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  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    US buys 3 million barrels of oil for strategic reserve

    The United States has finalized contracts to purchase three million barrels of oil to help replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) after the largest sale in history last year, the U.S. Department of Energy said on Tuesday.

    The department said it bought the oil, for delivery to a site in Big Spring, Texas, for an average of $77.31 a barrel, below the average of $95 a barrel that oil sold for in 2022…

  2. says

    This seems useful with respect to organizing kinds of misinformation. The nature of the distracting information and how it’s meant to distract.
    https://www.emptywheel.net/2023/12/27/whether-others-said-untrue-things-on-the-internet-does-not-exonerate-trump/
    Via.
    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2023/12/28/2214131/-Abbreviated-Pundit-Roundup-The-past-present-and-future-of-disinformation

    I tend to relentlessly question disinformation when it shows up, there will always be a place where disinformation fails to be consistent with reality and the pushers of disinformation have a collection of dishonesty related to why they can’t actually back their shit up, which is a basic human obligation with a bad thing. And since they tend to be disparaging about the group they are disinforming about justifying my disparagement is easy. At worst I expose the social environment for being selective with disparagement and not making that the topic if it actually matters when some are benefitting from the existing disparagement. It’s why I call people who refer to “illegals” as “ignorants”. It’s reciprocal.

    The behavior about disinformation and defending claims will change, or the reciprocity allowed by disinformation spreaders will make a playing field capable of making them very uncomfortable.

  3. tomh says

    Court Finds Idaho’s Ban on Gender Affirming Care for Minors Unconstitutional
    December 28, 2023

    In Poe v. Labrador an Idaho federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of Idaho’s recently enacted Vulnerable Child Protection Act which prohibits medical providers from surgically or chemically treating gender dysphoria in minors. The court held that because the statute discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender status, it is subject to heightened scrutiny under the equal protection clause, and found that the statute likely fails that test, saying in part:

    Generally, the State Defendants say the legislature’s purpose in passing HB 71 was to protect vulnerable children from the dangers of unproven medical and surgical treatments. At a general level, safeguarding the physical wellbeing of children is of course important…. But in this case, the Court finds that the asserted objective is pretextual, given that HB 71 allows the same treatments for cisgender minors that are deemed unsafe and thus banned for transgender minors. That is, the medications and procedures that are used in gender-affirming medical care (such as puberty blockers, hormones, and surgeries) are used to treat cisgender adolescents for other purposes. But rather than targeting the treatments themselves, HB 71 allows children to have these treatments—but only so long as they are used for any reason other than as gender-affirming medical care….

    The court also found the likelihood of success on plaintiffs’ due process claims, saying in part:

    [T]his Court easily concludes that the parent plaintiffs enjoy a fundamental right to seek a specific form of medical treatment for their children, which would include the gender-affirming medical care banned by HB 71.

    The court however did dismiss plaintiffs’ unusual claim against the publisher of Idaho’s annotated statutes. Plaintiffs had argued that by failing to include annotations to federal cases that would indicate that Idaho’s statute is unconstitutional, the publishers violated plaintiffs’ due process rights.

    Religion Clause

  4. says

    Greetings, readers of, and posters to, The Infinite Thread,

    We posted 500 comments in the most recent chapter, so the thread rolled over to begin anew at comment #1.

    For the convenience of readers, here are some links back to the previous chapter:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/10/09/infinite-thread-xxix/comment-page-5/#comment-2205760
    tomh’s take on the Smothers brothers

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/10/09/infinite-thread-xxix/comment-page-5/#comment-2205753
    Regarding Representative Dean Phillips’ quixotic attempt to challenge Joe Biden in the Democratic primary

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2023/10/09/infinite-thread-xxix/comment-page-5/#comment-2205752
    About the Ayn Rand-loving cult fostered by Clarence and Ginni Thomas for clerks (past and present) of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

  5. says

    Donald Trump this week became the first major-party White House hopeful in American history to honor Christmas with a message in which he wrote, in reference to his perceived political foes, “MAY THEY ROT IN HELL.” Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan told CNN soon after that the former president’s harangue was “one of the most pathetic Christmas greetings I’ve heard.”

    As my MSNBC colleague Clarissa-Jan Lim noted, Trump apparently didn’t much appreciate the congresswoman’s response.

    Donald Trump directed his rage at Rep. Debbie Dingell on Tuesday after she criticized his Christmas Day social media tirade, calling the Michigan Democrat a “loser” and appearing to — once again — mock her over her husband’s death.

    If this story seems at all familiar, it’s not your imagination. Four years ago this month, on the night of his first impeachment, Trump headlined a campaign rally in Michigan, where he whined for a while about Dingell standing against him, despite his willingness to give her husband, the late Rep. John Dingell, a proper memorial service.

    The then-president told supporters, “She calls me up: ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down. He’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, don’t worry about it.’ … Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe.” [OMFG. This is even one of Trump’s despicable “sir” stories.]

    Politico’s Sam Stein, an MSNBC contributor, noted at the time, “You just don’t meet too many people in life who consciously pick fights with widows by suggesting their husband is in hell.”

    Dingell responded to Trump at the time, “You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.”

    Trump apparently didn’t much care. Four years later, as Trump again referenced hell — this time, in a Christmas message — he used his social media platform to not only call Dingell a “loser,” but also to repeat his version of events about her late husband.

    “When I gave, as President, her long serving husband, the absolute highest U.S. honors for his funeral, a really big deal, she called me, crying almost uncontrollably, to say that she couldn’t believe I was willing to do that for a Democrat,” the former president wrote. “She thanked me profusely. Two months later, she was back on the trail ranting and raving about ‘TRUMP.’”

    And if anyone knows a thing or two about “ranting and raving,” it’s the front-runner for the GOP nomination.

    All joking aside, among the many problems with Trump’s response is the subtext of his complaint: Trump approved a funeral for the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. In his mind, this meant that John Dingell’s loved ones necessarily owed him. As part of this debt, Debbie Dingell, from Trump’s perspective, should refrain from all future criticisms — regardless of merit. [Yep. That sounds like the way Trump’s brain works. Disgusting.]

    In response to the former president’s tantrum, the Democratic congresswoman returned to CNN and said, “We got to treat each other with dignity and respect. Civility matters. Words have consequences.”

    Dingell added, “Many people have had a tough hard year. We need some calm, some love, some hope, not more negative words with division. And I think each and every one of us has a responsibility to stand up and ask everybody to treat each other with that respect and dignity.”

    If recent history is any guide, this will only encourage Trump to attack her again.

    Link

  6. says

    Haley takes flak for blaming Civil War gaffe on ‘plant’

    Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is facing heat from a slew of political strategists and commentators after a recent gaffe [when answering a question] about the Civil War.

    In the wake of criticism over Haley’s remarks in which she failed to mention slavery as the cause of the Civil War, the former South Carolina governor suggested the voter who asked her the question was a “Democrat [sic] Plant.”

    “Well, don’t come with an easy question, right? I mean, I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do,” Haley responded to the New Hampshire voter, who pressed her over the cause of the Civil War.

    The GOP hopeful added it “always” comes down to the role of government, telling the crowd, “We need to have capitalism, we need to have economic freedom.”

    The voter then said it was “astonishing” that she did not mention slavery while discussing the Civil War.

    “What do you want me to say about slavery?” she asked.

    “You answered my question. Thank you,” the voter responded.

    Later on Thursday morning, Haley sought to clean up the remarks while in a New Hampshire radio interview.

    “Of course the Civil War was about slavery,” Haley said Thursday. “We know that. That’s the easy part of it. What I was saying was what does it mean to us today? What it means to us today is about freedom. That’s what that was all about,” adding later she believes the voter was a “Democrat [sic] plant.”

    Democratic strategist Lis Smith dug into the “plant” remark, writing on X, “The identity of the questioner is irrelevant.”

    “Part of running for president and doing the whole early state thing is showing you have ‘what it takes’ to deal with everything that comes your way…including answering BASIC QUESTIONS about the cause of the Civil War,” Smith continued.

    […] Dan McLaughin, a senior writer for the National Review, said it’s “quite possibly true” that the voter was a plant, though the question was “easy.”

    “But it was still an easy question & she just ran the red lights like she was on autopilot,” he wrote on X.

    Political analyst Bill Kristol pushed back on the plant argument, writing, “What does ‘sending plants’ mean? It’s a town hall! All kinds of people show up! That’s the point.”

    Kristol added he isn’t sure the question qualified as “a devilishly clever trick question.”
    The political analysts’ criticism joins that of various Republicans Democrats, like President Joe Biden, who wrote on X, “It was about slavery.” […]

  7. says

    Sanders tests positive for COVID-19 during Senate break as infections rise nationally

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday he tested positive for COVID-19, amid a nationwide spike in infections.

    The 82-year-old Sanders, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he was experiencing “minimal” symptoms and will continue to isolate while working from his home in Vermont.

    “I am glad to be fully up to date with the vaccine,” Sanders wrote.

    […] The U.S. is seeing elevated levels of respiratory illness this winter, and the Northeast is experiencing the highest levels of viral activity, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wastewater data.

    Nationally, the wastewater viral activity level for COVID-19 is the highest it’s been since the omicron surge in 2022.

    According to data from before Christmas, JN.1 is now the dominant variant. For the two weeks ending Saturday, JN.1 is expected to account for 39 percent to 50 percent of all variants, CDC said.

    “JN.1’s continued growth suggests that the variant is either more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems than other circulating variants. It is too early to know whether or to what extent JN.1 will cause an increase in infections or hospitalizations,” the CDC said, adding that existing vaccines, tests, and treatments still work against JN.1. […]

  8. says

    How About We Don’t Put Kids To Work In Sawmills?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/how-about-we-dont-put-kids-to-work

    You know, because it can and does kill them!

    Since at least the Bread and Roses Strike at a Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile mill in 1912, the Right and Left have been at odds over child labor. We tend to not be especially fond of it because we want children to go to school and also not die in industrial accidents, while the Right tends to romanticize it as some kind of glorious character-building experience that just so happens to benefit employers who want to pay less than it would cost to hire actual adults to do that work.

    It seemed, for a time, that we had settled on a compromise of teenagers working limited hours at mall stores and fast food restaurants, but lately the Right has been looking to expand that by passing bills increasing the number of hours children are allowed to work and the places where they are allowed to work. And how has that worked out?

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, since 2018, 57 children under the age of 15 have died from injuries sustained at work, while 68 teens ages 16-17 died during that same period. I think we can fairly assume that they were not folding sweaters at The Gap.

    Earlier this month, the Department of Labor fined Florence Hardwoods, a Wisconsin sawmill, $1.4 million following the death this June of Michael Schuls, a 16-year-old boy who “became trapped in a stick stacker machine as he tried to unjam it” and died two days later as a result of his injuries.

    An investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the sawmill did not provide the appropriate safety training to either teenage or adult employees, reporting that “[s]ince 2019, at least five employees of Florence Hardwoods, Sagola Hardwoods and Minerick Logging have suffered serious injuries due to lockout failures, including a fatality at Minerick Logging where a worker suffered fatal injuries while servicing a trailer in 2019.”

    “There is no excuse for allowing underage workers to operate this type of machinery,” said (Acting) Secretary of Labor Julie Su in a statement. “Federal child labor and safety regulations exist to prevent employers from putting children at risk. They also exist to hold employers like Florence Hardwoods accountable for endangering these young workers.”

    The Department of Labor reports that there has been a 69 percent increase in businesses illegally employing children. This increase is likely due, in part, to the influx in migrant children coming to the United States, many of them unaccompanied by parents.

    But it’s also due to the fact that Republicans have been trying to “loosen up the child labor laws” so that companies can more freely employ minors to do jobs they don’t want to pay adults enough to do. In Wisconsin in particular, Republicans have been pushing to allow child bartenders — who wants this?! — and eliminate work permit requirements for those under the age of 18.

    And then something like this happens. Big surprise!

    A child is dead because the people who operated the sawmill, where he never should have been working to begin with, didn’t even bother to train him properly. They are not afraid to do this because they think, correctly, that Republicans are on their side. But Republicans can’t save them from that OSHA fine or from becoming internationally known as The Sawmill of Death.

    There is nothing wrong with a teenager having a summer job or even an after-school job — but no, they should not be working in situations where they could be killed in the course of doing their jobs (outside of shootings, because this is still America, after all).

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lauren Boebert announces she’ll be running for Congress — in a different district

    Beleaguered Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert announced Wednesday night that she is running for Congress again — but in a different, more conservative district. This means she avoids facing Democrat Adam Frisch, a former Aspen city council member who ran against her in 2022. Frisch lost in 2022 by fewer than 550 votes and has outraised her by millions this election cycle.

    Boebert, currently representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, announced she will now be running in the 4th District, the most conservative in the state and an easier seat for her to win, reports Colorado Public Radio. Current Rep. Ken Buck has announced he will not run for reelection…

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    Who is an Atheist

    An atheist is an individual who holds a fundamental disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of gods, deities, or supernatural beings. Atheism stands as a perspective rooted in rationality, empirical evidence, and skepticism, rejecting the concept of divine entities without requiring scientific proof….

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    FDA wants Amazon to stop selling Viagra-spiked “energy supplements”

    If you were to search for a product called “Mens Maximum Energy Supplement” on Amazon, you’d be bombarded with everything from caffeine pills to amino acid supplements to the latest herb craze. But at some point last year, the FDA had purchased a specific product by that name from Amazon and sent it off to one of its labs to find out if the self-proclaimed “dietary supplement” contained anything that would actually boost energy.

    In August, the FDA announced that the supposed supplement was actually a vehicle for a prescription drug that offered a very specific type of energy boost. It contained sildenafil, a drug much better known by its brand name: Viagra.

    Four months later, the FDA is finally getting around to issuing a warning letter to Amazon, giving it 15 days to not only address Mens Maximum Energy Supplement and a handful of similar vehicles for prescription erection boosters, but also asking for an explanation of how the company is going to keep similarly mislabelled prescription drugs from being hawked on its site in the future…

  12. says

    We have spent much of the last year documenting Republican efforts to outlaw abortion across the United States, with many of the draconian measures being based on the point at which there is fetal pole cardiac activity. You know, the insipidly titled “Heartbeat bills.”

    But what may come as a surprise to many of them is that, believe it or not, living human children also have heartbeats. Actual heartbeats, even, because of how they have actual hearts and other developed organs, like stomachs. And because, unlike a six-week-old fetus, they are larger than a grain of rice, they need food to fill those stomachs. Food that costs money.

    Alas, even with their well-developed organs, Republicans simply don’t care as much for human children as they do for six-week-old fetuses, which is why some of them are making the choice to not fund summer EBT programs aimed at curbing childhood hunger. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds made her proclamation on the Friday before Christmas, just to make it extra Dickensian.

    “Federal COVID-era cash benefit programs are not sustainable and don’t provide long-term solutions for the issues impacting children and families. An EBT card does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic,” she said in a statement, clearly unaware of the fact that children enrolled in this program tend to eat healthier foods, because their parents can afford it, rather than cheaper foods that tend to be less nutritious.

    This program would allot about $30 to $60 for each child participating in a state’s subsidized lunch program for the entire summer. So, at most, about $120 to feed a child for an entire summer. I don’t know if you have been to a grocery store lately, but $120 does not get you a huge amount of food.

    Remember when Sally Struthers used to stand around starving children in developing nations and say, “For less than a cup of coffee a day, you could feed this child and others like her”? That is literally true in this case […]

    Iowa is not an outlier, either. Salon reports that “according to the Alliance to End Hunger, less than half the eligible states and U.S. territories have signed up for Summer EBT as a Jan. 1 federal application deadline looms.”

    Via Salon:

    In a Wednesday statement to Salon Food, Eric Mitchell, the president of the Alliance to End Hunger, said that for millions of children, the end of school meals during the summer months means losing out on their main and most consistent source of nutrition.

    “For these children, access to Summer EBT can be the difference between getting the meals they need to stay healthy and thrive, or going hungry,” Mitchell said. “That’s why Congress recently made the program permanent, and why every state should participate.”

    He continued: “It is deeply concerning that, with the January 1 deadline approaching for summer 2024, more than half of states have yet to commit for this summer. In a time when food insecurity in the United States is increasing, we need to do everything in our power to ensure that no child goes hungry. The Alliance to End Hunger hopes that states will do the right thing and make the proper investments in this critically important program.”

    “No thank you,” they say, “we do not want any of your federal money to feed the children in our state and would prefer to watch them starve over the summer.”

    I’d love for that to be a huge, snarky exaggeration, but it’s not too far off from what Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said when he turned down the money.

    “In the end, I fundamentally believe that we solve the problem, and I don’t believe in welfare,” he told the Journal Star. Pillen then explained that his plan was to feed children while they were not at their homes, because eating food at home is bad and welfare-y somehow.

    “We’re gonna take care of every one of these kids through the summer, feeding them,” he said. “We just want to make sure that they’re out. They’re at church camps. They’re at schools. They’re at 4-H. And we’ll take care of them at all of the places that they’re at, so that they’re out amongst [other people] and not feeding a welfare system with food at home.”

    Pillen is talking here about the Summer Food Service Program, which, through the Department of Agriculture, provides “schools, camps, parks, playgrounds, housing projects, community centers, churches, and other public sites where children gather in the summer” with meals for eligible children. That is very nice, it’s a great program, but not all parents are able to drive their children back and forth from these things all day, every day during the summer. Day camps usually seem to last about one to three weeks and frequently cost money. 4-H camps in Nebraska cost $275-$550.

    This program, by the way, is also a form of welfare, which is defined as “statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need.” Republicans have so warped the definition of the term in order to turn it into this evil thing that makes people bad and lazy that they have absolutely no idea what it even means anymore. In other countries, people are even proud of the fact that they take care of people.

    There are, actually, no “long-term solutions” to childhood hunger in this country that would please Republicans — because let’s be clear on what it is that they do want. They want to force women to give birth and have babies; they want businesses to be able to pay their employees poverty wages if that is what they feel like doing; they do not want working class people to push for higher wages on the grounds that it might make their hamburgers super expensive; they don’t want to look at homeless people; and, as Pillen said, they don’t want welfare.

    Oh! And of course, they don’t want any crime, either. Naturally.

    They cannot have all of those things at the same time. It’s not possible. […]

    The only way to “solve the problem” of child hunger is to feed children. The children don’t need to work […] they don’t need to “leave their houses” in order to prove to Governor Scrooge that they aren’t “lazy” in order to “deserve” food.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/for-less-than-a-cup-of-coffee-a-day

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mexican villagers who killed extortionists ‘acted in self-defence’

    Mexican villagers who killed 10 members of the notorious Familia Michoacana criminal gang will not be facing any charges after prosecutors ruled they had acted in self-defence.

    Prosecutors said that the residents of Texcapilla had come “under constant threat” from the gang, which had tried to extort money from farmers.

    They were summoned to a football pitch where gang members opened fire on them.

    But they fought back with weapons including shotguns and machetes.

    Ten members of the Familia Michoacana and four of the locals were killed in the deadly fight which followed. Seven more people were injured…

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    Unusual boxes and 7,000-year-old trove found locked in ice

    Northern Canada is known for its blustery weather, dramatic landscape, and plentiful ice. But with an unprecedented thaw in Canada’s Mount Edziza Provincial Park the past few years, objects began emerging from the ice.

    Some of the manmade possessions are 7,000 years old, and they belonged to the Tahltan First Nations. Mount Edziza, a volcano located in northwestern British Columbia, has remained a significant hunting ground for the Tahltan nation for thousands of years. With this discovery, archaeologists are now able to gain more insight into what life was like for people here since around 5,000 B.C.

    There were containers crafted from birch bark, antler ice picks, tools carved from bones, walking sticks, and even a stitched boot. Among the artifacts discovered were also tools fashioned from obsidian, the black glass created by lava flows. Many others are made from materials such as leather, wood, and bone…

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    Substack Turns On Its ‘Nazis Welcome!’ Sign

    Back in April Substack founder/CEO Chris Best gave an interview to Nilay Patel in which he refused to answer some fairly basic questions about how the company planned to handle trust & safety issues on their new Substack Notes microblogging service. As I noted at the time, Best seemed somewhat confused about how all this worked, and by refusing to be explicit in their policies he was implicitly saying that Substack welcomed Nazis. As we noted, this was the classic “Nazi bar” scenario: if you’re not kicking out Nazis, you get the reputation as “the Nazi bar” even if you, yourself, don’t like Nazis…

  16. says

    Sexual assault cases in US military now prosecuted by independent lawyers

    The U.S. military on Thursday opened a new chapter in how it investigates and prosecutes cases of sexual assault and other major crimes, putting independent lawyers in charge of those decisions and sidelining commanders after years of pressure from Congress.

    The change, long resisted by Pentagon leaders, was finally forced by frustrated members of Congress who believed that too often commanders would fail to take victims’ complaints seriously or would try to protect alleged perpetrators in their units.

    The new law was fueled by a persistent increase in sexual assaults and harassment across the military. The Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy all saw reported sexual assaults go up last year, but a sharp 9% drop in reports from the Army — the largest military service — drove the overall number down. In 2021, reported assaults spiked by 13%.

    Under the law, new special counsels will have the authority to make prosecution decisions on a number of major crimes, including murder, rape and several other sexual assault-related offenses, kidnapping, domestic violence, making or possessing child sexual abuse images, stalking and retaliation.

    […] Senior officials from the military services who are familiar with the new program said they already have more than 160 certified special trial counsels who will take over the prosecution decisions as of Thursday. […] The officials spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss the new program under rules set by the Defense Department.

    As of Thursday, the special trial counsels will have sole authority to make prosecution decisions on new cases involving the major crimes. […]

    More at the link.

  17. says

    Followup to comments 12 and 15.

    South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union in 1860, the first state to consider secession at the outset, and the first state to take up arms in the insurrection that ultimately became known as the Civil War. As its former governor, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley knows full well that the preservation of slavery was the reason that South Carolina enjoys such an infamous place in our history.

    But Haley is not running for the post of presidential historian. She is attempting to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, and she faces the daunting obstacle of winning over a Republican primary electorate almost completely in thrall of Donald Trump. And like the other Republican hopefuls Trump has left floundering in the detritus of his wake, she knows that her only path lies in somehow distinguishing herself in the eyes of those voters.

    And if that means pandering to their fantasies about themselves and their forefathers’ motivations, then so be it.

    And we must make no mistake about those motivations. As the Charleston Mercury put it so eloquently on Nov. 3, 1860:

    The issue before the country is the extinction of slavery. No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and who is not prepared to surrender the institution, with the safety and independence of the South, can doubt that the time for action has come—now or never. The Southern States are now in the crisis of their fate; and, if we read aright the signs of the times, nothing is needed for our deliverance, but that the ball of revolution be set in motion. […]

    The existence of slavery is at stake. The evils of submission are too terrible for us to risk them, from vague fears of failure, or a jealous distrust of our sister Cotton States.

    But Haley’s in it to win it, and she’s chosen which voters she thinks can help her do it. That’s why, when asked a simple question during a New Hampshire town hall on Tuesday, she chose to refuse—quite pointedly—to acknowledge that the Civil War was fought over slavery.

    Watch: [video at the link]

    The backlash was swift, and it was scathing. [Example at the link]

    As The Daily Beast’s David Rothkopf noted, Haley’s outrageous response simply cemented her status as a “morally and ethically adrift word salad bar.” But it was a sacrifice she was prepared to make if it meant sending a signal to the Republican electorate that yes, she’s one of them! She can be trusted to protect the illusion and salve the consciences of that segment of the voter base that minimizes the brutal and shameful legacy of the Confederacy.

    As pointed out by Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing in 2015 for The Atlantic, South Carolina’s declaration of secession was anything but a dry and tedious pronouncement about, as Haley stated Wednesday night, the “role of government.” It was instead a blistering diatribe citing President Abraham Lincoln’s “hostility” toward the entire institution of slavery—a position that South Carolina’s legislature characterized as “destructive” of the state’s “beliefs and safety.”

    Coates quotes directly from that document:

    … A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

    To her credit, Haley’s convoluted response did get a couple things right. The Civil War was certainly about “capitalism,” and even “economic freedom” for many white Southerners. As Coates observes, the preservation of an institution that violently forced Black people—under pain of torture or death—to work in bondage under degrading conditions until they outlived their usefulness was the indispensable component driving the South’s economy prior to the Civil War.

    Coates explains:

    It is difficult for modern Americans to understand such militant commitment to the bondage of others. But at $3.5 billion, the 4 million enslaved African Americans in the South represented the country’s greatest financial asset. And the dollar amount does not hint at the force of enslavement as a social institution. By the onset of the Civil War, Southern slaveholders believed that African slavery was one of the great organizing institutions in world history, superior to the “free society” of the North.

    So yes, in many ways the Civil War certainly implicated “capitalism,” but probably not the kind of capitalism people envision when playing Monopoly, for example.

    By Thursday—facing outrage she doubtlessly anticipated—Haley tried to walk back her statement, saying, “Of course the Civil War was about slavery. We know that. That’s the easy part of it.” But not without accusing the unnamed questioner of being “planted” by the Biden campaign.

    As reported by NH Journal:

    “If you watch my town halls, this happened in my entire last race. It’ll happen this time, too. Biden and the Democrats keep sending Democrat plants to do things like this, to get the media to react. We know when they’re there. We know what they’re doing,” Haley said.

    For Haley, asking a Republican candidate about the Civil War can only be a Democratic “plot,” a revealing admission in itself. Then again, Haley is someone who only flip-flopped on her public stance about the Confederate flag when a shooting massacre perpetrated by a white supremacist forced her hand. It’s fairly impossible to determine what, if anything, she actually believes.

    More to the point: Haley’s clumsy effort to whitewash the history of slavery in this country is emblematic of a deeper rot suffusing the modern Republican Party to this day, one that instinctively seeks to blur, and ultimately obscure, the pervasive racism still so prevalent among its rank and file voters.

    It’s the same sort of rot [led] directly to the imposition of Jim Crow and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s the same rot that prompted southern Democrats to flip to the Republican Party in the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    And it’s the same rot that currently drives the modern Republican Party in its efforts to suppress and gerrymander the Black vote, while its most ardent supporters continue to revel in the nakedly racist rhetoric of Trump.

    […] it’s a sad testament to the unyielding impulse of racism and the absolute refusal of a large segment of white America to let it go that explains why—still, in these final days of 2023—it remains politically useful for a Republican presidential candidate to pretend not to know what caused the Civil War. Republican candidates know that the very worst thing they can do is remind their own voters of that war’s shameful origins. After all, they’ve spent over 150 years trying to sugarcoat, rewrite, or minimize them.

    Link

  18. birgerjohansson says

    BTW more people are coming forth with stories confiring Donald Trump has a ‘bad smell’ problem going back decades.
    Incontinence?

  19. says

    Reginald @32, that’s bad news.

    Good news: Maine becomes second state to disqualify Trump from ballot

    Maine’s Secretary of State on Thursday said former President Trump was ineligible to be on the state’s primary ballot under the 14th Amendment, becoming the second state to do so.

    Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, said she had concluded that Trump “over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power.”

    She also concluded that Trump “was aware of the likelihood for violence and at least initially supported its use given he both encouraged it with incendiary rhetoric and took no timely action to stop it.

    “Mr. Trump’s occasional requests that rioters be peaceful and support law enforcement do not immunize his actions,” she said. A brief call to obey the law does not erase conduct over the course of months, culminating in his speech on the Ellipse. The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match.” [Well said.]

    “I do not reach this conclusion lightly. Democracy is sacred… I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” she wrote.

    “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection. The oath I swore to uphold the Constitution comes first above all, and my duty under Maine’s election laws, when presented with a Section 336 challenge, is to ensure that candidates who appear on the primary ballot are qualified for the office they seek.

    “The events of January 6, 2021 were unprecedented and tragic. They were an attack not only upon the Capitol and government officials, but also an attack on the rule of law. The evidence here demonstrates that they occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President. The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government, and Section 336 requires me to act in response.”

    Trump is certain to appeal the decision, and it increasingly looks like the issue will have to be taken up by the Supreme Court.

    The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last week that Trump should be barred from its primary ballot last week. An appeal to that case is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court.

  20. birgerjohansson says

    Mano Singham at Freethoughtblogs has a post about insane Republicans taking over the party in Michigan.
    Since the leader is too crazy to raise enough money to save the party chapter from bankrupcy fellow MAGAites are now turning on her.

    Sellers of popcorn will have good times ahead.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 38
    Next up: The Reynhard Heydrich University designs coursework that shows nothing of importance happened 1933-1945.

  22. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russian Lawmaker Found Dead at 46 After ‘Falling Out Window’

    A Russian lawmaker from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party has been found dead under mysterious circumstances at the age of 46.

    Vladimir Yegorov, a deputy of the Tobolsk City Duma in the Tyumen region, was found lifeless Wednesday in a courtyard in Tobolsk, according to Baza.

    Russian state media confirmed his death, with a law enforcement source telling TASS: “A body was discovered, the fact of death was confirmed, investigators are establishing all the circumstances.”

    Investigators said there were no “external signs of a criminal death” on Yegorov’s body, according to Kommersant. But it remains unclear how he died.

    Bizarrely, Baza reported that he was believed to have fallen out a third-floor window, and local outlet 72.ru cited witnesses who backed up that account. But another unnamed source told the outlet it was more likely Yegorov had died from “heart problems.” …

    You would think a coroner should be able to tell the difference between a heart attack and falling out of a window. Maybe we have reached the stage where even Russians consider “falling out a window” to be a pointed joke.

  23. says

    Politico:

    The State Department on Wednesday unveiled this year’s final military aid package for Ukraine, as lawmakers continue to negotiate a spending deal that would sustain U.S. support for Kyiv into the new year. In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. will provide Ukraine with ‘up to $250 million of arms and equipment under previously directed drawdowns.’

  24. says

    NBC News:

    A federal appeals court on Thursday denied former President Donald Trump’s request to halt proceedings in the upcoming E. Jean Carroll defamation trial. In a court filing last week, Trump’s attorneys asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to delay the case for 90 days while he considered appealing the court’s previous rejection of his efforts to use presidential immunity as a defense. The appeals court denied that request on Thursday, allowing the trial to begin Jan. 16.

  25. says

    NBC News:

    Idaho cannot enforce a law banning gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers and hormones for transgender minors, a federal judge ruled, a victory for families who had sued the state challenging the law.

  26. Reginald Selkirk says

    Korea to launch new ‘digital nomad’ visa on Jan. 1

    Visitors with annual income over $65,000 can stay up to 2 years with job back home

    South Korea will start issuing new “digital nomad” visas starting Monday, which will allow some foreign residents to stay for up to two years while maintaining a job back home, officials said Friday.

    “To make remote work and vacation of foreigners in Korea smoother, we have decided to launch a new digital nomad visa,” the Justice Ministry said, highlighting the rise of the “workcation” trend, where employees work remotely from a different location…

  27. says

    Fake Elector Certificates Flown to DC by Trump Campaign

    […] CNN has reported that two days before the January 6th insurrection, the fake elector certificates from Michigan and Wisconsin were…stuck in the mail. (Oh, DeJoy of schadenfreude!)

    CNN says they have obtained emails and recordings of Trump campaign operatives as they faced the possibility that the certificates would arrive too late:

    So, Trump campaign operatives scrambled to fly copies of the phony certificates from Michigan and Wisconsin to the nation’s capital, relying on a haphazard chain of couriers, as well as help from two Republicans in Congress, to try to get the documents to then-Vice President Mike Pence while he presided over the Electoral College certification.

    Campaign staff even considered a private jet but used a commercial flight, instead.

    Emails obtained by CNN corroborate what Chesebro told Michigan prosecutors: He communicated with the top Trump campaign lawyer, Matt Morgan, and another campaign official, Mike Roman, to ferry the documents to Washington on January 5.

    From there, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and a Pennsylvania congressman assisted in the effort to get the documents into Pence’s hands.

    I had previously missed Ron Johnson’s statement about this.

    Asked about the episode, a spokesperson for Johnson pointed to his previous comments, where he said, “my involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple seconds,” and that, “in the end, those electors were not delivered.”

  28. tomh says

    NYT:
    Ohio Governor Blocks Bill Banning Transition Care for Minors
    By Amy Harmon / Dec. 29, 2023

    Mike DeWine, the Republican governor of Ohio, vetoed a bill on Friday that would have banned transgender minors from receiving puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries, a rare rejection in what has been a concerted effort by the Republican Party to mobilize cultural conservatives around transgender issues for the 2024 primaries.

    Lawmakers passed the measure earlier in December. Those in favor of the bill argued that parents are pressured by doctors to sign off on transition care treatments for their children. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Gary Click, said parents are “being manipulated by the physicians.’’

    In addition to banning transition care for minors, the bill says medical professionals who provide the care could lose their licenses and be sued. It also prohibits transgender girls and women from playing on high school and college sports teams that correspond with their gender identity….

    The governor reached his decision after visiting hospitals and meeting with families “both positively and negatively affected” by gender-affirming care last week, a spokesperson said….

    For now, minors in Ohio can continue to receive gender transition treatments. But the Ohio legislature, where Republicans hold a supermajority, could override Mr. DeWine’s veto. If it does, only those who have already been receiving treatments will be able to continue them….

    Last month, transgender youth and their families in Tennessee asked the Supreme Court to block the state’s ban on transition care for minors. If the court agrees to hear the case, it would have consequences for state bans across the country, legal experts said.

  29. says

    A 14-year-old has been charged with murder after being accused of fatally shooting his older sister on Christmas Eve during a family dispute over gifts, Tampa Bay area authorities say.

    His 15-year-old brother has also been charged with attempted murder after he allegedly shot the younger brother in retaliation for the shooting of their sister, Abrielle Baldwin, 23, the Sheriff’s office of Pinellas County, Florida, announced.

    The dispute began when the siblings, along with their mother and Baldwin’s two children, were shopping for presents on Christmas Eve and began arguing because the 15-year-old felt his brother was getting more gifts, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a press conference Tuesday.

    “They had this family spat about who was getting what and what money was being spent on who and they’re having this big thing going on in the store and they are all arguing with each other,” Gualtieri said.

    The family left the store and went to the grandmother’s home in Largo, where the argument continued, according to the sheriff. Baldwin urged the 14-year-old to “stop arguing because it was Christmas,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.

    At some point, the 14-year-old took out a 40-caliber handgun, pointed it at his brother and threatened to shoot him, Gualtieri said. After Baldwin intervened, he then pointed the gun at her and said he would shoot her and her 11-month-old child, who she was holding in a carrier, he added.

    The teen shot Baldwin in the chest as she was holding the baby carrier, according to the release.

    The 15-year-old then pulled out another handgun, shot his brother and fled the scene, the sheriff said. The teen was later found at a relative’s home in nearby Clearwater, he added.

    When deputies arrived a the scene of the shooting, they found the younger brother and Baldwin with single gunshot wounds, the release said. Baldwin was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her 11-month-old son was not injured in the incident, Gualtieri added.

    The younger brother was also taken to a hospital and was in stable condition, authorities said.

    The 14-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and delinquent in possession of a firearm, according to the release. The 15-year-old has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. […]

    Link

  30. Reginald Selkirk says

    From there, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and a Pennsylvania congressman assisted in the effort to get the documents into Pence’s hands.

    Methinks the 14th Amendment applies to more than Trump.

  31. says

    Republicans from the USA exporting hate, bigotry, and misinformation: GOP House member tells Uganda to ‘stand firm’ in face of opposition to anti-gay law

    Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) in October remarks said Ugandan leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni, should “stand firm” in the face of international outrage over the passage of a law criminalizing same-sex conduct, including potentially the death penalty for individuals convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.”

    “Whose side do we want to be on?” Walberg asked during Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast on Oct. 8. “God’s side. Not the World Bank; not the United States of America necessarily; not the U.N. God’s side.”

    “Your esteemed president, his excellency President Museveni, needs a nation that stands with him and says, though the rest of the world is pushing back on you, though there are other major countries that are trying to get into you and ultimately change you, stand firm,” Walberg added.

    Museveni, who signed Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in May, later said Walberg’s remarks show there are Americans who “think like us.”

    Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, but the new law’s harsh penalties have drawn widespread condemnation from human rights groups and international political leaders on both sides of the aisle.

    Walberg’s remarks, which were first reported by Salon, have also drawn swift outrage, which the congressman during the October event said he anticipated.

    “This will probably get back to the national media in the United States, and I expect some pushback,” Walberg said at the time. “But I’m not going to give in.”

    Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), one of 11 openly LGBTQ members of Congress, in a Thursday post on X, formerly known as Twitter, called Walberg’s support of the Uganda law “disgusting.”

    “News that House Republican Tim Walberg traveled to Uganda to support their anti-gay bill, including the death penalty, is disgusting,” Garcia wrote. “Tim, do you think the government should execute me and my 11 fellow gay Members of Congress because we are LGBTQ?” […]

    Of course Walberg emphasized that he is on “God’s side.”

    Walberg’s remarks went relatively unnoticed for awhile, but yesterday the remarks were highlighted on X.

  32. says

    Nuttiness on X (Twitter) is still surprising:

    ittle more, because this is some nutty stuff. We’ll just transcribe for efficiency:

    Light of Faith: dead children in our water supply isn’t healthy. I think keeping your sex life sustainable without killing anyone would be ideal. Life is more than sex and killing children for convenience.

    Skeptic: there are dead babies in my tap water?

    Light: most likely if you’re flushing them down the toilets. We need to bring ethics and sustainability back to America again. Life is more than sex and killing children.

    Skeptic: that’s… …not how tap water works

    Light: try asking an expert, not a bunch of baby murdering pro choicers. The facts and research says otherwise. If you wanna live in lies you do you tho.

    Skeptic: It wasn’t a question. That’s simply not how tap water works.

    Light: are you an expert on tap water? I don’t think you are. Ask an expert about where the dead children go once they’re flushed down the toilets.

    Commentary:

    […] The stupid continued, with Light of Faith Christian Bible Study eventually posting — dozens of times, leading to more deletions for spamming — a link to a CNBC story about the two states, Arizona and Texas, that allow municipal water systems to send “highly treated sewage water” to drinking water systems, so ha ha, it does happen, just ignore that “highly treated” bit. But since the dead babies have immortal souls, surely those get right past the chemical treatments and the reverse osmosis or whatever, and then you drink them, pee the little babies out again, and they’re in the water FOREVER, like the dead babies embedded in ladies uteri when they’re on the Pill.

    Also I learned from this exercise that some hip young forced birth advocates call their enemies “bro-choicers,” because terrible men force women to have ‘bortions so the men can have all the sex they want with no consequences. Here is an example, along with a poignant dig at The Family Guy for making cartoon Ariana Grande have an abortion and we just don’t understand what is in these weirdos’ heads, yikes: [Screen grab at the link]

    This isn’t from the actual cartoon show, it’s a weird meme from some other part of the internet, and there’s just no predicting what people will find funny.

    In conclusion, let’s remember that American science education needs massive investments, and also that, as Light of Faith Christian Bible Study reminds us, “Life is more than sex and killing children!”

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/stop-putting-dead-babies-in-our-drinking

  33. says

    Reginald @49, good point.

    More news about insurrectionists:

    In an actually surprising story about the USA today, USA Today makes a very convincing case that online detectives have identified the first known staffer from the Trump White House to have entered the Capitol during the attempt to overthrow democracy on January 6, 2021. The low-level rightwing dipshit, one Oliver Krvaric, was spotted on Capitol surveillance video in several shots, including one where he enters the Capitol just ahead of rightwing internet shit-stirrer “Baked Alaska,” whose real name is we don’t give a shit. […]

    But wait, he had a mask and his face is barely visible! What gave him away to the volunteer J6 sleuths at Sedition Hunters, the group that brought their evidence to USA Today? […] his “distinctive pink Adidas Continental 80 sneakers,” which, the article makes clear, are kind of his thing, even Crom help us, his “signature style.”

    Krvaric is a Fortunate Son from a prominent Republican family in San Diego, a big guy in College Republicans at San Diego State, and at the time of the riot “was working for the Office of Personnel Management on a short-lived Trump executive order that sought to rid federal agencies of certain diversity and inclusion training.” So yeah, a culture warrior on a mission to do away with “Critical Race Theory,” and the author of a 2020 letter to Trump from his SDSU College Republicans chapter calling for the elimination of foreign guest worker visas. That scored him an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s White Anxiety Jamboree, and probably helped him land the White House gig.

    Oh, yes, the story also mentions that a now-defunct neo-Nazi website had a user whose email address used Krvaric’s first and middle names. “That user praised Adolf Hitler, backed deportation of non-white people and expressed disgust of the LGBTQ+ population,” we’re told. The evidence, including the user’s mention of Swedish ancestry and an IP address from the San Diego area, sure points to Krvaric as being that user.

    Hooray for leaks of reams of Nazi website data that helped point to him.

    This really is one of those stories you need to read yourself to truly appreciate how batshit this guy seems. Especially fun is the back-and-forth of USA Today trying to get Krvaric to admit he was at the Capitol, as the reporters tell him what they know, progressively obliviating his denials.

