1. Reginald Selkirk says

    California’s new mental health court rolls out to high expectations and uncertainty

    An alternative mental health court program designed to fast-track people with untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders into housing and medical care — potentially without their consent — kicked off in seven California counties, including San Francisco, on Monday.

    Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom created the new civil court process, called “CARE Court,” as part of a massive push to address the homelessness crisis in California. Lawmakers approved it despite deep misgivings over insufficient housing and services, saying they needed to try something new to help those suffering in public from apparent psychotic breaks.

    Families of people diagnosed with severe mental illness rejoiced because the new law allows them to petition the court for treatment for their loved ones. Residents dismayed by the estimated 171,000 homeless people in California cheered at the possibility of getting them help and off the streets.

    Critics blasted the new program as ineffective and punitive given that it could coerce people into treatment…

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Canada’s House of Commons elects first Black speaker

    Canada’s House of Commons on Tuesday elected

    as its new speaker, making the Liberal lawmaker the first Black Canadian to hold the position.

    The election was triggered by the resignation of Anthony Rota, who stepped down last week after he invited — and honored — a man who fought for a Nazi military unit during World War II…

  3. says

    Judge issues gag order after Trump targets law clerk on Truth Social

    The former president shared a photo of the clerk on his social media platform and falsely called her Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “girlfriend.”

    Shortly before 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, New York prosecutors finished their direct examination of Donald Bender, Donald Trump’s former lead accountant. And all expectations were that the civil fraud trial would resume roughly an hour later, in accordance with the daily schedule Judge Arthur Engoron promised to more strictly enforce. But soon thereafter, it was clear something was awry.

    First, during the lunch break, the parties were summoned to a conference with Engoron that reporters were not permitted to attend.

    Then, at around the same time, those of us attending the trial became aware that during the morning break, Trump reposted a picture to his social media platform, Truth Social, of the judge’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. In the post, Trump called the clerk Schumer’s “girlfriend” and used the photo to suggest yet again that the case against him is politically motivated.

    And finally, when the trial was supposed to reconvene, it didn’t. Instead, observers watched both Trump and then New York Attorney General Letitia James exit the courtroom before learning the trial would not resume until 3 p.m. ET. What gives, we wondered? Were the parties — against all odds — engaged in settlement negotiations? Or had word of Trump’s mid-morning post reached Engoron?

    The answer became blindingly clear when court resumed.

    Engoron made note of the social media post and said Trump’s personal attacks on his staff were unacceptable and would not be tolerated. The judge said he previously warned the parties about such attacks a day earlier.

    “Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff,” Engoron said, adding that violations of his order would lead to swift, meaningful sanctions.

    The picture in question was originally on an Instagram page Greenfield maintained in connection with a campaign for a civil court judgeship. That page is now private.

    Glad to see that gag order.

  4. says

    NBC News:

    Major drug companies including Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb have committed to participate in Medicare drug price negotiations with the federal government, the Biden administration said Tuesday. The move is a positive step for people on Medicare, although there are still lawsuits from drug companies fighting the price negotiations.

    Yes, the Biden administration is trying to do another good thing.

  5. says

    Washington Post:

    Early analyses show global warmth surged far above previous records in September — even further than what scientists said seemed like astonishing increases in July and August. The planet’s average temperature shattered the previous September record by more than half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit), which is the largest monthly margin ever observed. […]

  6. says

    What was Elon Musk’s strategy for Twitter?

    A year after the world’s richest man acquired the social media platform, a game plan published by a fired Trump White House staffer provides a clue. [hmmm, what kind of fuckery is this?]

    On the day that public records revealed that Elon Musk had become Twitter’s biggest shareholder, an unknown sender texted the billionaire and recommended an article imploring him to acquire the social network outright.

    Musk’s purchase of Twitter, the 3,000-word anonymous article said, would amount to a “declaration of war against the Globalist American Empire.” The sender of the texts was offering Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, a playbook for the takeover and transformation of Twitter. As the anniversary of Musk’s purchase approaches, the identity of the sender remains unknown.

    The three texts were sent on April 4, 2022. In the nearly 18 months since then, many of the decisions Musk made after he bought Twitter appear to have closely followed that road map, up to and including his ongoing attacks against the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization founded by Jewish Americans to counter discrimination.

    The text messages described a series of actions Musk should take after he gained full control of the social media platform: “Step 1: Blame the platform for its users; Step 2: Coordinated pressure campaign; Step 3: Exodus of the Bluechecks; Step 4: Deplatforming.”

    The messages from the unknown sender were revealed in a court filing last year as evidence in a lawsuit Twitter brought against Musk after he tried to back out of buying it. The redacted documents were unearthed by The Chancery Daily, an independent legal publication covering proceedings before the Delaware Court of Chancery.

    The wording of the texts matches the subtitles of the article, “The Battle of the Century: Here’s What Happens if Elon Musk Buys Twitter,” which had been published three days earlier on the right-wing website

    The article was published with no byline, a common practice on the site, where writers also appear to use pseudonyms, such as “Moxie Russo.”

    The site is run by the far-right blogger Darren Beattie, a former Trump White House speechwriter who was fired in 2018 for having spoken on a panel alongside white nationalists. After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Beattie promoted the baseless claim that the FBI had planted agents in the crowd who incited it to storm the building.

    When the text messages to Musk were revealed in the court filing last spring, observers suggested on Twitter that Beattie himself may have sent them. Asked by NBC News whether he knew who sent the texts and who wrote the article, Beattie declined to comment and instead suggested that the ADL should be investigated, without giving specifics.

    “I think I’m familiar with it, but I’m not in a position to comment on that,” Beattie said of the text messages. “I wish I could give you something else, but you should look into the ADL.”

    […] Following the article’s publication on April 1, 2022, Beattie spent weeks urging Musk to buy Twitter outright and pushing his transformation plan on right-wing podcasts and television shows, including Steve Bannon’s “Bannon’s War Room” and Tucker Carlson’s since-canceled Fox News show.

    “I really hope that Elon will go ahead with it, that he’s not just another rich guy, that he’s someone who wants to be a great man,” Beattie said April 12, 2022, on Carlson’s show. “There are a variety of mechanisms, but it all cashes out to this: a declaration of war on the regime.

    Roughly four weeks after the article from Beattie’s site appeared online and two weeks after Beatty’s interview on Carlson’s show, Musk bought Twitter outright for $44 billion on April 25, 2022, and took the company private, per the article’s suggestion. He has since renamed the company to X but refers to it as X/Twitter in posts on the network. Several of the steps he has taken resemble those described in the article.

    A road map

    The article on Beattie’s site begins with a baseless claim that censorship on Twitter cost President Donald Trump the 2020 election. “Free speech online is what enabled the Trump revolution in 2016,” the anonymous author wrote. “If the Internet had been as free in 2020 as it was four years before, Trump would have cruised to reelection.” [white supremacist/MAGA bullshit]

    […] After Musk’s purchase of Twitter was finalized in October 2022, he allowed previously suspended accounts to return. Among them, he restored the account of Trump, whom Twitter had banned after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, as well as the personal accounts of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and the founder of a neo-Nazi website, Andrew Anglin.

    […] the “Exodus of the bluechecks.” The term “bluechecks” refers to a former identity verification system on Twitter that confirmed the authenticity of the accounts of celebrities, public figures and journalists.

    Musk experimented with and ultimately eliminated Twitter’s verification system of “bluechecks.” As the article predicted, the removal resulted in a public backlash and an exponential drop in advertisers and revenue. Other developments, including Musk’s drastically reducing the number of staffers who monitor tweets and a rise in hate speech, also contributed to the dynamic.

    […] The anonymous story published by Beattie […] also repeatedly attacks the Anti-Defamation League.

    It called the ADL a “danger” to Musk’s ownership and said it was one of several “powerful left-wing activist groups” that had “besieged” Twitter before Musk bought it. It claimed that the ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, “brought Twitter to heel” by telling the platform, “Play ball, or be ready to be put in league with Nazis.”

    The article then expressed sympathy for the Russian-government-controlled news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik, saying they had been unfairly “canceled” after Russia invaded Ukraine. Musk ended the use of “state-sponsored media” labels on Twitter this year, dropping it from the accounts of Russia Today, Sputnik and many other state-owned organizations. The change reportedly prompted RT editor Margarita Simonyan to send Musk a note of appreciation.

    […] The day after Musk’s official October 2022 takeover, Beattie appeared on the podcast of Bannon, the Trump White House chief strategist, and called for Musk to make internal emails from Twitter management public.

    One month later, Musk released the “Twitter Files” — a partial release of internal emails by Twitter employees curated by Musk-friendly writers.

    Targeting the ADL

    Beattie’s political career appeared to be over when he was fired from his White House role as speechwriter for Trump in 2018. His removal came after CNN revealed that he had spoken on a panel alongside Peter Brimelow, the founder of the white nationalist website VDare.

    Beattie worked for White House head of speechwriting, Vince Haley, and Trump adviser Stephen Miller. In 2019, he was hired as a speechwriter by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. And the Trump administration rehired him shortly after Trump lost the 2020 election, appointing him to a commission that preserved Holocaust memorials abroad.

    The hiring drew the ire of the ADL and Greenblatt, who urged the administration to rescind it. The Biden administration forced Beattie to resign from the commission in January 2022. He tweeted that the firing was “better than a Pulitzer.”

    Beattie has continued to run, […] continued to blame the ADL for X’s declining revenue.

    On Sept. 4, Musk threatened to sue the ADL, claiming, without providing evidence, that U.S. ad revenues are “down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL.” The same week, the hashtag #BanTheADL, pushed in part by white nationalists, trended on Twitter, and Musk tweeted that the “ADL has tried very hard to strangle X/Twitter.” [JFC]

    […] Musk posted a meme with the caption “Drop the Anti. Just Defamation League. It’s cleaner.”

    The April 2022 text to Musk that included Beattie’s article concludes with some final suggestions: Let “the boss himself,” presumably a reference to Trump, back on Twitter. (Musk eventually allowed Trump back, but he has rarely tweeted since his reinstatement.) […]

    Looks too much like a nefarious plan to be dismissed out of hand.

  7. says

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous chapter of 500 comments on The Infinite Thread:
    In historic first, House votes to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker
    Five discoveries about COVID-19 made since the public health emergency ended
    Ukraine Update: Global food security depends on Ukraine winning the Battle of the Black Sea

    Lot’s more is discussed there.

  8. says

    Comments from Josh Marshall:

    […] Axios reports that the Republicans are livid with their Democratic colleagues for letting Kevin McCarthy go down the tubes.

    Their argument is that McCarthy did the right thing by putting a clean continuing resolution up for a vote. And Democrats – even the “problem solvers” didn’t have his back. That’s not a crazy argument. I understand why they’re making it. It ignores the broader context though. Yes, he did do the right thing.

    [He sort of did the right thing, but only after weeks of chaos, and only after all of his other bullshit ideas failed. He also stripped Ukraine funding out of the continuing resolution, so that’s not good. Republicans created the situation all by themselves. Why can’t they fix it themselves? See also this previous post for more details concerning the many and various ways that McCarthy treated Democrats like shit.]

    But the idea that Democrats are going to prop up the Speaker pursuing a bogus impeachment inquiry against the President, taking the leading role rehabilitating Donald Trump, breaking the deal he struck with the President back in May? It’s just too absurd.

    But it does seem of a piece with what’s emerging from the post-McCarthy wreckage. On the one hand it seems inevitable that you’ll see a more aggressive and chaotic House leadership. Who wants to get the McCarthy treatment? But we’re also seeing a lot of retaliation against Democrats. The GOP caucus was overwhelmingly against this. They can’t lash out at Gaetz and his crew. So the Democrats are the only others they can lash out against. News just broke that acting Speaker McHenry asked former Speaker Pelosi to vacate her Capitol hideaway office by tomorrow. She’s not even in DC.

    Pelosi is in San Francisco, attending some of the events planned around the death of Diane Feinstein.

  9. says

    [head/desk, and eye rolling]

    Democrats made it clear early in the day that they wouldn’t bail out McCarthy, pointing to his actions on Jan. 6, his sucking up to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago post-insurrection, his attempts to discredit the Jan. 6 committee, his sham Biden impeachment inquiry, his reneging on debt-limit deal, and his actions on national TV this past weekend, claiming Democrats wanted to shut down the government.

    With McCarthy ousted (for now), we are in uncharted territory. Here’s what could happen. Unhappy House Republicans are reportedly already talking about expelling Gaetz from the House. Gaetz used Democratic votes to oust McCarthy, so it would be hilarious if Republicans then use Democratic votes to oust Gaetz. That would be bipartisanship we can all believe in! Democrats will happily assist Republicans in ousting any Republican they want, making the slim Republican House majority even slimmer.

    Meanwhile, Donald Trump continued his unhinged tirades from a New York courtroom, where he continued to cry about the lack of jury trial. (His lawyers specifically didn’t request one. Was that a hilarious screwup, or was it done on purpose?) Trump also bizarrely claimed a courtroom clerk was Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer’s “girlfriend,” leading the judge to issue a gag order on Trump. Shockingly, Trump seems to have backed down! He removed the offending social media post, offering a good lesson to all the other judges in all the other Trump cases on how to handle his volatile theatrics. Separately, the judge had to clarify that Trump’s claims of an important courtroom win were false. Trump isn’t winning anything at the moment.


    Additional information: As Trump returns to court, judge in his fraud trial clarifies comments ex-president took as a win

  10. says

    Trump’s no-jury trial is either a hilarious screwup or a cynical strategy

    Donald Trump spent Monday in a Manhattan courtroom for the opening day of a $250 million civil fraud trial against him, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization. When he emerged from that courtroom, Trump railed against Judge Arthur Engoron, against New York Attorney General Letitia James, and against the idea that he couldn’t have a jury for the trial.

    “As you know,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom, “we’re not entitled to a jury, which is pretty unusual in the United States of America. And I think it’s very unfair that I don’t have a jury.”

    Trump attorney Alina Habba also complained that Trump wanted a jury. However, when she raised this issue to Engoron, she got back a simple reply: Trump’s legal team had never requested a jury trial. The general assumption has been that this was a screwup on the part of a legal team that has—so far, at least—failed to impress. But it could also be a strategy designed to give Trump what he’s always looking for: someone to attack.

    [snipped some details, videos available at the link]

    […] If Trump wanted a jury trial, his legal team’s job was to object to the form turned in by the prosecutor.

    […] The general assumption has been that Habba, whose past experience doesn’t exactly suggest she’s ready to join the white-shoe elite, simply screwed up. After all, Habba also came to the New York courtroom brandishing a gaming laptop with an emblem that spiraled through colors while sitting on the defense table. (Gaming site Kotaku says Habba’s laptop sports an RTX 2070 GPU and an RGB light bar, so … pretty cool if you’re into “Diablo IV.”)

    Had Trump wanted a jury trial, his attorneys needed to object to the bench trial proposed by the state, and request a jury trial. There’s no guarantee that Trump would have been granted that request, but they didn’t try.

    Of course, that’s not the story that either Trump or Habba is spreading. They’re laying the groundwork with claims that Trump was denied a jury trial, that this was “very unusual,” and that it is unfair. This makes the whole concept seem like exactly what you might expect from Trump: a prelude to focusing the blame on the judge.

    If Trump had to play to a jury, it might be a bit harder for him to explain to the American public how this trial ended with a massive fine and penalties that affect his ability to do business in New York. He couldn’t blame just one judge; he’d have to blame the judge and a whole jury.

    Keeping the focus on Engoron (with the occasional shot at James), Trump gets to play his favorite role: victim of a system that is always unfair to poor Donald Trump, America’s only honest man. Painting himself as completely beset by radical Democrats, deranged prosecutors, and a legal system isn’t what Trump does in court. It’s what he does every day.

    It’s also not so different from what he’s done through thousands of other lawsuits. Trump has enormous experience in bullying judges, belittling prosecutors, and evading charges. This is just the latest. The “no jury” bit is just another excuse for him to pound the table when he cries about how this was all so unfair.

    But hey, it could also be a screwup. And honestly, when it comes to the result of the trial this time, it’s not likely to matter.

  11. says

    […] On 1 October 2023, all three of them [three ships previously threatened or deterred by Russia] left Ukrainian ports, carrying together 127 000 tons of grain, and, importantly, also iron ore, to the ports of Egypt, China, and Spain.

    This time, five new ships signaled they were heading to Ukraine.

    Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports has been broken.

    Ukraine makes the Grain Initiative — and Putin — irrelevant.

    Needless to say, Russia has gone mad about the Ukrainian progress — just this night it launched three guided bombs onto Snake Island.

    Please stand with Ukraine, and urge your governments to supply Ukraine with all the weapons it needs. Just like in this case, Ukraine has showed repeatedly that it can liberate all Russian-occupied territories if it has the tools necessary to do the job.


  12. says

    […] McCarthy succeeded on a couple of matters. First, he nearly collapsed the national and international economies via his dreadful mismanagement of the debt ceiling. And second, he fumbled the passage of appropriations bills necessary to keep the government from a devastating shutdown.

    Consequently, McCarthy has now been removed from the Speakership by his fellow GOP members who are apparently searching for a leader who will fail at an even higher level. [LOL] And that has launched an intra-party war among the GOP’s radical fringe and their somewhat less radical fringe.

    Not to be left out, Donald Trump inserted his unique brand of “wisdom” into the debate over McCarthy’s fate. And true to form, Trump contributed a predictably dishonest and pitifully vacant comment that he posted on his failing social media scam, Truth Social. He whined that…

    “Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?”

    Seriously? No Republican has more bitterly fought his comrades in the party than Trump. He calls the GOP minority leader in the Senate “Old Crow” Mitch McConnell, and his wife “Coco Chow.” During the January 6th insurrection, he blasted McCarthy saying, “I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” He is viciously attacking his Republican challengers in the GOP presidential primary with infantile nicknames such as “Ron DeSanctimonious,” “Sloppy Chris Christie,” “Bird Brain” Nikki Haley,” and “Liddle'” Mike Pence.”

    If that’s not enough, Trump has also repeatedly bashed any Republican who was insufficiently worshipful […] That includes senators, governors, state and federal legislators, and media pundits. He recently lashed out at his Ministry of Propaganda saying that “I call Fox News the RINO Network, and their DOWN BIG Ratings accurately reflect the name.”

    […] it will be interesting to see whether he embraces whatever supplicant succeeds McCarthy in the days (weeks? months?) to come, and if he or she is satisfactorily subservient the Dear Leader Trump. In fact, it will be interesting to see if the GOP can even manage to elect a new speaker.


  13. says

    The Daily Beast and Reuters have horrifying articles today about so-called “Storm-Z” battalions in Russia, squads of 100 to 150, full of convicts and others being punished, who are sent to the worst parts of Putin’s war against Ukraine, often without ammunition, training, food, water, or anything else. “Storm fighters, they’re just meat,” said a Russian soldier. Most of them die. They leave their bodies out to just rot and decompose.

    Meanwhile, today the New York Times has an article about how excited Vladimir Putin is to get Republicans in America to see his side of things in Ukraine, and what he hopes to do next to convince more Americans to support his campaign to kidnap and execute Ukrainian children and otherwise commit genocidal atrocities against that autonomous country.

    The Times article says American officials believe Putin’s about to turn up the dial on the propaganda, in America and against our European allies:

    American officials said they are convinced that Mr. Putin intends to try to end U.S. and European support for Ukraine by using his spy agencies to push propaganda supporting pro-Russian political parties and by stoking conspiracy theories with new technologies.

    The Russia disinformation aims to increase support for candidates opposing Ukraine aid with the ultimate goal of stopping international military assistance to Kyiv.

    He thinks it’ll work, and he has good reason, since he’s done it before, what with all the work his manservants put in to install Donald Trump as president in 2016. (Not to mention the success he’s had with influence ops in Europe.)

    The Times piece suggests Putin is laser-focused on how debates over Ukrainian aid are playing out in the United States and Europe, we imagine looking for fissures and cracks to exploit wherever he can.

    Moscow is also likely to try to boost pro-Russian candidates in Europe, seeing potential fertile ground with recent results. A pro-Russian candidate won Slovakia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday. In addition to national elections, Russia could seek to influence the European parliamentary vote next year, officials said.

    And then of course comes the 2024 election in the US.

    Putin’s interference worked extremely well in 2016. […] he was definitely a key player in there helping Trump win by a negative-three-million-vote landslide. In 2020, it didn’t work so well. He tried. It just wasn’t enough.

    But the Times says US intel agencies think 2024 is the biggest deal of all for Putin:

    President Biden has sent billions of dollars of aid to Ukraine and pledged that the United States and its allies would support Kyiv for “as long as it takes.” Mr. Trump, far ahead in the polls for the Republican nomination, has said supporting Ukraine is not a vital U.S. interest. […]

    The ultimate goal of Russia would be to help undermine candidates who support Ukraine and to change U.S. policy. Some U.S. officials doubt Russia would be able to do that.

    Even if Putin can’t steal the 2024 election for Trump — God knows Trump’s motives for that are also already firmly established — the Times quotes officials who say it could make it harder and harder for Congress to pass Ukraine aid.

    Oh, and look what just happened! One of the many ways powerless loser Speaker Kevin McCarthy caved to get a temporary spending bill passed in the House is that it didn’t include extra aid for Ukraine. Mission accomplished for the Republican Treason Caucus!

    By the way, all the experts say the interference is likely to be smarter and more technologically advanced this time around.

    Shit’s gonna get real weird in this election, y’all.

  14. StevoR says

    Jupiter-sized objects in Orion Nebula baffle scientists

    The new entities, nicknamed ‘JuMBOs’, are neither stars nor planets. And they shouldn’t exist, researchers say.

    The new entities have been called Jupiter Mass Binary Objects, or JuMBOs. They aren’t big enough to be stars, and because they don’t orbit around a star, JuMBOs aren’t technically planets…(snip)…According to a research paper that McCaughrean co-authored and hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, JuMBOs are about a million years old, which makes them young relative to the rest of the universe. Their surface temperatures are roughly 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit).

    But unlike planets, which are eventually able to maintain consistent temperatures thanks to the energy they receive from the stars they orbit, JuMBOs eventually cool down rapidly and freeze. They’re also largely made up of gas, which means they’re unlikely to be able to support life.


    Even more baffling is the fact that the objects are formed in pairs instead of individually.

    “There’s something wrong with either our understanding of planet formation, star formation – or both,” Samuel Pearson, an ESA scientist who worked on the research, told The New York Times. “They shouldn’t exist.”

    Source :

  15. StevoR says

    Jupiter-sized objects in Orion Nebula baffle scientists

    The new entities, nicknamed ‘JuMBOs’, are neither stars nor planets. And they shouldn’t exist, researchers say.

    The new entities have been called Jupiter Mass Binary Objects, or JuMBOs. They aren’t big enough to be stars, and because they don’t orbit around a star, JuMBOs aren’t technically planets…(snip)…According to a research paper that McCaughrean co-authored and hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, JuMBOs are about a million years old, which makes them young relative to the rest of the universe. Their surface temperatures are roughly 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit).

    But unlike planets, which are eventually able to maintain consistent temperatures thanks to the energy they receive from the stars they orbit, JuMBOs eventually cool down rapidly and freeze. They’re also largely made up of gas, which means they’re unlikely to be able to support life.


    Even more baffling is the fact that the objects are formed in pairs instead of individually.

    “There’s something wrong with either our understanding of planet formation, star formation – or both,” Samuel Pearson, an ESA scientist who worked on the research, told The New York Times. “They shouldn’t exist.”

    Source :

  16. StevoR says

    Seems a lot of people have voted early in Australia’s Indigenous Voice to Parlt referendum :

    I dunno whether that’s a good sign or not – there’s been so much misinformation and outright scare-monegring lies coming from the no case :

    With some good information also out there debunkibng and fighting back against the Dutton dregs of the LNP letfovers and mining intrests campaign against it like this site :

    A lot of trolls and bots and bigots on social media(well, fb) for sure..

  17. StevoR says

    How twice duplicated, gravitationally lensed white dwarf supernova SN H0pe can help us determine the Hubble constant a key variable for our cosmos :

    Also when lightning ain’t lightning :

    Whilst :

    Last week, in a spinning tank beneath the University of Arizona’s football stadium, an oven kicked to life.

    The oven, at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, began to heat a 20-ton, 27.6-foot-wide (8.4 meters) pool of optical glass to 2,130 degrees Fahrenheit (1,165 degrees Celsius), in the first steps of manufacturing a telescope mirror.

    The oven’s present pastry is the seventh and final mirror of the Giant Magellan Telescope, itself under construction in the mountains of northern Chile. The telescope’s crown jewel will be a seven-segment mirror. When all seven pieces are in place, they will work together as a single light-collecting surface 80 feet (25.4 m) across.Each of those mirrors must be of the highest quality, and that takes time. This last mirror will take four months to cool. After that, technicians will begin grinding and polishing its surface to an astronomically precise finish — perfect to within one one-thousandth the width of a human hair. The entire process, from baking to completion, will take four years.

    Afterward, the mirror segment will journey down to Chile by boat to join its six counterparts. One of those six is currently serving as a guinea pig to test a prototype of the telescope’s eventual support structure.

    Astronomers expect to open the Giant Magellan Telescope’s supersharp eye on the universe by the end of this decade.

    More including video at the source link here :

  18. birgerjohansson says

    Typo. Should be “devolution” of the Republicans- spell check strikes again.

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    Nobel Chemistry prize awarded for ‘quantum dots’ that bring coloured light to screens

    Scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Aleksey Ekimov won the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of tiny clusters of atoms known as quantum dots, widely used today to create colours in flat screens, light emitting diode (LED) lamps and devices that help surgeons see blood vessels in tumours.

    The prize-awarding academy said that their findings on quantum dots, which in size ratio have the same relationship to a football, as a football to the earth, had “added colour to nanotechnology” – when matter is used on an atomic or molecular level in manufacturing…

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rule 26

    Some far-right Republican members of the House say they want Donald Trump to become the next speaker after Kevin McCarthy’s stunning ouster on Tuesday threw the body into chaos…

    But there’s a big problem with the GOP plan to make Trump the first nonmember to wield the gavel: Their own rules.

    Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) gave his Republican colleagues a reminder of Rule 26, which was adopted in January and states that any GOP leader indicted of a felony with a potential prison sentence of two years or more needs to step aside:…

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    More election fraud!

    GOP activist in The Villages accused of forging signature on dead dad’s ballot

    A Republican activist who supports former President Donald Trump in The Villages is facing voter fraud accusations that he forged the signature on his dead father’s mail ballot in the 2020 election.

    Robert Rivernider Jr., 58, was charged last week with forgery of a public record and fraud in connection with casting a vote, according to court records in Sumter County. A convicted felon released from prison in May 2020, he owes $22 million in restitution to victims of an investment scam, court records show.

    His latest charges stem from a ballot that was postmarked Oct. 23, 2020, four days after Rivernider’s father died, Walter Forgie, chief assistant state attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, said on Tuesday.

    A handwriting expert determined the ballot had been forged, he said…

  22. says

    About Saudi-owned companies pumping endless groundwater in the state of Arizona:

    Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said Monday that the state is cancelling land leases that have for years allowed a Saudi-owned company to pump almost unlimited groundwater for an alfalfa farming operation in Arizona, even as the state is in extreme drought conditions. The Associated Press has the deets:

    On Monday, Hobbs, a Democrat, said the state had canceled Fondomonte Arizona’s lease in western Arizona’s Butler Valley and would not renew three other leases up for renewal there next year.

    An investigation by the governor’s office found that the foreign-owned farm had violated some of its lease terms. Hobbs called it unacceptable that the farm “continued to pump unchecked amounts of groundwater out of our state while in clear default on their lease.” […]

    The Arizona governor’s office said the State Land Department decided not to renew three other leases the company had in Butler Valley due to the “excessive amounts of water being pumped from the land — free of charge.”

    The state will terminate the contracts due to violations related to Fondomonte’s storage of hazardous materials, which the state had notified the company about in 2016. The state’s investigation last year found those problems still hadn’t been fixed, giving Arizona grounds to end the lease.

    Thank goodness for lax regulation! If the company had addressed the problem or the state had forced compliance years ago, Arizona wouldn’t have the leverage needed to get rid of Fondamonte now that it’s an embarrassment.

    The company is a subsidiary of a Saudi dairy company that owns farms all over the world to produce feed for cattle in Saudi Arabia, the desert autocracy better known for its human rights outrages than for any green pastures.

    Fondomonte Arizona bought almost 10,000 acres of farmland in western Arizona in 2014, gaining rights to the groundwater beneath the land. A major investigative story by the Arizona Republic last year (paywalled, alas) brought renewed attention to Fondamonte’s operations, as cities in Arizona began noticing that unlimited urban growth in the desert is a problem when their water supplies go kerflooey due to drought. Here at least is a good CBS News report on the mess, from April: [video at the link]

    As always in the West, water and who gets to use it is a perennial issue, especially with climate change. The Colorado river is in crisis, and that means less water for the Phoenix metro area and for Tucson, as well as for much Arizona agriculture that can’t pump groundwater.

    As the AP ‘splains,

    In Arizona, cities such as Phoenix and Tucson have restrictions on how much groundwater they can pump under a 1980 state law aimed at protecting the state’s aquifers. But in rural areas, little is required of water users to pump from underground aquifers besides registering wells with the state and using the water for activities, including farming, that are deemed a “beneficial use.”

    The Butler Valley land is actually owned by Arizona’s Land Department, which leased it to Fondomonte; in theory, the AP explains, a state law would allow the water to be pumped to cities like Phoenix, which announced this year that it no longer has enough groundwater to support anticipated future growth, and may need to halt new suburban development.

    Yes, say hello to the climate crisis, it’s here.

    Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D), who like Hobbs was elected in last year’s midterms because all the Republicans were MAGA election deniers, said it was darn well about time to crack down on the Saudi operation in Butler Valley. In April, Mayes announced her office had rescinded permits for Fondomonte to drill additional water wells on its leases, due to “inconsistencies” in the applications, so again, hooray for lax paperwork.

    Monday, Mayes called Hobbs’s decision a “step in the right direction” while criticizing the administration of former Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who let Saudis drink Arizona’s milkshake.

    “The decision by the prior administration to allow foreign corporations to stick straws in the ground and pump unlimited amounts of groundwater to export alfalfa is scandalous,” Mayes said.

    Lord knows Arizona needs all the shade it can get, with yet another unseasonable heatwave brewing this week, the end.

  23. says

    Followup to Reginald @26.


    SEAN HANNITY: [S]ources telling me at this hour some House Republicans have been in contact with and have started an effort to draft former president Donald Trump to be the next speaker and I have been told that President Trump might be open to helping the Republican Party at least in the short term, if necessary.

    Guess nobody has told Trump that being speaker is a J-O-B and doesn’t involve simply speaking. You have to, like, show up and do speaker things. You can’t really do it from court. Or prison. And you’re not supposed to take bribes.

    But y’all, there is a whole thing brewing out there. The biggest lunatics in the MAGA lunatic movement have babbled about this idea here and there over the years, but they’re really doing it hard now. Jim Jordan babbled to Hannity about it last night, saying that if he wants to, “he’d be great,” and he wants him to be president, but “that’s fine” if Trump wants to. We guess he’d just have to add it to his current daily schedule of “Be indicted 91 times” and “Go tell morons in Iowa about windmills and sharks.”

    MAGA seditionist Rep. Troy Nehls nominated Trump for the speakership last night on Twitter (the traditional nominating place) once he heard McCarthy wouldn’t be running again. So did Rep. Greg Steube. Matt Gaetz didn’t rule the idea out last night, but in a cagey roundabout way.

    The Daily Beast reports that Alex Jones and Steve Bannon both suggested it last night.

    Newsmax host moron Carl Higbie suggested himself, and then said it could be somebody whose name “rhymes with Trump.”

    Which, um, that’s … that’s not how you say that. Unless he was meaning to suggest Forrest Gump or indispensable Washington Post writer Philip Bump or someone else whose name actually rhymes with Trump.

    And there’s the greatest lunatic of them all, Marjorie Taylor Greene. Take a deep breath, because she goes on and on and on:

    “The only candidate for Speaker I am currently supporting is President Donald J. Trump. He will end the war in Ukraine. He will secure the border. He will end the politically weaponized government. He will make America energy independent again. He will pass my bill to stop transgender surgeries on kids and keep men out of women’s sports. He will support our military and police. And so much more! He has a proven 4 year record as President of the United States of America. He received a record number of Republican votes of any Republican Presidential candidate! We can make him Speaker and then elect him President! He will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”

    With an American flag emoji, obvs.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene is so far out of her league, so above her pay grade, so permanently outside her service coverage area that she thinks Trump can do all these things as speaker. […]

    We’d hate to steal her joy. Not today.

    So we really hope these idiots try. Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it. It’s the only way to teach us Democrats the lesson we really need to learn.

    If they think they’ve been successful heretofore, whoa, just wait until they elect Donald Trump speaker and he waddles out of Mar-a-Lago to show up to work exactly never, thinking he can do “Congress” while squatting atop his golden toilet.

    Oh wait, though. Lawyer Tristan Snell notes that according to Republicans’ own rules — should they decide to follow them — Trump couldn’t serve as speaker, precisely because he’s so numerously fucking indicted: [Tweet about Rule 26]

    Guess Trump’s indictments are Election Interference AND Speaker Interference now.

    But that’s only if Republicans follow their own rules. Would every single one of them go for that? LMAO.

    We cannot wait to see what kind of bullshit they do next week.

    Please please please please please please try it, Republicans. Y’all are awesome at governing, you’ve got this!

  24. says

    Elon’s Getting Sued By Man He Accused Of Being A ‘Fed’ Posing As A Neo-Nazi

    Yep. Elon Musk and other doofuses ruined a young man’s life by repeating, and then repeating again, lies on X/Twitter. Ben Brody is a Jewish college student in California. He and his family have been subjected to a lot of harassment.

    The Wonkette article brings the receipts. It shows that Musk knew the story was false, and yet he continued to repeat it.

    […] According to the lawsuit, “Brody has suffered and will continue to suffer general and special damages, including a severe degree of mental stress, anguish, fear, personal embarrassment, and psychological harm which disrupted his daily life.” He also has to worry about this affecting his future job prospects, should a hiring manager come across these accusations, as well as long-term harassment from those who believe in this nonsense and make targets of those they believe are involved with it for years on end.

