Texas jury ruled Friday.

    Sgt. Daniel Perry was working for a ride-sharing company in July 2020 when he turned onto a street and into a large crowd of demonstrators in downtown Austin. In video that was streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out and protesters begin screaming and scattering.

    The 28-year-old protester, Garrett Foster, was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

    During closing arguments, Perry’s attorneys said he had no choice but to shoot Foster as he approached Perry’s car with an AK-47 rifle, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Prosecutors said Perry could have driven away before firing his revolver.

    Witnesses testified that Foster never raised his rifle at Perry, according to the newspaper. Perry, who did not testify, told police that Foster did…

    The protestor was armed, therefore he intended immediate harm. Obviously the same applies to Foster, who was also armed.

  102. whheydt says

    Re: tomh @ #141…
    The solution to doubts about machines to count ballots isn’t to ditch the machines. It’s to require the provider to openly publish their source code so that anyone can examine it and satisfy themselves that it is correct and will count votes accurately.

  103. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia loses election to three UN bodies over Ukraine

    Russia lost elections to three United Nations bodies this week, a sign that opposition to its invasion of Ukraine over a year ago remains strong.

    The votes in the 54-member U.N. Economic and Social Council follow approval of six non-binding resolutions against Russia by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly. The latest — on Feb. 23, the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion — called for Moscow to end hostilities and withdraw its forces and was adopted by a vote of 141-7 with 32 abstentions.

    In the ECOSOC votes, Russia was overwhelmingly defeated by Romania for a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women. It lost to Estonia to be a member of the executive board of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF. And it was defeated by Armenia and the Czech Republic in secret ballot votes for membership on the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

    U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after Wednesday’s votes, “This is a clear signal from ECOSOC members that no country should hold positions on critical U.N. bodies when they are in flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter.” …

  104. says

    AP – “Judge in Washington orders feds to keep abortion pill access”:

    A federal judge in Washington state on Friday ordered U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the abortion medication mifepristone in 17 Democratic-led states that sued over the issue, countering a ruling by a judge in Texas on the same day that ordered a hold on federal approval of the drug.

    The dueling decisions threw into question access to the nation’s most common method of abortion, one that scientists have approved for use for decades.

    U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, a Trump administration appointee in Amarillo, Texas, signed an injunctio n directing the Food and Drug Administration to stay mifepristone’s approval while a lawsuit challenging the safety and approval of the drug continues. That ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom.

    In Washington state, Spokane-based Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama administration appointee, partially granted a request from 17 states and the District of Columbia. While the states sued in an effort to expand access to the pill, Rice did not go that far — instead, he blocked the FDA from making any changes to the drug’s access in the states that sued.

  105. says

    The Kyiv Independent has a new podcast, This Week in Ukraine. Here’s episode 2 (YT link) – “Why Ukraine is finally kicking out Russian church”:

    “This Week in Ukraine” is a video podcast hosted by Kyiv Independent reporter Anastasiia Lapatina. Every week, Anastasiia sits down with her newsroom colleagues to discuss Ukraine’s most pressing issues.

    Episode #2 is dedicated to Ukraine’s attempts to eradicate the influence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, a large church in Ukraine that still follows religious leaders in Russia, despite the war.

    Anastasiia is joined by the Kyiv Independent’s senior editor Oleksiy Sorokin.

    I don’t mean this in a condescending way, but everything about it is adorable. I love the set, the little sign and posters, the lighting, their sweatshirts, their mugs, her tablet,… It’s also really informative, and their English is amazing.

  106. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article: FOX13 Memphis

    Pearson (D-Memphis) and Justin Jones (D-Nashville) both were voted out of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Thursday.
    leaders in Nashville threatened to [withhold] millions of dollars in state funding for projects in the Memphis area if commissioners were to reappoint
    The Shelby County Commission has the ability to appoint a temporary replacement until a special election can be held, and some commissioners support the idea of sending Pearson right back

  107. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Fresh controversy swirled around Ginni Thomas as reports emerged that a Republican megadonor paid for her fur pelts and horns.

    According to the reports, Thomas also accepted a set of red, white, and blue face paints from the same donor.

    A combative Thomas told reporters that the fur pelts and horns she received were not luxury items but were derived from budget-priced rabbit and bison.

    She said that she would “not let this latest tempest in a teapot interfere with all the good work I am doing on the United States Supreme Court.”

    Her husband, Clarence Thomas, had no comment.

    New Yorker link

  108. says

    NBC News:

    Israel launched its biggest airstrikes on Lebanon in 17 years early Friday, after dozens of rockets struck the north of the country during the Jewish Passover holiday and sent tensions in the region spiraling. The exchanges, which also come during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and in the run-up to the Christian holy day of Easter, represent the most serious escalation between Israel and Lebanon since a 34-day war in 2006.

  109. says

    Yeah, Exactly Like Jesus

    I write tonight’s post from the roof of my apartment building, awaiting FEMA rescue, in the aftermath of the deluge of think pieces n’ hot takes about the strength of Alvin Bragg’s case. Feeling good about my decision to gouge my eyes out to spare myself further punditry. Please send beer.

    Yes, America spent a day and a half watching that goony little doofus fly from Florida to New York to get arrested, and then we yelled at the television for showing it to us, for we are a nation of assholes, and Donald Trump was sent to plague us, by some sort of cosmic Greek tragedian.

    He didn’t get the long, slow, martyr march he wanted, (Melania wouldn’t let him use any of the good tiaras anyway) just courtroom sketches and a couple photos where he looks scared. You can buy a shirt with a fake mugshot on it, though. That’s a shirt you can buy, so everyone around you will know what a dipshit you are. It’s like a MAGA hat, but a shirt.

    Republicans, from the highest halls of power to the Appalachianest diners of Real America, rallied obsequiously to their precious, fading game show host, because they don’t know how to do anything else anymore. Well, stay on the sinking ship, fellas. Lifeboats are for cucks.

    Lindsey Graham is organizing a bake sale for next Sunday, or maybe an insurrection, I couldn’t make it out through the blubbering. Jim Jordan wants to know if it’s possible to defund the rule of law all at once, or if it’d be easier to go agency by agency? And of course, George Santos was there.

    Anyway, the Dotard is basically Jesus, and/or Nelson Mandela, like Marjorie Taylor Greene says. I feel like Nelson Mandela’s social media posts wouldn’t be quite so racist. I’m not saying Jesus’ would be, mind you. I bet both of them would immediately grasp that a cognitive test doesn’t measure intelligence, though.

    You don’t get any more Christlike than MAGA, that’s for sure. For He did circulate amongst His followers the likeness of the daughter of the judge in His porn star hush money case, that they might menace her with hammers and bear spray and perhaps the odd nail gun.

    No riot this time, which is great for all sorts of reasons. The more headlines like “Lone MAGA supporter awaits Trump in New York, fears antifa” the better. (I had to work that one in because it’s perfect and I love it. Say it out loud. Honor the comma. Really linger.)

    Marj was on 60 Minutes, by the way, which I guess means she’s normalized now. […]

    Word on the street is, Kevin McCarthy can’t corral his feral caucus ahead of the approaching debt ceiling collision, but that’s unpossible, Kevin am the leaderest leader who ever led!

    In Tennessee, the Republican supermajority, which has been on a proto-fascist bender for some time now, expelled a pair of young, Black, Democratic state representatives, for Unconscionable Uppityness in Defense of Children’s Lives, which is not allowed in Tennessee. [Well said!]

    […] In addition to getting indicted on 34 felony charges, Donald Trump tried and failed to hire Laura Loomer this week, which is fairly embarrassing. […]

    Oh, and apparently, DoJ has evidence he personally rifled through the purloined classified docs to pull out the stuff he really wanted […]

    Desperate to revive his fast-fading presidential hopes, and running out of children’s books about civil rights heroes to ban, Ron DeSantis has apparently decided to lose a few more rounds to Disney. That oughta do the trick. Another excellent plan from the party of excellent plans.

    That six week abortion ban he’s cooking up’ll play real well […]

    I’d like to thank Daniel Kelly for losing so badly in Wisconsin, by which I mean both the 11-point margin and the thumb-suckingly petulant concession speech. You’re a credit to your party, Dan.

    […] Tommy Tuberville, who can barely fucking read, is single-handedly holding up more than 180 nominations at the Department of Defense, because he feels the women serving our country in uniform have too many rights.

    Republicans’re all over that women-having-rights thing. You’d never believe this was the same party that had no policy platform whatsoever last presidential election; these days they’re positively overflowing with ideas for new abortion restrictions. They’re really quite creative and industrious when they want to be.

    […] I see Clarence Thomas spent decades illegally concealing the lavish vacations showered upon him by GOP megadonor Harlan Crow. Golly. Corruption at the highest levels of Republican politics? Gosh. What is the world coming to? Gosh golly gee.

    […] A cackling Steve Bannon unleashed his “chaos agent,” anti-vax halfwit RFK Jr., upon the Democratic presidential primary, and I for one demand no fewer than nine debates with Marianne Williamson. Debate Number Six: What Do Cats Think About?

    Ron Johnson told Maria Bartiromo that he ran for reelection to advocate for “vaccine injuries,” clearly angling for the chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on Problems That Do Not Fucking Exist the next time these loons seize power. […]

    If you’re looking for something to cheer you up in the midst of all the madness, you could do worse than Mehdi Hasan ripping Matt Taibbi’s soul out through his butthole. I’d say treat yourself, but of course Tucker Carlson ruined treat yourself.

    […] You stay safe out there, my friends, until we meet again next week.

  110. lotharloo says

    The Mehdi Hassan debate with Matt Taibbi is one of the most brutal things I’ve ever seen. I honestly don’t think anyone has been as utterly destroyed as Matt in a debate. Even the dumbest creationists get away with more dignity than Matt.

  111. StevoR says

    Well, in less high stakes and more fun news :

    Walt Disney Co has unveiled plans for three new Star Wars movies, including one with Daisy Ridley — reprising her role as Jedi hero Rey — in a galaxy far, far away. Ridley will play her character, Rey, in a story set 15 years after the events of the 2019 film The Rise of Skywalker. The upcoming movie will focus on rebuilding the New Jedi Order as powers rise to tear it down, Disney said on Friday, local time. Lucasfilm’s president, film producer and actor Kathleen Kennedy, announced the new projects in London at the annual Star Wars Celebration fan convention,

    Source :

    Plus trailer here I think if Ahsoka is a movie rather than a series which dunno but looks cool anyhow.

    Oh and yeah also :

    Pakistan-born Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is set to become the first woman and person of colour to direct a Star Wars film. ..(snip).. Obaid-Chinoy, who has two Oscars for documentaries denouncing violence against women, said she was “drawn to the hero’s journey” in the Star Wars universe. “I spent the better part of my lifetime meeting real heroes who are overcoming oppressive regimes and battling impossible odds, and I think that’s the heart of Star Wars,” she said. Obaid-Chinoy directed last year’s Ms Marvel television series featuring a Muslim superhero.

    Source :

    The haters are already going batshit about this & seems DeathSantis’es attempts to intimidate Disney out of being “woke” have not only failed but backfired badly. Which since Dsiney is a big profitable company might perhaps be taken as a sign of hope trends~wise here?

  112. StevoR says

    Friendly Jordies youtube clip on what’s driving some dubious trials over Aussie warcrimes in Afghanistan here which goes for 12 mins 30 secs.

    Atmospheric CO2 just hit the HIGHEST EVER level IN HUMAN HISTORY at Mauna Loa 423.01 ppm on Apr 6 2023 Up 3.84 ppm from 419.17 one year ago
    live data:

    NB. Emoji’s removed from text. Showing up in preview but not sure if good idea or will work here?

    Source : – Twitter post on RH side of page in desktop.

    WARNING – Church child sex abuse refs here :

  113. says

    Ukraine Update: Bakhmut appears to be in crisis, again, as areas of Russian occupation expand

    It’s just another number, but still it does bring a feeling of satisfaction. On Saturday morning, Oryx reported that confirmed Russian losses of vehicles and heavy weaponry have reached 10,000 visually confirmed losses. The number, as of this writing, actually stands at 10,003 after some additional losses were tallied.

    As always with these numbers, the actual number of units Russia has lost is certainly higher — we just don’t know how much higher. For example, Oryx now puts the number of Russian tanks lost at 1,927. Meanwhile, in numbers also out this morning, the Ukrainian military general staff puts that number at 3,636. The real value is almost certainly somewhere in between. The Oryx value represents the bare minimum. We know Russia has lost at least this many.

    Even that minimum number also crossed a kind of line on Saturday. Based on numbers from both Oryx and Military Balance 2022, Russia has now lost 50% of all tanks that it had in active service before beginning the invasion of Ukraine. Again, this is based on the minimum, visually confirmed, value provided by Oryx. If the higher value from the Ukrainian military is accurate, then Russia has lost well over two thirds of its entire tank force.

    Based on the pre-war rate of production, Russia would need a decade to replace the tanks it has lost in Ukraine. Fifteen years if the Ukrainian figures are correct. Considering the sanctions now in place, Russia could find it impossible to replace those tanks-—or at least, impossible to equip them with modern fire control systems, communications, and imaging.

    Vladimir Putin has burned down the Russian military in the mud around Bakhmut. Every neighbor, every enemy, every ally, and every client state is right now evaluating a new world; a world in which Russia is unable to project military force.

    Compared to the damage Putin has done to Russia with this invasion, what the Soviet Union suffered in Afghanistan was a paper cut.


    In the area around Bakhmut, Ukraine has continued to push Russian forces back from the area south of Ivaniske, protecting the T0504 highway southwest to Kostyantynivka. Ukraine also repelled Russian forces north of Bohdanivka, protecting the northernmost bend in the road that runs from Khromove to Chasiv Yar.

    But both those roads have serious problems.

    It’s not without reason that over the last week, the nickname “road of life” for the road running west through Kromove has flipped to “road of death.” Russia has put enough artillery into place to the north in the area around Berkhivka that the road has turned into an incredible path of wreckage. The number of dead and disabled vehicles seems to grow constantly. Within the last day, another Humvee appears to have been added to the mix. [Image at the link]

    Driving down this road seems to be about as sensible as the multiple Russian advances on Vuhledar, though videos show some vehicles making it through using the sophisticated principle of just driving like a bat out of hell.

    Despite what some sources claim, this isn’t the only lifeline into Bakhmut. For some weeks, the T0504 highway to the southwest has provided a better route. Only now Russian forces within the city have reportedly advanced to the junction between that highway and Korsunskogo Street, with Russian sources saying Wagner mercenaries have occupied the remains of a school and grocery store near that junction.

    There are other roads. In fact, one of the reasons that Ukraine felt that they could hold onto Bakhmut even at a point where it seemed that Russia might capture one end or the other of the Khromove — Chasiv Yar road was the fact that they had already constructed new routes into the city. However, those routes are not paved, and as we’ve been reporting in recent days, the weather around Bakhmut has consisted of alternating days of rain, snow, and more rain, before settling into a pattern of rain, rain, rain.

    Here’s what that weather has done to conditions in the trenches around the city. Ukrainian troops, and presumably Russian forces as well, are wading knee-deep mud topped with several inches of water. These are not the semi-comfortable, wood-lined trenches / underground bunkrooms we’ve seen elsewhere. These are just muddy holes in the ground. They’re barely livable even without someone adding artillery shells. {Tweet and video at the link. Looks awful.]

    Considering what these trenches look like at the moment, it’s hard to believe that any of the unpaved routes into Bakhmut — all of which have seen heavy traffic from supply trucks and armored vehicles in the past month — can currently be described as readily passable. Current conditions make the T0504 and the “road of death” more important than ever for maintaining lines of communication with Ukrainian forces still in the city. It is not now certain that those lines remain open. [map at the link]

    Put it together and you have: the Road of death all but impassable, T0504 unable to supply forces north of Ivaniske, newly made roads certainly at least very difficult. So how is materiel getting into Bakhmut? It seems, from some images, that Ukraine is making fresh tracks across areas that haven’t been wallowed out into mudholes, and some of these roads look pretty decent — though it’s unclear how they get into the city itself.

    For some weeks, the situation within Bakhmut seemed almost as stable as that in the surrounding area, but that is no longer true. Wagner forces have connected their north and south advance on the west side of the Bakhmutka River, and that river, which for some time represented the limits of the Russian advance, is now six or seven blocks behind the lines.

    A week ago, it was possible to say that while Wagner had reached the “city center” in terms of ruined administration buildings, they were not near the areas where Ukrainian forces had been maintaining their center of control. That’s no longer true. Fighting has moved rapidly to the west. On Saturday, there are images of forces under assault at sites reportedly near the train station — right under that “Bakhmut” label at the center of the map.

    Here’s how the pro-Ukrainian Telegram Channel Deepstate puts it:

    Enemy advance in the center of Bakhmut has been clarified. Katsaps continue to press with the aim of pushing the Defense Forces behind the railway. Battles are taking place for the pre-trial detention center, the railway station and the Avangard stadium.

    Honestly, the conflict in the area of the stadium may already be over.

    It seems that Ukraine is having extreme difficulty in effectively resisting the Russian advance along much of the line inside the city, and there are multiple reports — granted, from Russian sources — that Wagner has broken previous defensive lines of Ukraine to occupy buildings that until the last few days have served as Ukrainian strong points.

    How much of this is due to the difficulty of keeping those supply lines open? That’s not clear, but it certainly can’t be helping. A week ago, Ukraine was reportedly sending an additional relief force into Bakhmut, and there were scenes of a significant line of armor that was said to be on its way to the beleaguered city. It’s also unclear if any of that force actually went into Bakhmut.

    The conflict in and around Bakhmut is now over eight months old. It’s been over three months since Soledar was occupied by Russian forces and Ukraine repositioned to meet an assault from three sides. Since that time, the tides in and around the city seem to have turned several times. The days on which it seemed that Russia was about to finally take Bakhmut have been numerous. There have also been days when it seemed that Wagner forces were all but exhausted and a liberation of the whole city seemed eminently possible. It hasn’t even been three weeks since the last time it seemed Russia was on a roll, only to have things settle into another temporary stalemate.

    But right now, there is no good news from Bakhmut.

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  114. says

    New York Times:

    The indictment of Donald J. Trump in New York over hush-money payments to a porn star was a global spectacle, with the former president glumly returning to his old stomping grounds in Manhattan as TV networks closely tracked his procession of black SUVs on their way to the courthouse.