    In his interview with USA TODAY, where he acknowledged being in Washington on Jan. 6, he initially said he was at work that day, not at the Capitol.

    Only after being asked about the photographs of the man in the blue coat in the crowd, holding a Trump flag and a blue “America First” flag connected to the far-right extremist “Groyper” movement, did Krvaric acknowledge he was on the streets of the capital that day. He said he attended Trump’s now-infamous speech at the Ellipse, where the former President called on protestors to march to where the votes from the 2020 election were being certified.

    “I was not in the Capitol. I did not go into any offices, I didn’t wander the halls,” he said. “I was not in the premises.”

    Oh, do go on! When asked if he was saying he hadn’t actually “crossed the threshold” into the Capital, the dumb fuck asked, “What do you mean by ‘the threshold’?”

    Told of the surveillance video from inside the Capitol, Krvaric said: “I don’t know about that, I’d have to see it.” USA TODAY sent him a text message with a link to that footage in early December. He has not responded

    He played a similar game when asked whether he’d had an account at the now-kaput Nazi website “Iron March.” […] Thanks to hacked, leaked data from the site, it was possible to see the “NeoSvensk” account was linked to an email using a combination of his first and middle names, “OllyIvan.” That user

    talked openly of his admiration for Hitler and fascism and his disdain for multiculturalism, and used a derisive term for gay men, whom he described as “utterly revolting.”

    So hey, Oliver Ivan Krvaric, are you OllyIvan/NeoSvensk?

    Asked about the posts on Iron March, Krvaric said he didn’t recall making them. But when he was asked directly if he recognized the “OllyIvan” email address used to create the online accounts, Krvaric said, “Not particularly.”

    So forgetful, these seditionists!

    So far, no charges, but as the story notes, the FBI is still working through a lot of records and bringing new charges, so we’re sure we’ll hear more about this […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/guess-the-real-surprise-is-that-it

  34. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna, OM @ 52
    FUUUCK I hate these creeps flaunting their Swedish ancestry. At least he does not have a Swedish surname, like some of the worst Republicans to get into congress.

  35. says

    Followup to Reginald @36.

    Russia fired more than 100 missiles at Ukraine on Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, striking multiple residential buildings, a shopping center and other civilian infrastructure in the biggest barrage so far in an otherwise quiet winter.

    The scale of the attack confirmed what many in Ukraine have feared for months — that Russia was conserving its missile stocks throughout the fall for massive strikes in the winter. Officials in Kyiv have also warned that stalled U.S. security assistance, which includes ammunition for U.S.-made air-defense systems, could embolden the Russians and place Ukrainian cities in peril.

    Britain’s Defense Minister Grant Shapps said his country was sending hundreds of air-defense missiles to Ukraine to ensure it “has what it needs to defend itself from Putin’s barbaric bombardment.”

    “Putin is testing Ukraine’s defense and the West’s resolve, hoping he can clutch victory from the jaws of defeat. But he is wrong,” Shapps said in a statement.

    The Russians used a mix of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones, Zelensky said. Unlike a year ago, Ukraine’s improved, Western-provided air-defense systems, which now include the Patriot system, contained the damage, shooting down most of the 110 missiles, the president added. Last year, millions of Ukrainians experienced outages when Russia repeatedly pounded the power grid.

    One of the missiles appears likely to have entered the airspace of NATO-member Poland, said General Maciej Klisz, operational commander of Polish armed forces, Reuters reported. Klisz said the object most likely left Polish airspace after spending less than three minutes over the country’s territory and went back over Ukraine.

    NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke with Polish President Andrzej Duda about the incident. “#NATO stands in solidarity with our valued Ally, is monitoring the situation & we will remain in contact as the facts are established,” Stoltenberg wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

    In a statement Friday, NATO said that its air forces “across Europe” intercepted Russian military aircraft over 300 times in 2023, with most intercepts occurring over the Baltic Sea.

    “Russia’s war against Ukraine has created the most dangerous security situation in Europe in decades,” said acting NATO spokesperson Dylan White. “NATO fighter jets are on duty around the clock, ready to scramble in case of suspicious or unannounced flights near the airspace of our Allies.”

    About 18 bombers launched missiles, Ukraine’s Air Force said. Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, said 87 missiles and 27 strike drones were shot down out of 158 total.

    The attacks — intended to exhaust Ukraine’s beefed-up air defense, according to officials — hit sites across the country, from Lviv in western Ukraine to Odessa in the south to the capital of Kyiv to Kharkiv and Dnipro in the east. Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian media there had never been so many targets at one time. [map at the link]

    “This time we saw a large amount of rockets,” Ihnat said. “The screen was practically red — the monitors. They were spreading out over the whole of Ukraine. They flew with detours. Some rockets were flying in circles and would then fly on to their target.”

    At least 18 people across the country were killed in the attacks, and more than 132 were injured. Affected buildings included a shopping mall in central Dnipro as well as a nearby maternity ward, which had its windows blasted out and blackened. The Ministry of Health confirmed that patients and staff at the maternity ward had taken shelter, and none were injured.

    […] On Facebook, Sergii A. Ryzhenko — chief physician at Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro — wrote that one of the victims injured in the shelling was a 25-year-old who’d gone to the shopping center for bread and cigarettes. He was immediately taken into surgery, he said, and they were “praying … that he will survive.”

    “Terrible war kills ordinary Ukrainians,” Ryzhenko wrote.
    A factory in central Kyiv was also targeted, and Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Friday morning that people were believed to still be trapped under the rubble. Thirteen apartment buildings and three schools in Lviv were damaged, local authorities said.

    […] Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a post on X that he wished “those sounds of explosions in Ukraine could be heard all around the world. In all major capitals, headquarters, and parliaments, which are currently debating further support for Ukraine.”

    Washington Post link

  36. says

    Kansas Economy Growing Like Crazy Just To Piss Off Tax Cuts ‘N’ Austerity Freaks

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/kansas-economy-growing-like-crazy

    Nobody seems too nostalgic for Sam Brownback or schools going unfunded.

    Kansas, the red state that elected blue Gov. Laura Kelly in 2018 and reelected her last year, had a pretty darn good 2023, economy-wise. On Wednesday, Kelly announced that Kansas had the best economic growth of any state in the nation, with a 9.7 percent expansion in the third quarter of the year. A victory lap press release from the state’s Department of Commerce also noted that the third quarter “improves on an already impressive record of economic growth; in the 2nd quarter of 2023, Kansas’ economy grew at the second-fastest rate in the nation at 7.4%”

    Golly, that sounds like a hell of a reason to elect Democrats, doesn’t it? Betcha a nickel that Democratic Governors’ Association chair Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) will be adding those stats to election-year comms for the upcoming elections.

    In the press release, Gov. Kelly said the growth data

    “shows that our efforts to support businesses, create a stable economy, and grow our workforce are paying off. Now, Kansas is outstripping the entire nation in economic growth and attracting business investment. Last week, I announced Kansas surpassed $18 billion in business investment since I took office in 2019. It’s clear we have the momentum to continue this trajectory of economic success into 2024 and beyond.”

    The news release pointed to the Kelly administration’s efforts to

    support the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries helped drive this economic growth. While those industries decreased nationally and in 33 other states, they were leading contributors to growth in Kansas.

    On top of that, Kansas came in third when it came to growth in personal income, and that’s in an economy where personal income nationwide has been outpacing inflation, resulting in more buying power — and reduced income inequality.

    What we are getting at here is that it might be a good time to start asking what’s right with Kansas, at least when it comes to economics.

    Keep all this in your noggin for the next time some rightwing idjit starts saying that for economies to do well, government absolutely must slash taxes and spending, so the private sector can work its magic.

    Sam Brownback, the rightwing Republican who preceded Kelly in office but was appointed ambassador for “international religious freedom” in 2017, left his not-quite two terms as one of the least popular governors in the nation, thanks to his brainless insistence that cutting taxes and state spending to the bone would bring prosperity to the state. Instead, the state was left on the edge of bankruptcy and Kansas’s supreme court declared the state’s underfunding of public schools a violation of the state constitution.

    The state’s bond rating was cut, twice, and not terribly long before Trump handed Brownback that golden Jesus-parachute, just enough Republicans in the GOP-dominated state Lege voted with Democrats to repeal Brownback’s precious 2012 tax cuts, overriding Brownback’s veto.

    Then in 2018, Kansans said HELL NO to the Trump-endorsed candidate, rightwing racist immigrant-hatin’ Kris Kobach, electing Kelly by a five-point margin over the Republican (there was also a dipshit independent nobody cares about). Neener, and we repeat, neener.

    In conclusion, hell yes, elect Democrats, and this ought to be good news for Joe Biden too.

  37. says

    Public Christian schools? Leonard Leo’s allies advance a new cause.

    A tight-knit group of activists tied to Leo’s non-profit network are rallying around an Oklahoma effort to create a public Catholic school.

    Groups aligned with the conservative legal movement and its financial architect, Leonard Leo, are working to promote a publicly funded Christian school in Oklahoma, hoping to create a test case to change the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.

    At issue is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma’s push to create the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, which would be the nation’s first religious school entirely funded by taxpayers. The school received preliminary approval from the state’s charter school board in June. If it survives legal challenges, it would open the door for state legislatures across the country to direct taxpayer funding to the creation of Christian or other sectarian schools.

    Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, acknowledges that public funding of St. Isidore is at odds with over 150 years of Supreme Court decisions. He said the justices have misunderstood Thomas Jefferson’s intent when he said there should be a wall separating church and state, but that the current conservative-dominated court seems prepared to change course.

    “Jefferson didn’t mean that the government shouldn’t be giving public benefits to religious communities toward a common goal,” he said. “The court rightly over the last decade or so has been saying, ‘No, look, we’ve got this wrong and we’re gonna right the ship here.’ ”

    Behind the effort to change the law are Christian conservative groups and legal teams who, over the past decade, have been beneficiaries of the billion-dollar network of nonprofits largely built by Leo, the Federalist Society co-chairman.

    Leo’s network organized multi-million-dollar campaigns to support the confirmation of most of the court’s six conservative justices. Leo himself served as adviser to President Donald Trump on judicial nominations, including those of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

    Leo’s multiple hats in recruiting judicial nominees, using his non-profit war chest to promote their confirmations and then funding legal organizations to craft challenges to longstanding court precedents, has drawn increasing criticism.

    […] St. Isidore is represented by the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Initiative, a legal clinic created by the law school at the University of Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, law professor Nicole Stelle Garnett has worked with St. Isidore from the start of its application process.

    In the same timeframe, Garnett joined the board of the Federalist Society, where Leo is co-chairman. She also joined the advisory council of a Catholic University law school initiative funded by a $4.25 million anonymous gift directed by Leo, according to a March 2021 press release. Justice Samuel Alito is its honorary chairman.

    The Notre Dame clinic’s director is another alumni of Leo’s network, Stephanie Barclay, an attorney who spent multiple years at another Christian legal nonprofit where Leo sits on the board: the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

    The clinic itself was announced a few months before the confirmation of Barrett, who was a Notre Dame law professor for 15 years. The June, 2020, announcement of the clinic’s creation stated that Barclay would take a leave of absence to clerk for Gorsuch during the same time period — 2021 and 2022 — that the group was working with the Oklahoma archdiocese on its St. Isidore application. In June of 2022, the court also overturned Roe; a month later, the clinic funded a trip for Justice Alito to be feted at a gala in Rome. […]

    As St. Isidore and its allies readied for legal battle, Farley said, Notre Dame brought in a corporate team at the law firm Dechert LLP, including Michael McGinley, who worked on selecting judicial nominees at the Trump White House at the time Leo was advising the president. McGinley clerked for Gorsuch when he was a 10th Circuit appeals judge and for Alito at the Supreme Court. He accompanied Gorsuch to his confirmation hearings. He is not employed by Notre Dame, said Connolly. He is working “pro bono” for St. Isidore, Farley said. […]

    Those backing the St. Isidore application face a formidable array of critics and opponents. Charter schools are required by Oklahoma statute to be non-sectarian, and in its application, the archdiocese says the school would be part of the “evangelizing mission of the Church.”

    […] If the law were to allow public funding of religious schools, legislatures in conservative states would come under immediate pressure to help bail out troubled religious school systems: Catholic and Protestant churches are shuttering due to significant declines in church attendance and financial support as Americans become increasingly secular.

    The 1.8 million-student Catholic education system received a lifeline through the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in the case of Carson v. Makin, which required states with voucher systems to help students afford private schools to allow the money to be spent on religious academies. The influx of public money was already helping the Catholic Church to stave off parish closings, according to a 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research study that called vouchers “a dominant source of funding for many churches.”

    […] The game is to get this to the Supreme Court,” said Franklin. “If the court approves this, it changes everything” about public education in America, he said.

    […] “No question, Catholicism faces vile and immoral current day barbarians, secularists and bigots. These barbarians can be known by their signs. They’ve vandalized and burned our churches after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade,” Leo said at a 2022 John Paul II New Evangelization awards ceremony.

    […] there is reason for hope, said Leo: “Amongst the politically active, there is a marked increase in Catholic identity. That includes a growing number of Catholic commentators in the secular media, greater opposition to government efforts to regulate Catholic schools and significant opposition to same-sex marriage.”

    […] Under the Roberts Court, which began in 2006, the religious plaintiffs and parties are overwhelmingly mainstream Christians and the win rate has jumped to 86 percent, according to Epstein, who updated her research data at POLITICO’s request. “This may be a manifestation of this [Leo’s] funding” network, she said.

    […] In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor observed the ruling “leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.”

    […] “Schools are the last bastion of church-state separation, and they have been the target of Christian nationalists and the shadow network for decades,” said Andrew Seidel […]

    “That’s why it’s so striking. In 2022, they got a change in the personnel on the court thanks to Leo.”

  38. Reginald Selkirk says

    FDA-approved pineapple cream for burn patients could replace skin grafting, surgery

    Pineapples, known to have many impressive health benefits, are now being used to treat patients with deep burns…

    Stony Brook Medicine doctors called it a game changer. Garrison was among the first in the nation to be treated with NexoBrid, a cream derived from the stems and cores of pineapples.

    “Enzymes present in the pineapple, bromelain is actually the enzyme which actually does all of the work for us,” said Dr. Steven Sandoval, medical director at Stony Brook Medicine’s burn center.

    The cream dissolves the burned, dead tissue and stops at healthy tissue.

    “Within four hours, it completely dissolves the dead tissue. It’s very selective, so it leaves the normal tissue alive,” said Dr. Adam Singer.

    “Patients can have this done and not require any surgical intervention,” said Sandoval…

  39. says

    I’ve got this response to “Trump derangement syndrome” that I thought might be worth mentioning. I added a bit on the end that I thought might work.
    “It’s an ableist insult that steals from mental illness language, what’s more you stole it from someone else. Be best.”

  40. says

    The Guardian:

    In the months since the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade, at least 16 states have agreed to funnel more than $250m in taxpayer dollars towards anti-abortion facilities and programs that try to convince people to continue their pregnancies.

    Much of that money is set to go to anti-abortion counseling centers, or crisis pregnancy centers, according to data provided by the Guttmacher Institute and Equity Forward, organizations that support abortion rights. It has been paid out throughout 2023 and will stretch into 2025.

    That haul marks an increase from 2021 and 2022, when states sent closer to $217m towards crisis pregnancy centers and “alternatives to abortion” programs, according to the groups’ data.

    In addition to the payments, at least two states, Louisiana and North Dakota, initiated programs in 2023 that implemented tax credits for crisis pregnancy centers.

    Commentary:

    […] That $250 million—much of it going to centers that require all staff to be Christians—doesn’t account for money funneled through the federal government’s family-planning program or from money earmarked for abstinence-only sexuality education.

    As has been reported for more than a decade in various media, the lying at pregnancy crisis centers begins before a woman even walks in the door. Many of the estimated 2,500-plus such centers set up since 1967 have duplicitous names, like “Your Choice,” or “Women for Choice.”

    Inside the lying continues. The centers—few with a medical license or supervision by credentialed healthcare staff, and mostly peopled by volunteers—have been widely shown to repeat phony medical information to vulnerable women.

    The list is long and includes lies about a supposedly increased risk of breast cancer from abortion. No such link exists. Centers claim that surgical abortion is more dangerous for pregnant women than childbirth, which is an absolute lie. They lie about birth control. They lie about fetal development.

    They assert there’s such a thing as “post-abortion syndrome” that creates numerous mental health problems, which, of course, they don’t compare with the incidence of such problems for women who are deterred from getting an abortion. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association all fail to recognize “post-abortion syndrome” as an actual thing.

    As this example shows, acting in accord with some of that disinformation means a potential risk of deadly health effects:

    [A woman running a crisis pregnancy center, Patricia Henderson, informed] another that she was not pregnant and just had a stomach virus. According to the state report, that wasn’t true.

    Henderson allegedly told a third woman not to bother getting an abortion because her nine-week-old embryo wasn’t “forming properly” and she would probably lose the baby anyway. “She told me my body would do the right thing and in one week I would have a miscarriage. Which would save me $555!” the woman wrote in her complaint to the state. A doctor later determined that the pregnancy was normal.

    In the most serious accusation against her, [Henderson] told yet another woman that “the baby was stuck” in her fallopian tube, a potentially catastrophic complication known as an ectopic pregnancy. If not treated immediately, the condition can lead to major hemorrhaging and, sometimes, the mother’s death. But Henderson allegedly advised the woman to “relax at the beach” and come back in a few days. Fortunately for the woman, Henderson was wrong. The five-week-old embryo was where it should be, in the uterus.

    As unspeakably loathsome as all this lying is, it’s now done against a background of American women in 21 states being second-class citizens with no control over what has to be the most personal decision a woman ever makes—whether to continue a pregnancy. The affluent and the lucky still have alternatives, but for others the path is filled with political and economic obstacles. […]

    A pox on the “pro-life” pretenders and their accomplice legislators who choose to deliver our tax money to crisis pregnancy charades and their battalions of deceivers. We have enough liars without subsidizing them.

    Link

  41. says

    Sad! The Comical Rake-Stomp Opera of Nikki Haley, by Josh Marshall

    I wanted to take a moment to marvel over the Nikki Haley situation with you. The conventional take is that as she’s risen in the GOP presidential primary contest she’s getting the heightened scrutiny that goes along with it. But that’s not actually true. As with so much else in the news, that take is driven by vibes and the need for a storyline rather than any actual data. FiveThirtyEight says that on October 1st she was at 6.9% support in nationwide polls. Today she is at 11%. That’s a 4 percentage point shift when Donald Trump, today, remains literally 50 percentage points ahead. The only place where there’s even been a modest shift is in New Hampshire. And it’s quite modest. There she’s moved to about 25% support after almost two months at 20%.

    So … Go Nikki! Laying the groundwork for a 2 to 1 trouncing in New Hampshire to build momentum for a … well, not really clear that it’s for anything. […]

    In other words the entire thing is a mirage, but the joke is on Haley, because she is still getting some of the scrutiny she would normally get if she was rising in the polls as the political class has collectively decided to pretend she is doing. You’ve certainly seen her latest controversy. She was asked in New Hampshire what caused the Civil War and she managed to answer without mentioning slavery. She essentially said it was about big government.

    This was a bit too much even for the 2023 Republican Party, though it’s also precisely the kind of goof that is in the DNA of the modern GOP, perhaps especially for a former Republican governor of South Carolina who, as the non-white child of immigrants, is especially anxious to nail down her “conservative” bona-fides. What’s amazing is that she’s still struggling to get free of the self-made controversy three days later. She first said well, actually it was about slavery. But in her third, fourth, fifth-and-counting responses she’s found herself still trying to redeem her original claim that it was about taking away people’s freedoms and a story about the dangers of “big government.” Sure, it was about slavery. That’s obvious. But what does it mean for today? “To me, it was about freedom. It’s bigger than slavery,” she said yesterday with the state’s governor, Chris Sununu, standing by with evident discomfort.

    I could write a whole post about why what Haley is grasping haplessly for a sanitized version of Lost Cause ideology. From the last decades of the 19th century, Southern apologists no longer defended slavery as such on its merits. It was just that it happened to be a dispute related to slavery — a much misunderstood institution, in their telling — that led liberty-minded southerners to finally decide to make a stand against oppressive government. Conservatives today are generally pretty willing to say that owning people as what amounts to human livestock is one of those cases where government needs to step in and say, “no, you can’t do that” and move on to other topics. Indeed, the irony is that Republicans have developed a pat and serviceable if mendacious and trolling answer to the question. The odious ferret Tom Cotton actually took to Twitter to repeat it, almost as if throwing Haley a lifeline.

    As Cotton put it: “The Civil War started because the American people elected an anti-slavery Republican as president and Democrats revolted rather than accept minor restrictions on the expansion of slavery to the western territories.”

    As I said, it’s the perfect response for the modern GOP. Accurate enough to end the conversation for most reporters; clearly anti-slavery (that’s a plus!); but also packaged into a dishonest and trolling attack on Democrats. It’s perfect for Republicans. And it’s just sitting right there!

    All of this amounts to a lesson in what we probably already know: Haley is not at all ready for prime time, not in the abstract and not for today’s GOP. That’s not a measure of ethics or ideology or simple right and wrong, just the basic blocking and tackling of politics. Her political chops are as much a figment of press imagination as her purported surge in the polls.

  42. says

    Announcement: We Have Our 2023 Golden Duke Winners

    We’ll be honest, we thought George Santos was a shoo-in this year. And while you will in fact find him here among the list of honorees (we gave him his own category, after all) we’ve got plenty of room for other people.

    Some of them are new, such as the Florida power couple/throuple, the Zieglers. But largely, these are names you’ve seen before at our year-end no-shame-for-the-shameless Golden Duke awards. In the words of Derick Dirmaier, TPM’s head of product: Same old idiots.

    And yes — largely, yes. But in 2023 they took things to new heights, beclowning themselves in new ways, breaking new laws or breaking the same laws more times, innovating to reach new frontiers of corruption, and just generally keeping things stupid and keeping us chuckling during the new, bad times.

    We had thousands of TPM readers vote on the nominees in each category. Thanks for participating.

    Here’s who won.

    Best Scandal — Local Venue: DeSantis vs. Disney
    It’s DeSantis’s feud with Disney, an early installment in a now-very-long list of bizarre political calculations made by the presidential hopeful who, barring some kind of health incident on Trump Force One, will almost certainly not be president. A group of Arkansans and their associates gave the Orbán of Florida a run for his money, pushing Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ podiumgate incident hard. But DeSantis beat his fellow governor, with roughly 45% choosing him over 35% for Sanders. […] The upshot is basically that Ron is getting sued by Mickey Mouse and somehow managed to come off as a Republican who is anti-business and anti-free speech. Amazing.

    Judge Lest Ye Be Judged: Justice Clarence Thomas
    Justice Clarence Thomas ran away with this one, with 41% of the vote. His fellow Supreme Court justice, Samuel Alito, was runner up, with 27%. Thomas also won the Duke for Best Scandal — General Interest. More on that later. […]

    Best Use Of A Visual Aid: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
    A clearcut victory with 46% of the vote. Ron DeSantis’s poop map came in a distant second place with 28%. Gratuitous nude pics of the president’s son in Congress were, apparently, hard to top. […]

    Summer Of George: Dog Charity
    Readers were split on the winner in this category, which honored each of George Santos’ many identities, fabrications and schemes. Santos’ dog charity scam came in first with 19.7% of the vote, but the very funny lie that he was the star of the Baruch College volleyball team came in a close second, with 19%.

    Best Scandal — Sex & Generalized Carnality: The Florida Power Throuple
    […] The Throuple That Blew Up The Florida GOP: We couldn’t have dreamed up a better end-of-the-year sex scandal if we tried. A Florida Republican “family values” power couple, one member of which was at the helm of the state Republican Party, the other the mastermind behind Moms For Liberty and the “don’t say gay” bill, were outed as sniveling hypocrites when the woman they’ve been having a three-way, consensual sexual relationship with came forward to accuse the husband, Christian Ziegler, of rape.

    Meritorious Achievement in the Crazy: Rudy Giuliani
    The rare category in which a candidate got not just a plurality but a majority. Rudy Giuliani crazying himself into bankruptcy got 53% of the vote. That is perhaps not surprising; in 2020, when he was mid-election heist, we crowned him the Duke of Dukes: That is, an all time Duke, a sort of lifetime achievement award. Yet he continued to achieve, achieving himself a $148 million judgement against him for defaming two Georgia election workers. And so, here we are, giving him yet another Duke for his already-stuffed trophy case. […]

    Best Scandal — General Interest: Clarence Thomas
    […] Clarence Thomas – learning that the Supreme Court is for sale and has been for 30 years might be too depressing for a festival of gleeful schadenfreude, but it is genuine landmark in history […]

  43. Reginald Selkirk says

    Crow Wing County Board plans to take concerns over new flag design to Minnesota governor

    Minnesota’s newly redesigned state flag is still set to debut on Statehood Day in May. But the Crow Wing County Board plans to take their concerns about it to the governor and state lawmakers in the new year…

    Our current state flag and seal features a controversial image of Native Americans that has drawn criticism for decades with many saying it’s racist.

    Koering says he believes the image shows White and Native Americans living in harmony. He also likened it to the confederate statues torn down across the country in 2017…

    If he has concerns about the new flag, this article failed completely to convey them. It seems rather that he prefers the old flag.

  44. says

    Yikes. Warm N Atlantic temperatures exploded jellyfish populations [and sea lice], killing farmed and wild salmon.

    I’ve had cases of larval sea lice and the sting of the man-of-war. If you swim in the waters of Florida and the Caribbean, you know that sea lice hide in sargassum. […] The bite of a sea louse usually occurs on the genitals, where they get trapped in a swimmer’s bathing suit.

    My diary is not about that particular sea louse that has made me miserable on several occasions; rather, the Lepeophtheirus salmonis louse that feeds on salmon skin mucus, tissues, and blood.

    […] the species affects both the Atlantic and Pacific salmon. Fish get lice, but it is a rare occurrence where generally only a few bites would affect the fish, not kill it.

    Climate change has increased the risk of death due to record warm sea temperatures in the northern hemisphere in what should be cold ocean water. […]

    One of the worst salmon infestations has occurred off of Western Scotland, where salmon farms provide the United Kingdom’s (already plagued by food shortages from climate change) grocery markets and dining establishments with fish containing key nutrients, such as selenium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. It is one of the most nutritious foods on earth.

    Seafood Source reported that 1.2 million farmed salmon were culled in Scotland due to lice and jellyfish. The lice can infect wild salmon when they swim too close to these farms. Marine life is commonly used as feed for the salmon, further traumatizing ocean ecosystems where exploitation takes place out-of-sight and in mind under the ocean surface.

    Viva writes:

    Monstrous sea lice and jellyfish invasions blighting Scottish salmon farms

    […] footage of Atlantic salmon being eaten alive by invasions of parasitic sea lice. Some sea cages were also found to be surrounded by large blooms of jellyfish, further threatening the health and wellbeing of farmed salmon, as well as wild species.

    All five farms are members of the RSPCA Assured certification scheme and both Torridon and West Strome (in Loch Carron) are approved by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). They are contracted to three of the largest producers of Atlantic salmon, supplying Asda, Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

    […] Salmon farms operated by Bakkafrost (West Strome in Loch Carron), Scottish Sea Farms (Kishorn North, South and West in Loch Kishorn) and Mowi (Torridon in Loch Torridon) were all found battling high levels of sea lice, as well as complex gill and bacterial disease, requiring chemical (usually hydrogen peroxide) and freshwater treatments.

    The article below has been republished from the Creative Commons site, The Conversation.

    Jellyfish alert: increased sightings signal dramatic changes in ocean food web due to climate change
    Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, University of Plymouth

    Did you see a jellyfish on a recent trip to the seaside? UK beachgoers are more likely to spot one now than in the past, as rising sea temperatures due to climate change have ushered more of these gelatinous animals into the waters around northern Europe.

    Jellyfish don’t swim like fish. They belong to the plankton: a diverse group of marine creatures that drift through the sea, floating wherever the currents take them. Jellyfish are among the few types of plankton visible to the human eye. Most plankton are tiny (smaller than 2mm) and can only be seen with a microscope.

    Although largely invisible, plankton are the base of the ocean food web, eaten by fish, seabirds and even whales. Species that don’t eat plankton, like seals, will eat organisms that do. Globally, phytoplankton (single-celled algae which, like trees and shrubs on land, are mostly green in colour and use chlorophyll to photosynthesise) produce half of the oxygen we breathe.

    Increasingly abundant jellyfish are just one example of the many ways that plankton are reflecting climate change’s influence on the ocean. My research team has found that the species making up North Atlantic plankton communities are also shifting as sea temperatures rise.

    We analysed plankton data collected using nets and bottles throughout the northeast Atlantic over the past 80 years. We found that the larvae of crabs, starfish, sea urchins and lobsters are becoming more common, while shrimp-like crustaceans called copepods (a critical food source for fish, seabirds and even basking sharks) are declining.

    These are big changes among some of the smallest forms of life […]

    In a jellyfish’s wake

    Zooplankton (the animal subset of plankton) consists not only of copepods and jellyfish, but also the larval stages of fish, crustaceans and echinoderms […]

    Since the 1960s, colder-water zooplankton species have been retreating towards the Arctic, followed by warmer-water species that are also tracking rising sea temperatures northwards. The warmer-water zooplankton species which now dominate northern European waters are generally smaller and less nutritious than the cold-water species they have replaced.

    The seasonal timing of when plankton are abundant in the North Sea has also shifted […] This has meant a mismatch between the spring phytoplankton bloom and the annual peak abundance of the zooplankton that gorge on it.

    These shifts have meant the quantity and type of food available to larval fish (which are zooplankton themselves but eat smaller zooplankton) is changing in the North Atlantic. Warm-water species such as bluefin tuna and anchovies are now commonly found in northern European waters, while cod, herring, whiting and sprat, all important commercial fish species, have declined in number.

    […] The jellyfish you now see in UK waters might have once been a rarity, but it’s following a (largely invisible) crowd that is upending marine food webs and changing the kind of fish you might buy and eat locally. The next time you watch the hypnotic motion of one of these beautiful creatures as it pulses through the water, think of the changes its arrival portends, both for the ocean and yourself.

    From Business Insider:

    Warmer waters, in turn, mean less oxygen. This double whammy severely hurts many marine creatures, like coral, but not jellies. In mid-latitudes, in fact, higher water temperatures lead jelly embryos and larvae to develop more quickly, and the animals enjoy longer reproductive periods […]

    Overall, mounting evidence suggests, underwater ecosystem may be changing from one dominated by fish to one ruled by jellies. This is — in part — a situation of own making: A 2009 study noted that human-induced stresses, including overfishing, climate change, and habitat modification, “appear to be promoting jellyfish blooms to the detriment of other marine organisms.”

  45. birgerjohansson says

    I have thought long and hard about how to deliver medical supplies during an outbreak, like the Ebola epidemic nearly ten years ago.
    Then I saw this demonstration of the Zipline P2 drone. It is 3 minutes 15 seconds into the video.
    https://youtu.be/gcG3JeZeRHo

  46. Reginald Selkirk says

    Three clues to Russian propaganda on TikTok

    A Russian propaganda campaign involving thousands of fake accounts on TikTok spreading disinformation about the war in Ukraine has been uncovered by the BBC.

    Its videos routinely attract millions of views and have the apparent aim of undermining Western support. TikTok says it was already investigating the issue and that it has taken down more than 12,000 fake accounts originating in Russia.

    BBC Verify’s Olga Robinson reveals three clues that show how these TikTok accounts are part of a major propaganda network…

  47. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump doesn’t have immunity from U.S. Capitol officers’ civil suit, court says

    A federal appeals court on Friday allowed a lawsuit brought by a group of U.S. Capitol Police officers against former President Donald Trump to move forward, ruling that Trump is not entitled to absolute immunity from civil lawsuits. The suit focuses on Trump’s alleged conduct surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

    The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit based its decision on a ruling in a separate case brought by two Capitol Police officers and a group of House Democrats that was handed down earlier this month. In its Dec. 1 opinion, the D.C. Circuit rejected Trump’s claim that he is shielded from civil liability because his alleged actions in connection to the Jan. 6 attack fell within the official functions of the presidency…

  48. Reginald Selkirk says

    Dozens of fishermen stranded on Minnesota ice floe, officials say

    Dozens of fishermen were stranded on an ice floe Friday evening that became detached on a lake in northern Minnesota, authorities said.

    An estimated 75 to 100 people were stranded on the ice floe in Upper Red Lake after it broke apart from the main ice, a spokesperson for the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office told CBS News in a statement…

  49. lotharloo says

    @48:

    In any normal county, this would have been the biggest news of the day and would have led to major political charges. In, US … LOL.

  50. Reginald Selkirk says

    Novel helmet liner 30 times better at stopping concussions

    Researchers have developed a new, lightweight foam made from carbon nanotubes that, when used as a helmet liner, absorbed the kinetic energy caused by an impact almost 30 times better than liners currently used in US military helmets. The foam could prevent or significantly reduce the likelihood of concussion in military personnel and sportspeople…

  51. KG says

    BTW more people are coming forth with stories confiring Donald Trump has a ‘bad smell’ problem going back decades.
    Incontinence? – birgerjohansson@33

    My guess is some combination of bad diet, poor hygiene, and demonic possession ;-)

  52. Reginald Selkirk says

    Eurostar cancels trains due to flooding, stranding hundreds of travelers in Paris and London

    Eurostar services to and from London were canceled Saturday after a tunnel under the River Thames became flooded, disrupting festive travel plans.

    Hundreds of travelers trying to get across the English Channel were stranded at London’s St. Pancras International station and the Gare du Nord station in Paris. Eurostar, which runs services from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, said it canceled at least 29 trains Saturday and is not expected to run any services for the rest of the day because of the flooding…

  53. says

    Maine Secretary of State receives multiple death threats; Trump posts her personal bio

    Trump knows exactly what he’s doing here:

    I hope this woman has good security, because the former president has just put out a hit on her. What a truly repulsive person he is. [Screen shot of Trump’s post]

    He didn’t post information for her office so people could call and complain. There’s no contact information on that page. No, Trump directed his followers to her personal bio, which talks about her school, family and where they live. His supporters correctly point out that it’s a government website, but ask yourself why in the world would he post her personal bio instead of directing them to the Maine SoS office?

    Currently, Shenna Bellows is receiving multiple threats on her life by his cultish cretins. Trump is making clear he wants something to happen to her. He’s pissed that he didn’t get the violence he was calling for when he was indicted multiple times. He promised “death and destruction” if anyone charged him with a crime, and instead got pathetic rallies where more press than supporters showed up. He has gotten even more unhinged since.

    This isn’t even the first time. He literally shared Letitia James’ address while raging against her, requiring her to get security. He also doxed an innocent court clerk which led to a “deluge” of death threats against her.

    As for Bellows, I applaud public servants who swore an oath to the Constitution and go on to carry out that oath, even in the face of violence. Bellows knew that she was putting her life in danger by making that call but did the right thing anyway. She could have been a Ted Cruz-like coward but wasn’t. As a veteran who put himself in harm’s way because he took an oath, I have zero tolerance for highly paid public servants who kowtow because of fear. They are simply unfit to serve.

    That describes a lot of the Republicans in Congress right now:

    The Capitol Hill mob wanted to intimidate Congress. It’s working.

    “The majority of them are paralyzed with fear,” [Rep. Jason] Crow said in a Wednesday MSNBC appearance. “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues last night, and a couple of them broke down in tears — saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

    Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent, found in his own reporting that “Crow was right.”

    “I know for a fact several members *want* to impeach but fear casting that vote could get them or their families murdered,” Alberta writes. “Numerous House Republicans have received death threats in the past week.”

    This fear has not only affected the impeachment vote. Rep. Pete Meijer (R-MI) has said that he personally knows several House Republicans who wanted to vote to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral win but were afraid for their lives if they chose to do so.

    Republicans could learn something about courage from Maine SoS Shenna Bellows. At least, if anything, she has shown that Donald Trump once again proves he is unfit for any office.

  54. tomh says

    Illinois has banned assault weapon ownership. But local sheriffs say they won’t enforce it. Now what?
    “No one knows” is the short answer.
    Dave Byrnes / December 29, 2023

    CHICAGO (CN) — There are 102 counties in Illinois. Each has a sheriff. One hundred and two men — and they’re all men — who enforce state law.

    Except when they don’t.

    Since the start of the year, a majority of county sheriffs in Illinois have stated that they don’t plan to enforce the Protect Illinois Communities Act, a sweeping ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines state lawmakers passed in January.

    What the sheriffs oppose specifically is PICA’s effect on private assault weapon owners. The law not only prohibited the sale and purchase of new assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but also forbid, with some exceptions, their private ownership. One of those exceptions was a grandfather measure ensuring those who already owned assault weapon could keep their guns and weapon accessories so long as they registered them with the Illinois State Police before New Year’s Day, 2024.

    Since the registration portal opened in October, about 52,000 people have done so.

    After New Years Day, at least in theory, anyone found owning an unregistered assault weapon or extended magazine could face criminal penalties. But in the days after Democratic Gov. J. B. Pritzker signed PICA into law, sheriffs across the state issued statements saying they believe the bans violate the Second Amendment….

    Though a few sheriffs who opposed the ban, like Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley, simply voiced their opposition without saying what it means in practical terms, dozens of others weren’t so coy.

    “I, among many others, believe that [the Protect Illinois Communities Act] is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution,” read a near-identical statement issued by sheriffs across the state in January. “Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for_______ County, that neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State (sic), nor will we be arresting or housing law abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”

    Since the sheriffs issued their statements, the bans have survived numerous challenges at the state and federal level, ultimately prevailing in both the Illinois Supreme Court and the federal Seventh Circuit of Appeals.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has also declined to hear challenges to the ban on not one but two occasions, and just last week even a conservative federal judge in southern Illinois declined to strike down PICA’s Jan. 1 registration requirement on a 14th Amendment challenge….

    This mass non-compliance presents a major political challenge for Illinois’ ruling Democrats. It doesn’t mean much that the party spent 2023 fighting for PICA in the courts, if those charged with enforcing the law decide they don’t care what the courts say.
    […]

    According to University of Illinois – Chicago political science professor Alexandra Filindra, who has extensively researched the confluence of guns, policing and politics, the divide between liberal Chicago legislators passing stricter gun laws and conservative downstate sheriffs refusing to enforce them is the latest iteration of a conflict going back to the founding of the country and the socioeconomic premises it was founded upon.

    At the center of the debate, she said, is the question of who gets to be a “good American” and who gets labeled as those good Americans’ enemies.

    Historically, she explained, the “good Americans” have been white, Christian, property-owning men. And being a good American is more than just belonging to an elite social club. By virtue of being white men who own property and profess Christian faith, Filindra said, one’s ability to govern themselves and others is made self-evident….

    Part of being trusted with the state or property, she explained, is the expectation that you will defend it — by force of arms if need be — from the good Americans’ enemies. Not just foreign soldiers, but indigenous peoples, Black slaves, agitating laborers and others….

    To further drive the point home, she pointed to Effingham County in southern Illinois, which local leaders declared a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” in 2018 — meaning they would not enforce any state laws which could affect gun rights. Dozens of other Illinois counties have since passed similar resolutions, further challenging the state’s authority.

    “We have a huge problem where people are turning federalism on its head,” Filindra said. “We are creating a situation where the system is unworkable.”

    …Illinois State University legal studies professor Jason Cieslik said downstate sheriffs’ refusals to enforce PICA represent a major affront to the state government’s legitimacy. Police, not politicians, are ultimately the ones walking around with guns, and if law enforcement get away with disobeying the state here, what’s to stop them from blowing off any other law they oppose?

    “Where does this begin and where does this end? I don’t know,” Cieslik said….

    “You need some prosecutorial authority to step in and say, enough is enough,” Cieslik said.
    […]

    Courthouse News Service

  55. Reginald Selkirk says

    Graham on NY bill to keep Chick-fil-A open Sundays: ‘You’re in for one hell of a fight’

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) doubled down on his efforts to quash a New York state bill that would require new restaurants that open in rest stops on the highway to offer service seven days a week…

    Graham does not live in New York and holds no political office there.

    “The bottom line is: Conservatives are tolerant. We are, you know, kind of, get out of your business — ‘You leave me alone; I’ll leave you alone,’” he said…

    Total WTF? As we are seeing censorship and literal book bans in conservative-led states? This guy is completely full of excrement.

    “I’m sure this is a publicity stunt, but the idea that the state of New York is going to make a company change its policies it’s had from its founding. They want to have one day off for their employees to recognize the Lord. And they can do it,” he said…

    Off target. Chick-fil-A need not change their strange religion-soaked policy. All they would be required to do is not open their restaurants at the oases along NY toll roads which are dedicated to the needs of travelers.

    He continued to threaten to introduce legislation that would withhold federal funds from cities that require the fast food chain to remain open Sundays.