    Not to mention the fact that, as a Jewish person, he’s slightly offended by the implication that he would even be a fake Nazi.

    The lawsuit doesn’t reveal how much he will be seeking, though it notes that it will be more than a million dollars. Let’s hope it’s a lot more than that, because that’s not even a drop in the bucket to Musk. As the lawsuit points out, this is far from the first time Musk has fallen for disinformation or defamed someone, and he’s going to keep doing it until it hurts.

    The truly strange thing here is that Elon or any of these other [dunderheads] think that anyone would need to do a “psyop” to make them look bad. Literally everything they do and say — including ruining some poor kid’s life on the off-chance that they might convince someone that neo-Nazis don’t exist — makes them look bad, because they are bad people. They do not need help from the government or Antifa or or me or anyone else to accomplish this. Why would anyone waste all that money and time and effort, when they’re doing such an incredible job of it themselves?

  25. says

    Washington Post: An emergency alert will hit phones today. Here’s what to expect.

    Cellphones, televisions and radios will all take part in a test of the national alert systems

    Today at 2:20 p.m. Eastern, most Americans will simultaneously feel their cellphones vibrate, hear them make a loud sound and see a push alert pop up on their screens. Most radio and television stations will broadcast an alert at the same time for about one minute.

    There is no national emergency, no reason to panic and nothing you need to do about the alerts. It is, as the text will say, just a test.

    It’s a test of the national emergency alert systems, which are designed to let the government reach hundreds of millions of people in the United States immediately if there is a disaster affecting the entire country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission are conducting the coordinated test to see if the technology is working as designed and if any improvements are needed.

    The sound is a unique tone that probably will interrupt classes and meetings, reveal the locations of hidden phones, and jar anyone not expecting it. The test itself is already leading to baseless conspiracy theories about how the powerful communication tool could be abused.

    In reality, the system is designed to allow the government to reach people quickly in the case of an actual widespread emergency such as a terrorist attack. However, most disasters only require contacting people in a certain area and would not necessitate an alert to the entire country. […]

  26. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #29…
    That whole water issue is why some people–including me–have looked askance at the plans to build semiconductor fabs in Arizona. Fabs tend to use a lot of water so it seems rather stupid to build them in a desert.

  27. Reginald Selkirk says

    @33: Don’t semiconductor fabs also need lots of climate conditioning? I imagine all those etching steps, etc. need a very stable temperature and humidity.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says


    He has also said James based her case on “fraudulent” numbers, as part of a Democratic witch hunt against him.

    Well he’s right about that. The case is based on his fraudulent numbers.

  29. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #35…
    That’s part of the water consumption. That and washing the wafers periodically though the process with very pure water (which takes more water than is actually used and is a hazardous materials disposal problem).

  30. says

    whheydt @32, good point.

    Reginald @37, LOL.

    As a comment on other news, here is satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In an agreement that members of the G.O.P. conference are calling a game changer, every House Republican will serve as Speaker for a term of four minutes.

    At the end of each four-minute term, Rep. Matt Gaetz, of Florida, will advance a motion to vacate the chair, after which the Speaker will be forced to clean out his or her office and start working from Starbucks.

    Once the Speaker has been removed, Republicans will recess for a week before choosing who will serve for the next four minutes.

    Future Speaker of the House George Santos of New York hailed the agreement as “the best idea I’ve seen in my thirty years in Congress.”

    Another future Speaker, Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, said that the arrangement would restore Americans’ faith in the Republicans’ ability to govern. “With this distraction out of the way, we can get back to the important business of impeaching Hunter Biden,” she said.

    New Yorker link

  31. says

    Yes, of course Trump continues to fundraise off his criminal and civil trials:

    […] Trump sent a fundraising email to supporters on Wednesday describing Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for a limited gag order as an effort by “Deep State Democrats” to censor him “to satisfy these tyrants’ thirst for power.” The message urged Trump’s supporters to monetize their outrage.

    “Please make a contribution to show that you will NEVER SURRENDER our country to tyranny as the Deep State thugs try to JAIL me for life as an innocent man – for 1,500% impact,” Trump wrote.

    [Ridiculous … and there is a scam embedded in the request: “for 1,500% impact.”]

    Trump, who is currently under indictment in four different jurisdictions, has repeatedly lashed out and made menacing statements directed at witnesses, prosecutors, judges, and others involved in the cases. Along with the criminal prosecutions, Trump is facing a civil trial in New York brought by the state’s attorney general as a result of allegedly fraudulent practices at the former president’s real estate business. The civil trial began in Manhattan on Monday. For the first two days of the case, Trump used public appearances, his social media platform Truth Social, and his presidential campaign press list to launch a series of wild and false attacks on the prosecutor, judge, and a clerk for the court. Trump’s outbursts led the judge to impose a narrow gag order on Tuesday barring the former president and others in the case “from posting emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff.”

    The fundraising email from Trump’s campaign referred to the civil trial as a “sham,” but did not note the gag order in that case. Instead, Trump focused on the case in Washington D.C. federal court related to his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, which culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Last month, prosecutors sought a “narrowly tailored” limited gag order in that trial and cited Trump’s “disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis regarding the citizens of the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors and prospective witnesses.” In their request, the prosecutors noted Trump’s comments have coincided with threats from his supporters to the special counsel and other targets of his wrath, including the judge herself.

    “The government seeks a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case,” prosecutors wrote.

    […] The judge in the Jan. 6 case, Tanya Chutkan is set to weigh in on the gag order request during a hearing on Oct. 16. Trump’s attorneys have responded by framing the call for sanctions as censorship. When prosecutors reiterated the request, one of them, Molly Gaston, noted,“No other criminal defendant would be permitted to issue public statements insinuating that a known witness in his case should be executed.”

    “He demands special treatment, asserting that because he is a political candidate, he should have free rein to publicly intimidate witnesses and malign the court, citizens of this district, and prosecutors,” Gaston wrote. “But in this case, Donald J. Trump is a criminal defendant like any other.”

    Trump has repeatedly used his myriad legal troubles as a fundraising opportunity for his political committees, which are paying some of his legal bills. In his latest fundraising email about the possible gag order, Trump made clear he absolutely does not see himself as a standard criminal defendant. Instead, he once again framed the prosecution as an effort to target him politically. […]


  32. says

    QAnon prediction/advise for October 4:

    Turn off your cell phones on October 4th. The EBS is going to “test” the system using 5G. This will activate the Marburg virus in people who have been vaccinated. And sadly turn some of them into zombies.

    Reginald @34 noted that the test of the emergency system arrived two minutes early on his phone. Ditto for my phone. I assume this two-minute trickery was to ensure that both Reginald and I were infected. I feel okay. Maybe I am meant to be a zombie. It feels good because I am finally fulfilling my destiny.

    Associated Press:

    […] test of the nationwide Emergency Alert System uses the same familiar audio tone that’s been in use since the 1960s to broadcast warnings across the country with no known adverse health effects, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is overseeing the test. The claims about nanoparticles revive long-debunked conspiracy theories about the contents of COVID-19 vaccines, experts say. Nevertheless, social media users are imploring their followers to shut off their cellphones on the day of the test because they believe it’s part of a broader conspiracy to exert control over the population.

    One popular video shows a woman claiming the test will somehow switch on technology that has been introduced into people’s bodies. “The emergency broadcasting system under FEMA is going to be activated,” the woman explains, speaking directly into the camera. “It’s not a test. It’s going to be sending these high frequency signals into cell phones, radios, TVs. The intention of activating nanoparticles, including graphene oxide.”

    Stanley Perlman, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, said the claims appear to be referring to old myths about the contents of COVID vaccines. These baseless conspiracy theories claim — without evidence — that the vaccines contain various materials, such as graphene oxide or other nanoparticles, that can interact with wireless communications technology and allow governments to control and monitor people. But graphene oxide — a material made by oxidizing graphite — isn’t an ingredient in COVID vaccines, notes Matthew Laurens, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


    […] Now you can’t expect these wackos to get their stories straight. The AP’s reading of the conspiracy theory mentions “high frequency signals … activating nanoparticles, including graphene oxide.” The tweet above has 5G signals activating the “Marburg virus” (related to ebola), which has otherwise laid dormant inside us ever since we vaccinated. The version the AP reported on doesn’t include consequences of the activation, but the tweet above says we’ll turn into zombies.

    But that’s conspiracy theories for you! It’s a choose-your-own-adventure storyline. There’s probably a version out there in which we turn into lizard people, or maybe it’s the lizard people activating the 5G? Who knows, who cares! All that matters is that someone “did their own research.”

    As BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh notes, the Brits had their own version of the conspiracy back in April, when their own emergency-alert system underwent a similar test. […]

    Clearly, given the lack of reports of mass zombification of the British people back in the spring, the only possible conclusion we can draw is that the DEEP-STATE MEDIA suppressed that information, ensuring the sheeple didn’t catch wind of their dastardly plan and its disastrous consequences. Do some research and I’m sure you’ll find that all the zombies were shipped off to the Isle of Man or maybe even Diego Garcia.

    Of course, there’s also the possibility that, uh, no one turned into zombies. But … naaaah. Their sources are always so impeccable, like when they claimed this exact thing would happen—checking my notes—last October! […]

    I have a theory. You might even say it’s … a conspiracy.

    You see, everyone knows that zombies aren’t made from people who are alive. They have to die first! But clearly, the DEEP STATE didn’t do its research. So when they built the zombifying virus, they missed that crucial piece of the puzzle. So given that anyone who answers their 5G phone is inherently alive, they can’t turn into zombies.

    Phew, we’ve been saved by a simple bureaucratic oversight! Let us thank our lucky stars that no matter how dastardly the DEEP STATE might be, they will never be as smart as the geniuses crafting their tin-foil hats.

    Editor’s note: Headline updated after no zombies materialized.


  33. says

    George Soros … such a busy man!

    It usually takes about three seconds after a major Republican disaster for some Republican to pipe up with a conspiracy theory blaming it on liberals or “the Jews,” but Republican Rep. Nick Langworthy got a headstart on it the day before the House voted to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

    “You’ve got to start to wonder out loud if George Soros or some other liberal dark money is behind the idiotic move to derail the House Republican Majority and this pathetic Motion to Vacate effort,” Langworthy tweeted Monday evening. Langworthy also happens to be the vice chair of the National Republicans Congressional Committee.

    So, sure, there we go. The “party of personal responsibility” doesn’t think its own political hacks have responsibility for anything, whether it be following classified documents laws, not staging coups, or having even the bare competence necessary to not “derail” their own supposed House coalition.

    It only stands to reason, then, that Matt Gaetz is an enormous, caucus-sabotaging asshole because George Soros made him do it. No doubt liberal dark money was behind every far-right Republican extremist’s vote to oust the party’s leader.

    And that probably means that Soros funds not only Gaetz but also fascist provocateur Steve Bannon. After all, consider that the first place Gaetz and fellow saboteur Rep. Nancy Mace ran to after successfully throwing the House into disarray was Bannon’s podcast.

    You are free to consider Langworthy a whining charlatan focused only on making excuses for his party’s disarray; if nothing else, he certainly is that. But it’s just as accurate to note that the omnipresent Republican obsession with finding out-group scapegoats for every news event—everything from natural disasters to pathetic intraparty slap-fights—is yet another hallmark of authoritarianism in general and fascism specifically.

    he party can never fail. It can never have corrupt elements and can never be wrong when it declares that an ideological policy prescription will solve a particular problem. If an indictment comes down, it is because the party’s enemies have engineered it. If the party’s enacted policies only worsen what they were intended to solve, it is because the party’s enemies secretly sabotaged the country to make the party look bad.

    And of course, if the party is plagued with rabid extremists and flat-out incompetents who themselves keep the party from accomplishing any of the things it promises, or who even flub things so badly that the party can do nothing at all, it is the party’s secret enemies who are behind that, too, working with unknown “elites” to trick the party into its own self-destruction. […]


  34. says

    Professional douchebag and vanity presidential candidate Vivek Ramawswamy isn’t afraid to tackle difficult issues, especially because he’s not the least bit afraid of sounding like a complete ass. It’s his entire brand, and it’s why Nikki Haley invoked the ultimate Billy Madison insult when she told him, “Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber.”

    Last night on his knockoff Tucker Carlson show, Jesse Watters asked Ramaswamy if as president (LOL!), he planned to “bring back mental institutions,” which still very much exist. This will somehow address the rising violent crime rates, as Republicans are incapable of considering any humane options. […]

    “I think that this is a clear path to fighting the violent crime wave across this country, Jesse,” replied the smug, entitled creep. “I’ve said it at the debates. I’m the only candidate in either party talking about it because it’s a taboo subject. But we have to talk about the hard truth.”

    Ramaswamy once again mistakes speaking without thought with speaking the truth.

    “Violent crime has risen over precisely the period we have shuttered these psychiatric institutions,” he said. This is a sick lie. People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator, especially when they are living under a bridge so rich people can pay slightly less in taxes. The mentally ill aren’t the ones carjacking Congress members.

    There’s increasing evidence that drug addiction, especially related to fentanyl, has had a devastating effect on the homeless population. The visible impact of drug overdoses in public places isn’t good for anyone’s quality of life (especially the ones ODing). But, hey, let’s just start rounding up “crazy” people.

    Ramaswamy continued: “The number one psychiatric institution today is jail. It’s prison. And they don’t do a very good job.”

    He’s twisting some actual truths here. Yes, according to, the Los Angeles jail system “is the largest mental health institution in the United States, and it’s locking up more people with mental illness than ever before.”

    US prisons are definitely not in the business of effectively treating mental health issues. However, Ramaswamy has no plan for or interest in resolving this problem. Instead, he wants to involuntarily commit more people to already stressed institutions. […]

    He’s repeated this perverse talking point repeatedly on the campaign trail. At the first pointless Republican debate in August, he said (bolded emphasis mine):

    “Don’t remove guns from law-abiding citizens. Remove violent, psychiatrically deranged people from their communities and be willing to involuntarily commit them. Revive mental health institutions: less reliance on pharmaceuticals, more reliance on faith-based approaches that restore purpose to people’s lives. We know from the 1990s how to stop violent crime. The real question is if we have the spine to do it. I do – and I’ll use the power of the purse to accomplish it just as Reagan did in the 1980s.”

    Ronald Reagan didn’t reduce crime when he defunded mental health facilities and tossed severely mentally ill people onto the streets. He just exacerbated the homeless crisis. Reagan also blathered on about a faith-based approach where “every church and synagogue would take in 10 welfare families” each. The Rev. Paul Moore, New York City’s Episcopal bishop, called this proposal “absolute balderdash.”

    “And now you then get the calls to clear the jails or to have commuting of sentences or shortening of sentences,” Ramaswamy told Watters. “People leave those jails in a worse psychiatric condition, often, than when they even entered.”

    Yes, prison conditions are deplorable. However, drug possession or petty theft doesn’t justify a lifetime prison sentence. Inmates will eventually be released, and yes, they are often in worse shape than when they entered. Ramaswamy doesn’t care about reducing recidivism in a sensible fashion. He just wants to lock up the undesirables forever, and he seems to recommend treating chemical imbalances with a hefty does of Vitamin Jesus.

    “I don’t think I want to be pumping psychiatric institutions with pharmaceuticals into people,” he said. “Faith-based approaches — there are better ways to do this. But that being said – and you put your finger on this a little bit, Jesse – is look at who benefited from that policy. It was none other than large pharmaceutical companies that had developed antipsychotics and other forms of antidepressants.”

    Mediaite notes that Ramaswamy was heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry before his current grift. He even founded a pharmaceutical company, Roivant Sciences, in 2014. Ramaswamy is almost an insult to respectable frauds everywhere.

  35. Reginald Selkirk says

    PolitiFact: Impeachment articles against Meagan Wolfe riddled with false and misleading claims

    Impeachment articles drafted by five Republican lawmakers seeking to remove Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe from her job contain more than a dozen misleading and false statements that misrepresent Wolfe’s role and regurgitate election disinformation.

    The impeachment resolution, put forward last month by Republican Reps. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, Scott Allen of Waukesha, Elijah Behnke of Oconto, Ty Bodden of Hilbert and Chuck Wichgers of Muskego, claims Wolfe was directly responsible for decisions made by elections commissioners and falsely ties her to debunked election lies.

    All 15 impeachment articles contain misleading or false claims about how elections administration works in Wisconsin…

  36. Reginald Selkirk says

    Judge at Trump trial pounds his fist in frustration with defence lawyer

    The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial pounded his fists in frustration with the former U.S. president’s lawyers on Wednesday for what he described as redundant and “ridiculous” cross-examination of a witness…

    “This is ridiculous,” Engoron said on Wednesday as one of Trump’s lawyers repeatedly asked his onetime accountant the same questions for each year at issue in the case.

    “All I’m asking is that you lump things together so we do not waste time,” Engoron said…

  37. Reginald Selkirk says

    Giuliani sues Biden for defamation over ‘Russian pawn’ remark

    Rudy Giuliani sued President Biden for defamation Wednesday over his comments calling the former New York City mayor a “Russian pawn” during a 2020 presidential debate.

    The 16-page lawsuit, filed in New Hampshire state court, names Biden, his campaign and several fundraising committees as defendants, taking aim at two statements Biden made during the final presidential debate against former President Trump on Oct. 22, 2020.

    In the first statement, Biden was answering a question about combating foreign election interference when, after some hesitation, he mentioned Giuliani.

    “Well I won’t get — I shouldn’t — well, I will,” Biden said.

    “His buddy, Rudy Giuliani,” Biden continued, referring to the close Trump ally. “He’s being used as a Russian pawn. He is being fed information that is Russian — that is not true.”

    Giuliani’s lawsuit alleges the statement “falsely claimed and depicted the Plaintiff to our nation as a liar.” …

    Of course a Russian pawn would deny being a Russian pawn.

    Also, being a “pawn” does not necessarily imply that he is an agent. The Russians are familiar with the concept of “fellow travelers” and “useful idiots.”

  38. Reginald Selkirk says

    Report: Amazon made $1B with secret algorithm for spiking prices Internet-wide

    Last week, the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon, alleging that the online retailer was illegally maintaining a monopoly. Much of the FTC’s complaint against Amazon was redacted, but The Wall Street Journal yesterday revealed key details obscured in the complaint regarding a secret algorithm. The FTC alleged that Amazon once used the algorithm to raise prices across the most popular online shopping destinations.

    People familiar with the FTC’s allegations in the complaint told the Journal that it all started when Amazon developed an algorithm code-named “Project Nessie.” It allegedly works by manipulating rivals’ weaker pricing algorithms and locking competitors into higher prices. The controversial algorithm was allegedly used for years and helped Amazon to “improve its profits on items across shopping categories” and “led competitors to raise their prices and charge customers more,” the WSJ reported.

    The FTC’s complaint said:

    Amazon uses its extensive surveillance network to block price competition by detecting and deterring discounting, artificially inflating prices on and off Amazon, and depriving rivals of the ability to gain scale by offering lower prices.

    The FTC complaint redacted this information, but sources told the WSJ that Amazon made “more than $1 billion in revenue” by using Project Nessie, while competitors learned that “price cuts do not result in greater market share or scale, only lower margins,” the FTC’s complaint said…

  39. says

    […] Trump came to court [Day 3 of Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York] to play victim and raise money. The leading GOP presidential candidate told reporters that he was “stuck here” defending himself when he’d rather be campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. But he was not stuck in a Manhattan state courtroom any more than he was stuck literally around the corner in the federal courthouse for the E. Jean Carroll trial he never attended.

    Civil trials do not require the presence of a defendant, period. Trump knows this, which is why, after the lunch break began, he left the trial — which James noted he treated as “a fundraising stop” — in the rearview mirror.

    [Trump was not stuck there. He was NOT required to attend. He was there for show. See fundraising details below.]

    Like clockwork, the Trump campaign sent another fundraising email within the hour of Trump’s departure, accusing James of “inventing crimes out of thin air,” weaponizing the justice system against Trump, and conspiring with other “Marxists” to prevent his return to power.

    And while it remains to be seen how lucrative his two-and-a-half day courtroom stint will be, something tells me that what motivated Trump to watch hours of testimony about accounting standards was — what else? — the money.


    More at the link.

  40. says

    Followup to comment 50.

    NBC News:

    As Trump left the courthouse after attending the civil fraud trial against him and his company, he bashed the judge, the state attorney general and the legal system.

  41. says

    Associated Press:

    President Joe Biden outlined a new round of federal student loan forgiveness on Wednesday to address the ‘unsustainable debt’ that borrowers accumulate to complete their college education. … The Democratic president’s latest step will help 125,000 borrowers by erasing $9 billion in debt through existing programs. In total, 3.6 million borrowers will have had $127 billion in debt wiped out since Biden took office.

  42. says

    New York Times:

    The U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement on Wednesday that earlier this week it had transferred about 1.1 million rounds for AK-47 machine guns to Ukraine’s armed forces.

  43. says

    NBC News:

    From coast to coast Wednesday, more than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers picketed outside of health care facilities, arguing that staffing shortages have reached crisis levels for employees and patients alike.

  44. says

    Political Wire:

    Donald Trump marked the first day of his New York fraud trial by sharing a courtroom sketch depicting Jesus sitting next to him.

  45. says

    Moment of delightful schadenfreude: Trump suffers further humiliation, gets dropped from Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans

    Donald Trump has long been obsessed with his ranking on The Forbes 400 of America’s wealthiest people, but he just suffered yet another humiliating blow this week (his time in court aside) when his name was dropped from the 2023 list.

    Forbes reported Wednesday that Trump was $300 million short of the $2.9 billion cutoff to be a member of America’s most exclusive club. The magazine estimated his fortune at $2.6 billion.

    […] And Forbes’ estimate of Trump’s net worth comes before a judge decides how much Trump will have to pay for overvaluing his assets in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil fraud lawsuit.

    James alleged in a court filing that Trump’s annual net worth was exaggerated by 17-39%, or between $812 million and $2.2 billion, from 2011 to 2021. Judge Arthur Engoron has already found that Trump and his company vastly overvalued his assets and exaggerated his net worth on paperwork used to make deals and secure loans on more favorable terms. Engoron also ruled that Trump’s business licenses be rescinded, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York.

    […] But Forbes’ decision to drop Trump from The Forbes 400 list has nothing to do with James’ lawsuit. Forbes reported that Trump’s net worth is down more than $600 million from a year ago—and the biggest reason is Truth Social.

    Forbes wrote this about Trump’s social media business:

    Trump once envisioned a significant percentage of the country logging onto the platform. But that never happened. Roughly 6.5 million have signed up so far, about 1% of the total on X (né Twitter). Trump’s 90% stake in Truth Social’s parent company has plummeted in value from an estimated $730 million to less than $100 million.

    Forbes also said Trump’s office-building holdings went down in value by an estimated $170 billion, most of that coming from his stake in the 555 California Street building in San Francisco. The problem according to Forbes is not the building’s performance to date but its future prospects because leases generating more than half of the building’s total rent revenues expire by the end of 2026, and property values in the neighborhood are dropping.

    Trump’s stake in a building at 1290 Avenue of the Americas in New York City is down by about $60 million because the building’s biggest tenant, Equitable Holdings, is moving its headquarters to another building on the street next year, Forbes reported.

    […] This isn’t the first time Trump has been dropped from The Forbes 400 list, but he may have trouble getting back on it as he’s done twice before. He fell off the list in 1990 after he secured huge loans that led to multiple bankruptcies. Forbes said it “exposed deep problems with his debt-fueled empire, ultimately putting his net worth `within hailing distance of zero.’”

    But Trump managed to rebound and get back on the list in 1996, where he remained until 2021. […]

    It was thanks to Truth Social that Trump managed to get back on the list in 2022, with an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion. After getting banned by Twitter following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump sought to get revenge by launching his own social media platform, Truth Social, in October 2021 to communicate with his followers.

    He got investors to pour money into a special-purpose-acquisition-company (SPAC), Digital World Acquisition Corp., that planned to merge with the Trump Media & Technology Group, Truth Social’s parent company. Its shares shot up from $10 to $175 in two days, which put Trump’s interest at $19 billion on paper. Forbes more conservatively valued Trump’s interest at only $730 million, or $10 per share.

    But Trump’s venture came under investigation by the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Financial Regulatory Agency, which were looking into trading activity and communications between the SPAC and Trump’s business. Truth Social’s prospects were further hurt after Elon Musk bought Twitter and lifted the bans on Trump and right-wing extremists, reducing interest in a more conservative version of Twitter.

    In April 2023, Forbes reported on the plunge in Trump’s net worth due to the flop of Truth Social. Forbes wrote:

    Truth Social is adding an estimated 100,000 users per month. If people continue to join at the current pace—and assuming that no one quits or dies—Truth Social will not hit its projected 81 million users until 2086. By that point, Trump would be 140 years old. A more likely outcome: Truth Social will join Trump Steaks, Trump University and in the graveyard of failed Trump ventures.

    [Yes, that sounds likely.]

    Trump made it on to the inaugural list of The Forbes 400 in 1982 after publisher Malcolm Forbes came up with the idea a year earlier. But Forbes wrote that Trump “conned his way into sharing a spot on the inaugural list in 1982 with his father, Fred Trump, by convincing a reporter that he held a larger percentage of Fred’s fortune than he actually did.”

    And that deception continued as Jonathan Greenberg, a former Forbes reporter, wrote in a 2018 piece in The Washington Post. Back in 1984, Greenberg was working on the list as a Forbes reporter, when he received a phone call from a Trump Organization official telling him how rich Donald Trump was and how Forbes had underestimated his wealth at $200 million the previous year. Greenberg said the official identified himself as John Barron—“a name we now know as an alter ego of Trump himself.”


    It took decades to unwind the elaborate farce Trump had enacted to project an image as one of the richest people in America. Nearly every assertion supporting that claim was untrue. Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time, I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all. In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers — as a spate of government reports and books showed only much later. […]

    I was a determined 25-year-old reporter, and I thought that, by reeling Trump back from some of his more outrageous claims, I’d done a public service and exposed the truth. But his confident deceptions were so big that they had an unexpected effect: Instead of believing that they were outright fabrications, my Forbes colleagues and I saw them simply as vain embellishments on the truth. We were so wrong

    This was a model Trump would use for the rest of his career, telling a lie so cosmic that people believed that some kernel of it had to be real. The tactic landed him a place he hadn’t earned on the Forbes list — and led to future accolades, press coverage and deals. It eventually paved a path toward the presidency.

    Here’s a video report featuring an interview with Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander, who wrote the story about Trump falling off the list of richest Americans: [video at the link]

    To me, it still sounds like Forbes is overvaluing Trump’s fortune to this very day.

  46. says

    Sinclair [Sinclair Broadcast Group] platforms extremist who regularly calls for executions of conservatism’s enemies.


    Sinclair Broadcast Group is one of the largest television station operators in the country, controlling nearly 200 stations. It owns affiliates for all three major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) and for Fox. It uses its local news studios to push arch-conservative narratives to viewers in “news” segments packaged to be introduced by local anchors and reporters. That is, when Sinclair hasn’t simply shuttered those local newsrooms outright.

    If your local news broadcast has ever run segments featuring hard-right conspiracy cranks like Boris Epshteyn, Sebastian Gorka, or the eternally weird Mark Hyman, it’s a Sinclair station.

    Sinclair is often condemned for running straight-up propaganda, but a recent faux-news segment went even further. Media Matters reports that at least 16 of Sinclair’s television stations have run “sponsored” segments featuring Stew Peters, a white nationalist infamous for regularly endorsing the executions of politicians, journalists, and other enemies of conservatism.

    […] Sinclair meteorologist Brian van de Graaff introduces Peters as a supposed financial expert. The purpose of the roughly two-minute segment? To convince viewers to buy gold. The segment is sponsored by precious metals company Goldco, the same company that pays Sean Hannity to hawk their services. It’s just another part of the seemingly endless grifting by conservative personalities.

    For the record, the precious metals companies you see advertising on television are often scams. Their products are touted as “investments” to shield you from this or that future apocalypse. Customers later looking to sell back their purchased gold or silver coins will soon learn that the company’s prices were inflated and that there’s little chance the “investment” will result in anything but a loss.

    It’s low that Sinclair ran a faux-news segment featuring a fake financial expert pushing viewers to invest in a sketchy market. It’s even lower that Sinclair gave airtime to an extremist notorious for his endorsement of murdering public figures. From Media Matters:

    A Sinclair Broadcasting Group spokesperson told Media Matters about the Peters segment: “We were not aware of the association and are reviewing our internal policies on sponsored content. The segment in question is no longer on our air.”

    Sinclair’s claim that it was “not aware” of Peters’ history of antisemitism, his links to white nationalism, and his overt bloodlust is almost certainly not true. If nothing else, there is little chance that such a powerful media group would allow a top network meteorologist to sell himself to a paid sponsor without at least doing Google-level vetting of the sponsor’s spokesman. (Unless the company is run by gerbils, which is admittedly a possibility.)

    Any such due diligence would immediately have identified Peters as a violence-promoting antisemite. That is simply what he does. He regularly advocates for revolution and for other political violence. Recently, he aired a segment that called for the executions of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. The reason? Kelce’s advocacy for COVID-19 vaccines.

    It’s very likely that Sinclair knew he was a dirtbag because the segment it aired called him “the producer of the film Died Suddenly,” the hoax-promoting film that claimed “elites” had manufactured the vaccine to cause mass deaths and take over the world.

    There’s no damn way Sinclair didn’t know about that.

    What probably happened was that Sinclair had at least some idea of who Peters is, but still let the segment run because money. After Media Matters came asking for an explanation, Sinclair’s press office leapt up with its hair on fire and released that statement.

    Of course, conservative media outlets could simply not bleed their readers and viewers dry with sponsored promotions of sketchy investments, so-called survival gear, and food buckets meant to protect you from Mexican immigrants, who “are great bricklayers and great people” but harbor “terrorists” in their midst.

    The grift will never end, of course. But there’s something remarkable about putting forward a pro-execution fascist so that he can tell your viewers to buy gold and silver just in case trouble starts.

  47. says

    Ukraine Update: The Russian Black Sea blockade is cracking

    Food security is a key casualty of the war in Ukraine, as Ukraine produces 10% of wheat, 15% of corn, 13% of barley, and 50% of the global sunflower oil market. An inability to export these products can lead to famine in the poorest parts of the world.

    Last year, Turkey and the United Nations brokered a parallel set of agreements to allow both Ukraine and Russia to export food and fertilizer. However, Russia began blocking all Ukrainian shipments in April 2023, before refusing to renew the agreement in July 2023.

    The United Nations and humanitarian groups warned that Russia’s blockade threatened to cause famine in the most vulnerable parts of the developing world. Russia responded to these concerns by extending an offer of free and discounted grain that amounted to 2% of pre-war Ukrainian exports, and limited to six Russian-aligned African nations, half of whom host Russian Wagner mercenary forces. None of the six nations were on the U.N.’s list of most vulnerable nations for starvation.

    Russia’s price for lifting the Black Sea blockade? The lifting of key Western sanctions aimed at limiting Russia’s ability to effectively wage war on Ukraine, most particularly to reconnect one of Russia’s major state-owned banks to the international banking system, known as SWIFT.

    Russia then launched a series of attacks on Ukrainian port facilities and grain storage sites, destroying 270,000 tons of grain over the summer. Russia also began harassing freighters, stopping and boarding the Turkish freighter Sukru Okan on Aug. 12, 2023, and now threatens to sink any freighter headed toward Ukrainian ports.

    Ukraine has responded to Russia’s belligerence with a systematic campaign to wrestle control of the western Black Sea from Russia. Ukraine’s pushback has so weakened Russian air and sea assets in the area that the first shipping freighter, the Joseph Schulte, broke through the Russian blockade in mid-August by hugging the coastline within the territorial waters of NATO states Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania for most of its journey. Russia was powerless to act without triggering a broader conflict it couldn’t hope to win. [map at the link]

    […] shipping from Odesa exposes commercial tankers during their trek down that slice of Ukrainian territory southwest of the port city, east of Moldova. That’s why 65% of grain shipments originate in the Danuban ports of Reni and Izmail. Freighters sail up the western Black Sea coast then turn west up the Danube River to reach the two Ukrainian grain ports. This means the freighters are only in Ukrainian waters for a few kilometers to reach the mouth of the Danube River. [map at the link]

    However, this approach limits the amount of grain shipped because the largest cargo ships can’t travel up the Danube. They would have to travel at least 140 km up the Ukrainian coast, to Chornomorsk, just south of Odesa. [map at the link]

    While Russia has boarded and forcibly turned back freighters bound for Ukrainian ports, it has not shown a willingness to directly attack neutral freighters, despite many threats.

    Instead, Russia has heavily targeted port infrastructure at Reni and Ismail to destroy stored grain and dissuade ships from entering harbor. So long as Russia remains in Crimea, it will be impossible to push them outside of cruise missile or drone range of these ports.

    However, removing Russia’s naval presence from the western Black Sea would make it impossible for Russia to physically impede safe passage, and open a transit corridor that Russia could only stop by launching missiles or suicide drones directly at civilian targets.

    More Ukraine updates coming soon.

  48. says

    Followup to comment 58.

    More Ukraine updates:


    On Feb. 24, 2022, the first day of Russia’s invasion, Russian troops stormed Snake Island, in the western Black Sea. It was here that the Ukrainian garrison’s defiant response to Russian calls for surrender, “Russian warship, go f-ck yourself,” became a national, and international, rallying cry. [map at the link]

    From that island, Russia could closely surveil the movement of any ships across the entire Ukrainian western seaboard. That’s why it was important for Ukraine to retake it—which it did, isolating the island by systematically targeting its occupying forces with anti-ship missile batteries, drones, and artillery attacks. The early U.S. decision to send ground-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles, with a range of 110 km, gave Ukraine a potent weapon to protect its coastal waters. Russian ships could only approach the Ukrainian coastline at great peril. Snake Island is only 35 kilometers from Ukraine’s mainland.

    Ukraine famously sank the the Russian flagship missile cruiser Moskva during this time with a coordinated drone and land-based Neptune anti-ship missile attack on April 14, 2022. By June 30, 2022, Snake Island was back under Ukrainian control.

    The island’s liberation would bear the hallmarks of subsequent Ukrainian Black Sea naval operations: coordinated use of land-based anti-ship missile batteries, drones, and small ground forces operating on speed boats, paired with artillery and missile strikes.


    The start of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that began in July 2022 (just after Ukrainian liberation of Snake Island) somewhat muted the urgency of further Black Sea operations.