    In Georgia, however, there is another criminal investigation of Mr. Trump nearing completion, this one also led by a local prosecutor, Fani T. Willis of Fulton County. While nothing is certain, there are numerous signs that she may go big, with a more kaleidoscopic indictment charging not only Mr. Trump, but perhaps a dozen or more of his allies.

    Her investigation has targeted a wide range of conduct centered around efforts to subvert the democratic process and overturn Mr. Trump’s 2020 election loss. Nearly 20 people are already known to have been told that they are targets who could face charges, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and David Shafer, the head of the Georgia Republican Party.


    This bit of news is encouraging, as we wait for the next shoe to drop. Twenty people would likely be a roundup of TFG and his most detestable henchmen.


  115. says

    Some Republicans working to investigate Biden family finances:

    Republicans on the House Oversight Committee quietly sent six subpoenas as part of their investigation into Biden family finances, according to a memo from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

    Raskin, the ranking member of the committee, wrote in a memo to other Democrats on the committee that Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has issued six subpoenas and sent 39 letters in the Biden investigation.

    Subpoenas went to Bank of America, Cathay Bank, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC USA N.A. and Mervyn Yan, a former business associate of Hunter Biden. The initial subpoena to HSBC Bank USA N.A. was misaddressed and did not include the word “Bank,” causing Comer to issue the subpoena a second time with the correct name.

    Raskin previously disclosed the Bank of America subpoena to the public in a letter to Comer last month.

    The memo accuses Comer of breaking longstanding committee precedent in issuing the subpoenas privately and not giving the minority proper notice. […]


  116. says

    Wonkette: “Oh Sure Kamala And Old Joe LOOOOVE Insurrection When It’s … Nah We Can’t Keep This Up”

    We’re pretty sure the Republican supermajority in the Tennessee House of Representatives had no idea that Thursday’s semi-successful effort to expel three Democratic lawmakers would get anything like the national attention it did.

    When they hold power, the comfortably bigoted have a hard time imagining anyone could possibly disagree with them, or pay attention to a little old score-settling against some pipsqueak liberals. The hasty, slapdash proceedings, with only a homeopathic trace of due process, made pretty clear the Republicans planned to quickly give the three a fast show trial and be done with them.

    Instead, they ended up with a national media spectacle, and came out looking like arrogant, out of touch racists, expelling Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones — two young, charismatic Black members — while falling one vote shy of expelling Rep. Gloria Johnson, the white, 60-year-old retired teacher whom they seemed to feel more kinship with. As we’ll note again and again, Johnson knew exactly what was up, telling reporters, “It might have to do with the color of our skin.”

    Following the Republican lynching of democracy, Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Nashville Friday to call for gun control and to meet with all three Democrats — the ones targeted for expulsion, not all three Democrats in Tennessee. Heck, the Tennessee House has an entire Democratic caucus, and Harris met with them Friday, too.

    Harris tweeted Thursday […]:

    Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville.

    How did Republican lawmakers in Tennessee respond?

    By expelling their colleagues who stood with Tennesseans and said enough is enough.

    This is undemocratic and dangerous.

    Here’s her speech at Fisk University: [video at the link]

    President Biden also issued a statement Thursday condemning the expulsions, noting that more than 7,000 students had gone to the Tennessee Capitol on March 30 to peacefully “call on their lawmakers to take action and keep them safe.”

    Instead, state Republican lawmakers called votes today to expel three Democratic legislators who stood in solidarity with students and families and helped lift their voices. Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent. Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence, and expel duly-elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.

    On Friday, before Harris met with Jones, Pearson, and Johnson, Biden also spoke with them on a conference call, and invited them to come to the White House sometime soon. As far as we know, none of the Republicans who engineered the expulsion effort have been invited anywhere nice. That statement will hold even if Donald Trump invites them to one of his trash palaces.

    We also found this slightly encouraging news McNugget: Only one Republican in the Tennessee House, Rep. Charlie Baum, voted “Nay” on all three expulsions. Baum has a 92 percent rating from the NRA (and a 100 percent score from National Right to Life), but we want to to encourage Republicans when they do the right thing — positive reinforcement can lead to improvements. So an imaginary chocolate chip cookie to Rep. Baum […]

    In Washington DC, the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement condemning the expulsions, saying that the treatment of Reps. Pearson and Jones

    makes clear that racism is alive and well in Tennessee. The GOP-led House chose to silence dissent from not only the Black representatives in the chamber, but the voices of their constituents as well. This move is not only racist and anti-democratic, it is morally bankrupt and out of step with the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that we need common sense gun control reforms to save lives.

    Not everyone found fault with the Tennessee Republicans, starting with the Tennessee Republican Party, which sent out a fundraising email praising the brave House Republicans who “upheld the rule of law” — or at least the iron rule of rules — by voting to “remove 2 Democrat State Representative that [it should be “who” — Dok] disrupted and protested the legislative process on March 30th,” which doesn’t make any sense at all since they were definitely not protesting the legislative process, they were protesting the GOP’s chronic firearms priapism disorder.

    Fox News, not surprisingly, ran a ton of stories on its website, including one ripping Johnson for saying that “North Korea has more democracy” than Tennessee (the subhed said she “faced expulsion after storming the state Capitol with gun control protesters,” which would have been quite a feat since she was already inside the building, and the protesters had all gone through security like any visitor. [Fox News aired outright lies … again.] The story repeated the claim that all three Democrats were charged with “rushing the state Capitol,” too. Another story Thursday claimed that “Chaos erupts again” at the Capitol because crowds came to protest the vote — or rather, “stormed the Capitol” and “chanted” like some kind of insurrectionists.

    On Fox News proper, the Fox & Friends crowd Friday morning explained that the expulsions were justified, because rules are rules and they have to be followed unless you think Donald Trump’s election was stolen. Host Ainsley Earhardt said the expulsions sent an important message “not to storm our government buildings. Right?”

    Wrong, as we keep noting, because nobody stormed anything, no matter how much the Right insists this was just like January 6. Earhart also straight up lied that the three Democrats “were leading those protesters onto the balcony in the House chamber last week,” a difficult trick to accomplish from the floor of the House […]

    Cohost Will Cain kept the bullshit comparison going, calling Joe Biden a hypocrite while he was at it.

    So during January 6th, people condemnably rioted and stormed the Capitol and it is described as undemocratic. In Tennessee, people stormed the Capitol, interrupted the democratic process, and used bullhorns. And if you punish them, that’s undemocratic. So it’s undemocratic as long as it is in disfavor with Joe Biden.

    Brian Kilmeade chimed in with a witty observation that would be funny to viewers who know nothing about what Fox staff were actually saying about January 6:

    Here’s the big difference. It’s okay to storm the Capitol if you are against assault, against gun control laws, or if you’re for gun control, it is. Okay. Here’s the difference. It’s a statehouse as opposed to the Capitol. I get it. Number two is lawmakers were leaning toward this. They were just like, “Hey, guys, I agree with you, but get out.”

    OK, scratch what I said before. That made no sense at all, the end.

  117. Reginald Selkirk says

    The Air Force Is Making a Big Bet on StormBreaker Bombs

    After over a decade in development, Raytheon’s GBU-53/B StormBreaker precision glide bomb is stepping up production. The Air Force plans to spend $320 million buying 1,500 units of the 204-pound munition, designed to home in on moving ground targets regardless of weather conditions or time of day.

    These relatively small (7” diameter) but sophisticated weapons will be built at a facility in Tucson, Arizona through June of 2027. European missile manufacturer MBDA will contribute the pop-out wings that swing out from the bomb upon launch. The latest order is comparable to past unit costs, equating to $213,000 per bomb…

  118. Reginald Selkirk says

    Finland to buy Israel’s David’s Sling air defense system

    The Finnish Ministry of Defense plans to buy the David’s Sling air defense system in a €316 million (U.S. $345 million) deal announced just one day after Finland joined NATO…

    David’s Sling was developed as part of a joint program between the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems serving as the prime contractor. Rafael also makes the Iron Dome air defense system, which is for shorter range threats.

    This will be the first export of the David’s Sling system. The system is designed to intercept advanced aerial threats, including ballistic missiles, aircrafts, UAVs and cruise missiles, Israel’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement…

  119. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ex-Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson, others charged in medical marijuana bribery scheme

    Former GOP state House Speaker Rick Johnson, two lobbyists and a medical marijuana business owner were charged Thursday in a bribery scheme, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan announced at a news conference in Lansing.

    Johnson, 70, was the chairman of the state’s medical marijuana licensing board, which approved or denied applications from medical marijuana businesses, from 2017-19. He was charged with accepting bribes.

    Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board member Rick Johnson speaks Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, at Eagle Eye in Bath Township about licensing regulations.
    Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board member Rick Johnson speaks Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, at Eagle Eye in Bath Township about licensing regulations.

    Brian Pierce, 45, and Vincent Brown, 32, both registered lobbyists, were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery.

    John Dalaly, 70, who sought a license to operate a medical marijuana business, was charged with payment of bribes.

    Each of the four defendants has signed a plea agreement and admitted to the charges, said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten…

  120. says

    Followup to comment 159.

    More Ukraine updates:


    We’re continuing our efforts to cut back on the use of Twitter, especially considering the Friday news that one of the first steps Elon Musk took when he purchased the social media site was to elevate the visibility of posts from Vladimir Putin and from Russian state media. However, there continue to be some videos and images which seem to be unavailable from other locations. Until that changes, the choice is between using Twitter or not sharing that information.

    You may have noticed that in the last week the updates have used more images and links where possible rather than embedding Twitter posts. There are reasons for that that go beyond just trying to cut down on connections to a site where management can’t be trusted to not boost Russian propaganda. Under Musk, Twitter has repeatedly demonstrated that it is willing to cut off access to APIs and even to expressly make embedded posts more difficult to use. It’s obvious that any embedded tweet in an Daily Kos post could turn into a void in the page tomorrow—or turn into an ad for Vladimir Putin’s favorite restaurant should Musk decide to make that happen.

    Even with all that said, here’s another tweet. I can only apologize. [tweet and video at the link]

    At first glance, this video might not seem to show anything special. By now, any observer of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has certainly seen dozens, if not hundreds, of videos showing quadcopter drones dropping either grenades or makeshift bombs on unsuspecting troops. From the Ukrainian side, we’ve also seen how Russian forces, thinking they were safe under the cover of darkness, were picked off by drones using thermal imagery.

    That’s part of what’s happening here. The two images in the video show side by side views of the same drone and the same bomb being dropped. The difference is that this video was shot in the day. Even in well-lighted conditions, the troops in the normal camera are all but invisible, obscured by camo and by vegetation. However, those same troops might as well be walking naked across a basketball court when it comes to the thermal view. Those men are dead because a thermal camera works both in the day and the night to not just penetrate darkness, but remove the value for much of what normally would be considered good cover.


    On Friday, the number of reported Russian assaults in Ukraine’s morning situation report dropped to just 40, with 16 of those happening inside Bakhmut. On Saturday, the number was back to 60, which seems to have become an almost standard value over the last week. Here’s how the last five weeks of assault values look when comparing one day to the next. There are a couple of days in here — including April 6 — that are a bit confusing, because one of the daily updates was missing. That was also true of an earlier date where I thought the reported values were very low, but that turned out to not be the case. [chart at the link]

    […] Early in March (and in February) Russia was frequently launching over 100 assaults a day. By mid month, the average day was seeing something more in the range of 80 assaults, but there was a lot of variability. Since the last week of March, numbers have run about 60-70 a day with one low day in the mix. That very low day could be weather related, as if followed a heavy snow near Bakhmut.

    My working theory on this decline is that it’s related to reported decreases in the number of artillery shells Russia is expending each day. That number has gone down from a reported 60,000 shells a day early in the invasion, to around 20,000 shells / day toward the end of the year, and to a reported value of somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 shells a day now. This could represent Russia burning through their reserve of artillery shells and being forced to operate closer to their actual production values. If Russian tactics involve sending forces forward under artillery cover, then a lack of artillery could translate into a shortage of assaults.

    To help confirm this, I’m collecting more information on both the number of shells Russia is expending each day and the number of sites reportedly shelled. But don’t expect those numbers in the next couple of days, because no one has been thoughtful enough to assemble that data into a near, spreadsheet-friendly source for me.

    Even if Russia is facing a sharp fall in available artillery shells, that doesn’t mean Ukraine is doing any better. In spite of recently announced donations from the U.S. and elsewhere, The Washington Post reports that Ukraine is dealing with a critical ammunition shortage at every level. According to sources in that report, Ukraine is firing 7,700 shells a day, which would be the highest estimate I’ve seen for Ukraine. Of course, that report also has Russia still firing at a 20,000 shell rate, which exceeds not only other estimates but is double the top figure currently offered by the Pentagon.

    In any case, Ukraine does seem to be taking some extreme steps to avoid wasting ammo and to recover material for creating more ammunition, not just for artillery, but for machine guns and small arms. It would be nice to think this shortage is simply Ukraine squirreling ammunition away for that coming counteroffensive, but the instructions given to front line soldiers make it seem that the difficulty is real.

    Link. Scroll down to view the updates.

    “Facing critical ammunition shortage, Ukrainian troops ration shells.” Washington Post link

    The artillery shells were stored in a shallow mud dugout, covered with a black plastic tarp to keep them safe. Just 14 rounds remained — evidence of a critical ammunition shortage that has the Ukrainians scrambling for ways to conserve supply until their Western allies can produce or procure more.

    The artillery platoon, with the 59th Motorized Brigade in eastern Ukraine, used to fire more than 20 or 30 shells per day with their Soviet-era howitzer. Now, they typically shoot one or two, or none at all.

    […] To keep up with their adversary and still conserve ammunition, the Ukrainian military is now pickier in selecting targets, often prioritizing equipment over small groups of infantry. Precision is key because misses mean wasted shells. And in underground workshops across eastern Ukraine, soldiers are using 3D printers and recycling unexploded ordinances to create alternative munitions.

    Artillery rounds for Ukraine’s Soviet-era guns, which make up the majority of their arsenal, have long been in short supply. That has forced a reliance on the artillery provided by Kyiv’s Western allies because they use 155mm caliber shells, which Ukraine has more of for now but for far fewer guns.

    […] In February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the “current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production.”

    Nearby Spider’s artillery position, the thunder of a U.S.-provided M777 howitzer, with its 155mm shells, roared every few minutes while he and his men drank tea in a foxhole. “Sometimes we just sit here and listen to the M777 shooting and the Russian creatures shooting back. It’s like a talk between them,” Spider said.

    […] Occasionally, a third country friendly to Ukraine will purchase the ammunition — sometimes through a broker — and then supply it to Ukraine in secret to avoid any political fallout for the seller.

    […] In areas where Russian forces retreated, soldiers wade through mined fields and forest to look for abandoned ammunition. One such group, which was ferrying any shells to the 59th brigade, recently hit unexploded ordnance.

    […] The Ukrainians could be holding back some ammunition for a planned spring counteroffensive. Soldiers in the field said what they have now is just enough to repel daily assaults but not to counterattack.

    […] U.S. officials have said that China is considering sending Russia 122mm and 152mm shells. Lee said that if that did happen, it “could significantly change the course of the war.”

    […] The Ukrainians have also explored creative conservation tactics. In some cases, crews bring unexploded ordinances originally fired by the Russians to secret labs in eastern Ukraine, and the elements are carefully stripped away to create a new munition.

    […] Volunteers and soldiers work with 3D printers to fashion small, relatively inexpensive munitions that can be dropped from drones. Bullets are deconstructed. The ball bearings from a Claymore mine are removed and then used in a different anti-personnel or antitank mine. At one of these sites, there are shrapnel holes in the ceiling — the result of an explosion that occurred during the refashioning process. Two people died.

    […] “to go on the offensive, contain the enemy … we need more ammunition.”

  121. Pierce R. Butler says

    StevoR @ # 157: … Friday, local time. … at the annual Star Wars Celebration fan convention…

    How dare they hold any such event on any day other than May the Fourth?!?

  122. says

    Guess what! Clarence Thomas’ GOP megadonor pal has a big collection of Hitler stuff!

    Question: If you were a U.S. Supreme Court justice, would you accept lavish vacations from a billionaire who might be nudging you to return verdicts that comport with his narrow worldview? Wait, don’t answer right away! What if the billionaire in question also had a giant cache of Nazi stuff, including a signed copy of Mein Kampf and two Hitler paintings? Would that sweeten this briny bucket of sauerkraut for you?

    Well, maybe you can resist such overtures, but you haven’t been exposed to the same kinds of temptations that have long bedeviled Clarence Thomas, the SCOTUS with the Mostess brazen conflicts of interest.

    By now you’ve no doubt read or heard about the bombshell ProPublica report tying Supreme Court Justice Thomas to billionaire weirdo/GOP megadonor Harlan Crow. According to ProPublica, Thomas has accepted luxury trips from Crow nearly every year for more than two decades—and has failed to disclose any of them. But that’s not all! Crow also has a world-class collection of Nazi shit. Oh, and he also has a statue garden adorned with the graven images of history’s most egregious despots, including Lenin, Stalin, and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

    The Washingtonian:

    Crow, the billionaire heir to a real estate fortune, has said that he’s filled his property with these mementoes because he hates communism and fascism. Nonetheless, his collections caused an uproar back in 2015 when Marco Rubio attended a fundraiser at Crow’s house on the eve of Yom Kippur. Rubio’s critics thought the timing was inappropriate given, you know, the Hitler stuff.

    “I still can’t get over the collection of Nazi memorabilia,” says one person who attended an event at Crow’s home a few years ago and asked to remain anonymous. “It would have been helpful to have someone explain the significance of all the items. Without that context, you sort of just gasp when you walk into the room.” One memorable aspect was the paintings: “something done by George W. Bush next to a Norman Rockwell next to one by Hitler.” They also said it was “startling” and “strange” to see the dictator sculptures in the backyard.

    Yeah, good idea to split up Dubya and Hitler with a Norman Rockwell painting. You need a palate cleanser between the war criminal’s dilettantish doodles and Hitler’s stuff.

    In 2014, when Crow’s house was included in a public tour of historic homes, a reporter from the Dallas Morning News visited. Apparently, Crow was visibly uncomfortable with questions about his dictator statues and Hitler memorabilia, preferring to discuss his other historical collections: documents signed by the likes of Christopher Columbus and George Washington; paintings by Renoir and Monet; statues of two of Crow’s heroes, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

    Wait, he thought he could deflect attention from his Hitler collection by mentioning Christopher Columbus, the Genocidal Genoan? Dude!

    […] elements of the ProPublica report were concerning, to say the least:

    Through his largesse, Crow has gained a unique form of access, spending days in private with one of the most powerful people in the country. By accepting the trips, Thomas has broken long-standing norms for judges’ conduct, ethics experts and four current or retired federal judges said.