    Since the proposed bill does not do that, as explained in the previous paragraph, this is clearly an empty publicity grab by Graham.

  56. says

    Armpits, Ketchup, and a Butt, and Other Causes of the Civil War

    The madness tends t’be mercifully light at the end of the year, as Republicans nurse wounds sustained during family holiday card photo shoots. […]

    Well, the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State ruled a certain Manchurian Manchild ineligible for the presidency for his crimes against democracy, fashion, and Perfectly Good Steak. I’m told the crew that stripped his name from that Panama hotel are being brought in to replicate their work on participating states’ primary ballots.

    …MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. [Trump posted]

    Ah, such a warm, inspiring, Christmas message from the undisputed leader of the party o’ family values! Plus, I believe the line about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country” is a direct quote from Miracle on 34th Street. Or possibly Mein Kampf. I get ‘em confused.

    Off-Brand Orbán claims he hasn’t read Hitler’s manifesto, it’s just a zany coincidence that he keeps quoting him on the campaign trail, and who cares anyway, since pluralities of Iowa Republican caucusgoers reported sexual arousal at the prospect of electing a dude who talks like an actual Nazi? No wonder he’s so eager to share word clouds showing voters associate him with “corruption,” “dictatorship,” and “revenge.”

    Incidentally, he also denies bullying his way into a cameo in Home Alone 2, (extremely normal human being, our 45th President) but Adam Kinzinger’s claim, that he smells of “armpits, ketchup, and a butt” remains officially unrefuted. Make of that what you will.

    Getting trickier to deny the insurrection part, too, as the evidence mounts. Lordy, there are (even more) tapes, of confessed felon Kenneth Chesebro’s testimony about Ron Johnson’s role in the fake elector scheme, and even of the Dotard himself, personally pressuring two Wayne County canvassers not to certify the 2020 election results. Word is Melania’s gag gift, of an orange jumpsuit, did not go over well.

    Riding a wave of momentum that’s landed her in the thick of the race for distant second place in the Republican primary, Nikki Haley fell victim to a wily Biden stratagem wherein a plant from the darkest depths of the Deep State asked her a question off a third grade history test:

    “What was the cause of the United States Civil War?”

    Yeah, that’s a tricky one, all right…assuming you’re seeking the high priesthood of a white nationalist resentment cult.

    […] Meanwhile, there’s not enough of Ron DeSantis left to fill a chair.

    In a tacit admission that his treacherous, deadbeat ass is incapable of cashing the many, many checks his mouth has written, Rudy Giuliani filed for bankruptcy, unless maybe defamed election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freemanwould be willing to accept a stack of IOUs, illegibly scrawled, as if by the not-yet-fully-formed hand of an infant, on Mar-a-Lago stationery, for “legal and insurrectionary services rendered?”

    You’d think Harlan Crow could spare a couple hundred million for a fellow wingnut scumbag who’s fallen on hard times. Giuliani’s plight shines a harsh light on the issue of income inequality on the authoritarian Right. A little mild whinging about the meager wages of rolling back women’s rights earns Clarence Thomas a lifetime as the pampered pet of the oligarch class, while Rudy gets stuck paying his own landscaping and hair dye bills out of pocket? It’s fucking unjust, is what it is.

    Speaker McCarthy reflected on the many accomplishments of his first year in … Hang on, that’s not right.

    In just a few short months, Speaker Scalise etched his name in the history books, with a far-reaching agenda celebrated across the political spectr-

    Wait.

    Critics grudgingly conceded Speaker Jordan’s unmatched recorrrrrrrrrr…

    Gimmie a minute, I’m gonna get this.

    Tom Emmer, not only a real human being, but a United States Congressman and, in fact, Speaker of the whole dang House of Repres-

    GODDAMMIT.

    Ok. “Mike Johnson awoke in a cold sweat, checked under the bed for Chip Roy, as was now his custom, and marveled that his back had somehow once again gone unstabbed during the night.”

    I mean sure, using metrics like “issues addressed” or “laws passed” paints an unflattering picture of the House’s manic MAGA majority, but I say why not judge them by the smiles they brought to our faces? Personally, I’m brimming with gratitude that I lived to witness Kevin’s sad, shambling, spanked-by-that-monkey’s-paw-every-inch-of-the-way death march back to the private sector.

    Arguably the most successful thing to come out of the House Republican Conference this year was George Santos’ burgeoning Cameo career. Of course, given that Michigan Congressthug Tim Walberg flew all the way to Uganda just to say “Hey, nice work on that ‘Kill the Gays’ bill, you guys,” (at a PRAYER BREAKFAST, mind you) the dip in legislative productivity was probably for the best.

    Having already purpled a district with an R+7 lean with her fashy shenanigans, Lauren Boebert’s re-election prospects looked as dim as Lauren Boebert, following controversial stands on issues ranging from “Democracy, or nah?” to “Should I jack this guy off in a crowded theatre?” so she’s fleeing to redder pastures.

    Meanwhile, in West Virginia, Capitol-rioter-cum-congressional-candidate Derrick Evans shared a holly jolly photograph of a Christmas tree adorned with ornaments depicting prominent Democrats dangling from nooses, a reminder that the institutional GOP still isn’t quite brownshirty enough for some folks.

    Gas stove owner Kamala Harris used a gas stove in her gas stove-containing kitchen, which got more coverage on Fox than the Dominon lawsuit payout, Boebert’s Beetlejuice handjob, and climate change put together. […]

  57. says

    The strike package that Russian forces launched on December 29 appears to be a culmination of several months of Russian experimentation with various drone and missile combinations and efforts to test Ukrainian air defenses.

    Over the past several months, Russian forces have conducted a series of missile and drone strikes of varying sizes, using various combinations of drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. In most of the more recent strikes, Russian forces notably used either exclusively Shahed-136/131 type drones or a majority of Shahed drones accompanied by a smaller number of missiles. In contrast, the December 29 strike package included 36 Shahed drones and 120 missiles of various sizes.

    Ukrainian military officials, including Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat, have long noted that Russian forces frequently use Shahed-type drones to probe Ukrainian air defense and determine what strike routes most effectively circumvent Ukrainian air defense clusters. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi also notably assessed on August 28 that Russian forces were likely employing strike packages comprised of more drones than missiles in order to determine flight paths that bypass Ukrainian air defenses and allow other projectiles to more reliably reach their intended targets. ISW assessed on October 21 that Russian forces were likely diversifying the mix of missiles, glide bombs, and drones used in strike packages in order to determine weaknesses in Ukrainian air defense coverage to optimize a strike package such as the one that Russian forces launched on December 29.

    Russia was likely deliberately stockpiling missiles of various sizes through the fall and early winter of 2023 in order to build a more diverse strike package and apply lessons learned over the course of various recent reconnaissance and probing missions—namely using Shahed drones to bypass Ukrainian air defenses while utilizing missiles to inflict maximal damage on intended targets.

    Ukrainian forces notably did not intercept any of the Kh-22/Kh-32 missiles, ballistic missiles (S-300s and Iskander-Ms), Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missiles (Kh-47s), Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, or Kh-59 cruise missiles that Russian forces launched on December 29, which suggests that Russian forces have been able to successfully apply some lessons learned about effective strike package combinations and that the Shaheds that preceded the missiles may have distracted Ukrainian air defenses or otherwise enabled the strike.

    Link

    More at the link. Text quoted above is just one of several presentations representing “Ukraine Invasion Day 675.”

  58. says

    Russia is working to subvert French support for Ukraine, documents show. [More interference than that is shown by the documents.]

    Washington Post link

    From the top floor of the house he shares here with a senior Russian diplomat — to whom he rents the apartment below — the man who helped bankroll the French presidential bid of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has been working on plans to propel pro-Moscow politicians to power.

    “We have to change all the governments … All the governments in Western Europe will be changed,” Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, a former member of the European Parliament for Le Pen’s party, said in an interview. “We have to control this. Take the leadership of this.”

    For Schaffhauser, such ambitions are part of a decades-long effort to forge an alliance between Russia and Europe, the prospects of which, however distant, were shattered by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. But now, as Kyiv’s counteroffensive — and Western funding for it — falters and as governments in Europe battle rising living costs, plunging approval ratings and the rise of far-right populists, Schaffhauser and his Russian associates see fresh opportunity.

    Russia has been increasing its efforts to undermine French support for Kyiv — a hidden propaganda front in Western Europe that is part of the war against Ukraine, according to Kremlin documents and interviews with European security officials and far-right political figures.

    The maneuvering — and Kremlin connections with a host of far-right parties across Europe, including in France — are worrying some European officials ahead of European Parliament elections in June. Josep Borrell, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, warned at a conference this month that those elections could be “as dangerous as the American ones,” driven by “fear” in response to growing inequality and security threats. “Europe is in danger,” he said.

    The Kremlin documents, obtained by a European security service and reviewed by The Washington Post, show that Sergei Kiriyenko, the first deputy chief of staff in President Vladimir Putin’s administration, has tasked Kremlin political strategists with promoting political discord in France through social media and French political figures, opinion leaders and activists. […] Moscow’s goal is to undermine support for Ukraine and weaken NATO resolve, the documents show. The effort parallels similar interference in Germany, where the Kremlin has attempted to marry the far right and the far left in an antiwar alliance […]

    The talking points to be amplified by the Kremlin’s strategists included arguing that Western sanctions against Russia have damaged the French economy through a decline in trade, leaving the country at risk of falling into “the deepest social and economic crisis of recent years,” as well as asserting that the supply of arms to Ukraine has left France without the weapons to defend itself.

    […] Citing opinion polls, the strategists noted that 30 percent of the French retained a positive view of Russia, the second highest among Western European countries after Italy, while 40 percent were inclined not to believe reporting on Ukraine by France’s own mass media.

    […] The United States was to be described as using Ukraine as an instrument to weaken Russia’s position in Europe, the documents state.

    The documents show that troll farms created by the Kremlin political strategists produced and published social media content and articles critical of Western support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. One note written by one of the strategists in June 2023 directed a troll farm employee to create a “200-character comment by a middle-aged French person” who considers Europe’s support for Ukraine to be “a stupid adventure.” The fictional French person was also supposed to argue that support for Ukraine is turning into “inflation … and falling living standards.”

    […] The Kremlin’s messaging has so far had limited resonance in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has been at the forefront of Europe’s efforts to support Ukraine and a majority of the population has backed him. But the visibility of pro-Russian accounts on social media is climbing in France, […] and approval ratings for France’s far-right parties have been rising. […]

    Concerns are also growing that the Kremlin could seek to exacerbate mounting tensions over the Israel-Gaza conflict, […] Russia was willing to exploit a wide array of political issues.

    […] Moscow’s fingerprints were found on an attempt to fan tensions between France’s Jewish and Muslim communities, both the biggest in Europe, following Israel’s invasion of Gaza. […]

    The state watchdog, Viginum, said it had a “high degree of confidence” that the bots were connected to a Russian disinformation network known as Recent Reliable News, which produces content aimed at undermining Western governments’ stances on the Ukraine war. Viginum noted that one of the bots’ main activities was to redirect to RRN websites.

    […] also highlighted the role of Le Pen’s National Rally, finding that the party “maintains many privileged links with the Kremlin” and had effectively acted as “a communication channel” for its views. […] Russia “is not going to drop the links they had” with National Rally, said Fiona Hill […]

    For Schaffhauser — who faced special scrutiny in the parliamentary inquiry for his role facilitating the two loans for Le Pen — a primary objective is helping Moscow rebuild its connections to Europe.

    Arguing that China poses an existential threat to Europe, he told The Post in a series of interviews that he is proposing launching a foundation with Moscow’s backing that would advocate for a cease-fire in Ukraine, with the Kremlin maintaining its grip on the country’s eastern regions in return for drawing closer to the West again and out of its deepening alliance with China. He also said he would promote a new slate of Western European far-right leaders ready to do business with Moscow, ahead of the E.U.’s parliamentary elections next year.

    […] the parliamentary inquiry warned of the propensity of former French officials, “particularly retired officers,” to echo Moscow’s positions and “develop speeches using Kremlin language.”

    […] “Now it is easy” for Russia to stir unrest, said Schaffhauser. Moscow does not have “big work to do. They are prepared.”

  59. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) issued a warning to states moving to keep former President Trump off the presidential ballot, saying the House of Representatives has the final say over whether electors from those states are certified on Jan. 6, 2025.

    “Maine, Colorado, and other states that might try to bureaucratically deny ballot access to any Republican nominee should remember the U.S. House of Representatives is the ultimate arbiter of whether to certify electors from those states,” Massie posted Friday on X, formerly Twitter.

    Billionaire Elon Musk, owner of X, replied to Massie’s tweet about certification: “Interesting.”

    […] That normally mundane certification procedure in January 2025, Massie suggested, could be the mechanism by which Congress tosses out electoral votes from Maine, Colorado and any other states where Trump is ultimately denied ballot access.

    […] He elaborated in a subsequent tweet that any move to toss electoral votes in 2025 would likely depend on whether Republicans keep control of the House, where they currently have a slim majority.

    “That effort [in 2021] was doomed because Democrats controlled the House and Senate at that time. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House now. Whether we keep the majority remains to be seen,” Massie said.

    The threshold for challenging electoral results on Jan. 6, 2025, however, will be higher than it was four years earlier. The Electoral Count Reform Act, passed in 2022, raises the threshold to object to results from any state from just one member from each chamber to a fifth of the members from each chamber.

    Whether Trump is ultimately kept off any state ballots remains to be seen.

    Trump’s campaign has pledged to file a legal challenge to the Maine Secretary of State’s decision to prevent it from taking effect. And in Colorado, the state Supreme Court stayed its decision to allow for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. […]

    Link

  60. Reginald Selkirk says

    @88 interesting for a couple reasons.

    1) Massie openly reveals that he would use his elected office to promote political causes, not to represent the electorate of his district. If I were campaigning against him, this would be prominent in all my ads.

    2) Why does anyone seek out Elon Musk’s opinions on anything?

  61. Reginald Selkirk says

    @85 Off-Brand Orbán claims he hasn’t read Hitler’s manifesto, it’s just a zany coincidence that he keeps quoting him on the campaign trail…

    Are there people on the right dumb enough to think that Nazism is considered bad because Hitler backed it, rather than it being odious on its own lack of merit?

  62. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 92. I accidentally pressed Send early.

    When Sabine Hossenfelder is sticking to physics, she is quite compelling.
    This is about cost and construction time for nuclear powerplants compared to other energy sources.

    As we need an energy buffer for wind and solar power this issue is of urgent concern.

  63. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Reginald Selkirk #91:

    Are there people on the right dumb enough to think that Nazism is considered bad because Hitler backed it, rather than it being odious on its own

    Plenty are willing to parrot the same omniphobic propaganda, so content isn’t the deal-breaker. They’re already comfortable blaming evil figureheads. But systemic evil is unthinkable, which conveniently absolves themselves for participating in it.

  64. Reginald Selkirk says

    Bucks County mom behind conservative school movement charged with assault, giving teens alcohol

    A former Pennsylvania lieutenant governor candidate and outspoken voice in the conservative “parental rights” school movement has been charged with punching a teenager while hosting an underage drinking party at her Bucks County home in September.

    Clarice Schillinger, 36, is facing criminal charges of assault, harassment and furnishing minors with alcohol during her daughter’s birthday party, according to the case filed in late October. Her attorney has denied all charges and said she will fight them in court…

  65. says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain 94
    That’s why I sometimes mention that fascism isn’t an Italian political party. I remember a bunch of hand-wringy atheists and skeptics that thought nazi should only ever be applied to real nazis.
    With fascism I started also mentioning hyper-nationalist and eliminationist behavior too so I could head that off. If it’s non-ironically using nazi things it’s good enough for me. Like how the word racism is worse than the behavior being pointed out…

  66. says

    Guess Which Brutal Authoritarian Dictator The Right Has A Crush On Now?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/guess-which-brutal-authoritarian

    Is it the fascism? Or is it the popped fur collar? The jaunty cape itself? The military fatigues? The teeny tiny mustache? [photo at the link] No, it’s probably the fascism.

    Whatever it is, some on the Right are now pretty hot to trot for Generalissimo Francisco Franco — which I can honestly say is not a take I have heard outside of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the whole bit there was that she was actually quite daft and thought the fascists were just super into art and that being into fascism herself made her seem very chic and European. Though now that I’m reading up on it, it seems that William F. Buckley was also a fan.

    This week, noted Pizzagate idiot Jack Posobiec embarked upon a quest to rehabilitate the image of Franco, a brutal, oppressive, authoritarian falangist/fascist dictator who killed hundreds of thousands of people. […]

    He says it in all caps, so you know it’s true.

    BREAKING: EVERYTHING THEY TOLD YOU ABOUT THE SPANISH CIVIL WAS WAS A LIE. FRANCO SAVED SPAIN AND FOUGHT FOR CHRIST

    [Fighting for Christ always raises a red flag for me.]

    The picture he shares here [image at the link], of the Pope praising Franco, is from the famously anti-Semitic, pro-Mussolini, pro-Hitler Father Coughlin’s Social Justice newsletter.

    […] “The communists were slaughtering everyone,” Jack Posobiec cried. “Someone had to stop them. His name was Francisco Franco.”

    I’m not going to get too into it, but this is a not a man who is very good at timelines. The Red Terror happened after the attempted 1936 military coup that lead to the Spanish Civil War and would eventually lead to Franco declaring himself dictator of Spain. Yes, communists in Spain at that time did kill people and they specifically targeted Nationalists, Royalists, spanish nobility and members of the clergy. Estimates of this range from 38,000 to 110,905. I can “condemn” it now, just as it was condemned by many socialist and liberal Republican leaders during the Spanish Civil War, because I am not a psychopath.

    The thing is, at the time the Red Terror was happening, the White Terror — committed by the Nationalists and Royalists — was also happening, was far worse and lasted far longer, with death tolls ranging from 160,000–200,000. Unlike the Red Terror, the White Terror was organized and calculated, as well as supported by the right-wing leaders at the time.

    The White Terror also includes Francoist political repression during his regime. This included things like firing all of the professors, putting all the gay people and Romani people and political dissidents in the over 190 concentration camps he established throughout the country, undoing divorces, barring women from working or traveling without approval from their husbands, barring women from having bank accounts and other measures meant to strictly enforce gender roles. Women had won several new rights during the Second Spanish Republic era, and all of them were rolled back under the Franco regime. There were laws about what sort of media women were allowed to produce and censorship of many works written by women. Oh! And men were allowed to kill their wives if they cheated on them.

    The Nationalists did some other incredibly horrible and disturbing things to Republican women, but we’re not going to get into that right now. You are free to look it up yourself.

    The idea that Franco put a stop to any killing is absurd. In addition to the 200,000 or so killed in the White Terror, approximately 200,000 people died of starvation in the first few years of his reign, approximately 30,000 and 50,000 deaths in concentration camps or through state executions. It wasn’t just his political enemies in those concentration camps either — it was also gay people, Romani people and anyone else Franco considered a threat to his regime. He also transferred about 10,000 people to Hitler’s concentration camps.

    Posobiec isn’t the only one on the Right praising Franco this week — his comments are filled with other terrible people who share in his admiration for the man. One person he quote-tweeted even said:

    Great to see all the Franco posting on the timeline. Communism and far leftist ideologies should be criminalized and we should bring the full force of the State against offenders. Close the borders, deport illegal aliens. Fund robust autarky programs and vocational training programs.

    They are not being shy about what it is they want, and what they want is absolutely motherfucking horrific.

  67. says

    As War Rages in Ukraine, Denmark Turns an Office Park Back Into an Arsenal

    New York Times link

    The conflict and surging arms production in Russia have spurred demand for ammunition manufacturing across Europe.

    The old Krudten ammunition plant, near the northernmost tip of Denmark, is a quiet shell of a factory that has sat empty for years despite its legacy of churning out bullets, artillery and explosives for the Danish military.

    But that is about to change: With the war in Ukraine fueling growing demand for Western weapons, the Danish government has decided to revive its role in the ammunition business.

    In 2008, amid defense cutbacks that swept across Europe and cratering global economies, Denmark sold off Krudten, its military’s main munitions plant. It was passed around among private firms until October, when the government decided to buy it back, becoming one of the latest countries to increase its focus on weapons manufacturing and counter Russia’s rapidly expanding arms industry.

    “It was crucial to get this plant,” the Danish defense minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, said in an interview this month, noting “a greater demand for ammunition” across Europe.

    “We should be concerned because Russia is ramping up production of ammunition and also other kinds of military equipment,” Mr. Poulsen said. “That’s the reason why we have decided in the European Union that you have to support countries doing what they can to ramp up production.”

    Officials from NATO countries worry that Ukraine will run out of weapons early next year, given that Republicans in Congress have blocked additional U.S. military aid and Hungary has vetoed another financial package from the European Union. Russia’s skyrocketing weapons industry has triggered palpable anxiety within NATO […]

    That has sent European countries searching for ways to increase their own weapons production, including loosening regulations and incentivizing investment.

    At Krudten — which translates from Danish to “the gunpowder” — officials hope to hire a private company to produce ammunition in the state-owned factory, which is housed in aging brick buildings across a sprawling rural campus.

    That is a model similar to military ammunition production in the United States, where plants are owned by the government but run by private contractors who are backed by federal funding to quickly adjust to market demands. By early next year, the United States is projected to have more than doubled its monthly production of 155-milimeter caliber rounds to 36,000, up from 14,000 when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

    But in Europe, where countries have diverse economies, budget constraints and a range of government regulations over defense industries, there is no single standard for partnering with weapons producers. To speed approvals, the European Union is offering financial incentives to states that jointly order large amounts of ammunition and is considering easing regulations that industry executives say have curtailed production.

    The attempt to forge closer ties between governments and manufacturers comes as a E.U. campaign to provide one million 155-millimeter rounds to Ukraine within 12 months is expected to fail. With four months until the March deadline, officials have secured fewer than half of the shells that were promised because European capitals have been reluctant to invest in weapons producers that need more resources and fewer supply-chain bottlenecks to deliver.

    “Overall, our instruments for cooperation are still punching below their weight,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said at an annual European Defense Agency conference late last month.

    She suggested that E.U. sanctions against states with ballooning national deficits might be forgiven if increased defense spending contributed to the rise. “This could be a game changer for the union’s defense and its defense industrial policies in these exceptional times,” Ms. von der Leyen said.

    It is likely to be an uncomfortable adjustment for governments and industry alike.

    “I’m not a huge fan of government-owned production, but the base line for me is that there is an extreme demand out there and not enough production capacity,” said Joachim Finkielman, the director of the Danish Defense and Security Industries Association.

    Currently, he said, Denmark gets its military ammunition from foreign producers. Once the Krudten plant is up and running, which could take around two years, the government will need to invest enough to ensure enough ammunition will be made to supply the Danish military and export to customers abroad “in order for this to work as a business opportunity,” Mr. Finkielman said.

    […] Finland’s Defense Ministry announced this month that it would double its capacity to produce a range of heavy ammunition calibers and explosives by the end of 2027. Under the $131 million deal — including $26 million from the government — at least some of the work will be done at a small-arms plant operated by Nammo, the Norway-based ammunition company in which Finland indirectly owns a stake.

    “With this decision, we want to show our long-term commitment to support Ukraine as well as to strengthen the defense industry,” Antti Hakkanen, Finland’s defense minister, said in a statement.

    The willingness to work more closely with industry appears most intense in states nearest to Russia’s borders. […]

    [In] Russia, where the economy is controlled by President Vladimir V. Putin’s government and loyalist oligarchs who can command raw materials and labor to be diverted to the weapons industry from civilian manufacturers.

    […] Nearly one-third of Russia’s spending next year will be devoted to the military. And for the first time in its modern history, experts have said, Russia will spend 6 percent of the nation’s total output on its military — more than double what it was before the invasion.

    […] Ukraine, which was once a main supplier of weapons to Moscow’s military when it was part of the Soviet Union, is trying to build up its own deflated arms industry.

    It has begun to partner with weapons manufacturers, including in Britain and Germany, and top Ukrainian officials met with American executives in Washington this month to advance production and trade agreements that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said could “launch defense projects that will be significant for the security of entire Europe.”

    […] Mr. Poulsen, the Danish defense minister, said he knew of no other NATO nation that has bought a manufacturing facility in order to produce more ammunition.

    “We have seen serious problems concerning being able to produce ammunition,” Mr. Poulsen said. “Right now, Denmark is trying to do what we can.”

  68. says

    PragerU is known for its right-wing web videos. In recent months, education officials in four states have helped get a line of cartoon videos and education materials, called PragerU Kids, into public schools.

    The promotional videos all start the same: Each begins with Marissa Streit, chief executive of PragerU, the conservative nonprofit primarily known for producing web videos featuring right-wing pundits and short documentaries criticizing progressive policies.

    Streit introduces a top state education official, who then raves about the new partnership between PragerU and their state’s public schools.

    In one clip, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters says he “could not be more excited to get this content into our classrooms,” adding that he used PragerU videos himself as a history teacher.

    New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, in his appearance, explains enthusiastically that students in his state can use PragerU videos to meet a high school graduation requirement, noting, “It’s quality content — it’s highly engaging for the kids.”

    Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, meanwhile, says her state’s new relationship with PragerU will help educators recognize “how to teach things.”

    PragerU was founded in 2009. Its recent videos feature messages opposing transgender health care and suggesting Americans say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy holidays.” Last year, the organization debuted a line of cartoons and classroom materials aimed at school children, called PragerU Kids, which over the last six months has received approval from four state education agencies.

    The PragerU Kids video content ranges from lessons for teens about why universal health care systems in countries like Canada are worse than the United States’ system, to an explanation for young children about Israel’s Iron Dome.

    In one animation, two time-traveling kids ask Christopher Columbus whether he enslaved Indigenous people. Cartoon Columbus responds, “Being taken as a slave is better than being killed,” and insists it is “estupido” to judge him by modern moral standards. In another, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass defends the Founding Fathers for not outlawing slavery.

    […] civil rights groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign have described PragerU content as propaganda.

    Some videos have also drawn ire from scientists. Several researchers told Reuters that PragerU misrepresented their findings in videos about climate change […]

    Emails obtained by NBC News via records requests offer a glimpse into how PragerU has been able to expand into public schools, thanks to relationships with Republican politicians who helped with the organization’s marketing.

    […] “There is no organization, no individuals, that have done more to strike at the heart of that left-wing dominance of education than PragerU.”

    NBC News spoke with education policy specialists, attorneys and ethics experts who say PragerU’s courting of elected officials raises red flags. All said it is abnormal, and even alarming, for an organization to try to get its curricula into classrooms by appealing directly to politicians and to ask state leaders to film commercials.

    […] “It crosses the line of ethics when you use your official position to promote the interests of any single entity.”

    Streit said in an interview that PragerU is on the front lines of a “cultural war” in which one side is trying to manipulate children into hating the country through schools.

    […] Dennis Prager, a long-time radio host and PragerU’s co-founder, has acknowledged that the organization is in the “mind-changing business” and doesn’t see an issue with allegations that it indoctrinates children.

    […] PragerU is not the only conservative organization creating teaching materials, but it’s one of the best funded. The group raised $65 million last year, according to tax filings. Its donors have included Farris Wilks, a Texas billionaire who has compared homosexuality to bestiality; the Marcus Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Home Depot’s co-founder, who is a prominent Republican donor; and a foundation run by Betsy DeVos, who served as secretary of education in the Trump administration.

    PragerU Kids got a major entreé in July, when Florida became the first state to approve its videos for use in public schools.

    Soon after, the New Hampshire State Board of Education voted to approve the use of PragerU materials to satisfy a newly required financial literacy credit.

    […] The advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, meanwhile, announced in October that it had launched an investigation into the process Florida and Oklahoma education officials used to vet and approve PragerU materials. The group says that PragerU materials “advance the myth” that the country must be “a Christian nation,” citing videos like one in which a cartoon George Washington says the country should have a religious population.

    “It’s not just an alternate reality to what the existing curriculum is saying, but an alternative to almost any mainstream source of information,” said John Rogers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access. […]

    according to PragerU representatives, the organization plans to continue discussions to get more states to approve its videos as a resource for teachers […]

  69. says

    It’s been a rough year for humor, but here’s a teeny little story that’s impossible to take seriously. It concerns Oklahoma state Senate candidate and pastor Dusty Deevers, a Republican and theocratic crackpot of the usual mold. Via Right Wing Watch, Friendly Atheist’s Hemant Mehta delivers unto us a little treat.

    Dusty Deevers, the Republican nominee for a vacant Oklahoma State Senate seat, delivered a sermon last year in which he railed against in vitro fertilization (IVF), saying that embryos “were incarcerated in frozen prisons,” referring to them as “cryo-orphans,” and urging the audience to love their “embryonic neighbors.”

    You’re thinking it can’t possibly be as bad as Mehta is making out, and you are wrong. And lordy, there are tapes.

    Today, I want to ask and answer the question: What must you and I do to love our IVF embryonic neighbors as ourselves? My aim today is, with our Creator’s help, graciously to bring before your conscience the harsh realities of IVF so you will respond by faith, in faith, by loving your embryonic neighbor.

    Why should this matter to you? Well, we’ve heard why it should matter. Millions of our embryonic neighbors, unnecessarily, are being led to slaughter every year by IVF and assisted reproductive technologies.

    And countless others are cryo-incarcerated in frozen prisons. We are creating cryo-orphans for the sake of biological offspring.

    […] The notion that “[m]illions of our embryonic neighbors,” each consisting of one fertilized egg, are all shivering away in tiny little cryo-prisons, clanking the little iron bars with their tin cups in a maddening orchestra of the damned—that is gold.

    Link

  70. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine war: Kremlin says 20 dead after attack on Russian city

    Moscow has accused Ukraine of deadly air strikes on south-west Russia – with 20 people killed and more than 100 injured in Belgorod, near the border.

    The regional governor said three children were among the dead in what was one of the deadliest attacks on Russia since it invaded Ukraine.

    A Ukrainian security source insisted that only military infrastructure had been targeted in Saturday’s action.

    The attacks follow Russian strikes on Ukraine on Friday, which killed 39.

    Those strikes were described by Kyiv as Russia’s biggest missile bombardment of the war so far.

    Moscow accused its neighbour of launching Saturday’s attack with multiple forms of weaponry – including Ukrainian Olkha and Czech-made Vampire rockets.

    Speaking to the BBC, the Ukrainian security source said more than 70 drones had been launched against Russian targets, as a “response to Russia’s terrorist attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilians”.

    Addressing the situation in Belgorod, they blamed the “incompetent work of Russian air defence” for civilian casualties – saying this was what caused falling fragments.

    Russia’s president has been briefed on the attacks, his spokesperson said.

    An urgent meeting of the UN Security Council in New York was held on Saturday at Russia’s request – with Russia saying it had asked the Czech representative to attend. The BBC is not able to verify the Russian claims that Czech ammunition was used.

    During the meeting, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, accused Ukraine of carrying out a “deliberate, indiscriminate attack against a civilian target”….

    Oh? Is that a bad thing?

  71. Reginald Selkirk says

    Thousands protest in Serbia alleging election fraud by governing party

    Thousands of people have gathered in Serbia’s capital in the biggest protest yet over this month’s parliamentary and municipal elections, accusing President Aleksandar Vucic’s governing party of orchestrating a fraud and asking the results be annulled.

    The large rally in central Belgrade on Saturday capped nearly two weeks of street protests against reported widespread irregularities during the December 17 vote that were noted by international observers as well…

  72. says

    John @107, thanks for the correction. I did not notice that error in the text I quoted.

    In other news: Special counsel Jack Smith rebuffs Trump’s immunity claim in new filing

    Special Counsel for the Department of Justice Jack Smith rebuffed former President Trump’s claim that he should get immunity in Smith’s case related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election in a Saturday [today] filing.

    The former president’s legal team has said that Trump should be immune from prosecution in the case because the conduct noted in the indictment happened while he was in office. That argument was previously rejected by Judge Tanya Chutkan, the judge originally overseeing the case. [Yep. True.]

    The former president appealed to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

    “An individual who has served as President but is no longer in office may face investigation, indictment, trial, and, if convicted, punishment for conduct committed during the Presidency,” the filing read. “The President stands alone in the constitutional firmament, but legal principles and historical evidence establish that, once out of office, a former President may face federal criminal prosecution like any other citizen.”

    [I snipped some of Trump’s all-caps posts on Truth Social]

  73. says

    Jesse Watters’ prime-time Fox News show is a cesspool of bizarre conspiracy theories

    According to Jesse Watters, the CIA has been blackmailing Joe Biden for decades, the Grand Canyon National Monument is a scheme to funnel money to foreign governments, and European countries will use offshore windmills to spy on the US

    During his tenure at Fox News, Jesse Watters has risen from compiling blatantly racist on-the-street ambush interviews for disgraced former Fox host Bill O’Reilly to becoming one of the network’s highest-rated hosts.

    That rise has been fueled in part by Watters’ embrace of the network’s favored conspiracy theories, including questioning the integrity of the 2020 election, casting doubt on a 10-year-old rape victim to push radical anti-abortion narratives, and baselessly scapegoating offshore wind energy development for the deaths of endangered whales.

    Since the departure of top-rated Fox host Tucker Carlson, Watters has taken up his former colleague’s mantle in the Fox prime-time lineup as the network’s preeminent merchant of nonsense — which, like Carlson, he often camouflages in “just asking questions”-type language. In fact, irresponsibly floating outrageous conspiracy theories with no evidence has become a hallmark of Watters’ top-rated show.

    Media Matters found that in 2023, Watters toyed with at least 24 different conspiracy theories, ranging from the threat of “transhumanism” turning everyone into mindless robots to baseless accusations of corruption at the highest levels of government.

    – Watters played a pivotal role in a smear campaign denying the existence of a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to Indiana to receive an abortion due to Ohio’s anti-abortion laws. Watters spent multiple shows discrediting the initial report and targeting the doctor who provided the abortion, arguing that the story was a “hoax” to fearmonger about the consequences of restricted health care access. In July, the rapist that Watters said didn’t exist was sentenced to life in prison. [Reference links available at the main link]

    – Watters was the first Fox News host to falsely claim that offshore wind developments resulted in whale deaths. While he had no evidence to back up his claim, Watters ran numerous segments suggesting that the recent deaths of whales across New York and New Jersey beaches were caused by the development of offshore wind turbines. This narrative became a recurring talking point used by right-wing media and conservative politicians to slow renewable energy development. [Reference links available at the main link]

    – Watters has cast doubt on election integrity in the 2020 election. Watters emphasized that Biden “allegedly” got more votes than any previous presidential candidate. Watters also pushed lies about Arizona’s election audit, claiming that tens of thousands of “questionable ballots” were found in Maricopa County. [Reference links available at the main link]

    – Watters was instrumental in spreading doubt about the attack on Paul Pelosi, saying, “If we’ve learned anything about the Pelosis, you just gotta keep asking questions.” Watters continued to “keep asking questions” about Pelosi’s attack even after police released body cam footage that seemingly undermined Watters’ preferred — and extremely homophobic — narrative that Paul Pelosi was attacked by his leftist gay lover: “We still don’t know who opened the door. Was it Paul? Was it the cops? Did they not play that part of the footage in the courtroom? Why is this, such a simple detail, so hard to pin down?” Watters asked. [Reference links available at the main link]

    – CONSPIRACY THEORY: The Biden administration is selling oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China in order to buy guns for IRS agents. Watters alleged a scheme between the Biden administration and the Chinese Communist Party to “prop up Democrats before the midterms” by selling “taxpayer oil to the Chinese, the companies with the Hunter connection, and then use the revenues to buy guns for IRS agents.” [Reference links available at the main link]

    […]

    More at the link.

    I guess we know where Trump got the story about windmills killing whales. Trump has repeated that one a lot.

  74. John Morales says

    birgerjohansson @93, wow you are credulous.

    The video begins thus:

    There are a lot of bad arguments against nuclear power. For example, that it’d just be too simple a solution to climate change, we need to make the transition difficult and painful. That’s not a good argument because it’s not actually that simple to prevent further global warming, even with nuclear power.

    In short, the very opening sentence was a fucking huge straw dummy claim.

    Nobody (and I mean nobody) makes that argument. It is transparent bullshit.
    It is not a good argument because it is made up.

    Obs, I killed the video then and there.

    Bah. Your judgement has been judged.

  75. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 115
    Or as Ali G would say, Respekk !

    Ali G donald trump sacha baron Cohen interview 

  76. Reginald Selkirk says

    US Navy helicopters destroy Houthi boats in Red Sea after attempted hijack

    The US Navy has destroyed Houthi “small boats” attempting to board a container ship in the Red Sea.

    Four vessels from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen fired upon the Maersk Hangzhou and got to within metres of the ship, the US military said.

    Helicopters from nearby US warships responded to a distress call and after being fired upon, sunk three of them “in self-defence”.

    The crews were killed and the fourth boat fled the area…

  77. birgerjohansson says

    The journalist John Pilger has died at 84.
    He made several documentaries that were very critical of the foreign policies of USA and Britain. It is sad that he did not get to witness the downfall of the Tories.

  78. birgerjohansson says

    I read the wikipedia entry for George Walker Bush.
    Curiously, the chapter about his political career did not include references to the dirty campaign tricks against the woman who preceded him as Texas governor or against John McCain who initially had a lead in the primary for being the Republican presidential candidate.
    Nor does this chapter mention that the intelligence organizations tried to warn him about what would become the 9/11 attack – twice.

    It is almost as if the dirt has been swept under the carpet.

  79. says

    Andrea J. Arratibel of El País in English says that for various reasons and in various ways, Latinos in the United States are highly susceptible to disinformation and “fake news.”

    Hispanic citizens represent almost 20% of the U.S. population, “but they’re orphaned by news in their language,” Calzadilla notes. Quality journalism in Spanish is a very scarce commodity and barely has funding. “Translations from English are usually of poor quality… they don’t take into account the way in which Latinos express themselves. And the sections aimed at them are the first to be eliminated when the media suffers from budget cuts,” she explains.

    Agents of disinformation churn out content “that undermines democratic institutions, affects human rights, immigration, access to voting, or health care,” Calzadilla emphasizes. This past September, for example, conservative groups and Republican politicians pushed a false narrative in which they claimed that the Democratic Party had proposed allowing abortion — under any circumstances — up to the ninth month of pregnancy. “Something completely false, which was widely spread in Spanish,” Calzadilla clarifies.

    In addition to the language factor, many members of the Hispanic community face other barriers to accessing reliable sources of information. “This exposes them to certain dangers, as the pandemic clearly demonstrated,” Calzadilla affirms. The narratives about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines were among the most widespread and impactful hoaxes that circulated on social media, taking a serious toll on many American citizens. This was explained in 2021 by an analysis from First Draft, a project against online misinformation founded in 2015 by some of the most important data companies, such as Google.

    According to this study, misinformation about vaccines brought about serious consequences for Latinos, who were 2.8 times more likely to be hospitalized for Covid-19 and 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease than non-Hispanic whites. Fake news generated widespread confusion and unscientific rumors, such as alternative treatments to cure the infection, “or absurd claims, [alleging] that the vaccines contained microchips, altered DNA, or were made from aborted fetuses and were the work of the Antichrist,” Calzadilla laments.

    Link.

    The text quoted above is just one of many subjects covered at that link.

  80. says

    Czechs refuse to attend UN security council meeting called by Russia

    The Czech Republic is refusing to attend an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting that was called by Russia, arguing Moscow was responsible for the nearly two-year war in Ukraine.

    “We refuse to be summoned anywhere by Russia. Czechia will not serve the lie-poisoned propaganda of the aggressor,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky wrote in a post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

    “When Russia wants to discuss the withdrawal of its occupying troops at the Security Council, we will be happy to come,” he wrote, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the U.N., had announced in a social media post Saturday that Russia would be calling an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting after the Russian city of Belgorod was attacked by Ukraine.

    Local officials reported 21 people were killed in the shelling of the city on Saturday, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

    […] Fighting between Russia and Ukraine has stepped up in recent days with Russia launching the largest aerial attack on Ukraine in the war late last week.

    The Russian Defense Ministry accused Kyiv of launching the attack on Belgorod and said that Czech-made Vampire rockets and Olkha missiles were used to carry it out — a claim that the AP said it could not verify. The wire service also noted that this was one of the deadliest attacks on Russian soil since the start of the war in Ukraine.

    “We also insist on the presence of Czech PR to the UN to explain why this country’s ammunition is being used for killing civilians in Belgorod,” Polyanskiy wrote on X.

    […] Ukraine, which is in its 22ndd month of battling Russian aggressors, said that Russian’s attack last week was the “most massive aerial attack” since the war broke out. […]

  81. birgerjohansson says

    Five hours left of 2023 in Sweden.
    Looking back 60 years, to 1963.
    Martin Luther King holds his big speech in DC, Profumo has to resign from the British government and JFK is murdered.