    Still, Russia continued to launch infrastructure strikes from Russian missile frigates and submarines operating in the region. Degrading the Russian navy’s abilities remained an active concern.

    However, the Battle of the Black Sea took on fresh urgency in 2023 after Russia’s abandonment of the grain deal, which also marked the start of Russia’s aggressive targeting of Ukrainian port facilities.

    Russia primarily relies on three types of vessels to exert influence in and around the Black Sea.
    – Missile Frigates: These are the Black Sea Fleet’s remaining first line warships, capable of firing cruise missiles and anti-air missiles. Russia’s most modern ships in the Black Sea fleet are its three 4,000-ton Project 11356 frigates such as the Admiral Makarovm, capable of firing their most modern Kalibr cruise missiles. They cost around $500 million per ship. Russia also has a few older missile frigates operating, as well.
    – Submarines: The Black Sea Fleet had six Kilo-class and improved Kilo-class submarines, capable of firing cruise missiles and torpedoes. They cost approximately $300 million per submarine.
    – Patrol boats: aka Corvettes. These are small and fast surface vessels, around 200 to 250 feet long and equipped with an auto-cannon and up to eight anti-ship missiles or cruse missiles and with short-range SAM capabilities. These cost approximately $34 million per ship.

    Frigates and patrol boats are of particular concern to Ukraine, as they can stop and openly intercept freighters. So Ukraine began to ruthlessly exploit three weaknesses of the Russian Black Sea Fleet to wrest back control of its commercial sea lanes:
    – Russian radar and air defense’s limited ability to detect low flying objects, like cruise missiles.
    – Russian radar and air defense’s limited ability to detect small flying objects, like drones.
    – Russian naval radar’s inability to detect

    After the sinking of the Moskva, it was clear that the Russian navy could not operate close to the Ukrainian coast. Russia’s new tactic was for its frigates and submarines stationed in Sevastopol to venture out a short distance, always at least 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the Ukrainian coast, launch a salvo of cruise missiles, then quickly return to the safety of harbor. [map at the link]

    Ukraine needed to remove that literal safe harbor, making Sevastopol too dangerous for the Black Sea Fleet.

    This was dramatically accomplished on Sept. 13, 2023, when Ukrainian cruise missiles struck the Russian submarine Rostov-on-Don and a large landing ship while in drydock at Sevastopol. Both ships were destroyed beyond repair. [Tweet and images at the link, including clownish Russian propaganda claiming “minor damage.”]

    Ukraine followed up by striking the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, also with Storm Shadow or SCALP cruise missiles.

    These attacks were possible because Ukraine successfully stripped Russia of its air defenses around Sevastopol, enabled by Ukrainian access to more powerful and sophisticated weapons from its foreign allies and domestic development. [map at the link]

    First, Ukraine used ship-fired Brimstone/Sea Spear anti-ship missiles, which arrived in May 2023. While they have a far shorter range than the Harpoon anti-ship missile, they can be deployed on small speedboats (the extent of Ukraine’s navy), and their 25-kilometer range is perfect for striking smaller enemy surface ships—like Russian patrol boats. [Image at the link]

    These capabilities likely gave Ukraine the confidence on Sept. 12 to liberate oil rigs occupied by Russia since 2014, which had turned them into de facto military installations, installing radar equipment to observe air and naval targets, with garrisons to defend them.

    Additionally, Ukraine modified its super-low altitude Neptune anti-ship missile to strike land targets, likely using them to knock out incredibly valuable S-400 batteries in western Crimea.

    The S-400 is a powerful long-range anti-air system with a powerful radar and long-range missiles capable of engaging targets over 180 km away. Costing over $600 million per battery, the S-400 is Russia’s equivalent to NATO’s top-of-the-line Patriot air defense missile battery.

    However, foreign operators who purchased the system, most prominently Turkey, have criticized the systems’ capabilities, particularly its inability to detect and track low-altitude targets.

    Ukraine appears to be fully exploiting this weakness, striking two S-400 batteries in a span of two weeks from late August to mid-September, leaving only three operational S-400 batteries in Crimea. This further degraded Russian anti-air capabilities in the western Black Sea, and reduced their radar detection abilities. (Tangentially, yet another S-400 battery was reportedly destroyed around the Russian city of Belgorod by a drone strike today).

    Note that cruise missiles like the Neptune and Storm Shadow rely on stealth to approach their targets. Low-flying objects are harder to detect from long distances due to the curvature of the earth. [illustration at the link]

    Forward-deployed early warning radars on tall towers—or oil-drilling rigs—can help detect incoming cruise missiles, allowing an effective integrated air defense system to share information and ready interception.

    Without those “eyes,” an unprepared air defense system cannot react in time for the arrival of cruise missiles—which hit their targets just 10-20 seconds after being detected.

    Thus, eliminating those Russian forward observation radar sites on those oil drilling platforms opened up Sevastopol to successful Ukrainian cruise missile attacks.

    By Oct. 3, the Russian Black Sea Fleet concluded that Sevastopol was no longer safe and withdrew its primary fleet assets almost 400 km east to Novorossiysk. [map at the link]

    This was a bitter strategic blow to Russian naval operations, not only due to the increased distance from the fighting and its logistical burdens, but because Sevastopol had the only permanent repair or maintenance facilities for the Black Sea Fleet, including the only permanent dry docks in the entire Black Sea. While Russia has a number of temporary dry docks, including in Novorossiysk, they are unsuitable for complex, larger warships like frigates or submarines.

    Warships in combat operations require periodic maintenance every few months. The lack of those specialized maintenance facilities could delay or hamper maintenance efforts, resulting in long periods of unavailability for Russia’s most valuable warships, and even worse if any of them receive serious combat damage.
    Despite the withdrawal of Russia’s biggest ships, Russian patrol boats continued to operate aggressively in the southwestern Black Sea. To counter this threat, Ukraine has deployed suicide drone boats.

    These drones have an extremely low surface profile, with only a tiny portion sticking up above the water. They are packed with explosives and are controlled via satellite communications to strike enemy targets.

    Ukraine has found them to be particularly effective during inclement weather with high waves, as the surface movement and height variation makes the drones even harder to detect by radar.

    In a two-day span of poor weather and high seas on September 13-14, 2023, Ukraine struck as many as four Russian patrol boats with surface drone strikes. As Russia has only 30 patrol boats in the Black Sea Fleet (and is unable to reinforce it as the Bosporus remains closed to warships by the Turkish navy), Russia may have lost over 10% of its patrol boats in a two-day span.

    One thing that shows the desperation Russia feels in countering the threat of drone boats has been its deployment of 1960s-era floatplanes on the front lines.

    Demonstratively unable to detect incoming cruise missiles or surface drones, Russia has even began deploying a Be-12PS floatplane for reconnaissance. A 1960s-era relic, the slow-flying turboprop is believed to be unlikely to have any operational radar or sonar detection abilities. Thus, the Russian navy appears to be using it for visual reconnaissance, searching for targets with binoculars. [photo at the link]

    This approach is unlikely to be particularly helpful at spotting targets at night or in adverse weather conditions, but the Russian navy appears to be mobilizing almost anything at its disposal, no matter how outdated, in a desperate attempt to detect enemy threats that have repeatedly struck them without notice.

    As if Russia didn’t have enough to worry about, Ukraine’s newest weapon is entering its final stages of development: the Marichka-class suicide drone submarine. [video at the link]

    Russian leadership never anticipated the need to guard against a submarine threat to its Black Sea Fleet.

    The Black Sea Fleet’s ASW (anti-submarine warfare) arm is handled by the 181st Antisubmarine Ship Division, which has just three ships equipped with sonar—1,070-ton Grisha III Corvettes which were cutting-edge … when they first entered Soviet service in 1976. These are reinforced by perhaps a dozen Ka-27 ASW helicopters with sonar buoys. That’s it, for the entire Black Sea.

    That’s why Ukrainian suicide submarine drones don’t need to be overly sophisticated or quiet to be effective. Merely traveling a foot or two underwater at periscope depths may be enough to render them virtually undetectable in the overwhelming majority of the Black Sea.

    With such limited resources, Russia might not even be able to protect the entrances to its primary harbor. In 1977, the Royal Navy submarine Swiftsure (S-126) famously infiltrated a Soviet battlegroup, spending hours underneath the Russian aircraft carrier Kiev collecting enormous amounts of intelligence on Russian battlegroup naval operations (The War Zone covered the story in detail here). Ukraine could exploit similar vulnerabilities.

    The capabilities of the new Ukrainian suicide submarine drones are unknown, but given the dearth of ASW assets in the Black Sea Fleet and Russian difficulties in combating the threat of surface drones, the Ukrainian submarine drones may serve as coup de grace to the beleaguered Black Sea Fleet.
    As a result of these actions, Ukraine’s control over the western Black Sea is growing. Russia’s ability to enforce a blockade is eroding.

    In the past two weeks, 10 freighters have now passed through to Ukrainian ports through the safe corridor hugging the western Black Sea coast and through a deep water route charted by Ukraine, allowing passage by the largest freighters. The bulk freighter Eneida was even able to dock at Chornomorsk, the major port just south of Odesa, load its cargo, and make a safe return.

    A drastic drop in perceived risk by freighters and insurers has led to a drop in freight costs by 30-40% in the past month. The flow of freighters to Ukrainian ports is picking up.

    The risks have not completely abated. Russian patrol boats could still raid Ukrainian waters. Russian cruise missiles and drones continue to strike Ukrainian port facilities and grain storage sites. And should Russia choose to launch unrestricted submarine, missile, or drone attacks on freighters, that would dramatically escalate both the war and Ukraine’s maritime defense needs.

    But for now, there is a growing sense that Ukraine is winning the Battle of the western Black Sea.

    Indeed, the conflict may be shifting to a new stage as Ukraine consolidates its hold on the western Black Sea and goes on the offensive—to interdict and to complete the destruction of the Black Sea Fleet and to navally isolate the Crimean Peninsula by blockading the five major ports of Crimea. [map at the link]

    Link. Scroll down to view updates.

  49. says

    Correction to text in comment 59.

    “– Russian naval radar’s inability to detect” should be “– Russian naval radar’s inability to detect low surface profile objects like naval drones.”

  50. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russia plans to try to block VPN services in 2024 – senator

    Russia’s communications watchdog plans to block Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) from March 1 next year, a Russian senator for the ruling United Russia party said on Tuesday.

    Demand for VPN services soared after Russia restricted access to some Western social media after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

    Senator Artem Sheikin said an order from the Roskomnadzor watchdog would come into force on March 1 that would block VPNs.

    “From March 1, 2024, an order will come into force to block VPN services providing access to sites banned in Russia,” Sheikin was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA…

  51. Reginald Selkirk says

    Judge Tries to Stop Trump From Hiding His Money

    The judge who doomed Donald Trump’s family business last week took an aggressive and preemptive step on Wednesday to ensure the former president can’t secretly shift assets to salvage his real estate empire.

    In an order that was posted on the fourth day of the former president’s bank fraud trial, Justice Arthur F. Engoron commanded that the Trumps identify any corporations they have—and come clean about any plans to move around money in an attempt to hide or keep their wealth…

  52. Reginald Selkirk says

    New Jersey GOP Candidate Who Smeared Poop On Day Care Blames Obama

    A New Jersey electrician who is running for a seat in the State Assembly admits he once smeared poop on the doors of a day care center ― and he says it’s Barack Obama’s fault.

    Joseph Viso Jr. is a Republican candidate for the 36th District, but, as the New Jersey Globe notes, he has a lengthy criminal record that includes federal and state convictions on drug and gun charges and a history of financial issues…

    But those crimes aren’t as gross as the one he was charged with in 2009: smearing fecal matter on the doors of a children’s day care center in East Rutherford.

    Viso had a dispute with the day care center, which was next to his business, and he told the Globe that day care employees “harassed my men every day. They had cars ticketed every time my men parked on a side street.”

    At some point, he said, he decided to get even by smearing poop on the handles and locks of the child care facility.

    After the investigating officer told Viso there was video evidence of his poop-smearing, he apologized and said, “I’m not proud of what I did.”

    He told the Globe that he later cleaned up the dookie-stained doors.

    “It was done before anyone got hurt,” he said. “I’m not going to defend it.”

    Although Viso admitted it was wrong, he offered a bizarre excuse with echoes of Republicans this week blaming the Democratic Party for the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

    “I was a young man. It was a horrible time, and I made a mistake,” Viso, 52, said. “Obama came into office the year before.” …

  53. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine hit Russia’s most treasured air-defense system on its own soil, reports say

    Ukraine damaged one of Russia’s most treasured air-defense system in a drone attack, according to multiple reports.

    Using multiple strike drones, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) damaged a Russian S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system on Wednesday, The Kyiv Post reported on Wednesday, citing an intelligence source.

    The SBU source did not elaborate on the extent of damage done, though Reuters reported that the system’s radar was affected.

    The attack occurred at night time inside mainland Russia, near the southwestern city of Belgorod, according to Ukrinform and Reuters…

  54. says

    Giuliani’s troubles worsen as his lawyer tries to quit Georgia case

    It seems likely that, at some point soon, Rudy Giuliani will go a whole week without confronting a series of unflattering headlines. Unfortunately for the former New York City mayor, that week has not yet arrived.

    Rolling Stone reported on the Republican lawyer’s latest troubles.

    Rudy Giuliani has been dumped by yet another attorney. On Wednesday morning, Brian Tevis filed a motion to the Fulton County Superior Court to withdraw as counsel for the former mayor of New York City who is now an indicted co-defendant in Georgia’s election interference case against Donald Trump. Tevis had hinted shortly after Giuliani’s Georgia arraignment in August that he was unsure if he would continue to defend Giuliani throughout the entirety of his trial.

    It’s worth emphasizing that Tevis’ motion to withdraw from the case needs to be approved by the judge in the case, though as MSNBC’s Alex Wagner noted on last night’s show, the fact that the lawyer is making the effort adds to the list of Giuliani’s troubles.

    And what a list it is. In fact, news consumers would be forgiven for thinking that they’ve already seen this report, because a different member of Giuliani’s legal team, David Wolfe, also filed notice to withdraw from the case.

    Complicating matters, The New York Times also reported this week that special counsel Jack Smith’s office has questioned witnesses about Giuliani’s alcohol consumption as he was advising Donald Trump, “including on election night.”

    […] “Mr. Smith’s investigators have also asked about Mr. Trump’s level of awareness of his lawyer’s drinking as they worked to overturn the election and prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from being certified as the 2020 winner at almost any cost.”

    […] Hunter Biden sued the former mayor and his lawyer, accusing them of violating state and federal fraud laws “in their efforts to disseminate potentially damaging material.”

    That news came against a backdrop of groping allegations raised by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows […]

    […] some of his former lawyers sued him, claiming that the former mayor owes them $1.36 million in unpaid legal fees.

    Those developments came just three weeks after NBC News reported that a federal judge ruled that Giuliani defamed former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, and is liable for damages after he failed to comply with discovery obligations in their defamation lawsuit.

    My MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin added that there will still be a trial later this year, but the question at trial “won’t be whether he’s liable but how much he has to pay the plaintiffs.”

    Two weeks before that, Giuliani was indicted in Georgia as part of the broader case related to Team Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

    A month earlier, a Washington, D.C.-based bar discipline committee concluded that Giuliani should be disbarred for “frivolous” and “destructive” efforts to derail the 2020 election.

    For good measure, let’s also not forget that Giuliani is also facing a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.

    It’s possible that the Republican lawyer is pondering his options right now, wondering if there’s a way out of these cascading messes. […] a list like this is not easily overcome.

  55. says

    There’s nothing new about Donald Trump attacking those seeking a better life in the United States. But “poisoning the blood of our country” is new.

    It’s often tempting to ignore reports on Donald Trump’s rhetorical excesses. Everyone has seen countless examples of the former president making unhinged remarks about matters large and small, to the point that they start to have diminishing returns.

    But in recent days, there’s been a flurry of new reporting on Trump’s radical rhetoric, and given the specific details, it’s best not to shrug one’s shoulders and look away. […] “violent rhetoric … has grown more extreme as the walls have begun to close in on his business empire, livelihood and personal freedom.”

    Since he left office, Trump’s erratic behavior has been masked, numbed and normalized by the political fatigue permeating the media and the public. But his words’ violent turn in recent weeks — calling for a U.S. military leader to be executed, mocking a potentially fatal assault on a congressional spouse, urging police to shoot shoplifters — suggest a line has been crossed.

    […] Trump recently suggested that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff deserves to be executed. He threatened my employer. He called for police officers to shoot shoplifters as a way of discouraging crime.

    As his business is put on trial in New York, the former president has also lashed out wildly at the state attorney general and the judge overseeing the case — the latest in a series of related attacks against members of the judiciary.

    An Associated Press report added on Thursday, “[T]he rhetorical escalation on display in recent weeks is notable for its parallels to the hardline approaches that are hallmarks of authoritarian regimes that he [Trump] has occasionally praised.”

    It’s against this backdrop that there was one element to the recent pattern that initially escaped my attention. The Meidas Touch Network published this report, accompanied by a striking video, highlighting a Trump interview that generated less attention. In reference to migrants entering the United States, the former president said on camera, to an outlet called the National Pulse:

    “Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons. We know they come from mental institutions and insane asylums. We know they’re terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It’s poisoning the blood of our country.”

    […] “poisoning the blood of our country” is new.

    Laura Barrón-López, White House correspondent for PBS, told viewers last night, “I checked with a historian, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and she said that language that he’s using … echoes language used in Nazi propaganda by Adolf Hitler when Adolf Hitler actually said that Jewish people and migrants were ‘causing a blood poisoning’ of Germany.”

    I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of this.

  56. Reginald Selkirk says

    Court picks new Alabama congressional map that will likely flip one seat to Democrats

    A federal court has picked Alabama’s new congressional map, which will likely result in an additional Black — and Democratic — member in the delegation.

    The new map came after the same panel of federal judges twice found that lines drawn by the GOP-dominated legislature likely violated the Voting Rights Act by weakening the power of Black voters. The court’s decision means these lines will likely be used for at least the 2024 elections, though Alabama Republicans have vowed to fight them for future cycles…

  57. says

    Followup to comment 66.

    Rudy Giuliani is having lawyer trouble. Two of the lawyers defending him against criminal charges for efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia are asking the court to be allowed to withdraw from representing him. He’s being sued for nonpayment by a law firm that represented him in other matters. So what does Giuliani do? He’s planning to rack up more hours of legal representation he can’t pay for—by suing President Joe Biden.

    Giuliani is suing Biden for defamation over comments Biden made in an October 2020 presidential debate against Donald Trump. Talking about election interference by Russia, China, and Iran, as well as Trump’s failure to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue, Biden said:

    But the point is this, folks. We are in a situation where we have foreign countries trying to interfere in the outcome of our election. His own national security advisor told him that what is happening with his buddy — well, I won’t, I shouldn’t — I will — his buddy Rudy Giuliani. He’s being used as a Russian pawn. He’s being fed information that is Russian, that is not true. And then what happens? Nothing happens.

    Three years later, Giuliani is suing. He claims it’s not retaliation for Hunter Biden suing him for allegedly “hacking into, tampering with, manipulating, copying, disseminating, and generally obsessing over data that they were given that was taken or stolen from” the younger Biden’s devices. It’s purely coincidental that this lawsuit over three-year-old comments comes just over a week later.

    It’s not clear how Giuliani thinks he’s going to meet the extremely high bar for defamation. Since he’s a public figure, that would require the statement to have involved “actual malice,” which is not malice in the ordinary sense, but instead “knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Since the debate and Joe Biden’s comments came just a week after The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had warned the Trump White House that Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation, the president should have no trouble defending himself—but by suing, Giuliani invites another airing of all the evidence that “Russian pawn” was an accurate characterization.

    But how will Giuliani pay his lawyers on this lawsuit when he’s already in so much trouble with all his other lawyers? “That is the furthest thing from my mind,” one of the lawyers in question told reporters. “When I say he’s my friend, he is my friend. And he’s the friend of the country. He is America’s mayor.” Unless they’re purely in it for the publicity, we’ll see how these lawyers feel after Giuliani racks up another $1.4 million in unpaid bills.


  58. says

    Man with handgun seeking governor arrested in Wisconsin Capitol, returns with assault rifle

    A man illegally brought a handgun into the Wisconsin Capitol, demanding to see Gov. Tony Evers, and returned at night with an assault rifle after posting bail, a spokesperson for the state said Thursday.

    The man, who was shirtless and had a holstered handgun, approached the governor’s office on the first floor of the Capitol around 2 p.m. Wednesday, state Department of Administration spokesperson Tatyana Warrick said. The man was demanding to see the governor, who was not in the building at the time, Warrick said.

    The man was taken into custody for openly carrying a firearm in the Capitol, which is against the law, Warrick said. Weapons can be brought into the Capitol if they are concealed and the person has a valid permit. [JFC!] The man arrested did not have a concealed carry permit, Warrick said.

    The man was booked into the Dane County Jail but later posted bail.

    He returned to the outside of the Capitol shortly before 9 p.m. with an assault-style rifle, Warrick said. […] He again demanded to see the governor and was taken into custody.

    Madison police reported Thursday that the man, who was not named, was taken into protective custody and taken to the hospital. […]

    The incident is just the latest in a series of violent threats against public officials.

    Evers, a Democrat, was on a hit list of a gunman suspected of fatally shooting a retired county judge at his Wisconsin home in 2022. Others on that list included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer […]

    Warrick said no immediate changes to security in the Capitol or for the governor were planned. The public has free access to the Capitol daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are no metal detectors.

  59. says

    Followup to Reginald @26, and me @30.

    […] Eric Trump seems really excited about Daddy being speaker and getting to go to work with Daddy and Daddy letting him hold the gavel and Daddy would need a really big gavel because Daddy is the toughest Daddy ever!

    [Eric Trump] went on Newsmax and said it would be “the coolest damn thing in the entire world.” […]

    “I would make sure he got a bigger gavel than the small little one that they have,” he told Newsmax anchor Carl Higbie, adding that ideally it would be a “huge gavel.”

    TFW you think Daddy’s hands are regular-sized but that’s not true.

  60. says

    Followup to comment 71.

    […] Trump spent the rest of the day on Truth Social posting pictures of himself with (regular-sized) gavels, posts and clips from batshit MAGA monkeys like Steve Bannon and Marjorie Taylor Greene begging him to become speaker, and even an article from The Gateway Pundit about how he should be speaker.

  61. says

    Markwayne Mullin, the senator from Oklahoma, said this on CNN:

    This is a guy [Matt Gaetz] that the media didn’t give the time of day to after he was accused of sleeping with an underage girl. There’s a reason why no one in the conference came and defended him, because we had all seen the videos he was showing on the House floor, that all of us had walked away, of the girls that he had slept with. He’d brag about how he would crush E.D. medicine and chase it with an energy drink so he could go all night.


    […] When Anderson Cooper finished showing that clip, he clarified that Gaetz was never charged with any sex trafficking crime, and read a statement from Gaetz saying that “I don’t think Markwayne Mullin and I have said 20 words to each other on the House floor. This is a lie from someone who doesn’t know me and who is coping with the death of the political career of his friend Kevin. Thoughts and prayers.”

    So that guy is definitely continuing to make friends and influence people.

    This is not the first time we’ve heard of Matt Gaetz showing congressmen gross things on his phone on the House floor. Or about the empty boxes of Trojan bareskin condoms at the top of his trashcan in his office.

    Again, everybody has always hated him.

    But now they hate him more.

    So the stories are going to get grosser and more detailed. […]

  62. says

    Supreme Court arguments:

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which handles federal cases arising from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, is dominated by a bunch of Donald Trump appointees and has become the rogue court of the federal judiciary. The sheer volume of controversial decisions coming out of that court accounts for the outsize proportion of cases from it the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this session. These nightmare cases are from the extremist fringes and concern basic separation-of-powers issues, civil rights, abortion rights, gun safety, and federal regulatory power. They are cases that will stretch the patience and the persuasiveness of the court’s three liberals—Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. They’re going to have to find the arguments that will keep at least two of the court’s conservatives in the land of rationally constitutional thinking.

    The liberals had their hands full with the first of these cases Tuesday, when the court heard Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association, a challenge to the constitutionality of the CFPB that was brought by payday lenders. Three Trump-appointed judges on the 5th Circuit ruled that the funding structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional, since it is funded by the Federal Reserve instead of congressional appropriations.

    The claims made by Noel Francisco, the former Trump-appointed solicitor general who argued the case on behalf of the CFSA, were so outlandish that the court was highly skeptical—even Justice Clarence Thomas. Sotomayor struggled to find the thread in Francisco’s argument about the agency’s funding and congressional intent, and admitted that she was at a “total loss.”

    Kagan tried to walk Francisco through the very basic working of how Congress makes appropriations, and has done for all of its history. Francisco seemed to argue, she said, that the “only constitutionally valid kind of appropriations” are annual line-item appropriations, though she admitted, “I’m not exactly sure what the argument is.” [video at the link]

    “But the history of our country just rejects that scheme,” she told Francisco. “I mean, that might have been a way to understand what the Framers were doing, but it turns out that from the very first year, that’s not what they were doing. That’s not what they did. … So you’re just flying in the face of 250 years of history.”

    Jackson also provided a key civics lesson for the court in this question to current Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who represented the U.S. government and the CFPB. It’s about the congressional power of the purse and the separation of powers, Jackson and Prelogar argued. [video at the link, with audio of the oral arguments]

    Conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were the most receptive to the civics lesson and the most skeptical of Francisco’s claims. Kavanaugh asked why the CFPB’s funding could be thought unconstitutional when “Congress could change it tomorrow.”

    Barrett was unconvinced by Francisco’s argument that the constitutional matter in question—the appropriations clause—prohibits Congress from setting up any variety of funding mechanisms. Barrett pointed out to Francisco that he was actually arguing against himself in response to a question from Jackson. “You were just saying to Justice Jackson that there’s nothing in the appropriations clause itself or in the word ‘appropriations’ that imposes the limits that you’re talking about,” she said.

    Francisco did such a poor job arguing his case that Thomas tried to help him refine his point: “Mr. Francisco, just briefly, I’d like you to complete this sentence. Funding of the CFPB … violates the appropriations clause because?” It didn’t help. Francisco just restated his muddy case that Congress didn’t specify a “fixed” amount of spending for the CFPB, but instead gave it a cap and left it to the director of the agency to determine what to spend. Never mind that that ground had already been covered and the argument already defeated.

    Justice Samuel Alito was the sharpest critic of the government’s case in the oral arguments, and he seems to have been the only justice who was completely receptive to the plaintiffs. Alito, by the way, should have recused from this case because of a conflict of interest: his friendship with—and the gifts he has received from—Paul Singer, Alito’s billionaire fishing buddy, who stands to richly benefit if the court decides in favor of the lenders.

    In this case, the three liberals seemed to have won the day with their questions and arguments. When Thomas is trying to coach a lawyer whom he wants to agree with to make his argument better, you know that there’s a problem.

    There are a couple of factors apparently at work here. One is that the hard-right activist judges on the 5th Circuit are sending ridiculous, half-baked cases that are too outlandish even for the Trump-appointed justices to support. But there’s also increased public and congressional scrutiny on the court and a great deal more attention being paid to what they’re doing.

    Are the heady days of overturning half a century of precedent (see: abortion rights) and running wild in the shadow docket over for the court’s conservatives? Time—and this young term—will tell. Of course, the court is still capable of doing real damage. But it doesn’t look like it will be upending centuries of history and precedent on the appropriations clause this time around. And if the court turns out to be less radical this term, it will be in no small part because of the backlash from its past actions.

    SCOTUS Justice Kagan to far-right lawyer: ‘You’re just flying in the face of 250 years of history’

    Thank goodness Jackson, Kagan and Sotomayor are there to present reasonable questions, and to even provide lessons where needed to other justices on the Supreme Court. They are working hard.

  63. says

    Followup to comment 76.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The CFPB does such important work! Thanks to Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson for standing up to the RWNJs who bring these gawd awful suits.
    If this had gone through it would have upended the economy as S.S., Medicare, The Federal Reserve and the FDIC, are also not funded by Congressional appropriations.

    They wanted to upend the entire financial system so they could charge 400% interest on their “payday loans”. Which is a money pit that is tough to climb out of once you jump in it. [Yep. And that is one of the points Elizabeth Warren made when she was interviewed about the case.]
    Kascynmski and the 5th Circuit should be impeached

  64. says

    The US will transfer thousands of seized Iranian weapons and rounds of ammunition to Ukraine, in a move that could help to alleviate some of the shortages facing the Ukrainian military as it awaits more money and equipment from the US and its allies.



    Sometimes we do not fully realize how stupid, absurd, delusional, and surreal the Russian war in Ukraine is.

    We got so used to all those idiotic Kremlin statements, to Putin regressing into childhood and being not even able to explain what this war is even about (at a current moment), to mercenary armies of suicidal convicts and Russian neo-Nazis claiming to be “liberating” Ukraine from “Nazim” and at the same time denying Ukraine’s very right to exist, that we often miss it out how many insanely mind-blowing things that history textbooks will be telling about this war in the future.

    Here’s my impromptu list of stupid things that happened to Russia or that have been done by Russia in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine since February 24, 2022. It’s far from complete, of course, given the fact that the Kremlin never ceases to amaze […]

    So, over the last 19 months of this war,

    — Managed to lose a submarine to a cruise missile, for the first time in human history.

    – Lost its fleet flagship (for the first time since 1905), the biggest warship sunk since 1945, to a nation that has no navy.

    – Lost at least 2,300 tanks by now […], which is more than all tank forces of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy combined, and is comparable to the entire U.S. Army operational tank fleet.

    – Exhausted its capabilities to the point of having to de-mothball T-62 and T-54/55 tanks that were of relevance around the Cuban Missile Crisis era.

    – Managed to basically exhaust the gargantuan Soviet stockpile of artillery munitions (which was considered endless) […]

    – Was seriously expecting to conquer and occupy an unfriendly 40-million nation with a 150,000-strong invasion force.

    – Plunged into full-swing fascism, a mass cult of territorial grabs, and militaristic hysteria under the Z-swastika while claiming to be ancestors of WWII victors.

    – Had its troops digging dugouts in the highly contaminated soil of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.

    – Was so successful that, 6 months after the invasion day, it had to declare mobilization for the first time since 1941 and 1914.

    – Failed to score air supremacy despite obvious advantage over Ukraine’s air force in quality and numbers

    – Simply declared a 40-million European nation “Nazi” and thus entitled itself to eradicate and occupy it in a war of aggression.

    – Had a daring landing operation at a strategic airfield that was supposed to be a crushing blow upon the Ukrainian capital but nonetheless failed on day 1.

    – Lost up to two battalion tactical groups (!) to Ukrainian artillery while trying to cross a river in Donbas in May 2022

    – Spent a month trying to break into Kyiv and then simply left, having failed the entire war’s key axis, with its most elite forces severely degraded.

    – As the world’s second strongest military, it became dependent on Iranian supplies of kamikaze drones (and likely ballistic missiles) and begged North Korea to provide it with artillery munitions.

    – Seriously believed Putin’s kin Viktor Medvedchuk, who had spent years plundering the Kremlin money and telling cool stories on how Ukrainians were just dreaming of being part of Russia again.

    – Had its regular military so insanely successful that it had to hastily pump up a “private military company” led by a catering tycoon (a former street criminal) and a neo-Nazi, which recruited masses of suicidal convicts and practiced ISIS-style executions on camera.

    – As the world’s second strongest military power, it re-introduced the phenomenon of “meat grinder assaults” […]

    – Spent hundreds of missiles to strip a 40-million European nation of electricity and heating in the dead of winter — and failed.

    – Occupied nuclear power plants and deployed military forces at their facilities — for the first time in human history.

    – Spent a year and lost tens of thousands of men fighting for the ruins of a mid-sized provincial town of Bakhmut (which it declared the new Stalingrad), the eventual capture of which resulted in no further progress […]

    – Had its daily acts of nuclear blackmailing so overused that everyone eventually stopped paying attention.

    – Had Putin ribbon-cutting a wonder wheel in Moscow during the disastrous defeat in Kharkiv Oblast and visiting a turkey farm in Tiumen following the withdrawal from Kherson.

    – Unleashed the biggest European war since WWII and, after things went south, began whining about Ukraine not willing to have a “ceasefire” and a “deal in negotiations.”

    – Made the West wake up and provide Ukraine with weapons ranging from artillery to tanks, air defense, missiles, and now also jet fighters.

    – Faced an armed rebellion by the “private military company” which easily captured a key Russian city, a key military HQ, and then moved towards Moscow, making Putin flee and ask for a deal.

    – Despite all the bravado and megalomanic plans, after 19 months of a full-scale war, Russia occupies 18% of Ukraine’s territory (including Donbas and Crimea seized in 2014), and it has lost some 50% of the Ukrainian territory seized after February 24, 2022.

    – Unleashed the biggest European war since WWII due to “the NATO threat” in Ukraine but couldn’t care less about Finland and Sweden joining the alliance – it’s all just fine.

    – Saw Ukrainian drone strikes on the Kremlin and Moscow becoming a new normal.

    – Had Ukrainian-backed Russian armed nationalist groups crossing the border, capturing Russian towns, killing Russian troops, and leaving unpunished.

    – Annexed entire Ukrainian regions it did not even fully control by simply formally declaring them Russian regions and having a gala concert at the Red Square. And left Kherson a month later.

    – After a year of the war, lost at least as many troops as the U.S. had lost within a decade in Vietnam, making this the deadliest Russian war since WWII.

    – Saw Putin break his word and assassinate the “private military company’s” chiefs after they had stupidly believed they could have a deal with Putin.- Committed atrocities in Bucha, Izium, and Mariupol, with mass graves, acts of torture, and executions seen in those lands for the first time since the Nazi occupation and called this “liberation”.

    – Saw The Hague court issue an arrest warrant for Putin on charges of war crimes.

    – Had to leave Snake Island and then relocate its Black Sea fleet from Crimea to mainland Russia due to devastating Ukrainian attacks, effectively giving up on its control over the northwest Black Sea — to a nation that has no navy.

    – Easily exchanged the Mariupol garrison leaders, including insanely demonized Azov Regiment commanders, for no one but Viktor Medvedchuk —- and continued listening to his cool stories about Ukraine.