    “It’s incomprehensible to me that someone would do this,” said Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton. When she was on the bench, Gertner said, she was so cautious about appearances that she wouldn’t mention her title when making dinner reservations: “It was a question of not wanting to use the office for anything other than what it was intended.”

    Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who served in administrations of both parties, said Thomas “seems to have completely disregarded his higher ethical obligations.”

    Of course, this isn’t the first time Thomas’ objectivity and ethical conduct have been questioned. There’s that whole “his wife is a far-right goofball who tried to end American democracy” bit. But that doesn’t mean conservatives have run out of excuses for his sketchy behavior.

    That said, imagine if the right’s ubiquitous bugaboo George Soros flew Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson to Gstaad for a three-day ski weekend. Republicans would freak. Hell, imagine if Soros took any one of them out for a yogurt. Tucker Carlson would be compelled to do a two-hour investigative report.

    But hey, being a Republican means never having to say you’re sorry. Or, rather, never actually saying you’re sorry. For the record, Thomas should apologize. But we all know he never will.


  123. says

    Florida Department of Health altered data to make vaccines look dangerous

    Last October, Florida State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo issued an extraordinary warning. Based an analysis of Florida residents, Lapado asserted that being vaccinated for COVID-19 resulted in an “increased risk for cardiac-related mortality” in the month following vaccination. Even more astoundingly, that analysis claimed that mRNA vaccines represented a “substantial” risk for both all-cause and cardiac-related deaths for men between 18 and 39. According to Lapado, there was an “84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death” for men in that age group following vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. As a result, the state of Florida officially recommended against men getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

    Since that announcement, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly backed Lapado’s recommendation. The numbers from that state-controlled Florida “study” have become standard fare for anti-vaccine claims from Fox News to Robert Kennedy Jr. Kennedy […]

    However, right from the start, Lapado’s colleagues were highly skeptical of both his findings and his recommendation. Now The Tampa Bay Times demonstrates that there were very good reasons for that skepticism. Because to get the numbers he wanted, Lapado altered the results of the study, leaving out what it really discovered: “The risk associated with COVID-19 infection clearly outweighs any potential risks associated with mRNA vaccination.”

    This is the conclusion of the study as published by Lapado.

    Conclusion: In this statewide study of vaccinated Florida residents aged 18 years or older, COVID-vaccination was not associated with an elevated risk for all-cause mortality. COVID-19 vaccination was associated with a modestly increased risk for cardiac-related mortality 28 days following vaccination. Results from the stratified analysis for cardiac-related death following vaccination suggests mRNA vaccination may be driving the increased risk in males, especially among males aged 18 – 39. Risk for both all-cause and cardiac-related deaths was substantially higher 28 days following COVID-19 infection. The risk associated with mRNA vaccination should be weighed against the risk associated with COVID-19 infection.

    But this is the conclusion as it appeared in the earlier draft.

    Conclusion: In this statewide study involving vaccinated persons aged 12 years or older in Florida, no increase in the incidence of natural all-cause, natural all-cause/unknown, or cardiac-related deaths was detected following COVID-19 vaccination. Significant decreases in death incidence following vaccination were observed for some groups evaluated.

    As the Tallahassee Democrat reported back in January, that “84% increase” was still there in the earlier version of the report, but there were only 20 cases of coronary events in that age group across the study, making the whole number too small to be statistically significant. For scientists who evaluated Lapado’s version of the report, the evidence was clear that Lapado had committed “reporting bias by cherry picking results; focusing only on evidence that supports his stance, ignoring contradicting evidence and failing to appropriately acknowledge the limitations of his own data set.”

    To find something he could use to “prove” mRNA vaccines were dangerous, Lapado scanned the tables, found one number where deaths within a certain period for one small group were higher, and singled it out as a cause for alarm. He did so even though it was obvious that the number he was selecting was based on a sample size so small that it amounted to no more than “noise” in the results.

    Not only does the Times version show how Lapado deliberately altered the conclusion of the report to highlight the false fear he wanted to create, to better highlight the results, Lapado removed a whole set of data from the study. The data concerning what happened to Floridians who became infected with COVID-19.

    For Floridians ages 18 to 24, the incidence of cardiac-related deaths from infection was more than 10 times higher than from the vaccine and more than five times higher for ages 25 to 39.

    In order to support the anti-vaccine claims that both Lapado and DeSantis had supported, the state surgeon manufactured a false claim that mRNA vaccines were dangerous. In doing so, he completely ignored the obvious — COVID-19 really is dangerous.

    Lapado’s recommendation wasn’t just wrong, it was malpractice that has almost certainly resulted in numerous deaths, not just in Florida, but everywhere his false claim was repeated. It may not be possible to charge Lapado and DeSantis with murder. That doesn’t make them less guilty.

  124. says

    Followup to comment 170.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    It doesn’t matter by what means, to willfully encourage the spread of a lethal pathogen for political ends is biowar […]
    I hope someone files a criminal complaint against this fraud of a “physician.”
    The Scientific Method of Florida’s Republican Government: make up shit and shout it at high volume over and over.
    [A correction]: the name is right in the photo caption and in your first in-text reference: Joseph Ladapo. But, from there on you reference him as Joseph Lapado.
    Lapdog deserves to have his medical license revoked for this.

  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    In Ruling to Ban Abortion Pills, Federal Judge Claims ‘Fetus’ Is an Unscientific Term

    Throughout the utterly bogus decision, in which he literally cites an 1873 law prohibiting the mailing of lewd materials, Texas District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk refers to fetuses and embryos as “unborn humans,” conferring legal personhood upon embryos and fetuses. Of course, this language is a transparent play to equate abortion with murder. And hilariously, in his very first footnote, Kacsmaryk claimed he chose these words to be more scientific and “inclusive”: …

    I doubt that Kacsmaryk could science his way out of a paper bag.

  126. Reginald Selkirk says

    Texas governor seeks to pardon Army sergeant convicted of murder

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Saturday that he is seeking to pardon a U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted of murder in the 2020 fatal shooting of an armed protester during nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice.

    Abbott tweeted that because the state constitution limits him to a pardon only on a recommendation by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles he is asking the board to recommend a pardon and to expedite his request in order to pardon Sgt. Daniel Perry…

    Perry was convicted Friday by a Travis County jury of fatally shooting 28-year-old Garrett Foster during a protest in Austin. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced.

    “Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney,” Abbott said…

    And yet, Perry was convicted of murder, so a court trial must have found that this was not a “Stand Your Ground” situation. I guess Abbott defines SYG differently, perhaps as “It’s OK to shoot liberals.”

  127. Reginald Selkirk says

    Red State Revue:
    Arizona armed suspect storms into smoke shop and tackles armed employee, ends up shot and critically injured

    Police in Arizona are investigating after a smoke shop owner says his employee shot an armed robber in self-defense.

    Ouday Muslet, owner of Smoke Casa in Glendale, Arizona, told FOX 10 Phoenix that his store was about to close on Thursday night when an armed man stormed into the building and wrestled an employee to the ground.

    The intruder then held his gun to the head of the employee as they wrestled around for a gun that the employee had in his waistband. The employee eventually shot the suspect in the leg.

    The suspect then grabbed the employee’s gun and went outside.

    At that point, the employee grabbed another gun that was inside the shop and followed the suspect outside where he shot him again…

  128. Reginald Selkirk says

    Filipinos nailed to crosses despite church objection

    Eight Filipinos were nailed to crosses to reenact Jesus Christ’s suffering in a bloody Good Friday tradition, including a carpenter, who was crucified for the 34th time with a prayer for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to end because it has made poor people like him more desperate.

    The real-life crucifixions in the farming village of San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province north of Manila resumed after a three-year pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. About a dozen villagers registered but only eight people showed up, including 62-year-old carpenter and sign painter Ruben Enaje, who screamed as he was nailed to a wooden cross with a large crowd watching in the scorching summer heat…

  129. says

    Texas Trump Judge Bans Abortion Pill Nationwide For Entirely Nonsensical Reasons

    As entirely expected, United States District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a preliminary injunction barring the distribution of Mifepristone, on the grounds that, two decades ago, the FDA failed to properly vet the drug before allowing it onto the market. This is of course ridiculous, because the drug had already been on the market in France and other countries for years at that point, making it entirely reasonable to fast-track it, as well as because twenty years of use, with the drug proving to be safer than both Tylenol and Viagra, clearly shows that this was an entirely reasonable decision.

    Of course, prior to being appointed to the lifetime position by Trump, Kacsmaryk had been an anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ lawyer, so he was already amenable to very stupid arguments.

    The lawsuit was brought not by people who have actually been “affected” by the drug in any particular way, but rather a coalition of wacky anti-abortion groups, including some doctors and dentists. Normally this would mean they have no standing to sue, but Kacsmaryk found that they did. The rationale for this was that the groups represented the “interests” of doctors who claimed that the pill being legal would “overwhelm” the medical system.

    Here, the associations’ members have standing because they allege adverse events from chemical abortion drugs can overwhelm the medical system and place “enormous pressure and stress” on doctors during emergencies and complications. These emergencies “consume crucial limited resources, including blood for transfusions, physician time and attention, space in hospital and medical centers, and other equipment and medicines.”

    Surely, if these complications were going to “overwhelm the medical system” they would have done so in the last 20 years in which it has been legal.

    Another reason Kacsmaryk found they had standing was because the people who have actually used the pill might be too ashamed to come forward, because of how traumatized they are from having had an abortion.

    Finally, women who have already obtained an abortion may be more hindered than women who challenge restrictions on abortion. Women who have aborted a child — especially through chemical abortion drugs that necessitate the woman seeing her aborted child once it passes — often experience shame, regret, anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts because of the abortion.

    One of the sources he used to back this up was a study titled Deaths Associated with Pregnancy Outcome: A Record Linkage Study of Low Income Women by one David C. Reardon … who is an electrical engineer and anti-abortion activist The other was written by Priscilla K. Coleman, who is at least has a background in actual psychology but whose work has been repeatedly criticized for its inaccuracies and poor methodology by the American Psychological Association and researchers who found they were never able to replicate her results. In other words, she is known to be full of shit.

    In issuing his decision, Kacsmaryk wrote that he just had to demand that the drug be taken off the market because the “plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable harm if the Motion is not granted,” because “[a]t least two women died from chemical abortion drugs just last year.”

    Adding those two to the list would make for a grand total of 26 women who have died from complications related to abortion medication, which makes it safer than probably any random and entirely legal and FDA-approved thing one can name. It is fewer than the number of people who die from being struck by lightning (28) every year in the United States. 500 people die a year from Tylenol overdoses. Erection drugs have been linked to hundreds of deaths.

    And about a dozen children die each year from Christian faith healing.

    Oh! And let’s not forget the many, many people who die each year from treatable conditions because they can’t afford health care in the United States.

    So that’s clearly some bullshit.

    Kacsmaryk’s ruling isn’t meant to go into effect for seven days and may not go into effect at all, as U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice in Washington State has issued his own ruling which will bar the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone.” The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the Democratic attorneys general of 17 states and the District of Columbia. It doesn’t actually seem like anyone is particularly clear on what any of this means for any of us. Is it legal? Is it illegal? Is it Schrodinger’s abortion pill? I couldn’t tell you right now.

    This probably means that the Supreme Court will have to take up the issue a lot sooner than expected […]

  130. says

    Conservative Book Club: A reading of Jack Posobiec’s pro-insurrection children’s book

    In far-right conspiracy crank and white supremacist Jack Posobiec’s post-insurrection children’s book, a pantsless furry leads a violent insurrection against a “communist” government and becomes a hero for doing it. […]

    Let’s explain. During the last gasps of March, a gaggle of hard-right provocateurs tried their hand at a children’s storybook hour in what would seem to be a conservative response to Drag Queen Story Hours. According to children, Drag Queen Story Hours are fun and hilarious. According to fascist Republicans, those are the cause of society’s moral decay. Remember when society’s moral decay used to be blamed on rock music? Then it was Dungeons & Dragons? Well, now it’s cross-dressing […]

    The event was semi-documented by internet meanie Amanda Trap House, and it was a ride. Did you know that Posobiec, child actor turned far-right pseudocelebrity Kirk Cameron, internet hate-and-bomb-threat incitement troll Chaya Raichik, and Trump press secretary for some reason Sean Spicer have all “written” children’s books? And they’re all “written” as part of the same cinematic talking animal universe? Now you do […]

    This powerhouse quartet [LOL] took over the Washington, D.C. area Cleveland Park Library reading room in late March in order to out-drag-queen themselves to a crowd of “15 children and one sullen teenager”. The real discovery of the day, however, is that children’s books aimed at grooming young conservatives are freaky.

    That leads us to what you knew was coming: A thorough reading and book review of all these books! Ha ha no, I don’t hate myself that much. We’ll focus on one—Posobiec’s “The Island of Free Ice Cream.”

    The Island of Free Ice Cream is published by creepy conservative publisher Brave Books as “Book 3” of “Saga One,” or the “Freedom Island Saga,” but the only thing you need to take from that is that Posobiec’s entry is only one of a whole series of hard-right books in which the good guys fight off communism, or tolerance, or “culture,” and at the end of the books there are some suggested family exercises to do so that you can make sure your little goblins have properly learned to hate whatever you tell them to. […]

    It’s almost assuredly not the case that Jack Posobiec “wrote” any of this. Brave Books seems to instead attach ghostwritten books to hard-right fringe “authors” like Dana Loesch, Dinesh D’Souza, Michael Flynn, and others in order to put fascism’s wackiest cranks in front of your child’s unwilling eyeballs. The names on the book covers won’t matter to child readers; these books really exist so that adult fans of those batshit far-right conspiracy cranks can gift something to their youngest relatives without missing a single chance to be giant assholes about it.

    We have not purchased a copy of “The Island of Free Ice Cream.” It is our longstanding policy to not give money to far-right conspiracy cranks even for the purpose of making fun of them, and we’re certainly not going to break that rule for the likes of Posobiec.

    Fortunately, at least as of this writing, the entire text of the book can be discovered thanks to at least one plucky young Youtuber who used it for her own children’s book reading and who apparently hasn’t yet been sued into oblivion by a coterie of pro-Nazi lawyers. Score! Nicely done, young broadcaster; your service will be remembered.

    The Island of Free Ice Cream was published in September of 2021, just over half a year past the failed Jan. 6 insurrection that Posobiec fueled with his “Stop the Steal” conspiracy claims. That’s going to come into play. Posobiec used to be an OAN commenter before teaming up with the even more explicitly fascist Turning Point USA, but to date, his most infamous claim to fame was his promotion of the utterly unhinged “Pizzagate” hoax, a hoax that eventually led to a gullible believer storming a pizza restaurant in search of imaginary child slaves being held in a basement that didn’t exist. […]

    Shall we begin, then? Sure, let’s do this thing.

    The animals of Rushington are happy–until the wolves promise free ice cream. Asher the Fox doubts that the wolves can deliver on their promise, which springboards him into a wild adventure, exploring wealth, poverty, and the wonders of a free market. Follow Asher’s exploits, and experience the lesson with your own family through the games and discussion questions included in The Brave Challenge at the end of the book.

    That’s the Google Books blurb for this Posobook, and I’m going to tell you right off the bat that the adventure is not wild, there is no exploration of wealth or poverty whatsoever—not so much as a single word of it—and the biggest wonder of the free market on display is the miracle of a frequently unhinged hoax promoter whose claims have been responsible for acts of real-world violence getting a contract for an ostensible children’s book, of all things.

    But on we go. […]

    Rushington was the happiest city in all of Wiggamore Woods. It hopped and popped, whizzed and whirled, buzzing and …

    […] Gonna skip that part. I think the point is that Rushington has a lot of electrical problems. That’s what you get when nobody in your free market paradise believes in government-backed safety regulations.

    The busiest spot of all was Rushington Market. You could buy anything at the market: cookies, goodies, and gadgets galore. The animals of Rushington loved to buy and sell all sorts of things but no one sold more than Asher the fox.

    Here we are introduced to our main character, a backpack-wearing but pantsless fox that represents all that is good and pure about capitalism. […]

    Asher is an Ayn Randian hero that seems to vaguely represent Elon Musk, but an alternate reality version of Elon Musk who’s actually good at inventing things and who the public actually likes.

    Asher invented cranes for building, tractors for plowing, and special tape for fixing just about anything. His finest invention was the freezer that let cows turn their milk into the most delicious ice cream you’ve ever tasted.

    Gonna have to interrupt here to note that while we’re perfectly willing to accept that this fox is the Flex Tape meme guy, the critical part of making ice cream is not the brand of freezer you use. There are other ingredients besides milk, and—oh, forget it. Sure, Asher here invented cranes, tractors, Flex Tape, and ice cream. That’s what you can accomplish when you give up on finding pants that fit. […]

    … until a pack of wolves came to town.

    We don’t get much exposition in this book before the villains are introduced […] The wolves are communists.

    The wolves dress entirely in black […] we’ve got the setup for our book’s major conflict. Asher the fox is the inventor of nearly everything good and just in the world and is single-handedly responsible for the existence of decent ice cream; the black-uniformed wolves are jerks and communists here to do some evil.

    […] The illustration here has the black-clad antifa wolves looking evil while holding up a sign: “FREE ICE CREAM FOR EVERYONE*”

    Okay, so first of all … “FREE STUFF” is not what communism is. It’s what people who believe in secret pizza restaurant sex crime tunnels think communism is […] but we know Jack’s wolves here represent “communists” because Jack explicitly said so in his own library book reading. […]

    Asher warned them that the wolves’ promise sounded too good to be true, but the animals drooling and dreaming of free ice cream decided to vote. After Judge Catinpaw counted the votes Mayor Blenson declared that the wolves now controlled Rushington.

    Well, that went rather smoothly. […]

    Then the wolves put Asher on a catapult and recited the chant:
    “With a snap and a kick and a powerful swish,
    you’ll fly through the air and land with the fish.”
    And they launched Asher right out of Rushington.

    Eep. First off, that’s a terrible chant […] This is an attempted murder.

    It’s also becoming apparent that Rushington is a considerably darker place than our authors are letting on. We’ve been led to believe this is a buzzing, popping, tenuously electrified paradise. Still, everyone agreed to let the wolves murder Asher right quick when promises of free ice cream entered the picture. This is not a healthy society—and, apparently, it’s one that never had any free speech rights, to begin with. Otherwise, Asher here wouldn’t be facing a firing-into-the-ocean squad for the dire crime of … questioning campaign rhetoric.