    In October 1963 The Beatles goes on their very first foreign tour… to Sweden.
    Brian Epstein wanted to test how big the band had become abroad.
    The swedish tour manager was uncertain how the name was pronounced. As no one knew if the band would be able to “carry” the tour on their own they were accompanied by the Swedish band Trio Med Bumba.
    This was the last time they could walk through a major city without being recognised.
    When the arrived to Sweden, ten girls from the fan club were waiting at the airport.
    When they returned to London thousands of girls were waiting at the airport.

    This was the year when men wearing long hair became a thing (not that the hairdos of the 1963 Beatles’ were particularly long).

  82. says

    Testing Tesla’s Autopilot recall, I don’t feel much safer — and neither should you.

    Washington Post link

    On the streets of San Francisco, the updated version of Tesla’s driver-assistance software still took the wheel in places it wasn’t designed to handle, including blowing through stop signs.

    Last weekend, my Tesla Model Y received an over-the-air update to make its driver-assistance software safer. In my first test drive of the updated Tesla, it blew through two stop signs without even slowing down.

    In December, Tesla issued its largest-ever recall, affecting almost all of its 2 million cars. It is like the software updates you get on your phone, except this was supposed to prevent drivers from misusing Tesla’s Autopilot software.

    After testing my Tesla update, I don’t feel much safer — and neither should you, knowing that this technology is on the same roads you use.

    During my drive, the updated Tesla steered itself on urban San Francisco streets Autopilot wasn’t designed for. (I was careful to let the tech do its thing only when my hands were hovering by the wheel and I was paying attention.) The recall was supposed to force drivers to pay more attention while using Autopilot by sensing hands on the steering wheel and checking for eyes on the road. Yet my car drove through the city with my hands off the wheel for stretches of a minute or more. I could even activate Autopilot after I placed a sticker over the car’s interior camera used to track my attention.

    The underlying issue is that while a government investigation prompted the recall, Tesla got to drive what went into the software update — and it appears not to want to alienate some customers by imposing new limits on its tech. It’s a warning about how unprepared we are for an era where vehicles can seem a lot more like smartphones, but are still 4,000-pound speed machines that require a different level of scrutiny and transparency.

    Tesla’s recall follows an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into crashes involving Autopilot. My Washington Post colleagues found that at least eight fatal or serious crashes have involved Tesla drivers using Autopilot on roads where the software was not intended to be used, such as streets with cross traffic.

    These crashes have killed or severely wounded not only Tesla drivers, but bystanders. Tesla says its Autopilot software makes its cars safer overall than those without it.

    Announcing the recall, NHTSA said it was supposed to “encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility” when using the technology, and would include “additional checks” on drivers “using the feature outside controlled access highways.” But Tesla wasn’t specific about what, exactly, would change with the update to counteract misuse.

    […] I found we have every reason to be skeptical this recall does much of anything.

    How I tested Tesla’s recall
    It goes without saying: Don’t try this at home. I was quite surprised the Tesla would just blow through a stop sign, and activated Autopilot only near stops when there weren’t others around. […]

    I took my Tesla out on two identical test drives, before and after the update. My family leases a blue Tesla Model Y, one of America’s best-selling cars, which we’ve been largely content with. (Tesla can be very clever with software, and one time my car even bore witness to its own hit and run accident.)

    The process of simply getting the recall was itself a red flag for a lack of urgency about this fix. Unlike on a phone, where you can go to settings to look for updates, my car had no button to look for or prompt a download. Tesla’s user manual advised updates would download automatically if I had strong WiFi, so I moved my router outdoors near my parked car. When the recall finally arrived — a week and a half later — it contained a number of other unrelated features as well as a patch on top of its original release.

    I was using an Autopilot function known as Autosteer, which Tesla dubs “Beta” software but makes widely available. It automatically turns the wheel to keep it within lane lines. Drivers of recent Tesla models can easily activate it by pushing down twice on the right-hand stalk next to the wheel.

    In fine print and user manuals most drivers probably haven’t pored over, Tesla says that Autosteer “is designed for use on highways that have a center divider, clear lane markings, and no cross-traffic.” It adds: “Please use it only if you will pay attention to the road, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and be prepared to take over at any time.”

    As the crashes spotlighted by The Post investigation indicate, it isn’t clear to some drivers where you’re supposed to use Autosteer and what, exactly, it will do for you. It’s not nearly as advanced as Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” capability, which requires a $200 per month subscription to access and is designed to be used on city streets.

    Unfortunately, little about the recall forces Autosteer to operate only in situations it was designed to handle.

    Road test results
    Nothing changed after the recall about what seems to me to be the most critical issue: the places in which Autosteer will activate. I was able to use it well beyond highways, including city streets with stop signs, stop lights and significant curves. Autosteer flew into speed bumps at full speed, causing a raucous ride.

    This is bad software design. Teslas already contain mapping systems that know which street you’re on. Tesla’s surround-view cameras can identify stop signs and cross traffic. Why doesn’t Autopilot’s software pay attention to that data and allow Autosteer to activate only on roads it was designed for? The only factor I experienced that seemed to cause it to not operate (and flash a “temporarily unavailable” message) was if streets lacked clear paint lines.

    The two times Autosteer allowed my car to roll right through intersections with stop signs were especially nerve wracking. I could tell from icons on the car’s screen that it could see the sign, yet it did not disengage Autosteer or stop. After digging around Tesla’s website, I discovered that Tesla says obeying stop signs and stop lights is a function included for those who pay for Full Self-Driving. Should you really have to pay extra to keep the software your car comes with by default from doing reckless things?

    […] “NHTSA must set their sights beyond this recall and limit Tesla’s Autosteer feature to the limited-access highways for which it was designed,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), with whom I shared my test results.

    The biggest recall change my tests did reveal was how the car warned me about being attentive to the road while Autosteer was activated. But it’s subtle at best.

    […] In my pre-recall test drive, I was able to go for 75 seconds on a San Francisco street with traffic lights without my hands on the wheel before getting a warning. On the same road after the update, I could go for 60 seconds without my hands on the wheel.

    I wasn’t able to discern what prompted the hands-on-the-wheel alerts I received. On roads with stop lights, I did sometimes get a warning ahead of the intersection — but usually just deactivated the software myself to stay safe. Ahead of the two stop signs the car ran through, one time I got a hands-on warning, and one time I did not.

    More worrisome is how the recall handled my car’s interior camera. It’s used along with pressure on the steering wheel to check whether the driver is paying attention and not looking at their phone.

    When I covered the lens with a smiley-face sticker — a trick I read about on social media from other Tesla owners — the car would still activate Autosteer. The system did send more warnings about keeping my hands on the wheel while the camera was covered. But I don’t understand why Tesla would allow you to activate Autosteer at all when the camera is either malfunctioning or being monkeyed with.

    […] every Tesla driver who is using Autopilot with the update is testing the performance of the technology while we wait for NHTSA to do its own. It’s hard to see how post-release review serves public safety in an era where software, and especially driver-assistance capabilities, introduces very new kinds of risk. […]

  83. says

    North Korea’s Kim vows to launch 3 more spy satellites and produce more nuclear materials in 2024

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to launch three additional military spy satellites, produce more nuclear materials and introduce attack drones in 2024, as he called for “overwhelming” war readiness to cope with U.S.-led confrontational moves, state media reported Sunday.

    Kim’s comments, made during a key ruling Workers’ Party meeting to set state goals for next year, suggest he’ll intensify a run of weapons tests ahead of the U.S. presidential elections in November. Observers say Kim believes a boosted nuclear capability would give him another chance for high-stakes diplomacy with the U.S. to win sanctions relief if former President Donald Trump returns to the White House.

    During the five-day meeting that ended Saturday, Kim said “vicious” anti-North Korea moves by the United States and its followers “have reached the extremes unprecedented in history,” pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. Kim cited the expansion of U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the temporary deployment of powerful U.S. military assets such as bombers and a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea — the steps the allies have taken in response to the North’s weapons testing spree since last year.

    Kim called for “the overwhelming war response capability” to deter potential enemy provocations, KCNA said. […]

  84. Reginald Selkirk says

    Nativity-style statuettes found at Pompeii said to suggest pagan ritual

    Thirteen Nativity-style statuettes have been found amid the ruins of Pompeii, a discovery experts say provides evidence of pagan ritual traditions in the ancient Roman city.

    The terracotta sculptures were found in an upright position on what was probably a shelf in the hallway of a home during recent excavations at the archaeological park in southern Italy.

    Pompeii archaeologists said in a statement that Christmas mangers were obviously not part of the tradition in the pagan city, which was wiped out by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79, but they believe the relics were used as part of a pagan ritual given the way in which they were arranged.

    Some of the pieces, which include human figures, appear to pay tribute to the myth of the cult goddess Cybele and her tragic love, Attis.

    Other sculptures depict the head of a cockerel, an almond, a walnut and a pine cone…

  85. says

    […] Not only is Trump toast: all those in Congress or state legislatures who participated, enabled, or provided cover for the insurrection or its participants are barred from office and ballot. […]

    Link

  86. says

    Followup to Reginald @130.

    […] Margrethe, 83, will hand over the throne to her son, Crown Prince Frederik, she said in her traditional New Year’s Eve speech broadcast on Danish television.

    She cited a back surgery in February 2023 as giving her thoughts about the future.

    […] The 83-year-old is the world’s only reigning queen and the longest serving monarch in Europe, taking the throne after the death of her father King Frederik IX in 1972.

    […] A rebellious teen turned “woke” family man, Denmark’s future king Crown Prince Frederik is the embodiment of the country’s relaxed, liberal monarchy.

    Passionate about the environment, he has discreetly imposed himself in the shadow of his hugely popular mother, Queen Margrethe II, championing Denmark and its drive to find solutions to the climate crisis.

    Posted by a reader of the article:

    The age where the King basically Ran Everything are long over — most leaders know that even if appointed “for life”, that appointment can be cut short if they piss off too many of their subjects.

    We do have oligarch dictators like Vlad Putin, simultaneously being a complete asshole to everyone from his advisors on down to the people on the street, and taking extreme measures not to get shot, poisoned, infected with disease, or tipped out a window. That’s the bad extreme.

    The ‘good’ extreme would be the example of the Danes, here, where the current Queen recognizes her limits, and decides that now’s as good a time as any to pass the Crown to her heir (who has matured into someone who can do the job as well as she could.)

  87. says

    Appeals court allows California law banning guns in public places to go into effect

    A California bill that prohibits the carrying of firearms in most public places is slated to become law on Jan. 1, after a U.S. Appeals Court on Saturday put a temporary hold on a district court’s decision blocking the law from taking effect.

    The appeals court decision comes 10 days after U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney ruled the new law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), is unconstitutional and violated the Second Amendment, depriving people the right to defend themselves and their families under the Second Amendment.

    The challenge to the new law was brought by the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

    The Saturday ruling lets the legal process continue to play out as the law takes effect. The law bans carrying concealed firearms in 26 locations, including public parks, playgrounds, churches, banks and zoos.

    The law applies to those even with a license to carry a concealed weapon. One exception would be for private businesses, which can choose to display signs that say people are allowed to bring guns onto their property, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

    […] attorneys are scheduled to file arguments to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in January and February.

    Newsom, who has championed stronger gun reform legislation, responded Saturday in a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: “This ruling will allow our common-sense gun laws to remain in place while we appeal the district court’s dangerous ruling. Californians overwhelmingly support efforts to ensure that places like hospitals, libraries and children’s playgrounds remain safe and free from guns.”

  88. says

    DeSantis, Haley pledge to pardon Trump if he’s convicted.

    Washington Post link

    Donald Trump’s leading Republican primary challengers said in recent days that if they are elected, they would pardon the former president should he be convicted of any of the 91 felony charges he’s currently facing.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley argued in separate campaign stops last week that extending clemency to Trump would be in the country’s best interest. Both had previously signaled they were leaning toward issuing a pardon, but their recent statements were the most definitive yet and left little room for doubt just weeks before the first nominating contests in January.

    “I would pardon Trump if he is found guilty,” Haley told a crowd in Plymouth, N.H., on Thursday.

    […] Ex-New Jersey governor Chris Christie, meanwhile, has railed against these pledges, calling Trump’s actions a threat to democracy. A pardon for Trump, Christie said on Friday, would signal “two systems of justice: One for all of us and one for the most powerful.”

    […] Trump is facing 44 federal charges and 47 state charges across four separate criminal cases. The federal charges with the most severe penalties are those concerning allegations of obstruction of justice, which in typical cases can result in up to 20 years of imprisonment. Defendants, however, rarely receive maximum sentences and it is not clear whether Trump would be imprisoned if convicted.

    […] Haley made the same case in New Hampshire last week, responding to a 9-year-old’s question about the former president.

    “A leader needs to think about what’s in the best interest of the country,” Haley said. “What’s in the best interest of the country is not to have an 80-year-old man sitting in jail that continues to divide our country. What’s in the best interest of our country would be to pardon him so that we can move on as a country and no longer talk about him.” […]

  89. Reginald Selkirk says

    Yes, Alberta does have native rats — and one man can’t get rid of them


    Alberta has been defending its borders against invasive rats for more than 70 years. Even pet rats are strictly forbidden.

    However, bushy-tailed woodrats occur naturally in the Rocky Mountains and southern parts of the province, according to Alberta’s rat control program.

    Ord’s kangaroo rats, an endangered species, are also found in the province, in a small area near Medicine Hat, according to Environment Canada…

  90. Jean says

    Re #136

    Would Clarence Thomas also be subject to section 3 of the 14th amendment? Since his wife Ginni Thomas has links to the attempted coup and Clarence could likely be said to have given aid and comfort and he is an officer of the United States (are SCOTUS justices officers?), he would then be subject to the disqualification.

    I know that it’s tenuous at best but if there’s clean up made with section 3 of the14th amendment, this is one that would be very much welcome.

  91. birgerjohansson says

    If you can get these proteins to be manufactured only in non-neuron cells, you could preserve organs and maybe make large living organisms more robust.
    But the most urgent application would be making plants more resistent to drought.
    Decades down the line, maybe parallel processing (aka “AI”) can create protein variants that do not harm neurons!
    (I screwed up the copying, I hope one of the links work)

    “Unbelievable Discoveries About Tardigrades From The Last Few Months”

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=0vc0TTQZEcU&si=RqkLar_SGpwydxiJ

  92. Reginald Selkirk says

    Illinois is making fuzzy dice legal again

    Starting Monday, police in the state will no longer be allowed to pull over motorists solely because they have something hanging from their windshield’s rearview mirror. That means air fresheners, parking placards, and, yes, even those dice are fair game to hang…

  93. birgerjohansson says

    This calico cat is right; You can never be certain the two parts of an apparent conversation genuinely communicate.

  94. birgerjohansson says

    …and that was nowhere near the weirdest thing I have found on Youtube this week.
    Happy new year 2024.

  95. says

    Burundi’s president said gay people should be stoned, amid a larger crackdown on the LGBTQ community in the East African country.

    “If you want to attract a curse to the country, accept homosexuality,” Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye said in a question and answer session with journalists and the public last Friday, according to Reuters.

    “I even think that these people, if we find them in Burundi, it is better to lead them to a stadium and stone them. And that cannot be a sin,” he continued, claiming homosexuality is imported from the West.

    The Burundi leader’s remarks come amid growing concern over anti-gay statements and laws across the African continent. Burundi already criminalizes same-sex sexual activity, with sentences of up to two years in prison.

    A gay human rights activist in the country who spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity said Sunday that the president’s comment “worsens an already unsafe environment.”

    Ndayishimiye’s remarks come months after Uganda enacted an anti-gay law that drew condemnation from human rights groups […]

    The law imposes harsh penalties on those who identify as homosexual, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” […]

    The State Department earlier this month announced an expansion of a previous visa restriction policy targeting “those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda.”

    The policy now also applies to officials or others who were behind or complicit in “policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations.” […]

    Link

  96. StevoR says

    Vale John Pilger, journo, documentary maker and good human being :

    Veteran Australian journalist John Pilger has died in London, aged 84. … (snip)..John Pilger grew up in Sydney’s Bondi, before working as a reporter for the Reuters news agency and as a foreign correspondent for Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper. In his 20s he became the first person to have won Britain’s Journalist of the Year award twice. He later moved to the United States, where he reported on the social upheaval of the late 1960s and 1970s, including the assassination of Robert Kennedy, for which he was present. He also received acclaim for his reporting from South-East Asia, including documentaries on conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia and East Timor. His documentaries won numerous awards, including an Emmy and a BAFTA, and he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2009.

    In addition to railing against Western foreign policy throughout his career, Pilger was a staunch critic of Australia’s treatment of its Indigenous peoples. He made a series of documentaries on the topic, including The Secret Country (1985), Welcome to Australia (1999) and Utopia (2013).

    In more recent years, he was a visible supporter and friend of Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who he said had launched a “moral revolution in journalism”. Leading the tributes to Pilger on social media, former ABC journalist Quentin Dempster wrote on X: “Pilger exposed atrocity, war crimes, abuse of power, dispossession, hypocrisy and dirty tricks around the world in a life of fearless truth telling. May he rest in peace.”

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-31/australian-journalist-documentarian-john-pilger-dies-aged-84/103276142

  97. StevoR says

    Now with the New Year underway here we are finally learning some secrets about how our country was dragged into the American invasion of Iraq :

    It was the biggest decision of 2003, but discussions about sending Australian troops as part of the US-led invasion of Iraq account for only a sliver of hundreds of pages of never-before-seen cabinet documents. A six-page minute reveals then-prime minister John Howard had “extensive discussions over a period of time” with both US president George W Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair about the “possible use of force against Iraq if it failed to disarm”.

    The 20-year-old cabinet documents have been released as part of an annual dispatch by the National Archives of Australia, after the documents’ confidentiality period expired. Despite the 246-document dump, there is still so much not known about Australia’s involvement in the war, as the majority of the government’s high-level deliberations were made by an inner circle of ministers in the National Security Committee (NSC) — with those records kept secret.

    But here’s what we do know. ..

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-01/2003-cabinet-documents-released-iraq-war-sars-climate-change/103255744

  98. StevoR says

    A Japanese private spaceflight company showed off its moon lander under construction for a new moon landing mission in 2024.

    A new video by ispace showed off the Mission 2 lander that will host a micro rover for a launch in winter 2024, if all goes to plan. ..(Snip).. The new mission, should it get to the surface, will host a micro-rover. It is just 10.24 inches (26 centimeters) tall, 12.4 inches (31.5 cm) wide and 21.26 inches (54 cm) long, and has a mass of about 11 pounds (5 kilograms). It will also carry a high-definition camera near the front, to take images of moon dirt as it scoops samples.

    Source : https://www.space.com/japan-ispace-moon-lander-2nd-mission

    Oh then we have a cosmological issue with unexpected clumping too..

    https://www.space.com/universe-cosmic-clumping-understanding-standard-model-cosmology

    In other space news we should be getting some good new pictuires of Jovian moon Io soon ..

    https://www.space.com/nasa-juno-spacecraft-io-moon-closest-flyby-20-years

    Perhaps in 10, 9, 8, 7,..

  99. Reginald Selkirk says

    Japan lowers its tsunami warning but still tells people not to go home after a series of earthquakes

    Japan dropped its highest-level tsunami alert, issued following a series of major earthquakes on Monday, but told residents of coastal areas not to return to their homes as deadly waves could still come.

    The quakes, the largest of which had a magnitude of 7.6, started a fire and collapsed buildings on the west coast of Japan’s main island, Honshu. It was unclear how many people might have been killed or hurt.

    The Japan Meteorological Agency reported more than a dozen quakes in the Japan Sea off the coast of Ishikawa and nearby prefectures shortly after 4 p.m…

    Tsunami hits South Korea’s east coast, Russia issues tsunami warning

    A tsunami measuring under one meter (3.3 ft) reached South Korea’s east coast in the wake of a massive earthquake that hit Japan on Monday, South Korea’s meteorological agency said, which added there may be more and larger waves in the next hours…

  100. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cerne Abbas Giant: Has the mystery of the chalk hill figure been solved?

    A centuries-old mystery surrounding the origins of a chalk giant hill figure has been unravelled by academics from Oxford University.

    New research indicates the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset was originally carved as an image of Hercules to mark a muster station for West Saxon armies…

    In 2021, tests carried out for the National Trust, which owns the site, revealed the giant had been carved in the Anglo-Saxon period and was not prehistoric, or more recent, as previously thought.

    Dr Helen Gittos and Dr Thomas Morcom have been building on the discovery to uncover why the giant was created in the first place.

    They explained that Hercules was well known in the Middle Ages and there was a particular spike of interest in him during the 9th Century, at a time when the area was under attack by Vikings…

  101. Reginald Selkirk says

    These eclipse-themed places will experience totality on April 8, 2024


    About 115 miles wide, it will stretch 10,000 miles across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans via North America, making land at Mazatlán, Mexico and departing from Newfoundland, Canada.

    In between, it will cross parts of 15 U.S. states — and dozens of eclipse-themed place names…

    “The best one is Eclipse Island in Newfoundland,” said Zeiler. “It got that name because Captain James Cook observed an eclipse from that island.” …

  102. says

    Court and trial update, in simple language:

    […] In spite of all three levels of Federal Courts (District Court, Appeals Court, Supreme Court) having been involved in this case, this trial is not a trial yet. The trial is scheduled to start March 4, 2024.

    In the meantime, let’s call it the Jan 6th Criminal Election Fraud Case. (Not to be confused with the Civil Fraud Case or the Georgia Election case.) It’s a Federal Criminal proceeding, located in Washington, DC. When — and if — this case becomes a trial, it will be heard by US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.

    Judge Chutkan (District Court- level one) has been quoted in the news for months. She has made several decisions. They are all pretrial decisions.

    I learned: “Most of the progress of a federal case happens in what is called the pretrial phase.” This sentence has comforted me greatly.

    When I was young (yesterday), I thought that you had a trial first, then appealed the decision. Turns out pretrial motions can be made to dismiss the trial itself. If the pretrial decision goes against you, apparently it can be taken to the court of appeals (level two) before the trial starts.

    Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is acting as prosecutor in this case, anticipated that this motion to dismiss would go through the Court of Appeals then be referred to the US Supreme Court (level three). In order to move the case quickly, he requested that the Supreme Court fast-track this case and hear it even before the Appeals Court. His request was denied. So the Supreme Court involvement has been minimal, but the case has at least touched there.

    The Jan 6th Criminal Election Fraud Case is on hold while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit determines whether Trump has immunity by having been President.

    On Saturday, December 30th, special counsel Jack Smith’s office filed an 82 page document asking the Appeals Court to reject Trump’s claim of immunity. [Jack Smith working over the holidays!]

    According to Alan Feuer of the NYT :

    The fight over immunity is arguably the most important aspect of the election interference case, involving both new questions of law and consequential issues of timing. The case is set to go to trial in Federal District Court in Washington in early March but has been put on hold until Mr. Trump’s attempts to dismiss the charges on grounds of immunity are resolved.

    The appeal is legally significant because it centers on a question that has never before been asked or fully answered. That is because Mr. Trump is the first former president to have been charged with crimes and because he has chosen to defend himself in this case with a novel claim: that the office he held at the time should shield him entirely from prosecution.

    […] Chutkan wrote. “But while a former President’s prosecution is unprecedented, so too are the allegations that a President committed the crimes with which Defendant is charged.”

    Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut writing for Slate say

    Special Counsel Jack Smith filed a motion Wednesday [Dec 27] . . .whose larger significance might be easily missed. . . .

    On its surface, Smith’s motion only asked the court to prevent Trump from raising matters during the trial that have nothing to do with determining whether he is guilty of committing the offenses with which he is charged. (snip)

    Beyond the legalities, however, Smith has told us three important things about his larger project and strategy.

    First, he’s a man in a hurry to ensure the fair administration of justice. Trump, on the other hand, wants to delay his court date as long as possible. Smith’s new motion suggests that he hopes the election interference case can quickly overcome the former president’s stalling tactics and be ready to go to trial the moment appellate courts deny Trump’s claim, as they surely will, that he is immune from prosecution as a former president.

    Second, the motion told us that even while the trial is on hold, Smith intends to take the initiative and remain the lead in the courtroom. That’s what great trial lawyers do at every stage of a court proceeding. Trump excels at surviving unfavorable situations by introducing chaos into them—but the motion shows that Smith will not let him do that here.

    Third, and most important, Smith is saying loud and clear that he’s got Trump’s number. The special counsel is telling Trump and the rest of us that he (Smith) understands who Trump is and the meaning of his trial for a rule-of-law society.

    CNN

    In Saturday’s filing, prosecutors point out they already convinced the appeals court to expedite the case.

    […]

    Link

  103. says

    Israel’s high court has voided Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul law

    Israel’s high court on Monday struck down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial law that aimed to limit the court’s power over government decisions and sparked mass anti-government protests and international condemnation.

    Netanyahu’s plans to overhaul the judiciary upended Israel in the months leading up to the Israel-Gaza war and now threaten to cause a leadership crisis. […]

    There have already been several demonstrations against the law in 2023. Opponents found the law undemocratic and feared that it would turn Israel into a dictatorship.

    The law would have made parliament much more powerful. For example, the law would ensure that decisions of the Supreme Court can be reversed. Politicians would also have more say in the appointment of judges.

    Striking down that law is good news.

  104. says

    From Penn Live:

    Billie Joe Armstrong had Green Day trending on social media in the countdown to 2024 after the band’s lead singer appeared to take a shot at the MAGA crowd live on ABC’s Dick Clark New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

    While performing the group’s hit, “American Idiot,” Armstrong appeared to slip in, “I’m not a part of the MAGA agenda.”

    […]

    Link

    Video at the link.

  105. says

    Good news:

    U.S. economy will pull off soft landing in 2024, CBO projects

    The U.S. economy is on track to avoid a recession next year as inflation returns to normal, according to new economic projections released by the Congressional Budget Office. […]

    Axios link

  106. Reginald Selkirk says

    New York shuts out Toronto in 1st PWHL game as Canada’s Shelton leads the way

    New York has won the first regular season Professional Women’s Hockey League game, shutting out Toronto 4-0 in front of a sold-out crowd at Mattamy Athletic Centre on Monday afternoon.

    Defender Ella Shelton from Ingersoll, Ont. will go down in history as having scored the first PWHL goal, giving New York a 1-0 lead a little more than 10 minutes into the first period…

  107. says

    Your 2023 Legislative Badass Is … Not A Legislator, It’s Joe Biden!

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/your-2023-legislative-badass-is-not

    Congress barely legislated, but when it did, Joe won.

    Picking a Legislative Badass for 2023 was a tough choice in a year when Congress did Jack Shit, over and over again. We could’ve gone with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who in the multiple failures by Republicans to choose a speaker kept getting more votes than any GOP candidate […] But while Jeffries did a terrific job of keeping the Dem caucus unified, we decided to hand the Badass title to Biden, primarily for outmaneuvering Republicans in negotiations to extend the debt ceiling, winning a deal that avoided a world financial crash while also not conceding to GOP demands to undo Biden’s first-term legislative achievements.

    Remember, extending the debt ceiling is usually a routine vote to allow the government to borrow money to pay for spending it’s already done. Defaulting on that debt wouldn’t make the debt disappear, it would throw the world economy into chaos and make the payments more costly, actually resulting in greater debt. [That’s a great explanation. Very concise!] But when Republicans hold one or the other house of Congress under a Democratic president, they use the periodic debt ceiling vote to try to force enormous budget cuts or the elimination of entire programs they don’t like, like Obamacare in 2013, or Biden’s climate policy this year.

    Biden said from the start that he would be happy to negotiate with Congress about the budget when it took up spending bills, but that then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy would need to pledge not to allow a default on the debt, period.

    McCarthy then came back in April with a ransom note threatening to default on the debt, because his bosses in the GOP caucus were happy to play chicken with the economy anyway. Let’s just recall what the R’s demanded in exchange for not causing a global economic meltdown. Among other demands, the big ones were
    – A freeze of federal spending at 2022 levels.
    – Repeal of virtually all the climate provisions in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.
    – Elimination of the IRA’s $80 billion funding increase for the Internal Revenue Service.

    That last was needed to update the tax service’s antiquated computers and to hire staff not just to go after wealthy tax cheats, but also to have enough people to process returns and to work on the customer service lines, which prior to the new funding only answered 13 percent of taxpayer calls. [Yikes! That’s really poor customer service.]

    Biden, who had said from the start that he wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, said hell no, and that only a “clean” debt limit bill would be acceptable. Once that was in place, sure, he’d negotiate on the budget process.

    And what the hell: By the end of May, with the chicken-race getting awfully close to the cliff, McCarthy agreed to a deal that avoided default and which gave the rightwing loonies in the House virtually none of the concessions they’d demanded. It suspended the debt ceiling through January 1, 2025, taking that craziness off the table until after the presidential election, and capped non-defense spending at current levels through the end of fiscal 2024.

    The biggest concessions allowed for some imposition of work requirements for food assistance, but expanded access to the benefits for many more people, so it was a tradeoff. And the GOP did get a $20 billion cut from the new IRS funding, but not full elimination of it, as they’d wanted. The climate provisions in the IRA were untouched, but to get Fucking Joe Manchin on board, the agreement allowed a gas pipeline from West Virginia to be built, bypassing the normal authorization process. Sucks, but the carbon reductions expected from preserving the rest of the climate package (roughly a billion metric tons by 2030) will vastly outweigh any new emissions from the pipeline (estimates from climate experts are disputed: from a low around 16 million metric tons annually, up to a high of 89 million), one of those “coulda been worse” compromises.

    After the debt ceiling extension passed, MAGA Republicans showed their displeasure with McCarthy by killing several of their own awful bills, so there. [Clown show in action.]

    Biden also came out the winner in both of the Republicans’ subsequent attempts to shut down the government, getting short-term extensions of current spending, without massive cuts, from Kevin McCarthy, who lost his speakership for letting Democrats keep the government open, and from McCarthy’s eventual, far worse replacement, Mike Johnson. (The latter deal even extended the must-pass Farm Bill until September 30, 2024, putting off one budget fight thank Crom.)

    Neither of those continuing resolutions included funding for Ukraine, because Republicans like Russia too much, but otherwise, the national parks remain open, federal workers are getting paid, and the economy keeps humming along, creating jobs and making Fox News angry.

    So hell yes, Joe Biden out-legislated the actual legislators this year. Now the dipshits will try to impeach him without actually knowing what for, which will just be one of the many things making 2024 interesting.

  108. Reginald Selkirk says

    Bay Area woman kills person she thought was stealing packages, police say

    A Contra Costa County woman is in custody after allegedly running over and killing a woman who she thought was stealing packages in her neighborhood, police say.

    San Pablo police came upon a pedestrian who had been struck by a driver on the 1100 block of Broadway Avenue on the afternoon of Dec. 8, the department said in a press release. The pedestrian, a 60-year-old woman, had “major injuries” and underwent surgery at a trauma center; she never recovered and died on Dec. 23 of her injuries.

    The driver, identified by San Pablo police as Dene Blakely, 39, allegedly exchanged heated words with the victim before intentionally striking the pedestrian with her vehicle. Blakely believed the woman was “someone who had previously stolen a package from her residence, and confronted the victim as she walked in the 1100 block of Broadway Avenue,” police said…

    I know that ‘porch piracy’ is a source of irritation, but this is not the right way to deal with it.

  109. says

    Israel Says It Will Pull Several Brigades From Gaza Strip

    The Israeli military said on Monday that it would begin withdrawing several thousand troops from the Gaza Strip at least temporarily, in what was the most significant publicly announced reduction since the war with Hamas began.

    The military cited a growing toll on the Israeli economy after nearly three months of wartime mobilization with little end in sight to the fighting. Israel had been considering scaling back its operations, and the United States has been prodding it to do so more quickly as the death toll and privation in Gaza rose.

    More than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the war, most of them civilians, according to the local health authorities, primarily in Israeli bombing. With aid delivery restricted and aid workers unable to move safely within the territory, half of Gaza’s roughly 2.2 million people are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations.

    Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman, emphasized that the move to demobilize some soldiers did not suggest any compromise of Israel’s intention to continue fighting until it destroys Hamas, and the fighting across Gaza remained intense. Admiral Hagari, who had said he expected “warfare throughout this year,” indicated that some troops would be called back to service in 2024.

    He did not mention the American requests to scale back, and Israeli officials have not declared any shift toward a more limited, targeted phase of the war in Gaza, though they have said such a transition would come. […]

    Reservists from at least two brigades will be sent home this week, the Israeli military said in a statement, and three brigades will be taken back for “scheduled” training. Brigades vary in size, up to roughly 4,000 troops, and the Israeli military does not disclose how many troops it has deployed in Gaza, so it was unclear how many would remain.

    “This move is expected to significantly alleviate economic burdens and enable them to gather strength for upcoming activities in the next year,” the military said. […]

  110. says

    To Avoid New York Rules, Hundreds of Migrants Dropped Off in New Jersey

    New York Times link

    Migrants, sent mostly from Texas, arrived at train stops outside New York City over the weekend to sidestep a new order limiting how they arrive.

    Hundreds of migrants bound for New York City took a detour in New Jersey over the holiday weekend, in an apparent attempt to bypass a city order that seeks to limit the chaotic flow of arrivals.

    Since Saturday, 13 buses from Texas and Louisiana carrying about 450 migrants have arrived in New Jersey, including a bus that arrived early Monday in Jersey City, according to Steve Fulop, the city’s mayor. Other stops included New Jersey Transit hubs in Secaucus, Fanwood, Edison and Trenton.

    The surge in New Jersey arrivals appears to be an end-run around an emergency executive order last week by New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, requiring charter bus companies to provide 32 hours’ advance notice of the arrival of migrants and restricting the times of day when they can be dropped off.

    “They’re using New Jersey essentially as a bus stop to circumvent the limits on buses that can arrive in New York,” Mr. Fulop said […]

    The buses — mostly from Texas, but at least one from Louisiana — had chaperones who assisted migrants in transferring to trains and buses heading into New York City. The office of Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    […] Mr. Adams signed his order last week to bring more structure to the process of buses dropping off migrants near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan at odd hours and without notice.

    […] “Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues to treat asylum seekers like political pawns, and is instead now dropping families off in surrounding cities and states in the cold, dark of night with train tickets to travel to New York City, just like he has been doing in Chicago,” Kayla Mamelak, a spokeswoman for Mr. Adams, said in a statement.

    Mr. Adams said his executive order was modeled after laws in Chicago that placed limits on when and where migrants could be dropped off. Chicago officials said that in response to the restrictions, buses from Texas began dropping migrants off at O’Hare International Airport, on “random streets” and in neighboring suburbs.

    […] Michael Gonnelli, the mayor of Secaucus, N.J., where several migrants disembarked over the weekend, said in a statement on Sunday that the new rules might be too difficult to enforce and were “resulting in unexpected consequences” for transit hubs in New Jersey.

  111. birgerjohansson says

    Umeå. North Sweden. 3 in the morning.
    Can’t sleep. Let’s check the tempera…
    FUUUUUUUUCK! – 26°C !!!

  112. birgerjohansson says

    It is nice to see common myths debunked.

    “Debunking the Biggest Myths About Ancient Sparta ”

  113. Reginald Selkirk says

    Elon Musk’s X Is Worth 71% Less Than He Bought It For, Says Fidelity

    A mutual fund that helped Elon Musk buy X now says the platform is worth 71.5% less than the $44 billion it was purchased for in 2022, according to Axios Sunday. Fidelity cut the valuation of Musk’s social media platform by more than 10% in November when Elon Musk shared his thoughts on Jews and told advertisers to “go f**k yourselves.” …

    Let me do the math:
    (1.0 – 0.715) * 44 billion => 12.54 billion

  114. birgerjohansson says

    All passenger trains north of my town (Umeå, Sweden) have been cancelled because of the cold. Here we currently have -27°C.
    I envy the hibernating critters.
    Coldest place in the country today:
    Nikkaluokta -41.6 °C

  115. Reginald Selkirk says

    Suspect breaks into Colorado Supreme Court building, holds guard at gunpoint, fires shots inside, officials say

    State and local police in Colorado are investigating after they said a suspect forced his way into the Colorado Supreme Court building early Tuesday, held a security guard at gunpoint and fired multiple shots inside the building.

    Colorado State Police said a preliminary investigation concluded the incident was likely not related to the reported threats made against justices after the state disqualified former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential primary election.

    The incident began about 1:15 a.m. after a two-vehicle crash took place just outside the building in downtown Denver, Colorado State Police wrote in a news release.

    According to troopers, one of the drivers pointed a gun at the other driver and, shortly after the wreck, shot at a window of the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center where the state court is housed.

    The suspect with the weapon then entered the building and came in contact with an unarmed Colorado State Patrol security guard, officials said in the release…

  116. Reginald Selkirk says

    Turkey blocks Royal Navy minehunters going to Ukraine

    Turkey has refused to allow Royal Navy minehunters donated to Ukraine to pass through its waters, blocking them from reaching the Black Sea.

    The two ships were pledged to Kyiv in December to help its navy in the battle against Russia.

    But on Tuesday, the office of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the transfer would violate the 1936 Montreux Convention which stops warships passing through its Bosphorus and Gallipoli straits during conflicts…

  117. birgerjohansson says

    You deserve a bit of fun

    Seth Meyers’ Lindsey Graham Impression But  Only When He Yells at Mee-Maw…

  118. gijoel says

    Sigh, Grimes is a Nazi. Fuck ‘white culture’, it’s a bullshit term racists hide behind. I guess we know what she saw in Elon.

  119. says

    Republican support for the ‘big lie’ moves in the wrong direction

    As the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack draws closer, support for Donald Trump’s “big lie” appears to be moving in the wrong direction. The Washington Post reported on the latest national poll conducted with the University of Maryland:

    Despite audits in multiple states and nationally televised congressional hearings in which state officials and aides to Trump confirmed there was no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, more Americans question Biden’s victory than they did two years ago. When The Post and UMD asked in December 2021 whether Biden was legitimately elected, 69 percent of Americans said he was. Now, that’s down to 62 percent.

    Of particular interest was the shift among self-identified Republicans: As 2021 came to a close, 39% of GOP voters said President Joe Biden’s election was legitimate. As 2023 wrapped up, that total was down to 31%, while 67% of Republicans said the Democratic incumbent was not legitimately elected, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

    This comes on the heels of a CNN poll from August, which found very similar results.

    […] I initially hoped that reality would set in gradually over time. It seemed plausible to think that some of the early polling — during the presidential transition period, for example — was driven by more of an emotional reaction than a meaningful assessment of the facts. Many GOP voters were led to believe that Trump would win, so perhaps their initial rejection of Biden’s victory was a combination of reflexive surprise and anger.

    What’s more, as the 2020 race faded from view, Republicans failed to produce any evidence to substantiate the lies, and policymakers’ attention shifted to governing, common sense suggested that even GOP die-hards would move on.

    They have not. In fact, my naïve hopes about a gradual acceptance of reality have been dashed in dramatic fashion. Election Day 2020 was 1,155 days ago, and the percentage of Republican voters who are still getting this wrong isn’t just too high, it’s also getting worse.

    Does this matter? Are there are any meaningful consequences to so many Republicans embracing such brazen lies? I continue to believe the answer to both questions is yes.

    In fact, we’ve already seen some of the real-world results. Ahead of the 2022 elections, polls showed similar percentages of GOP voters believing the “big lie,” which in turn led the party to nominate far-right and unelectable election deniers in many key races nationwide. Democrats had an unexpectedly strong 2022 cycle in part because a radicalized Republican base backed candidates who shared — or at least pretended to share — their ridiculous beliefs.

    All of this also matters to the extent that GOP policymakers in state capitols have weaponized election denialism to justify new voter suppression policies.

    But there’s also a forward-looking relevance.

    There are a variety of factors that have elevated Trump to front-runner status in the race for his party’s 2024 presidential nomination, but polling data like this helps explain his electoral strength.

    As far as two-thirds of Republican voters are concerned, Trump not only won in 2016, he also won in 2020, no matter what reality says about the results. For much of the GOP electorate, the calculus is no doubt straightforward: As the party looks for the best possible contender for the 2024 race, why not go with the candidate who’s twice already proven he can win?

    In other words, as Republican voters continue to embrace this obvious nonsense, the more important their rejection of reality becomes.

  120. says

    Donald Trump paid Ken Block and his company to find evidence of 2020 voter fraud. As the researcher now confirms, that didn’t turn out especially well.

    About a year ago, The Washington Post reported on Donald Trump’s political operation having hired the Berkeley Research Group to scrutinize the 2020 presidential election after the Republican’s defeat. The purpose of the contract was obvious: The outgoing president and his team wanted the researchers to bolster Trump’s conspiracy theories about voter fraud and election irregularities.

    That didn’t work out well: BRG couldn’t find any meaningful evidence. As my MSNBC colleague Hayes Brown joked, Trump “must have really hated that his campaign spent over $600,000 to be told he was wrong.”