    – Triggered the worst man-made disaster since the Chornobyl blast, the Kakhovka dam destruction, leaving swathes of Ukrainian land flooded, including Russia’s own military facilities on the Dnipro River banks.

    – Had its strategic bombers and transport aircraft destroyed on the ground by Ukraine at airfields hundreds of kilometers deep inside Russian territory.

    – Prior to the 2022 invasion, Russia got Ukraine semi-surrounded with the largest military force seen in the region since the peak of the Cold War — and then declared that Ukraine SUDDENLY decided to attack Russia and “the Russian people in Donbas.” What a coincidence!

    – Saw its much-advertised winter 2023 offensive (for the sake of which it had launched a large-scale mobilization) fail without any substantial progress.

    – Made its online bootlickers act as if it’s actually Ukraine that has failed with its 20-month blitzkrieg into Russia — not kinda the other way around. […]

    – Still struggles to choose a certain end goal for its “special military operation” — be it “de-militarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine,” or “the fight against Satanism and the collective West,” or “the protection of the people of Donbas,” or “saving Russia and its civilization from losing its sovereignty and collapsing.”

    – During the disastrous withdrawal from Kharkiv, abandoned for Ukraine an amount of munitions and military hardware comparable to the entire Western supply by that moment.

    – Rendered Donbas largely uninhabitable.

    – Ruined the region’s once-gigantic industrial base.

    – Made millions flee in terror.

    – Slaughtered tens of thousands of able-bodied Donbas males forcibly mobilized and then used as cannon fodder in meat grinder assaults.

    – Leveled entire cities to ashes […]

    – And then proudly installed its flag over the lifeless ruins and called this “de-Nazification.”

    P.S. Those who knowingly endorse all those things that Russia did to Ukraine should quit calling themselves sane human beings.

    Posted on X/Twitter by Illia Ponomarenko, and made available at the link above … scroll down to view.

  65. says

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

    The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, described the missile strike on a village which reportedly left at least 51 dead, including a six-year-old boy, as a “brutal terrorist attack”.

    Posting on X, Zelenskiy said: “This was a fully deliberate, demonstrative, and brutal terrorist attack.

    “My condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones! Assistance is being provided to the wounded. Russian terror must be stopped. All those who help Russia circumvent sanctions are criminals. Those who continue to support Russia are all supporting evil.

    “Russia needs this and similar terrorist attacks for one reason only: to make its genocidal aggression the new normal for the entire world. And I thank every leader and every nation that supports us in the defence of life!

    “We are now focused with European leaders, in particular, on how to strengthen our air defence, reinforce our troops, and protect our country from terror. Terrorists will face retaliation. One that is both just and powerful.”

    Luke Harding in the Guardian – “‘A new form of warfare’: how Ukraine reclaimed the Black Sea from Russian forces”:

    It was a moment of humiliation for Moscow. The headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet – a building of elegant white columns overlooking the Crimean port of Sevastopol – was ablaze. Smoke billowed into a blue sky. First one, and then a second Storm Shadow missile slammed into its roof. Video captured the impact: a precise, deadly, thunderous strike.

    The attack on 22 September killed 34 officers, including Viktor Sokolov, the fleet’s commander, according to Ukraine. Russia denied this, releasing footage of Sokolov, suggesting he was still alive. Whatever the truth of the admiral’s fate, the blow deep into enemy territory was of major significance. It was further proof that Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion, 19 months on, had not gone to plan.

    On land, Kyiv’s counteroffensive has made slow progress. Ukrainian troops have run into formidable Russian obstacles. But on water, it is a success story. Largely unnoticed, Ukraine has reclaimed the Black Sea at least in part, by turning it into a no-go zone for Russia’s bristling warships – no mean feat given that Ukraine has no navy to speak of, and a handful of old jets.

    In Sevastopol, a naval exodus has occurred. Two frigates and three attack submarines have left port and moved east to the safer Russian harbour of Novorossiysk, according to satellite data. Five large landing ships, a patrol boat, and small missile vessels have joined them there. A cluster of other boats have sailed from Sevastopol to Feodosia, a port on Crimea’s eastern side.

    Speaking this week, James Heappey, the UK armed forces minister, said Russia’s Black Sea fleet had suffered a “functional defeat”. “It has been forced to disperse to ports from which it cannot have an effect on Ukraine,” he told the Warsaw security forum. The liberation of Ukraine’s waters was “every bit as important” as the counteroffensive last year in Kharkiv oblast, during which Kyiv regained territory, Heappey added.

    According to Ukraine’s former defence minister Oleksii Reznikov, drones have been vital to winning back the Black Sea. Reznikov likened the boom in indigenous drone production to the early days of Silicon Valley, when Steve Jobs built the first Apple computers in his garage. He said: “This war is the last conventional land one. The wars of the future will be hi-tech. The Black Sea is like a polygon. We’re seeing serious combat testing.”

    Reznikov said Ukraine was making an array of uncrewed aerial vehicles, as well as drones that travelled on sea and underwater. There was “competition” between rival outfits – Ukraine’s navy, special forces, GUR and SBU intelligence agencies – as to who made the best drone. “We have no serious fleet or naval capability. But we can hit them with drones,” he said.

    Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Reznikov’s predecessor as defence minister, said Kyiv had pioneered “a new form of warfare”. It cost $10,000-$100,000 (£8,260-£82,600) to build a sea drone filled with explosives. Released in “swarms”, they targeted Russian ships costing hundreds of millions of dollars. “It’s an extremely asymmetric way of fighting enemy boats. This is true of cost and time. You can’t build a new ship quickly. They are huge platforms,” he said.

    Ukrainian observers now dream of a new treaty of Paris – the 1856 deal that ended the Crimean War. It led to Russia’s diminishing influence in the region, after its defeat by the British, French and Ottoman empires. The treaty prohibited Russia from putting a navy in Sevastopol. “This war must end the same way, with the Black Sea fleet sunk, and Russia banned by international law from building a new one,” Zagorodnyuk said.

    And what about Adm Sokolov? Ukrainian sources are increasingly confident he was killed last month, in the strike using Storm Shadow missiles. “The Russians can prove he is alive by making an interview with him,” Pletenchuk, the navy spokesperson, said.

  66. says

    The Hell? Biden Administration Building More Goddamn WALL In Texas? The Holy HELL?

    In a move that US Customs and Border Protection says it simply has to do because Congress mandated it in 2019, the agency is moving forward with a plan to build an additional 20 miles or so of border wall in Texas, despite President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day pledge that he would end Donald Trump’s Border Folly. At the time, Biden said that “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.”

    Look, you can probably spin this as “only” 20 new miles, which is definitely not the entire southern border, but it still sucks. At least nobody at the Department of Homeland Security is claiming Mexico will pay for it.

    But according to a notice filed in the Federal Register this week, DHS will use its statutory authority (which predates the Trump years) to waive 26 federal laws to get the new section of WALL built. As the AP reports, that includes waivers to forego the “Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act,” which worries Texas environmental advocates (stop laughing; Texas is 46 percent blue) who point out the planned WALL may impact areas with endangered plants and desert species like ocelots, or as the AP oddly phrases it, “the Ocelot, a spotted wild cat.”

    Laiken Jordahl, a spokesperson for the Center for Biological Diversity, the environmental group that fought Trump’s WALL tooth and nail, warned Wednesday,

    “A plan to build a wall through will bulldoze an impermeable barrier straight through the heart of that habitat. It will stop wildlife migrations dead in their tracks. It will destroy a huge amount of wildlife refuge land. And it’s a horrific step backwards for the borderlands.”

    In the Federal Register notice, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas identified the stretch of border in Starr County, Texas, part of the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, as an area of “high illegal entry,” noting that as of August, the Border Patrol had “encountered over 245,000 such entrants attempting to enter the United States between ports of entry” in the current fiscal year, which began October 1, 2022.

    […] In a June announcement, US Customs and Border Protection said it just hadda use the money that Congress appropriated to build WALL in 2019, really, noting that the project was “consistent with” Biden’s executive order to end funding WALL construction with diverted military and other funding. Even after returning a “substantial portion of unobligated funds” to the Pentagon, the announcement said, DHS was “legally mandated to use the remaining FY2019 funds for their appropriated purpose,” i.e. WALL.

    That June announcement includes a very weird “stop us before we build something you’ll regret” section that practically begs Congress to redirect those leftover WALL funds, please.

    Today, CBP has an estimated $190M remaining in FY 2019 funding. The Administration continues to call on Congress to cancel or reappropriate remaining border barrier funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border. Until and unless Congress cancels these funds, the law requires DHS to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose. DHS first pursued other priority projects in RGV with the appropriated FY 2019 funding, including life, safety, environmental, and other remediation measures, system attributes for existing barrier, and environmental mitigation projects.

    Translation: We spent as much as we could on other stuff allowed by the appropriation, but we still have this $190 million what has “BUILD WALL” written on it. So we’re going to have to, well, you know… [JFC!]

    […] Predictably, Donald Trump and his MAGA crowd are declaring victory; Trump told Fox News Wednesday that obviously Biden had simply come to his senses and now supports every lie Trump has ever told about the border. Conflating the total number of undocumented immigrants in the US with recent increases in border crossings, and then lying that every single asylum seeker is a drugged-up would-be killer maniac rapist terrorist, Trump claimed,

    “Biden sees our country is being invaded. […] What is he going to do about the 15 million people from prisons, from mental institutions, insane asylums, and terrorists that have already come into our country?”

    Trump went on to insist that Biden must now reinstate Trump’s own immigration policies like “remain in Mexico” and even Title 42, the pandemic regulation that allowed widespread deportations. Nobody at Fox pointed out to him that the pandemic state of emergency ended in May, but who cares, the law is what Donald Trump says it is.

    In conclusion, this will almost certainly all get stupider before it gets better, the end.

  67. says

    […] it is pretty surprising that someone who has been working at an auto manufacturing plant for, oh, six years, or even 10 years, would be considered a “temporary employee.”

    But that is exactly what is happening at many of these plants and it’s one of the issues the UAW is striking over. These “temporary workers” do the exact same work as the permanent workers do, but they are paid significantly less and have fewer benefits and erratic work schedules they can’t count on from one week to the next. One week, they may work six days and be told they have to stay after permanent employees can go home for the night, and another they may only work one day. Many have to take flexible second jobs in order to get by.

    Stellantis, where 12 percent of all workers are “temps,” is the biggest offender here. To start, they make $15.78 an hour, which the Associated Press noted is less than some fast food joints pay these days, and their pay gets capped at $19.28 after four years.

    But hopefully that will be changing soon.

    Via AP:

    Under contracts negotiated in 2019, temporary workers reach full-time status at GM after 19 months of continuous employment and at Ford after two years. At Stellantis, maker of Jeeps, Rams and Chryslers, they get preferential hiring but no guarantees.

    In the current negotiations, GM and Stellantis have made offers to increase temporary worker starting pay from $16.67 to about $20 per hour. Ford raised its offer to $21 per hour with profit sharing and said it would make temporaries full-time workers after 90 days of continuous service.

    Once temporary workers become full time, they start on a higher pay scale that eventually would reach the top assembly plant wage of $32 per hour.

    Ford’s solution sounds reasonable, given that only 3 percent of their workers are temporary. The other two … clearly have a way to go until it doesn’t look like they’re scamming anybody.

    This shouldn’t need to be said, but insecure work situations are not just bad for employees (though they are very bad for employees), they are bad for the economy. If people don’t know when they will be working, if they don’t know how much they are going to make from week to week, they’re going to be extra careful with how they budget their money. Ironically, this kind of economic instability is going to make people less likely to do things like “lease cars.”

    Two temporary employees, both parents, at the Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio, cited “healthcare” as the main reason they stay with the job. This is very understandable given that if they left and got a new job, they’d have to wait up to 90 days to have health insurance (or pay a hell of a lot of money for COBRA), and that is a pretty difficult choice to make when you have kids.

    But both say that there isn’t much reason to stay, beyond the healthcare, if things don’t change. […]

    The article also provides details concerning the 75,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers who walked off the job on Wednesday.

    Via CNN:

    […] Rocio Chacon, a striking Kaiser worker who serves on the union’s negotiating committee, said many employees cannot afford to live in the cities where they work due to the rising cost of living, and some workers resort to sleeping in their cars.

    “As we speak there are nurses that are sleeping in their cars because of two reasons. One, they can’t afford cost of living here so they have to move two, three hours (away) and then because of short staff they’re working 14, 16 hours so they’re tired,” Chacon said. “So, their best choice is to be Monday through Friday in their cars.” […]

    The Wonkette article also provides details concerning the Department of Labor’s guide to child labor and forced labor.

    […] In Thailand’s garment industry, for example:

    There are reports that mostly girls as young as 11 are forced to produce garments in Thailand. Migrant children from Laos and Burma are particularly vulnerable. The ILO, media, trade unions, government raids, and NGOs report forced child labor in garment factories in Bangkok and along the Burma border in Mae Sai and Mae Sot. Many children live at the worksite, and their freedom of movement is sometimes restricted through confiscation of identity documents and threats of arrest. Children are often forced to work long hours and overtime, and are paid little, if at all. Some are not provided sufficient food and are physically abused. Mistakes made during the course of work are sometimes penalized with wage deductions.


  68. says

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    Contrary to how McCarthy’s defenders are behaving, men failing up is not a Constitutionally protected right.

    The man made risky decisions and faced the natural consequences of them. I am not his mom, and my job is not to put pool noodles around hard corners for Republicans.

  69. says

    Putin says Russia has tested nuclear-powered missile, could revoke atomic test ban

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday confirmed his nation has successfully tested an experimental nuclear-powered missile and warned that Moscow may revoke a ban on atomic bomb testing.

    Putin, speaking at a think tank-sponsored forum, said testing on the cruise missile Burevestnik, which has a range of up to 14,000 miles, was recently completed, though he did not name an exact date.

    His announcement comes just days after it was reported that Russia was preparing to test the nuclear weapon in the Arctic.

    The Burevestnik is an extremely long-range cruise missile, meaning it does not follow a simple trajectory like ballistic missiles and remains in the atmosphere after launch. Putin introduced the missile in 2018, but the rocket has failed in several tests until now.

    While little is known about the missile, it’s a completely new type of weapon system, activating a nuclear propulsion unit after solid fuel rocket boosters boost the missile into the air.

    Putin on Thursday also said he had finished developing an intercontinental ballistic missile called the Sarmat, which is believed to be capable of carrying up to 15 nuclear warheads.

    Putin said his strategic forces would “soon” move towards mass production and placing the Sarmat “on combat duty.”

    […] At the Sochi event, Putin signaled he may disregard the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, which bans all nuclear testing, because the U.S. signed the treaty but never ratified it, while Russia did ratify it.

    He said he is “already hearing calls” to “start testing nuclear weapons” and “to return to testing.”

    Sounds like more bluster from Putin, and threats he cannot or will not back up with action. I’ll watch for more information on this.

  70. says

    Dmitri on Tafkat:

    Russian blogger came to Mariupol and found the real meaning of the “Russian World”: people living in and around the new builds devastated the playgrounds. After the video gained traction, the area was “cleaned”. The blogger returned for a check but found from the locals that the basements of these new builds were full of water after the guttering burst, and authorities did not want to deal with it. The foul smell fills properties across the whole house. Watch till the end.

    Subtitled video at the link.

  71. says

    France 24 – “George Monbiot: ‘We give farming a free pass on its vast environmental impact'”:

    The energy and transport sectors are widely seen as the most harmful for the planet. But for some, the agriculture industry is even more destructive. It’s responsible for as much as 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Yet its role in global warming attracts much less attention. George Monbiot is a journalist and the author of “Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet”. He joined us on Perspective for more on why the industry is so destructive and some of the controversial solutions he proposes.

    Video at the link.

  72. whheydt says

    Re: SC (Salty Current) @ #91…
    UC Davis was explicitly set up to do commercial ag research. One of their successes was when they were asked to try to develop a mechanical tomato picking machine, decided it couldn’t be done, so they developed a variety of tomato with tough enough skins that they could be picked by their best machine. (That variety is grown for making sauce or paste, not for direct eating.)

  73. Reginald Selkirk says

    Amazon Will Pay You $1 Million for Alien Footage From Your Ring Doorbell

    … The scheme is billed as Ring’s Million Dollar Search for Extraterrestrials. Entrants are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled for any sign of alien life recorded by their Ring doorbell cameras. If a little green being walks into the camera’s purview, then the winner of the best “scientific evidence” will receive $1 million with meteorologist and astrobiologist Jacob Haqq Misrad serving as a judge for the contest. Those who live outside alien country can still enter to win a $500 Amazon gift card by filming their own alien Ring footage using makeup, props, and costumes but let’s face it, that’s the coward’s way out. Submissions are being accepted until November 3…

  74. Reginald Selkirk says

    A Woman Was Denied Medication for Being of ‘Childbearing Age.’ She Just Sued the Hospital

    Last September, New York resident Tara Rule posted a raw, emotional video on Tiktok saying she had been denied a medication to treat a debilitating condition called cluster headaches, because her neurologist told her she was of “childbearing age” and the medication could cause birth defects to a hypothetical fetus.

    Rule said that as she sat in her neurologist’s office at Glens Falls Hospital, she told him she never planned to have kids and would have an abortion if she became pregnant; referencing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, he responded that getting the care she was seeking is “trickier now with the way things are going.” He also said she should bring her partner “in on the conversation” on her medical care. Rule asked if the issue preventing her from getting the “highly effective” medication was solely that she could become pregnant and, “If I was, like, through menopause, would [the medication] be very effective for cluster headaches?” The doctor affirmed it would. He also asked about her sex life and whether she’s “with a steady person.” Rule shared audio recordings of the appointment on TikTok at the time.

    Last week, Rule filed a lawsuit against Albany Medical Health Partners charging the largest hospital system in upstate New York with discrimination over the denial of her medication and a string of incidents afterward. The suit alleges that denying her medication because she’s of “childbearing age” and prioritizing an imagined fetus over her health violates federal law—specifically, the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination provisions and the Age Discrimination Act…

  75. says

    Ukraine Update: Top tankies attack Bernie Sanders, claim he is a warmonger

    Try and imagine a world in which Sen. Bernie Sanders is a war-mongering neocon shill for the military industrial complex.

    I dare you, try!

    Not happening? Well, that’s because you’re not a pro-Putin tankie.

    Yesterday, Code Pink claims eleven of its members were arrested after causing mayhem in Sanders’ office. [video at the link, the video shows protestors carefully be led away while they still spouted Russian talking points about being on the brink of nuclear war, etc.]

    This yahoo is “horrified” at Sanders supporting assistance for Ukraine, saying, “Vermonters want peace.” She added, “I watched the carnage going on over there and how can anyone say this is good?”

    Have you seen anyone say that the war is good? I certainly haven’t. But it is telling that Code Pink and this woman would rather protest Bernie’s office than target the people actually responsible for the carnage: Russia. Why aren’t they protesting outside the Russian embassy? If anything calls for splattering red paint on the sidewalks of a diplomatic mission, it’s this ongoing genocide.

    Code Pink’s co-founder, Jodie Evans, was among the arrested: [video at the link]

    […] [Tweet and images posted by Majorie Taylor Green “Today I met brave Code Pink activists who protested for peace in Bernie Sander’s office. […] Peace & free speech shouldn’t be a partisan issue. […] Congress should STOP fueling the war in Ukraine!]

    That pretty much tells us all we need to know, doesn’t it?

    Remember, none of these people, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, have protested the Russians for their actions. They objectively approve of Russia’s actions. They are explicitly pro-Putin. They want to disarm Ukraine so that Russia can rape and pilage its way across the country.

    As a refresher, a tankie is a leftist who believes that the root of all evil in the world is American (and to a lesser extent, European) imperialism. No one in the world has agency. Everyone and everything is a pawn of evil Americans and their CIA.

    A tankie will argue that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine; rather, it was forced to defend itself because something something America. The “something something” can be pretty much anything! NATO was pushing east to Ukraine! (No it wasn’t.) America ousted the pro-Russian government in the 2014 Maidan revolution. (No it didn’t.) America was denying Russia’s historical borders! (Well, yes on that one, but still doesn’t make it America’s fault.)

    Tankies are called as such because they defended the Soviet Union’s use of tanks to violently repress rebellions in Hungary in 1956 and Prague in 1968, desperately clinging to their fantasies of a communist Soviet utopia. They still can’t let go of their love of Russia and other authoritarian regimes to this very day. I’ve written about them regularly as part of my Ukraine war coverage, and you can find all of those stories in the tankie tag.

    Evans, along with her Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, are among this country’s top tankies. […] rabid support for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, even defending his elimination of the nation’s free press. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    There’s Benjamin’s participation in a conference in Tehran, Iran, that “included a panel titled ‘Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat,’ and it hosted figures like Randy Short, who claims that ‘Boko Haram was created and funded by the CIA,’ and Wayne Madsen who has declared that 9/11 attacks were carried out by Mossad together with CIA and Saudi intelligence. The event also hosted German neo-Nazis Manuel Ochsenreiter & Kevin Barrett, and in 2018 one of the keynote speakers at New Horizon was one Aleksander Dugin.” [Yikes! General ignorance and stupidity all around.]

    You might remember Dugin as the ultra-right-wing Russian nationalist who has advocated for Ukraine’s genocidal elimination [double yikes!], and whose up-and-coming media darling daughter was assassinated with a car bomb in Moscow.

    In 2019, Code Pink spent several months cavorting in Iran. The results were truly cringe, as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

    Despite being an anti-war group, several members appeared to praise the military in Iran. One activists was quoted in Fars News as saying that the US military is “aware of the strength of the Iranian army” and that Iran was a country of 80 million people. “The anti-war activists emphasized Iran’s right to missile defense, adding that since the US has military bases around Iran, it is Iran’s right to upgrade its defense capability.” Another activist “said the US government was not allowed to criticize the Zionists in response to a question about the unequivocal support of the US government for the Zionist regime.”

    The group appeared in awe of their experience. “It was quite amazing to have a chance to speak for an hour and a half to the foreign minister,” Benjamin told Democracy Now. She claimed they had “incredible” meetings, including with women and minorities.

    As a reminder, this is the same Iranian government that is executing protesters for challenging the repressive Islamic regime over the murder of Mahsa Amin, a Kurdish woman, for not properly wearing her hijab. But we can all be sure that whatever women the government allowed Code Pink to meet with offered truly unvarnished information, right? [Code Pink members are gullible, useful idiots]

    […] And what kind of “peace group” encourages the militarization of a region?

    Just as they show little concern about the fate of Iranian girls and women, don’t expect them to care about the Chinese genocide of the Uyghur minority. In fact, Code Pink are active participants in the Chinese-funded effort to whitewash their crimes. According to a New Lines Magazine investigation, China has funneled $65 million into nonprofits downplaying or denying China’s human rights violations through a single man—Neville Roy Singham—who also happens to be Evans’ partner. The two certainly share an affinity for supporting murderous regimes. [Ripe to receive propaganda and money from questionable sources.]

    In 2020, Code Pink initiated a campaign titled “China Is Not Our Enemy” in which the organization advocates for the U.S. to adopt a thoroughly conciliatory approach toward China. It calls on supporters to lobby members of Congress and hosts podcasts and webinars advancing the same argument.

    Code Pink’s website also includes an FAQ section on the Uyghurs. “Our concern is that it is being used as a tool to drive the U.S.’s hybrid war on China,” it states, “instead of a human rights issue that needs to be addressed as such.” This page provides links to “helpful resources” on the topic, one of which appears to treat the plight of the Uyghurs as a human rights nonissue: A video featuring Evans and British academic John Ross shows the latter characterizing the Uyghur genocide allegation as “farcical” and a “total lie.” [OMFG]

    To be clear, the United Nations itself has confirmed “serious human rights violations” in Xinjiang province, where the Uyghurs live. This isn’t controversial. So as you can imagine, Code Pink is a favorite source of Chinese state media whenever they want Americans to bash the United States.

    Likewise in Syria, Code Pink is a fan of murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad. In her book on the Ukraine War, Benjamin whitewashes Russia’s leveling of entire Syrian cities as simply helping out a friend, and continues to cast doubt on Assad’s well-documented use of chemical weapons against civilians.

    “On page 17, they write: ‘In 2011, the United States and its allies began supporting and arming Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria in a proxy war to overthrow President Assad, a close Russian ally. In its first military response to Western war-making, Russia intervened militarily to defend its Syrian ally,’” said journalist Bill Weinberg in a podcast review of the book. “So making excuses for Russian massive aerial bombardment of Syrian civilians as ‘defending an ally,’ and dismissing the Syrian revolutionaries as mere proxies in condescending manner—and, it’s not even accurate. The US was supporting (if indeed the reports of support to the rebels are to be believed, of which I am very skeptical) the Free Syrian Army—which was secular-nationalist and led by defectors from the Assad regime itself. And when al-Qaeda-linked elements later got involved in the conflict, with the formation of the Nusra Front, the US didn’t back them—the US bombed them. Not as aggressively as Russia was bombing the Free Syrian Army and its allies—but nonetheless bombed them. Not backed them. A reversal of reality.”

    Code Pink has been just as aggressively and objectively pro-repression and murder in Ukraine. Benjamin talked to RT (Russia Today) commentator Chris Hedges to claim that NATO was “meddling” in Ukraine, that there were “a lot of CIA agents on the ground [in Ukraine],” that Ukrainians were “far right” neo-Nazis, and that in threatening the leader of a “powerful nuclear nation,” the world was courting a nuclear armageddon—all of them talking points straight out of Russia’s propaganda playbook.

    Benjamin was supposed to speak at a Rage Against the War Machine rally of right-wing nuts and tankies like Jimmy Dore, Tara Reade, Kim Iverson, Jason Hinkle, Scott Ritter (who is also a convicted child sexual predator), and Max Blumenthal. However, pressure from her own people forced her to back out. [Image of “coalition” showing an astounding collection of genocide-supporting a-holes.]

    Don’t worry, she still attended, and she is still defending teaming up with the right wing [Tweet and image at the link: …. “the need for a left-right alliance to stop the war in Ukraine,” along with a defense of Rage Against The War Machine etc.]

    Now, they’ve decided that freakin’ Bernie is the enemy. How far gone do you have to be to make him a poster boy of the military industrial complex?

    The replies to their arrest videos are a window into an alternate reality. Here’s a sampling:

    “Bernie is an enemy of the people. Both foreign and domestic’ says the constitution. Treason”

    “Bernie Sanders has completely sold out to the military industrial complex.”

    “bernie sanders is a cuck”

    “Bernie Sanders had eleven peace protestors arrested in the Capitol for daring to ask him to negotiate peace in Ukraine.The Military Industrial Complex only wants war, not peace.”

    “Wow, what a complete and utter fall from grace by @SenSanders. It’s crazy I ever gave a cent of my money to this fraud.”

    “Bernie has gone full fascist.”

    It goes without saying that there is one country that can bring peace to Ukraine, and that is Russia. No one else can. The U.S. and Europe could quit their support today, and the war would continue much as it has since 2014. Russia won’t be satiated until it has brought Ukraine to heel, and Ukraine has the means to prevent that from happening indefinitely.

    […] Give Ukraine what it needs now to decisively defeat Russia on the battlefield, so that Russia can’t hope for a second Donald Trump presidency to bail Vladimir Putin out.

    That’s it.
    [Tweet and video: Russians deliberately hit a cafe and killed 48 civilians, wounding other 6 people in the village of Groza, Kupyansky District, Kharkiv Oblast.

    There is a 6-year-old boy amongst those killed. The number of victims is still counting.]

    The death toll is now 51. The town had a population of 330. This genocidal carnage is [supported] by the Republican Party and Code Pink.
    This is downright cinematic: [video at the link]

    As I watched Ukrainian armor pound Russian positions in a tree line, it struck me that the winter will help Ukraine. Right now, Russia is on the defensive, using foliage to camouflage their defensive positions in those ubiquitous tree lines. Winter will strip those trees of that camouflage, allowing Ukrainian artillery and drones to better eliminate Russian defenses.

    And the mud? This is no longer an armor war, it’s an infantry and artillery one. Mud will only be tangentially relevant.

    Some of the Code Pink protestors seemed to be just confused, and to have been misled by various propagandists.

  76. says

    Followup to comment 96.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    War is a blight on humanity, but once one is started, the moral thing is to oppose the aggressor so as to end the possibility of further aggression. Unfortunately, there is always a cost, and the Ukrainian people are paying it. Best to help them defeat the aggressor

    I have long considered myself a pacifist. This war has caused me to take a more nuanced view.
    [Code Pink is] not anti-war, they’re pro-war, and like MAGA cultists the side they’re backing is the far-right aggressor headed by a war criminal rather than the fledgling democracy.
    An anti-war group supporting an invasion. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If we only loved Putin enough . . .
    They are pro-Russia not anti-war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not bother them. Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression does bother them.
    1) Imperialism, colonialism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism are bad.

    2) War is bad, and should be avoided.

    3) Invading another country on false pretenses and murdering thousands is bad.

    4) Self-determination of all people on the planet at a personal and at a societal level is a fundamental, progressive, proper goal… with the caveat that self-determination does not include the right to interfere with others’ self-determination.
    The only thing I can imagine is that they have a vastly different idea of what is happening with Russia and Ukraine than reasonably-informed people do.
    Look at what Putin’s Russia did to Syria and Chechnya before they went to Ukraine. The U.S. had nothing to do with Chechnya. Whatever the cause these people are impervious to facts and logic. Maybe some of these people are naive
    China has funneled $65 million into nonprofits downplaying or denying China’s human rights violations through a single man—Neville Roy Singham—who also happens to be Evans’ partner.

    They are being paid to be peaceniks. That’s all you need to know.
    As far as Code Pink, I don’t think it’s the horseshoe theory. I think it’s conspiracy theory thinking, as well as being a willing tool of bad people because the bad people fluff your ego by telling you that you are important and supporting you with $$$.
    For me, this just goes to show me that context is everything. People are complicated and sometimes you can get behind them and sometimes you can’t. Medea Benjamin is someone I personally met and got to know just a little when she was helping us protest a local drone manufacturer in the early days of that technology for reasons far removed from what’s going on in Ukraine currently. I agreed with her then. But context matters, and I can’t get behind what she’s doing right now. I will say I’m disappointed, because who doesn’t want heroes, right? But this is a good cautionary lesson. That said, rarely is anyone totally evil
    Code Pink has failed in any anti-war, human justice program it has by attacking those defending Ukraine’s right to peaceful existence.
    It’s all about the grift. It’s all about the donations

    The Katwoman
    Oct 05, 2023 at 08:17:11 PM
    It’s a deliberate twisting of the concept of being anti-war.

    In the real world, being anti-war means you consider warfare to be the last resort when dealing with hostile foreign politics. But most people understand that if you don’t resist violence when it’s inflicted upon you, you will tend suffer more violence in the long run, not less.

    These people claim that if the invaded side stops fighting, the violence will magically stop. Arguing with their magical thinking does no good, because they are oh so much smarter and nicer and better than us mere mortals who think we should deal with the world as it IS.
    Perhaps a few are genuinely confused, sure that some non-violent solution must exist. Massive case of wishful thinking.
    It’s a war to eradicate Ukraine, to commit genocide and the Code Pink women think this is okay because something, something, we need peace. What a bunch of fuckmuppets.

  77. says

    NBC News:

    A U.S. fighter jet shot down a Turkish drone on Thursday after it flew near American troops operating in northeast Syria, two U.S. defense officials said. The unusual military encounter between two NATO allies came after a similar incident earlier in the day. No troops were injured, and there is no indication that the Turks were intentionally targeting U.S. servicemembers, the officials said.

  78. says

    The Verge:

    X, formerly Twitter, is no longer showing headlines on articles shared on the platform. Instead, X is only showing the article’s lead image and the domain it will link you to.

  79. says

    It just got worse: Trump allegedly leaked classified nuclear submarine secrets to Mar-a-Lago guest

    It was inevitable that this shoe was going to drop, and now it finally has: Donald Trump allegedly leaked classified national security secrets to a guest at his chintzy Mar-a-Lago resort. ABC News has the story.

    Months after leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club — an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    The billionaire in question is Pratt Industries head Anthony Pratt, who joined Mar-a-Lago after Trump became president. The circumstances of the alleged leak are astonishing.

    According to Pratt’s account, as described by the sources, Pratt told Trump he believed Australia should start buying its submarines from the United States, to which an excited Trump — “leaning” toward Pratt as if to be discreet — then told Pratt two pieces of information about U.S. submarines: the supposed exact number of nuclear warheads they routinely carry, and exactly how close they supposedly can get to a Russian submarine without being detected.

    [Did Trump remember actual details, or was he making shit up?]

    […] Pratt went on to tell “at least 45 others” about what Trump had told him, apparently because when you’re a billionaire you just go around casually telling people nuclear submarine secrets, telephone-game-style. And while we don’t know whether Trump was citing correct figures or incorrect ones, investigators told Pratt to stop repeating what Trump told him.

    As for why Trump happened to remember very specific classified information about U.S. submarines and their nuclear missiles, it’s entirely possible that documents describing those details were among the ones he had parked at Mar-a-Lago in boxes or desk drawers, and even in a bathroom.

    While ABC reports that special counsel Jack Smith’s team investigated the incident, it went unmentioned in Smith’s indictment of Trump for hiding classified documents and lying to federal investigators about them. That may have been a matter of expediency; the document-related charges against Trump appear to be ironclad, with the evidence prosecutors have already gathered. Proving the substance of a Trump-Pratt conversation would likely rest solely on witnesses to the conversation and to Pratt’s blabbing afterward.

    But it now seems likely that the worst-case scenario is true: Trump not only hoarded and hid classified national security secrets in his for-profit private club, but relayed some of those secrets to visitors based on his personal whim.

  80. says

    Bill McKibben:

    New York’s old rainfall record stood for 150 years until 2021, and has now been broken three times.

    Hot air holds more water vapor than cold; flooding follows fossil fuel combustion as night follows day.

  81. says

    Followup to comment 100.

    ABC News:

    In emails and conversations after meeting with Trump, Pratt described Trump’s remarks to at least 45 others, including six journalists, 11 of his company’s employees, 10 Australian officials, and three former Australian prime ministers, the sources told ABC News.

  82. says

    YouTube link to Cassidy Hutchinson’s interview on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.

    “How often did the president throw ketchup at the wall?” Kimmel asked. “He does have a very potent fear of being poisoned,” Hutchinson replied. “So he uses and prefers the small Heinz glass ketchup bottles because he likes to hear his valet or whoever is serving him meal, he likes the hear the pop when he opens it.”