    So there we have it. A kind of dark end, for a children’s book, but maybe the lesson here is that—

    Thankfully, Asher brought along his handy-dandy hang glider.

    […] Asher’s always sporting a little backpack monogrammed with a big capital A; it turns out that among the accessories Asher keeps inside is a red, full-sized, monogrammed hang glider. As one does.

    So now we’re seeing that these communist wolves are just all kinds of incompetent. […]

    Asher landed on a strange and distant island. Animals hid in the alleyway shadows and there wasn’t a smile for miles. Soon, Asher stumbled upon a long line of animals, where a dog named Pepper was very hungry.

    This would be Utopia Island, homeland of the communist murder wolves.

    Confusingly, Pepper here is drawn as a flower-power hippie with a pink bandana and a sullen teen expression, and that’s the one person in line Asher the fox is immediately drawn to and wants to hear from. Not the duck right behind him, or the seal behind that. Asher sees this line of animals and picks the depressed androgynous hippie as the societal representative of this strange new land.

    […] ​Also confusingly, Asher now appears to have a vintage SLR camera hanging from his neck, but we never hear anything more about this. He doesn’t seem to use it. It doesn’t seem to be for journalism purposes, or for documenting the plight of Blossom-fashioned dogs looking sullenly at their surroundings. I’m not sure what to make of someone who straps on a backpack and an unused vintage camera every morning but draws the line at pants.

    Pepper, who is very hungry, is wearing pants.

    “I’m so hungry I could eat my pants,” said Pepper. Asher heard his stomach growl, too.

    “The wolves said that everyone in Utopia was full with free ice cream.”

    “Yes,” agreed Pepper. “That’s what the council of wolves promised, but they take all the ice cream for themselves. Now we can’t buy or sell at the market and all the wolves give us is this mushy moldy macaroni.”

    […] This sounds like your standard-issue authoritarian corruption, not communism? It sounds a lot like Putinism, a kleptocracy in which top government cronies steal all the ice cream […] and everyone else in the nation gets to eat dirt and dream of what it must be like to have indoor plumbing.

    […] Pepper is a free spirit who needs to be crushed good and hard, say conservatives. Why’s Asher even giving him the time of day?

    Just then a goat began to squeak. “I can make food for the animals if you open the market and let me! Hurry, hurry, before we all eat our pants!”

    “Oh,” snarled a wolf. “A market won’t make your tummies full. This goat must be punished for his lies.”

    The wolves recited their chant: “With a snap and a kick and a powerful swish, you’ll fly in the air and land with the fish!” And they launched the goat out of Utopia.

    Hey. Hey Asher. You know what would have really helped here? If SOMEBODY HERE HAPPENED TO OWN THEIR OWN HANG GLIDER. IMAGINE HOW GREAT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN.

    Nope. That goat is dead now. Asher had an opportunity to save the free-market goat, but it would have required some capital expense on his part. If he rescues the goat himself, there’d be hang glider wear and tear to consider, and if he loans the goat his hang glider, there’s a chance he’s not going to get the hang glider back.

    So Asher, captain of industry and the hero of all free markets everywhere, sits himself down on his naked furry butt and watches Mr. Goat become fish food. […] [Ha! No social safety net.]

    “That went very well,” snarled the top wolf.

    Top wolf? So now we know there’s a wolf hierarchy, […] and this will be exactly the first and last time this comes up, so honestly, there’s no point mentioning it at all.

    “When we finish taking over Rushington and the rest of Freedom Island, everyone will be terrified of us and our catapults.”

    Finally, the communists—sorry, the wolves—have revealed their evil plan. They’re going to make people terrified. Of catapults, mostly.

    I mean … okay? Sure? You don’t really need to take anything over to make people afraid of murder weapons if you’re using them for murder. […]

    Asher built a secret submarine that he and Pepper used to escape Utopia

    Asher invited the other animals to escape using his secret submarine as well, but after they pointed out that Asher’s submarine was much too small to carry them all, Asher got super mad and called them all pedophiles on Twitter.

    and make their way to Toke-a-Toke.

    Pepper the flower-print hippie dog was apparently in charge of deciding their first stop, and Pepper feels good about his choice. […] Gonna just leave that one where it lies.

    There, a friendly singing elephant helped them carry a cart of supplies to Rushington. The wolves had just gathered up the last of the animals’ food when Asher arrived.

    The accompanying illustration here has a dozen or so Black Bloc wolves guarding a small mountain of food, and now this doesn’t seem like it’s about “communism” at all. This is just a heist movie. […] the goal was an eight-foot-tall pile of fruit.

    These wolves were running a confidence game the whole time! They were running for office so that once they were installed in the Rushington White House, they could just steal everything that wasn’t nailed down! None of them gave a damn about the politics!

    Hey, this book is pretty accurate. If a buffoonish con artist and his crew take over the country and screw everything up to the point of societal near-collapse, a large segment of the people who voted for it will still be gullibly wondering when their free ice cream will be showing up. [LOL]

    Asher leaped into action. “Animals of Rushington! The wolves are lying! They have stolen what you made and they’ll keep stealing everything you will make if you let them! I’ve been to Utopia and guess what? There is no free ice cream!”

    You know what would really have helped, Asher, is if you had taken some pictures of Utopia to help prove your case. Maybe take a picture of that floating goat corpse. […]

    “We don’t want you to be in charge anymore!” said the animals. “Let’s vote!”

    “Too late,” growled the wolves. “If you want your city back you’ll have to fight for it!”

    Aaaaah, and here we get to the reason this book was written […] the bad people will be in charge forever unless the good, kind, and strictly free-market devoted animals of Rushington start murdering their enemies!

    There we go. There’s the “lesson” of Posobiec’s book for young tots. Sometimes elections are bad, kids, and your only recourse is to grab some metal poles and start beating people to death.

    Remember, kids: Sometimes violent insurrection is the only path forward. Thank goodness you can rely on Jack ‘Pizzagate’ Posobiec to tell you when it’s time to start clubbing people.

    ​[…] This part gets a little graphic, in an anthropomorphized animal cartoon sort of way. There’s no question that this attempt to overthrow the wolfian government is a violent insurrection.

    Bam! Wow! Pow! Zing! Wham!

    And everybody starts clubbing each other. […]

    and for their punishment they were all loaded onto Asher’s newest invention, a super-powered catapult.

    My tunneling company is now a flamethrower company that is actually a catapult company now.

    […] Aaaaand all the wolves are murdered. Asher probably warned his animal friends to search the wolves thoroughly for hang gliders, that being a thing Asher in particular would know to look for, so it’s not likely any of the wolves were able to escape their off-page watery doom.

    Because this is a society in which all wolves are evil, period, Asher and the people of Rushington have not, by coincidence, just committed an act of genocide. It’s framed as an act of good genocide, to be sure; this is a hard-right imagined world in which some animal species are simply evil and there’s nothing you can do about it except to execute them all. Now there’s a lesson your little conservative book-lovers can curl up with at night, hmm?

    Again, what we’re learning here is that the difference between the murderous lying wolves and the rest of Rushington is … not much, to be honest. Nobody’s got a problem with joining in public chants during sketchily premised state executions; the only disagreements are about who should be murdered on any particular day.

    […] I’m not saying the bad guys weren’t doing the worst crimes here. They clearly were, what with the food theft and catapultings. But the line between the good and bad guys is a lot more blurry than I’d want to see in your average children’s book. […]

    The most mixed message of all is that the guy who promoted the Pizzagate hoax has supposedly written a book advocating for state-sanctioned murder of people who make false claims in public. Uh, buddy? Did you and the ghostwriter ever exchange emails on this one?

    […] The illustrations are smartly done, though. Full points to the illustrator.

    […] So then, that is our full, mostly complete, and (probably mostly but not quite) error-free reading of Jack Posobiec’s presumably ghostwritten illustrated children’s book. It’s just like being in a library book room, except in our version Sean Spicer isn’t standing off to the side hoping the kids will notice him.

    Because this is a conservative children’s book, it closes out with alleged exercises and activities you can do with your child in order to cement the lessons Jack Posobiec’s ghostwriter believes they need to know. There’s no leaving things to chance here; on the off chance that your child is a bit too thickheaded to understand the more complicated nuances of this book about an Ayn Randian hero murdering the crap out of lying communists, this is the part where you tell them those lessons straight-up and conduct fun little activities in which you punish them if they aren’t following along.

    […] Remember, parents, the only way to properly crush your kid’s individualism and spirit is to teach them that assholes are everywhere and sucking up to those assholes is going to be what keeps food on their future tables. Go a bit nuts with it. First you give them the BRAVE Bucks, and convince them that BRAVE Bucks are their new reason for living. Then you take the BRAVE Bucks away, to teach them that when mommy wants a foot massage she means you’d better damn well put your heart and soul into it.

    What the exercises don’t particularly mention, at least not the ones visible on the publisher’s public site, are any tips for knowing when democracy has failed and you need to start beating people with blunt objects. […]

    Jack’s Lesson: Violent insurrections against political enemies are Good if your enemies are communists, or if they’re not actually communists but you can call them communists anyway, which you always can because anyone who listens to Posobiec isn’t going to be sweating the fine details.

    […] What is clear, however, is that this book absolutely needs to be pulled from library shelves. […] Seriously, we’re in the middle of a nationwide conservative “grooming” freakout over a book about a real-life same-sex penguin couple raising a chick. A book in which a pants-hating titan of the free market commits genocide, though, is what conservatives are now presenting as the wholesome alternative?

    […] Keep this violent furry filth away from the rest of us.

  131. says

    Ukraine Update: US intelligence grapples with massive leak

    What began as screenshots on Discord channels focused on the video game Minecraft and a seemingly right-wing channel focused on a Filipino YouTube personality, has now become what might be the biggest security breach in the U.S. since Edward Snowden. The 100 documents, pictures taken of printed out, folded-up slides apparently smuggled out of some briefing room, have revealed something everyone assumed was happening anyway—that the United States has access to virtually all levels of Russian military and intelligence decision making areas. (And, also, that it listens in on the deliberations of allies.)

    Most of the documents are no longer available publicly, as the Discord channels have been wiped. Some of the documents, including several doctored ones, continue to circulate on Twitter and Facebook. […] This Washington Post article summarizes it succinctly:

    The series of detailed briefings and summaries open a rare window on the inner workings of American espionage. Among other secrets, they appear to reveal where the CIA has recruited human agents privy to the closed-door conversations of world leaders; eavesdropping that shows a Russian mercenary outfit tried to acquire weapons from a NATO ally to use against Ukraine; and what kinds of satellite imagery the United States uses to track Russian forces, including an advanced technology that appears barely, if ever, to have been publicly identified.

    One top secret document, allegedly from the CIA, claims that Hungarian President Viktor Orban, a constant thorn on both NATO and the EU’s side as he descends into authoritarianism, considers the US to be ”one of its most significant geopolitical adversaries.” What’s interesting isn’t that revelation. Anyone paying attention could surmise that. It’s the confirmation that American intelligence seemingly sought and found concrete evidence of this is what is damaging.

    Same as slides claiming insight into the thinking and decisions of Israeli intelligence, South Korea’s executive branch, and even Ukraine’s military leadership. Everyone wants to keep up the fiction that no one spies on their allies. The revelation that they do isn’t unexpected or surprising, it’s just really freakin’ uncomfortable. Discretion is expected among friends.

    One slide I have seen, and studied closely, is the supposed composition of nine brand new brigades to be used for the spring offensive, six of them supposedly ready March 31, and the last three by April 30. In addition to giving a more approximate date for the earliest the spring offensive might start (in three weeks), it’s not helpful for the enemy to know exactly what vehicles, and how many of them, any particular unit might have.

    On the other hand, it’s clear that the U.S. intelligence capabilities can be put to good use. For example, one slide details specific targets that the Russian Defense Ministry had picked in Odesa and Mykolaiv on a specific date (March 3). One of those targets was a Ukrainian drone factory. After early March drone attacks in those cities, Russia claimed to have destroyed a drone factory. One hopes that Ukraine got this intelligence and cleared out the location of that factory ahead of the strikes. It would be hilarious if Russia wasted critically short missiles or drones thinking they destroyed key Ukrainian military infrastructure, if all they hit was an empty warehouse.

    Should we be surprised? We knew prior to the war that the U.S. knew exactly where and when Russia would invade. It had precise information of the moment that ground commanders received the order to attack. We’ve joked over the past year that Putin had good reason to be paranoid, given how the U.S. seemed to have eyes and ears on his decisions. Now we know that insight extends from massive “Russia is about to invade” information, to the relatively trivial “these are the exact targets Russia will hit tomorrow.”

    One document notes that China might be more inclined to supply Russia with critically needed ammunition if Ukraine “hit a [Russian] location of high strategic value” or targeted “senior Russian leaders.” It is true that the U.S. doesn’t have many long-range ATACMS rocket artillery missiles, which Ukraine desperately wants. But American intelligence seems to be saying “send these rockets and one of them hits the wrong target inside Russia, then China single-handedly solves Russia’s ammunition challenges overnight.”

    […] even if Ukraine used the rockets sensibly, Russia could be incentivized to stage a false-flag attack to draw Chinese help. […]

    Everyone knows the NSA exists, and that the U.S. has unprecedented ability to hoover up and analyze anything transmitted over the air or online. Confirmation of that ability doesn’t seem particularly damaging. Same with satellite surveillance. The Washington Post story above notes that “the Feb. 23 battlefield document names one of its sources as ‘LAPIS time-series video.’ […] presumably Russia already knows our satellites have eyes on the ground, and are helpless to do much about it.

    Documents estimating personnel and equipment losses were doctored and posted on Russian Telegram, but the originals point to a brutally decimated Russian military. […]

    Another document provides American intelligence estimates of Russian and Ukrainian losses, the slide crudely doctored by the Russian side. […]

    Not that it matters, in a practical sense. This war won’t be won or lost based on who killed the most, but on equipment, strategy, and morale. […] And this is why the ability of the West to supply Ukraine (and conversely, keeping China out of the fight) is so critical.

    This is where Bakhmut has been so important to Ukraine’s overall strategy. We know that over a thousand pieces of Western armor (and what seems to be Poland’s remaining stock of Soviet-era gear) are currently in Ukraine or en route. We know Ukrainian forces are being trained in combined arms maneuvers by the U.S. in Germany. We know that HIMARS rocket artillery has been working Russian logistics around Melitopol and other parts of Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, Russia’s vaunted Winter Offensive never truly materialized in any coherent sense. Rather than an intentional massed offensive designed to break Ukrainian defenses in the Donbas, thus meeting Putin’s goal of conquering both Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts by March 1, we got wave after wave of 6-10-man squads dying for the next meter of land. After eight months of trying, Russia still hasn’t even been able to conquer the otherwise strategically insignificant Bakhmut—only the 59th largest city in Ukraine.

    […] While it sucks for raw recruits dying and losing limbs in its defense, it has bought Ukraine the time it needs for the coming spring offensive. And boy is Ukraine taunting Russia about it. [Tweet and video at the link]

    What does Russia have in reserve? Nothing. It has now extended prisoner contracts from six months to 18, almost guaranteeing their death or dismemberment. It wants to recruit 400,000 new contract soldiers, but will be lucky to hit its targets in its spring conscription, much less get people to voluntarily sign up to go to Ukraine. And its sanction-crippled industry can’t supply the equipment its current troops need, much less equip hundreds of thousands of new troops if Russia manages to find them. [chart at the link]

    I know the chart is hard to read, but on March 1, Russia launched 170 attacks against Ukrainian positions, and that has steadily decreased to only 40 on April 7. On April 8 the number was 50, and today’s report is back down to 40, thus the downward long-term trend continues. And most of those attacks are around Bakhmut, where the situation remains critical but contained, with the lone muddy dirt road into town still (mostly) open (because regular Russian army forces holding the flanks around Bakhmut either can’t, or don’t want to, cut it off). [Tweet and video at the link]

    #SpringIsComing might be the harbinger of something big, or it might be psyops to psych out the enemy. Who knows! Well, given the intelligence leak, I bet Joe Biden knows, and apparently way too many people with top-secret designation who had access to those documents.

    [Tweet and images of Ukrainian soldiers digging trenches and reinforcing trenches.] Looks like they’re building underground living facilities.

    [Tweet and video of Outbound Ukrainian HIMARS salvo] The leaked documents claim that Ukraine has fired 9,612 GMLRS rounds. Given that Ukraine has had HIMARS in country for nine months now, that averages out to only around 35 per day. With people demanding more tanks, howitzers, and HIMARS launchers for Ukraine, I keep coming back to this—the challenge isn’t the weapons systems. Those are easy to deliver and relatively cheap. It’s the ammunition that’s the problem, and spare parts, and fuel, and lubricant, etc.

    As I’ve written about before, the army had only produced 50,000 GMLRS total at the end of 2022, including deliveries to other weapons system operators (which I roughly count at 18 countries). Ukraine has received 20% of that amount, which is significant, but the actual numbers are still anemic. New production takes time—only 566 can be produced per month. And efforts to double that production won’t be fully in place until 2026.

    Yes, this is incredibly frustrating. No, this doesn’t mean that the U.S. isn’t giving Ukraine the tools it needs to win, and no, there isn’t a simple solution. If anything, perhaps we’re learning that of the hundreds of billions the Pentagon spends on shiny new weapons systems, perhaps they need to spend some of that on stockpiling ammunition for the stuff they already have.

  132. says

    Elon Musk’s pathetic Twitter-tantrum against NPR shows no signs of stopping

    We don’t know why tantruming billionaire child Elon Musk is engaged in a one-sided war against NPR, but he doesn’t show signs of stopping.

    Last week Musk’s Twitter slapped a “state-affiliated media” label on NPR’s Twitter account, despite NPR not being a candidate for such a label according to Twitter’s own definition of the term, and despite Twitter’s own Help Center specifically singling out NPR as an example of a corporation that wouldn’t meet the definition. NPR is not “state-affiliated.”

    Somebody inside the now-skeletal company got embarrassed when news pieces about their move pointed that out, after which Twitter deleted the use of NPR as its Help Center example rather than admitting they weren’t following their own rules. NPR itself expressed outrage that Elon was falsely lumping it in with the foreign state-sponsored propaganda outlets that the Twitter label is meant to warn users about and announced that they’d no longer be posting on Elon’s site until the label was removed.