    But we later learned that the Berkeley Research Group wasn’t alone in tackling such an endeavor. Last April, the Post published a related report on Team Trump paying $750,000 to Simpatico Software Systems, which was also tasked with finding evidence of 2020 voter fraud. That didn’t go well, either: The company was unable to tell Republicans what they wanted to hear because the evidence simply didn’t exist.

    It’s against this backdrop that Ken Block, the owner of Simpatico Software Systems, has a new op-ed in USA Today, which was published with a striking headline: “Trump paid me to find voter fraud. Then he lied after I found 2020 election wasn’t stolen.”

    In November 2020, former President Donald Trump asserted that voter fraud had altered the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The day after the election, his campaign hired an expert in voter data to attempt to prove Trump’s allegations and put him back in the White House. I am the expert who was hired by the Trump campaign.

    In his opinion piece, Block, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate in his home state of Rhode Island, explained not only that his investigation failed to turn up meaningful evidence of voter fraud, but also that his company’s findings have been shared with congressional, federal and state investigators.

    Block added that rank-and-file GOP voters have been fed “a steady diet of innuendo, misrepresentations and outright lies when it comes to the issue of voter fraud. … Stories that set the record straight about election innuendo are not typically broadcast in right-leaning media, which means that millions of people receive no information to help them make a more informed decision about what happened in 2020.”

    […] Trump and his team were presented with these findings many months ago. They kept lying anyway.

    But pieces like these nevertheless stand out because of their potential impact on others. I’m well aware of the fact that many Republican voters are inclined to ignore official election results. And court rulings. And journalists. And scholars. And state and local election officials from both parties.

    For the right, however, dismissing someone like Block shouldn’t be quite as easy. At issue is a Republican whose company was paid well by Team Trump to uncover evidence of voter fraud. It was in Block’s interest to deliver the results his powerful client wanted to see, but that proved impossible because the evidence simply didn’t exist.

    It’s one thing when rank-and-file GOP voters reflexively ignore the reality-based community. But when weighing whether or not to believe conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, shouldn’t it matter that Trump’s own researchers concluded that the voter fraud claims were baseless?

  121. says

    Happy New Year: A Bunch of Minimum Wage Increases Just Took Effect

    The boosts in pay stands to disproportionately benefit Black and Hispanic workers and women.

    Workers across the country are kicking off the new year with bigger paychecks, thanks to minimum wage increases that took effect yesterday in 22 states and 43 cities and counties, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project.

    Six of those states—California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Washington—now have a minimum wage that reaches or surpasses $15. The increases should disproportionately benefit Black, Hispanic, and female workers who make up more than half of the workers receiving pay bumps, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.

    The raises follow the decade-long “Fight For $15” movement, which has helped push more than a dozen states to adopt a path to a $15 or higher minimum wage—more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which has been in effect since 2009. And that movement is unlikely to stall anytime soon. This year, another three states and 22 jurisdictions will also raise their minimum wages. Twenty of these increases will be to $15 or more for some or all employers; 15 places will reach or exceed $17, according to NELP data.

    As NELP notes, there are also several ballot measures and legislative campaigns underway seeking to raise the minimum wage slated to be decided this year: A California ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $18 by 2025-2026 and a Massachusetts legislative campaign seeking a $20 minimum wage by 2027. Democratic lawmakers have also introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $17 by 2028.

    President Biden pledged to bring about a $15 federal minimum wage before it was stripped from the stimulus bill in 2021. Ahead of this year’s elections, it could be a good effort for Democrats to renew: polling has shown that most Americans—and a majority of Democrats—support a $15 federal minimum wage.

  122. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who was recently expelled from Congress, made a pitch on Tuesday to serve as former President Trump’s director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if Trump wins his bid to return to the White House in 2024.

    “My new year resolution is that President Trump returns to the white house and in 2025 I can be appointed Director of ICE,” Santos wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

    “Enough abuse and disregard for our sovereignty, we are the United States OF America and not a global dumping hub. ICE has had their hands tied for far too long with the sole exception of the great four years of DJT,” Santos wrote, referring to Donald J. Trump by his initials.

    “The time is now,” Santos continued. “And that’s why I’m putting my name in the mix for a role that will take grit and a fearless person and not a coward that will fear media spin. Bring it on #MSM I’ll take you all on again with glee.”

    […] Santos faces 23 federal criminal charges related to allegations that he misled donors, fraudulently received unemployment benefits, lied on House financial disclosures, inflated his campaign finance reports and charged his donors’ credit cards without authorization. […] The House Ethics Committee also released a scathing report finding that there is clear evidence Santos committed serious crimes, which helped compel some holdouts to vote for the embattled lawmaker’s ouster […]

    Link

  123. says

    How death threats get Republicans to fall in line behind Trump

    Stephen Richer should have been safe.

    In early 2021, Richer was an Arizona Republican official who regularly attended local party events. At the time, he was the newly elected county recorder of Maricopa County. The job was a new level of prominence — he was now the most important election supervisory official in the state’s largest county — but going to Arizona Republican events was routine: the kind of thing that Richer, like any state politician, had done hundreds of times before.

    But at one event, the crowd heckled and harassed him. When he tried to leave, they dragged him back in, yanking on his arms and shoulders, to berate him about the allegedly stolen 2020 election. He started to worry: Would his own people, fellow Republican Party members, seriously hurt him?

    There was a clear reason for the madness. Many of the Republican faithful had recently decided that Maricopa County had been the epicenter of “the steal,” Joe Biden’s theft of Arizona from Donald Trump — and the entire presidential election with it. This wasn’t true, obviously. Richer tried to tell them it wasn’t true, hoping his long track record in the state Republican party would give him some credibility.

    It did not. What happened instead reveals a pattern that is quietly reshaping American politics: Across the board and around the country, data reveals that threats against public officials have risen to unprecedented numbers — to the point where 83 percent of Americans are now concerned about risks of political violence in their country. The threats are coming from across the political spectrum, but the most important ones in this regard emanate from the MAGA faithful.

    Trump’s most fanatical followers have created a situation where challenging him carries not only political risks but also personal ones. Elected officials who dare defy the former president face serious threats to their well-being and to that of their families — raising the cost of taking an already difficult stand.

    As a result, the threat of violence is now a part of the American political system, to the point where Republican officials are — by their own admissions — changing the way they behave because they fear it. For Richer, the price back in 2021 was high — and enough to prevent him from safely participating in his own party’s politics. […]

    “Violence and threats against elected leaders are suppressing the emergence of a pro-democracy faction of the GOP,” writes Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. […]

    In her paper, Kleinfeld notes a striking example of this effect at work — a comment by Kim Ward, the Trump-supporting Republican leader of the Pennsylvania state Senate, on what would happen if she spoke out against the former president.

    “I’d get my house bombed tonight,” Ward said.

    […] Statistics regularly show that far-right political violence is not only more common than other forms in today’s America but also far more deadly and impactful. In recent years, far-right killers have been responsible for the largest mass murders of Jews and Latinos in American history and the only riot ever to breach the US Capitol.

    Moreover, the physical realities of political life make one uniquely exposed to radicals on one’s own side. Stephen Richer wasn’t attending Democratic rallies back when Arizona Democrats hated his guts; he had no reason to. But putting himself in front of Republican crowds made him uniquely exposed, especially in places where people bring their firearms everywhere they go. […]

    Much more at the link.

  124. John Morales says

    @182: Quoth you: “It is nice to see common myths debunked.”

    What? “INTENSE SEX CREATED STRONGER CHILDREN”, reads the clickbait.

    I have never ever heard of this purported myth about Sparta, and I don’t believe it’s now or ever has been a myth. So I took a quick look, and quickly found loads of pr0n, but no mythology.

  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    Twin Cities metro sends money to rural counties

    A common refrain from Minnesota Republicans goes something like this: Rural communities are overtaxed, underfunded and ignored by legislators. Greater Minnesota sends their tax dollars to the Twin Cities, where metro residents benefit from government programs…

    It’s a sweeping argument that plays into the state’s often bitterly divided partisan and geographic politics, which have become deeply intertwined during the past decade, with Republicans dominating greater Minnesota while the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has locked down the metro. It also simplifies a complicated web of tax and revenue distributions — and it’s factually untrue.

    Department of Revenue data show that the Twin Cities metro is the state’s biggest driver of tax revenue, and rural counties benefit more than the metro area from government aid…

  126. John Morales says

    Reginald, duh. Who would not like to get free money?

    $750 a month, no questions asked, would improve my life too, though I am not homeless.

    (I mean, how bloody rich would one have to be before $750 a month, no questions asked would improve one’s life?)

  127. Reginald Selkirk says

    One of Tekken 8’s “colorblind” modes is causing migraines, vertigo, and debate

    Tekken 8, due later this month, seems to aim even higher, offering a number of color vision options in its settings. This includes a stark option, with black-and-white and detail-diminished backgrounds and characters’ flattened shapes filled in with either horizontal or vertical striped lines. But what started out as excitement in the fighting game and accessibility communities about expanded offerings has shifted into warnings about the potential for migraines, vertigo, or even seizures.

    You can see the mode in action in the Windows demo or in a YouTube video shared by Gatterall—which, of course, you should not view if you believe yourself susceptible to issues with strobing images…

  128. says

    With Homelessness Up, Republicans Attack Best Approach To Helping, Because Why Not Try Cruelty Instead?

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/with-homelessness-up-republicans

    ‘Housing First’ works, but GOP prefers criminalization. Hey, jail is ‘housing,’ sorta.

    […]

    As emergency assistance ended, Republican legislators across the country pushed to cut social safety net programs. Conservative think tanks have supplied them with model legislation to shrink social spending and protections. In Iowa last year, Florida-based Opportunity Solutions Project successfully lobbied for a bill to restrict eligibility for food stamps. The same group was behind a 2023 Arkansas law to weaken child labor protections. Now, at the start of a presidential election year, the appetite for harsher rollbacks has only intensified.

    […] And now there’s no homelessness in Missouri, right? The founder of the Connecting Grounds, Rev. Christie Love, says nah:

    Soon after the Cicero law passed, law enforcement cleared large encampments around town. But Love and other area service providers say this did not push homelessness out of sight. Instead, the opposite occurred. […]

    Many of the unhoused began walking the city at all hours — crowding public libraries, hanging around downtown’s public square, asking to use the restroom at gas stations. Their visibility increased.

    The Post explains that Missouri’s state supreme court found the homeless law was passed using an unconstitutional legislative procedure, and it’s not clear whether the Lege will try to pass it again in the 2024 session. That certainly won’t stop people like Donald Trump from calling for big detention camps for the unhoused, or from the nation’s rightwing Christians to call for harsher penalties, because as Jesus said, the hungry and thirsty must be taught a lesson about personal responsibility, the naked must be jailed for indecent exposure, and the stranger must be put on a bus for a liberal city on the coast, Amen.

    More at the link.

  129. John Morales says

    “Despite the fact that RUSSIA has posted a deficit in every month of 2023 and OIL & GAS Revenue is down 63% in the first 11 months of 2023, the Wall Street Journal named PRESIDENT PUTIN as one of the WINNERS of 2023. In response to this YALE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT has published a paper citing the reasons why 2023 was a DISASTER for Russia and Putin. In this video I provide more details of the reasons cited by Yale and discuss the problems that Russia is now facing.”

    Video from Joe Blogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf3bydzXjwQ

  130. birgerjohansson says

    Eddie Izzard has a problem with the Royals..
    Also, he describes creation better than Genesis.

  131. John Morales says

    [PSA]

    Be aware one can avoid videos from embedding on this platform by not putting them on their very own line or at the beginning of a line, thus:

    [something] [video link]
    will result in a non-embedded video, whereas
    [something]
    [video link]

    will result in a non-embedded video

  132. John Morales says

    [! stupid copypasta — try again:]

    [PSA]

    Be aware one can avoid videos from embedding on this platform by not putting them on their very own line or at the beginning of a line, thus:

    [something] [video link]
    will result in a non-embedded video, whereas
    [something]
    [video link]

    will result in an embedded video

  133. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #202:

    duh. Who would not like to get free money? […] would improve my life too, though I am not homeless.

    The myth is that homeless people would irrationally squander the money on vices and not see improvement. That there is an othering character flaw that made them homeless and untrustworthy. So articles include lines like this.

    About 2% of the total went to alcohol, cigarettes and drug expenses

  134. John Morales says

    CA4476, I know all that. Quite familiar with it.

    But that’s not what I quoted, is it?

    This is to what I referred, and what I actually quoted, and about which I specifically commented:
    “$750 a month, no questions asked, improved the lives of homeless people”

    Again: $750 a month, no questions asked, will improve the lives of pretty much everyone except billionaires, and even being able to indulge in alcohol, cigarettes and drugs (BTW, I do fucking love that supposed distinction, as if alcohol or cigarettes were not themselves drugs) is an improvement to someone whose dismal existence is ameliorated bu such vices.

  135. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #216:

    “$750 a month, no questions asked, improved the lives of homeless people”
    […] will improve the lives of pretty much everyone except billionaires

    I was addressing your subtext: why did the article focus on homeless people benefiting?

  136. John Morales says

    No, CA4476, you were addressing what you imagined was my subtext. Not the same thing.

    My actual subtext is that when headlines are pure clickbait or are stupidly misleading unless one already knows the content of the article, it irritates me and sometimes I snark about it.

    Me, I imagine your subtext was that you imagined I was ignorant of the circumstances about such activities; thing is, this concept has been around for ages, and has been tested more than once in more than one jurisdiction.

    e.g. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-money-might-be-the-best-way-to-end-poverty/2013/12/29/679c8344-5ec8-11e3-95c2-13623eb2b0e1_story.html

    (Notice the date on that link?)

  137. John Morales says

    In case I am being unclear, a fair use extract from the above link’s content:

    In May 2009, a small experiment involving 13 homeless men took off in London. Some of them had slept in the cold for more than 40 years. The presence of these street veterans was far from cheap. Police, legal services, health care: Each cost taxpayers thousands of pounds every year.

    That spring, a local charity decided to make the street veterans — sometimes called rough sleepers — the beneficiaries of an innovative social experiment. No more food stamps, food-kitchen dinners or sporadic shelter stays. The 13 would get a drastic bailout, financed by taxpayers. Each would receive 3,000 pounds (about $4,500), in cash, with no strings attached. The men were free to decide what to spend it on.

    The only question they had to answer: What do you think is good for you?

    “I didn’t have enormous expectations,” an aid worker recalled a year later. Yet the homeless men’s desires turned out to be quite modest. A phone, a passport, a dictionary — each participant had ideas about what would be best for him. None of the men wasted his money on alcohol, drugs or gambling. A year later, 11 of the 13 had roofs over their heads. (Some went to hostels; others to shelters.) They enrolled in classes, learned how to cook, got treatment for drug abuse and made plans for the future. After decades of authorities’ fruitless pushing, pulling, fines and persecution, 11 vagrants moved off the streets.

  138. Reginald Selkirk says

    Good riddance

    Sean Hannity Says He’s Relocated To Florida

    Sean Hannity told listeners on his radio show on Tuesday that he’s relocated to Florida, citing New York’s tax rates as a major reason for the move.

    “We are now beginning our first broadcast from my new home, and that is in the free state of Florida,” Hannity said on his iHeartRadio show. “I am out. I am done. I am finished in New York.” …

    Yes, Florida, the “free state” where you can’t say gay or read library books.

  139. Reginald Selkirk says

    Bob Menendez accused of aiding Qatar in new allegations

    US Senator Bob Menendez is facing new allegations of accepting bribes and using his political influence to aid a foreign government: this time Qatar.

    In a superseding indictment unveiled by federal prosecutors on Tuesday, Mr Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, is accused of accepting gifts from Fred Daibes, a co-defendant and New Jersey businessman, in exchange for his assistance in securing millions of dollars from an investment fund with ties to the Qatar government…

    It is the latest accusation against the New Jersey senator who was indicted alongside his wife and three businessmen in September for allegedly participating in a bribery scheme that benefited Egypt…

  140. Reginald Selkirk says

    Who asked?

    Former Iowa Rep. Steve King endorses Vivek Ramaswamy for president

    “Vivek Ramaswamy is going to shock the world at the Iowa caucus because he is the only candidate in this race who’s had the courage to oppose the CO2 pipelines here in Iowa, to publicly oppose the climate change cult, to commit to pardon peaceful Jan 6 protestors on day 1, and to end birthright citizenship for kids of illegals in this country,” King said in a statement shared first with POLITICO…

    That last one, birthright citizenship, is in the constitution, so he would need to get an amendment passed to get rid of it.

    Oh, and “peaceful Jan 6 protestors” haven’t been charged with anything.

  141. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump appeals Maine secretary of state’s decision barring him from primary ballot

    That’s two appeals (so far) from two different federal court districts. On a question without clear precedents. Normally, this is the sort of thing the Supreme Court ought to take an interest in. Most analysts and commentators seem to think the Supremes would take Trump’s side. If they do, it’s going to be a humdinger of conservative “reasoning.” Will they go counterfactual again?

  142. John Morales says

    Reginald, that’s not news. That’s like writing ‘air is airy’ or ‘water is wet’ or ‘ice is cold’.

    There never has been, nor shall there be any decision that Trump has not or will not appeal.

    (Now, if ever Trump does not appeal, then that would be news)

  143. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    The blatant, barbaric disregard on display for the cultural heritage and history of Palestine as ancient churches, libraries, theaters, and universities are turned to rubble […] very ISIS-like […] At least when ISIS barbarically destroyed heritage statues and institutions, everyone condemned it. […] When ISIS filmed themselves killing innocent people with glee, there wasn’t a worldwide gaslighting campaign
    […]
    I’d always thought Saudi Arabia was one of the harshest, cruelest countries […] I could not have imagined a country so so so much worse […] Sure they don’t have public beheadings, but the number of heads they’ve taken off with their bombings […] They may not have done an exact Jamal Khashoggi, but the number of journalists they have deliberately blown to bits in a short period is unparalleled.
    […]
    Israel is a country that banned Palestinians from having pasta, cilantro, chocolate, surfboards! […] It sounds too absurd to be true […] They oppress people in ways I had never even considered. Trying to comprehend Israel’s ISIS-like behavior, out in the open, in the past few weeks has made me feel like I’ve had the rug pulled from under me. […] I couldn’t have imagined the extent of dehumanization. The TikToks of people dancing and mocking the misfortune of Gazans without food, water, or electricity. Again, it just reminds me of a jihadist level of cruelty.

    Eiynah’s Polite Conversations Podcast – Ep 73, NYE Thoughts: The Deafening Silence of Left Content Creators (3:32 to 17:52)
    [MP3 | YouTube]

  144. birgerjohansson says

    Science question.
    During cold days, I have noticed sounds appear to carry further.
    I have attributed this to the layer of cold air – a temperature inversion – that forms close to the ground in cold weather. One exceptionally cold day , I measured a temperature inversion of 19° C reachibg an altitude up to 400 m.

    Somehow, sound is refracted sideways in these conditions.
    I wonder if the acoustic effect of this air layer is caused by the temperature changing the speed of sound, or if it is the greater density of cold air?

  145. birgerjohansson says

    Nikkaluokta, northern Sweden – 42° C today. But it is cold all over Norway, Sweden and Finland PZs ancestors were wise to bug out from the place.

    There is hardly any wind, so the lid of extra cold air closest to the ground does not dissipate.
    Not a good time to have your car break down on some rarely travelled road.

  146. Reginald Selkirk says

    Andrew Lloyd Webber claims to have had a poltergeist

    Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he once called on a priest to help remove a poltergeist from his London home.

    The composer believed the spirit had taken up residence in the 19th Century property he owned in Belgravia.

    In an interview with The Telegraph, Lord Lloyd-Webber claimed the spook would take theatre scripts and place them in neat piles in odd places….

  147. Reginald Selkirk says

    Brain boffins think they’ve found the data format we use to store images as memories

    Scientists say they have discovered the neural coding system our brains use to transform images into memories, suggesting we’re all visual thinkers deep down.

    The long-held belief that our gray matter turns the visual signals from our eyes into a non-visual form of data to encode as memories is likely false, according to a paper by folks at Dartmouth College in the US and published today in Nature Neuroscience. Rather, it seems more like “retinotopic” information, 3D visual information encoded by the brain via the retina, is the base coding mechanism for memories related to visual stimuli…

  148. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 233.
    Thank you.
    Since the temperature increases rapidly at increasing altitude inside a temperature inversion the sound is refracted downwards, which accounts for sound carrying further.

    At altitude, decreasing temperature leads to sound being refracted away from the surface, which fits with my observation of faraway, silent lightning storms.

  149. Reginald Selkirk says

    Prosecutors say Florida man faked an overdose to delay January 6 Capitol riot case

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing for a judge to increase a Naples man’s sentencing after he fled supervision and allegedly faked an overdose in an attempt to delay the case for his involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot.

    Christopher Worrell, 52, was found guilty on seven felony and misdemeanor charges related to the January 6 attacks in May, including pepper-spraying a Capitol Police Officer.

    On August 14, just four days before his sentencing, Worrell cut off his GPS ankle monitor in a Walmart parking lot and fled from his home along Stanhope Circle, according to DOJ.

    Worrell’s absence triggered an FBI manhunt that lasted six weeks until his arrest. On September 28, Worrell secretly tried to return to his home for the first time. The FBI had been actively monitoring his home and upon entering the residence, Worrell was found seemingly unconscious with an opened bottle of opioid prescription medication in his hand. Lifesaving procedures were made and he was taken to the hospital.

    The government later learned this was all part of Worrell’s “delay tactic.” He’s accused of pretending to have a medical emergency to stall the government’s investigation and his upcoming sentencing, DOJ stated…

  150. tomh says

    Texas Tribune:
    Emergency rooms not required to perform life-saving abortions, federal appeals court rules
    Eleanor Klibanoff / Jan. 2, 2024

    Federal regulations do not require emergency rooms to perform life-saving abortions if it would run afoul of state law, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

    After the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent hospitals guidance, reminding them of their obligation to offer stabilizing care, including medically necessary abortions, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

    “When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted,” the guidance said.

    Texas sued, saying this was tantamount to a “nationwide mandate that every hospital and emergency-room physician perform abortions.” Several anti-abortion medical associations joined the lawsuit as well.

    Since summer 2022, all abortions have been banned in Texas, except to save the life of the pregnant patient. But doctors, and their patients with medically complex pregnancies, have struggled with implementing the medical exception, reportedly delaying or denying abortion care rather than risk up to life in prison and the loss of their license.

    At a hearing in November, a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice said that while Texas law might not prohibit medically necessary abortions, the guidance was intended “to ensure that the care is offered when it is required under the statute.”

    “Individuals [are] presenting to emergency rooms, suffering from these emergency medical conditions,” McKaye Neumeister said. “Right now, HHS can’t ensure that the hospitals are following their obligations in offering the care that’s required.”

    In August 2022, a federal district judge in Lubbock agreed with Texas, saying this guidance amounted to a new interpretation of EMTALA and granting a temporary injunction that was later extended….

    Judge Leslie Southwick said there were several “extraordinary things, it seems to me, about this guidance,” and said it seemed HHS was trying to use EMTALA to expand abortion access in Texas to include “broader categories of things, mental health or whatever else HHS would say an abortion is required for.”

    Tuesday’s ruling, authored by Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, said the court “decline[d] to expand the scope of EMTALA.”

    [The three judge panel consisted of two Trump and one G.W.Bush appointees.]

  151. says

    Campaign news summaries, as posted by Steve Benen:

    With the qualifying deadline having passed, we now know that former Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will be the only Republican presidential candidates competing in CNN’s upcoming debate in Iowa. Donald Trump also qualified for the event, but he’s refusing to participate. […]

    On a related note, while the Iowa debate airs, the former president will simultaneously participate in a town-hall event on Fox News, which will also be held in Iowa. Vivek Ramaswamy, who did not make the cut for the CNN event, said he would do a live show with the right-wing commentator Tim Pool on the same evening.

    Summarized from The New York Times.

    Also noted by birgerjohansson in comment 213:

    In Pennsylvania, a former congressional candidate filed a lawsuit this week challenging Republican Rep. Scott Perry’s eligibility for the 2024 ballot. The underlying allegation is that the right-wing congressman’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election make him an “insurrectionist.”

    Summarized from USA Today.

  152. says

    Ten weeks ago, Donald Trump ruined Tom Emmer’s bid for speaker. The House majority whip has now endorsed the former president’s 2024 candidacy anyway.

    Depending on whom you ask, the House Republican leadership team has five or six members: House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, Republican Policy Committee Chair Gary Palmer, and National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Richard Hudson. As of 24 hours ago, five of these six lawmakers had issued formal endorsements of Donald Trump.

    The exception was Minnesota’s Tom Emmer, who remained neutral — until now. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that he’s joined his partisan colleagues.

    Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer endorsed Donald Trump’s bid for president on Wednesday ahead of Republicans’ first nominating contest in Iowa. … Emmer’s endorsement means Trump has the full backing of GOP leadership in the House going into the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15. Trump is leading all other Republican presidential candidates in the polls.

    For those looking for evidence of the former president locking up the support of much of the GOP establishment, look no further than Emmer’s announcement.

    But the Minnesotan’s decision was not inevitable.

    It was just 10 weeks ago when the House majority leader secured the votes he needed to become the Republican conference’s speaker-designate. Two hours after Emmer’s intra-party victory, Trump issued a public condemnation of the congressman.

    “I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors,” the former president wrote on his social media platform. “RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them. He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA—MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! He fought me all the way, and actually spent more time defending Ilhan Omar, than he did me—He is totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters.”

    Trump’s missive concluded, “Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!”

    Emmer had reached out to Trump directly ahead of the conference vote, making his case, and apparently telling the former president that he’s Trump’s “biggest fan.” The lobbying didn’t have the intended effect: The former president trashed the GOP leader anyway. Emmer did not vote to overturn the 2020 election, and for Trump, this was unforgiveable sin.

    Four hours after Emmer became the speaker-designate, he was the former speaker-designate. It was an unprecedented turn of events.

    Common sense might suggest that the Minnesotan would hold a grudge. After all, Trump effectively set fire to his bid for House speaker without cause.

    But Emmer instead saw the writing on the wall and did what he was expected to do.

  153. says

    Donald Trump made a variety of provocative claims about former Rep. Liz Cheney and the Jan. 6 investigation. Each one is demonstrably ridiculous.

    On Christmas Eve, Donald Trump used his social media platform to peddle a familiar line of attack. Targeting the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee, the former president repeated his absurd claims that the House select panel “destroyed all of the evidence” it used to prepare its report, which the Republican characterized as “illegal.”

    Like too much of the GOP candidate’s rhetoric, the Christmas Eve complaints were delusional. Nevertheless, on New Year’s Day, Trump returned to the subject, narrowing his focus to former House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, whom he accused of “illegally deleting and destroying” Jan. 6 evidence. “THIS ACT OF EXTREME SABOTAGE MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR MY LAWYERS TO PROPERLY PREPARE FOR, AND PRESENT, A PROPER DEFENSE OF THEIR CLIENT, ME,” he wrote.

    The former president added that there was evidence of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “turning down 10,000 soldiers that I offered to to [sic] guard the Capitol Building,” which he said is now “gone.”

    The former Wyoming congresswoman, who co-chaired the Jan. 6 committee, responded online, “Seems like someone is starting 2024 hangry.” Cheney went on to remind Trump that he and his defense attorneys have had the congressional panel’s materials “for months.” She concluded, “Lying about the evidence in all caps won’t change the facts. A public trial will show it all.”

    So, who’s right? Readers probably won’t be surprised to learn that Trump’s entire case against Cheney is based on cascading falsehoods. A Washington Post fact-check piece summarized:

    Despite this fact check, we are resigned to the fact that we’ll spend the next 10 months listening to Trump falsely claiming he offered 10,000 troops — and that members of the committee like Cheney destroyed evidence that would exonerate him. But be forewarned — neither claim is true, no matter how often Trump says it is.

    Let’s take the claims one by one.

    Did the Jan. 6 committee “destroy all of the evidence” it used to prepare its report? Of course not. As the Post’s report noted, some documents were withheld from the House archive to protect witnesses, but all of the materials were preserved.

    Were the Jan. 6 committee’s actions “illegal”? If the former president and his allies have any evidence of the panel crossing legal lines, they’ve kept it well hidden.

    Did Pelosi turn down Trump’s offer of 10,000 soldiers to protect the Capitol from Trump’s mob? The idea that this offer existed continues to be rooted in fantasy.

    Do Trump and his defense attorneys have the relevant information in preparation for his upcoming trials? Have they had the materials for months? Yes and yes.

    I don’t doubt that the former president and his allies will continue to push the lie, and it’s all but certain that much of the GOP base will buy into the nonsense. But the repetition won’t turn fiction into fact.

    Unfortunately, for Trump’s base repetition does seem to turn lies into facts.

    No, Trump did not order 10,000 troops to secure the Capitol on Jan. 6. That’s a link to a Washington Post Fact Checker article with all the details.

  154. says

    Followup to comment 244.

    No matter how many times Trump’s lies are debunked, he does not bother to come up with new lies. (Most of the time that’s true.)

    Old lies with which Trump is comfortable … those are the lies stuck in his head.

  155. Reginald Selkirk says

    Jellyfish regenerate lost tentacles, and now we know how


    From salamanders to starfish to the actual hydra (a tiny hydrozoan named for the fearsome beast of legend), animals that are capable of regeneration all start the repair process by forming a blastema. This clump of proliferative cells, which are similar to stem cells, can repopulate body parts by dividing over and over again. While the cells are still undifferentiated in the beginning, they eventually form specific cell types like muscle and skin.

    The process of blastema formation in some other animals has been studied, but how they form in jellyfish was still a mystery. Led by postdoctoral researcher Sosuke Fujita, the team at the University of Tokyo and Tohoku University in Japan wanted to establish a baseline for non-bilaterian regeneration by finding out how a blastema helps regrow tentacles in jellyfish…

  156. says

    […] Women politicians are often held to higher ethical standards than men are, and women are more likely to be shamed for sexual activity than men, research shows. As more women — and more younger women, who are more likely to have grown up online — run for office, these two factors may come into more frequent conflict. […]

    Explicit videos rocked her run for office. But this Virginia Democrat isn’t done with politics

    Susanna Gibson’s story is compelling. Details at the link.

  157. says

    Ukraine Update: Misery in Krynky is the price for destroying a new Russian Airborne Division

    A war of attrition is a war where the goal of both sides is to destroy the enemy army through the accumulation of losses. This is in contrast to a battle of maneuver, where both sides attempt to drive their forces into key positions that would allow the rapid destruction of the enemy army.

    Because both sides take pains to conceal the number of personnel and equipment losses, it can be difficult to determine the success or failure of an attritional operation. Such an operation’s goal may be to draw the enemy resources into a kill zone from which the enemy cannot afford to retreat, where the attacker holds a sustainable advantage. That is, the operational goal may be to efficiently destroy the enemy with as few losses of valuable assets as practicable.

    However, these types of battles, even where successful, can be deeply frustrating and demoralizing for the attacker, making their success or failure very difficult to evaluate from the outside.

    The battle of Krynky appears to be this type of operation. [Image at the link]

    The battle of Krynky is taking place about 40 kilometers east of the city of Kherson in southwestern Ukraine, one of two areas where Ukraine has made a push to secure ground on the left (south/east) bank of the Dnipro River. [map at the link]

    Krynky’s importance lies in its proximity to the town of Korsunka, just a few miles to the east, where Ukraine had conducted training exercises constructed pontoon crossings in the recent past. [map at the link]

    After landing north of the village in the marshland terrain by the riverbank, Ukrainian forces pushed into the western portion of the Krynky on Oct. 30, and have been engaged in fierce fighting to try to expand their area of control ever since, primarily east and south.

    One natural interpretation of Ukrainian intentions might have been to secure a route to the T2206 Highway, before pushing east to secure the roads south of Krynky, and then to attack the town from three sides. [map at the link]

    Ukraine’s forward momentum was stopped, and Russian troops began driving Ukrainian troops backward in mid-December.

    The momentum of the fighting began to shift in mid-December as Russia continued a relentless campaign of air bombardment of the region, For example, Russian air forces launched 45 verified air strikes in a single week in the area in late November. Combined with the deployment of the new Russian 104th Airborne Division around the same period, this appears to have begun to have an effect.

    Russian airstrikes and drone attacks also continued targeting the crossing points supplying and reinforcing Ukrainian positions in Krynky. Open-source intelligence analyst Andrew Perpetua reportedly counted at least 50 Ukrainian boats damaged or destroyed by Russian strikes since early November. While Ukraine inherited likely hundreds of the small Soviet-era tugboats frequently used to carry supplies across the river, the loss of personnel and equipment likely is taking a toll.

    Ukrainian control around Krynky reached its maximum extent in late November to early December, before losing much of what had been gained in the eastern half of the village and the forest south of the village by late December. [maps at the link]

    Reports from Ukrainian soldiers leading the fighting in Krynky are horrific. The New York Times provided a detailed report based primarily on an interview of “Maksym,” a member of the marine brigade who had been wounded in Krynky and evacuated to a field hospital.

    Maksym verifies Ukrainian claims that Russian artillery in the area had been largely suppressed by Ukrainian counterbattery fire, but his platoon came under relentless attack from Russian air strikes and tank and mortar fire. Maksym describes how his platoon was forced to take shelter in a basement in the village, and was frozen in place by the bombardment, with nearly every member of the platoon injured, and three men killed in an air strike.

    After Maksym’s platoon was finally ordered to retreat, a chaotic scene unfolded as the boat that was to take the platoon back failed to appear, and the wounded members of the platoon were slowly evacuated piecemeal through boats arriving on shore on other missions over many hours—even as Russian glide bomb attacks continued on the riverbank.

    Another anonymous Marine described the attack on the left bank as a “suicide mission.”

    A separate report from an injured marine complains that most of the marines fighting in Krynky are green replacement troops that have only received minimal training, and many of the supposed “marines” cannot even swim.

    However, there are reasons to believe that the Ukrainian General Staff has a reason beyond obstinacy or callous indifference in continuing to feed Marines into the Krynky meatgrinder.

    While Ukraine has shuttled what’s widely believed to be, at most, a few hundred marines into Krynky, Russia had initially garrisoned the village with elements of the Russian 810th Marine Brigade—which were thrown out of the western half of the village and urgently needed help. Russia then quickly committed its local reserves, elements of the 70th Motor Rifle Division.

    Despite the arrival of reinforcements, Ukraine continued to make gains into late November, when Russia committed the 6000-strong 104th Guard Airborne Division (GAD). The 104th GAD was a newly created Russian Airborne unit, a fifth division in what was traditionally a four-division paratrooper organization. The unit was largely formed in early October, but after less than two months of training, it was rushed to Krynky as the Russian command believed their presence on the front was critically necessary.

    The threat of Ukrainian strategic gains appears to have forced Russia to mortgage its future combat power to stabilize its situation in the short term.

    Furthermore, Russian military bloggers describe horrific conditions and heavy losses as Russian troops are forced to engage Ukrainian positions while under constant attack from Ukrainian artillery and FPV drones. The U.K. Ministry of Defense believes the 104th GAD suffered “exceptionally heavy losses” in its attacks, which comports with numerous verified Russian equipment losses in the area of valuable modern APCs like BTR-82As, tanks like the T-72, T-80 tanks, and numerous self-propelled mortars.

    A closer examination of the conditions described by Maksym in the New York Times piece also verifies certain key elements of a Ukrainian advantage—the reliance of Russia on short-range weapons (tanks and mortars) rather than long-range artillery.

    Russian howitzers can generally strike at Ukrainian targets from 20 kilometers away or more, but Russian mortars must approach within around 10 kilometers of their targets. Russian tanks, generally within only 2 to 3 kilometers.

    With Ukrainian counterbattery fire effectively suppressing Russian long-range artillery, the Russian army is being forced to rely on weapon systems that must enter the Ukrainian kill zone to fight—shorter-ranged armored mortars, tanks, and mechanized infantry.

    Furthermore, Ukraine appears to be taking aggressive steps to deal with the threats of Russian airstrikes on Kherson Oblast. Eight Russian jets were shot down over southern Ukraine in three weeks, leading to intense speculation as to the cause, While some suggested these interceptions were the result of Ukrainian F-16s, the Ukrainian Air Force forcefully denied these rumors.

    Russian and Ukrainian sources also speculated the shoot-downs were due to Ukraine positioning a Patriot Missile System close to the front lines around Krynky, but no evidence to back this assertion has been presented as of yet, either. What may have particularly alarmed the Russians was the loss of multiple Su-34 fighter bombers, which are among the most sophisticated and expensive Russian aircraft in service. Those Su-34s are believed to have been the source of many of the glide bombs that were harassing Ukrainian forces around Krynky.

    Whatever the cause, the interceptions appear to have alarmed the Russian Air Force sufficiently to lead to a radical reduction in the scope of the intensive bombing campaign along the Dnipro River.

    In the week from Dec. 24 to Dec. 30, there were only six Russian air strikes in the Kherson Oblast area recorded by Perpetua—compared with what were regularly 30 to 40 or more air strikes conducted throughout November and into mid-December.

    In the absence of hard data on personnel losses by both sides, it remains difficult to say who is suffering more greatly in the battle of Krynky. While a massive Ukrainian push across the river to secure a pontoon crossing and capture the villages surrounding Krynky and Korsunka would be ideal, success in an attritional war need not be measured solely in those terms.

    Krynky may represent a location where Ukrainian leadership felt they could “fix” Russian forces into a kill zone, where Russian troops can be funneled into an area where Ukrainian firepower is at an advantage. From where Russians cannot afford to retreat due to its strategic importance.

    If this is so, the fact Ukraine chose to send green replacement troops of the 35th Marines, rather than the surviving well-trained crack units of the 36th, 37th, or 38th Marine Brigades who are believed to be resting and replenishing their ranks, would seem to make logical sense. What’s more, the 35th Marines have hardly lost any armored vehicles in Krynky, as they appear to have brought precious few over to the opposite bank, making armored losses particularly lopsided.

    In the coldest, most ruthless sense, the inexperienced platoons of the 35th Marines sent to die in Krynky may be bait to draw Russian troops into Ukrainian artillery and drone kill zones.

    JFC.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Russia could still eke out a win here against a smaller nation, but its sluggish and poorly-motivated military would be dead meat in a remotely near peer conflict.
    ——————————
    The F16s should help, provided Ukraine gets some long ranged air to air missiles (such as the early 00’s era AMRAAM Cs)

    I’m worried about Ukrainian ammo though. The EU really needs to pass that aid bill ASAP and get past the Hungarian veto. At least the 60b Euro European aid bill should be able to keep Ukraine afloat in 2024. Losing THAT would be a complete disaster.

    […] US aid to Ukraine is pretty unlikely until/unless the Dems win in November—even then, getting an aid bill through the Senate might end up being a gigantic pain […]
    ———————————
    I think that the attrition war on the Russian side now is to delay until the U.S. 2024 election and the long shot that Trump wins.

    It’s the same strategy Trump is playing with his criminal trials, delay with the long shot strategy that he can win the presidency and stop his Federal criminal prosecutions.

    Russia is much weaker than the U.S. militarily, but has been very successful in their U.S. focused espionage activity (recruiting Trump and much of the Republican Party) to weaken the U.S. from within.
    ———————————
    The issue is coordinating aid, so that everyone knows what everyone else is giving, so they can adjust their packages acoordingly.

    When everything is handled through the EU, it’s easier to corodinate through the EU aid adminsitrative strucutre.

    Done individually as nations in bilateral aid agreements, they need to work together and can’t rely on the administrative resources of the EU to coordinate—so Germany has been whipping up agreements to get these things done bilaterally and bypass the EU.
    ————————
    Few things are as clearly right in the national interest of the US as the Ukraine support […] Yet here are the Republicans outright working against the national interest
    ————————
    Donald Trump’s chances aren’t great, but they’re far from 0.
    ———————
    Stupidity can be hard to distinguish from being staggeringly misinformed.
    ———————
    right after October 7, Putin feted Iranian and Hamas officials in Moscow … Russia buys Iranian drones and that money goes to Hamas … supporting the Cult Leader is supporting Putin who supports Hamas
    ————————-
    War sucks! I don’t wish that decision making process on anyone. Feels like a real Faustian bargain to inflict damage on the Russians.
    —————————–
    “real” Ukrainian marine units are all-volunteer units, while these new marine units seem to include draftees.

    In other words, my suspicion is that they are a defacto territorial defense unit led by a few Marine sergeants and lieutenants.
    —————————-
    They do have an experienced drone fighter commander over there […] concentratd Russian units have to form up providing golden targets for Drone opreators like the Bird of Magyar
    —————————–
    Ukraine cannot stop fighting, no matter the cost. The alternative is a Russian genocide.
    —————————–
    Looking at the losses Russia is enduring, it appears to me the race they’re running is twofold. They’re attempting to undermine Western resolve to support Ukraine, and they’re running the clock on their own industrial production. Can Putin put the Russian economy onto a war footing and substantially increase its production of arms and ammunition? If he can’t, then the losses Russia is sustaining right now are unsustainable […] they may still be able to field young men to be butchered, but their capacity to field missiles, tanks, drones, APCs, and the support machinery behind them (trucks, rail, medical supplies, food, spare parts) will collapse.
    ——————————–
    These people are holding the line against autocracy. They deserve our support. Get off your ass congress and do your job. Freedom isn’t free.