    “Do you think he got this fear of being poisoned from all the ex-wives?” Kimmel then inquired. “Or is it Russia?” Hutchinson quipped back.

    “I don’t know.” She continued, “Sometimes it would happen once or twice a week, sometimes more. Sometimes there’d be a week or so lull, but then there would be a bad news story. But it wasn’t just launching the food and the plates and the porcelain at the wall. It was sometimes just flipping the tablecloth.”

  83. StevoR says

    Also on the Voice here :

    More than 70 constitutional and public law teachers have signed a letter saying the Voice to Parliament “is not constitutionally risky” in a bid to tackle “misunderstandings and misconceptions” among Australian voters.

    The 71 teachers and professors say in the open letter that they are not advocating for a position on the Voice, but wish to provide voters with more information.

    Source :

  84. StevoR says

    Whilst in very ancient first people news – at least first into the Americas :

    New research has indicated fossil human footprints in New Mexico are likely the oldest direct evidence of human presence in the Americas, a finding that up-ends what many archaeologists thought they knew about civilisation in the region.The footprints were discovered at the edge of an ancient lake bed in White Sands National Park and date back to between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago, according to research published Thursday in the journal Science.

    The estimated age of the footprints was first reported in Science in 2021, but some researchers raised concerns about the dates.

    Source :

  85. says

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

    People from every family in the Ukrainian village of Hroza have been affected by the missile attack that killed dozens of people on Thursday, interior minister, Ihor Klymenko, has said.

    Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile slammed into a cafe and grocery store during a gathering to mourn a Ukrainian soldier.

    “From every household there were people present,” Klymenko was quoting as having said by BBC News.

    In comments to Ukrainian TV, he said that Hroza had had a population of 330 residents before the attack on Thursday.

    He said “every family, every household” was represented by at least one person at the wake.

    The Kremlin on Friday repeated its assertion [its lie!] that the Russian military does not strike civilian targets in Ukraine, after the death toll from the airstrike on the north-eastern village of Hroza rose to 52.

    Rescue workers scoured the rubble for bodies after what Kyiv said was one of Moscow’s deadliest attacks on civilians since its invasion last year….

    Russia is seeking re-election to the UN’s top human rights body next week in what is seen as a crucial test of western efforts to keep Moscow diplomatically isolated over its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports.

    Some diplomats are reported to have said Russia has a reasonable chance of getting voted back onto the UN Human Rights Council in Tuesday’s secret ballot, 18 months after it was ousted in a US-led drive….


    A Ukrainian court has frozen the Ukrainian assets of three Russian businessmen over their alleged support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, prosecutors and the security service said.

    The Ukrainian Security Service said assets owned by Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and Andrey Kosogov had been frozen, Reuters reports.

    They were considered part of Vladimir Putin’s close circle and contributed to “large-scale financing of the Russian Federation’s armed aggression”, it said.

    The three businessmen did not immediately comment on the moves and comments by the SBU and prosecutors.

    “At the request of prosecutors… assets of 20 Ukrainian companies totalling over 17 billion hryvnias ($464.48 million) were frozen,” the prosecutor general’s office said on Telegram.

    It said the frozen assets included securities and corporate rights of mobile phone operators, a mineral water producer, financial and insurance companies.

    “The beneficial owners of the companies are three Russian oligarchs who own one of the largest Russian financial and investment consortia,” it said.

  86. says

    Also in today’s Guardian:

    “Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi wins Nobel peace prize”:

    Narges Mohammadi, the most prominent of Iran’s jailed women’s rights advocates, has vowed to stay in the country and continue her activism after winning the 2023 Nobel peace prize.

    “I will never stop striving for the realisation of democracy, freedom and equality,” she said in a statement released after the announcement. “Surely, the Nobel peace prize will make me more resilient, determined, hopeful and enthusiastic on this path, and it will accelerate my pace.”…

    “Polish elections: who are the key players and what is at stake?”:

    Poland’s elections on 15 October could give the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party an unprecedented third term in office, or hand its longstanding opposition the chance to reverse what critics describe as eight years of democratic backsliding.

    Another possibility is that they end in stalemate, with neither party able to form a coalition. Whatever happens, Poland’s politics will remain deeply polarised after a ballot that – amid war in Ukraine and a bitter dispute with the EU – is of more than usual interest abroad….

    “‘She just wanted to live how she wanted to’: couple mourn their trans daughter”:

    Alice Litman, 20, was facing a five-year wait for a gender identity assessment when she died. Her parents say a complete overhaul of trans care is needed…

    “Addictive, absurdly cheap and controversial: the rise of China’s Temu app”:

    …There is a reason the app suddenly seems so ubiquitous online. Recent market analysis found Temu is investing nearly US$500m every quarter into marketing and promotions.

    “That’s $2bn a year to power all the social media ads, display banners, and paid searches, all geared towards aggressively expanding its customer base,” says Yang.

    The app and website are an assault on the senses, filled with promotions and offers in return for referrals. Some shoppers have used the referral rewards so successfully that they’ve managed to order numerous items without paying for anything.

    The platform tells users to shop “like a billionaire”, and then gamifies the experience with interactive prize wheels and reward systems, and exploits buyers’ FOMO with countdown timers and rolling lightning sales and deals….

    I would say 95% of the ads I see on my phone are for this ridiculous thing.

    Today’s UK liveblog. From their closing summary:

    Labour has won a “seismic victory over the SNP in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West byelection. Labour’s Michael Shanks beat his closest rival, the SNP’s Katy Loudon, by 17,845 votes to 8,399 – a majority of 9,446 and a resounding swing of more than 20%.

    Keir Starmer told jubilant Scottish Labour activists that they “blew the doors off” with the party’s overwhelming victory in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West byelection. The party leader said the result was “not just about a couple of months of turmoil but years and years of non-delivery” on the part of Holyrood’s SNP government.

    Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said the party’s upcoming conference will be “policy rich”. Speaking to GB News, he said: “You’ll see a policy rich conference and one that will make clear that as the country wants change, the only people who can deliver that change are the Labour party.”

    Rishi Sunak failed to defend Suella Braverman’s remarks that a “hurricane” of illegal migrants is coming our way. Speaking to ITV’s This Morning, he was asked if he was embarrassed or ashamed when he heard Braverman talk. He said: “If you just take a step back, what do I think we all agree on? We all agree that Britain is an incredibly welcoming place.

    Support for Scottish independence still remains strong despite the drop in support for the SNP, according to new findings released by the Tony Blair Institute. Polling carried out by the institute found that 45% of respondents would vote yes in a new independence referendum, compared with 41% who would vote no, a four-point lead for independence.

    Buses are to be brought back into public ownership in Liverpool, making it the second area outside London to regain control of its network. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority voted on Friday to adopt a franchising model. The mayor, Steve Rotherham, said it “marks the start of a new era for public transport in our area – we’re taking back control of our buses”.

  87. says

    Good news, as summarized by Steve Benen from an NBC News article:

    The fight over Alabama’s district map appears to have come to an end, following a lengthy legal fight. Roughly 24 hours ago, a federal court formally approved a new map, which gives greater representation to the state’s Black voters.

  88. says

    In response to Donald Trump’s indictment in the elections case, his lawyers are pointing to the Senate impeachment trial. That’s not a good idea.

    After Donald Trump was indicted over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, there was never a question about whether the former president and his lawyers would offer a robust defense. Rather, the question was what they might say about Trump’s actions.

    As NBC News reported, the answer is coming into focus.

    Former President Donald Trump argued Thursday in a court filing that he should be shielded from prosecution in the 2020 election interference case because of presidential immunity, claiming his efforts to overturn his election loss and remain in the White House were at “the heart of his official responsibilities as President.”

    Trump’s actions “are within the ambit of his office, and he is absolutely immune from prosecution,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the court filing.

    To be sure, the pitch is likely to be a tough sell in court. An American president’s official duties are broad, but they arguably don’t include efforts to overturn election results.

    But there was another element to the court filing that struck me as notable. From an Associated Press report:

    Trump’s lawyers also argue his 2021 impeachment trial acquittal bars his prosecution, saying the Constitution suggests presidents can only be criminally charged in cases where they are impeached and convicted by the Senate.

    “President Trump was acquitted of these charges after trial in the Senate, and he thus remains immune from prosecution. The Special Counsel cannot second-guess the judgment of the duly elected United States Senate,” his lawyers wrote.

    So let me get this straight. Trump was impeached by a bipartisan majority in the House. His case went to the Senate, where a bipartisan majority voted to convict. [They needed more than a majority, they needed 60 votes.] One Senate Republican conceded, independent of the political impeachment process, that she believed Trump’s actions were “unlawful.”

    Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, after the Senate “trial,” delivered remarks on the chamber floor about Trump’s legal liabilities. “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen,” McConnell said, adding, “He didn’t get away with anything yet — yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

    Trump’s lawyers nevertheless expect a criminal case to be scrapped in part because of “the judgment of the duly elected United States Senate”?

    If the former president and his defense counsel expect this to work, they might want to lower their expectations.

  89. says

    Good news.

    Job growth in the United States is so strong right now that Republican leaders will have to keep pretending not to notice the good news.

    Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 170,000 new jobs having been added in the United States in September. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market far exceeded those projections. CNBC reported:

    Job growth was stronger than expected in September, a sign that the U.S. economy is hanging tough despite higher interest rates, labor strife and dysfunction in Washington. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 336,000 for the month, better than the Dow Jones consensus estimate for 170,000, the Labor Department said Friday in a much-anticipated report.

    The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%.

    As for overall job growth, with revisions from July and August factored in, we’ve now seen roughly 2.34 million jobs created so far this year — and that’s after just nine months, not the entire calendar year.

    As for the politics, let’s circle back to previous coverage to put the data in perspective. Over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency — when the Republican said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.35 million jobs, spanning all of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

    According to the latest tally, the U.S. economy has created roughly 14.4 million jobs since January 2021 — more than double the combined total of Trump’s first three years.

    In recent months, Republicans have responded to developments like these by pretending not to notice them. GOP officials kept the trend going last week.

    For some additional context, consider job growth by year over the past decade:

    2013: 2.3 million

    2014: 3 million

    2015: 2.7 million

    2016: 2.3 million

    2017: 2.1 million

    2018: 2.3 million

    2019: 2 million

    2020: -9.3 million

    2021: 7.3 million

    2022: 4.8 million

    2023 (so far): 2.3 million

  90. says

    Good news.

    Gen. Milley: Biden is ‘sound, does his homework.’ People can ‘rest easy’

    Fresh off sounding a thinly veiled warning about Donald Trump, retired Gen. Mark Milley, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared on “60 Minutes.” CBS’ Norah O’Donnell asked him directly about President Joe Biden’s age, which has been the subject of both Republican attacks and obsessive media coverage. Milley said he didn’t want to get into the politics of it before giving a very positive assessment of Biden’s mental acuity.

    “I engage with him frequently and [he’s] alert, sound, does his homework, reads the papers, reads all the read-ahead material. And he’s very, very engaging in issues of very serious matters of war and peace and life and death,” Milley said. “So if the American people are worried about an individual who is, you know, someone who’s making decisions of war and peace and has access to, you know, makes the decisions of nuclear weapons and that sort of thing, I think they can rest easy.”

    [video at the link]

    Here’s what Milley had to say in his retirement speech last week, following reports of his repeated clashes with Trump over things like war crimes: “We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king or queen, or a tyrant, or a dictator. And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator. We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution and we take an oath to the idea that this is America and we’re willing to die to protect it.”

    No, he didn’t name Trump as the wannabe dictator, but his meaning wasn’t hard to discern. By contrast, Milley didn’t feel a need to offer a warning about Biden. […]

  91. says

    Right-wing groups target asylum-seekers on Staten Island

    “America First” anti-immigrant extremists on Staten Island have been targeting families seeking asylum using tactics that include street protests, legal action, and harassment that verges on torture. With the help of a Newsmax pundit and vigilante group Guardian Angels, hundreds of protestors have been showing up to make sure that families and women housed at two locations are the subjects of threats, violence, and a thicket of ugly conspiracy theories.

    Between 100 and 300 asylum-seekers were sent to the former site of St. John Villa Academy, a private Roman Catholic school that closed in 2018. Around 15 families are currently being housed in the Island Shores Senior Center, which is owned by an organization that seeks housing for the homeless. Staten Island’s shelters hold only about 2% of the asylum-seekers sheltered by the five boroughs of New York City.

    But if Republican-friendly Staten Island isn’t pulling its weight in housing asylum-seekers, the borough is doing everything it can to make these would-be Americans feel unwelcome. That includes blaring music, speeches, and loudspeakers at all hours, and flashing strobe lights into windows to make it impossible to sleep.

    To be clear, the asylum-seekers being housed by New York City are by no means in the United States illegally. These are largely people who applied at the border for asylum, many of them seeking protection from authoritarian governments or criminal gangs. They are waiting for their applications to become asylees to be processed. When a person is granted asylum, they can remain in the United States without fear of deportation, and can seek to become permanent residents or citizens. Around 110,000 asylum-seekers have been housed in New York City over the last 18 months. Of these, roughly 51,000 have had their cases decided, while another 59,000 remain housed within the city. The speed of application review is hampered by a shortage of immigration judges, which was caused by mostly intentional neglect of the system during Donald Trump’s term in the White House.

    As reported by Vice, protests in Staten Island have been led by a former bitcoin bro and current Newsmax pundit named Johnny Tabacco. Vice reports that the right-wing commentator’s PA system was so loud it left the reporter’s ears ringing for hours after a visit to the St. John site. According to The New York Times, that PA system registered at 117 decibels. That’s about the equivalent of being on the runway 200 feet from a jet taking off, or having a loud dog bark directly into your ear. Tabacco is using all that volume to send a message of “you’re not welcome here”—a declaration that seems in utter contrast with the words written on the Statue of Liberty, less than 2 miles from Staten Island’s shore.

    Tabacco has aided in organizing the protests by Republican vigilante leader and failed mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa. In addition to reportedly pushing a plan that would not just break Staten Island off from the rest of New York City but also turn it into its own state, Sliwa has also called for moving all migrants to Rikers Island, home to New York City’s largest jail.

    According to Sliwa, “[T]he battleground, the Alamo, is right here, at St. John’s Villa Academy.” Similar rhetoric was provided by Tabacco, who said, “This is the hill I want to die on. Because if we break here, we break everywhere.” The violent rhetoric was reportedly welcomed by the protesters.

    [JFC. Those people are having way too much fun being nasty and rude.]

    […] Tabacco saying that he is willing to die for this fight doesn’t mean he’s in any danger at all. It really means he’s eager to bring misery to others. That includes protestors strobing lights into windows and screaming out such cheerful neighborhood greetings as, “You’re illegal,” “You’re not welcome,” and the old standby, “Fuck you.”

    If St. John’s is the Alamo, the defenders are the small number of migrant women inside.

    Members of the protest group—some, according to the Times, wearing shirts with pictures of Trump—have spread rumors that women at St. John’s are prostitutes, or that they are not really women at all but “military-aged men.” The migrants have been blamed, with no evidence, for a statistical increase in car thefts and burglaries on Staten Island—which would be quite an accomplishment for people who just arrived in an unfamiliar setting. A small group of anti-immigrant protesters was arrested after they blocked a bus, and one in the group allegedly assaulted a police officer, but their own violence seems to be the only real disturbance in the neighborhood.

    Mostly, the protesters believe that the people asking to enter the country are “other.” Untrustworthy. Unsafe. “These people, they’re gonna turn on us,” one of the protesters told Vice. “Because that’s their MO. That’s what they do. They’re gonna turn on us and they’re gonna take over.” A girl’s school across from St. John’s reportedly put up a huge fence to protect girls from the migrants, without any evidence that violence had occurred.

    With people like Tabacco and Sliwa to stoke their paranoia and fear, protesters are being encouraged into levels of harassment that leave a small number of migrants, housed legally in New York, to feel—justifiably—as if they are under siege. That message of being unwelcome is definitely coming through.

    Last week, a Staten Island judge sided with Borough President Vito Fossella, who sought to close the shelters on the island. However, the city is expected to appeal this decision.

    Most New Yorkers believe migrants in their city are there seeking a “better life,” with a majority of New Yorkers also supporting expedited work authorizations in spite of immigration status.

  92. tomh says

    Re: #110
    Trump’s lawyers don’t expect the filing to be successful, but it could be a very effective delaying tactic. Most issues in a trial are not appealable until after the trial is over, but immunity is a special case. By claiming immunity, when they are turned down they can appeal immediately which could delay the trial for many months, even long after the March date that has been set. This is the goal.

  93. says

    Daily Kos is getting sued by a wealthy anti-vaxxer and now presidential candidate. This suit is getting expensive.

    Thank you for your support of Daily Kos. We would be nowhere without our community. That’s why we strongly believe it is essential that Daily Kos make every effort to protect the anonymity of all of its users, protecting them from adverse treatment, shielding them from any adverse treatment or physical harm.

    Daily Kos has been fighting a lawsuit filed by prominent anti-vaxxer, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to unmask a user who wrote a story critical of Kennedy’s attendance at a rally in Berlin that was organized, promoted and attended by neo-Nazis. It should be noted that Kennedy is not suing New York Times, CBS and other media outlets that published similar stories. Kennedy is siccing his lawyers on Daily Kos because we are a smaller, independent news and activism hub who he thinks he can intimidate. Simply put, Kennedy is trying to bully us.

    We need your help to protect our community and defend ourselves. Lawsuits like these are expensive to deal with. Half of our revenue comes from thousands of grassroots supporters chipping in a few dollars at a time.

    A request for donations follows. You can find this text and the donation request by scrolling down at the link provided in comment 113.

  94. says

    […] The judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case has set special hearings for Donald Trump’s two co-defendants—but could now be facing an appeal over the lack of written reasons for holding the hearings.

    […] Basically, Jack Smith doesn’t want to lose this case based upon a violation of Nauta’s Sixth Amendment rights. Gotcha. And the judge is supposed to explain to Nauta, “Your lawyer has a conflict. Do you want another lawyer?”

    There is just one little problem with this scheduled hearing. From what I can tell, judges are supposed to put in writing WHAT THE HEARING IS ABOUT! Makes sense to me.

    Too bad Judge Aileen Cannon has NOT done this! And according to legal analysts, this is a big basic legal No No. And this violation of the basics of a Garcia hearing is appealable to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Worse, this comes almost one year from the last time that the 11th Circuit smacked Cannon around for her attempt to appoint a special master to review all the classified documents in this case.

    […] lecturer and former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance said that Cannon could be facing similar criticism for her lack of reasoning in the conflict of interest case.

    “She hasn’t even bothered to draft a written opinion to clarify her thinking, at least so far. She may face a similar fate with the Court of Appeals this year if prosecutors take another appeal to Atlanta,” Vance wrote.

    Peter M. Shane, adjunct professor of law at New York University, told Newsweek that Cannon does not have enough trial experience to handle a case of this magnitude.

    “Cannon’s initial rulings were so egregiously wrong that they raised some reasonable doubts as to her impartiality. But I am equally troubled that one of the most potentially consequential criminal trials in U.S. history is in the hands of a federal judge with just a handful of criminal trials under her belt, so to speak, none of them especially complex,’ he said.

    “I wouldn’t want to enter the final rounds of the Great British Baking Show if my experience was limited to successfully toasting Pop Tarts. But the statute on disqualification does not mention inexperience as a basis for removal,” Shane added.

    The article goes on to point out if there is another appeal to the 11th Circuit over this issue, the government has every right to ask that the case be assigned to another judge. The argument could be made that Cannon is not only biased but she is also just not qualified to handle this type of case. And given her previous track record, it’s not hard a difficult argument to make.


    Aside from displays of incompetence, I note that Judge Aileen Cannon is causing delays. Bit by bit, she is delaying the process. Also, even if unwittingly(?), she is setting up reasons for Trump, Nauta and other defendants to appeal rulings.

  95. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tropical Wind and Rainstorm Philippe to smack northern New England, Atlantic Canada

    Philippe is transitioning to more of a winter-style storm, but it will pack a powerful punch as it strikes in the zone from Maine to New Brunswick and southern Nova Scotia this weekend, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. The potent tropical wind and rainstorm will unleash flash flooding, high winds and coastal flooding as it rolls northwestward toward the region this weekend…

  96. says

    […] Kevin McCarthy spent the year offending, alienating, and ignoring the Democratic conference. Arguing that Democratic members failed to “put the country first” by voting their conscience, and opposing a failed and ineffective congressional leader, is unpersuasive.

    The exchange was nevertheless interesting, however, because it raised some related questions. To hear Lawler tell it, Democrats interested in putting “people over politics” and putting “the country first” could’ve simply held their noses and supported a speaker they disagreed with. This would’ve prevented chaos on Capitol Hill, and offered a degree of stability in a Congress that needs it.

    But the inverse is also true: Republicans interested in putting “people over politics” and putting “the country first” could also support a speaker they disagree with — someone like Hakeem Jeffries. This also would prevent chaos on Capitol Hill, and offer a degree of stability in a Congress that needs it.

    For all of the unnecessary chatter in GOP circles this week about why Democrats are to blame for Republicans’ own exercise, the fact remains that there’s little practical difference between asking Democrats to support McCarthy and asking Republicans to support Jeffries. [True.]

    The National Republican Congressional Committee labeled House Democrats “the Chaos Caucus” [LOL, who caused the “chaos”? Republicans.] yesterday for voting against McCarthy earlier in the week. But there’s nothing stopping Republicans — really, just a handful of them — from ending the “chaos” and helping elect a Democratic speaker.

    If that’s a bridge too far — and I think we all know that it is — those same Republicans could consider a different kind of creative solution. The New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg wrote in her latest column:

    However the race shakes out, we can be fairly sure that the House will be a mess for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to see how, amid all this turmoil, the chamber passes more Ukraine aid, a red line for some on the right, or keeps the government open when the funding bill that led to McCarthy’s overthrow runs out shortly before Thanksgiving. That is, unless a handful of so-called moderate Republicans decide to show a bit of statesmanship and team up with Democrats to elect a unity candidate.

    Throughout the current Congress, there’s been intense focus on the House’s far-right extremists — what they’ll tolerate, what they’re demanding, how they’ll punish GOP leaders who disappoint them, how they’ll exploit their power and leverage, etc. But there are 18 House Republicans from districts that supported the Democratic presidential ticket in 2020, and they have power and leverage, too.

    Or at least they would if they tried to leverage their numbers with some demands of their own.

    The GOP members from competitive districts could very easily reach out to Democratic leaders about a post-McCarthy agreement that would lead to a mainstream Republican speaker.

    Indeed, Jeffries has effectively rolled out the welcome mat. In a newly published Washington Post op-ed, the House minority leader invites “more traditional Republicans” to “enter into a bipartisan governing coalition” that would “end the chaos.” Jeffries concluded:

    House Democrats remain committed to a bipartisan path forward, as we have repeatedly demonstrated throughout this Congress by providing a majority of the votes to prevent a government shutdown this month and avoid a catastrophic default on America’s debt in June. At this point, we simply need Republican partners willing to break with MAGA extremism, reform the highly partisan House rules that were adopted at the beginning of this Congress and join us in finding common ground for the people.

    Is it realistic to think there could be some kind of bipartisan deal? Probably not. But members of the GOP majority have some creative options, and Democratic leaders appear to be waiting by the phone.


  97. says

    Speaker race disarray deepens with Fox News fiasco

    Ousting former Speaker Kevin McCarthy has accomplished what Rep. Matt Gaetz, co-conspirator Steve Bannon, and their House confederates likely intended when Gaetz kicked this off: deepening the divisions among Republicans and creating more chaos. Toss in Donald Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Jim Jordan as the next speaker, and things were getting lit.

    Then Fox News stepped in, scheduling a nationally televised event next Monday evening with speaker candidates Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise (and Kevin Hern, if he decides to run). Fox News […] characterized the event as a “joint interview” rather than a debate. Whatever it’s called, House Republicans are pissed about it. They’re not just pissed—they’re “infuriated.” [Tweets at the link]

    The GOP conference is scheduled to have its own forum on Tuesday, and Republicans are not at all happy that this “circus” is going to happen before their private meeting—and that the candidates agreed to it. “If both of them thought this was a good idea, then maybe they don’t have a pulse of the conference. I’m having serious problems,” Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida told CNN.

    That pushback created more disarray. Jordan decided he had to try to reschedule either the GOP conference or the televised debate […] Scalise then put out the word that he wasn’t going to participate in the Fox News debate at all. So either the whole Republican conference has to change their weekend plans to be able to meet before Monday evening, or Fox News has to reschedule the event or cancel it altogether.

    Meanwhile, Jordan is trying to convince fellow Republicans that he’s the guy who can “tell the country what we’re doing.” That’s going well so far.

    While Jordan is scrambling to fix this Fox mess, Scalise is prepping to make his “I’m not dead yet” case. He appeared on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning, and said that his treatment for blood cancer is going “phenomenally well” and that he’s healthy as a horse, or something. “If the doctors didn’t sign off, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “They say you’re ready to go back in the fight. Look, I’ve been through tougher fights.” He has to make that case for himself because ghouls like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Gaetz keep bringing it up, and because “fresh blood” is one of the talking points that parts of the conference have been parroting.

    While all that is going on, Republicans are also starting to squabble over some major rules changes. One, championed by the unlikely duo of “Problem Solver” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Freedom Caucus member Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, could delay the vote for speaker indefinitely. They want to temporarily change the GOP conference rules to ensure that their nominee has 218 votes within the conference before going to the floor for the speaker election. Republicans currently have 221 members in the House, and approximately 20 of them are nihilists. This could be a big fight.

    Another group is trying to change the rules again on the motion to vacate, the procedure Gaetz triggered that led to McCarthy’s ouster. One part of the deal that McCarthy made back in January when desperately gathering the votes to become speaker was that just one House member could bring a motion to vacate. He agreed to take himself hostage with that one, and lost. Now McCarthy allies, including Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, want to change it. Graves says that many “great people that are in this conference … have said, ‘Hell no, I wouldn’t even consider that job, because it’s going to be a complete failure.’ And so that needs to be addressed.”

    Changing that rule also needs 218 votes. According to Politico, Jordan has already said that he won’t advocate for the rule change unless 218 Republicans in the conference agree to do it, because he won’t go to Democrats for votes. Not that they’d be inclined to help save the next GOP speaker, anyway.

    All this infighting and confusion could mean that there is no election for speaker next week. The plan was a conference Tuesday and floor votes Wednesday. Even without the Fox News confusion, that was ambitious. Now it looks increasingly unlikely.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that the country if facing yet another government shutdown on November 17, and that Ukraine funding hasn’t been finalized, etc., I would find this entire Republican farce funny. Bitter laughter, I guess.

  98. says

    “X” Axed Headlines. That Sucks For Accessibility.

    Yet again, X, the social media firm formerly known as Twitter, has gone through an abrupt design change. As of Wednesday, users can no longer see headlines to links shared on the platform. While it’s a blow to news sites, the change also hampers the site’s accessibility to screen readers, software that people who are blind or have low vision use to read text and other features of web pages.

    Alexa Heinrich, creator of resource and education hub Accessible Social, says Musk’s latest update “further proves that the platform does not prioritize accessibility anymore.”

    Now, when a screen-reader user encounters a link, “all their device says…is ‘link, image,’” Heinrich explains. That lack of descriptive information, she says, is “horrible for accessibility and user experience in general.”

    […] As Kate Knibbs wrote for Wired at the time, “there may be no one left to ensure the site complies with laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Since then, the platform has made a series of drastic changes that slashed accessibility. The decision to charge a lot of money to operate Twitter-based apps meant the end of multiple services that helped disabled people use the platform, such as bots that created alt-text descriptions or captioned videos.

    […] In the meantime, developer Matt Eason has shared tips on keeping content accessible to those using screen readers: [Tweet and video at the link: The link/image can’t be tabbed to with the keyboard, and it’s been totally hidden from screen readers. Here’s how to make your links accessible until it’s fixed (thread)]

  99. says

    Okay then … one less act in the circus.

    Televised Fox News Speaker forum called off after candidates pull out

    Plans for a televised Fox News forum with three contenders for House Speaker fell apart soon after they were announced.

    Host Bret Baier was slated to have House Majority Leader Scalise (R-La.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) for a Monday event that Fox News billed as a “joint interview” rather than a debate.

    But the unusual move — nationalizing an internal GOP conference decision — prompted backlash from GOP members, and changes to the plans.

    A spokesperson for Jordan first said he wanted to adjust the schedule so that the candidates talk to the GOP conference first. The conference is scheduled to host a closed-door forum Tuesday.

    “Mr. Jordan is always happy to share his plan for the country, but he believes it is crucial to meet with the GOP conference before the event,” a spokesperson for the Ohio lawmaker said in a statement first shared with CNN.

    Then, Hern publicly pulled out.

    “I still haven’t made a decision on my candidacy for speaker, but I know one thing for sure. I will not be participating in the televised debate,” Hern wrote on X, formerly Twitter, hours after the event was announced. “We need to make this decision as a conference, not on TV. The Republican conference needs a family discussion.”

    Scalise then also decided to not participate in the scheduled debate, a source confirmed. […]

    Hmmm. Interesting. For once these doofuses don’t want to be seen on Fox News.

  100. says

    Followup to SC in comment 108.

    Narges Mohammadi, Iranian Rights Activist, Receives Nobel Peace Prize.

    New York Times link

    Ms. Mohammadi, currently held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, has pushed for peaceful change in Iran for 30 years, with a focus on women’s equality.

    Narges Mohammadi, Iran’s most prominent human rights activist and an inmate in the country’s notorious Evin Prison, was awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, in an effort by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to support women’s rights in Iran.

    Ms. Mohammadi, 51, has spent most of the last decade in and out of prison, charged with “spreading anti-state propaganda,” and she is currently serving a 10-year sentence — part of Iran’s long campaign to silence and punish her for her activism.

    But even from inside prison, where she has suffered severe health problems, including a heart attack, she has remained one of the most outspoken critics of Iran’s government.

    In response to a major uprising, led by women, that rocked Iran last year after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old, died in the custody of the country’s morality police, she has organized prison protests, written opinion pieces and led weekly workshops for female inmates about their rights.

    By evening on Friday, Ms. Mohammadi had not yet been able to call her family or friends to discuss the prize. In a statement that her family released on her behalf in case she won the award, she vowed to stay in Iran even if that meant spending the rest of her life in captivity.

    “Standing alongside the brave mothers of Iran,” she said, “I will continue to fight against the relentless discrimination, tyranny and gender-based oppression by the oppressive religious government until the liberation of women.”

    She gave a written statement to The New York Times on Thursday from Evin Prison in Tehran, where hundreds of political prisoners and dissidents are held.

    “I also hope this recognition makes Iranians protesting for change stronger and more organized,” she said. “Victory is near.”

    The Nobel committee said this year’s prize additionally recognized the hundreds of thousands of people who have “demonstrated against Iran’s theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women.”

    But it singled out Ms. Mohammadi specifically. “Her struggle has come at tremendous personal cost,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, who leads the committee.

    “She supports women’s struggle for the right to live full and dignified lives,” she added. “This struggle, across Iran, has been met with persecution, imprisonment, torture and even death.”

    The Iranian authorities did not react publicly to the news of Ms. Mohammadi’s award by nightfall in Tehran. State-affiliated media and analysts close to the government dismissed the prize, calling it a Western plot to stir further unrest.

    But her family, human rights activists and others celebrated, many from abroad. “We want the voice of the Iranian people to be amplified from the inside,” said Taghi Rahmani, her husband and a prominent political activist who now lives in Paris.

    “Narges Mohammadi epitomizes the bravery of Iranian women who defy government repression to insist on their rights,” said Kenneth Roth, who was the executive director of Human Rights Watch for two decades before leaving last year. “She even treats prison as an opportunity to document and publicize that repression.” […]

    More at the link.

  101. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #118…
    That’s like the old joke about the doctor, the engineer, and the lawyer arguing over which profession is the oldest. The doctor points to God making Eve from Adam’s rib, clearly a surgical procedure. The engineer points to the creation of the world out of chaos, clearly an engineering effort. The lawyer says, “Where do you think the chaos came from?”

  102. says

    From Mad in America:

    “Psychedelics: The Mirage of a Mental Health Revolution?”:

    Psychedelics, those mind-altering substances often touted as the vanguard in treating mental health challenges, are not the panacea they’ve been portrayed as, according to a new study. Instead, they may be propping up the very societal structures that contribute to widespread mental distress.

    The research, led by James Davies, Brian A. Pace, and Neşe Devenot and published in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies, explores how the burgeoning field of psychedelic-assisted therapy (P-AT) is entangled with the neoliberal paradigms that underpin much of psychiatric research and medical practice.

    For years, advocates of psychedelic medicine have positioned these substances as revolutionary — a silver bullet that would free individuals from debilitating mental ruts. But, the researchers argue the commercial industry built around psychedelics is reproducing the profit-driven approaches that have previously led to questionable clinical outcomes in psychiatric medications like SSRIs.

    We present evidence that the liberatory rhetoric of psychedelic medicalization promotes neoliberal, individualised treatments for distress, which distracts from collective efforts to address root causes of suffering through systemic change.,” the authors write. They further illustrated how the discourse around psychedelic medicalization “subjects socially-determined distress to psychotropic intervention through mechanisms such as depoliticization, commodification, and de-collectivization.

    “Global Psychiatry’s Attempt to Excommunicate the Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health”:

    Between 2014 and 2020, the UN published three reports on mental health, prepared by the special rapporteur on the right to health (Dainius Puras). These called for a radical change in the practice and organization of mental health care across the world. The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights declared the work “groundbreaking”:…

    Our new study “Conflict and Antagonism in Global Psychiatry,” published in Sociology of Health and Illness, systematically examines more formal responses to the report. The responses we examined tended to be in the form of open letters addressed to the UN High Commissioner or to Puras directly, unsolicited. Using discourse analysis—a method of analyzing strategies used in texts to assert or claim power—our study shows how psychiatric organisations attempted to undermine the special rapporteur and his detailed country-based inspections which led to his call for a radical change towards rights-based care in mental health….

  103. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    Kyiv Independent – “This Week in Ukraine Ep. 28 – Why Ukraine has a problem with Elon Musk”:

    Episode #28 is dedicated to Elon Musk and his stained reputation in Ukraine.