    Faced with perhaps more public mockery than he expected, now Musk has flinched again. He’s still lying his ass off, though. Now Musk’s engineers have changed NPR’s designation to read “Government Funded Media,” which is … still not accurately correct. And now Musk is claiming that he’ll be applying it to more media outlets than just NPR, though apparently he hasn’t worked it out enough to figure out how not to be wrong about it.

    The catch here remains the same: NPR is not “state-affiliated.” It’s also not “government funded.” NPR is a nonprofit corporation that gets somewhere around 1% of its funding from government grants and relies on donations, grants, and station dues for the rest. As Republican politicians have groused repeatedly over the years, the federal government has no ability to dictate NPR’s news coverage.

    What Musk here is attempting to do is to find a designation he can tar insufficiently friendly media outlets with as a way of discrediting them when they (repeatedly) report on his pandemic misinformation, his business flubs, or his fawning over internet white nationalists. Since Musk is a habitual liar in the best of times we can expect he’s going to go through a few more iterations of these labels before he settles on one that the lawyers think they can defend. Perhaps he’ll settle for a “Was Once Mean To Elon” label for his fanboys and then call this done?

    The other catch here, though, is that Elon Internet Whiner Musk is the poster child of “government funded.” Neither Tesla nor SpaceX would even exist right now if it were not for Musk sucking up government funds by the billions; his companies had guzzled nearly $5 billion in government money as of 2015, and both companies were saved from bankruptcy directly because of government credits or government contracts.

    If there’s anyone else in the world whose wealth is more tied to getting government cash than Elon’s is, that person isn’t coming to mind.

    For Musk, though, this isn’t about accuracy. It’s never about accuracy. Elon Musk is mad at NPR for NPR’s coverage of his own antics, and Musk purchased Twitter specifically so he would have the tools to get back at journalists and media outlets who he’s felt disrespected by. He’s a big whining baby and he’s going to keep having this tantrum until he tires himself out and his handlers put him down for a nap.

  133. says

    Chuck Todd invited Danielle Pletka, senior fellow of the American Enterprise Institute onto his show. He asked her a softball question and then allowed her to spew this nonsense:

    Pletka: No, it’s not that I see something else. But I do see something bigger going on. I’m not sure if it’s the exact same thing that you see. We’ve become a country where, instead of doing something that you should do, you do what you can do. Should they have done this? They’re within their rights. They had a vote; it was a democratic vote, it was done properly. They expelled them.

    Should they have done that? [half-nodding] I don’t think so. Alvin Bragg. Should he have brought those charges against Donald Trump? Well, he could, and he did, and he did it within his rights. Should he have done it? I’m not sure.


    […] So here we have presented in front of a home audience as false of an equivalence as I think has come up in this nationwide discussion (other than some folks being even more disingenuous by bringing up January 6 and Donald Trump’s followers storming the Capitol).

    First, Pletka excuses the egregious acts of the Tennessee supermajority that expelled Jones and Pearson by saying that the vote that they took was technically by the book. She is apparently unfamiliar with Germany in the late ‘30s and how Hitler gained his powers through entirely parliamentary means. There are ways to do things by the book that subvert the book.

    But then to bring up Alvin Bragg? In this conversation? In this context? It beggars belief. If Donald Trump has committed crimes, then yes, he should be brought in front of a jury and confronted with the evidence against him. That’s how our system of jurisprudence works. That is how justice is meant to commence. So to bring up what Bragg has done, in his official capacity as a district attorney, to uphold the law, with what the Tennessee House supermajority did to subvert the spirit of democratic rule (which is that people elect their representatives and those representatives advocate those constituents’ views) is upside-down. Pletka lives in bizarro world.

    This swill was served up in front of cameras and broadcast to millions. Many will take that talking point and put it in their back pocket to pull out when they encounter anyone outside of their circle. And, if those encountered are anything like me, they will stop short in their tracks, perhaps even sputter, at the moral bankruptcy of such an argument being put on the table.


    Video available at the link.

  134. Reginald Selkirk says

    Settlement reached in defamation lawsuit against Lou Dobbs, Fox News

    A settlement has been reached in a Venezuelan businessman’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News and host Lou Dobbs over statements accusing him of helping tilt the 2020 presidential election.

    In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Louis Lee Stanton filed in the Southern District of New York over the weekend, lawyers for the two parties wrote they had reached an agreement to resolve the matter. Financial terms of the agreement were not specified.

    Majed Khalil filed his lawsuit in 2021, alleging statements made on Dobbs’s social media and by pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell on Dobbs’s Fox Business show defamed him by accusing the businessman of executing an “electoral 9/11” and helping change ballot counts in voting machines…

  135. KG says


    Musk has applied his “government-funded media” label to the main BBC twitter site. The BBC is complaining about it. Musk has a rather stronger case here, because the BBC, while not funded out of general taxation, is largely funded by the licence fee, paid by every household (without an exemption) which has equipment used for receiving TV programmes originally broadcast live (I think that’s right, things got a bit complicated when people started watching TV on their laptops, phones, etc.) – and the licence fee is set by Parliament, which means the government does have a means of pressuring the BBC by threatening not to renew the licence fee (which it is currently doing).

  136. Reginald Selkirk says

    Dalai Lama apologises after video asking boy to ‘suck my tongue’

    The Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ 87-year-old spiritual leader, apologised on Monday after footage showed him asking a young boy to “suck my tongue” at a public event.

    “A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked his Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug,” said a statement on the exiled leader’s Twitter account, which has 19 million followers.

    “His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.”

    The statement said the Dalai Lama leader “often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident”…

    Innocent and playful, and not at all creepy. Can’t trust any of them.

  137. tomh says

    Local officials are poised to send expelled Tennessee lawmakers back to state House
    Emma Bowman / April 10, 2023

    The vacancies of both expelled lawmakers may be short-lived.

    Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman has called for a special Metropolitan Council meeting on Monday to discuss filling the empty District 52 House seat left by Jones, according to an email tweeted out by councilmember Bob Mendes.

    If the council chooses to do so, it could vote to appoint an interim successor as soon as Monday night, Shulman told Axios.

    The majority of Nashville’s 40-member council have already vowed to reappoint Jones, according to NBC News — with some signaling their intention to do so before the council meeting was even called.

    After the council appoints an interim House representative nominee, the county will hold a special election — in which Jones is eligible to run — to carry out the term.

    Meanwhile, the board of commissioners for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, plans to consider reinstating Pearson.

    Chairman Mickell Lowery announced he was calling a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon to “consider the action to reappoint Mr. Justin Pearson to his duly elected position to represent the citizens in District 86,” local station Action News 5 reported.

    Chances appear to favor Pearson’s return: Commissioner Erika Sugarmon told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that the former lawmaker has enough supporters sitting in the commission, which has a Democratic supermajority, to get him successfully reappointed.

    The county will then hold a special election to fill the seat.

  138. says

    As House Republicans prepare to celebrate 100 days in power, the GOP has no real legislative plans, no budget, weak leadership, and key internal divisions.

    As 2022 came to a close, House Republicans weren’t quite sure who their speaker would be — Kevin McCarthy was still looking for votes at the time — but House Majority Leader Steve Scalise was nevertheless optimistic about the GOP’s legislative prospects. On Dec. 30, the Louisianan sent members a list of “meaningful, ‘ready-to-go’ legislation” that the chamber would take up early in the new Congress.

    These “commonsense measures,” Scalise said, “should garner wide support and provide an indication of our bold agenda to come.”

    As Politico noted this morning, the House Republican majority will reach the 100-day benchmark this week, and of the 11 “ready-to-go” bills the House majority leader touted, five haven’t yet passed. Of the six proposals the GOP did pass, not one has become law — and the odds of these measures generating serious attention in the Democratic-led Senate are effectively zero.

    [Excerpt from a CNN report] the party’s more vulnerable members are frustrated with how the House Republican majority has so far spent its time in power, which has also included a heavy focus on investigations and running defense for former President Donald Trump.

    […]the Republican Party remains a post-policy party with no meaningful governing agenda or legislative vision. But that’s just the beginning: McCarthy is a weak House speaker with a small majority — he can lose no more than four votes on any given bill or resolution — who leads a conference that doesn’t believe in compromise and can’t agree on many issues.

    Even on must-pass measures such as the debt ceiling, McCarthy clearly isn’t on the same page as House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington […]

    Late last week, the Pew Research Center published the results of its latest national survey, which showed President Joe Biden struggling with a low 37% approval rating. Congressional Democrats were even less popular, with a 33% approval rating. But congressional Republicans were even further back, with a 29% approval rating. […]

    Losers losing.

  139. says

    Trump scrambles as threat of other possible indictments looms.

    […] the threat of an indictment in Georgia also has Trump’s attention. He published this item last night:

    Just like New York, the Racist District Attorney in Atlanta, who presides over one of the most deadly and violent jurisdictions in the U.S. (and does nothing about it!), is having an impossible time showing that my ‘PERFECT’ phone call was bad, when none of the many lawyers on the call interjected that I was saying something wrong or improper — Not even a word of admonishment. They never hung up or said ‘how dare you.’ That’s because, as everyone knows, there was nothing wrong with the call!

    He pushed a similar line at Mar-a-Lago last week, telling supporters, “Nobody said, ‘Sir, you shouldn’t say that.’ [Nobody] hung up in disgust because of something I inappropriately said, because nothing was said wrong.”

    As amazing as this might seem, Trump seems convinced that this line is the key to his entire defense: He called officials in Georgia; they didn’t seem upset; so the call must’ve been fine.

    If this argument sounds at all familiar, it’s because Trump has pushed the same line repeatedly for months. On Jan. 9, for example, the former president argued that while he leaned on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, “nobody ‘hung up’ or was offended!”

    On Jan. 24, Trump reiterated the line, asking, “[H]ow come not one person said, while on the call, that I acted inappropriately, or made a statement of protest at what I said, & then slammed down the phone.” He added that among the people on the line, there was “NO ADMONISHMENT at all.” He tried the same pitch again in February.

    I continue to find this hilarious because it’s so terribly odd.

    To briefly recap, Trump called Raffensperger on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, and told the Georgian he wanted someone to “find” enough votes to flip the state’s election results, even if that meant overturning the will of the voters. The then-president added, while pressuring Raffensperger, “[T]here’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

    As we discussed soon after, Raffensperger recorded the call, offering the public the opportunity to hear Trump explore ways to cheat, begging others to participate in his scheme, and even make some subtle threats toward the state’s top elections official.

    But Trump keeps trying to convince us that the call was benign — because Raffensperger didn’t “admonish” him or hang up the phone. It’s as if the former president believes he’s found some kind of loophole: Election interference must be seen as legally permissible if the relevant state official doesn’t express immediate outrage.

    This isn’t how reality works. Raffensperger was speaking at the time to the sitting president of the United States. Maybe the Georgia Republican stayed on the line as a courtesy. Maybe he waited to see if Trump would apologize. Maybe he was stunned by the scandalous lobbying effort.

    Whatever his reasoning at the time, as Trump’s lawyers really should’ve explained to him, the fact that Raffensperger was polite is not exonerating. There is no rule that says illegal election interference is only a problem if the person being pressured hangs up on the person doing the pressuring.

    What’s more, the former president continues to brush past the fact that the call in question wasn’t the only call Trump made to officials in Georgia after his 2020 defeat.

    If the best the Republican can come up with to defend his conduct is that no one yelled at him over the phone, he’s in a world of trouble.


  140. says

    Hounded by baseless voter fraud allegations, an entire county’s election staff quits in Virginia

    In Buckingham County, Virginia, four people quit their jobs after a feud between local Republicans and the general registrar consumed the small community.

    […] “It’s just sad that the big lie has come to Buckingham,” said Margaret Thomas, who worked as the general registrar in Buckingham County for more than 28 years before retiring. “And before it was never here.”

    [snipped a lot of details showing that conspiracy theorists had harassed election workers, even accusing them of treason]

    The Commonwealth’s attorney in Buckingham County, Kemper Beasley III, who was elected as an independent, said a resident brought him the allegations and he found no evidence of criminal election fraud.

    “I couldn’t find anything criminal,” Beasley told NBC News last week. “The former registrar, in my mind, did an excellent job.” […]

    Lots more at the link.

  141. says

    Suspect who killed 4 in mass shooting at Louisville bank believed to be former employee, police say.

    A gunman opened fire at a bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday morning, killing four people and sending at least eight to the hospital before he was killed at the scene, Louisville Metro Police Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey said.

    The shooter appears to be a former employee of the bank, he said.

    “We believe this is a lone gunman who did have a connection to the bank,” he said.

    The mass shooting began at about 8:30 a.m. Monday at the Old National Bank on East Main Street, police said.

    Officers responded to the scene within three minutes of being dispatched and found the shooter still firing, he said. They exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who died at the scene, police said. It was unclear if he was killed by an officer or died of a self-inflicted gunshot, he said.

    Four people were found dead inside, and eight people are being treated at the hospital, including at least two officers who were shot, he said. One of those officers is in critical condition. […]

  142. says

    A week after Tennessee Republicans expelled two Democrats from the state House for a breach of decorum, wealthy Republicans from around the country will arrive in Tennessee for a Republican National Committee donor retreat. It’s simultaneously a bad look for the party and completely fitting. Republicans jetting in for that should be faced with some tough questions about what’s going on in Tennessee, where the House Republicans who expelled Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson have a recent history of overlooking unsavory behavior by some of their own—and are reportedly even now continuing to overlook their own House speaker’s far graver violation than a breach of decorum.

    The Republican donor event will be headlined by Donald Trump and also feature Mike Pence, four senators, three governors, and six House members. There is serious cash on the line, in other words. “Privately, Republicans acknowledged to Playbook the inconvenience of visiting a state where local party leaders are mired in ugly headlines and accusations of racism,” Politico reports. Oh, an inconvenience. How awkward and uncomfortable for them, the poor dears. “Their presence, they know, will likely invite questions about whether national Republicans condone the decisions of their Volunteer State brethren—and reporters are likely to hear wildly different answers depending on which GOP officials they ask.”

    How about asking all of them, on the record? None of this “privately, they acknowledge” business. Either they support members of their party expelling two young Black men from the state House for a peaceful protest while sparing the white woman who participated in the same protest, or they don’t.

    While reporters are asking Republicans questions about that, they could add questions about what appears to be a far more serious violation by the Republican Tennessee House speaker, Cameron Sexton. Popular Information’s Judd Legum reports that Sexton doesn’t seem to live in the district he represents. While members of the U.S. House are not required to live in their districts (though it usually helps), it’s different in the Tennessee House: There, the state constitution specifies, “Each district shall be represented by a qualified voter of that district.”

    But while Sexton has maintained a condo in a retirement community there since selling a larger house in 2020, Legum uncovered lots of evidence that he really lives more than 100 miles away, outside Nashville, in a district represented by a Democrat. Evidence like Sexton’s child attending a school outside Nashville. A neighbor told Popular Information, “He says he lives here, but he’s not here.” Sexton shows up some weekends and occasionally over summer school vacation, even though the legislature is only in session from January to April.

    In addition to apparently violating the state constitution, Sexton appears to be fleecing the taxpayers of the state. During the legislative session, he claims a higher per diem rate available only to members representing districts more than 100 miles from Nashville to account for their hotel stays. Sexton represents such a district, but since he seems to live right in the Nashville area, he shouldn’t need the per diem to cover a hotel room. He also claims mileage expenses for his supposed travel between his district and the Capitol. Between the 2022 legislative session and expenses Sexton claimed for other travel back and forth during the rest of the year, he claimed $35,369 in expenses, while the Democrat who represents the district he appears to actually live in claimed less than $5,000.

    It’s open to debate whether it’s worse to expel two members of the opposing party for “decorum” because they staged a peaceful protest or to lie about where you live and claim a per diem as if you lived in the place you claim to live rather than the place you really live. But the latter is firmly against the rules as written. Don’t look for Tennessee Republicans to take action against one of their own, though. They’ve made clear that’s not how they operate.

    On Monday, the Nashville Metro Council will vote on reinstating Jones to the seat he was expelled from; if two council members vote against it, Jones will face a four-week waiting period. A vote to reinstate Pearson to his Memphis seat is expected Wednesday. In the meantime, around 140,000 people in heavily Black areas of Tennessee are without representation in the state House.


  143. says

    Jim Jordan has failed to intimidate Alvin Bragg from a distance, so he’s going to New York

    Rep. Jim Jordan is ramping up his efforts to undermine Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as Bragg prosecutes Donald Trump on felony charges of falsifying business records. The House Judiciary Committee, which Jordan chairs, is planning a show hearing in Manhattan on April 17 focusing on “how Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s pro-crime, anti-victim policies have led to an increase in violent crime and a dangerous community for New York City residents.”

    In reality, crime has been dropping in New York City in recent months, as Bragg’s office noted in response. “New York remains one of the safest big cities in the U.S. with a far lower murder rate than the most populous cities where the Committee Chairmen hail from – Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kentucky,” Bragg’s office pointed out, referencing Reps. James Comer and Bryan Steil, the other two committee chairs who have joined Jordan in trying to interfere in this local criminal prosecution.

    […] New York City didn’t even make a list of 65 cities with the highest homicide rates based on 2019 data. In Jordan’s home state of Ohio, Dayton was number five, Cleveland was 10, Cincinnati was 19, Akron was 49, and Toledo was 57, with a murder rate of 12.43 per 100,000 residents. New York’s homicide rate per 100,000 residents was 3.5 in 2018.

    In 2020, New York was one of the five states with the lowest gun death rates. The five states with the highest gun death rates were Mississippi, Wyoming, Louisiana, Alaska, Missouri, and Alabama.

    But it’s New York that Jordan wants to focus on. It couldn’t be clearer that this is about Bragg’s prosecution of Trump, not about crime. Jordan has tried to intimidate Bragg at a distance, demanding documents and testimony relating to this ongoing prosecution. When Bragg rebuffed him, he subpoenaed a former special assistant district attorney in the office who worked on the Trump case.

    Now Jordan is taking his intimidation efforts to Bragg’s immediate neighborhood. It’s obvious what he’s doing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for the Fox News crowd, offering them (false) evidence that Trump is the victim of a witch hunt.

    Jim Jordan is just looking for a cinematic setting in which he can promote a shitload of lies … and the whole thing is likely to be broadcast on Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN.

  144. says

    White Nationalists, wannabe Nazis and other doofuses created a spectacle in Florida:

    During Easter Weekend, more than a few neo-Nazis hung banners on a bridge over Interstate 4, not too far from Universal Orlando Resort. Not only do they deem Jews and Communists to be the problem, but they also carried several messages for motorists, some of which are tourists, to see.

    Drag Queens Are Pedophiles With AIDS!