  158. says

    […] the media is still cranking out pieces like this December hot take from CNN saying, “The widespread fear that Trump will actually be a dictator, however, is misplaced. If Trump wins the 2024 election, American democracy might be suspended, at least temporarily. But it won’t be replaced by a dictatorship, which is a coherent and recognizable system of government.”

    In other words, don’t fear a Trump dictatorship, because Trump is too incompetent to be a dictator. This is exactly the kind of prediction anyone might have made about Pol Pot, or that guy responsible for Trump’s bedtime reading. Competence is not, and never has been, the hallmark of dictatorship. Having a total f**k-up in charge doesn’t make the bullets any softer. It just makes their distribution more random. […]

    Trump isn’t just a source of hate speech. He’s a benefactor.

    Trump’s campaign is buoyed up by decades of AM radio, Fox News, and social media that have fed the worst inclinations toward selfishness, intolerance, and disdain for justice. Decades of right-wing pundits promoting cruelty, equality as a weakness, and treating democracy as something to be sneered about has spread a kind of learned sociopathy.

    […] Americans are not only getting that hate passed on to them by the prejudices of their own families, they are getting it confirmed by news media, social media, and increasingly by Republican political leaders. They are saturated in this hate, basted in it. That polls show a plurality of Republicans saying that fascist statements make them more likely to vote for Trump is shocking […]

    In a December appearance before the New York Young Republicans, Trump said that an unnamed general told him that going on television to give the “locker room talk” explanation was the “bravest thing I’ve ever seen.” Even braver than watching people die on the battlefield. That’s where the Republican Party is now. Lying about sexual violence is a virtue. Sacrificing one’s life for one’s nation is a sucker bet.

    […] It’s not just that Republicans are sticking with Trump despite his anti-democratic positions, it’s that they are actively supporting these positions. They are eager to go further.

    […] Equality has to be taught. Democracy has to be valued. […] narrow-minded support for strongman rule are easily spread. Trump is a source for the growing amorality of the fascist right, but he’s also a benefactor of a portion of America that has absorbed hate right down to its bones.

    Biden is right to campaign on the threat Trump represents. Just don’t think his base sticks with him because they don’t understand that threat. They understand. […]

    Link

  159. says

    Multiple state capitols receive bomb threats, prompting lockdowns

    At least five state capitols across the country received bomb threats early Wednesday morning, prompting evacuations and lockdowns, though no dangerous items were immediately discovered.

    Evacuations and lockdowns were reported at state capitols in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana and Connecticut due to apparent bomb threats. It’s not clear whether or how the incidents might be connected.

    […] The Georgia Department of Public Safety later said a search was conducted, and an all-clear was given.

    […] “The Mississippi Department of Public Safety has successfully cleared the Mississippi State Capitol. The building was thoroughly searched, and no explosives or suspicious equipment were found,” Martin said. “This is an ongoing investigation and there is no further threat to the Capitol or surrounding buildings.” […]

    This is a developing story. We will probably learn more soon.

  160. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fossil evidence of photosynthesis gets a billion years older


    Now, new fossils described by a team at the University of Liège push unambiguous evidence of photosynthesis back over a billion years to 1.7 billion years ago…

    The work relies on the identification of structures called thylakoid membranes. These are stacks of disc-shaped membranes that increase the surface area within the cell that can play host to photosynthetic protein complexes…

  161. says

    Republican Rep. Jim Jordan keeps trying to insert himself into local law enforcement investigations. His targets keep telling him to go away.

    […] after Donald Trump’s first indictment, Jordan demanded information from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg about the ongoing case. The prosecutor reminded the congressman he doesn’t have jurisdiction to insert himself into criminal prosecutions at the local level.

    After the former president’s indictment in Georgia, Jordan also demanded information from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who ended up not only rejecting the Republican’s outreach, but also explaining to Jordan why he’s either “ignorant” or he’s abusing his authority as part of an “attempt to obstruct and interfere” with a criminal prosecution.

    The far-right Judiciary Committee chairman is having similar luck with D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb. Raw Story reported:

    Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb sent a letter to Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Tuesday said that he won’t be cooperating with their investigations into conspiracy theories about a far-right judicial activist. … Schwalb explained that refusing to confirm or deny anything preserves the integrity of the investigation.

    […] In March, Politico reported that the D.C. attorney general had received a complaint alleging that Leonard Leo, a prominent conservative activist who helped create the Federalist Society, might’ve used one of his non-profit organizations to help one of his for-profit ventures. Roughly five months later, the outlet advanced the story, reporting that Brian Schwalb, the attorney general in Washington, D.C., had opened an investigation to scrutinize the claims.

    This, evidently, didn’t sit well with congressional Republicans. In late October, Jordan and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer decided to scrutinize the scrutiny and demanded answers from Schwalb.

    They gave him a deadline of Nov. 13 to “schedule a briefing on the status and scope of your investigation.” The D.C. attorney general responded that there would be no briefing.

    So, the congressional Republicans tried again two weeks ago, pressing Schwalb anew to cooperate with their investigation into his alleged investigation. This week, the D.C. attorney general again said no.

    “After thoughtful consideration, I must reiterate what I stated in my prior correspondence of November 13, 2023: our office has a longstanding policy — consistent with the policies of law enforcement agencies across the country — not to confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on potential or pending investigations,” he wrote. “That approach preserves the integrity of the investigative function, and nothing in your latest letter sets forth a persuasive reason for deviating from that principled, well-established policy.”

    Schwalb added, “As you know, Congress has traditionally — and responsibly — refrained from requesting information from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies while potential or pending investigations may be ongoing.”

    The local prosecutor didn’t literally include the words “hint, hint” in his correspondence, but it seemed to be the subtext.

    “I remain open to a productive and constructive discussion about whether we can help your Committees pursue a valid legislative purpose while not compromising long-standing, universally held law enforcement principles,” the D.C. attorney general concluded. “However, your correspondence’s refusal to acknowledge these principles or identify any valid legislative purpose, coupled with its thoroughly politicized rhetoric, would seem to cast doubt on whether such a productive discussion is possible.

    “To the contrary, it strongly suggests that you would use any effort by our office to more fully engage with your inquiry for no purpose other than to amplify your erroneous and ill-founded accusation that our office is influenced by political interests. OAG is a law enforcement agency. Without fear or favor, we impartially investigate the facts, wherever they lead, and faithfully apply the law. We do not play politics. I respectfully request that your Committees not interfere with us doing our job.”

    If recent history is any guide, Jordan and Comer will continue to at least try to interfere […]

    Fani Willis and others have tried to educate Jim Jordan, but I think he is incapable of learning.

  162. Reginald Selkirk says

    Crypto hedge fund CEO may not exist; probe finds no record of identity

    For years, rumors spread on social media that Steven Reece Lewis, the chief executive officer of a now-shuttered cryptocurrency hedge fund called HyperVerse, was a “fake person” who “doesn’t exist.” After its investigation, The Guardian has confirmed that no organization cited on his resume “can find any record of him.”

    According to The Guardian, Reece Lewis’s qualifications all appear to be falsified in an effort to woo investors to sink money into HyperVerse…

  163. says

    A Very Basic Primer On ‘Houthi Who What Now?’

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/a-very-basic-primer-on-houthi-who

    If you’re like a lot of Americans, the full extent of your knowledge of the Houthis in Yemen, and their drone and missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea shipping corridor, is that at some point during the holidays, you glanced up [and] saw something on TV about “Houthis,” assumed Joe Biden was either 1) handling it, or 2) history’s greatest monster […]

    In the interest of giving us all a bit of information, and since the TikTok side of the American internet is being partikularly Tikky Tokky about this right now, here are a few facts about who, what, where, when, and whatever.

    WHO-this?

    The Houthis are a sect of Shia Muslims in Yemen, which has

    Wait where?

    OK, Yemen is on the Arabian peninsula on the southwest side, south of Saudi Arabia and west of Oman. Like so: [map at the link]

    Back to the Houthis!

    Yemen has been a shitshow for a while, y’all.

    Over the past few years, there’s been quite a civil war for control of Yemen, and Houthi leaders — who are either a terrorist sect or just some real stinkers, depending on what day you ask the American government and international bodies — have since 2014 controlled the capital Sana’a. (See on map.) The actual government of Yemen — which is majority Sunni Muslim — controls the large city of Aden (don’t see on map, but it’s due south of Sana’a, on the coast, on the Gulf of Aden), and much of the rest of the east, where there are far fewer people.

    […] Houthis are about a third of the population of Yemen.

    The Houthis’ allies are Hamas and Hezbollah. Their sugardaddies are Iran. Additionally, per CBS News:

    The Houthis, along with Hezbollah and Hamas, are part of a vaguely defined alliance that Iran refers to as “the axis of resistance” against Israel.

    So that’s how this is all situated, geopolitically.

    […] the Houthis exist, and they control most of the important parts of Yemen.

    “No one can wish them away or out of the conflict, so let’s deal with realities that exist on the ground,” said Tim Lenderking, the guy Biden put in charge of trying to solve Yemen, in 2021.

    So what’s all this about then?

    The Houthis have for several months been attacking the vital shipping lanes of the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, right there at the south side of the Red Sea, the part that looks like a strait. They have been doing these “naval operations,” by their own account, “to support the Palestinian people in confronting the aggression and siege on Gaza.”

    Again, the Houthis control Sana’a, and also a very important port on the Red Sea called Al-Hudaydah. They’ve been doing these attacks, which they say are intended solely for Israeli ships and ships that sit with Israeli ships at lunchtime, in response to the events that started October 7.

    And Joe Biden basically said, “Well look here, if you keep doing these attacks, then we’re gonna go to the land of Play Stupid Games […] The Navy’s been playing target practice ever since, with Houthi drones, rockets, and the occasional Houthi boat. (US helicopters recently sunk several Houthi boats after the boats launched an attack on the Maersk Hangzhou, a ship that flies the flag of Singapore.)

    The full operation to patrol the shipping lanes is called Operation Prosperity Guardian, which sounds like some kind of fly-by-night life insurance outfit, and it’s not just America, but a “coalition of the willing” that includes Canada, Bahrain, some Europeans, etc. (Don’t forget Seychelles!)

    All signs indicate that the Biden administration does not, good God, absolutely does not want a wider war here, which is why they’re not striking in Yemen. But again, fuck around and find out.

    In response, Iran has sent a destroyer to the area for some reason.

    […] At the end of the day, it’s about worldwide commerce.

    You know, unless you want to argue that keeping the Suez Canal safe and open isn’t that big of a deal.

    Does this involve oil?

    Sure!

    Is the TikTokky internet bein’ just real TikTokky about this?

    Oh God.

    On the internet, the American internet, the TikTok internet, this is largely being viewed as a proxy for Hamas and Israel — and only that — where if you support Palestinians, you probably should definitely support the Houthis, even though they’re very much religious extremists. We are sure all of the people expertly commenting were familiar with the word “Houthi” two months ago.

    Unfortunately, in the real world, there are many more shades of gray. Often, that’s just about all there are.

    Here’s one: The Saudis — also an officially Sunni country — are on the side of the Yemeni government in its civil war. If you feel like you might have heard about this Yemen situation a few years ago in the context of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his best slumber party buddy Jared Kushner selling the Saudis arms for the civil war in Yemen, well … YEP!

    […] perhaps we are back to those shades of gray, because of how the Saudis’ insertion of itself into that war has done little besides bring starvation to Yemeni civilians.

    Sometimes there are garbage people on both sides. […]

  164. says

    Reginald @254, somehow that is just so appropriate. In the cryptocurrency world there is a fake CEO.

    In other news: More than 100 killed in Iran blasts at event marking general’s death.

    Washington Post link

    More than 100 people were killed and scores injured Wednesday in two blasts that struck the central Iranian city of Kerman, where thousands of mourners had gathered to commemorate Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani on the fourth anniversary of his assassination in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in 2020.

    A spokesman for the country’s emergency department was quoted by Iran’s state-run news agency as saying 103 people were killed and 188 were injured. Officials said the death toll was likely to rise.

    The deputy governor of Kerman, the slain general’s hometown, said the incident was a “terrorist attack,” according to Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The explosions occurred about a half-mile from Soleimani’s burial place, on a road to the graveyard and roughly 20 minutes apart, the agency reported.

    Before the blasts, the state-run live broadcast had shown thousands of mourners filling the street, moving calmly in a procession. After the attack, it broadcast video of people running frantically and men wearing emergency medical technician uniforms surging into the crowd.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility. […]

  165. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mysterious medieval cemetery unearthed in Wales

    A rare, early medieval cemetery has been unearthed in Wales and it has left archaeologists scratching their heads.

    It’s thought to date to the 6th or 7th Century and 18 of the estimated 70 graves have been excavated so far.

    Some of the well preserved skeletons have been found lying in unusual positions and unexpected artefacts are also emerging from the site…

  166. Reginald Selkirk says

    50 ice anglers rescued from Minnesota lake in latest accident due to warm temperatures

    About 50 ice anglers had to be rescued from a northern Minnesota lake on New Year’s Day after a pressure ridge they were near split and left them stranded, officials said Tuesday.

    The event on the Lake of the Woods is the latest of many this year thanks to vulnerable ice due to warm temperatures, according to the Department of Natural Resources…

    Do not confuse this with an earlier story (Dec 30, 2023) about 122 people rescued on Upper Red Lake.

  167. Reginald Selkirk says

    Urine Luck Because Scientists Figured Out Why Pee Is Yellow

    In new research, a team found the enzyme produced by gut bacteria that plays a major role in turning our urine mellow…

    Scientists have known for a while that the chemical urobilin is primarily responsible for urine’s yellow color. But according to lead author Brantley Hall, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, we’ve remained in the dark about a crucial step leading up to urobilin’s presence in urine—the part that gut bacteria play in further breaking down the byproducts of heme.

    In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Microbiology, Hall and his team detail the missing piece of the puzzle.

    “When red blood cells degrade after their six-month lifespan, a bright orange pigment called bilirubin is produced as a byproduct. Once in the gut, the resident flora can convert bilirubin into a molecule which can turn yellow if exposed to oxygen. This molecule, urobilin, is a major reason why urine is yellow,” Hall told Gizmodo in an email. “In this study, we found the enzyme responsible for this reaction.” …

  168. Reginald Selkirk says

    Judge denies request to block affirmative action at West Point

    A federal judge on Wednesday ruled the U.S. Military Academy at West Point can continue considering race in its admissions process, denying a request to block affirmative action policies in the school.

    In a ruling filed Wednesday in the Southern District of New York, Judge Philip Halpern rejected a group’s request for a preliminary injunction that would’ve put a halt to the school’s race-conscious admissions practices.

    Halpern said the group, Students for Fair Admissions, did not meet the burden of proof on several grounds to grant the injunction…

  169. birgerjohansson says

    Say what you want about John Cleese, but he never “punched down”.
    According to a recent article in The Guardian the same cannot be said about Ricky Gervais and David Chapelle.

  170. birgerjohansson says

    FYI, winter clothing that is adequate for -25°C temperatures is not necessarily adequate for – 30 (long bout of swearing).
    Also, snow chaos in Southern Sweden, people stuck in cars more than 14 hours.

    The glorious PM of Britain keeps changing what he claims he meant in his new year speech after even a rudimentary fact check showed he was not telling the truth. So he is on brand, at least.

    A lunar lander is in lunar orbit, a landing is planned in a week.

  171. John Morales says

    birgerjohansson, ah, a challenge. Easy.

    Say what you want about John Cleese, but he never “punched down”.
    According to a recent article in The Guardian the same cannot be said about Ricky Gervais and David Chapelle.

    You know, comments like that sometimes make me clickety-click.

    Oh, look, I don’t have to say anything, I can just quote
    (hey, need citations? I mean, easy enough to find, I just did)

    So, to the first:

    Fawlty Towers icon Cleese made a joke about gender on the social networking site over the weekend, while responding to a critic of his support of gender-critical Harry Potter writer JK Rowling.

    The actor said “Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman. Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic?”

    Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman

    Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic ? https://t.co/oGPwEWJM9a

    — John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 22, 2020

    In another tweet, Cleese said: “I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks. I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly. Right now I’m more focussed on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British Press, the revelations about police brutality…”

    In response, Queer Eye star JVN said: “Dear @JohnCleese you’ve made several transphobic comments here. You do seem to not only be interested in trans folks, but also adding to transphobia at a time when trans people are being murdered world wide. Trans & non binary people aren’t being treated kindly [sic].

    “Try being a trans, non binary, or gender non conforming person especially Black & Brown ones, ALONE in a rural town or ANYWHERE in the world. The @jk_rowling & @JohnCleese of the world could never.”

    The 33-year-old, who identifies as nonbinary, added: “So cruel to constantly punch down onto a marginalized group of people.”

    And to the second:

    Comedian John Cleese is one of the all-time greats, he was one of the biggest names from the Monty Python group. He is completely against this woke culture, which is killing creativity, in his view. Cleese is very active on Twitter and decided to rant about this while revealing he is creating a television program where he tackles cancel culture. Cleese is part of a wave of comedians who don’t agree with the way Hollywood abuses wokeness in order to completely erase people that don’t have the same political ideasa.

    He wrote: “You think of an idea and you immediately think: ‘Oooh, is that going to get me into trouble? Well, that person last Thursday got away with it. But all that stuff immediately stops you being creative. The woke people, I think, miss something quite badly. The meaning of a word depends on its context. If I use sarcasm, then what I’m meaning is the opposite of the words I’m actually saying. If you don’t get irony, then if you take it seriously, you completely misunderstand the intention of the writer or speaker.”

  172. John Morales says

    FYI, winter clothing that is adequate for -25°C temperatures is not necessarily adequate for – 30 (long bout of swearing).

    FYI, much better than good winter clothing is good climate, so that one does not need winter clothing.

  173. KG says

    John Morales@269,

    Cleese has become Basil Fawlty. Perhaps he was always that way inclined, and that was how he gave such a brilliant performance in the role.

  174. KG says

    Lynna, OM@256,

    We don’t know who carried out the terrorist attack in Kerman, but it seems to have been rather sophisticated technically, using remote detonation of at least two and possibly four bombs – rather than a suicide bomber as might be expected if it was Daesh, for example. It is clear Israel has carried out two targeted attacks, killing a senior Iranian military leader in Syria, and Hamas leaders in Beirut. I have a nasty suspicion Netanyahu is trying to provoke Iran into war – in order to draw in the USA, and because he knows that if the war ends, he’ll be out on his ear.

  175. KG says

    Lynna, OM@255,

    There’s a more detailed account of the (very complicated, multi-sided, with multiple outside interests also involved) civil war in Yemen here. There has in fact been a UN-brokered truce largely in force since mid-2022. Hopefully the Gaza war will not undermine this (all sides in Yemen are likely to be pro-Palestinian). And whatever one might say about the Houtihs, at least they are taking action to pressure the Israelis, which is more than one can say about the USA, UK or EU.

  176. birgerjohansson says

    ‘A bandage on a gunshot wound’: why Sweden is failing on gang violence | Sweden | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/04/why-sweden-is-failing-gang-violence-rapper-sebastian-stakset

    The gangs are systematically and aggressively recruiting kids on the outskirts of society (and children of immigrants are of course more at risk of marginalization).
    Until quite recently, social services were not allowed to share information with the police about youths at risk.

    The gang leaders sit in Spain or Turkey and direct the activity by encrypted phone messages.

  177. John Morales says

    Heh heh heh.

    Quoth Wikipedia: “There is a municipal rubbish heap of 45 metres (148 ft) in altitude that has been named Mt Cleese at the Awapuni landfill just outside Palmerston North after he dubbed the city “suicide capital of New Zealand” after a stay there in 2005.[124][125]”

  178. birgerjohansson says

    My point was, I have never heard the grumpy old englishman regress to this level (see link). Cleese became a freez peach absolutist- probably because of his experiences in the late seventies – and that led downwards until he morphed into The Major. But he did not mock gay or trans people.
    .
    “Unfunny business: Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais sink to new depths” | Comedy | The Guardian
    .https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2024/jan/03/dave-chappelle-the-dreamer-ricky-gervais-armageddon-netflix

  179. John Morales says

    No, you probably haven’t, Birger.

    Still, others have.

    Here’s another POV:
    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/john-cleese-sxsw-panel-1235109668/

    Actually, I myself reckon Gervais is a better person; for one thing, he has been very active in supporting animal welfare for quite some time.
    For another, he’s not become a parody of a bitter old regressive man ranting about ‘cancel culture’ and ‘wokeism’ and suchlike.

    But he did not mock gay or trans people.

    Actual trans people have said he did, but hey, why listen to them?

    Here:

    John Cleese has caused a backlash after referring to his fellow Monty Python member Graham Chapman as a “poof” on BBC Radio 4.

    The 78-year-old comedy legend was asked about diversity during this morning’s (July 31) Today show, after his fellow Python Terry Gilliam hit out at efforts to increase diversity earlier this month.

    Gilliam called the idea of increasing minority representation “bulls**t,” adding that “I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian… My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.”

    (https://www.thepinknews.com/2018/07/31/john-cleese-outrage-monty-python-graham-chapman-poof-bbc-radio-4/)

  180. birgerjohansson says

    Re.@ 278
    …for instance, the part about dwarwes was not classy. And that is my point about these two once great comedians.

    I can get along with South Park because they systematically mock everything in as rude and vulgar a way as possible. Peter Griffin in Family Guy functions the same.
    But hitting downwards as a business model for jokes is the kind of crap comedian should have outgrown fifty years ago.

  181. John Morales says

    But hitting downwards as a business model for jokes is the kind of crap comedian should have outgrown fifty years ago.

    Heh. Good one.
    Fuck this making money stuff for a model, it’s all about being a good person.

    (Also, everyone should have been a saint since fifty years and one day ago)

  182. John Morales says

    The irony, the hypocrisy: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/04/us-soldier-ragi-a-sckak-family-rescued-gaza-secret-operation-details-idf

    The mother and uncle of a US service member were rescued from the fighting in Gaza in a secret operation coordinated by the US, Israel, Egypt and others, according to a US official speaking to the Associated Press.

    It is the only known operation of its kind to extract American citizens and their close family members during the months of devastating ground fighting and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

    Zahra Sckak, 44, made it out of Gaza on New Year’s Eve, along with her brother-in-law, Farid Sukaik – who is an American citizen – a US official told the Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the rescue, which had been kept quiet for security reasons.

    Sckak’s husband, Abedalla Sckak, was shot earlier in the war as the family fled from a building hit by an airstrike. He died days later. One of her three American sons, Ragi A. Sckak, 24, serves as an infantryman in the US military.

    (But hey, more munitions are on the way to bomb Gaza, where every resident is a terrorist)

  183. birgerjohansson says

    The list revisited.
    Teenage models “some as young as 14” at the event hosted by Trump.

  184. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 284
    I feel transported to the1980 and the coverage of Angola and Cambodia.
    Jonas Savimbi and the Khmer Rouge are our allies don’t mention the civilian victims.

  185. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 283

    I am.talking about mainstream culture.
    In the 1970s things would seem unbelievably regressive for people born a generation later

    It is believable for me, because I heard and saw it. And it was still much more liberal than the sixties except maybe in the big cities. People shaped by the zeitgeist of the 1930s still dominated and while they had adjusted they still had a ton of prejudices they were not even aware of, the way fish are not supposed to be aware of water.
    .
    BTW more Epstein files will become public In the near future. It will be interesting to learn the names.

  186. birgerjohansson says

    Minus 48.8°C in the village Björklund outside the town Arjeplog, Swedish Lapland. Shee-it, we might hit 50 before this ordeal is over.
    I have arranged to have a day of vacation tomorrow, I don’t want to go out in the extra strong cold of the morning.

    But we are still infinitely better off than the people in Gaza.

  187. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump’s Idiot Lawyer Just Admitted He May Be Guilty of Insurrection

    One of Donald Trump’s lawyers appeared to accidentally admit that the former president may have engaged in insurrection.

    Christina Bobb, a vocal 2020 election denier, tried to argue Tuesday night that voters should be able to elect anyone they want for president.

    “The president is elected by the entire nation, and it should be the entire nation who determines who they want for president, whether they are guilty of insurrection or not,” Bobb said during an interview on Real America’s Voice. “It’s up to the people.” …

  188. Reginald Selkirk says

    @290, 292

    Multiple people shot at Perry High School on Thursday; police say they know shooter

    He said they have confirmed who the shooter was but will not release any other information at this time…

    Two teachers said Dan Marburger, the principal of the high school, was shot…

    Kevin Shelley said his son, Zander, 15, was grazed by two bullets while in a school hallway. He left the school at about 8:30 a.m. and went to his nearby home, Kevin Shelley said. He described his son’s injuries as minor.

    Kevin Shelley said his son said he saw the principal get shot…

  189. birgerjohansson says

    Re. Reginald Selkirk
    Bloody hell. It never stops.
    Is this one of the states with a “thoughts and prayers” governor?

  190. tomh says

    Re: #294
    “Is this one of the states with a “thoughts and prayers” governor?”

    Oh, yeah. Republican governor Kim Reynolds, most recently in the news for cutting a federal food program for impoverished children a few days before Christmas.

  191. says

    Donald Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from 20 foreign governments during his presidency.

    In the not-too-distant past, the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution was relatively obscure to the public. Donald Trump changed all of that.

    As we’ve discussed many times, the clause prohibits U.S. officials from receiving payments from foreign governments. Traditionally, this hasn’t been much of a problem for sitting American presidents. During the Trump era, however, it became [an] under-appreciated controversy.

    While serving as president, Trump owned a hotel that sat roughly a half-mile from the White House, which hosted international officials with some regularity. As we’ve discussed, the result was a dynamic in which foreign governments spent quite a bit of money at a Trump-owned property, to the benefit of the then-American president and his private-sector enterprise.

    Trump had some vague understanding that the Constitution prevented him from receiving payments from foreign governments — he referred to the legal provision as “phony“ for reasons he never explained — but he did it anyway.

    The former president has sold the hotel, but the scope of his alleged wrongdoing continues to come into sharper focus. The New York Times reported:

    Donald J. Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from 20 foreign governments during his presidency, according to new documents released by House Democrats on Thursday that show how much he received from overseas transactions while he was in the White House, most of it from China.

    […] results of an investigation in a lengthy, 156-page report called “White House For Sale.” Relying on documents from Mazars USA, Trump’s former accounting firm, congressional researchers determined that the Republican’s businesses received “at least“ $7.8 million from 20 foreign governments.

    What’s more, the scope of the examination was relatively narrow: Oversight Committee Democrats focused only on four Trump-owned properties: Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, and Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza in New York.

    In other words, foreign governments might also have poured money into other businesses owned by Trump— while he was in office — but those expenditures weren’t included in this investigation.

    “[T]oday’s report makes clear that former President Trump put lining his pockets with cash from foreign governments seeking policy favors over the interests of the American people,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, the committee’s ranking member, said in a statement. The Maryland Democrat added that the Republican “repeatedly and willfully violated the U.S. Constitution by failing to divest from his business empire and allowing his businesses to accept millions of dollars in payments from some of the most corrupt nations on earth.”

    If you’re wondering how Trump got away with this, it’s worth noting that the emoluments controversy worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court — which rejected the matter just days after the Republican left office, saying Trump’s departure rendered the matter moot.

    Stepping back, there’s also a broader, ongoing question to keep in mind, which likely influenced those who wrote the “White House For Sale” report: As GOP lawmakers search in desperation for evidence that President Joe Biden took foreign money while in office, congressional investigators have now documented the fact that Trump’s business empire — which he owned and benefited from during his presidency — took in millions of dollars from foreign governments while in office.

    Or put another way, Trump did the very thing that Republicans have falsely accused Biden of doing.

  192. says

    As the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack nears, President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has unveiled a new ad — its first ad of 2024 — on the dangers MAGA extremism pose to democracy. The Democratic campaign said the spot will run on national television news and on local evening news in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    Link.

    Video is available at the link. The ad is one minute long.

  193. says

    Trump placed an op-ed in the Des Moines Register. He said he will implement “a record-setting deportation operation.”

    The most urgent task facing the next president is to end Joe Biden’s nation-wrecking nightmare on our southern border. I am the only candidate who will stop this invasion — and I will do it on day one.

    [snipped Trump’s bragging about his supposed accomplishments because it was all lies or was misleading]

    […] Migrants are overwhelming our cities. Drugs, criminals, gang members and terrorists are pouring in.

    On my first day back in office, I will terminate every open borders policy of the Biden administration and immediately restore the full set of strong Trump border policies.

    Then, we will begin a record-setting deportation operation. […] The millions of illegal aliens who have invaded under Biden require a record number of removals. This is just common sense.

    To achieve this goal, I will make clear to every department and to state and local governments that we must use all resources and authorities available. We will shift massive portions of federal law enforcement to immigration enforcement — including parts of the DEA, ATF, FBI, and DHS. […]

    Iowans want secure borders. You must send that message with your vote. Show up on Jan. 15 and vote to stop the invasion by caucusing for Donald J. Trump.

    Link

  194. says

    Followup to comment 301.

    Steve Benen notes:

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had an op-ed in the Des Moines Register on the same issue this week, which included this rather laughable promise: “I will build the wall and I will make Mexico pay for it.”

  195. says

    The contradiction at the heart of the GOP’s anti-Biden narrative

    Republicans hope to define President Joe Biden with two specific narratives. They might be more effective if they didn’t contradict each other.

    […] As regular readers might recall, Americans were told President Obama was both a ruthless Chicago thug and a weak pushover. He was a bystander who golfed too much and an activist president who engaged too much. He was a passive leader, afraid to step up, and an out-of-control tyrant, determined to seize power.

    Even after two full terms, it was never altogether clear what it was Republicans wanted us to believe about Obama. Years later, the party seems similarly unsure what it wants to say about the latest Democratic president.

    This, for example, was how Fox News’ Sean Hannity went after President Joe Biden on the air this week:

    “Now, Joe Biden’s cognitive ability is not good. Anyone with eyes can see, you can see it. Every week it gets worse and, and it’s getting worse by the day. Now keep in mind, Biden is also dealing with very real and serious corruption and bribery allegations, along with a very real impeachment inquiry.”

    For now, let’s brush past some of the relevant details — there’s nothing wrong with the president’s cognitive abilities, there’s nothing “serious” about the GOP’s anti-Biden allegations, etc. — and instead focus on the competing stories the Republican anchor seemed eager to tell.

    Over the course of about 18 seconds, viewers were effectively told that Biden is both a doddering and deteriorating old man, and a criminal mastermind.

    […] These contradictions first came to the fore during the 2020 race. […] A couple of months later, the Trump campaign sent a message to supporters labeling the former vice president a “crook” — a bizarre claim for a candidate who’s never faced credible corruption allegations over a lengthy career — and it led one of Obama’s former speechwriters to highlight the larger problem.

    “Is he a crook now?” Jon Favreau asked. “I thought he was old and confused. Or a puppet of China. Or sleepy. Or creepy. Or a radical socialist. Good campaigns figure out one story to tell about their opponent. They might get there, but it’s May and [members of the Trump campaign] haven’t figured it out yet.”

    Nearly four years later, Republicans still haven’t figured it out yet.

    Others have caught on to the problem. NBC News noted in September 2023:

    [W]ith the “Crooked Joe” persona, Trump routinely implies that a man he has suggested is not mentally fit has secretly been manipulating the Justice Department — as well as state prosecutors he has no authority over, and even secretive grand juries who were legally required to approve the indictments — while covering his tracks so well that House Republican investigators with subpoena power struggle to uncover proof.

    Around the same time, the Bulwark’s Tim Miller, a former GOP operative-turned-Trump-critic, added, “I’m confused. Is dementia-riddled Joe Biden also controlling the people in all of these separate grand juries in four different jurisdictions in four states?”

    I suppose it’s not too late for Republicans to settle on a single, coherent narrative […]

  196. Reginald Selkirk says

    We’ll Get to See NASA’s Sonic Boom-Less Supersonic Plane Next Week

    NASA’s supersonic experimental plane—the linchpin of the agency’s Quesst mission—is set to roll out of its warehouse in the California desert next week. We’re gassed for the big moment: the X-59 has been in development for six years, and, if successful, it will demonstrate supersonic flight without sonic booms.

    The 99-foot-long (30-meter) plane is just 14 feet (4.27 meters) tall, making it look needle-like from the side. The single-engine jet will have a cruise altitude of 55,000 feet (16,764 meters) and will be capable of speeds up to 925 mph (1,489 kmph), or Mach 1.4. But here’s the kicker: The plane will only create a perceived sound of 75 PLdB, or about as loud as a car door closing, according to Lockheed Martin, whose Skunk Works team collaborated with NASA to develop the experimental aircraft…

  197. says

    Florida’s Joseph Ladapo was already one of the nation’s most controversial public health officials. On vaccines, he keeps making matters worse.

    In October 2022, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo added to his list of dubious pronouncements: The physician recommended that males between the ages of 18 and 39 avoid commonly used mRNA Covid vaccines, pointing to possible health risks that credible experts said didn’t exist in reality. In fact, Ladapo simply discarded the conclusions from the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics altogether.

    David Gorski, a surgical oncologist and debunker of anti-vaccine nonsense, wrote soon after, “This is the first time that we’ve seen a state government weaponize bad science to spread anti-vaccine disinformation as official policy.”

    As regular readers might recall, the story got worse six months later: Politico reported that the Florida surgeon general received a state-driven study about Covid vaccines, saw the evidence that said there were no significant risks associated with the vaccines for young men, and simply replaced the findings with the opposite conclusions that he liked better. It led the editorial board of The Washington Post to conclude soon after, “By playing loose with the facts, Dr. Ladapo … betrayed the trust of the people of Florida and the nation.”

    That was in April 2023. As 2024 gets underway, he’s still making matters worse. The Post reported overnight on Ladapo’s latest antics:

    Florida’s top health official called for a halt to using mRNA coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday, contending that the shots could contaminate patients’ DNA — a claim that has been roundly debunked by public health experts, federal officials and the vaccine companies. … “Providers concerned about patient health risks associated with COVID-19 should prioritize patient access to non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and treatment,” Ladapo wrote.

    […] it’s worth emphasizing that the controversial doctor’s declaration wasn’t just an offhand comment on a far-right podcast; Ladapo issued the statement as an official state bulletin. In other words, the public and Florida’s public health community was supposed to take the announcement seriously.

    That would be a mistake.

    Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s public health school and the expert who led the Biden White House’s national coronavirus response team, told the Post, “We’ve seen this pattern from Dr. Ladapo that every few months he raises some new concern and it quickly gets debunked. This idea of DNA fragments — it’s scientific nonsense. People who understand how these vaccines are made and administered understand that there is no risk here.”

    […] Ladapo has rejected vaccination guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and faced accusations about misleading the public. He’s embarrassed professional colleagues with his antics and urged the public not to trust scientists, physicians, and other public health officials.

    […] The editorial board of The Orlando Sentinel described Ladapo as a “COVID crank” who’s been “associated with a right-wing group of physicians whose members include a physician who believes infertility and miscarriages are the result of having sex with demons and witches during dreams.”

    What’s more, let’s also not forget that Ladapo’s former supervisor at UCLA discouraged Florida officials from hiring the controversial doctor, explaining that he relies on his opinions more than scientific evidence. The UCLA supervisor added that Ladapo’s weird theories “created a stressful environment for his research and clinical colleagues and subordinates,” some of whom believed the doctor “violated the duty in the Hippocratic Oath to behave honestly and ethically.”

    One UCLA source told my colleague Kay Guerrero in late 2021, in reference to Ladapo, “A lot of people here at UCLA are glad that he is gone because we were embarrassed by his opinions and behavior. At the same time, we don’t wish this on the people of Florida. They don’t deserve to have someone like him making their health decisions.”

    The relevance of that quote lingers for a reason.

  198. says

    Fresh off settling a lawsuit for price gouging, Chick-fil-A is doing it again

    […] In October, Chick-fil-A settled a class action lawsuit after raising the price for delivery orders as much as 30% during the pandemic. The company paid out $4.4 million to customers who found that the prices on the food chain’s app didn’t match what they were charged after fees were tacked on. […]

    Now Fox Business is reporting a “surge” in Chick-fil-A’s prices. After jacking up the price of their “classic” sandwich by 15% in 2022, they increased it 6%more in 2023. Those thinking that the price of a bag at the fast food outlet has gone up sharply are right. Like many other companies, the infamously anti-LGBTQ chicken chain took advantage of a tough situation to generate record profits.

    In a study published last summer, researchers showed that more than half of inflation in 2021 and 2022 could be attributed to a single cause. It wasn’t supply chain issues with China and it certainly wasn’t rising labor costs. It was simple greed.

    […] As the authors of the report noted, “Publicly reported supply chain bottlenecks and cost shocks, serve to create legitimacy for price hikes and create acceptance on the part of consumers to pay higher prices.”

    In other words, they lied about costs and used a crisis for price gouging. Maybe those are the ingredients behind that famous sandwich sauce.

  199. says

    Well this is laughable: Trump’s lawyers want special counsel Jack Smith held in contempt

    Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Thursday pressed to have special counsel Jack Smith’s team held in contempt, saying the prosecutors had taken steps to advance the 2020 election interference case against him in violation of a judge’s order last month that temporarily put the case on hold.

    Citing “outrageous conduct,” the Republican presidential candidate’s attorneys told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., that she should consider holding Smith and two of his prosecutors in contempt for turning over to the defense thousands of pages of evidence and an exhibit list while the case was paused and for filing more than a week later a motion that they said “teems with partisan rhetoric” and “false claims.”

    “In this manner, the prosecutors seek to weaponize the Stay to spread political propaganda, knowing that President Trump would not fully respond because the Court relieved him of the burdens of litigation during the Stay,” the lawyers wrote. “Worse, the prosecutors have announced their intention to continue this partisan-driven misconduct indefinitely, effectively converting this Court’s docket into an arm of the Biden Campaign.”

    […] highlights the stark division between the Smith team’s desire to keep the case on track for a March 4 trial date and Trump’s efforts to delay the prosecution, until potentially after the November election […]

    At issue is a Dec. 13 order from Chutkan issued after Trump appealed to a higher court an earlier ruling that rejected his claims that he is immune from prosecution.

    In her order last month, Chutkan […] said that Trump’s appeal “automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation” on Trump.

    Chutkan’s order suggested that requiring additional discovery or briefing would impose a burden on Trump. However, it does not appear to explicitly bar the filing of court papers or prohibit prosecutors from providing information to the defense.

    Prosecutors acknowledged in a filing late last month that the case had been paused, but they said the government would “continue to meet its own deadlines as previously determined” by the court “to promote the prompt resumption of the pretrial schedule” if and when the case returns to Chutkan.

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is set to hear arguments on Tuesday on the immunity question and has signaled that it intends to move quickly, though additional appeals are still likely after that. The arguments are crucial because they concern the legally untested question of whether a former president is immune from prosecution … and because the outcome is expected to help determine the fate and timing of the case.

    The defense motion says Smith’s team should be punished for nudging the case forward during the pause by producing nearly 4,000 pages of potential evidence. The defense lawyers also objected to a Smith team motion last month arguing that Trump should be prevented from “raising irrelevant political issues or arguments in front of the jury,” including that the prosecution against him is vindictive and selective or was coordinated by Biden […]

    Besides sanctions and contempt, Trump’s lawyers are asking the court to require prosecutors to get permission from the court before submitting any further filings. The defense wants prosecutors to reimburse Trump for attorneys’ fees and other expenses “that he has incurred responding to the prosecutor’s improper productions and filings.”

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The prosecution can do what it has done (provide material to the defense, file motions) during the pause without the defense being required to do anything at all. They would only need to respond once the pause has ended, as directed by Judge Chutkan at that time.
    ————————
    While it’s not admirable, I’ll give them credit for being competent enough to figure out how to abuse the process.

    At this point, I’m surprised Trump has managed to find a team that’s smart enough to do even that.
    —————————-
    every accusation is a confession […] “In this manner, the prosecutors seek to weaponize the Stay to spread political propaganda.”
    —————————-
    Trumpism will persist beyond Trump, since it is just fascism in modern packaging. […] Trump is simply a convenient focal point for the energies they are directing to the destruction of freedom and the rule of law. […] Trump must be made a cautionary tale of severe consequences, because no consequences means no deterrence. Let him, as he put in his own cheery Christmas message, “rot in hell.”
    ——————————–

    The defense wants prosecutors to reimburse Trump for attorneys’ fees and other expenses “that he has incurred responding to the prosecutor’s improper productions and filings.”