    Host Anastasiia Lapatina is joined by the Kyiv Independent TikTok producer Masha Lavrova [cute sweater!].

    Citations Needed – “Ep 189: PragerU, the ‘Product Of His Time’ Defense and the White Guilt Amelioration Industrial Complex”:

    “Hitler was a product of his time,” historian Kent Gardner told us in 1975, just thirty years after the end of World War II. “Was Frank Rizzo racist, or just a product of his time?” The Philadelphia Inquirer pondered in 2017 about the city’s notoriously racist former police commissioner and mayor just 26 years after his death. “Christopher Columbus, no saint, was product of his time,” explained a 2013 commentary in the Staten Island Advance.

    We often hear this sentiment in reference to historical atrocities. Slaveowners, colonizers, genocidal tyrants, and right-wing bigots from decades or centuries past didn’t know any better. They were simply responding to the time and place in which they lived — a different time, marked by different social mores, moral standards, and laws.

    While it’s perhaps fair to cite this cliche to explain, rather than justify, awkward song lyrics or offensive language and stereotypes used in movies from decades ago. But it’s an entirely different issue with respect to how we venerate and remember the past. Especially since, in the most popular cases, famous people’s bad actions were roundly criticized, at the time.

    Long popular as a catch-all to hand-wave away the misdeeds of slaveowners, colonizers and war mongers, Increasingly educational movements on the American right––from Ron DeSantis trying to remake history education to conservative propaganda targeting kids like PragerU — this “product of its time” cliché and its close cousin “don’t judge the past by the standards of today” is making a bit of comeback, if it ever went away at all.

    The defensive, superficially appealing cliche is a popular go-to for those who think we shouldn’t criticize the supposedly sacrosanct secular deities of our past — from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. But the whole concept operates under a glaring double standard: how can we take pride in and venerate the supposedly good things Americans in history did but ignore and dismiss the bad things? How can we pick and choose our moral inheritance at will? How does the need for us to downplay slavery, colonization, and Jim Crow continue to be such a strong political force? And whose interests does this down-playing serve in 2023?

    On this episode, we dissect the notion that the reactionary forces of history have just been “products of their time.” We’ll explore the ways in which this and related concepts are not only inaccurate, but also convenient instruments of right-wing historical revisionism, and how the need to make people feel good about our civic mythology makes for bad history, and even worse politics.

    Our guest is historian and museum educator Erin Bartram.

    99% Invisible – “Devil in the Details”:

    In 1994, an independent producer made a short, earnest video featuring an eccentric cast of characters who were focused on a very specific paranoia. The tape was made to look like a TV news special. It opens with a cheap, Jerry Springer-era computer graphic of a gold pentagram set against a red brick wall. The video was called Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults.

    Sometimes, associations with the devil appear in the smallest details. Ones you have to look carefully in old road atlases to find. Reporter Austin Cope has this story: “There’s a highway near where I grew up about half an hour’s drive from the New Mexico border. It runs through some of the more remote parts of the U.S. – northern New Mexico, southern Utah, and my own hometown of Cortez, in southwestern Colorado. Along the route, smooth tan sandstone cliffs and jagged brown volcanic rock formations rise up over the high desert. Hot sun and giant thunderclouds fill the sky in summer. Cold winds and dust storms blow over it in the winter and spring. The highway was called… US Route 666. Some locals called it triple six or the highway to hell. But most people I knew talked about it like a novelty. We had the “devil’s highway” running through our town.”

  104. Reginald Selkirk says

    Malaria Comes to Arkansas: State Reports First Locally Acquired Case

    One of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases is encroaching further into the U.S. This week, health officials in Arkansas reported a locally acquired case of malaria, the first ever documented in the state. At least three other states have reported local cases of the mosquito-borne infection this year, though the overall risk of malaria to the public remains low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

  105. says

    Some more podcast episodes – these are all YT links to The Daily:

    “The Sunday Read: ‘The Fight for the Right to Trespass’”:

    The signs on the gate at the entrance to the path and along the edge of the reservoir were clear. “No swimming,” they warned, white letters on a red background.

    On a chill mid-April day in northwest England, with low, gray clouds and rain in the forecast, the signs hardly seemed necessary. But then people began arriving, by the dozens and then the hundreds. Some walked only from nearby Hayfield, while others came by train or bus or foot from many hours away. In a long, trailing line, they tramped up the hill beside the dam and around the shore of the reservoir, slipping in mud and jumping over puddles.

    Down on the shore, giggling and shrieking people picked their way across slippery rocks. Then, with a great deal of cheering and splashing, they took to the water en masse, fanning out in all directions. Some carried a large banner that read, “The Right to Swim.”

    More rounds of cheers went up as new waves of swimmers splashed into the water. An older woman wearing a pink floral swimsuit paused on the shore to turn to the crowd still on land. “Don’t be beaten down!” she shouted, raising a fist above her flower-bedecked bathing cap. “Rebel!” Then she, too, flopped into the lake.

    The group of rebellious swimmers were trespassing for a cause: the uncontested right to walk, camp, cycle, swim, canoe and perform any other form of nonmotorized exploration throughout the country, also known as the “right to roam.”

    “Amazon’s Most Beloved Features May Turn Out to Be Illegal”:

    The U.S. government has filed a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, pointing to a set of familiar features that have made, the internet retail giant so beloved by consumers.

    Karen Weise, a technology correspondent for The Times, explains why those features may actually be illegal.

    “The Mosquitoes Are Winning”:

    For decades, the world seemed to be winning the war against mosquitoes [hate this framing] and tamping down the deadly diseases they carried. But in the past few years, progress has not only stalled, it has reversed.

    Stephanie Nolen, who covers global health for The Times, explains how the mosquito has once again gained the upper hand in the fight….

  106. whheydt says

    Re: SC (Salty Current) @ #127, re:right to roam…
    Iceland has a near universal right to roam. This came up quite a bit during the volcanic eruptions of the last couple of years that took place on private land, but within easy distance and access of the capital and largest city in the country. Compare and contrast to the access restrictions around recent eruptions of Kilauea.

  107. says

    whheydt @123, LOL.

    SC @124, I am really tired of seeing profit-making ventures being elevated to Priority One! status in health care.

    SC @125, I wanted repeat a few excerpts from the text you posted, just for emphasis: “famous people’s bad actions were roundly criticized, at the time” [True!] “how can we take pride in and venerate the supposedly good things Americans in history did but ignore and dismiss the bad things? [Well said] “the need to make people feel good about our civic mythology makes for bad history, and even worse politics. [Yes]

    Also SC @125, I thought US Route 666 was in Pennsylvania, and that the more well-known US Route 66 was in northern New Mexico, southern Utah, and in southwestern Colorado.

  108. says

    Detroit Free Press:

    UAW President Shawn Fain on Friday declared a “transformative win” with General Motors after the automaker agreed earlier in the day to include its battery plant workers in the union’s national labor agreement, thereby avoiding an expansion of the union’s strike to one of GM’s critical assembly plants.

    NBC News:

    The United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three U.S. automakers continues, but union President Shawn Fain said Friday that the labor stoppage isn’t expanding as the walkout closes out its third week.

  109. says

    New York Times:

    The Swedish defense ministry said on Friday it could contribute its Gripen warplanes to a Western coalition that is trying to speed fighter jets to Ukraine — but only after Sweden is allowed into NATO.

  110. says

    NBC News:

    Former President Donald Trump on Thursday unexpectedly dismissed a $500 million lawsuit against his former lawyer Michael Cohen while vowing to revisit it later. In a two-page document filed in federal court in Miami, an attorney for the former president said Trump was “voluntarily dismissing” the lawsuit, which alleged breaches of attorney-client privilege.

    As Steve Benen noted, Trump dropped the lawsuit just in time to avoid a deposition. [wry smile]

  111. Reginald Selkirk says

    Who is dying from COVID now? This group represented 90% of deaths

    As the United States emerges from another summer COVID-19 wave, authorities have a clearer picture of who the coronavirus has affected most in the fourth year of the pandemic.

    A study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reveals that older adults — those 65 and above — accounted for 63% of all COVID-related hospitalizations recorded from January to August, even as admissions declined for nearly all other age groups over the same period.

    Only 24% of those hospitalized this year were up to date on their coronavirus vaccinations, and the vast majority had two or more underlying health conditions. The 65 and older age group also constituted 61% of intensive care unit admissions and nearly 90% of COVID-19-related deaths…

    Old and unvaccinated? Sounds like Republicans.

  112. says

    The Daily Beast:

    Fox News host Greg Gutfeld, supposedly the right-wing network’s resident comedian, dove into extremely dark and violent territory on Thursday, seemingly urging for a new American civil war because “elections don’t work” and the nation is in “peril and chaos.”

    Gutfeld, and Fox News in general, is trying to foment violence, a form of chaos that they hope would be to Trump’s advantage. Gutfeld is promoting civil war.

  113. says

    Judge To Trump: Explain Why You Think The Law Doesn’t Apply To You

    President [Stop calling him “President”! JFC. He does not deserve that honor.] Trump won several more weeks to file some motions in his D.C. election interference case, but the March 2024 trial date will remain the same, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

    U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for the District of Columbia gave Trump one more month to file motions concerning subpoenas, and two more weeks to file motions to dismiss and other pre-trial motions. Those were initially due by Monday; now they must be filed by Oct. 23.

    It’s a moderate win for Trump, who had asked for a 60-day delay. But it does nothing to postpone the trial date — a goal he has sought both in his D.C. and Florida prosecutions. [Good. At least it does not postpone the trial date.] Trump moved to dismiss the case on Thursday on the basis of one claim: that he’s immune from prosecution because the allegations in the indictment all took place while he was president.

    Separately, Chutkan mostly shut down an attempt from the former President to ask for delays around classified information.

    There isn’t a lot of it in the D.C. case, but Trump’s attorneys had suggested that their lack of access — and lack of security clearances — should be cause to further delay proceedings.

    Chutkan called their bluff earlier this week by ordering the Trump attorneys who had not yet applied for a security clearance to do so.

    But the lawyers had also asked Chutkan for the opportunity to review a motion that prosecutors make in national security cases, which involves describing to the judge what classified information they believe should be allowed to make it to the defense. The defense is not allowed to review this motion because it contains information that, the judge may rule, they’re not allowed to see.

    Trump’s attorneys asked to be able to review a redacted version of that motion and to file “procedural objections.” Chutkan denied the first part of that request, but approved the second half, noting that both the law governing the use of classified material in criminal trials and precedent from the D.C. circuit bars the defense from being able to see the document.

    “Still, the court will allow the defense an opportunity to explain why it believes that CIPA’s statutory text and Circuit precedent do not govern this case,” Chutkan wrote.

    The debate over classified information in the Trump case appears to touch on a vanishingly small amount of documents. Prosecutors said in a filing this week that they don’t plan on introducing classified documents at trial, and that the overall amount is relatively limited by the standards of federal criminal cases: 975 pages in total.

  114. says

    Followup to comment 111.

    Media goes hard on spinning good jobs numbers into bad economic news

    The September jobs report crushed expectations, with the economy gaining 336,000 jobs amid other good news.

    However, multiple major media outlets rushed to explain why the good news was actually bad news. The New York Times ran with, “U.S. Job Growth Surges Past Expectations in Troubling News for the Fed,” and, “The markets are jittery. Here’s why the strong jobs report may not help,” before editing the former headline to: “U.S. Job Growth Surges Past Expectations in a Sign of Unexpected Vigor.”

    CNN went full fearmongering: [Image at the link “Why the shockingly good jobs report is going to cost you.”]

    Why? Two reasons: inflation—even though it has cooled substantially—and the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will try to fight inflation by jump-starting a recession. “Inflation has been falling much faster than wage growth,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould noted. While cooling wage growth in this month’s report should make the Fed less inclined to raise rates, you won’t see that in this CNN analysis about how very scared you should be by the good jobs number.

    Once again, the real media outdoes the parodies:

    You might think that the hundreds of thousands of Americans who were looking for jobs would be happy that they found them. But you would be wrong.

    The economy is complicated, and good news can come alongside bad news. But during Joe Biden’s presidency, the media steadfastly reported the bad news first and foremost every time.

  115. birgerjohansson says

    Considering how artillery is the core of the Russian army, it is interesting that the number of shells fired by the Russians per month keeps dropping while the numbers fired by the Ukrainan army keeps rising.
    On the Russian side, they cannot produce enough shells and the Soviet stock pile is gone. The barrels of the guns need replacing, and this is yet another bottleneck.
    And the radar systems they use for anti-artillery fire keep getting destroyed.
    Thus, they cannot easily protect the towed artillery pieces which are the majority of their artillery.
    Meanwhile Ukraine keep getting mobile artillery that can fire, and quickly move before return fire arrives.

    So even if Ukraine does not make a dramatic breakthrough this fall, they have worn down Russia so much they soon will have parity in artillery.
    This would have been unthinkable in the beginning of the war!

    West European countries have problems keeping up the production of artillery shells, this is where the stockpile of US cluster munitiins really comes in handy.

    Putin will keep throwing in poorly trained cannon fodder ad infinitum (the experienced NCOs needed to train them have been sent to the fighting, where they get ‘used up’ quickly- this is the exact same mistake Göring did with the Luftwaffe flight instructors in 1943 BTW). But he cannot replace the artillery and its ammunition fast enough.
    Without artillery dominance and with an air force that stays away from Ukrainan manpads, there is not really anything Russia can do to get the upper hand. And while the Russian commanders have learned from some mistakes of the first year their logistics are as awful as ever. After Prigorzhin was murdered no senior officers will criticize flaws in the system
    ; this is a guarantee there will be no reforms or improvements of a dysfunctional army.

  116. says

    Appeals court declines to pause Trump’s fraud trial, but halts cancellation of business licenses

    A New York appeals court declined to temporarily pause former President Trump’s civil fraud trial but did halt the cancellation of Trump’s business licenses until after an appeals court hears his case.

    The order follows a Friday motion filed by Trump’s legal team to stay the trial and the enforcement of an earlier ruling issued by the New York Supreme Court that found Trump and his businesses liable for fraud.

    In that 1,154-page court filing, Trump’s legal team wrote that Judge Arthur Engoron’s decision imposed “unauthorized, undemanded, overbroad relief” to the New York attorney general’s office, which will result in “significant, irreparable harm” to the former president and his business.

    “Supreme Court clearly does not comprehend the scope of the chaos its decision has wrought,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing.

    Engoron’s ruling, issued before the trial began, strips some of Trump’s business licenses and orders that an independent monitor continue to oversee the Trump Organization. On Thursday, Engoron also ordered closer scrutiny of Trump’s assets, barring Trump or any other defendants in the sweeping case from transferring any assets or creating a new entity to acquire them without disclosure first.

    Defense attorneys argue in the Friday filing that Engoron had “no rationale or legal authority” to dissolve Trump’s businesses or order additional directives.

    “Supreme Court’s sprawling and punitive relief is both unprecedented in a civil action in this State and indefensible under the law or any reasonable view of the facts,” Trump’s legal team wrote.

    “They also claimed the order would “unquestionably inflict severe and irreparable harm” to “innocent” employees who depend on Trump’s businesses for their livelihoods, suggesting it threatens termination for “hundreds of New York employees without any jurisdiction or due process.”

    Trump attorney Chris Kise informed the court and prosecutors Thursday that the defense would seek a stay of the trial and the summary judgment Engoron had issued.

    Prosecutors objected to Kise’s notice, which they argued was not provided a full 24 hours before, as is required, because it did not describe what type of stay the defendants would be seeking. Kise had argued that the defense had not decided whether to ask for a pause in both the trial and summary judgment, so they should not have to tell prosecutors those details in advance.

    “It’s notice to say that we’re doing something but don’t know what we’re doing yet,” said Andrew Amer, a prosecutor for the New York attorney general’s office.

  117. says

    More than two months after the military seized power in Niger, the U.S. may officially declare the overthrow a coup

    The designation could cut off some military aid to Niger, which might harm the U.S. counterterror effort against ISIS in Africa.

    More than two months after elements of the military seized power in Niger, the Biden administration is close to officially designating the overthrow of the country’s elected government a coup, which could weaken the U.S. counterterror effort in Africa, according to three administration officials familiar with the planning.

    While the administration is still working through the details of how this would change the U.S. relationship with Niger and affect the presence of U.S. diplomats and troops there, the announcement could come in the next week, the officials said.

    An official assessment that the government was overthrown in a military coup would trigger Section 7008 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations Act, a U.S. law that restricts the assistance that the U.S. can provide to a country.

    The U.S. military had more than 1,100 troops at three different bases in Niger before the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was taken hostage in his residence on July 26 by military officials, led by the head of the Presidential Guard, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani.

    Prior to Bazoum’s ouster, U.S. troops trained Nigerien military special forces, supported them in planning for counterterror missions, and provided intelligence and remote support during Nigerien military operations.

    In the days following the takeover, the Pentagon suspended security cooperation between the U.S. military and Nigerien military, halted foreign military sales and paused some foreign assistance programs.

    On Aug. 5, the U.S. halted nearly $200 million in foreign assistance programs to Niger. Officially designating the change in government a coup could suspend hundreds of millions more in assistance, according to a senior U.S. administration official, though some humanitarian and health assistance would be likely to continue.

    A State Department spokesperson did not confirm any impending change. “We don’t have anything to announce. We are continuing to advocate for a diplomatic solution that preserves constitutional order and democracy in Niger.”

    A spokesperson for the National Security Council said the administration is continuing its “diplomatic engagements to preserve civilian rule in Niger. We have also continued assessing our next steps, including making a formal 7008 determination. If we make a determination, we will announce, but at the moment, I have nothing to preview. I’d note that a formal 7008 determination has been something we have considered since the beginning, nothing new and nothing to announce today.”

    Bazoum and members of his family are still being held hostage in Niger, the administration officials said.

    The coup has threatened to derail the U.S. effort to fight Islamist militants in Africa’s volatile Sahel region, where Niger has played a pivotal and reliable role as a partner and hub for counterterrorism efforts in the region. In recent years, Niger has also become a melting pot for various terror networks who have exploited coups and instability in neighboring countries and then crossed into Niger to prey on civilians and military along the borders. […]

  118. tomh says

    Re: Lynna @ #139
    The stock market folks must not be paying much attention to the media as there were solid gains all across the board.

  119. birgerjohansson says

    An Ukrainan sniper seems to be approaching the record once set by the Finn sniper Simo Häyha. But then he has had much longer time to work on it.

  120. says

    Lynna @ #141, here’s an oddly detailed history of the southwestern Route 666 (the number was finally changed in 2003) from the USDOT. They didn’t even talk about the labor history on the podcast. I suspect, as they allude to on the podcast, that the years of inaction on the route number and the accidents there had a lot to do with the fact that it traversed recognized Indian lands. It fit with the American tradition of associating Indians with Satan and Satanism; it gave officials an excuse for failing to implement safety improvements, since the route’s dangers could be attributed to its being cursed; and it let them ignore complaints from locals that people’s avoidance of the route due to valid or superstitious fears hurt their local economy.

  121. says

    Hyperallergic – “American Tourist Smashes Roman Sculptures at Israel Museum”:

    A 40-year-old male tourist from the United States was detained in Jerusalem after intentionally damaging two Roman sculptures on view at the Israel Museum late Thursday afternoon, October 5. The man called the sculptures “idolatrous and contrary to the Torah,” according to Israeli police.

    The man toppled over the pedestals on which the two ancient sculptures were sitting, causing significant damage to the works upon impact with the floor in the museum’s Archaeology wing. One sculpture was the head of the Ancient Greco-Roman goddess Athena, the only surviving portion of a lost carved stone statue dating back to the 2nd century CE. The neck of the bust appears to have been damaged after disconnecting from the pedestal following the incident.

    The second sculpture, which shattered into multiple pieces, depicted a griffin (a mythological lion-eagle hybrid) with its front paw over the goddess Nemesis’s wheel of fate, also dating back to the 2nd century CE.

    According to a statement from the Israeli police department shared with Hyperallergic, the man revealed that he intentionally damaged the sculptures because he viewed them as “idolatrous.” The man’s attorney denied that this was an act of fanaticism, telling the Guardian that his client was suffering from a psychiatric condition known as “Jerusalem syndrome,” characterized as a state of psychotic disorientation afflicting pilgrims to Jerusalem….


    The photos of the sculptures reminded me of this old article I was reading there the other day – “Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color”: “The equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe; it’s a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today.”

  122. tomh says

    Ohio’s GOP supermajority tests limits of democracy before abortion vote
    By Annie Gowen / October 6, 2023

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — In state after state since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Democrats and their abortion rights allies have won victories over Republicans and others who oppose abortion. The latest battleground is Ohio, where a GOP supermajority has fought to consolidate its power in ways that critics — even some within the party — say threatens democracy.

    Republican leaders here repeatedly defied directives from the state’s highest court to fix gerrymandered electoral maps, leaving the process in chaos and residents voting in districts with unconstitutional boundaries. They enacted more restrictive voter laws that hurt younger, less affluent Ohioans. And they’re now attempting to strip the state school board of its powers after Democrats gained control in last November’s election.

    “Ohio is a case study in undermining democracy,” said David Niven, an associate professor of politics at the University of Cincinnati who has done research on gerrymandering. “You’re talking about the nation’s strictest voter ID law and state-of-the-art gerrymandering, and when that proved insufficient a proposed constitutional amendment to render majorities irrelevant.”

    That change to the state constitution, had it succeeded in August, would have made passing amendments more difficult by requiring 60 percent of votes cast instead of a simple majority…

    Both sides expect millions more in funding to pour into the state between now and Nov. 7, when voters will at last decide whether to guarantee abortion rights. There is intense national interest in the proposed amendment, which would ensure abortion is legal until the fetus is viable, about 24 weeks, or beyond that time frame to protect a pregnant patient’s “life and health.” Abortion is currently legal here up to 22 weeks of pregnancy since a measure to ban abortion at six weeks was blocked by a judge last October.

    Ohio was once a pivotal swing state. Yet it has grown reliably red in recent years, with Donald Trump winning each of the past two presidential races by eight percentage points and the GOP currently enjoying unassailable power in the legislature, the governor’s office and statewide elected nonjudicial offices.

    “We can kind of do what we want,” [Senate President Matt] Huffman (R) told a Columbus Dispatch reporter last year.

    Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose — who is running for the U.S. Senate next year, hoping to oust incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) — won a skirmish Sept. 20 when the state’s conservative Supreme Court approved the bulk of the summary language that will appear on the ballot.

    LaRose wrote a summary for the state’s ballot that was longer than the amendment itself and replaced the word “fetus” with “unborn child,” among other controversial edits challenged in court. The actual amendment language states that every individual “has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including on contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage and abortion.

    “It’s my belief that the Republican majority in the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate are pushing the envelope are far as it could possibly be pushed to maintain supermajority control of the legislature and the congressional delegation,” said Mike Curtin, a former editor of the Columbus Dispatch and co-author of the “Ohio Politics Almanac,” who served two terms as a Democratic state representative.

    The party’s actions in recent years suggest as much. Though voters in 2015 and 2018 approved constitutional amendments designed to make the process of drawing districts for both the legislature and Congress more fair, the 2021 redistricting process erupted in chaos when the GOP-led redistricting commission repeatedly pressed forward with state legislative maps found to be unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

    “It was a brazen violation of a basic democratic principle — the rule of law,” said Steven H. Steinglass, dean emeritus at Cleveland State University College of Law. “It was an egregious dereliction of their duty.”

    The court also rejected a legislative plan for congressional boundaries, meaning voters went to the polls in 2022 with flawed boundaries for both their congressional and state representatives.

    The court recently dismissed two lawsuits challenging the state’s congressional map, clearing the way for flawed boundaries to be used again in next year’s elections…

    When asked why lawmakers in his party seem to be moving so aggressively, former governor Bob Taft replied, “You’ll have to ask them, but I guess they might say they do this because they can.”

  123. says

    tomh @144, good point. Maybe even Newsmax and Fox News will have to report that.

    SC @146, thanks for that. That report is dense with detail, and almost unreadable:

    […] When the U.S. 60/66 controversy was resolved in early August, some additional adjustments were necessary to accommodate other changes that had occurred during the months since the Joint Board’s report. Executive Secretary W. C. Markham wrote to the Executive Committee on August 11, 1926, to provide a copy of his letter to the State highway agencies involved in the 60/66 controversy notifying them that it had been resolved. He added:

    In view of the settlement of this controversy it becomes necessary for us to change a ballot which you have already approved affecting New Mexico, and this is to advise that the ballots which I have on hand from you concerning this New Mexico adjustment will be changed to read as follows in the record. Moved: “That Route No. 285 between Raton and Route 66 south of Las Vegas be numbered 385, and that Route 466 between La Joya and Isleta be numbered 570 instead of 460.”

    This change meant that U.S. 66 would have only five branches, but the fifth would retain its number, 666. (On the ballots, “60” was converted to “66” by a pen mark on the zero.)


  124. says

    Re: SC 124
    I looked at the response from the World Medical Association to the UN mental health report to see how bad it was for myself.
    No citations of any of the concerns in question. It’s amazing how often things can be so (sarcastically) bad that a criticized authority can’t articulate a concrete example.

  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Impossible’ to lead: Ada County GOP leaders resign to protest state party’s ‘new oligarchy’

    Six top members of the Ada County Republican Party, including its chairman, quit Thursday, citing decisions by the state party that have made it “impossible” to effectively lead.

    It’s the latest controversy pitting local party leaders against the divisive Idaho Republican Party chairwoman, Dorothy Moon, and her hard-right allies, who have effective control of the state party.

    An Ada County GOP news release recited a docket of grievances against the state party, including that it distrusts voters to select candidates and has created a “new oligarchy that values control” and “un-Republican” bullying tactics. Ada County Chairman Victor Miller touted the local party’s fundraising in recent years and successful GOP elections to county officer and school board seats.

    “But given the state GOP’s current political climate and direction, it has become impossible to lead in Ada County effectively,” Miller said in the news release…

  126. says

    The one thing the get specific on is a reduction in a list of essential medications due to the concern of the implication that medication = standard treatment. The organization ignored this with the insertion of the medication being “used when indicated”, which isn’t the problem.

  127. says

    Ukraine Update: It’s a war of the tree lines

    New maps of the Ukrainian front lines demonstrate just how difficult the task of liberating territory has become.

    The video below shows Ukrainian artillery getting shelled while operating through what is by now a decimated tree line. [video at the link]

    Ukraine has clearly taken that tree line as part of its march to liberating all the space between Novoprokopivka, Robotyne, and Verbove. Look at what that looks like on the map: [map at the link]

    Let’s zoom in a little: [map at the link]

    With these satellite images, we don’t see just the individual fields but also the tree lines between them that act as windbreaks, designed to protect fields from soil erosion.

    We all know about Russia’s main defensive lines; you can see them in yellow in the image above. But the big surprise of the counteroffensives is that Russia has dug-in defenses in all of those tree lines. As a result, Ukraine’s advances have literally been tree line to tree line. That has both slowed the advance and created exhausting conditions for Ukrainian forces.

    In the olden days, armor would simply storm these locations, using their superior firepower to eliminate infantry defenses. Today, armor operating in that open space is in mortal danger of drones, anti-tank guided missiles, or artillery fire. Hence, Ukraine is relegated to those tedious advances.

    Watch this remarkable video of a Ukrainian assault on a tree line near Bakhmut. [video at the link]

    So many interesting points here:
    – Ukraine still can’t do combined arms, but at least it has armor supporting infantry.
    – Russia lays down an artillery barrage against the three charging Ukrainian vehicles (one tank and two infantry personnel carriers). A couple of rounds almost hit their targets. It’s amazing how in war, life and death is often a matter of chance. A little flutter of wind, or lack thereof, saved the lives of a crew.
    – Frankly, I would’ve expected more artillery. We’ve seen heavier Russian barrages. It really does seem like Russia is less capable of laying down those walls of steel that were the norm earlier in the war.
    – Ukrainian vehicles operated freely, seemingly unafraid of mines. Part of it is that chance of war—you can’t worry about what you can’t see. But also, the drone operator narrating the battle says Ukraine had de-mined the approach prior to the attack. [Ah, that makes sense.]
    – The tank sets up its firing position right in the middle of an open field. It receives no anti-tank missiles from the defending Russian infantry. In fact, those seem increasingly rare as Russia focuses most of its efforts on suicide drones.
    – Speaking of which, Russia missed a juicy suicide-drone target. Maybe their availability is as much a game of chance, as whether one of those scattershot artillery shells hits its target.
    – Would’ve been nice to have more tanks and infantry on the assault, but maybe it’s related to the above. If Ukraine presents a much larger, juicier target, perhaps it’s more likely that Russia decides to commit more drones and more artillery in defense. Assuming there are a bunch of these attacks happening at the same time as Ukraine advances, it might force Russia to parcel out its precious resources.
    – As the tank lays down a barrage of fire against the Russian-occupied tree line, the infantry dismount at the edge of the tree line. The drone-operating narrator says that the Russians are being “surrounded,” but they’re not. It’s more like rolling up the edges.
    – We actually don’t see the infantry occupy Russian lines. The armor retreats, unharmed, and the narrator declares that the mission to take that tree line was successful. Beats me if true.

    In all, this is the first glimpse we’ve seen of this tactic. There are plenty of videos from the perspective of Ukrainian infantry. Like this one: [video at the link]

    Or this one: [video at the link]

    That kind of combat is exhausting to the attacking side, and it simply can’t be maintained indefinitely.

    In this video—which is more explicit, so I won’t embed—you can see how the dropping fall foliage better exposes Russia’s tree line trenches. This one, too: [video at the link]

    Conventional wisdom is that winter will slow down the Ukrainian attack. I don’t believe it will. Mud won’t affect attacking infantry the same way it hampers heavy armor. And the lack of foliage will provide Ukrainian drone operators with even greater opportunities to both snipe Russians directly, or call artillery on formerly hidden positions.

    But that’s all good for eroding Russian defenses. The problem is that there is only so much Ukrainian infantry available to work on these advances, and every single one of those tree line combat missions both attrits them (with killed and wounded in battle) and exhausts those who survive unharmed. “The problem for Ukraine is that it is fighting the battle that Russia wants. If Russia can’t beat Ukraine in mobile combat, then the next best thing is to wear the Ukrainians down through attrition and trench warfare,” notes the Center for European Policy Analysis,

    Ukraine will continue making its slow advances, and all the while, its now-superior artillery and drone edge will continue destroying Russian equipment from afar. [video at the link]

    In fact, Ukraine’s kill claims in recent days are downright gaudy. [list at the link]

    But the big breakthrough? That might be further away than we hope.
    If you wonder where Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene gets her Putin-approved talking points: [Tweet and video at the link: Vice Speaker of the State Duma Anna Kuznetsova: “Our soldiers found documents on the sale of children and human organs from which Ukraine derives 7% of its national budget, with the support of private British military companies and Coca Cola.”
    This is no joke. She said it.]
    CBS News reports that Russia has started receiving artillery from North Korea. For the “America First” nihilists who claim supporting Ukraine is somehow a problem—at less than 5% of our military budget—Ukraine hasn’t just neutralized Russia’s military, but now North Korea will be sending its own artillery guns to Ukraine, reducing their supply on the Korean peninsula. […]
    Russia is a terrorist state. [Tweet and video at the link]
    I am still of the mind that killing a dozen or more Russian soldiers is not a great use of GMLRS rocket artillery—unless they are in far more plentiful supply than previously assumed. [Tweet and video at the link]

    That’s about $250,000 worth of rare rockets to take out two trucks and maybe one to two dozen Russians? Still, take a look at the spread of those rockets’ tungsten steel balls. You can see them splash into the water on the reservoir next to the strike area. Nothing survives within that radius.

    Also, this is likely forgotten, but those tungsten balls were a direct replacement of the original GMLRS rounds with cluster munitions. The idea was to have the same kind of wide-area destruction as cluster bombs, without the unexploded ordnance those left behind.

    For now, I’m happy Ukraine has both.

  128. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From their opening summary:

    European leaders rallied around Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the face of US jitters over defence funding. The gathering at the European political community (EPC) summit in Granada, Spain, gave leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and British prime minister Rishi Sunak a chance to restate their commitment to Ukraine after political turbulence in the US and Europe raised questions about continued support.

  129. Reginald Selkirk says

    US government considers protecting octopuses used in research

    While cephalopods have captured the imagination of marine biologists, science fiction writers, and curious individuals, it’s only recently that the public has become significantly interested in learning more about these animals. Part of their appeal has come from recent studies revealing the intelligence behind some of their sophisticated behaviors.

    Now, feeding into this growing recognition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced feedback for proposed guidelines that would, if passed, give various protections to cephalopods studied within a laboratory setting…

  130. Reginald Selkirk says


    Rand Paul says ‘without question’ Fauci belongs in jail

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he thinks former White House chief medial adviser Anthony Fauci deserves jail time.

    “And do you believe that Anthony Fauci belongs in jail?” Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Paul.

    “Without question,” the senator responded…

    Paul outlines his beliefs in his upcoming book: “Deception: The Great Covid Cover-Up,” which is expected to be released next week. When talking to Hannity, the senator teased that more action could come against Fauci.

    “We deserve to know what happened,” he said.

    “I think the book will go a long way to convincing the rest of America that this man was a traitor to his country,” Paul later added about Fauci.

  131. says

    Here’s a link to the Al Jazeera liveblog, which appears to be the only one where Palestinian voices can be heard.

    Noga Tarnopolsky on Tafkat:

    There is growing fury at ultra-orthodox communities, where none of the kids have been called ip to the army, where no one is being held hostage, and Simchat Torah festivities continue as if tie state of emergency does not exist.

  132. says

    Al Jazeera liveblog:

    Hamas deputy chief Saleh Al-Arouri has told Al Jazeera: “‘We have a big number of Israeli captives, among them senior officers.”

    Noga Tarnopolsky on Tafkat:

    Israeli radio stations have been turned over to open lines for desperate, shattered citizens calling in to share their phone numbers and beg, beg for help. Total system collapse.

  133. says

    I almost turned off MSNBC after a string of US “security” people and Andrea Mitchell, but Ali Velshi is doing a good job and is now interviewing Palestinian analyst Nour Odeh.

  134. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera that the group has launched an “all-out battle.”

    “We expect fighting to continue and the fighting front to expand. We have one prime target: our freedom and the freedom of our holy sites,” he said.