    The Great Replacement Is Real

    Ban [F-word that is slur against gay men] Not Guns

    End Abortion Save White Babies […]


    More at the link, including tweets and images.

  145. Reginald Selkirk says

    The founder of a fintech company in Ukraine is offering a $500,000 prize for the first to land a drone in Moscow’s Red Square

    A Ukrainian fintech founder and drone developer is offering about $540,000 in prize money to the winner of a race to land a drone on Moscow’s Red Square.

    Volodymyr Yatsenko, the co-founder of Monobank, a Ukrainian online banking service, announced the competition in a Facebook post last week. The competition is open to any Ukrainian drone developers and will take place on May 9, according to the Ukrainian Military Center, a Ukrainian news outlet covering defense.

    May 9 in Russia is Victory Day, a time when the country celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

    Yatsenko himself is the developer of the Dovbush drone, which will also attempt the flight to the Russian capital but will not be a part of the competition, according to Forces, a Ukrainian military news blog…

  146. says

    In Tennessee, the state GOP launched a fundraising appeal late last week, asking donors to support the party’s move to expel two Black Democratic legislators.

    Yep, they are fundraising off their efforts to expel young black men from the state legislature.

    Meanwhile, this response was posted by Phil Williams:

    Went to bed last night and we had raised $200,000 for Jones and Pearson’s special election. Amazing.

    I woke up this morning and overnight we hit $250,000. Bonkers.

    You know the total right now?



  147. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna … quoting some Kossack @ # 195: The five states with the highest gun death rates were Mississippi, Wyoming, Louisiana, Alaska, Missouri, and Alabama.

    Just because you run out of fingers on one hand doesn’t mean you’ve counted “five”, Kossack…

  148. says

    Melting Snowpacks to Unleash More Epic Floods

    Is this the “Big One”?

    Sometime in January, as a string of “atmospheric rivers” from deep in the South Pacific pummeled California, that query began hitting my phone in the form of texts, emails, and tweets. In a chapter of my 2020 book Perilous Bounty I had written about a Biblical-scale flood that had submerged much of the state after the ferociously wet winter of 1861-62, turning the entire Central Valley—a 50 mile-wide flatland that runs about 400 miles between the coastal mountain ranges and the Sierra Nevada—into an inland sea. After the waters receded, I noted, the valley gradually emerged as one of the global epicenters of agriculture, now providing about a quarter of our food supply, including 40 percent of the nation’s fruits and nuts as well as more milk than Wisconsin.

    When you hear about the valley’s water problems these days, the topic is typically drought. The first months of 2023 pointed a spotlight on the other pole that characterizes California’s chaotic weather regime: untimely overabundance. While media coverage will likely fade as California’s rainy season tapers off, flood risk doesn’t end when the storms do. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, the fickle annual endowment that hydrates most of the state’s farm and cities as it melts, holds a big portion of this season’s precipitation high in the air in frozen form. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, calls it a “loaded spring” that could yet flood a substantial portion of the valley.

    […] while the total amount of precipitation that fell this winter season wasn’t extreme by historic standards, the portion that accumulated as snow in the Sierra Nevada range approached all-time records in some places and shattered them in others. Overall, as of early April the Sierra snowpack stands at a hefty 244 percent of its average levels for this point in the year, according to the California State Department of Water Resources. That’s at or very near a record, the Department of Water Resources reports.

    The bulk of Sierra Nevada snowmelt flows into rivers that—after being substantially dammed and channeled into reservoirs to irrigate the Central Valley’s booming farms—ultimately drain into the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay Delta. While this vast safety valve will likely save the upper two-thirds of the valley from hazardous flooding when the snow melts, it’s what’s transpiring on the southern part of the Sierra range that keeps water experts, farmers, and valley residents up at night.

    The southern Sierra directs no fewer than four mighty rivers—the Kings, Kaweah, Tule, and Kern—into what’s known as the Tulare basin, with no seaward outlet. That’s why, until US settlers seized the region in the mid-19th century, what was known as Tulare Lake dominated the basin, counting as North America’s largest waterbody west of the Mississippi River, swelling to as large as 1,000 square miles, with a depth of as much as 40 feet after wet winters.

    […] “if you think this year’s flood threats are scary, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

    More at the link

  149. says

    Pierce @199. LOL. Correct.

    KG @186, thanks for the additional information about the BBC and Elon Musk’s stupidity.

    In other news, Iowa paused its practice of paying for emergency contraceptives for sexual assault victims

    The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has paused its practice of paying for emergency contraception — and in rare cases, abortions — for victims of sexual assault, a move that drew criticism from some victim advocates.

    Federal regulations and state law require Iowa to pay many of the expenses for sexual assault victims who seek medical help, such as the costs of forensic exams and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Under the previous attorney general, Democrat Tom Miller, Iowa’s victim compensation fund also paid for Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, as well as other treatments to prevent pregnancy.

    A spokeswoman for Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird, who defeated Miller’s bid for an 11th term in November, told the Des Moines Register that those payments are now on hold as part of a review of victim services.

    “As a part of her top-down, bottom-up audit of victim assistance, Attorney General Bird is carefully evaluating whether this is an appropriate use of public funds,” Bird Press Secretary Alyssa Brouillet said in a statement. “Until that review is complete, payment of these pending claims will be delayed.”

    Victim advocates were caught off guard by the pause. Ruth Richardson, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a statement that the move was “deplorable and reprehensible.”

    […] In Iowa, money for the victim compensation fund comes from fines and penalties paid by convicted criminals. For sexual assault victims, state law requires that the fund pay “the cost of a medical examination of a victim for the purpose of gathering evidence and the cost of treatment of a victim for the purpose of preventing venereal disease,” but makes no mention of contraception or pregnancy risk.

    […] “My concern is for the victims of sexual assault, who, with no real notice, are now finding themselves either unable to access needed treatment and services, or are now being forced to pay out of their own pocket for those services, when this was done at no fault of their own,” she said.

  150. says

    Well that’s not good news:

    The FBI is warning people to not use public phone charging stations, which have become increasingly popular in places like airports and shopping malls.

    The problem is that hackers have found a way to introduce malware and other software onto devices through the public stations, the FBI said.

    “Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers,” the FBI’s Denver Twitter account said. “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.” […]


  151. says

    Lindsey Graham Has Idea To Make Voters Love Republicans Again, It Is Let’s Ban Abortions!

    Ohhhhhhh, Lindsey Graham is UPSET, y’all. Republicans have got to get themselves together on abortion, otherwise Americans are just going to keep acting like they’re monsters and voting against them! Sad trombone.

    Lindsey is not happy about the humiliating loss Republicans just took on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a landslide victory for Democrats that was in large part about bringing abortion access back to the state. Wisconsin has an abortion ban on the books from the year 1849, which is now in effect because of what the partisan hack US Supreme Court did when it repealed Roe v. Wade.

    Every time voters have a chance to tell Republicans what they think about their fucking abortion bans, Republicans lose big. And now a childish fascist federal judge in Texas, who was handpicked by anti-abortion activists, has ruled against the FDA’s longstanding approval for mifepristone, one of the most common drugs used in medication abortions.

    What is a “common sense” “pro-lifer” like Lindsey Graham to do with all this? Ban abortion, that’s what!

    But don’t worry, pregnant folks! It’s just Lindsey’s bullshit 15-week abortion ban that he’s been pushing since last year. Oh wait, everybody hates that one too? […]

    Do people think these decisions should be made by people who are pregnant and their doctors and their families, and not old crusty white men like Lindsey Graham? Huh.

    Here is Graham on Fox News on Sunday: [video at the link]

    GRAHAM: I’m very pro-life, and I think being pro-life is a winning message. I oppose late-term abortions. I have a bill to set a national minimum standard of 15 weeks. Fifty of the 53 European nations ban abortion at 15 weeks.

    I have an exception for rape, incest, and life of the mother. In Wisconsin, you had an 1840 statute that banned abortion pretty much across the board, and the Republican Party did not put an alternative on the table. If you’re pro-life, you need to explain what that means.

    Here’s what it means to me: I want to protect as many babies as possible. I want exceptions for pregnancies as a result of rape, incest, if the life of the mother is in jeopardy, then the family can decide. I do believe in common-sense restrictions on abortion. That’s where America is at.

    The Democratic solution when it comes to abortion is taxpayer-funded abortion up to the moment of birth. That’s barbaric. That’s like China. That’s like North Korea. We can win this issue at the ballot box if we show up with reasonable positions.

    Fucking try it LOL. See how well that works for Republicans’ electoral prospects.

    As we have discussed previously, people like Linds are being disingenuous at best when they say this is how they do it in Europe. It is not how they do it in Europe. Abortion in Europe is for the most part much more readily available, without all the bullshit we have here that slows down access, and there are major exceptions and carve-outs to the rules. Also it’s a lot more likely to be subsidized by the government.

    Of course, when Linds talks about “taxpayer-funded abortion up to the moment of birth,” he’s just barfing out a Republican talking point that is a total fucking lie. Republicans are obsessed with talking about so-called “late-term abortions,” which are very rare — fewer than one percent of all abortions — because they feel that’s a place they can pull on people’s heartstrings and/or make them think abortion is icky and evil. There are times when abortions need to happen much later in pregnancy. Very often they involve severe health issues or life endangerment for the pregnant person or for the fetus.

    […] the reality of the matter is that most abortions in America involve taking a fucking pill. (And that’s why anti-abortion fascists got together and picked out an Aryan boy judge in Texas who would follow their instructions for banning mifepristone.)

    Of course, the talking point about “China” and “North Korea,” as we have also discussed previously, comes from a report from the Family Research Council fascist Christian hate group. Lindsey Graham says if we ban abortion after 15 weeks, we’ll be just like Europe, but if we have more permissive laws, we’ll be like stinky hellhole countries like North Korea and China. (And also Canada and South Korea. They don’t tend to mention those last two. Also the Family Research Council’s depiction of North Korea as an abortion theme park is questionable, at best.)

    But sure, yeah, Republicans, go for it. Get in line behind Lindsey Graham’s abortion ban. Here’s some moron from the Claremont Institute who says let’s do just that: [tweet at the link]

  152. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #200…
    Some of that Sierra snow pack is the equivalent of just over 5 feet of water. The real disaster scenario is if there is a sudden switch to warm rain coming down on the snow pack, so that the snow melts rapidly and (combined with the additional rain) runs off all at once. It’s been known happen.
    For those unfamiliar with it, the low point of the Central/San Joaquin Valleys is Stockton, which is at an elevation of less than 10 feet above sea level (this despite being 50 miles inland). Bakersfield, 300 miles to the south, has an elevation of about 300 feet. I will leave everyone to imagine what a major sea level rise would do.

  153. says

    Good plan, GOP: Put cutting Gen Z’s Social Security benefits in your 2024 platform

    Republicans are never going to stop plotting against Social Security, but they have gotten a little more savvy over the years in how they talk about their plotting. Since President George W. Bush declared in 2005 that he was going to use the “political capital” he gained from his reelection to dismantle Social Security and privatize it, the GOP has been more measured in its approach. That’s for good reason: Democrats reclaimed both the House and Senate in 2006. […]

    They now want to focus the pain on Gen Z, because what Republican doesn’t relish a little generational warfare against those damned kids? Raising the retirement age for people now in their 20s is all the rage among would-be 2024 Republican hopefuls. Nikki Haley and Mike Pence are both talking about raising the retirement age for people just starting out in their careers. Pence has even floated the idea of private savings accounts for those workers as a sweetener, and because that’s been the goal of their scheming all along: to divert all that sweet old-age insurance money into their wealthy hedge fund-owner friends’ pockets.

    The problem for the GOP is that the idea remains really unpopular with all voters, of all ages. A new Demand Progress poll, first reported at Semafor, shows that a large plurality of voters over age 45 are opposed to any hike in the retirement age—a full 48% of them. In fact, 40% think the current retirement age of 67 is too high and should be lowered, and only 8% back hiking the retirement age. For younger voters, the sentiment is even stronger, with 54% saying the current retirement age should be lowered.

    Republicans are trying to present their anti-Social Security plots as “saving” Social Security [LOL], attempting to cast the GOP as the party that really cares about the future of the program. They’re also trying to reassure the people they count as their base—i.e. older voters—that they won’t feel any of the pain from the “reforms” they are suggesting. This is an admission that what they’re talking about is cuts—just cuts that older voters won’t have to worry about. […]

    […] a recent Fox News poll showed the same support for the program just as it is. In fact, a whopping 82% of respondents in that poll are opposed to raising the retirement age. […]

    “When Fox asked the question in 2013, just 54% said ‘keep the programs untouched,’ while 40% prioritized reducing the federal deficit,” Eleveld wrote. “That’s a net turnaround of roughly 60 points in the last decade toward the position that Democrats hold on continuing to fully fund the programs.”

    The GOP’s basic premise—that they can keep pushing these cuts and minimize damage to their electoral prospects by just picking on the kids—is obviously wrong. But if they want to motivate more young people to vote, well, they should go right ahead with these plans.

    Young voters have already chosen their side: the Democrats. From abortion to gun safety to student loans, Republicans are digging their demographic hole ever deeper.

  154. says

    Here’s a belated link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog (which is now closed).

    Also in the Guardian:

    “Miami and New Orleans face greater sea-level threat than already feared”:

    Coastal cities in the southern US, including Miami, Houston and New Orleans, are in even greater peril from sea-level rise than scientists already feared, according to new analysis.

    What experts are calling a dramatic surge in ocean levels has taken place along the US south-eastern and Gulf of Mexico coastline since 2010, one study suggests, an increase of almost 5in (12.7cm).

    That “burst”, more than double the global average of 0.17in (0.44cm) per year, is fueling ever more powerful cyclones, including Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida in September and caused more than $113bn of damage – the state’s costliest natural disaster and the third most expensive storm in US history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

    The University of Arizona study, published in the Journal of Climate and reported on Monday by the Washington Post, provides an alarming new assessment of a key ingredient of the escalating climate emergency, particularly in popular but vulnerable areas of the US where millions of people live….

    “Women not wearing hijab to be banned from Tehran metro – reports”:

    Hijab enforcement groups are to be set up on the Tehran metro and women not wearing the hijab will be refused entry, in effect banning some women from work, Iranian state TV has reported.

    The move appears to be part of a pattern of government efforts to force Iranian public bodies to take greater responsibility for enforcing the hijab. Many Iranian women, especially in urban centres, have refused to comply with the hijab rules, in a sign that the “women, life, freedom” protests that began in September continue in a more individualised form.

    The latest threatened clampdown comes as girls in secondary schools in Tehran, Karaj and other cities continue to report poison attacks….

    Much more at both links. “An interior ministry statement on 30 March said there would be no retreat on the issue, describing the veil as ‘one of the civilisational foundations of the Iranian nation’ and ‘one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic’.” How pathetic and sad.

  155. says

    AP – “Rutgers faculty go on strike, picket outside classes”:

    Thousands of professors, part-time lecturers and graduate student workers at New Jersey’s flagship university went on strike Monday — the first such job action in the school’s 257-year history.

    Classes were still being held at Rutgers as picket lines were set up at the school’s campuses in New Brunswick/Piscataway, Newark and Camden, though students said some had been canceled due to the strike. Union officials decided Sunday night to go on strike, citing a stalemate in contract talks that have been ongoing since July. Faculty members voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike last month.

    Three unions, which represent about 9,000 Rutgers staff members, were involved in the strike: the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates and some counselors; the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents part-time lecturers; and the AAUP-BHSNJ, which includes faculty in the biomedical and health sciences at Rutgers’ medical, dental, nursing and public health schools.

    Union leaders said faculty members at the medical and other health sciences schools would continue performing essential research and patient care, but would curtail duties that don’t impact patient health and safety.

    Officials also said negotiations would continue Monday. The two sides were scheduled to meet at Democratic Gov. Gov. Phil Murphy’s office at the Statehouse around noon.

    Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said Sunday that he believed the two sides were close to an agreement. Union officials, though, said an agreement didn’t appear near.

    Union leaders say they are demanding salary increases, better job security for adjunct faculty and guaranteed funding for graduate students, among other requests….

  156. says

    NBC – “Ben Ferencz, former Nuremberg trials prosecutor who secured convictions of Nazi death squad commanders, dies at 103”:

    Ben Ferencz, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials who secured convictions against 22 Nazi death squad commanders, has died. He was 103.

    His son confirmed his death to NBC News.

    Ferencz was the last living prosecutor from trials marking the first time in history that mass murderers were prosecuted for war crimes. Ferencz was 27 at the time and later played a crucial role in securing compensation for Holocaust survivors and creating the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

    A tireless advocate for human rights, he also wrote nine books and dozens of articles, gave countless speeches and traveled the world into his 90s spreading his motto of “law not war.”

    “I was damn lucky to live this long,” Ferencz told NBC News in November in what was his last media interview. “I hope that I’ve done some good during that lifetime.”

    Ferencz turned 103 on March 11. A photo posted to his official Twitter page showed him in a wheelchair holding a small piece of paper that read, “Do something you love.”

    Ferencz, born in 1920 to Hungarian Jews, was 10 months old when his family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. He grew up poor on the rough and tumble streets of Hell’s Kitchen, where his father worked as a janitor-turned-house painter.

    He attended the City College of New York and earned a scholarship to Harvard Law School. He enlisted in the Army after graduation as World War II engulfed Europe, landing in Normandy and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

    He was later transferred to a unit responsible for gathering evidence of war crimes as the allied forces closed in on the center of the Nazi power in Berlin. Ferencz traveled to multiple concentration camps — Buchenwald, Mauthause, Flossenburg, Ebensee — often within days and sometimes hours of their liberation.

    Ferencz said it was “grim as hell” and he “had to refrain from letting it get to me emotionally” so it did not interfere with his job of securing Nazi records before they were destroyed.

    “My goal was clear: Grab the documents,” he said. “I headed straight to the main office and closed it off. ‘Nobody goes in or out without my permission. No German, no American — nobody. I want complete control of the archives,’ which I got.”

    Ferencz and his team collected thousands of documents at the camps and facilities in Berlin, including detailed reports on the Einsatzgruppen, special SS units that roamed Nazi-occupied Europe and killed more than 1 million people.

    Those documents were later used to seal the fates of the Nazi death squad commanders during the trial. Fourteen of the 22 who were convicted were sentenced to death. But only four were executed.

    After the trial, Ferencz was recruited to lead an effort to return property seized by the Nazis to its owners or their heirs and was called in to help negotiate a reparations agreement with the government of West Germany. It was a fraught and dangerous undertaking but the German government ultimately agreed to compensate Holocaust victims around the world.