    It has probably dawned ln them that this is likely to be their only chance of getting some money out of the mess they got into.
    —————————-
    being pissed off about the discovery production clearly tips their hand: they were planning on using lack of discovery production during the stay to argue for moving back the trial date after his immunity appeal gets shot down.
    ——————————
    Andrew Weissman stated that any smart prosecutor would keep doing exactly what they were doing, that way they are ready to go. He suggested with the caliber of Trump’s lawyers, that they’re probably sitting in their asses during this time and will be totally unprepared.

  200. says

    Russia using North Korean missiles in strikes against Ukraine: White House

    Russia has in recent days fired ballistic missiles into Ukraine that were provided by North Korea, the White House confirmed Thursday, calling it a “concerning escalation” of Pyongyang’s support for Moscow.

    The United States determined North Korea had recently provided Russia with a ballistic missile launcher and several ballistic missiles, John Kirby, a White House spokesperson for national security issues, told reporters.

    Russia used at least one of those missiles in a Dec. 30, 2023, strike against Ukraine, and multiple others during a strike carried out Tuesday, Kirby said.

    “We expect Russia and North Korea to learn from these launches, and we anticipate that Russia will use additional North Korean missiles to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians,” he said.

    […] In return for providing Russia with ballistic missiles, Kirby said the U.S. believes North Korea is seeking fighter aircraft, surface to air missiles and other advanced technology to upgrade its own military capabilities.

    The White House has for months been warning about a burgeoning partnership between North Korea and Russia as Moscow carries out its war against Ukraine. North Korea in October delivered more than 1,000 containers of munitions and other equipment to Russia.

    […] Russia fired some 500 missiles and drones from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as Moscow ramps up its winter offensive. The strikes have killed dozens of Ukrainian civilians and injured hundreds more.

  201. says

    Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) criticized Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for suggesting on Wednesday that border patrol agents do not want the $14 billion in supplemental funds the Biden administration has requested to help deal with migration at the southern border.

    In an interview on “CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip” on Wednesday, Crockett responded to Johnson’s earlier suggestion on the network that border patrol agents do not want the additional funding — which would provide 1,600 asylum officers to speed up the processing of claims, as well as 1,300 Border Patrol agents and 1,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

    Instead, Johnson said, the agents want policy changes. He spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper during his trip with House Republicans to the southern border.

    “I disagree,” Crockett said. “I obviously wasn’t there, so I don’t know who it was that the Speaker and his cronies were able to visit, but I can tell you that I’ve had these conversations. And what I hear is that they do need the funding.”

    “We have so many officers that are having to leave their homes and be forced to go to the border because we are understaffed,” she added.

    Crockett advocated for advancing the supplemental funding request and addressing any needed policy changes.

    “So no, I will disagree and say that they need the funding. But I will also agree that there needs to be policy changes as well. It’s not about doing one or the other. It’s about doing both,” Crockett said.

    “And I can tell you that the money right now will help those cities that are struggling, whether it’s Eagle Pass or if we’re talking about Chicago, or if we’re talking about New York, I can guarantee you those mayors would not turn down the funding that the President has tried to push through and the Republicans refuse to do it,” Crockett added. […]

    Link

  202. says

    Former President Trump boasted about his commanding grip on the Republican Party, pointing to his ability to garner endorsements even from tough holdouts within the party, according to new reporting Thursday from The New York Times.

    “They always bend the knee,” Trump said of securing the endorsement of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) for his presidential bid Wednesday, according to the Times, which attributed the comment to a person who spoke to Trump. […]

    Link

    I wish there were tapes.

  203. says

    Followup to KG @273.

    Islamic State Takes Responsibility for Deadly Bombings in Iran.

    New York Times link

    The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Thursday for the bombing attack that killed 84 people in Kerman, Iran, a day before, during a memorial procession for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, according to a post on the extremist group’s official Telegram account.

    The extremist group called the attack a “dual martyrdom operation,” and described how two militants approached a ceremony at the tomb of General Suleimani and detonated explosive belts strapped to their bodies “near the grave of the hypocrite leader.”

    The general, a widely revered and feared Iranian military officer who was the architect of an Iranian-led and -funded alliance of Shiite groups across the Middle East, was assassinated four years ago in an American drone attack.

    The Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim organization, considers its mission to kill apostate Muslims, including Shiites. Iran, a majority-Shiite country, is led by a theocratic government in which Shiite clerics are in charge.

    In a statement, the Islamic State identified the two attackers as Omar al-Mowahid and Sayefulla al-Mujahid. The group is composed of local affiliates across the Muslim world, but it did not specify the which regional organization was behind the bombings.

    The bombing in Iran was the latest bloody episode in the Islamic State’s targeting of Iran, which it considers an irredeemable sectarian foe, one that, along with a U.S.-led coalition, had a hand in defeating the group in Syria and Iraq. It was General Suleimani who built a network of Shiite militias there to repel the group and personally directed efforts to fight it.

    The Islamic State, whose affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-Khorasan, has repeatedly threatened Iran over what it says is its polytheism and apostasy, has claimed responsibility for several previous attacks on Iran.

    The most recent came in October 2022, when a gunman killed 13 people at a shrine in the city of Shiraz. An Islamic State statement claiming responsibility for that attack said it had aimed to kill Shiites — framing the shootings as the continuation of an ancient clash between Sunnis and Shiites, whose religious schism goes back to a seventh-century dispute over the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad.

    Thursday’s statement used the same derogatory term for Shiites, roughly translated as “rejectionists” or “refusal infidels,” as in the 2022 statement.

    […] Though the Islamic State did not specify an affiliate behind the attack, Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York, said he suspected that the Islamic State’s Khorasan affiliate, also known as ISIS-K, as the likely perpetrator.

    “ISIS-K has demonstrated both intent and capability to attack targets inside Iran proper,” Mr. Clarke said. “ISIS-K wants to attack Iran, because Tehran is the most prominent Shia power and the ire of ISIS-K’s highly sectarian agenda. More so than other ISIS branches, ISIS-K propaganda continuously focuses on denigrating Shia as apostates.” […]

  204. says

    No Labels has a new, unofficial motto: ‘No Democrats’

    In a Zoom call last month, Ryan Clancy, chief strategist for the supposedly centrist political group No Labels, admitted that their potential “bipartisan” “unity” presidential ticket doesn’t need to have a Democrat on it.

    “And what if it’s a Republican and an independent? I think that’s certainly possible,” he told participants in the Dec. 20 “Common Sense Talks With Ryan Clancy” event, according to a recording obtained by HuffPost. Common sense, you see, means excluding Democrats unless they are “Democrats” like former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman […] or West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, perennial spoiler of Democratic policies.

    This isn’t entirely new for the group. After all, they indicated last June that if the Republican nominee ended up being Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, they’d probably back down and not field a spoiler candidate. They’re okay with fascism, you see, unless it’s coming from Donald Trump. That’s just common sense, No Labels-style.

    […] No Labels doesn’t have to disclose donors. But digging by investigative reporters has revealed at least some of them.

    One of their “whale” donors is none other than Harlan Crow, the New Republic found. You know, Supreme Court Clarence Thomas’ billionaire benefactor. […] In addition to his donations, Crow has participated in fundraisers for the group and has hooked No Labels up with about two dozen of his millionaire and billionaire friends, according to the documentation TNR found.

    By the way, 501(c)(4) organizations are supposed to—by law—limit activities to the “promotion of social welfare” or lobbying. These groups are legally not allowed direct political involvement, like fielding candidates, as a primary activity. If trying to secure a slot on the presidential ballot for their third-party ticket in all 50 states is not their primary activity, it would be good to know what is. Beyond the grift, that is, because some people are making an awful lot of money out of this venture.

    There’s some good news coming out of that December event, however. The rank-and-file membership of the group seems to be pretty concerned that No Labels will help elect Trump. One attendee said she’d “been a long supporter of No Labels” but was “having trouble trying to figure out how this is going to not reelect Trump.” That sentiment was reinforced by another attendee, who said that for him it was “absolutely the number one priority in 2024” that Trump lose.

    “Love everybody at No Labels,” said John Leonard, the treasurer for the Raleigh, North Carolina, chapter of No Labels. “But I support what [the attendees] were saying earlier. … I really worry about the prospect of Biden losing support and Donald Trump being inadvertently elected in the Electoral College.”

    Even No Labels members seem to be cottoning on to the fact that this really isn’t about bipartisanship and unity as it is spoiling 2024 for Joe Biden.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    This is normal behavior for groups which are actually right-wing. You can also expect them to say “both parties” are a problem, before going on to exclusively attacking Democrats.
    ————————–
    No Labels, All Lies.
    —————————
    billionaire fascist ruse
    —————————–
    The “Democrat” slur gives it away right away. These people can’t even keep their name-calling in check when pretending to talk about bipartisanship.

  205. lumipuna says

    Re: John Morales at 282 (links to Guardian stories about solar panel boom in Australia and extreme winter weather in Scandinavia)

    Those two stories don’t seem much related as such to me, but incidentally, the cold is straining the electricity grid here in Finland. Record spot prices of around 1-2 € per kWh are predicted all day for tomorrow (Friday). Private households are urged to save power tomorrow as much as possible. Next week should be much easier.

    From birgerjohansson at 289 I see that temperatures in Sweden’s far north are approaching the record-breaking winter of 1999. Enontekiö in Finland just measured -43.7C, also the coldest nationally since 1999 but not yet close to the record. Here on the other end of Finland (Helsinki), temperatures have been hovering around 15-20C below freezing, and it feels cold enough to make me feel very glad I’m working from home.

    Overall, the temperatures in Finland and north-central Sweden haven’t been quite unprecedented, certainly not by the standards of 20th century climate. Still, it somehow feels like everything from the national infrastructure to my own ass is nowadays more sensitive to cold than it used to be. Rail transport is largely disrupted, and many of the modern cars have died on the roads due to the sheer cold. Right now there are some local power outages in southern Finland, despite the lack of strong winds or heavy snowfall.

    The Guardian’s coverage mentions really severe travel disruption caused by a blizzard in southern Sweden and Denmark. It doesn’t make clear that in that area the temperatures have been only slightly colder than average ie. between 0 and -10C. This typically happens when there is a strong winter high pressure over northern Scandinavia and Russia, blowing a northeastern wind over the Baltic Sea toward southern Scandinavia, where the lake effect results in heavy snowfall and just barely freezing temperatures. Meanwhile, up north the weather is very cold and relatively clear and calm.

    The calm weather typically associated with very cold winter weather is a problem, because there’s been a huge boom for wind power construction in Sweden and Finland, providing an expanding supply of cheap green electricity for most of the time. However, winter cold spells result in high and unpredictable spot prices and a potential risk of grid failure. Lots of people in Scandinavia heat their homes with electricity, resulting in a high demand during cold spells.

  206. Reginald Selkirk says

    @308
    Well this is laughable: Trump’s lawyers want special counsel Jack Smith held in contempt

    That’s pretty wild. That’s like interpreting a snow day off from school as a prohibition against working on the term paper coming due in a few weeks.

  207. KG says

    Lynna, OM@312,

    That seems pretty conclusive. I guess Daesh didn’t want to be left out of the mass-murdering.

  208. Reginald Selkirk says

    Perry, Iowa school shooting update

    Police said six people were shot at the high school early Thursday morning, one of whom was a sixth grade student who died.

    The suspect, 17-year-old Perry High School student Dylan Butler, killed himself on the school grounds. Police said they found an IED in the school and the suspect was armed with pump action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun.

    Five students and an administrator also were shot and survived. Police did not identify the victims but the Register has confirmed Principal Dan Marburger as one of the victims…

  209. Reginald Selkirk says

    President of Belarus gives himself immunity from prosecution and limits potential challengers

    President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus signed a new law Thursday that gives him lifelong immunity from criminal prosecution and prevents opposition leaders living abroad from running in future presidential elections.

    The law theoretically applies to any former president and members of his or her family. In reality, it only is relevant to the 69-year-old Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for almost 30 years.

    The new measure appears aimed at further shoring up Lukashenko’s power and eliminating potential challengers in the country’s next presidential election, which is due to take place in 2025.

    The law significantly tightens requirements for presidential candidates and makes it impossible to elect opposition leaders who fled to neighboring countries in recent years. Only citizens of Belarus who have permanently resided in the country for at least 20 years and have never had a residence permit in another country are eligible to run…

  210. Reginald Selkirk says

    Asbury Park man accused of raping cat loses bid to avoid prosecution; he plans to appeal

    Prosecutors have rejected an Asbury Park man’s bid to avoid criminal prosecution on charges he repeatedly raped, tortured and killed his pet cat, but the defendant’s attorney says he will appeal the decision to a Superior Court judge.

    Bani J. Mezquititla, 19, appeared before Superior Court Judge Chad N. Cagan Wednesday to hear the decision on his application to enter the court’s pretrial intervention (PTI) program, a diversionary program which affords first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid a trial and criminal record upon successfully completing a period of supervision.

    Keri-Leigh Schaefer, assistant Monmouth County prosecutor, told the judge the prosecutor’s investigator recommended against allowing Mezquititla into the program.

    “The state agreed and rejected the defendant from the PTI program,” Schaefer said.

    Mezquititla’s attorney, William Wackowski, told the judge he plans to file an appeal of the rejection…

  211. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russian Electronic Warfare base in Kaliningrad disrupts GPS signals over several European countries

    The Electronic Warfare (EW) base in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea disrupts GPS signals over several European countries, as theorized by OSINT researcher Markus Johnson.

    “I think I found the location of the Baltic Jammer. In Kaliningrad, Russia. Since Dec 15 aircrafts have suffered from navigation errors over south Baltic Sea, on and off. By plotting an assumed max jamming-range for each bad position there is one area standing out: Kaliningrad.” he wrote on X (Twitter) on Jan. 3…

  212. says

    NBC News:

    Government buildings across the South received bomb threats on Thursday — the second consecutive day that such warnings prompted serious security measures at government facilities.

  213. says

    NBC News:

    The Biden administration is providing $162 million to Microchip Technology to support the domestic production of computer chips — the second funding announcement tied to a 2022 law designed to revive U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.

  214. says

    New York Times:

    Federal labor officials accused the rocket company SpaceX on Wednesday of illegally firing eight employees for circulating a letter critical of the company’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk. According to a complaint issued by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, the company fired the employees in 2022 for calling on SpaceX to distance itself from social media comments by Mr. Musk, including one in which he mocked sexual harassment accusations against him.

  215. says

    Politico:

    Nearly 17,000 people may have died after taking hydroxychloroquine during the first wave of COVID, according to a study by French researchers.

  216. says

    Keeping up with vaccinations greatly decreases chance of long COVID

    The United States is experiencing a surge in new cases of COVID-19. By some metrics, this is the biggest increase in new cases in over a year and one that is threatening to strain hospital capacity. In late December, hospital admissions for COVID-19 exceeded 29,000 a week and deaths were up 10% week over week. The rise in cases, as well as rises in cases of flu and RSV, has caused some health care facilities to reinstitute mask mandates.

    And all these new infections are sure to result in new cases of long COVID. Estimates of how many Americans have suffered from long COVID vary wildly, from 7.5% to 41% among nonhospitalized adults. And even relatively minor initial cases can result in lasting disease, which can severely affect even healthy, young people for months or years.

    With all of this bad news, there is some very good news. A new series of studies and meta-analyses have concluded that there is one thing everyone can do to greatly reduce the chances of getting long COVID: Keep up with the latest vaccines.

    Public health analyst Dr. Lucky Tran estimates that this spike will peak in the next week at an astounding 2 million infections a day, and by the time it is done, nearly a third of Americans will have contracted COVID-19 either for the first time or as a repeat infection.

    This is a very good time to wear a mask in public. And yes, masks work.

    When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, many people expected the one-and-done, nearly perfect protection of many childhood vaccines. However, that isn’t the case. Not only does the protection afforded by existing COVID-19 vaccines wane over a few months, they are better at protecting people from developing severe symptoms than they are at preventing an initial infection. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination and then testing positive within a few weeks is a disheartening experience, one that might understandably lead to a reluctance to keep current with newer vaccines.

    However, as Scientific American reports, those who have had multiple COVID-19 vaccines have an enormous benefit when it comes to preventing long COVID. One analysis looked at the long-term health of 775,931 people across 32 studies and concluded that those who had two vaccine doses reduced their chances of long COVID by 36.9%. Those who had three doses, though, saw a reduction of 68.7%. Cutting the chances of what could be a long-term, life-altering disease by another third is well worth going back for an extra jab.

    This result contradicts earlier studies that gave a smaller benefit to vaccines when it came to long COVID. However, those studies were done with smaller numbers of people over a shorter period. Vaccines now seem to be much more potent when it comes to blocking long-term disease.

    A second study in The BMJ backs up these latest results. In a study involving 589,722 people in Sweden, those who had a single vaccination were 21% less likely than the unvaccinated to develop long COVID. Two doses brought this to 59%. Three or more doses reduced the chances of long COVID by a whopping 73%.

    It’s worth noting that multiple infections do not have the same protective effect. According to a recent study, each new COVID-19 infection increases the chance of developing long COVID. And each new infection increases the chance of serious, long-term illness including kidney disease, diabetes, and mental health issues.

    “This dispels the myth that repeated brushes with the virus are mild and you don’t have to worry about it,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh. “It is akin to playing Russian roulette.”

    With many Americans already experiencing multiple COVID-19 infections, and each infection increasing the chances of long COVID, the vaccine studies come as very good news. However, according to the CDC as of early November, only 14% of American adults have received an updated shot, which has been available since last summer.

    That’s millions of unnecessary cases of long COVID that could have been prevented by vaccines. By using masks in public places and keeping current with available vaccines, the chance of long COVID can be massively reduced. New vaccines are on the horizon, but no one should be ignoring the protection available right now.

    Otherwise, the barrel of Russian roulette just keeps spinning. And that’s not a game anyone wins over the long run.

  217. Reginald Selkirk says

    Illinois joins growing list of states to challenge Trump’s eligibility for 2024 election

    Illinois is now among the growing list of states in which former President Donald Trump will have to fight to have his name appear on the 2024 election ballots.

    A group of five voters filed a joint objection to Trump’s candidacy Thursday, arguing that Trump should be disqualified under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits anyone who took part in an insurrection against the United States from holding federal office…

  218. John Morales says

    Birger, who the hell would use YouTube (especially their super ripoff shorts copy of TikTok) for anything like that?

    Anyway,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_monarchs_of_the_British_Isles_by_cause_of_death#Murdered,_assassinated,_executed_or_euthanised

    BTW, I will never, ever, on principle ever again ever check out those fucking YouTube “shorts”.

    Can’t resize them, can’t pause them, can’t speed them up… but I can avoid them like the plague.

    (Bah. Fucking YouTube “shorts”)

  219. John Morales says

    So, was thinking about Kings Monarchs and this business of “punching up/punching down”.

    As I understand it, what is meant by that is the result of some sort of value judgement that holds that people are not supposed to mock those who are lower on the status totem tree (socioeconomic/cultural milieu, call it what you will) — if so, it follows that the opportunity to “punch up” is inversely proportional to one’s status.

    So, a low status person can be pretty safe at mocking anyone else, whereas a high status person has a rather limited set of targets for their mockery. So, by the time someone is famous and popular, there aren’t many targets for it. Multimillionaires and billionaires and heads of state, I suppose.

    Seems rather silly to me, but hey. Each to their own.

    Also, the very term ‘monarch’ literally means ‘single ruler’, so that the current enfeebled “monarchs” of the UK are hardly meriting the term, since they hardly go “off with his head” much these days.

    (I notice these things, they mildly amuse me)

  220. John Morales says

    Oh, right, Birger.

    Who Was The Last British Monarch To Be Murdered?

    I dunno, depends on one’s definitions.
    I suppose that the only way to find out what whoever put that fucking “short” on YouTube thinks is the The Last British Monarch To Be Murdered is to click on it.

    Fuck that. I’ll have to miss out on their opinion.

    Note that is a classic case of what is called “clickbait” — wanna know what the answer is supposed to be?
    Well, click on it!

    Bah.

  221. John Morales says

    I mean, why not put a video titles [XXX] Was The Last British Monarch To Be Murdered?

    Oh, right. Not clickbaity enough. Why would anyone click on it, when the answer is in the title?

  222. KG says

    Also, the very term ‘monarch’ literally means ‘single ruler’, so that the current enfeebled “monarchs” of the UK are hardly meriting the term, since they hardly go “off with his head” much these days. John Morales@334

    Well, when did any of them last try it? Her late majesty Elizabeth Windsor might at least have made the attempt with reference to “Boris” Johnson after he pressured her into illegally proroguing parliament!

  223. John Morales says

    I reckon they still have soft power, potential power, popular power.

    As I understand it, (UK monarchs, certainly QE2, probably Chuck3) have the (uncodified) ultimate reserve power to override Parliament or any other body and do things like stop/start wars and whatnot, but it’s probably a one-off thingie that’s hitherto been held in reserve. And QE2 was masterful about it, though there are hints she, um, sometimes “guided” policy from the background. Chuck is not quite as subtle, but born and bred and trained to the role, is still no slouch about it.

    Not a bad arrangement; they don’t have to cop any blame for the decisions of the government of the day.

  224. Reginald Selkirk says

    @334
    So, a low status person can be pretty safe at mocking anyone else, whereas a high status person has a rather limited set of targets for their mockery. So, by the time someone is famous and popular, there aren’t many targets for it.

    It sounds like to you, the motivation for becoming high status would be so that you can mock people.
    Which, frankly, fits your brand.

  225. Reginald Selkirk says

    RIP: Software design pioneer and Pascal creator Niklaus Wirth

    Obit Swiss computer scientist Professor Niklaus Wirth died on New Year’s Day, roughly six weeks before what would have been his 90th birthday.

    Wirth is justly celebrated as the creator of the Pascal programming language, but that was only one step in a series of important languages and research projects. Both asteroid 21655 and a law of computer design are named after him. He won computer-science boffinry’s highest possible gong, the Turing Award, in 1984, and that page has some short English-language clips from a 2018 interview…

  226. Reginald Selkirk says

    Neptune and Uranus seen in true colours for first time

    Our ideas of the colours of the planets Neptune and Uranus have been wrong, research led by UK astronomers reveals.

    Images from a space mission in the 1980s showed Neptune to be a rich blue and Uranus green.

    But a study has discovered that the two ice giant planets are both similar shades of greenish blue.

    It has emerged that the earlier images of Neptune had been enhanced to show details of the planet’s atmosphere, which altered its true colour…

  227. Reginald Selkirk says

    Indian navy boards ship attacked by pirates off Somali coast

    Indian navy commandos have boarded a ship which was hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast, officials say.

    They are combing the vessel after warning the pirates to leave, a statement said.

    The 15 Indian crew members on board are said to be unharmed.

    They sent a distress call to a UK marine agency, saying that “five to six unauthorised armed persons” had boarded the ship east of the Somali port town of Eyl on Thursday evening…

  228. Reginald Selkirk says

    December jobs report: US economy adds 216,000 jobs, shocking Wall Street

    The US economy ended 2023 on a high note.

    The labor market added 216,000 jobs in the month of December, up from 173,000 the previous month, surprising Wall Street once again to close out 2023. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 175,000.

    Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Friday showed the unemployment rate was 3.7% for the month, flat from the rate seen in November. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to tick higher to 3.8%…

  229. Paul K says

    Reginald Selkirk @341: That’s odd, because, as I recall it, I’ve always known that that famous image of Neptune was enhanced. I never knew just how, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in its original colors, but I was a young person when the image was released, and had followed NASA and all its releases for all my life. I even wrote to them and got their printed 8 x 10 prints of that and other images (free at the time, even the shipping cost). I think that’s where my ‘knowledge’ about its enhancement comes from. But I’m not so young anymore, and that’s why knowledge is in quotes. My memory could be faulty.

  230. Reginald Selkirk says

    DARPA’s air-steered X-65 jet heads into production with goal of flying by 2025

    The latest experimental DARPA aircraft, which is designed to maneuver without the need for moving parts, is headed to the manufacturing stage and could be flying as soon as next year.

    The X-65 is being built by Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, who scored a contract with the Defense Department last year as part of the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program.

    The key technology being explored as part of CRANE is known as active flow control (AFC), which relies on directed jets of pressurized air to steer the aircraft instead of flaps and rudders…

  231. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Unprofessional”: Experts blast Trump lawyer for saying Brett Kavanaugh “quid pro quo part out loud”

    Trump attorney Alina Habba on Thursday suggested that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would “step up” and rule in favor of the former president because he “fought for” him.

    Trump on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Colorado Supreme Court ruling barring him from the presidential primary ballot under the Constitution’s “insurrectionist” clause…

  232. says

    The Detroit News has obtained internal campaign emails pointing to the Trump campaign’s direct role in orchestrating the fake electors plot in Michigan.

    Around this time three years ago, Republicans in seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — hatched what became known as the “fake electors” scheme. As it turns out, we’re still, even now, learning more about how plot unfolded.

    To briefly recap, as part of the gambit, GOP operatives created forged election materials, pretending to be “duly elected and qualified electors,” and sent the documents to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the fraudulent materials were legitimate. They were not.

    In terms of accountability, prosecutors have already filed criminal charges against many of the fake electors in several states, and with investigations ongoing, that list might yet grow.

    But as the process advances, just as notable are the related revelations about how the scheme came together. As we’ve discussed, this was not a freelance operation. It’d be a different kind of story if assorted Trump fans coincidentally engaged in a live-action-role-playing fantasy, simultaneously and independently coming up with the idea of creating fraudulent election materials as keepsakes.

    That’s clearly not what happened. The Detroit News reported overnight on internal campaign emails pointing to the Trump campaign’s direct role in orchestrating the plot.

    The documents, which have become part of Attorney General Dana Nessel’s ongoing investigation into the slate of false electors, showed that Trump’s campaign staff helped coordinate the Republicans’ gathering inside state party headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020. Then, Trump’s team prepared the official mailing of the false certificate to Vice President Mike Pence and the National Archives, according to the emails.

    The same emails confirmed that when local Republicans were uncertain about whether their forged materials would make it to Capitol Hill ahead of Congress’ Jan. 6 meeting, it was Trump campaign employees who helped “develop and execute a plan to fly the certificates there themselves.”

    Stepping back, it’s worth recognizing the importance of Kenneth Chesebro, the attorney who helped take the lead on the fake electors scheme in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat. In October, Chesebro pleaded guilty in the Georgia election interference case, and soon after, The New York Times reported on Chesebro’s central role as a witness against the GOP operatives who participated in the plot he helped create.

    Around the same time, CNN reported on Chesebro cooperating with the probe in Michigan, and we’re now starting to get a better sense of the results of his collaboration.

    The Detroit News’ article, based on emails that have not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, added:

    The internal Trump campaign emails indicate that it was Trump campaign employees, not the electors, who presented the false document to federal government agencies. And in court last month, multiple Michigan Republican officials linked the Trump campaign to the organization and execution of the false electors’ scheme. Asked why it appeared those who coordinated the false electors plan hadn’t been charged by the Attorney General’s office, Nessel spokesman Danny Wimmer said the investigation remains “active and ongoing.”

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

  233. says

    Reginald @348, now that those doofuses have said the quiet part out loud, maybe Justice Kavanaugh will think twice and will not “step up” to do Trump’s bidding.

    In addition to one of Trump’s lawyers making that stupid public comment, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said something similar in 2018:

    In October 2018, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared at a forum and reflected on what might happen if congressional Democrats pursued Donald Trump’s tax returns after the year’s midterm elections.

    “Then [Democrats will] be trapped into appealing to the Supreme Court,” Gingrich said, “and we’ll see whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it.”

    There were audible gasps in the room when the Georgia Republican made the comments, and for good reason. Gingrich was suggesting that Trump and his team expected the Republican’s justices — including Brett Kavanaugh, who’d been confirmed a few weeks earlier — to help shield him from accountability.

    More than five years later, the comments came to mind watching a member of Trump’s legal team make a related assessment on Fox News. HuffPost reported:

    Donald Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, discussed her hopes on Thursday that the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the former president’s favor after recent decisions that booted him from state GOP primary ballots this year, suggesting that a justice whom Trump “fought for” might “step up.”

    […] “I think it should be a slam dunk in the Supreme Court. I have faith in them,” she said. “You know, people like Kavanaugh, who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place. He’ll step up, those people will step up.” […]

    Link

    So, yeah. Team Trump has been thinking like that all along. Years of thinking that people Trump chose for the high court are now indebted to him.

  234. says

    GOP House seems hell-bent on forcing a government shutdown

    […] House Republicans who have become intent on tying government funding to the draconian anti-immigration legislation they passed last year, a bill that’s a complete non-starter with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the White House. Senate Republicans started this, intent on holding Ukraine aid hostage to immigration. Now a group of House Republicans—predictably the Freedom Caucus—is going one further and vowing to hold everything hostage to their bill.

    […] even if they come to an agreement on a CR to keep the government doors open, not passing those funding bills means cuts. That’s because the debt ceiling deal President Joe Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to last May built in those cuts as an incentive for Congress to do its job. That means a 10% across-the-board cut to all non-defense spending, to the tune of $73 billion. Those cuts were supposed to be applied to defense spending too, which was the stick that was meant to get Republicans on board. But subsequent CRs superseded the debt ceiling agreement, the end result being an extra $25 billion for defense.

    What’s at risk in all of this is the future of Ukraine, first and foremost. Continued U.S. support in its war against the Russian invaders is essential for military operations and for stopping further Russian aggression. Even Johnson has admitted that much. “[W]e can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there, and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan,” Johnson said in an interview last fall.

    Beyond that, there are those massive cuts to domestic programs. Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Appropriations Committee, warned last month of “absolutely devastating, across-the-board cuts on virtually all domestic programs … Let’s be clear about the damage here: immediate hiring freezes and furloughs at just about every agency.” On top of that, she warned about drastic cuts to programs for young families and federal housing assistance cuts for 700,000 households.

    “Consider what kind of precedent it sets, if now—months after a spending agreement was negotiated and passed into law, three months into the current fiscal year—House Republicans want to pull the rug out from the rest of us, and go back on their word and the deal that they cut,” Murray said.

    That’s exactly what the House Republicans seem intent on doing while not caring at all that they’re breaking everything along the way, including precedent.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    1) Crash the economy, sow domestic and international chaos.

    2) Blame Biden.
    —————————-
    they know they can count on using 1500 radio stations, invisible to democrats and media and unidentified by pollsters, as usual, to convince half the country it’s the democrats’ and biden’s fault
    —————————–
    Biden can take the Russian money frozen in the banking system and give it to Ukraine. Around $300 billion I beleive.
    —————————-
    By attacking Ukraine Russia violated all international laws. They forfeited their right to that money and it is only fitting it be used against them.
    ——————————-
    Democrats should namecheck some of the “reasonable” Republicans and ask out loud why they want to collapse the US Government and watch Russia and China take over from the United States?
    —————————–
    what we have is a Christo-fascist white nationalist party in control of the House and in control of many state governments; not a recipe for a stable, peaceful society.
    —————————–
    They are willing to cause suffering for power.
    —————————-
    Good lord the Republicans try this every chance they get and literally every time they shut down the government they get blamed. Every time. And most times they end up getting less than if they’d simply negotiated like adults.
    ——————————
    The politicians running the House today are extremists, radicals who are pretending to be rational public officials. They have big plans to sieze total power and they’ll stop at nothing to get their way. And they know that 80% of Americans aren’t paying attention to the danger they pose.
    ——————————-
    in a direct affront to their duty to serve the American people, some GQP said they are opposed to anything that would make Biden look good, in other words, anything that might help his reelection
    ——————————–
    Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel understood that Defendant Donnie and his adherents do not believe in the European order that was constructed after WWII. She and other European leaders saw that the U.S., largely by the efforts of Republicans, was becoming less reliable. If what I read in German media is accurate, Germans certainly look upon the U.S. as less reliable and their conclusion is that Germany should act accordingly.

  235. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Advocates collect enough voter signatures to put abortion rights on Florida ballot
    By Lori Rozsa / January 5, 2024

    Advocates for a proposed state constitutional amendment to codify abortion rights in Florida have collected enough signatures to put the issue on the 2024 ballot.

    Floridians Protecting Freedom, the umbrella group that helped to coordinate the signature collection effort across the state, said it has collected more than 1 million petitions for the amendment — far more than the 891,523 needed. The Florida Division of Elections website on Friday reported that 910,946 of those petitions so far have been verified.

    The proposal still faces challenges, including an upcoming ruling by the conservative state Supreme Court over the language on the proposed amendment, which is titled “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion.”

    Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the court to review the language of the proposal, which she said will confuse and mislead voters. The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Feb. 7.

    But backers of the amendment celebrated surpassing the signature milestone on Friday, noting how relatively quickly they were able to generate support for the issue. Advocates beat the deadline to get the measure on the ballot in November by a month.

    Groups including Planned Parenthood, ACLU Florida and the League of Women Voters in Florida launched the ballot initiative almost immediately after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a six-week abortion ban in April.
    […]

    The six-week ban has not been implemented because of a lawsuit in state court. Florida’s existing law allows abortions for up to 15 weeks of pregnancy, a time period in which the vast majority of abortions take place.

  236. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lauren Boebert claims she’s ‘protecting my voters’ by abandoning them for a safer district — but Colorado GOP officials are still stewing about her carpetbagging

    Short form: She is certain to lose in her old district, so by “protecting her voters” she means improving their odds of getting another Republican to replace her, instead of her Democratic opponent. I don’t know who is going to step in as a Republican replacement candidate.

    If the best thing she can do for her people is to go away, well…

  237. Reginald Selkirk says

    Church of Scientology is a ‘criminal enterprise’ that should face Mafia-like RICO charges: lawsuit

    The Church of Scientology is a “criminal enterprise” that uses celebrities, like actor Danny Masterson, to advance Mafia-like racketeering, a recently filed lawsuit alleges.

    “Many of Scientology’s criminal enterprise’s money-making schemes are criminal in nature,” the lawsuit alleges. “It routinely and systematically engages in fraud, human trafficking, identity theft and money laundering to fill its coffers and enrich its leadership.”

    To protect high-profile members, Scientology leaders allegedly retaliate against outspoken victims or witnesses with threats, extortion, identity theft, arson and different types of fraud, according to the complaint.

    The Church of Scientology called the lawsuit’s allegations against the church and its leadership “outrageous” in an emailed statement to Fox News Digital and said they are “complete fabrications.” …

  238. says

    Fox News:

    Longtime National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre announced his resignation Friday […]

    LaPierre cited health reasons for his resignation.

  239. says

    New York Times:

    The Food and Drug Administration has allowed Florida to import millions of dollars’ worth of medications from Canada at far lower prices than in the United States, overriding fierce decades-long objections from the pharmaceutical industry.

    The approval, issued in a letter to Florida Friday, is a major policy shift for the United States, and supporters hope it will be a significant step forward in the long and largely unsuccessful effort to rein in drug prices. Individuals in the United States are allowed to buy directly from Canadian pharmacies, but states have long wanted to be able to purchase medicines in bulk for their Medicaid programs, government clinics and prisons from Canadian wholesalers.

    Florida has estimated that it could save up to $150 million in its first year of the program, importing medicines that treat H.I.V., AIDS, diabetes, hepatitis C and psychiatric conditions. Other states have applied to the F.D.A. to set up similar programs.

    But significant hurdles remain. Some drug manufacturers have agreements with Canadian wholesalers not to export their medicines, and the Canadian government has already taken steps to block the export of prescription drugs that are in short supply. […]

  240. says

    Politico:

    A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Jan. 6 defendants can be found culpable of ‘disorderly’ or ‘disruptive’ conduct inside the Capitol even if they weren’t personally violent or destructive. The decision is a victory for the Justice Department in cases against hundreds of defendants charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly and disruptive conduct, one of the staple charges that has been applied to nearly every member of the mob that entered the halls of Congress.

    That sounds right to me. They contributed to disorder and were disruptive just by being in the building when they were not supposed to be there.

  241. says

    New York Times:

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is returning to the Middle East this week with the goals of getting Israel to curtail attacks that are killing thousands of Palestinian civilians and preventing the war from spreading across the region.

    But previously unreported details of a clash between Mr. Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel point to the challenges ahead.

    During a private meeting in November, Mr. Blinken told Mr. Netanyahu that the Israelis would have to agree to a series of pauses in the fighting in Gaza to let more aid flow into the war zone and to allow civilians to leave areas under attack.

    Mr. Netanyahu refused, U.S. officials said on the condition of anonymity to describe the private conversation in Jerusalem. Mr. Blinken then said he would announce the Biden administration’s demand in a news conference, which prompted Mr. Netanyahu to scramble to pre-empt him by issuing a defiant statement by video. “I told him, ‘We swore and I swore to eliminate Hamas,’” Mr. Netanyahu said. “Nothing will stop us.”
    The Israeli military started doing pauses of about four hours at a time in a few areas within days of the diplomatic clash, despite Mr. Netanyahu’s bluster.

    That episode on Nov. 3 brings into sharp relief the evolving relationship between the United States and its most important partner in the Middle East, a relationship that President Biden has charged Mr. Blinken with shepherding during a spiraling crisis.

    Since the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, Mr. Biden has strongly supported Israel’s war in Gaza, in which the Israeli military, armed with American weapons, has killed more than 22,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

    But as Mr. Blinken flies into the Middle East for the fourth time since October, Mr. Biden and his aides are increasingly struggling with their Israeli counterparts over a range of critical issues, including the need to lessen civilian casualties, the risks of a wider regional war and the shape of a post-conflict Gaza.

    Those disagreements are likely to continue when Mr. Blinken arrives in Israel amid a marathon of stops over a week: Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He also plans to visit the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Blinken landed in Istanbul on Friday night and is scheduled to meet with senior officials there on Saturday. […]

  242. birgerjohansson says

    David Soul, known as Hutch in Starsky and Hutch has died.
    And with him, another part of my youth dies.

  243. says

    Washington Post:

    Federal law enforcement recorded a ‘deeply disturbing spike’ in threats against government workers and public servants in recent months, Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters Friday.

    This week alone, officials are investigating bomb threats that forced evacuations at several courthouses and state capitols across the country. The attorney general said federal officials also arrested and charged a man for threatening to kill a congressman and his children. [The threats targeted Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell.]

    “This is just a small snapshot of a larger trend that has included threats of violence against those who administer elections, ensure our safe travel, teach our children, report the news, represent their constituents and keep our communities safe,” Garland said. “These threats of violence are unacceptable. They threaten our fabric of democracy.”

    […] While threats are increasing, Garland said, homicide numbers across the country have declined. From 2021 to 2022, homicides dropped 6 percent. The attorney general also cited numbers from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which reported a “double-digit decrease” in murders in 69 major cities between much of 2022 and 2023.

    Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told reporters Friday that officials in Baltimore said homicides had dropped by more than 20 percent this past year. And Detroit recorded the fewest homicides last year since 1966 — along with double-digit reductions in shootings and carjackings, city officials said. […]

    Link

  244. says

    Associated Press:

    More than 500 gun purchases have been blocked since a new gun law requiring stricter background checks for young people went into effect in 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday, the day after a school shooting in Iowa left a sixth-grader dead. […]

  245. says

    While most of the GOP presidential candidates are focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, Donald Trump is going after E. Jean Carroll — in deeply creepy ways.

    Common sense suggests Donald Trump would want to stop talking about E. Jean Carroll. It was, after all, just last year when the writer won a civil case against the former president: A jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll, and jurors awarded the writer $5 million in damages for her battery and defamation claims.

    The jury did not find the defendant liable for rape, though a judge later concluded that the former president, for all intents and purposes, “‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”

    This was not, however, the final word on the subject. As NBC News reported, Trump is still facing a second defamation trial, stemming from comments he made about Carroll in 2019. The former president and his lawyers have tried to delay that case, and to date, they’ve failed. The result is a trial that’s poised to begin in a couple of weeks.

    The developments appear to have taken a toll on Trump. The New Republic noted:

    Over the span of about 30 minutes Thursday morning, Trump made 31 posts about Carroll on Truth Social. Although he didn’t say anything himself, he shared stories from conservative outlets attacking her and comments from internet users calling her “creepy.” He also shared media interview clips and social media posts that appear to come from Carroll, all stripped of context so as to paint her as some sort of sexual deviant.

    To be sure, it was unsettling to see the former president use his social media platform to go after Carroll so furiously over the course of 28 minutes. (The tirade began at 10:45 a.m. eastern, and wrapped up at 11:13 a.m. eastern.)

    But then Trump did it again about nine hours later, publishing 40 additional items to his online platform. Most featured this text: “Except for a Fraudulent Case against me, I had no idea who E. Jean Carroll was. She called her African American Husband an ‘ape,’ and named her Cat ‘Vagina.’ Look at her Tweets, Stories, and the CNN Interview about her. The Judge on the Case is another Highly Partisan Clinton-Appointed Friend. He should have recused himself long ago!”

    Trump published this exact same message, word for word, over and over and over and over and over and over again for nearly hour.

    […] Trump is apparently confident he can publish 71 items online about Carroll over the course of two tantrums and succeed anyway […]

  246. says

    Trump super-lawyer Alina Habba was on some wingnut podcast or other on Thursday, […] and she managed for once in her miserable career representing former President Oompa Loompa to say something vaguely honest.