  135. says

    Al Jazeera liveblog:

    Saleh al-Arouri says Hamas has enough Israeli captives to make Israel free all Palestinian prisoners in its jails

    The Hamas deputy chief told Al Jazeera: “We managed to kill and capture many Israeli soldiers. The fighting is still on. As to our prisoners I say, your freedom is looming large. What we have in hand will see you set free. The longer fighting continues, the higher the number of prisoners will become.”

  136. says

    Noga Tarnopolsky on Tafkat:

    Video of emergency cabinet meeting shows Aryeh Dery, a convicted tax crook the Supreme Court ruled cannot serve as minister, between IDF Chief of Staff Halevy & NatSecMin Itamar Ben Gvir, a former terrorist. This is illegal. Halevy cannot deliver military data to civilians.

  137. says

    Al Jazeera liveblog:

    Six hours after clashes between Hamas fighters and Israeli forces along the Gaza-Israel barrier began, the Israeli air force response was marked by an “unprecedented scale and intensity”, according to locals in Gaza.

    Central areas within Gaza, including public spaces and residential compounds, have been targets of the air raids. In some rural neighbourhoods close to the fence, residents have been advised to evacuate in the face of the escalating combat.

    For average residents in Gaza, there is widespread shock and fear. “We have been as surprised and frightened as the [occupation] since the operation began,” Munir Nasser, a Gaza grocery vendor who was preparing to start his workday when the attacks began, told Al Jazeera. “We haven’t seen footage of Palestinians breaching the occupied towns and villages beyond the barriers like this before.”

    The live images unfolding evoke a complex mix of emotions – celebration and concern. “We feel hopeful for the possibility of returning to our occupied lands, but there is also a fear of a potential, long-term Israeli counterattack,” Nasser added.

    Enas Shesta, a resident of Rafah in southern Gaza, says Palestinians are looking at a “tough night” ahead as Israeli attacks on Gaza continue.

    “The situation here in Gaza is not good at all. I can assure you that we are not ready, and we have a tough night waiting for us,” she said. “No place is safe.”

    The Rafah resident said the offensive against Israel was Palestinian frustrations being “translated into action”. “Palestinians are fed up of being oppressed and attacked for over 75 years. They have had enough,” she said.

    Guardian liveblog:

    Humza Yousaf, first minister of Scotland, wrote on social media that he and his wife spent the morning talking to her family in Gaza. “My thoughts and prayers are very much with those worried about loved ones caught up in this awful situation.”

  138. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Netanyahu has spoken with Biden, saying the US president “emphasised that the US stands alongside Israel and fully supports Israel’s right to self-defense”.

    “Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked US President Biden for the unreserved support and made it clear that a forceful, prolonged campaign – which Israel will win – is necessary,” he said. [Insane.]

    The Biden has regularly touted the US and Israel’s “ironclad” relationship. The US provides $3.8bn in unconditional military aid annually.

    Netanyahu also spoke with French President Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. His office said “both leaders expressed full support for Israel’s right to defend itself”.

  139. Reginald Selkirk says

    Android Devices With Backdoored Firmware Found in US Schools

    Tens of thousands of Android devices have been shipped to end-users with backdoored firmware, according to a warning from cybersecurity vendor Human Security.

    As part of the global cybercriminal operation called BadBox (PDF), Human Security found a threat actor relied on supply chain compromise to infect the firmware of more than 70,000 Android smartphones, CTV boxes, and tablet devices with the Triada malware.

    The infected devices come from at least one Chinese manufacturer but, before they are delivered to resellers, physical retail stores, and e-commerce warehouses, a backdoor was injected into their firmware.

    “Products known to contain the backdoor have been found on public school networks throughout the United States,” Human says…

  140. says

    AJ liveblog:

    European leaders, including those of the UK and Germany, are all blaming Hamas for the ongoing fighting, Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays is reporting from London.

    “They are making very similar statements and language that you have heard from US President Biden. They are firmly blaming Hamas for this attack,” he said. “Although I can tell you it’s a little bit more nuanced behind the scenes.”

    “I’ve been speaking to a number of senior diplomats … and there’s been for months considerable disquiet about the right wing government in Israel, and some of its actions towards the Palestinians. But none of this context is included in the statements today,” Bays said.

  141. says

    Kyiv Independent – “Russian media: Illegitimate United Russia party representative killed in car bomb in Kherson Oblast”:

    Vladimir Malov, a member of Russia’s ruling United Russia party, was killed in a car bomb explosion in the city of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson Oblast, Russian state-run media RIA Novosti claimed on Oct.7.

    RIA Novosti said Malov was in “serious condition” following the explosion, and later reported that he died from the injuries he sustained.

    No mention was made as to who was behind the explosion.

    Malov, who Russian state-controlled media claim was building a so-called “new life” in Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka, was an illegitimate representative of the United Russian party in the area.

    Russia held sham “elections” in the parts of Ukraine’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts that it illegally occupies in September.

    The so-called elections, which were neither free nor democratic, were denounced by both Kyiv and the West.

  142. says

    […] Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center and a leading anti-abortion lobbyist, is not bothered by the lack of government support [for pregnant women, children, and families]. Pregnancies, births and child care are not the purview of the government, he said, but of families, communities, charities and, most of all, churches.

    “The Bible is clear, and the history of Christendom broadly is clear, that it’s the church’s responsibility to meet the needs of the poor and to ensure that people have the services that they need to live flourishing lives,” Conzatti said.

    No action set Idaho apart from other abortion-ban states more than when the Idaho Legislature allowed its Maternal Mortality Review Committee to die this year. The committee had been granted unique powers to review private health care and other records of women who died during or within a year after pregnancy and draw conclusions about the root causes of those deaths.

    Its budget of $10,000 a year came only from federal funds, so keeping the committee going seemed pro forma. Every single state, New York and Texas alike, had put one in place. But in Idaho, a lobbyist for an ultraconservative political nonprofit stood up and spoke against it at a hearing.

    Fred Birnbaum, legislative affairs director of Idaho Freedom Foundation, said studying the causes of Idaho’s roughly 10 to 15 preventable maternal deaths each year risked inviting a push for more government support to help keep people from dying. And government support was anathema to his group.

    […] “Well, all government-created committees lead to the call for more government spending.”

    […] Idaho has at least 16 “pregnancy resource centers” spread across every region of the state. Many in Idaho are Christian-oriented organizations that offer counseling, referrals and some material support like diapers. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the centers’ goal back when Roe v. Wade was in effect was to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term rather than have abortions.

    Few Idaho centers offer medical care beyond pregnancy tests and “heartbeat” ultrasounds.

    But those centers are where Conzatti said people who have unplanned pregnancies should now look to for help. They embody his vision of a world before legalized abortion and before Medicaid got involved in the lives of poor families.

    Crane, the Republican House leader, wouldn’t rule out state-funded support for pregnancy centers if there’s political will for it among lawmakers.

    “Every option is on the table,” he said.


    The combination of highly religious and extremely conservative Republicans in Idaho is only making things worse.

  143. says

    Followup to comment 181.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    if, as blaine conzatti states, “pregnancies, births and childcare are not the purview of the government,” then what the fuck right does the government have to ban abortions?
    So, the forced birthers position is “keep the government out of child and parental support” and “give us more money without oversight so we can be the ones to provide it (and force our religion on anyone who wants help)”.

    No grifting to see here.
    Churches and “pregnancy centers” can’t diagnose or treat ectopic pregnancies, and women will die. And that’s just one of many ways pregnancy end in death. These men want to take Idaho back to the medieval age when at least 1 out of 20 births ended in death.
    Idaho says, smugly, “that’s what you get for spreading your legs.” Yes I heard that more than a few times in front of the courthouse.
    40 years ago I had to leave a Catholic hospital in the middle of a miscarriage and go to one that would allow D&C. Infuriating that we are back here with this bullshit.
    pregnancy support is not just for the poor, but all women.
    These people are insane. “The Bible is clear”. Say WHAT? The CONSTITUTION is even more clear: we do NOT use the Christian Bible as the basis of our laws and policies.

    But go ahead, Idaho. See how your churches respond when all your OBGYN’s leave your state for greener pastures.
    I grew up not far from the Idaho panhandle. That state is scary. Not just in an abstract way, but flat-out fascist scary. It always has been, too. People look at the Deep South and shudder, they need to be looking at Idaho as well. It’s poisoning the nearby states with its deeply neo-fascist, Aryan Brotherhood ways.

  144. says

    X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has removed users’ ability to block and report certain advertisements. […]

    the ad format does not reveal the people behind them, or their existence as ads themselves. They also reportedly do not give users options to block an account or report a post if clicked, like advertisement posts typically do.

    The reported new ads come close in timing with another new change to X. On Wednesday, X started the process of changing the appearance of links posted to the platform. It got rid of headlines and text that had been shown with images when a link was posted. X’s owner, billionaire Elon Musk had suggested that publishers should post content in long form the day before.

    “Our algorithm tries to optimize time spent on X, so links don’t get as much attention, because there is less time spent if people click away,” Musk said in an X post. “Best thing is to post content in long form on this platform.”

    Musk has also made controversial changes to the platform’s content moderation, with some saying those changes have increased misinformation on X. […]


    Elon Musk wants to trap you on X, and he wants to keep you there. You and everyone else.

  145. says

    Text quoted by SC @176,

    European leaders, including those of the UK and Germany, are all blaming Hamas for the ongoing fighting, Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays is reporting from London.

    “They are making very similar statements and language that you have heard from US President Biden. They are firmly blaming Hamas for this attack,” he said. “Although I can tell you it’s a little bit more nuanced behind the scenes.”

    “I’ve been speaking to a number of senior diplomats … and there’s been for months considerable disquiet about the right wing government in Israel, and some of its actions towards the Palestinians. But none of this context is included in the statements today,” Bays said.

    I have been reading the news concerning the “war” between Israel and Hamas, and I hardly know what to say. It is all very distressing. I like coverage that is more nuanced, but it’s not that easy to find. At least Al Jazeera is making an effort.

    It looks like most of the media coverage is like this, “Pentagon says it will support Israel.”

  146. says

    Followup to comment 184.

    I will note that MSNBC interviewed Richard Engel. During that interview, Richard Engel pointed out that more than 2 million people live in the narrow Gaza strip, and that those people do not have travel documents. They can’t leave. He called Gaza “a hopeless place.” So, yeah, it is a sort of prison. That sounds like a situation that would repeatedly erupt into violence.

    Egypt helps to close all the exits from Gaza.

    Benjamin Netanyahu is a rightwing thug. It is likely that he will benefit politically from this war.

    Other reporting notes that civilian “grandmothers” as well as Israeli military personnel have been taken hostage. From Josh Marshall:

    […] These [Hamas] fighters went into these Israeli towns lighting homes on fire, killing at least dozens of civilians, wounding hundreds and taking a still unclear number of civilians and soldiers hostage. Some appear to have been taken back into Gaza. […]

  147. says

    Some Thoughts and Speculations on the Crisis in Israel, by Josh Marshall.

    […] The following are just some best guesses on my part and what I would call guidance in where to find the best information and how to think about what is unfolding.

    The first point is that Israel has been in a state of political paralysis and stalemate for the better part of a year. Both leaders of the opposition have now offered to join an emergency national unity government for the duration of this conflict. I’ve seen people saying maybe this is how Netanyahu finally puts his political problems behind him because of national unity in the face of war. Alternatively, that the opposition leaders are being craven in offering to join.

    Both arguments mistake the situation pretty dramatically. When a country faces a catastrophic attack, the opposition joins with the government. That’s just how it works. More specifically, there’s probably some real value in not having Netanyahu dependent on the crazies in his current government at least in the very short term. (This is actually the argument Yair Lapid made explicitly.) More generally, I think there’s really no underestimating the impact of this on the country. It’s the kind of event that is likely transformative not just for Israel but for the region generally. I’ve seen lots of comparisons to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. That may sound like hyperbole but I don’t think it is. There’s no getting around the fact that Netanyahu was the one minding the shop when this event happened and it’s a catastrophic security failure for the state that is almost beyond imagining.

    The other point to keep in mind is that much of the security reality of the last fifteen years in Israel has been one of a managed security by Hamas and governments of Benjamin Netanyahu. These are the fiercest of enemies. But they also have a symbiotic kind of political power. You hit us; we hit you back; now we have quiet. Netanyahu’s power as a national security leader is that he keeps all these conflicts at bay. He doesn’t solve them but manages them. He keeps the country safe but he also doesn’t get involved in debilitating foreign adventures. There are blow ups, rocket barrages, retaliatory strikes against Gaza to degrade Hamas’ military potential. But the strategic reality was equilibrium.

    Or what seemed like equilibrium.

    These events change all of that. It’s difficult to see how the Hamas military apparatus, as currently constituted, survives the retaliation for these attacks. That’s not to say these events have a military solution per se. But the military apparatus as opposed to the political and ideological movement is going to be devastated. The issue to keep an eye on for Israel’s political future is that much of Netanyahu’s security strategy and policy was based on the idea that something like this wasn’t possible. It turns out that equilibrium did not provide security.

    These events discredit Netanyahu’s policy of ‘management’. I suspect the domestic political impact of that within Israel will be immense. That doesn’t mean that Netanyahu is doomed politically. It certainly doesn’t mean that a peace policy is going to come from it. But a short-term government of national unity is not going to change that reckoning for him, whatever it is. Netanyahu’s calling card within Israeli politics is that he’s the guy watching the shop and making sure something like this doesn’t happen. But it did. It happened on his watch. No short-term national unity government is going to change that.

  148. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 173

    The Biden has regularly touted the US and Israel’s “ironclad” relationship.

    Remember all of you liberals who claim to oppose war, racism, and genocide, “Vote Blue No Matter What.”

  149. says

    Ukraine Update: The Abrams was designed for winter combat in Zaporizhzhia

    The M1A1 SA Abrams, confirmed to have arrived in Ukraine, is a 67.6 ton tank. This makes the Abrams much, much heavier than Soviet era thanks like the T-72B3 or the T-64 BM in use by the Ukrainian and Russian Armies, both of which weigh only 45 tons.

    There is an assumption by some analysts that due to muddier conditions in Ukraine during the fall, winter and spring seasons, that the Abrams will struggle to handle the terrain, and that lighter Soviet tanks will enjoy superior off-road mobility.

    In reality, there is very little reason to believe this to be the case, as the Abrams enjoys a superior power-to-weight ratio, better traction, and superior weight distribution—the main things that go into off road mobility in muddy conditions. Indeed, the Abrams was essentially designed for a fight in conditions that can be expected in Zaporizhzhia in winter.

    The Abrams tank began as an effort by NATO allies to develop a common Main Battle Tank (MBT) platform in the 1970s to counter a powerful new Soviet MBT then rumored to be about to enter service, which turned out to be the T-72.

    This joint effort by the United States and West Germany, called the MBT-70, ultimately failed. West German and American militaries had different ideas for what they wanted from the new tank, and the need to appease both sets of requirements spiraled costs out of control.

    German designers took their lessons learned to create the highly regarded successor to their Leopard tank, the Leopard 2. American designers ended up with the M1 Abrams tank, which entered service in 1980.

    At that time, American planners were focused on the possibility of a major armored invasion by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact into Western Europe through what’s known as the Fulda Gap, considered the most likely route of advance by a Soviet armored invasion force. [map at the link]

    Both NATO Allies and Soviet forces deployed a large proportion of their forces opposite each other in this area of central Germany, and American weapons were designed with this central European battlefield foremost in their minds.

    The Abrams tank very much reflects this focus.

    Fortunately for Ukraine, the climate and weather of Tokmak, and more broadly Southern Ukraine, are extremely similar to Fulda, Germany. Tokmak and Fulda are both quite dry climates, with both only averaging about 2 inches of rain a month. Tokmak gets 9.2 days of rain/month, while Fulda gets 8.7. Both experience relatively mild winters with average highs rarely dipping below freezing for any length of time.

    Fulda does not suffer weeks-long muddy seasons like Eastern or Northern Ukraine in fall or spring, but neither does southern Ukraine. Both will get mud during winter rainy months, but neither experience the muddy morass seen in battlefields around Kupyansk or Bakhmut. As such, in a typical fall or winter, the level of mud should be comparable to the Central European battlefields anticipated by the Abrams’ designers.

    Thus, despite the fact the Abrams is over 50% heavier than Soviet tanks like the T-72 or T-64, it can actually perform better in mud because of
    – its wide tracks that distribute weight over a wide area and give it superior traction, and
    – Its powerful engine gives it a high power-to-weight ratio.

    While many assume that its 70 tons will immobilize an Abrams tank in mud, particularly compared to lighter Soviet (or even other NATO) tanks, what actually matters isn’t the total weight of the tank, it’s how much ground pressure per square inch the weight pushes into the ground.

    Think of it this way—put a 100 lb weight atop a thin metal pole, that weight will drive that pole into soft muddy ground. But add 100 lbs on a wide platform the size of a football field, that weight will barely put any pressure on the ground at all.

    For example, the average person’s foot will exert about 16 psi on the ground. An average passenger car exerts more pressure, around 35 psi. But a road bike’s thin wheels exert a whopping 90 psi of ground pressure. Guess which one suffers most in mud.

    Here’s the big one—the ground pressure of an M1A1 Abrams? Just 14.4 psi, less than that of a person walking on the ground. Due to its greater length and its wider tracks, the Abrams distributes its nearly 70-ton weight over a much wider area, thus the Abrams and the T-80 (13.1psi) have negligible differences in ground pressure.

    Furthermore, the Abrams sports a powerful 1,500 hp Honeywell AGT 1500 gas turbine engine. It is a thirsty engine, consuming 1.5~3 gallons of fuel per mile (gallons per mile, not miles per gallon) depending on conditions. It consumes almost as much fuel even when idling. And it runs most efficiently on jet fuel, rather than more commonly available gasoline or diesel. It is, quite simply, logistically demanding.

    But it wasn’t for nothing that the Abrams designers chose this monstrously powerful engine. Tank mobility is largely a function of its power-to-weight ratio.

    For example, Ukrainian tankers mostly rely on the T-64 BM on the battlefield. It is a fine and agile tank, well suited for the Ukrainian battlefield. It sports a 850hp engine on a 45-ton tank, or a 18.9 hp/ton power-to-weight ratio.

    The M1A1 SA is a much, much heavier tank at 67.6 tons. But thanks to its 1,500 hp engine, it sports a superior power-to-weight ratio of 22.2 hp/ton. With tank treads that offer almost 50% more contact with the ground compared to the T-72, this combination of powerful engine and broad tank treads gives the Abrams greater traction.

    As such, the Abrams is arguably better in muddy conditions than Ukraine’s smaller, lighter Soviet-era tanks.
    The Abrams is not a wonder-weapon that will simply blow Russian defensive lines around Tokmak to smithereens. Like any other tank, it can be immobilized by land mines, aerial threats like Lancet drones and Ka-52 attack helicopters, and anti-tank guided missiles.

    What can it do?

    It can accurately strike enemy targets in day or night conditions from close to the visual horizon. Its most advanced munition, the new M1147 Advanced Multi-purpose round, it can punch through 20 centimeters (8 inches) of solid concrete. The Abrams should make quick work of Russian bunkers and fortified positions, and its high explosive mode should be able to strike reinforced Russian trench positions with terrifying accuracy. [video at the link]

    As Ukraine heads into the rainier fall and winter seasons of the South, analysts like George Barros at the Institute for the Study of War predict that Ukraine will continue to employ the same assault tactics it has employed in the past months.

    That would be platoon size infantry groups attacking Russian positions, supported by artillery and a couple of infantry fighting vehicles and/or western tanks providing long range fire support. You can see that exact tactic in action in this video: [video at the link]

    RUSI has noted that these tactics reduce the impact of landmines on Ukrainian assaults, minimizing risks to valuable western armored vehicles, while making use of their long range accuracy. They are low-risk, low-reward tactics aimed at inflicting maximal Russian losses, while minimizing Ukrainian losses—at the expense of faster, larger breakthroughs.

    The Abrams will be extremely well suited for this kind of fighting. Its high mobility design will help with Ukraine’s hit and run tactics, but greater range and lethality will allow it to offer such support even further back from the main assault than the Soviet tank seen on the video above. And while Ukraine hasn’t made great use of Western night vision equipment thus far, the Abrams superior night-time optics will hopefully get put to greater use. Russia has far less ability to defend in the dark.

    And if called upon, the Abrams will protect its crew thanks to its superior tungsten-reinforced Chobham armor (compared to say, the Leopard 2A4 which only has heavy tungsten reinforced armor on its front). There are plenty more Abrams in storage to replace battlefield losses. Tank crews are indispensable.

    Ukraine’s grinding attritional attacks will be boosted considerably by the Abrams. Hopefully, more will be on the way in short order.

  150. says

    […] “… Follow the money! That’s not easy to do, though, for this gaggle of conservative corporatists slyly incorporated as a nonprofit “social welfare” outfit – a deceit that lets it hide the names of its political funders from the public. The New Republic, however, got records revealing that No Labels is a fat cat front, with Texas billionaire Republican Harlan Crow leading the way.

    Who? Crow is the political patron who has secretly been lavishing luxury gifts and cash on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who in turn has embraced Crow’s plutocratic positions in court cases.” […]

    Additional link, and more information below.

    No Labels Took More Than $100,000 From Clarence Thomas Buddy Harlan Crow

    The “nonpartisan” group also relied on Crow—whom it dubbed one of its “whales”—to reel in nearly two dozen other donors from 2019 to 2021.

    […] Crow’s participation in No Labels fundraisers and work expanding the group’s donor network illustrates how even as the group says it is driven only by bipartisanship, in actuality it is eager to associate with donors who like to hang out with powerful conservatives seemingly OK with skirting federal disclosure laws.

    The New Republic obtained a document with figures showing that between 2019 and 2021, Crow donated over $130,000 to No Labels. Crow was considered a “whale”-level donor by the organization—an august status reserved for only the most generous donors. Crow referred other donors to No Labels, ones who earned the “whale,” “dolphin,” and lesser “minnow” status. By 2021, Crow had steered nearly two dozen other donors to No Labels, the information provided to The New Republic shows.

    Officially, No Labels’ mission is to create a space for moderates on both the left and the right to come together and find solutions above the partisan fray. But the group has managed to anger Democrats at times by endorsing conservative candidates such as then-Representative Cory Gardner in Colorado, who was running for Senate against moderate Democrat Mark Udall in 2014. No Labels also labeled Donald Trump a “problem solver” in the early days of the 2016 campaign because he signed a piece of paper No Labels circulated supposedly committing to enacting certain reforms if elected.

    This year, No Labels has been looking to set up a launching pad for a third-party presidential ticket with one Republican and one Democrat on it. But the focus of these efforts will more likely help a Republican—the way things are looking, Trump—win a matchup against Joe Biden. No Labels has been torched by Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups, including the moderate Third Way, for mounting an effort that’s almost bound to hurt Biden.

    Crow is the Texas billionaire who was the subject of an extensive ProPublica investigation into his ties to Thomas. In secret, Crow had been giving lavish gifts to the high court justice and bought a home that Thomas owned with his mother and brother. Thomas did not disclose those gifts, which is most likely a violation of federal law.

    […] In a separate statement to The New Republic, in response to questions about whether No Labels felt any sort of pause about Crow given his close ties and gifting to Thomas, spokesperson Maryanne Martini argued that Crow and his relationship with Thomas was “just noise.” Martini accused The New Republic of writing this story because it was peddled by special interest groups.

    There’s an important through line between No Labels and Crow, and it’s not a passion for bipartisanship. Rather, it’s indulging conservatives under the flag of bipartisanship. They both argue that the best solutions are ones born out of moderation, with both Democrats and Republicans involved. But Crow’s ardor for Thomas, who has been found to be the most conservative justice on the bench by one academic analysis, doesn’t exactly square with love of bipartisanship, and the actions by No Labels suggest that the group would rather create an opening for conservatives to thrive.

  151. says

    Followup to comments 181 and 182.

    Good news from Idaho:

    This morning in Meridian [a suburb near Boise, Idaho], supporters of the Open Primaries Initiative gathered for a big announcement:

    The Idahoans for Open Primaries coalition now has a new coalition partner: Mormon Women for Ethical Government.

    MWEG is a nonpartisan organization with a commitment to protecting and strengthening the democratic norms that are foundational to ethical government, and they view Idaho’s closed primary system as an infringement of the right to vote.

    Margaret Kinzel and Rebecca Bratsman, co-leaders of MWEG’s Idaho chapter, spoke this morning in Meridian about their principled commitment to open primaries.

    “Mormon women were at the forefront of advocating for voting rights 150 years ago and were among the first in the nation to gain suffrage,” Idaho MWEG co-leader Rebecca Bratsman said. “With this strong legacy behind us, it only follows that we would work to ensure that our neighbors all enjoy the same rights and access to the ballot box.” […]

    Immediately after the announcement, volunteers fanned out across Meridian neighborhoods to collect signatures. By the end of the day, we expect to put Meridian’s District 21—a key district for the success of our campaign—well on its way to qualifying for the ballot.

    Our goal for the coming week is to pass a major milestone for this signature drive: Our first 25,000 signatures. […]

  152. says

    Why did Hamas invade Israel?

    The assault on southern Israel exposed the reality of the Palestinian conflict.

    What’s happening right now in Israel almost defies imagination.

    Overnight, Hamas fighters launched an unprecedented invasion across Israel’s southern border with Gaza, storming Israeli towns and killing Israeli soldiers and civilians alike. Thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli territory, and at least 100 Israelis are dead — a senior Knesset official said the attacks led to the most civilian deaths on a single day in the country’s entire history. The fighting in southern Israel is ongoing, with reports that Hamas is bringing Israeli hostages back to Gaza. Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes have already killed nearly 200 Palestinians, a figure that will likely only grow, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that “our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known.”

    Nothing like this has happened in the modern history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; even the bloody Second Intifada in the early 2000s never saw this kind of mass incursion into Israeli territory. Now an outright war between Israel and Hamas has begun, one whose consequences for the conflict and the broader Middle East we can only dimly anticipate. The only thing we can be certain about the future is that many, many people are about to die.

    How can we begin to think about such a nightmare?

    We can start by examining the conditions that made it possible. Though we can’t be sure why Hamas chose to launch this attack now, we do know that there are a number of background conditions — including not just the ongoing occupation but also recent surges of conflict in Jerusalem and the West Bank, a far-right Israeli government, and Israeli-Saudi negotiations about normalizing relations — that made the situation especially combustible.

    And this leads to a second, more fundamental point: The conflict is not, as some have suggested, “stable” — and likely never can be made so.

    So long as Israel rules over the Palestinian population, violence will be ongoing and escalation inevitable. The only real way to prevent this kind of thing from happening is for the two sides to come to a mutually agreeable solution that addresses the root causes of violence.

    Except today, any solution seems further away than ever.

    How Israel and Gaza came to the brink
    In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip — a policy called “disengagement” that was designed, in theory, to remove Israel from direct management of the Palestinian-populated territory. But in 2007, following tensions with the official Palestinian leadership, the militant faction Hamas took control of the strip by force. Since then, things have been worse for Israelis and (especially) Palestinians.

    Israel imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, tightly restricting the flow of goods and people in and out of the territory, entrenching the military occupation. Hamas tunneled under the border wall to launch cross-border raids and fired rockets into Israeli territory. Israel would periodically hit Gaza with airstrikes, often targeting operatives from Hamas and other militant groups — but inevitably hitting civilians in the crowded Gaza Strip.

    The perennially tense situation escalated to outright war at least four times since disengagement prior to the current conflict. These previous conflicts were horrific for civilians (and, again, especially Palestinians), but never saw any kind of fighting on the scale of today on Israeli soil.

    As combustible as this setup has been, Israeli leadership saw it as essentially the best arrangement available to them. They believed that they could reduce rocket fire to an acceptable level, relying on the Iron Dome missile defense system. Israeli troops and border security measures could prevent major cross-border raids.

    Targeted killings and shows of force could deter Hamas itself from escalating too much, as they’d always bear the brunt of the suffering in a true war. These periodic strikes have been euphemistically termed “mowing the grass,” a reference to the idea that the terrorist threat couldn’t be eliminated but could be reduced to a tolerable level.

    Today’s events showed that these assumptions were badly mistaken.

    Hamas was not deterred from attacking Israel, nor was it stopped by border security. It penetrated Israeli territory through land, sea, and air; once its forces entered, they rampaged through southern Israel. The streets of Sderot, a border town, are currently a war zone.

    The perpetual instability of the conflict
    Why did everything go so horribly wrong? It’s too early to provide any definitive answers, but there are a few important factors to consider.

    According to Hamas itself, the attack was provoked by recent events surrounding the Temple Mount, a site in Jerusalem holy to Jews and Muslims alike. In the past week, Israeli settlers have been entering the al-Aqsa Mosque atop the mount and praying, which Hamas termed “desecration” in a statement on their offensive (which they’ve named Operation Al-Aqsa Storm).

    It’s implausible, to put it mildly, that Hamas was simply outraged by these events and is acting accordingly. This kind of complex operation had to be months in the making; the fact that it began one day after the 50-year anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, a surprise Arab invasion of Israel, is almost certainly not a coincidence.

    But at the same time, Hamas’s choice of casus belli does tell us something important.

    Palestinian politics is defined, in large part, by how its leadership responds to Israel’s continued occupation — both its physical presence in the West Bank and its economically devastating blockade of the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s strategy to outcompete its rivals, including the Fatah faction currently in charge of the West Bank, is to channel Palestinian rage at their suffering: to be the authentic voice of resistance to Israel and the occupation. The angrier Palestinians are at Israel, the greater Hamas’s political incentives for violence.

    And the past few months have seen plenty of outrages, ones even more significant than events in Jerusalem. Israel’s current hard-right government, dominated by factions that oppose a peace agreement with the Palestinians, has been conducting a de facto annexation of the West Bank. It has turned a blind eye to settler violence against West Bank civilians, including a February rampage in the town of Huwara.

    Israel’s focus on the West Bank may also have created an operational opportunity for Hamas. According to Uzi Ben Yitzhak, a retired Israeli general, the Israeli government has deployed most of the regular IDF forces to the West Bank to manage the situation there — leaving only a skeleton force at the Gaza border. The effort to secure permanent Israeli control over the West Bank, in this assessment, created conditions where a Hamas surprise attack could actually succeed.

    There are also geopolitical concerns at work. Israel is currently in the midst of a US-brokered negotiation to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, a major follow-up to the Abraham Accord agreements struck with several Arab countries during the Trump administration. Normalization is widely seen among Palestinians as the Arab world giving up on them, agreeing to treat Israel like a normal country even as the occupation deepens.

    Hamas could well be trying to torpedo the Saudi deal and even try undo the existing Abraham Accords. Indeed, a Hamas spokesperson said that the attack was “a message” to Arab countries, calling on them to cut on ties with Israel.

    Rising tension in Jerusalem and the West Bank, weaker border security, an Arab political situation turning more and more unfavorable to the Palestinians — these are all conditions in which it makes more strategic sense for Hamas to take a such a huge risk.

    To be clear: Saying it makes strategic sense for Hamas to engage in atrocities is not to justify their killing civilians. There is a difference between explanation and justification: The reasoning behind Hamas’s attack may be explicable even as it is morally indefensible.

    We’ll find out more in the coming weeks and months about which, if any, of these conditions proved decisive in Hamas’s calculus. But they’re the necessary background context to even try to begin making sense of today’s horrific events.

    It is impossible to say, at this point, where this situation is heading. Fighting in southern Israel is ongoing; the Israeli counteroffensive in Gaza has yet to truly get underway. It’s possible that the fighting pulls in other forces, like Hezbollah in Lebanon; there’s some speculation that they were involved in the attack. This can, and almost certainly will, get much worse.

    But what’s clear at this point is that the situation cannot ever be truly stable.

    The very nature of the current situation, in which Israel rules over the Palestinian population, creates powerful incentives for radical groups like Hamas to engage in brutal acts of terrorism. Both Hamas and Israel’s current government are ideologically inclined toward violence rather than peace, conflict rather than cooperation. Without some kind of radical political change, there’s no real solution on the horizon.

    Meanwhile, it’s clear who is suffering the greatest consequences: not the extremist leaders on either side, but ordinary Israelis and Palestinians alike.

    Now that’s coverage with some nuance and context.

  153. Reginald Selkirk says

    Newsom vetoes bill to decriminalize ‘magic mushrooms’ and other psychedelics in California

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Saturday that would have decriminalized the possession and personal use of a short list of natural psychedelics, including “magic mushrooms.”

    The Democratic governor said that while he supports “new opportunities to address mental health through psychedelic medicines like those addressed in this bill,” the state needs to establish regulations for the use of these substances before they are legalized.

    “California should immediately begin work to set up regulated treatment guidelines — replete with dosing information, therapeutic guidelines, rules to prevent against exploitation during guided treatments, and medical clearance of no underlying psychoses. Unfortunately, this bill would decriminalize possession prior to these guidelines going into place, and I cannot sign it,” Newsom said in his veto statement…

  154. Reginald Selkirk says

    Atheist eyeing political run won’t swear to God — so he sues to change oath in New Jersey

    Four short words stand between a man and his political aspirations.

    “So help me God,” a phrase that punctuates New Jersey’s oath of allegiance, is one that James Tosone, an atheist and congressional hopeful, can’t in good conscience say.

    So, he’s suing the state, arguing that obligatory religious oaths are unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit filed Oct. 3 by the the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist nonprofit…

  155. Reginald Selkirk says

    SEC files suit over business deal directly involving Biden’s brother

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit last week against a company and a specific business deal that directly involves President Joe Biden’s younger brother, James Biden.

    The complaint was filed in the Southern District of Florida against Third Friday Management and Michael Lewitt, a business associate of James’. The Commission alleges Third Friday and Lewitt participated in “fraudulent conduct and gross breaches of fiduciary duty” to their clients, the fund and investors.

    Prior to 2018, the company exclusively invested in S&P 500 index options and marketed it to investors. The Commission claims the company “suddenly changed course” without disclosing the new investing strategy to investors, “many of whom are senior citizens.”

    Lewitt failed to disclose to investors that he had a personal financial interest and a partnership with a group of private companies, the 28-page lawsuit said…

    “Lewitt, with sole authority of the Fund, also misappropriated at least $4.7 million of investor funds for his personal use, including over $900,000 to pay a personal IRS tax lien,” the Commission said…

    Lewitt seems to be the target of the suit, there is no mention of any suspected wrongdoing by James Biden.