    Since the agreement was finalized, roughly $90 billion has been distributed to Holocaust survivors, according to the Claims Conference.

    Ferencz was also involved in pushing the Germans to agree to maintain cemeteries where Holocaust victims were buried….

  157. says

    Lynna @ #180, that was very entertaining.

    His finest invention was the freezer that let cows turn their milk into the most delicious ice cream you’ve ever tasted.

    Cows’ milk isn’t a fucking product for them; it’s for their babies, FFS.

  158. Reginald Selkirk says

    NY governor names new chief judge nominee after first pick fails

    New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday nominated a judge to lead the state’s highest court after lawmakers rejected the Democrat’s previous pick from her own party.

    Rowan Wilson, an associate judge on the Court of Appeals, was named as chief judge of the same court, overseeing the state’s sprawling state judicial system. If confirmed, Wilson would be the first Black judge in the post, replacing Janet DiFiore who stepped down in August…

  159. says

    France 24 – “Quand l’Égypte poursuit les influenceuses pour ‘atteinte à la morale'”:

    En Égypte, les tiktokeuses sont dans le collimateur des autorités, qui recourent à une loi de 2018 sur la cybercriminalité pour pouvoir sanctionner celles dont les publications sont jugées comme “portant atteinte à la morale publique” ou aux “valeurs familiales”. Une célèbre influenceuse, arrêtée le 3 avril pour “débauche”, vient ajouter son nom à la liste déjà longue de femmes poursuivies pour leurs activités sur les réseaux sociaux.

    Salma Elshimy venait tout juste de rentrer en Égypte lorsque la police l’a arrêtée, lundi 3 avril, l’accusant de “débauche” et de “violation des valeurs familiales” pour ses posts sur les réseaux sociaux. L’influenceuse égyptienne aux 3,3 millions d’abonnés sur TikTok avait déposé une demande de résidence à Dubaï où elle comptait s’expatrier.

    C’est un photographe travaillant avec le mannequin aux Émirats arabes unis qui a informé le média égyptien Mada de l’arrestation de la jeune femme. Un procureur a ordonné la détention de l’influenceuse de mode pendant quatre jours pour “propagation de l’immoralité” et publication de vidéos et de photographies “contraires à la morale et aux valeurs sociales”, d’après le média qatari Middle East Monitor.

    Pour Me Hany Sameh, membre du comité des libertés du Syndicat des avocats, “les accusations portées contre Salma Elshimy sont vagues”. Selon lui, ces charges relèvent de “vestiges d’un chauvinisme masculin régressif et intransigeant à l’égard des femmes”. Cet avocat, interrogé par Mada au lendemain de l’arrestation, a travaillé sur des cas similaires en Égypte.

    Chercheur à la division Moyen-Orient et Afrique du Nord de l’ONG Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amr Magdi s’est lui aussi indigné de cette arrestation, qui n’est pas la première visant une influenceuse égyptienne. “Les autorités ont arrêté une autre femme influente pour ‘débauche’ simplement parce qu’elle publie des photos que nous voyons dans la vie de tous les jours et à la télévision. Sous [Abdel Fattah] al-Sissi, les arrestations de femmes accusées de ‘moralité’ ont explosé”, a-t-il souligné sur Twitter.

    Salma Elshimy n’en est pas à ses premiers démêlés avec la justice égyptienne. En décembre 2020, elle a passé un mois en prison, avant d’être libérée sous caution, pour avoir participé à une séance photo à l’extérieur de la nécropole de Saqqarah.

    Sur les clichés mis en ligne sur Facebook, l’influenceuse avait posé en tenue égyptienne ancienne devant la pyramide de Djéser. Des internautes, estimant qu’elle portait des vêtements “suggestifs”, l’avait dénoncée auprès des autorités, tandis que des médias locaux l’avait accusée “d’exploiter la valeur culturelle des antiquités en portant des vêtements pharaoniques inappropriés”. [Seriously?]

    Depuis l’adoption d’une loi sur la cybercriminalité en 2018, les autorités égyptiennes ciblent les femmes influentes sur les réseaux sociaux pour diverses accusations de moralité, alertent plusieurs groupes de défense des droits de l’Homme [er…].

    L’un des volets de ce texte législatif s’attaque spécifiquement aux contenus en ligne considérés comme “portant atteinte à la morale publique” ou aux “valeurs familiales”. HRW accuse cette loi de violer le droit à la liberté d’expression et de servir d’outil pour s’en prendre plus particulièrement aux femmes. “Le contrôle de la conduite pacifique des femmes en ligne ressemble à un nouvel effort pour contrôler l’utilisation des espaces publics par les femmes”, souligne Rothna Begum, spécialiste des droits des femmes de l’ONG Human Rights Watch, dans un rapport de 2020 publié par l’ONG.

    Hany Sameh dénonce, lui, une loi ambiguë quant à la définition des normes à respecter. “S’agit-il des valeurs de l’Égypte des années 1960, des valeurs des familles de la classe supérieure et des résidents des stations balnéaires, ou des valeurs des salafistes ?”, questionne l’avocat, soulignant que la tenue vestimentaire de Salma Elshimy n’est pas différente de celle portée par d’autres artistes à la télévision et dans les médias.

    En tout, plus d’une douzaine d’influenceuses ont été arrêtées entre 2020 et 2022, à l’instar de deux tiktokeuses – Haneen Hossam, 24 ans, et Mawada al-Adham, 22 ans, interpellées une première fois en 2020 et emprisonnées pour leurs publications jugées contraires aux “bonnes mœurs”.

    “Ces arrestations en série de femmes envoient un signal effrayant sur l’état des droits des femmes en Égypte”, estime HRW. “Au lieu de s’attaquer à la violence domestique, au harcèlement sexuel et à la violence généralisée, les autorités égyptiennes semblent vouloir renforcer la discrimination sociétale en persécutant les femmes et les filles pour leur apparence en ligne ou pour ce qu’elles disent.”

    Si elle est reconnue coupable, Salma Elshimy risque jusqu’à cinq ans de prison et 8 000 euros d’amende pour “atteinte à la moralité publique”, et six mois de prison et jusqu’à 3 000 euros d’amende pour “atteinte aux principes et aux valeurs familiales de la société égyptienne”.

  160. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    99% Invisible – “De Fiets is Niets”:

    Today the Netherlands has a reputation as a kind of bicycling paradise. Dutch people own more bicycles per capita than any other place in the world. The country has more than 20,000 miles of dedicated cycling paths. International policymakers make pilgrimages to the Netherlands to learn how to create good bike infrastructure.

    But none of that was inevitable. It wasn’t something that magically emerged from Dutch culture.

    In fact, in the 1960s and 70s, it looked like the Netherlands would follow the same path as the United States. The Dutch had fallen in love with cars and they were rebuilding their cities to make room for them. It was only because of a multi-decade pro-cycling movement that cars didn’t take over the country entirely. …

    If Books Could Kill – “Rich Dad Poor Dad”:

    In 1997, Robert Kiyosaki revealed the secret to lifelong success: Deliver grifty seminars and hire child slaves.

    Guardian – “Xi Jinping and the battle over China’s memory of the Cultural Revolution”:

    History is more important to Xi Jinping than to any leader since Mao. So argues the Guardian’s Tania Branigan, author of an acclaimed new book Red Memory. She tells Michael Safi that there’s one era of China’s history that looms over Xi more than any other: the Cultural Revolution.

    It’s a period that transformed Xi’s own life: a decade of unbelievable turmoil in China. Hierarchies that held the country together were turned on their heads. At the direction of Mao Zedong, children turned on their parents, husbands denounced their wives. More than 2 million people died. Tens of millions of lives were torn apart.

    Branigan argues that understanding China without coming to grips with the Cultural Revolution is like trying to understand Britain without its empire, or the US without its civil war. And as she explains, though it happened decades ago, the fight for how the Cultural Revolution is remembered is still playing out in China today.

  161. Hj Hornbeck says

    Twitter is dead; long live Twitter!

    In a court filing on Tuesday, April 4, Twitter Inc. quietly revealed a major development: It no longer exists. […]

    In April 2022, Musk registered X Holdings I, II, and III in Delaware, three separate companies designed to facilitate his purchase of Twitter. According to that deal, Twitter would merge with X Holdings II, but keep its name and general corporate structure while continuing to operate under Delaware law. X Holdings I, controlled by Musk, would then serve as the merged entity’s parent company, while X Holdings III would take on the $13 billion loan that a group of big banks provided Musk to help cover the $44 billion purchase. […]

    As the merger agreement stated, X Holdings II would cease to exist as a functioning entity after merging with Twitter. So the official structure after Musk’s takeover was: X Holdings I oversees Twitter Inc., while X Holdings III handles the cash. […]

    According to the Nevada secretary of state’s online business portal, Elon Musk registered two new businesses in the state on March 9: X Holdings Corp., and X Corp. Then, on March 15, Musk applied to merge those Nevada businesses with two of his existing companies: X Holdings I with X Holdings Corp., and Twitter Inc. with X Corp. In the latter’s case, the articles of the merger mandate that X Corp. fully acquire Twitter—meaning that, for all intents and purposes, “Twitter Inc.” no longer exists as a Delaware-based company. Now it’s part of X Corp., whose parent company is the $2 million X Holdings Corp. And that means X Holdings I no longer exists, either. Both X Holdings Corp. and X Corp. now fall under Nevada’s jurisdiction instead of Delaware’s.

  162. birgerjohansson says

    Cartoonist Al Jaffee, of MAD fame has died at 102.
    He only retired at 99.
    Having a laugh is clearly healthy.

  163. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian (support them if you can!) Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, has arrived in Canada on an official trip, during which he will seek supplies of ammunition and armoured vehicles for a counteroffensive against invading Russian forces.

    Shmyhal posted to Twitter that “friendly” Canada was among the first countries to “stand with Ukraine”, and that he was due to meet with his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, and the deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland.

    Russia’s lower house of parliament has voted unanimously to introduce electronic call-up papers via an online portal for the first time.

    The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, gave its preliminary approval to changes in the law that are intended to facilitate mobilisation, as Russia seeks to make it harder to avoid the draft.

    As of now, conscription papers in Russia have to be delivered in person by the local military enlistment office or via an employer. The changes to the legislation would lead to conscription papers being sent via recorded mail and online.

    Once an electronic summons is received, citizens who fail to show up at the military enlistment office will be automatically banned from travelling abroad.

  164. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “Airstrikes by Burmese military kill dozens at anti-junta event”:

    Myanmar’s military has killed dozens of people in airstrikes on an event organised by its domestic opponents, in what is feared to be one of the deadliest attacks since the junta seized power more than two years ago….

    “UN tells Afghan staff to stay home after Taliban ban on female workers”:

    The United Nations has launched a review of its operations in Afghanistan and asked all Afghan staff not to come to work at least until May after the Taliban barred its female staff from working….

    “Russia volcano eruption smothers villages and triggers aviation alert”:

    One of Russia’s most active volcanoes has erupted, shooting a vast cloud of ash far up into the sky and smothering villages in drifts of grey volcanic dust, triggering an aviation warning around the country’s far-eastern Kamchatka peninsula….

    “Defiant Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza likens his case to Stalin’s show trials”:

    Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, who faces up to a quarter of a century in jail on treason charges, has told a Moscow court that he stood by all of his political statements and said his prosecution resembled one of Joseph Stalin’s show trials….

  165. says

    NBC – “Conspiracy theorists made Tiffany Dover into an anti-vaccine icon. She’s finally ready to talk about it.”:

    The Tennessee nurse stayed quiet in hopes that her silence would quiet false claims of her death. Now, she says it only hurt….

    The photographer and graphics person really went to town. Here’s the special podcast episode:

    “Special Episode: Tiffany Dover Speaks”:

    Nine months after this series ended without landing an on the record interview with its subject, host Brandy Zadrozny wakes up to a text message: “While I did not die that day, the life I knew did.” It’s signed “Tiffany Dover.” The missive sends Brandy back to Chattanooga and Higdon, where this time she’s invited in by Tiffany herself. Now, for the first time, Tiffany Dover tells her side of the story—and describes what life is like at the center of a remarkably durable antivax conspiracy theory. Finally, Brandy goes back to the truthers who promised they’d recant—or pay up—if she produced an interview with Tiffany.

  166. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article: NPR – More than half of Americans have dealt with gun violence in their personal lives

    national poll […] by KFF, a nonprofit that focuses on health care research.
    one in five people report having a family member who was fatally shot. The same share say they have been threatened with a gun. One in six said they have personally witnessed a shooting. […] a third said they avoid crowded venues like music festivals and bars. More than 40% said they had sought out weapons to protect themselves or had tried to learn how to handle a gun or shoot a gun.

    Of those who live in a home with a gun, a startling three in four report at least one gun is either unlocked, loaded or stored with ammunition
    One in three Black adults have had a family member who’s been killed by a gun in this country.
    [Many people] think of gun violence as these mass shootings, and they don’t think of the guns in their homes as the types that would be used in mass shootings. And there’s a lack of awareness that most gun-related incidents are accidents or suicides or something that’s taking place in the home.

  167. birgerjohansson says

    Something lighter, to cheer you up.
    God Awful Movies has released GAM399 Night of the Lepus.

    Very cute zombie rabbits.
    And the film was not tongue in cheek, it is deadly earnest.
    “Best worst dead body” and
    “Best worst grand finale”.

  168. whheydt says

    Re; birgerjohansson @ #231…
    My wife and I saw Night of the Lepus in it’s original theatrical release. Our main takeaway was…what possessed the ranchers to try to wipe out the giant rabbits? They grow to maturity in a matter of weeks. There’d be a huge profit to be made raising them for meat.

  169. says

    SC @218, I love the huge wave of applause and cheering that erupted when Justin Jones was reinstated in an unanimous vote by the Metro Nashville Council. Those people knew they were doing the right thing.

  170. says

    SC @215:

    Lynna @ #180, that was very entertaining.

    His finest invention was the freezer that let cows turn their milk into the most delicious ice cream you’ve ever tasted.

    Cows’ milk isn’t a fucking product for them; it’s for their babies, FFS.

    Correct. And, apart from the supply chain ignorance and errors-in-implementing-capitalism, that is not how freezers work.

    PizzaGate guy can’t write children’s books. Sean Spicer can’t write children’s books. Conservative doofuses can’t write good children’s books. We can only hope that their literary failures cause them to also fail at grooming children to be Republican Party stalwarts.

  171. says

    Washington Post:

    The Biden administration is launching a $5 billion-plus program to accelerate development of new coronavirus vaccines and treatments, seeking to better protect against a still-mutating virus, as well as other coronaviruses that might threaten us in the future.

    Good. That’s what they should be doing.

  172. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Republicans now have to deal with something beyond simple unpopularity. They have a corrupted branch of government — the federal judiciary — which they created but do not directly control, and which keeps upping the ante. […]

    on abortion, the crooked judges Republicans spent a generation pushing into the federal judiciary keep coming up with new strategies for back-door or even front-door ways to push through new bans.

    This move, whatever its outcome, won’t be the last. We’ll have litigation of state bans on travel to other states to obtain abortions, on receiving abortion-inducing pills by mail and more. They’re clearly not satisfied with bans in red states only.

    The monsters Republicans unleashed are out of control.

  173. says

    Just how bad was that ruling on abortion pills?

    Before we move on to the aftermath of the abortion pill ruling from Friday, it needs to sink in how bad U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s opinion was by any objective standard of intellectual honesty.

    I don’t mean bad in the sense of wrong on the standing issue, or the administrative law issues, or the timeliness issue (the FDA approved the drug TWO decades ago). All that too! But bad in a way that exposes the foundational corruptness of Kacsmaryk’s approach.

    TPM’s Kate Riga in her initial story already pointed out how the opinion whole-heartedly adopted loaded anti-abortion catchphrases:

    His decision is peppered with anti-abortion language and sentiment. “Because mifepristone alone will not always complete the abortion, FDA mandates a two-step drug regimen: mifepristone to kill the unborn human, followed by misoprostol to induce cramping and contractions to expel the unborn human from the mother’s womb,” he writes. He also refers to providers as “abortionists” throughout.

    Insider has a good rundown on some of the other failings of the ruling: “Kacsmaryk in the ruling cited multiple studies to back up claims that have been widely scrutinized or do not hold up to scientific consensus.”

    I would also refer you to Insider’s initial write-up:

    In addition to citing the Wikipedia definitions for both “pregnancy” and “disease” in his ruling, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk falsely claimed abortion medication “ultimately starves the unborn human until death” and made sweeping generalizations about the psychological impact of abortions on women who receive them — which health care providers told Insider aren’t accurate.

    It should be obvious why conservative activists and Republican attorneys general flock to Kacsmaryk’s Amarillo courtroom. […]

    How Bad Was Kacsmaryk’s Decision?
    It’s so bad that the 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court may be reluctant to seize on this case as a vehicle for advancing its anti-abortion, anti-administrative state agenda, Adam Liptak reports in the NYT:

    [L]egal scholars said on Monday that the poor quality, breathtaking sweep and unknown collateral consequences of the Texas decision might cause at least some of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices to wait for a case that would allow them to take more measured steps.



  174. Reginald Selkirk says

    Taiwan’s Punching Pooh badge goes viral

    They show an angry Formosan black bear punching Winnie the Pooh, representing China’s President Xi Jinping
    “The idea behind the creation of this badge was to use Taiwan’s Formosan black bear as a symbol to make an encouraging badge for our national armed forces. Since they surrounded Taiwan in August of last year, China’s military has been incessantly creating problems for our military and our national security. This is why I wanted to create this badge to cheer on our troops.” …

  175. says

    Ukraine Update: If the leaked documents are real, then they’re a good sign for Ukraine

    Just another story as a reminder that these are real people out there fighting this war, every day. Notice the picture of their wedding rings? They’re made out of aluminum foil that they carefully shaped into rings so they could hold the ceremony in the besieged city of Mariupol. Today, Valeriya is free, and that’s wonderful. But Mariupol is still occupied and Andriy is gone. [Tweet and images at the link.]

    Kos covered many aspects of the document leak over the weekend and again on Monday, so I’m not going to spend much time on the details of what they include this morning except to say: We still don’t know if this is real, fake, or disinformation created by any one of several potential sources.

    But wait, doesn’t the outrage and the warnings from U.S. officials that this information should not be spread mean … nope.

    Surely all the statements about anger from allies, concern about lost credibility with Ukraine, and the desperate hunt for the leaker means that … nope.

    Well, at least information casting doubt on Ukraine’s abilities proves … nope.

    The purpose of disinformation is to look like real information, including treating the release of that disinformation as if it were real information. We don’t know. We won’t know unless the U.S. announces that someone has been arrested and charged with the release of this information. We can’t even be sure then.

    That’s a good thing—because Moscow is in exactly the same position.

    Do I think it’s real? Yes, sadly enough. It’s quite easy to believe that someone, somewhere, was that big of an idiot. Such an idiot that it’s hard to tell if this information was posted for any reason bigger than showing off and possibly winning an online argument. Because Minecraft servers are where all the real experts gather. [Burn] Or something. Sorry, that part of the whole story makes my head ache. […]

    What should we take away from these documents when it comes to the two broad statements that have been widely published: concerns about Ukraine running out of ammunition, and concerns that a Ukrainian counteroffensive might not be effective enough to push Russia out of most of the occupied territory?

    Honestly, we should take both these evaluations as hopeful signs. Because they are signals that U.S. analysts were watching closely and noting those places where Ukraine needed help. And it is “needed,” not “needs.” After all, the date on these reports was in February. That was followed by a March 3 announcement of a $400M package that includes more HIMARS, artillery, and equipment for bridging rivers and streams. Just three weeks later, the U.S. followed up with a $2.6B package again dominated by ammunition. HIMARS rockets, tank ammunition, anti-aircraft ammo, and still more artillery. That package also contains fuel trucks, more bridging and recovery vehicles, and more anti-aircraft systems.

    If the February analysis (which was likely made even earlier) says that the U.S. believed Ukraine is short of ammunition, the first March package looks tailor-made to address that issue. If the February analysis believed Ukraine lacked everything it needed to liberate and hold territory, the big package announced at the end of March looks as if it was absolutely designed to fill in the gaps in Ukraine’s logistics. If those leaks in February were a checklist, the packages in March ticked every box.

    Ammunition. Fuel trucks to keep tanks and armor moving forward. Bridging equipment to prevent either rivers or tank trenches from slowing forward movement. Anti-aircraft gear to prevent Russia from obtaining anything like air superiority. More ammunition.

    […] What does the March 3 package include?

    In this package, the United States will provide additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, additional 105 mm and 155 mm artillery rounds, and additional 25 mm ammunition.

    What about that big package at the end of March?

    The latest package of aid includes a large amount of various types of ammunition, such as rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, and an undisclosed number of fuel tanker trucks and riverine boats.

    HIMARS and artillery ammo. HIMARS and logistical support.

    Do I think the leaked documents are probably an accurate description of what the U.S. thought about Ukrainian capability in February? Yes. I do think it’s likely. But these documents weren’t created as the kind of hand-wringing assessment the Washington Post and others are headlining this morning. They were made to point out problems that could be fixed. And then the U.S. military moved to fix them. They’re not the only ones. Ammunition has been a focal point of assistance packages from the U.K., Poland, France, and others. It’s almost as if they watched the same slide show.

    Those leaked documents—assuming they were real, assuming they were leaked—don’t show that Ukraine is failing or is doomed to fail. This isn’t a final report on a war that’s over. It’s observations of events in motion that are designed to highlight potential issues expressly so they can be addressed.

    You know who else didn’t think Ukraine was prepared for an extended counteroffensive in February? Everyone. Including Ukraine. […]

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  176. says

    Followup to comments 195 and 238.

    House Republicans Will Defend Trump By Showing Their Whole Asses In New York

    Republicans believe in states’ rights. These stalwart conservatives are deeply committed to the principle of local control. They just want the federal government to get out of the way and let states do their thing, and that’s why they’re taking a field trip to New York to lecture a local elected official on how to do his job properly. [Jim Jordan’s announcement via Twitter is available at the link.]

    […] Republicans care about nothing but power. They know that their most fervent supporters are laboring under a fanatical, cult-like devotion to Donald Trump, and so they’re trying to intimidate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the first prosecutor to bring an indictment of the former president.

    The fucktussle started on March 20, before the charges had even dropped, when the Republicans on the House Judiciary, Oversight, and Administration Committees sent Bragg a letter telling him his (unseen) case against Trump was crap. Over the next three weeks, they sparred back and forth with the DA’s office in a series of nastygrams wherein Bragg pointed out that Congress could have no jurisdiction over his office, and they in turn accused him of allowing violent crime to run rampant in New York, instead seeking to wage political prosecutions of poor, innocent, Republican presidential candidates.

    And on at least one criticism, they may have a point — albeit a minor one. Trump was charged with 34 felony counts of making a false business record under the theory that his “intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.” When asked what the other crime was, Bragg responded that he had no obligation to say at the time of charging, and then waved his hands generally in the direction of federal and state election crimes. Rep. Jordan et al. insist that federal election laws preempt the state using them as a basis for state prosecution, and they may well be right.

    The suggestion that Bragg is exceeding his authority was severely undercut, however, by the Committees’ claim that they have any oversight power over local law enforcement. As Bragg’s office pointed out in one of its responses, that violates both the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states any “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,” and multiple Supreme Court precedents, most famously the 1971 Younger v. Harris decision, in which the court held that the federal government should refrain from interfering with state prosecutions. (If you ever hear about theYounger abstention doctrine, that’s what they’re talking about.) This would also apply to the three dinguses’ claims that DA Bragg’s request for a gag order in the Trump prosecution would be “unconstitutional.”

    In plain English, it takes balls to lecture a local prosecutor about staying in his lane, when you’re so far outside your own neighborhood. But Jim Jordan is all balls and no brains, so he’s going one further by holding a hearing in New York City for Bragg’s supposed “victims” next week. We are, after all, talking about a guy who just subpoenaed former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who famously resigned because Bragg was too reluctant to charge Trump, in an effort to prove that Bragg is hellbent on getting Trump. And lest we forget, Jordan himself defied a subpoena from the House January 6 Select Committee during the last Congress.

    Now, before you go looking, not a single Republican on the Judiciary Committee hails from the Empire State, although Democratic Ranking Member Jerry Nadler is from New York. Nonetheless, these goobers are going to be at the Javits Federal Building on Monday at 9 a.m. to discuss the non-existent crime wave in the Big Apple.

    For his part, Bragg has had just about enough of this shit. [Response from Bragg is available at the link]

    “Don’t be fooled, the House GOP is coming to the safest big city in America for a political stunt. This hearing won’t engage in actual efforts to increase public safety, such as supporting national gun legislation and shutting down the iron pipeline,” he tweeted, going on to point out that crime has actually declined in New York under his tenure. He also notes that if Jordan really cared about crime victims, he could start in his own back yard.

    In D.A. Bragg’s first year in office, New York City had one of the lowest murder rates of major cities in the United States (5.2) — nearly three times lower than Columbus, Ohio (15.4). If Chairman Jordan truly cared about public safety, he could take a short drive to Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron, or Toledo in his home state, instead of using taxpayer dollars to travel hundreds of miles out of his way.

    Naturally Jordan glued on his pasties and shook his moneymaker for Sean Hannity and the howler monkeys last night. Gotta feed that grift machine every day, baby.

  177. says

    Kellyanne Conway Worried TikTok Influencers Might Groom Kids To Do Dirty Stuff, Like Voting

    Kellyanne Conway is freaked out, y’all. Joe Biden is teaming up with social media influencers, and young people don’t agree with old balls white Republicans on pretty much anything, and she’s reaching for her inhaler worried that the left is going to “become a turnout machine.” Because you know what white Republicans hate the most? Voting.

    We mention that this is happening against the backdrop of Bud Light being nice to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, which seems to be triggering and traumatizing some of our most delicate and vulnerable white conservatives a whole bunch right now. We mention it because Laura Ingraham played footage of Dylan Mulvaney while Conway was bellyaching. [video at the link]

    “The Republican Party cannot wait for the young to get old and the single to get married to find new voters. We can’t be beaten on this, policy-wise. I think that we have already won the policy arguments on the economy, education, on several issues.

    Oh definitely good luck with that, you’ve “won” on those issues and that everyone under 45 or so definitely doesn’t fucking despise you. One day they’ll come over to your side! Power of positive thinking, etc.

    “I think we’ve got some work to do on the young people who think differently on abortion, perhaps, or guns or climate change. But even there, the Democrats’ messages are usually cynical.

    Young people think they should decide whether they want to be pregnant, and that it’s bad to get your head exploded by guns at school or at the bank, and also believe in the easily proven science of climate change. Republicans gonna teach those kids a better way.

    “The thing I’m really concerned about on this is that the left becomes a turnout machine with young people.

    Ugh. Voters. Voting.

    “Influencers have this domino effect, the lemming-like effect of people just all wanting to be part of the same crowd.

    The voting crowd. Voting because somebody on TikTok said voting was cool […] If influencers jumped off a bridge into a voting booth, would you follow them?

    “And if they succeed that way, we are not doing a good job competing for ballots; we’re just competing for votes…


    “We need to compete for ballots, not just voters and not just minds.”


    OK, just going to put out there that minds are voters and voters cast ballots. Republicans perhaps think differently.

    Also going to put out there that it’s interesting to hear all this from Kellyanne Conway, about influential influencers influencing impressionable children not to be white conservatives, considering her history with her own daughter. And that’s all we’ll say about that.

    We’ll let her daughter say a few things, though: [Tweets from Claudia Conway are available at the link: “no one is above the law (heart emojis) fuck you donald,” “drag queens aren’t killing our children. curriculum including black history isn’t killing our children. lgbtq+ media isn’t killing our children. guns are,” […]]

    Where, oh where do they get these ideas? Must be the “influencers.”

    Republicans are so fucking desperate to believe that if they can only keep intellectually sound messages of hope and integrity away from their children, they can raise them to be vile, bigoted white supremacist clones of their parents. We see this in their holy war against LGBTQ+ adults and children. They think if they can keep their own kids from finding out about the existence of LGBTQ+ people, then their own children will not be LGBTQ+.


    Likewise, here is Kellyanne Conway freaked out that “influencers” are going to get to kids and make them vote against Republican “policy,” as if Republican “policy” is anything more than “fuck poor people, fuck non-white people, fuck women, fuck LGBTQ+ people, and also we have severe masculinity issues and that’s tied up in our 24/7 gun erection, so if your kids die in a mass shooting, that’s pretty much fine with us.” Are we paraphrasing the Republican platform correctly? Because we assure you, that’s how the youngs see it.

    And we can see them seeing it. We see the thousands upon thousands of them coming out to demand politicians do something about guns. In the Washington Post this morning, Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman have a wonderful article about “the young Democrats waging war on MAGA from behind enemy lines.” Indeed, it’s about how this moment in history — where white supremacist fascist Christian conservatives are reacting to their very rapidly dwindling numbers by viciously stealing power wherever they can, especially in red states where demographics haven’t quite caught up to them yet — may be what defines today’s younger generations and the roles they play in politics going forward.

    In the 1920s, Prohibition and the GOP’s depression economics gave rise to the New Deal Democrats. Racial and cultural repression in the mid-20th century spawned classes of lawmakers fighting for the “rights revolution.” In the 1970s, the Vietnam War and Watergate inspired the antiwar “Watergate babies” to run for Congress. […]

    In these red states, young Democrats are entering local politics and developing public presences in response to the far-right culture-warring unleashed by GOP majorities. New restrictions on abortion and the growing right-wing backlash to LGBTQ rights are radicalizing a wave of Democratic public servants who mostly hail from the Gen Z and millennial generations.

    “We’re seeing this across the country,” said Amanda Litman, a co-founder of Run For Something, which recruits progressive candidates for state and local office. “It’s no coincidence that some of the loudest voices pushing back are young leaders in red states, often from urban environments, often people of color, often LGBTQ themselves.”

    Surprise, Run For Something’s numbers are going crazy right now, after the one-two punch of the Tennessee legislature’s very public targeting of Black lawmakers and that Texas Aryan child fascist judge trying to ban abortion medications.

    Fuck around and find out, y’all.

  178. says

    Followup to comment 240.

    More Ukraine updates:

    It’s worth noting that the information The Washington Post is citing in it’s downbeat article about the possible success of a Ukrainian counteroffensive is not from the leaked documents that have previously been seen. This could indicate that the Post has access to information only made visible as part of a larger leak.

    Reuters reports that Ukraine neighbor Romania is planning to buy F-35 fighters. They join Poland and the Czech Republic who have both put in orders for this plane in the last two years. The U.S. currently has F-35s stationed in the Baltics.

    [Tweet and video available at the link: “⚡️This is how the 🇬🇧British military escorts 🇺🇦Ukrainian soldiers from training in Great Britain.”] Actually, those aren’t all British soldiers seeing these Ukrainians off. They’re an international crew that includes trainers from several nations that have participated in getting these troops up to speed on both Western weapons and combined arms tactics. [Wow. that is a LOT of trainers!] ofNow they watch as these trainees return to use what they have learned.

    The weapons are still arriving in Ukraine. The newly trained forces are still arriving in Ukraine. The newly allocated ammo, fuel trucks, and all the other gear needed to make a counteroffensive successful are still arriving in Ukraine.

    When Ukraine launches a counteroffensive, there is no guarantee of success. Things go wrong. Estimates are off. Plans fail. However, it will not be launching a counteroffensive that everyone believes is doomed to failure from the outset. Back in February, Ukraine’s allies looked over the plans for potential issues and took action to fill perceived gaps.

    When the counteroffensive begins, it’s going to stand a much better chance of success, because of cautious assessments made back in February.

    It’s not unusual for Ukraine to lose a tank in combat. We don’t know the total losses, but Oryx records 479 Ukrainian tanks lost so far during the Russian invasion. But this one, a tank called “Bunny,” was something special. I’m including the tweet rather than just the link because I don’t have rights to the images.

    Bunny was a Russian T-80BVM captured by Ukraine over a year ago, outside the city of Kharkiv. […] It was initially damaged, but Ukraine repaired it in Kharkiv and immediately returned it to service. The tank was seen in combat at multiple points along the front since then, often with a pair of bunny ears stuck onto the barrel. Silly as that may seem, Bunny and its crew took out six Russian tanks since Ukraine took possession of the tank. One of those tanks destroyed by Bunny was a T-80UM2. Or, more correctly, the T-80UM2. This updated version of the T-80, with a proposed set of experimental updates, was the only one of its kind. Destroying that tank was one of the first things Bunny did with Ukrainian soldiers at the controls. [Tweet, images and video at the link.]

    Bunny’s crew all safely exited the tank before it was purposely (and sadly) burned to prevent it from falling back into Russian hands. Hopefully, that experienced crew will soon be given another ride.

    This Bunny may not be the kind around which a children’s book is written. But then again…

    [Tweet and video at the link. “Meet the 1st handshaking brigade from Belarus. […]”]
    Radio Liberty reports that after more than a year of will they or won’t they, at least several hundred Belarusians are coming to Ukraine. However, the men coming aren’t soldiers, they’re prisoners, and they’re not coming to bolster the ranks of Wagner Group’s depleted mercenary crew. Instead, prisoners from Belarus are reportedly being sent to Mariupol to serve as a construction crew for Russia. [JFC and LOL]

    Almost 90% of apartment buildings and 60% of individual homes in Mariupol were destroyed by Russian artillery and air strikes in Russia’s assault on the city. It’s unclear if the Belarus prisoners will be rebuilding these homes. Telegram channels indicate that they are turning Mariupol into a base for Russian forces.

    Radio Liberty quotes an official saying those sent to Mariupol are accused of “minor crimes.” Not the best time to be a jaywalker in Belarus.

    On Monday, my changes to the map of the situation in Bakhmut were … actually, there were no changes to the map. Last Friday, it seemed Russia had broken Ukrainian lines at several points and was pressing Ukrainian forces around the railway station. Then on Saturday, Ukraine pushed back and drove Russian forces one to two blocks back from the rail lines. There were also reports that Russia had hurried ahead to the point that they hadn’t actually cleared Ukrainian forces from some buildings that were now in their rear, meaning that Russia again took high casualties and was forced to give up a corridor in the center of the city.

    On Sunday, things seemed to quiet, at least in terms of area exchanged. On Monday, fighting was still described as “fierce,” but there appeared to be no measurable movement of lines inside the city. The lines around the city also appear to be momentarily frozen. However, it’s worth noting that Ukraine’s reduced area within the city, and Russia’s solidifying control of areas north and east, will make it possible for Russia to position and direct more intense artillery at the areas Ukraine holds within the city. It’s only getting harder in Bakhmut.

    And the cost of holding the city is horrendous.

    That ceremony shown in the image at the top of the article is for Ukrainian author Yevhen Gulevich. Gulevich was a critical figure in detailing the history of Ukrainian art, explaining the origins of Ukrainian culture, and in mapping that history onto modern Ukraine. He was the editor of a Ukrainian magazine and frequently in demand for his skill at translating books written in other languages into Ukrainian while preserving the emotion and beauty of language. Among others, he translated Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” so that it can be read by generations of Ukrainians the way it has been read and enjoyed by generations of Americans.

    Gulevich died in Bakhmut. He probably died all the way back at the end of December, but his body could not be found, and his fellow soldiers maintained some level of hope that he was still out there until he was finally declared dead last month.

    This loss is the tiniest sliver of what it means to say “Bakhmut holds.” Every day brings the loss of so many. Award-winning athletes. Brave humanitarian volunteers. Soldiers known for their bravery in the 2014 invasion. The daily toll from Bakhmut includes the famous and the ordinary, all made brothers and sisters in the place they gave up their lives to hold.

    Bakhmut holds, at the cost of blood and lives. And every day we can only hope it’s worth it.

    ANOTHER LOOK AT THE TRAINING IN UK [video at the link]

  179. Reginald Selkirk says

    Texas Lawmaker Allegedly Invited Underage Intern Over to Drink, Gave Her ‘Loyalty Test’

    Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R), who’s tweeted, “We must protect Texas kids from sick adults who want to sexualize them,” is now facing calls to resign.

    Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) allegedly had an “inappropriate relationship” with an underage female intern, according to an internal complaint obtained by the Texas Tribune. Slaton, who is married, allegedly called the intern after 10 p.m. on Friday, March 31, and invited her to his Austin apartment. A source who works in the Capitol with direct knowledge of the incident told the Tribune that the intern was under 21 and that Slaton drank alcohol with her. Two of his fellow Republicans have now called on him to resign.

    A legislative staffer filed the complaint with the House General Investigating Committee. Per that complaint, Slaton comes pretty close to blackmailing the intern: He allegedly showed her fake emails that he claimed contained information about their meetup days later and then told her not to talk about it. Sources described it to the Tribune as “something of a loyalty test”: …