  156. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cult of self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Canada’ threatens Sask. village with public executions

    An extremist cult leader and her followers have set up camp in a small Saskatchewan village, 83 kilometres northwest of Maple Creek, near the Alberta border. The group has called for public execution of elected officials and other members in and around the community.

    Romana Didulo is known as a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist. She has declared herself the “Queen of Canada,” among other titles including the national Indigenous leader…

    In the letter, the cult threatened that if the village did not follow the decrees of the “queen,” they would receive judgment and “if found guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’ or ‘treason,’ would face “publicly broadcast execution upon yourselves, and undeserved devastation upon your children, grandchildren and families.”

    “Be forewarned and prepared. WTP (We the People) now are watching you with open eyes. The curtain is drawn … Your future is in your hands,” read the post…

  157. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #195…
    It’s work noting that the Oath of Office for the President of the US does not include those four words, even though the vast majority of presidents have added them when being sworn in.

  158. says

    srael’s government will halt the supply of electricity, fuel and goods to Gaza, according to a statement tonight from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Netanyahu said that the “first stage” of Israel’s counteroffensive against Hamas had ended, claiming that Israeli military forces had fought off the “vast majority” of Hamas militants behind the early morning incursion.

    He pledged to continue counterattacks without “limitations nor respite.”

    “We are embarking on a long and difficult war that was forced on us by a murderous Hamas attack,” he said.


    As one of the largest invasions in 50 years unfolded on the streets, sea and skies over Israel, misinformation about the assault proliferated on social media.

    In one instance, a widely circulated video of an Israeli airstrike was said to show a retaliation to Saturday’s surprise attack by Palestinian group Hamas, which has left hundreds dead.

    “BREAKING: Israeli Air Force is striking terror targets in Gaza,” read the caption of the video, which was shared on Facebook and social media platform X. But the video was from airstrikes that happened in May, Reuters reported.

    Many of the misleadingly labeled videos were shared by verified users on X, who are eligible for monetization of their content.

  159. StevoR says

    The ‘mother of all thinktanks’ could be behind disinformation about the Voice referendum
    Broadcast Tue 3 Oct 2023 at 4:10pm

    A non-governmental organisation known as the Atlas Network could be behind some of the biggest disinformation campaigns on climate change and the tobacco industry.

    And one research paper suggests that the network could also have inspired some of the tactics being used by the Voice No campaigns in the lead up to next weekend’s referendum.

    GUEST: Dr Jeremy Walker, Senior Lecturer Social and Political Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney

    Source :

    Ten minutes long. Can’t see a transcript there, sadly.

    Of course, there’s also the no sides use of hateful lies from literal neo-nazis – see :

    It was created more than 40 years ago and inflamed the land rights debate in Australia. Red Over Black, a book and documentary released in the early 1980s, claimed the movement was a communist plot to erode Australia’s sovereignty.

    Now, the film is being used as a clarion call by anti-Voice to Parliament campaigners in the referendum to be held on October 14.

    ABC Investigations has tracked how the hour-long documentary was repurposed, revealing Australian white supremacists played a major role in its appropriation and dissemination.

    The documentary has been circulated among groups promoting Saturday’s rallies against the Voice around the country.

    Warning: This story contains references to racist and anti-Semitic language.

    Leading far-right and conspiracy theory researcher Kaz Ross described it as a “deliberate infiltration strategy” of the anti-Voice campaign by sections of the far right.

    Source :

    Then there’s the grim historical truths that get overlooked far too often and their very human toll as described here :

    Ruth Hegarty was born into a world most of us could never imagine, and as the nation approaches a historic vote she wants Australians to know her story.

    “We’ve suffered a lot in Queensland, we suffered a lot,” she says quietly, as she looks through old photographs at her home in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

    WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following program may contain images and voices of people who have died.

    At 94 years old she is still working to change her community, and influence a country that has taken a lot from her.

    “I don’t think people understand this history … and it’s important they do.”

    “This is truth-telling,” she says.

    Source :

  160. StevoR says

    @183. Lynna, OM : “Elon Musk wants to trap you on X, and he wants to keep you there. You and everyone else.”

    If Musk wants people on Twitter seems to me he’s going very much the wrong way about it and destrioying the thing he spent so much cash on. Musk has not only renamed it, I reckon he’s murdering it.

  161. says

    Re: Lynna 181
    “Pregnancies, births and child care are not the purview of the government, he said, but of families, communities, charities and, most of all, churches.
    “The Bible is clear, and the history of Christendom broadly is clear, that it’s the church’s responsibility to meet the needs of the poor and to ensure that people have the services that they need to live flourishing lives,” Conzatti said.”

    They want dependancy. Otherwise they wouldn’t be pushing the government out and be happy to help in parallel They want families dependant on them, instead of people actually believing in their religion. Dependency on an abuser.

  162. says

    […] Ever since Trump misunderstood Ralph Northam’s explanation of what happens when someone gives birth to a baby that isn’t going to survive, he’s also insisted that post-birth abortions are definitely legal, which they are obviously not.

    And, at his rally yesterday [in Iowa], he did it again.

    “If it’s after the 9th month and the baby was born you put the baby aside,” he explained. “You discuss with the mother and if the mother doesn’t want the baby we execute the baby. This is part of their thing.” [video at the link]

    Oh yeah, that’s just part of our thing. Just a normal thing that happens in normal hospitals with perfectly healthy babies.

    […] It would be nice to believe that people don’t actually believe it, but I think we have to accept at this point that there is pretty much nothing that people won’t believe.

  163. Reginald Selkirk says

    More than 2,000 people killed as earthquake strikes western Afghanistan

    More than 2,000 people have died after a powerful earthquake struck western Afghanistan, the Taliban said Sunday, as the nation reels from another quake at a time of deep economic crisis.

    The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Herat city in the western Herat province – the third largest in Afghanistan.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mojahid put the number killed at 2,053 people, with more 1,240 people hurt and 1,320 houses completely or partially destroyed. There are fears the toll could rise further…

  164. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #209…
    I have tremendous sympathy for the Afghan people in this disaster and tragedy. The most frustrating thing is that, in the 21st century, such death toll from a ‘quake of that magnitude should not happen. The reason it does happen is the persistence of “traditional” building methods. Building out of unreinforced adobe (aka “mud brick”) is the worst construction method possible in any area subject to medium or larger ‘quakes. The only faint hope–and it is faint–is that when they rebuild, they won’t rebuild using the same materials and techniques. Because if they do that, they’ll be setting themselves or their descendants up for a repeat of the same disaster.

  165. says

    Ukraine Update: Hamas learned the wrong lessons from Russia

    It is always fraught to wade into the Israel-Palestine conflict, now turned into a hot war with Hamas in and around Gaza. I am about to do so, so help me god. But this isn’t about who is right and wrong and whose historical claim/grievance takes precedence to have more merit. People have been arguing over it for thousands of years.

    But I will say that whatever goals Hamas had for the future, it just pisses them away. By following Russia’s playbook of targeting civilians and children and engaging in sexual violence against women, Hamas lost any semblance of moral high ground, and rallied not just Israeli public opinion against it, but much of the world’s.

    The atrocities Hamas gleefully committed against Israeli civilians yesterday were perhaps the worst I’ve seen in the last two years, and that includes my daily diet of Russian atrocities in Ukraine. It might’ve been worse than what we saw in Bucha early in the war. A partial recap, without links. You can go find them yourself if you really need to see such barbarism:

    – A man in a car getting his throat slit, the Hamas terrrorist hops off as car then rolls down with the lifeless civilian at the wheel.
    – A young woman killed, then stripped and paraded around dancing militants. Originally identified as an Israeli citizen, she might actually be a German tourist attending a music festival.
    – Four elderly civilians killed at a bus stop.
    – Militants gleefully kicking and walking on a civilian corpse.
    – Dozens (or more?) civilians kidnapped.
    – Video of a woman being dragged away bleeding from an area that suggests sexual violence
    – A young girl crying over her dead sister, murdered by Hamas in front of her at their home.
    – Israeli children being abused in captivity.

    There were more, but the tweets I had bookmarked yesterday for this story have been since removed for graphic content. And quite frankly, I would rather not remember the exact details anymore.

    This butchery against civilians is terrorism, plain and simple. Hamas struck Israeli military positions, even used Ukraine War-style drone warfare to destroy equipment via drone-dropped explosives. In a war, that’s all fair. It’s a problem in the broader sense of the ongoing conflict, but war is war. But directly targeting civilians isn’t a military operation, it’s a terrorist one. And the joyful celebration around that death goes beyond even Russia’s savagery in Ukraine. Russia may murder civilians and feel justified in doing so, they may even celebrate those murders, but I haven’t seen them express joy over it.

    This is a thoughtful thread by conflict reporter Oz Katerji, currently covering the war in Ukraine. He’s spent years covering the Palestinian conflict.

    Strategically speaking, Gazans want the Israeli blockade of Gaza lifted, and Palestinians in general want statehood, an end to the occupation & an end to Israeli military & settler violence. Hard to see how today’s attacks advance these causes beyond revenge.

    The Israeli military response is going to be heavy, and will disproportionately affect civilians as any military action in densely populated urban centres always does. Furthermore it will be supported by a unified population & sympathetic international community.

    It’s hard to come to any other conclusion that this new and bloody chapter in the Israel-Palestine conflict will achieve anything other than a disastrous loss of life, and further entrenching the conflict for future generations.

    Katerji concludes that “trying to judge this escalation by its objectives seems futile, hard to imagine a world in which Hamas don’t fully understand how weak their hand is, and how badly Gaza will suffer as a consequence, yet they took the decision to do this regardless.”

    Lots of people are already dying in the Israeli response, and Israeli public opinion and much of the world is 100% unified on Israel’s right to defend itself. Had Hamas focused its actions against Israeli military positions, it would’ve still enjoyed huge success (dozens of Israeli pieces of equipment were destroyed, several soldiers taken captive, good for prisoner exchanges, and entire Israeli military outposts overrun). Instead, Hamas literally murdered their own friends. [Tweet and photo of Chaim Katzman.]

    Some may argue that murdering natural allies at a music festival attended by young Israelis will make zero difference in the end, that a solution to the problem was forever distant. But it matters. It literally does. You win by making friends and allies. Katzman’s academic work was on the damage the Israeli-far right was doing to the country. That festival was literally a peace festival, with lovely idealistic kids dedicated to finding a harmonious way forward. Now, his death will further radicalize that far-right. If a solution once seemed remote, it is now non-existent.

    It’s telling how muted international support has been in response to Hamas’ terrorism. Iran was overjoyed, of course, and Russian state propaganda was quite happy as well. But much of the Muslim world was far more muted. [True!]

    Egypt, which has its own blockade of Gaza to contain Hamas extremists, called for “exercising maximum restraint and avoiding exposing civilians to further danger,” literally blaming both-sides. Hezbollah, which operates out of southern Lebanon, launched a single rocket at Israel—taken as a sign of solidarity, but not a willingness to actively join the war. Morocco expressed “deep concern at the deterioration of the situation and the outbreak of military action in the Gaza Strip, and condemns attacks against civilians wherever they may be.” Qatar blamed Israel for the violence, but called on both sides to exercise restraint. Their fear being that Israel would use the Hamas attacks to launch a disproportionate reaction in Gaza, which of course it will. The United Arab Emirates, which normalized relations with Israel in 2020, called “for the exercise of maximum restraint and an immediate ceasefire to avoid serious repercussions. The UAE has expressed its sincere condolences to all the victims of the recent crisis.”

    Most interestingly, perhaps, was Saudi Arabia, currently negotiating a peace treaty with Israel. Calling for an “immediate cessation of violence,” the Saudi statement stated, “We are following the unprecedented developments between a number of Palestinian factions and Israel occupation forces which has led to a high level of violence on a number of fronts.”

    If Hamas can’t get unequivocal support from much of the Arab world, what can it hope to accomplish? [Good question.]

    And that’s where Katerji’s thread above comes back into play. Hamas wasn’t just seeing a lack of international support for its actions, but much of the Arab world was actively turning away from it. Not only has Egypt (1979), Jordan (1994), Bahrain (2020, Sudan (2020), UAE (2020), and Morocco (2020), normalized relations with Israel in recent years, but Saudi Arabia will likely join them at some point in the near future and recently authorized Israeli civilian flights over its territory. Heck, UAE and Israel even signed a free trade agreement. Some people suggest Hamas’ launched this attack specifically to undermine the Saudi-Israeli peace talks, and it has a certain logic to it (even if the reality is infinitely more complex).

    But murdering civilians, filming it, and releasing videos of them joyfully dancing around the corpses of civilians, or abusing women and children, is winning them nothing of value. And this is where Hamas learned the wrong lesson from Russia.

    It’s not a secret that Hamas and Russia have been making kissy faces at each other for some time. [Tweet and images from Jessica Berlin: Russia has steadily strengthened ties with Iran-backed #Hamas over the past decade. Make no mistake: what you’re seeing in #Israel today is directly connected to what you see in #Ukraine every day.]

    We’ve even seen videos of Hamas destroying Israeli armor using Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles. Yet in another sage thread, Katerji notes that it is just as ridiculous to blame Russia for what is happening in Gaza, as it is for the tankies to blame the United States for everything that ails the world.

    Trying to link Hamas to Russia is a pretty desperate manoeuvre, especially considering how warm relations are between Netanyahu and Putin. Don’t take those takes seriously.

    Guys, seriously, I’ve been covering Hamas for the majority of my career, just because they have relations with Russia doesn’t mean they are working with them here, particularly when Russia’s strategy of keeping Israel out of Ukraine has worked well for Putin.

    Israel and Russia have had a very clear deal—Israel doesn’t offer Ukraine any lethal assistance, despite its considerable means to do, and Russia stays out of the way when Israel bombs Syria. Indeed, Russia has its top-of-the-line S-400 air defense system in Damascus (or thereabouts) that remains curiously quiet during Israel’s regular bombing raids.

    Still, while Hamas may not be getting direct assistance or guidance from Moscow, it certainly is getting inspiration from how it has waged its war in Ukraine.

    We have wondered from the beginning why Russia expends so much valuable and dwindling ordnance targeting civilians, rather than military targets. It is an inherently self-defeating strategy, both by failing to degrade Ukrainian logistics, and also by stripping Russia of international legitimacy. Even its allies have to remain at arms-length, unwilling to be tainted by association.

    Western assistance and supplies have flowed virtually unimpeded through Ukraine to the front lines. The occasional rail station has been hit, but it’s rare. Russia would rather target civilian apartment buildings and grain silos in Odesa, than destroy rail hubs and bridges that allow Ukrainian forces to be properly supplied, or even Ukrainian command and control centers. It’s a wonder that Ukraine’s ministry of defense in Kyiv isn’t just standing, but it was never targeted by Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy literally worked out of his presidential palace office just a few days after the war began, when it became clear that Russia wouldn’t be striking the building.

    So if striking civilians is so counterproductive, why does Russia do it? The answer is simple: rage. It is a temper tantrum. [Interesting approach to explaining the problem. More below.]

    Ukrainian citizens were supposed to submit to their ethnic betters. Putin was told that half of the Ukrainian army would immediately defect to Russia, and entire cities and regions handed over to the occupiers. It happened in Kherson … and nowhere else.

    Putin is furious about this insolence, and needs to punish those Ukrainian citizens for their resistance. And so his military is using billions of dollars worth of limited rockets, missiles, and drones as an expression of his fury.

    Does it help accomplish Russia’s its strategic goals? Of course not, it hinders them. Does it help save Russian lives? Nope, it guarantees even more of them will die. But he’s f’ing angry, and goddam it, and Ukraine’s populace needs to pay!

    That expression of rage, impotent as it might be, clearly resonates with Hamas, which has been experiencing its own feelings of frustration and helplessness. A big part of their rage is from Gaza’s blockade, which isn’t just a product of Israel, but Egypt as well and the rival Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. The economic impact on Gaza’s civilians is real and harsh.

    But Hamas is also frustrated at its failures in advancing its core mission—the destruction of the Israeli state. In the preamble of its 1988 covenant, Hamas wrote, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” A 2017 update states that the establishment of Israel is “illegal” and “There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity.”

    Yet in the last several decades, two of Israel’s neighbors have recognized its existence (Egypt and Jordan), and as noted above, there is a new normalization rush from its supposed Arab allies in Africa and the Persian Gulf. Hamas wants the destruction of Israel, yet fewer and fewer countries subscribe to that goal as time wears on. So yes, there is real rage. Much of that rage is against Israel, for plenty of real and not real reasons.

    But this anger is deeper than that, this is about betrayal. And just like Putin has lashed out against Ukrainian civilians for supposedly turning their backs on their Russian ethnic cousins, Hamas is lashing out at Israeli civilians because of impotent rage.

    In both cases, it doesn’t matter that the actions literally undermine their ultimate goals. Killing Ukrainian civilians isn’t going to win the war for Putin, and killing Israeli civilians isn’t going to win Hamas support for the eradication of the Israeli state.

    But it feels good. So they’ll keep doing it, because in the end, that’s all they have left. That’s why Hamas gleefully record themselves parading around the stripped corpses of their terrorism victims, then happily record young kidnapped Israeli kids being abused. Will it win them new support? Quite the opposite. But it feels good goddamit, and at this point, it’s all they have left.

    A savvy Israeli government would use this opportunity to rally that international consensus toward further isolating Hamas, loosening its hold on power in Gaza, and working toward an actual solution. But the right-wing Trumpian dictator wannabe Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly not one of those, and just like the United States post-9-11, he has the political and diplomatic space to further inflame the situation. Destroying these barbaric Hamas terrorists is well within bounds, but we know he won’t stop there. And Hamas did a great job of both murdering the very people who could’ve paved the way to a solution, while turning even more of Israel and the world against their people.

    What a shit situation.

  166. says

    […] it looks like the world has yet another war to worry about. It’s deeply sad, terribly soul-crushing, and utterly senseless. So naturally Republicans rushed to politicize it.

    The latest GOP talking point brazen lie is that the $6 billion in Iranian money President Biden agreed to unfreeze as part of a prisoner swap deal helped finance Hamas’ attack on Israel.

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” to debunk those predictable attacks. [video at the link]

    BASH: “While we’re talking about Iran, I just have to ask you if you want to respond to what we’re hearing from Republicans, who are over and over since this happened using the word ‘appeasement’ when it comes to Iran and your administration. They criticize your decision to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds. I know and want to say that that money, according to your administration, has not yet been unfrozen. Iran does not yet have it. But the accusation is that … the administration’s posture toward Iran has helped contribute to this. I want to give you a chance to respond.”

    BLINKEN: “Well, there are two things here. First, with regard to the funds that you mentioned that were made available to Iran for humanitarian purposes as part of getting Americans back who were being held and detained in Iran. […] The facts are these. No U.S. taxpayer dollars were involved. These were Iranian resources that Iran had accumulated for the sale of its oil that were stuck in a bank in South Korea. They have had from day one … under our sanctions the right to use these monies for humanitarian purposes. They were moved from one account to another in another country to facilitate that use. As of now, not a single dollar has been spent from that account. And, again, the account is closely regulated by the U.S. Treasury Department so it can only be used for things like food, medicine, medical equipment. That’s what this is about. And by the way, the previous administration set up a very similar mechanism to enable Iran to use its oil proceeds that were blocked from various places or stuck in various places for humanitarian purposes. So people are either misinformed or they’re misinforming, and either way it’s wrong.”


  167. StevoR says

    Global Overheating and consequent Climate disasters already cost F1 one race this season in San Marino (italy) due to the track being literally underwater because of flooding.

    This Grand Prix weekend in Qatar, we had hot and humid conditions – at night – that caused drivers to nearly faint* – whilst driving at 200 kph, to vomit in their helmets and, in one case*** to retire from the race altogether becuase theyphysically unable to continue*** due to the conditions with temperatures in the cockpit reaching 50 degrees Celsisus.

    See :

    I expect this sort of thing will become more common. I hope it doesn’t end up in fatalities and expect it will cause changes in the laws, scheduling and maybe other things in the sport. Pretending we can carry on as “normal” in a fast broiling, fasetr changing, ever less predictable planet is increasingly clearly untenable.

    .* Notably George Russell.

    .** Specifically Esteban Ocon.

    .*** Namely Logan Sargent.

  168. StevoR says

    TV NEWS DOCO ALERT : 4 Corners onClimaet protesters and the attacks on the right toprotest tonight, 8.30 pm channel 2 ABC in Oz.

    Four Corners
    Monday, 9 Oct
    Series 2023 | Episode 37 | Escalation
    8:32 PM – 9:18 PM [46 mins]
    ctcCCRepeated on Tuesday 10 Oct at 9:15 PM,

    Climate, protest and the fight for the future. Reporter Hagar Cohen takes you deep inside the battle between climate activists, the government and energy companies.

    Source :

  169. says

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

    The UN rights office said on Monday it was concerned there was no system to return Ukrainian children taken to Russia since Moscow’s invasion of the country last year and that some of those who did come back reported mistreatment.

    Ukrainian authorities say they have identified and verified almost 20,000 children who have been taken to Russia during the war.

    Ukraine has repatriated more than 400 children so far but says it does not know exactly how many more there are because it does not have access to Russia or swathes of occupied territory in the south and east.

    “OHCHR remains gravely concerned that there is no established system to return Ukrainian children who were transferred to other regions in Russian-occupied territory or to the Russian Federation,” Nada Al-Nashif, UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, told the UN human rights council in Geneva.

    Reuters reports she added “Among the children who reunited with their family after relatives travelled to the Russian Federation to retrieve them, some described experiencing or witnessing psychological or physical violence by educational staff there.”

    Moscow has repeatedly denied [blah blah blah]

    The international criminal court has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova of the war crime of illegally deporting Ukrainian children.

  170. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Al Jazeera war liveblog. From there:

    The Israeli army says it has regained control of all towns around the Gaza fence.

    In remarks quoted by the Israeli media, army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said incidents of clashes between troops and fighters have been “isolated” in the last few hours.

    He said that currently there is no fighting in the region, adding: “It is possible there are still terrorists in the area.”

    Hagari said tanks, supported by combat helicopters and drones, are defending the breaches around the fence, adding that 15 out of 24 towns on the border have been evacuated.

    Refaat al-Areer, a Gaza resident, tells Al Jazeera what it was like spending the night under the constant sound of Israeli bombardment in the besieged enclave.

    “We have run out of adjectives to describe the Israeli bombing of whole blocks, targeting Palestinian families as they slept, targeting mosques, businesses and residential areas.

    “The night was unprecedented. We barely slept. The situation was terrifying.

    “I think this is just going to be the beginning because the bombs have not stopped for 10 hours, not even for a minute.”

    We’re hearing more from Refaat al-Areer, a Gaza resident, who earlier told Al Jazeera that the Israeli bombing of the besieged enclave did not stop “even for a minute” overnight.

    “Every Palestinian in Gaza is a target. We go outside just to buy necessary food items, especially for the kids. Almost everybody is inside … it is not safe even inside. Israel can still target and kill people wherever they are.

    “Israel is displacing forcibly by bombing areas and ordering people to leave. There is no place that is safe for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

    Israeli air attacks have targeted two refugee camps in the besieged Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera’s Youmna ElSayed reports.

    The “two massive raids” hit the Jabalia and al-Shati refugee camps, ElSayed said. A mosque in al-Shati was also struck, she added.

    Dozens of casualties have been brought to Gaza City’s main hospital, Al-Shifa.

    Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister, has announced a “complete siege” of Gaza, saying authorities would cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel.

    For context, it’s important to note that Gaza has been under a crippling air, land and sea blockade since 2007.

    The more than 2 million residents continue to face water and electricity shortages, as well as a lack of medicines and doctors unable to perform surgeries.

    As Israel prepares to implement a “total blockade” on the Gaza Strip, here is a summary how things are on the already besieged Gaza Strip:

    – At more than 45 percent, unemployment in Gaza is one of the highest in the world.
    – According to UNICEF, 96 percent of the water supplied is unsuitable for drinking.
    – On average, only 13 hours of electricity were available to residents in Gaza in 2023, according to the UN.
    – Gaza has no functional airports after Israel bombed and demolished the Yasser Arafat International Airport in 2001, only three years after it opened.

    Israeli energy minister, Israel Katz, has ordered “to immediately cut the water supply” to Gaza, his spokesperson said.

    The move comes after an earlier announcement of a “total blockade” on Gaza by the defence ministry.

    The latest death toll stands at 510 Palestinians in Gaza and more than 800 Israelis. Several Palestinians also reported killed in the occupied West Bank. More than 5,000 were reported injured on both sides of the conflict.

    Israel is drafting a record 300,000 reservists in its response to the multi-front Hamas attack from Gaza, as an estimated 100,000 forces is amassing near the fence with Gaza amid fears of a possible ground operation.

    Less than three days after the Hamas attack, more than 120,000 people in Gaza have been confirmed displaced amid a barrage of retaliatory Israeli strikes.

  171. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Israel-Hamas liveblog. From there:

    Qatari mediators have held calls with Hamas to try to negotiate freedom for Israeli women and children held in Gaza in exchange for the release of 36 Palestinian women and children from Israel’s prisons, a source told Reuters.

    Qatar has been conducting the negotiations in coordination with the United States, Reuters reported.

    Reuters has slightly more detail on Qatari attempts to secure the release of Israeli women and children seized by Hamas and being held in Gaza in return for 36 Palestinian women and children held in Israel’s prisons.

    The source has told Reuters the ongoing negotiations, which Qatar has been conducting in coordination with the US since Saturday night, are “moving positively”. Qatar has been in touch with Hamas officials in Doha and Gaza, the source said.

    The exact number of Israeli women and children hostages Hamas is offering in exchange is not clear, the source added. The total number of Israeli civilian hostages held in Gaza also remains unclear.

  172. says

    As Republicans scramble to blame the White House for Hamas’ attack on Israel, there are all kinds of errors of fact and judgment to keep in mind.

    Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel appeared on Fox News midday Saturday to comment on Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel. That, in and of itself, might not seem especially notable, though RNC chair described the crisis as “a great opportunity“ for her party’s presidential candidates to draw contrasts with President Joe Biden.

    Evidently, McDaniel’s fellow partisans were thinking very much along the same lines. NBC News reported on Saturday afternoon:

    Republican 2024 presidential candidates blamed the Biden administration for the attacks Hamas terrorists launched against Israel on Saturday, pointing to the deadly developments as evidence of U.S. weakness on the world stage and claiming that the administration is partly responsible.

    It was difficult to keep up with the prominent GOP voices scurrying to blame their own country’s leadership for Hamas’ attack. For example, Sen. Tim Scott, who somehow cultivated a reputation for being the nice guy in his party’s 2024 field, insisted that “the truth” is that the Democratic president “funded these attacks on Israel.”

    That wasn’t even close to being “the truth,” as the South Carolinian — a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — really ought to know, but Scott was hardly alone. Donald Trump spent much of the weekend lashing out wildly at his presidential successor, at one point even issuing a clumsily worded statement that suggested the Biden administration attacked Israel: “Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden Administration.”

    On Capitol Hill, the rhetorical offensive was just as aggressive. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a leading contender for House speaker, also blamed Biden for the crisis in Israel, as did Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, who falsely claimed that American tax dollars “funded” Hamas’ attack, adding that the militants bought weapons with “our money.”

    […] Media outlets aligned with the party followed suit.

    Part of the problem with all of this is that the Republican line is rooted in misinformation. While it’s true that the United States recently reached an agreement with Iran over the release of several hostages, and as part of the deal Iran gained access to oil revenue that had been frozen, the details matter.

    “All of the money held in restricted accounts in Doha as part of the arrangement to secure the release of 5 Americans in September remains in Doha. Not a penny has been spent,” Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson tweeted. “These restricted funds cannot go to Iran — it can only be used for future humanitarian-related purposes. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and misleading.”

    National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson added, “I can’t comment on 2024 because of the Hatch Act. But I can clarify the facts: Not a single cent from these funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people. These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks.”

    As for Vance’s assertion that American tax dollars were somehow involved, that’s plainly not a claim to be taken seriously, since it doesn’t even make sense within the GOP’s own framework, which is itself misleading.

    But as important as the factual details are, there’s also a broader problem with the Republicans’ rhetorical tack.

    In 1984, during the Republican National Convention, Jeane Kirkpatrick delivered a speech that included a catchphrase that she repeated five times during her remarks: “They always blame America first.” In reference to Democrats, she went on to condemn the “blame America first crowd.”

    It was an ugly line of attack, but it caught on and became a favorite of the right, and it’s still embraced by prominent Republicans a generation later. In Nikki Haley’s 2020 remarks at the Republican National Convention, for example, the former ambassador quoted Kirkpatrick and again accused Democrats of “blaming America first.” Last year, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas pushed the same line, declaring on Fox News, “[Biden] and other Democrats like him always blame America first.”

    There’s never been any real value in casually throwing around such obnoxious attacks on other Americans’ patriotism, though the line of rhetorical attack has certainly taken on a greater hypocritical dimension as Republicans rush — yet again — to blame their own country’s leadership for deadly violence for which the United States is obviously not responsible.

  173. says

    Cynical power plays:

    […] Kevin McCarthy’s cynical play to regain the speakership comes as House Republicans war with each other over their inability to provide extra aid to Israel after Hamas’ attack over the weekend. Nine Americans have been confirmed killed in the fighting, and there are unverified reports of potential American hostages—claims that McCarthy immediately sought to capitalize on.

    “Our top priority right now must be to rescue all American hostages,” he tweeted out Monday morning. “The Biden Administration cannot repeat the failures of Afghanistan. NO American left behind!”

    […] House Republican infighting has ground the lower chamber to a halt due to the absence of a speaker. But now, instead of the House caucus simply making a binary choice between Jordan and Scalise for a new speaker, McCarthy is back in the mix. Nothing but further delay and pandemonium can come of that.

    In the meantime, American priorities at home and allies around the globe will suffer the consequences.


    Meanwhile, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville continues to his blockage on military promotions.

    […] Tuberville is blocking unanimous consent on all military promotions in a bitter protest against the Pentagon policy paying for service members and their families to travel for abortion care if they’re stationed in states with abortion bans.

    Currently, the promotions he’s blocking include nominees for the top officers of the Navy and Air Force, leaving the nominees doing the top jobs on an acting basis while still being responsible for the jobs they’re supposed to have been promoted out of.

    Additionally, Tuberville is preventing the current commander of the 5th Fleet, which includes naval forces in the Middle East, from being promoted to be deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, and a new commander from being put in at the 5th Fleet. […]

    “The severity of the crisis in Israel underscores the foolishness of Senator Tuberville’s blockade,” Sen. Jack Reed, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Sunday. “The United States needs seamless military leadership in place to handle dangerous situations like this and Senator Tuberville is denying it. This is no time for petty political theater, and I again urge Republican colleagues to help actively end Senator Tuberville’s damaging blockade,” Reed added. “The time for talking is over.”

    […] Tuberville’s blockade continues to be enabled by his fellow Republicans and by the Senate rules that allow a single senator to grind things to a halt.


    Republicans have shot themselves in the foot so many times that they cannot legislate, even when it comes to their own pet priorities.

  174. says

    Age-related stories in the media:

    The GOP and the “liberal” mainstream press have been misleading the voters for months about President Joe Biden’s health. In a four day period in September, the cable news stations mentioned Biden’s age 193 times while Trump’s age was mentioned just 56 times. ( on September 29, 2023.) After this one sided coverage, these same media outlets then polled the voters about Biden’s age and found (surprise!) that voters are more concerned about Biden’s age than Trump’s age. It’s garbage in and garbage out.

    What is seldom mentioned by the mainstream press is that numerous prominent Republicans have said that Joe Biden is fit for duty. “Speaker Kevin McCarthy testified that Mr. Biden had been “very professional, very smart, very tough” during their talks. Yet people who deal with him regularly, including some of his adversaries, say he remains sharp and commanding in private meetings.” New York Times on June 4, 2023.

    […] After the recent ouster of McCarthy as speaker, even more evidence emerged from prominent Republicans that Biden is still energetic and sharp. “On a particularly sensitive matter, McCarthy mocked Biden’s age and mental acuity in public, while privately telling allies that he found the president sharp and substantive in their conversations — a contradiction that left a deep impression on the White House.” The Politico on October 4, 2023.

    […] Meanwhile, the Former Guy continues to deteriorate before our very eyes. In a recent bizarre rant on the campaign trail, Trump said he would prefer to die by electrocution rather than be eaten by a shark. In these remarks, Trump, slurred his words, saying he’d rather face “elecstrocution” than be eaten by a shark.

    The four time indicted former president followed that up with a bizarre, stream of consciousness pitch to California voters on September 29, promising to fill the state’s canals with enough water to irrigate bathrooms and dampen forests to prevent wildfires. […]

    And that’s not all. This part of a recurring pattern. These aren’t isolated statements. The highlights (or lowlights) of Trump’s deteriorating condition are as follows.

    Trump forgot who is currently president, and claimed “the Obama administration” recorded the length of his “border wall.”

    He even claimed **Jeb Bush** invaded Afghanistan and Iraq! Trump appeared confused when he said Jeb Bush was president during the Iraq War. “You know he was a mili — he got us into the, uh, he got us into the Middle East … Right?”

    In September, Trump mixed up Biden and Obama, and claimed Biden might start World War TWO. Trump even said you need a government photo ID to buy a loaf of bread.

    At the same time, Trump’s remarks have taken a dark turn and he has repeatedly threatened violence. Trump suggested that General Mark Milley should be executed. […]

    The former television reality star made menacing remarks about New York Attorney General Letitia James in a New York City courtroom. As he was walking into the courtroom, Trump said: “You ought to go after this attorney general.” This is a clear signal to his most unhinged supporters.

    Trump promised extrajudicial killings at a recent speech in California. He said: “We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,” he said, drawing loud applause. “Shot!” he added for emphasis. The crowd went wild.

    The run away front runner for the GOP presidential nomination said Comcast, the owner of NBC and MSNBC, “should be investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason’” and promised to do so should he be re-elected president next year. […]

    It’s pretty wild that, of the two leading presidential candidates, the guy found liable for rape and who is facing ninety one criminal indictments isn’t the one who is facing calls to step aside for someone else to run. The mainstream media has lost all sense of scale and proportion. The media fixation with Biden’s age as opposed to this clearly impaired guy is journalistic malpractice. […]