    One of the hosts of the PBD Podcast asked Habba if Trump had hired her because she’s hot. (Obviously the answer is “Yes” because Trump is famous for hiring people based on their looks.)

    After some babbling about how yes, she doesn’t mind using her looks to get attention, Habba added:

    “Somebody said to me, ‘Alina would you rather be smart or pretty,’ and I said, ‘Oh easy, pretty. I can fake being smart.’”

    Okay! When does she plan on starting to fake being smart? Because she does a lot of dumb stuff that leaves even halfway competent lawyers scratching their heads.

    For instance, just a few hours after she recorded that podcast, Habba was on national TV telling the Supreme Court to honor an implicit quid pro quo with her client.

    Habba was appearing on Sean Hannity’s show to discuss the recent ruling by Colorado’s supreme court that Trump should be left off the upcoming GOP primary ballot due to having done an insurrection, which the Constitution pretty clearly says is a no-no for officeholders. Trump has appealed to SCOTUS, but he’s reportedly nervous that the Court will rule against him.

    Habba, however, has quite the solution — she called out SCOTUS, specifically Justice Barf O’Kavanaugh, and more or less said hey, Spanky, you owe Mr. Trump one:

    “You know people like Kavanaugh ― who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place ― he’ll step up,” she said. “Those people will step up. Not because they’re pro-Trump but because they’re pro-law. Because they’re pro-fairness, and the law on this is very clear.”

    Hear that, Mr. I Like Beer? Trump defended your whiny ass to make your career goal of reaching the Supreme Court happen, and now it’s time to return the favor, lest you wake up one morning and find a bloodied six-iron in your bed.

    In the wake of the Dobbs leak, it’s neat that everyone apparently thinks they can lean on Supreme Court justices to get what they want […] Really helping with the Supreme Court’s whole credibility problem at a time when only something like a little over a third of the country thinks its decisions are on the up-and-up.

    This was not the first time Habba has tried to fake being smart, only to trip over herself and land on her attractive-but-dumb ass.

    There was the time very recently when Habba got sued for allegedly pretending to be representing a Trump Bedminster employee suing the club for sexual harassment. The employee claims now that Habba was secretly representing Trump and trying to steer her into a cheap settlement. This is what is known in legal circles as “being so unethical and corrupt that even Saul Goodman would be appalled.” [Yikes! That’s bad.]

    There was also the time she went on TV to snarl that the Department of Justice was unfairly charging Trump with the “mundane” crime of “espionage.”

    Then there was the very fun time when Trump could not have a jury hear his civil fraud trial in New York because his incredibly smart lawyer Alina Habba forgot to check a box on a form requesting one.

    There was the nuisance RICO suit where Trump sued like half of America for claiming he had colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, just because multiple government investigations found that he colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. A judge dismissed that suit — out of a cannon into the sun — before fining Habba and her client a million dollars for abusing the court system by filing frivolous lawsuits. Not that that has stopped them, of course.

    Seriously, the woman has not only lost just about every legal action she’s brought on Trump’s behalf the last three years, but she has had multiple judges in multiple jurisdictions absolutely eviscerate her arguments for being really, really, really fucking stupid.

    In summation, Alina Habba is not faking the whole stupidity thing.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/trump-lawyer-alina-habba-thankful

  247. says

    What would you do with 8.5 trillion dollars? Well, if you are the 64,000 or so Americans worth $100 million or more, you would pretty much just sit on it, take loans out on it, and then pass it down to your children when you die. Oh, and you wouldn’t pay taxes on it, because taxes are for poor people.

    An analysis released this week by Americans for Tax Fairness found that hundred-millionaires are hoarding, collectively, $8.5 trillion dollars in unrealized capital gains that are not being taxed and, most likely, never will be taxed.

    Here’s how the scam works: The ultra-rich are, for the most part, not living off of regular, taxed income the way the rest of us are. They are living on loans taken out on their capital gains, which cannot be taxed until they are realized (you know, sold). Then, when the ultra-rich die, they pass their unsold stocks on to their children, and … well let’s outsource this to Investopedia:

    In terms of taxes, the cost basis of inherited stock is the value at the time of the original owner’s death, not the value when the stock was originally purchased. [So none of the original gains are taxed, ever.] The person inheriting the stock only owes taxes on the change in stock price between when it was inherited and when it was sold.

    Now we’re all clear on the grift. Let’s keep going.

    Via Americans For Tax Fairness:

    These ultra-wealthy individuals can even use their untaxed gains to make big corporate purchases, such as when Elon Musk financed his acquisition of Twitter in large part through loans taken out against the rising value of his Tesla stock. The interest they pay on these loans is a fraction of what they would pay in taxes on the same amount of income. There’s even a clever name for this tax-dodging strategy: “Buy, Borrow, Die”.

    Because of this alternate method of tapping the economic benefit of increasing asset values, the great bulk of capital gains is never realized. Between 1989 (when the Fed began collecting such data) and 2022, $19.5 trillion of capital gains were realized, yielding $3.4 trillion of federal tax revenue. That works out to an effective tax rate of 17.5%. (Another special break for the wealthy is that capital gains are taxed at lower rates than wage income.) Over that same period, $48 trillion of unrealized capital gains was also accumulated. If the unrealized gains are added to the realized ones, the rate paid on all gains drops to just 5%. In 2022, billionaires and centi-millionaires only realized, and thus only paid taxes on, $316 billion of capital gains–which is less than 4% of their $8.5 trillion in unrealized capital gains.

    This is tax evasion, sure — but at a more basic level, it’s theft. These people benefit from taxes that the rest of us have to pay without paying their own fair share.

    The fact is, no one becomes a billionaire or even a centimillionaire entirely on their own. Not only do they need our labor and our money to buy whatever it is they are selling, they need our taxes to pay for the roads on which they transport goods, to pay to educate the workforce necessary for them to have whatever business they have or invest in whatever business they invest in, to pay for a police force that largely functions to protect their wealth, and, very frequently, to make up the difference between what they feel like paying their employees and the bare minimum those employees actually need just to function well enough to do their jobs.

    Thankfully, Democrats from Congress to the White House are pushing to reform this obviously broken system.

    President Biden and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) have each proposed reforms that would annually tax the unrealized gains of the nation’s wealthiest households. President Biden’s plan has been introduced in the House by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Beyer (D-VA) with 60 cosponsors and Chairman Wyden’s plan has been introduced in the Senate with 15 cosponsors. Both plans would raise hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue exclusively from the nation’s very richest households, revenue that could be used to lower costs and improve services for the rest of America.

    Massachusetts did this. What was supposed to raise a billion dollars raised $1.5 billion instead. And now all the children will eat.

    Taxing the ultra-wealthy makes it more possible for regular Americans to increase their own wealth, because these are things that will benefit us all. Take something simple, like public transportation — you take some tax money, invest in public transportation services, you make it so people are more able to get around, go places, spend money and, if they choose not to have a car, more disposable income to spend at the places they go to (better for the environment, too!).

    And no one benefits more from the money that goes to taxes than the rich. Even the tax money that goes to help the poor also helps the rich because, as mentioned, they frequently don’t want to have to pay their workers the amount that would be necessary to cover rent, food, utilities, healthcare, transportation and the cost of a phone. They also (as we all do) heavily rely on the labor of those not making enough to live on for their own survival and well-being. Never, ever forget who the “essential workers” were during the pandemic.

    This is something to keep in mind when the terror of “But what if all the wealthy industrialists decide they are done with being taxed and run away to Galt’s Gulch?” sets in. Or when you see the tears welling up in the eyes of billionaires and temporarily embarrassed billionaires as they cry, “But why do you want to punish success?!?”

    The fact is, we can survive just fine without the megarich (and would likely be better off) … but without us? It would be mighty hard for them to maintain the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. Thus, it is not unreasonable to expect them to pay their fair share, even if they really, really, really don’t wanna.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/americas-billionaires-are-hoarding

  248. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine just got a new Western air-defense system meant to wipe out Russian drones by firing 1,000 rounds per minute

    Ukraine has just received a new Western air-defense system designed to wipe out Russian drones by firing 1,000 bullets a minute.

    The German federal government announced the delivery of the German-made air-defense system, Oerlikon Skynex, on Thursday as part of its latest aid package to Ukraine.

    The system is designed to defend against aircraft, cruise missiles, and certain types of drones, among other things…

  249. John Morales says

    Reginald @339:

    It sounds like to you, the motivation for becoming high status would be so that you can mock people.

    Seriously? That’s quite informative about your own views.

    Actually, worrying about status when mocking is for other people.

    (Also, I note you don’t even try to dispute what I wrote

  250. Jean says

    Re #358

    If Canada has lower drug prices it’s because we have socialized healthcare and the government negotiates with pharmaceuticals to get the best possible prices. That means that Canadian tax payers are partially subsidizing that $150 million Florida will save. Hopefully the restrictions will be strong enough to not cause shortages here because that hasn’t always be the case.

    Also, Florida (and the rest of the US) should vote for people who will prioritize peoples health over big pharma profits (and not only republicans are to blame for that) instead of relying on outsider making better choices.

  251. says

    President Biden kicks off reelection campaign from Valley Forge

    […] speaking near the site where George Washington and the Continental Army weathered the brutal winter of 1777-1778. At this location, where disparate state and local militias were welded together into a single fighting force, Biden argued that Americans need to join in the defense of democracy against a rising tide of authoritarian forces seeking to dismantle the grand experiment that began almost 250 years ago.

    Biden’s opening salvo of the 2024 campaign is based on the fight for democracy, freedom, and battling extremism. Donald Trump’s efforts to drag the country into an authoritarian dictatorship are at the center of Biden’s campaign over the next 11 months. [video at the link]

    […] A sitting U.S. president had to remind us that nothing short of American democracy is at stake; that true American leaders serve the country and then give the power entrusted to them back to The People who gave it; that Republicans have embraced Trump and therefore turned their backs on the bedrock American principle of the peaceful transfer of power; and that the time for saving this constitutional republic as we know it is now.

    […] Biden: “In America, genuine leaders, democratic leaders with a small d, don’t hold on to power relentlessly. Our leaders return power to the people, and they do it willingly, cuz that’s the deal.” […]

    The mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th, waving Trump flags and Confederate flags, stormed right past the portrait. The image of George Washington gave them no pause—but it should have.

    The artist who painted the portrait memorialized this moment because he said it was “one of the highest moral lessons ever given to the world.”

    George Washington was at the height of his power having just defeated the most powerful empire on Earth. He could have held onto that power as long as he wanted. But that wasn’t the America he and the American troops of Valley Forge had fought for.

    In America, our leaders don’t hold on to power relentlessly. Our leaders return power to the people—willingly. You do your duty. You serve your country. And ours is a country worthy of service. We are not perfect, but at our best, we face head-on the good, the bad, the truth of who we are. That’s what great nations do […]

    […] We get up. We carry on. We speak of possibilities—not carnage. We’re not weighed down by grievance. […] We don’t walk around as victims. We take charge […]

    We get our job done—to help people find their place in a changing world and dream and build the future that all people deserve a shot at. […]

    […] Biden: “We’re the only nation in the history of the world to be built on an idea: We hold these truths to be self-evident … we’ve never walked away from the idea (of equality) … I promise you, I will not let Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans force us to walk away now.”

    Biden reminds Americans that Trump didn’t just lose in 2020, but that election deniers were voted out in 2022.

    Biden: “Did you ever think you would be at a political event that talked about book banning?”

    Biden: “Today, I make this sacred pledge to you: The defense, protection and preservation of American democracy will remain, as it has been, the central cause of my presidency.”

    Biden: “When the attacks of January 6th happened, there was no doubt about the truth. At the time, even Republican members of Congress and Fox News commentators publicly and privately condemned the attack. And as one Republican senator said, Trump’s behavior was embarrassing and humiliating for the country. But now as time has gone on—politics, fear, money—have all intervened. And those MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump and January 6th have abandoned the truth and abandoned our democracy. They’ve made their choice.

    Now the rest of us, Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans, we have to make our choice. I know mine. And I believe I know America’s.”

    […] Biden reminds us that Trump once called dead soldiers “suckers.” Biden notes that Trump plans to invoke the Insurrection Act so he can deploy troops on the streets of America.

    […] Biden recounts Trump launching his campaign with Jan. 6 convicts singing the National Anthem and reminds us he plans to pardon them.

    […] Biden on the rioters: “They weren’t there to uphold the Constitution, he was there to destroy the Constitution.”

    […] Biden: “Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election.”

    He adds: “I won the election and he was a loser.”

    Trump only had one avenue left, says Biden: Jan. 6.

    […] Biden reminds the nation of how big his victory was in 2020, and how big Trump’s losses were at the polls and in court. Trump, he says then acted “in desperation and in weakness.” Biden: “Trump lost 60 court cases. Sixty!” […]

    Biden’s speech, as expected, was “a warning and a red alert” that goes beyond the usual themes and importance of a campaign speech.

  252. says

    Followup to comment 370.

    Posted by readers of the coverage of Biden’s speech:

    Using Trumps own words against him.

    It’s time we make Trump eat those words.
    ————————-
    Trump called our dead soldiers, “suckers” and “losers”.
    —————————-
    President Biden spoke from his heart and was absolutely on fire — this was a nearly perfect start of this vitally important campaign year.
    ——————————-
    His vocal cords have aged, but the man stood up there and said, “Good God, who says that?” and meant every word with conviction and the strength of all those years of experience behind him.

    So yeah, he’s old. But so is fascism. Choose accordingly.
    ————————
    his illustration of the choice between himself and a wannabe dictator… his passion for the preservation of democracy
    ————————
    Shockingly, it was being carried live on Faux News as well. [I’ll add some detail here: Fox News also presented this, “Trump fires back at Jan. 6 criticism, says Biden is a ‘true threat to democracy'” and this, “‘Outnumbered’ breaks down President Biden’s campaign messaging that focuses on MAGA Republicans, not his accomplishments.”]
    ———————-
    I wish that President Biden were a stirring public speaker, like Obama. He’s not. All he has is substance, good policies and genuine character. That comes through for me, even when his speech is not clear. I hope it’s coming through for a large majority of Americans.
    ————————–
    It’s interesting that the auditorium where he’s giving his speech doesn’t have any Biden-Harris campaign signs/livery.
    —————————–
    I sure as hell didn’t see a doddering old man on that stage! Damn!!! 😭♥️

  253. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #366…
    The guy who wrote that article doesn’t know much about metric prefixes. A “cenitmillionaire” would be someone worth…$10,000 (1/100th of 1 million). What he wants is hectamillionaire.

  254. says

    whheydt @373, thanks for that correction.

    In other news: Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce abortion law against emergency room doctors ahead of hearing case

    The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Idaho to enforce provisions of a strict new abortion ban that could penalize doctors who perform the procedure in emergency situations. [Bad news!]

    The court granted emergency requests filed by Idaho state officials, putting on hold a federal judge’s ruling that said the provisions conflict with federal law.

    The court also said it would hear oral arguments on the issue in April and issue a ruling by the end of June. [That’s a long time for pregnant women in Idaho.]

    Other provisions of the near-total abortion ban were already in effect.

    The state abortion law was enacted in 2020, with a provision stating it would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that found women had a right to end a pregnancy.

    The law, called the Defense of Life Act, therefore went into effect when the Supreme Court in 2022 rolled back the ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion.

    It declares that anyone who performs an abortion is subject to criminal penalties, including up to five years in prison. Health care professionals found to have violated the law can lose their professional licenses.

    There is an exception if the abortion was necessary to protect the life of the pregnant woman.

    The federal government sued, prompting a federal judge in August 2022 to block the state from enforcing provisions concerning medical care that is required under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

    […] The state officials argued that the two laws are not in tension, in part because the federal law does not specifically say that doctors are required to perform abortions in certain circumstances.

    Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the Biden administration, disagreed, saying in court papers that the Idaho law “criminalizes care required by federal law.” […]

  255. says

    Oh FFS.

    As authorities and journalists scrambled to uncover information about the shooter who opened fire at an Iowa school on Thursday, far-right figures zeroed in on the likelihood that the assailant was LGBTQ and once again suggested that queer people are more likely to pose a danger to others.

    Early Thursday morning, a 17-year-old student at Perry High School, in the Des Moines suburb of Perry, fatally shot a sixth grader and wounded five others before apparently killing himself, officials said. Authorities identified the shooter as Dylan Butler and said he acted alone. They have not commented publicly about his sexuality or gender identity.

    However, screenshots from Butler’s social media accounts, which have since been taken down, appear to display some LGBTQ symbolism, including rainbow and transgender flag emojis and an image of graffiti that says “LOVE YOUR TRANS KIDS.”

    Far-right social media personalities and conservative provocateurs were quick to pounce on these revelations.

    “This is the trans genderfluid te*ror*st who shot up a school in Iowa today,” the account Libs of TikTok posted that same day on X, where it has over 2.7 million followers. “Trans extremists are a serious threat. The media will bury this.”

    Donald Trump Jr. weighed in on the matter, reposting a different tweet from Libs of TikTok that stated that “the modern LGBTQ+ movement is radicalizing our youth into becoming violent extremists.”

    “Per capita is there a more violent group of people anywhere in the world than radicalized trans activists???” Trump baselessly wrote. “Given the tiny fraction of the population that they make up it doesn’t seem like anyone else even comes close.” [oh FFS!!]

    And billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who owns X, which is where a bulk of transphobic-riddled speculation about the shooter’s identity was circulating, appeared to endorse a tweet that suggested the shooter was a product of a national “radicalization of LGBTQ youth.”

    “This is happening a lot,” Musk replied on Thursday. “Something is deeply wrong.”

    LGBTQ advocates and other critics of the rhetoric slammed the remarks triggered by the Iowa shooting.

    “Scapegoating is a very dangerous and old tactic for justifying the extreme marginalization of a specific group,” Gillian Branstter, a communications strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “They’re very eager for other people to be as obsessed with trans people as they are and this overlaps with their need to blame mass shootings on anything that’s not shaped like a gun.”

    […] Research widely shows that the majority of mass shootings are carried out by straight and cisgender men. However, a fixation on whether shooters identify as LGBTQ has become increasingly common among far-right figures.

    […] Provocateurs often also spread disinformation about the shooters’ gender identities in the aftermath of the massacres.

    On Thursday, Raichik and her Libs of TikTok account tweeted out lists of mass shooters, which included the Nashville shooter, and identified them all as trans or nonbinary, despite these claims either being disproven or unconfirmed by officials.

    The post included an image of a transgender woman in front of a trans flag labeled falsely as the “Uvalde shooter.”
    The person in the image is not who authorities identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022. The image has been widely spread online since the tragedy, fueling myths that Ramos — who was shot and killed by authorities on the day of the shooting — was transgender. [oh FFS!]

    Musk replied to Libs of TikTok’s post on X with two exclamation marks. The billionaire is no stranger to spreading misinformation about LGBTQ people online. […]

    Simultaneously, and particularly within the last few years, there have been several high-profile threats and acts of violence against LGBTQ Americans.

    Most notably, a gunman opened fire on an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in November 2022, killing five people and injuring 17 others. In July, a 28-year-old gay professional dancer, O’Shae Sibley, was stabbed to death at a gas station in Brooklyn, New York, in what police later said was a hate crime. The next month, Laura Ann Carleto, a California business owner and mother of nine, was fatally shot allegedly over a rainbow Pride flag hanging in her clothing store.

    NBC News link

  256. Reginald Selkirk says

    Colorado Republican Lamborn won’t seek reelection

    Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) announced Friday morning he will not run for reelection, leaving all three of the state’s Republican-held congressional seats up for grabs in the upcoming November election.

    Lamborn’s district has been a solidly Republican district and was not seen as competitive before his decision. Lamborn won his 2022 reelection bid with 57 percent of the vote…

  257. John Morales says

    Well, birgerjohansson, that’s how parents are. Not surprising.

    Musk’s parents are also probably disappointed, though he is the richest.

    Way of the world.

  258. Reginald Selkirk says

    Haley features conservative general’s endorsement in New Hampshire ad

    Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley promoted a prominent conservative military officer in her latest GOP presidential campaign ad targeted at New Hampshire voters, just weeks from the Granite State primary.

    Gen. Don Bolduc was the GOP nominee for the New Hampshire Senate seat in 2022, but maintains his reputation as a well-known conservative across the state. Bolduc has denied the 2020 presidential election results, advocated for strict anti-abortion laws and spread misinformation about COVID-19. The military officer says he remains “MAGA all the way.” …

    Not once in the entire article do they mention Bolduc retired from the military, in 2017.

  259. Reginald Selkirk says

    After injecting cancer hospital with ransomware, crims threaten to swat patients

    Extortionists are now threatening to swat hospital patients — calling in bomb threats or other bogus reports to the police so heavily armed cops show up at victims’ homes — if the medical centers don’t pay the crooks’ ransom demands.

    After intruders broke into Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s IT network in November and stole medical records – everything from Social Security numbers to diagnoses and lab results – miscreants threatened to turn on the patients themselves directly.

    The idea being, it seems, that those patients and the media coverage from any swatting will put pressure on the US hospital to pay up and end the extortion. Other crews do similar when attacking IT service provider: they don’t just extort the suppliers, they also threaten or further extort customers of those providers…

  260. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cheap and They Don’t Snitch: Drones Are the New Drug Mules

    Last week border officials in the Punjab region of India revealed they intercepted 107 drug-carrying drones sent by smuggling gangs last year over the border from Pakistan, the highest number on record.

    Most were carrying heroin or opium from Pakistan to be dropped and received by collaborators in the Punjab, notorious for having India’s worst levels of opiate addiction.

    Last year the head of a police narcotics unit in Lahore, a city in Pakistan which borders the Punjab, was dismissed after he was suspected of running a drug trafficking gang sending drones over to India.

    But the use of cheap flying robots instead of humans to smuggle drugs across borders is a worldwide phenomenon…

  261. birgerjohansson says

    The weather here has shifted! Normal winter temperatures again.
    An aircraft from Alaska airlines dropped a window but no one got (physically) injured.
    .
    @386
    Pakistan is notorious as a very corrupt country.

  262. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump faces new 14th Amendment challenge in Massachusetts

    A group of voters, including the former mayor of Boston, filed a challenge to former President Trump’s ballot qualifications in Massachusetts on Friday, claiming he should be barred from the ballot due to the 14th Amendment…

    Since the Supreme Court has agreed to take the case, it doesn’t matter how many other states pile on. However they rule, it will apply nation-wide.

  263. Reginald Selkirk says

    Williamson blasts decision to keep her off NC Democratic presidential primary ballot

    Democratic presidential candidate and author Marianne Williamson decried the decision this week to keep her off the primary ballot in North Carolina as “a terrible look.”

    The N.C. State Board of Elections voted unanimously this week not to add any other candidates’ names to the Democratic primary ballot after the state Democratic Party submitted only President Joe Biden’s name…

    The board also declined to add U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips and political commentator Cenk Uygur to the Democratic ballot as well…

  264. says

    Ukraine update: As artillery supplies run low, Ukraine is fighting the wrong war, by Mark Sumner

    Over the last two weeks, Ukrainian sources on Telegram have been increasingly gloomy. That’s not because Russia has made major advances. Ukraine has maintained its position across the Dnipro River at Krynky, northeast of Kherson. It has pushed back Russian attempts to recapture Robotyne on the southern front, held open the critical salient at Avdiivka, and completely squelched Russian attempts to capture Kupiansk at the far northern end of the line.

    By most accounts, Ukraine is continuing to do what it has done since the fall: hold position against near-continuous waves of Russian assaults, extracting a heavy toll on Russian forces. Russia has lost another 20,000 men since DailyKos took our last detailed look at the state of the front lines in December. Russia continues to lose a lot of tanks and troop carriers, its assaults are no better organized than before, and its forces continue to take inexplicable actions (Warning: Russian forces sitting in an open vehicle in the middle of no man’s land and … you can guess the rest).

    What has changed is that there are increasing reports that Ukrainian forces are just bloody tired. That operations are running on superhuman efforts that can’t be sustained. That Ukrainian artillery units are being forced to retreat, or are incapable of halting a Russian advance because they are too low on shells. And that some Ukrainian units are unable to fill their ranks because Ukrainians are all too aware of conditions at the front.

    As an example of what’s circulating among Ukrainian military bloggers, here’s a (translated) post from earlier in the week. Warning: It’s a bit confusing because it’s the product of translation software. I’m sure if I spoke Ukrainian (and by now, I really should have learned), it would be better. But I’m barely monolingual, so … sorry about that. [Screen graphics at the link noting shortages of replacement troops, etc.]

    This message is fairly typical of what’s circulating at the moment: a general expression that too much is being asked of those on the front line and that filling gaps has become increasingly difficult. This fits with stories centered around how the average age of Ukrainian soldiers has been increasing throughout the war and reported efforts to remove age limits for those already in service who want to stay.

    But what that older army does not represent is any effort by younger Ukrainians to evade service. Right now, Ukraine’s age of conscription is set at 27. There is a proposal to lower that age to 25. For Americans who watched generations of young people dragged off to Vietnam or Korea, it may sound strange that Ukraine is conscripting older men while leaving the younger ones alone (though volunteers are allowed down to 18, and there are a lot of them). But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made it clear that this is the plan: Protect the seed corn.

    Ukraine, like all nations in Europe, has seen what it means to come through a devastating war in which a huge percentage of young men were lost. They are trying to avoid that. They don’t want to just win the war; they want to win the war with a nation that is poised to win the peace that follows.

    In December, Ukraine’s military proposed mobilizing up to 500,000 more Ukrainians in response to increasing numbers of Russian forces at the front. That’s the reason for the proposal of dropping the age of conscription by two years. Ukraine isn’t dragging kids out of school and sending them to the front lines. It’s not drafting pensioners. You’ll have to look elsewhere for that. [Tweet at the link: Russia is shortening the training of lieutenants even more, and recruiting older, white-haired guys.]

    However, repeated accounts of troop shortages among Ukrainian forces, and of select units being required to hold their positions while hugely outnumbered again, and again, and again, are more than concerning. They suggest that, in what has become a war of attrition since at least the fall, Ukraine’s losses, while they may be much lower than Russia’s, may still be more than Ukraine can sustain long-term.

    Ukraine has been winning this war day after day. But their long-term ability to do so has never been a guarantee.

    The reports of a shortage of artillery shells are also extremely concerning. It’s not a surprise that this could happen. Despite efforts to increase production in many Western countries, it’s been clear from almost the first day of the invasion that if it came down to matching the unbelievable number of shells Russia was expending, Ukraine could not keep up—even if bolstered by every shell the West could provide. The reason for this wasn’t some superb industrial base cranking out those shells in Russia. It was simply that Russia was sitting on a massive heap of ammo resulting from decades of planning just one kind of war: using artillery to crush opposing positions before advancing with infantry. That Russia is now using decades-old shells in Ukraine is just a symbol of how it’s waging a kind of war it’s been planning since the Cold War.

    Western strategy was based on combined arms operations that were more dependent on air power and the proper mix of equipment than on artillery. Since the strategy didn’t lean heavily on artillery, Western nations didn’t stockpile nearly as many artillery shells as did Russia.

    If the war comes down to a straight-out artillery slugfest, Ukraine is not prepared to win that fight. Not even with every nation in the West at its back.

    Fortunately, Russia cannot sustain the level of artillery fire that it displayed when capturing locations like Severodonesk in the summer of 2022. At that time, Ukraine estimated Russia was burning through up to 60,000 shells a day. Those numbers had dropped by two-thirds a year later. They may be down by 90% now.

    Russia has clearly burned through much of its old stock of artillery ammo, including some that were less than reliable. In recent days, additional stocks have begun to arrive from another country that has spent the last 60 years focusing on a tactic of simply deploying enough ammunition to turn everything ahead of them into powder: North Korea.

    Kim Jong Un’s restock of Vladimir Putin’s artillery cabinet has been estimated at up to 1 million shells. Even so, that would only be a few weeks of firing at the rate that Russia established earlier in the invasion.

    But things have changed. They’ve changed for both Russia and Ukraine, and the single word that best describes how they have changed is simply … drones.

    Drones are performing two roles in the war right now: 1) They are taking the place of artillery, directly attacking equipment and groups of personnel with a precision that allows each drone to substitute for many dumb artillery shells; and 2) they are providing precise, real-time positions of equipment on both sides, which makes artillery systems much more effective than they have been in the past.

    Here’s one of open-source analyst Andrew Perpetua’s most recent compilations of losses for both Russia and Ukraine. [List of losses at the link]

    Some of the losses on the Ukrainian side are unusual because this reflects one of Russia’s recent heavy missile attacks hitting a gathering of Ukrainian fuel trucks (and honestly, that may have been sheer bad luck). But the bulk of losses on both sides come from the same source that has dominated the list for months. It’s drones, and especially inexpensive FPV drones, that are out there taking down equipment.

    That doesn’t mean artillery doesn’t still have a role. On the Ukrainian side, artillery and cluster munitions are being used very effectively against attempted advances by Russian “meat waves” of poorly-protected infantry. Russia is using artillery to do what it always did, crush buildings containing Ukrainian artillery positions. Only now Russia is doing that with the assistance of drones that help them both target positions and perfect firing arcs.

    While artillery systems are being lost at a high rate (the Ukrainian General Staff reports 30 Russian guns taken out on Friday), artillery is still playing a large role.

    Back at the beginning of the counteroffensive, there were reports that U.S. and Ukrainian generals had gotten into a fight over the proper strategy for an attack on Russian positions. The U.S. generals wanted Ukraine to adopt a more Western approach that leaned heavily on combined arms. Ukrainian generals were convinced that lacking both air superiority and adequate training, they weren’t prepared to pull off Western tactics. They moved toward the familiar artillery and small unit tactics of Russia.

    Since then, everyone has been searching for the winning formula against the drone/artillery combo. No one has found it.

    Unfortunately, Ukraine may not be capable of carrying out a long-term war of attrition in which drones and artillery are the center of power. That’s especially true of North Korea and Iran supplying missiles so that Russia can resume its regular program of just shooting the shit out of civilian infrastructure, homes, and other structures far from the front. Germany, the U.S., and other allies have provided Ukraine with a large amount of air defenses over the past year, and going into the fall those air defenses, along with Russia’s shrinking stockpiles, had greatly decreased the number and effectiveness of combined drone/missile attacks. But Russia is now testing those defenses using the sheer numbers made possible by fresh shipments of weapons. It’s not clear how long they can sustain that attack, but it’s seriously disheartening to see a return of these events at this point in the war.

    For months, we’ve been telling you about Russia’s massive losses and Ukraine’s success in defending positions against unbelievably wasteful and poorly planned attacks. That’s still true. But for Ukraine to win the war as it stands now, the West needs to step up and see that it can at least come close to matching Russia’s capacity on both drones and artillery—hopefully, with a dash of more effective electronic warfare on the side.

    Otherwise, the question of whose well will run dry first seems more uncertain than it did six months ago.
    —————————
    No matter what else is happening, it’s nice to know that T-72s still go up like dropping a match on a dried-out Christmas tree. [Tweet and video at the link]
    —————————–
    Before I give you the impression that the dissatisfaction is all on one side… [Tweet and video with English subtitles at the link: Russian soldiers tell about “meat assaults”.

    But it seems that in Russia it does not bother much not only the authorities, but also the military themselves.

    In Russian culture, human life is of no value, death is heroized. Though it was always this way.

    Imagine millions of soldiers who do not value their lives and the lives of others. Armed, brutalized by years of war.

    Who will hold them back? Ukraine is running out of weapons.]

  265. says

    Trump’s response to the school shooting in Perry, Iowa in which a sixth-grade student was killed and others were injured:

    It’s a very terrible thing that happened and it’s just horrible to see that happening. That’s just horrible [terrible?]. So surprising to see it here. But we have to get over it, we have to move forward.

    That’s the worst part of his remarks: “Get over it.”

    Here is a transcription of the complete remarks:

    Before going further, I want to send our support and our deepest sympathies to the victims and families touched by the terrible school shooting yesterday in Perry, Iowa. To the entire community: We love you, we pray for you and we ask God to heal and comfort really the whole state and the pain that you have. This is something that’s very unique to your state. We’re really with you, as much as anybody can be. It’s a very terrible thing that happened. And it’s just terrible to see that happening. It’s just terrible. So surprising to see it here. But, we have to get over it. We have to move forward. We have to move forward. But, to the relatives and to all of the people that are so devastated right now, to a point they can’t breathe, they can’t live, we are with you all the way. We’re with you and we love you and cherish you.

  266. says

    Congrats, America, It’s Now Been Three Years Since Your Last Violent Insurrection!

    Happy Insurrectiversary, everybody! From the donning of the shamanic headdress to the theatrical reenactments of Roger Stone’s conversation with Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio to the cherubic bleats of the schoolchildren chanting “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!,” I truly love this holiday.

    With Iowa just around the corner, it’s been predictably nauseating, watching the institutional GOP congeal in a fetid pool at the Dotard’s feet. Tom Emmer’s groveling was particularly debasing. “As someone who has been personally bullied by Donald Trump, l cannot recommend the experience highly enough. He’ll crush America’s dreams the way he crushed mine!”

    It’s definitely not a cult, though.

    Sure, observing the garish obsequiousness of Elise Stefanik’s ritual un-endorsement of a Republican congressional candidate who had the audacity to refer to the Grand High Gameshowhost as “arrogant,” you might say to yourself, “wow, that’s as culty as it is embarrassing, so, like, almost unendurably culty, I guess is what I’m saying,” but it’s still not a cult.

    I mean, would a cult make a video like this? [Trump Shares Messianic Video About God Sending Him To Save World]

    Look, I’ll admit polling says most Republicans see Off-Brand Orbán as a “person of faith,” while the likes of Romney and Biden are infidels who should be burned at the stake or at the very least poked with reasonably sharp sticks, but it’s totally unfair to call it a culllllll okay, fine, it’s a cult.

    A cult of personality. But a worthy personality, an admirable personality, the sort of personality that deserves worshipping, you have to grant that. It’s not as though a third of the country has pledged absolute fealty to a drooling fascist grifter who spends his days obsessively rage-posting about a woman he raped. [See comment 364]

    …wait.

    Incidentally, I see Wee Don’s countin’ on his buddy Kavanaugh to make all his 14th Amendment worries disappear. C’mon, Brett, it’s what Tobin and Squi would want. [Teenage Attemped Rapists in ‘Freaky’ Were Named After a Certain Supreme Court Justice & His Friends]

    Poor Jimmy Comer always gets SUPER jealous whenever House Oversight Dems produce evidence of yet another Trump crime spree, accepting millions in bribes from foreign governments, for example. “It’s not really fair cuz they’re investigating real crimes and mine are made up,” sulked Comer, while submitting to a Jake Tapper wedgie.

    Yeah, you say he didn’t qualify, but Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t wanna be in your dumb ol’ debate anyway, CNN! He’s gonna hang out with his cool new friends Alex Jones and Andrew Tate that night, they’re gonna order a pizza and play GoldenEye and sleep in sleeping bags on the basement floor and you’re definitely not invited, CNN!

    Free of Vivek’s fashy yapping at last, Nikki n’ Ron can finally have that civil, nuanced discussion about which of them would pardon Trump harder […] Must-see TV, I’m sure.

    I confess I was delighted to see the DeSantis delusion wouldn’t sputter out completely without one final, bitter burst of petulant Rich Lowry fanfic: The Media Done Ron Wrong, the tragic tale of a boy who only wanted to bring efficient, drama-free autocracy to America, brought low by the cameras that cruelly, unjustly documented the inescapable dislikability the candidate radiates at all times.

    While Rich spins DeSantistan as some comfortably-shy-of-alt-right utopia, Ron’s batty Surgeon General is stumbling around, issuing official state bulletins that read like bathroom graffiti in a QAnon bar. VACCINES ARE THE LITERAL ANTI-CHRIST THEY DON’T STOP COVID ONLY APPLYING A POULTICE OF HORSE DEWORMER AND BRIDGET ZIEGLER’S BATHWATER TO YOUR BUTTHOLE CAN DO THAT. [See comments 306 and 331]

    Well, good news for anyone who’s ever wondered what happens when you bring a messianic delusion to a Jewish space laser fight: Marjorie Taylor Greene is a-feudin’ with Speaker-for-Now Mike “Moses” Johnson! Look for Mike to swiftly adopt his predecessor’s Capitulate to the Crazy Lady policy in the face of his ever-shrinking majority.

    […] SO fun to watch.

    Almost as much fun as the mutually annihilating, acrimonious divorce between Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. I really thought those two were gonna make it. So many common interests, like children’s funerals, and racism. [LaPierre is facing lawsuits]

    Perhaps if Jesse Watters had asked his tarot-reading guest what the cards said about accusing Texas Congresscreep/maladjusted ragebeast Dan Crenshaw of insider trading, he could’ve avoided getting publicly evisceratedas a “fucking clown” and “mediocre entertainer” who “pees sitting down.” Me-OW!

    […] Capitol Riot truther Maya Flores abandoned her campaign to regain her old seat in Congress, to instead enter the restaurant business, announcing the summer 2024 opening of Maya’s False Flag Ranch & Kitchen, serving only the most authentic cuisine Flores can steal and present as her own. Don’t worry, Republican voters, I’m sure she’s not lying to you about anything important.

    Mike Flynn believes the United States should have one and only one religion, presumably state mandated, and I gotta say, that ranks pretty high on the list of Things Mike Flynn Should Not Be in Charge Of. This is how we wind up in Planet of the Apes scenarios, people.

    It’s definitely super healthy that we’ve successfully integrated the steady drone of low-level domestic terrorism as acceptable background noise. Wave of bomb threats targeting state capitols? Dude gets arrested for threatening to assassinate a Congressman? Ho hum, wake me up when somebody opens fire inside the Colorado Supreme Court building or somethin’. Or, actually don’t. Multiple casualties, or let me sleep in.

    I bet the handful of countries that failed to take advantage of Bob Menendez’s bribability are kicking themselves right now. Anyway, despite yet another superseding indictment, the blue team’s shittier, less-fun George Santos still refuses to resign, which isn’t my favorite thing.

    Green Day’s guest appearance [reference to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve] allowed MAGA Nation a fleeting feeling of cultural relevance that likely didn’t survive the news that Vanilla Ice headlined the Mar-a-Lago New Year’s party.

    Yeah, the culture wars’re still real, real dumb, though at least Barbara Streisand has Lauren Boebert on the run. On the other hand, The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles’ plan, to “turn Mickey Mouse into a Nazi” could shake up the battlefield in ways we can’t foresee. [Daily Wire host plots to smear Disney: “We need to turn Mickey [Mouse] into a Nazi”]

    Despite heavy investment in the lucrative “white nationalist troll” demographic, the Hellsite Formerly Known as Twitter (where, if you’re masochistically inclined, you can follow me @john_luzar) is now worth 71.5% less than it was when a certain doltpilled narcissist overpaid for it. Which is, it goes without saying, entirely the Anti-Defamation League’s fault.

    Maybe Elon should hand the reins over to someone less economically suicidal. Maybe even someone who creates prosperity, rather than obliterating it in fits of pique. Someone like, say, I dunno, Joe Biden? “C’mon Joe, you must be pretty bored with creating jobs by now, why not embrace the challenge of rescuing a billionaire tech bro from the consequences of his own shitty decisions?”

    “Can’t, dork. Too busy fighting ascendant American fascism at Valley Forge. Suck an egg.” […]

  267. Reginald Selkirk says

    A tense new Jan. 6 video shows Republican congressmen admonishing rioters trying to enter House chamber

    Dramatic, newly released video shot by a Jan. 6 rioter shows the confrontation between two Republican members of Congress and Capitol rioters trying to breach the main door into the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. The videos show rioters staring down the barrels of guns through broken glass as they tried to force their way inside.

    The 8-minute video, shot by Capitol rioter Damon Beckley and introduced as evidence ahead of his sentencing, was released to the media coalition late Friday in response to a request from NBC News. Federal prosecutors are seeking more than three years in federal prison for Beckley, and his sentencing has now been rescheduled for Feb. 9.

    Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., can be seen speaking with rioters through the broken glass…

  268. says

    New threats from Hair Furor:

    The mob boss is at it again — “I just hope we get fair treatment,” Trump said at an Iowa rally Friday. “Because if we don’t, our country’s in big, big trouble. Does everybody understand what I’m saying?” […]

    This is not subtle. The message is, if the Court does not bend to his will there will be political violence, just as there was on Jan 6. […]

  269. says

    Joe Biden Kicks Uganda Out Of Trade Deal Over ‘Kill The Gays’ Law

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/joe-biden-kicks-uganda-out-of-trade

    […] In a December 29 proclamation, President Joe Biden announced that Uganda, along with several other nations, did not qualify as a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

    “Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda, these countries have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria,” he wrote.

    While the nation’s horrific 2022 Anti-Homosexuality Act is not specifically mentioned in the proclamation, President Biden explicitly cited Uganda’s human rights issues as it did not qualify as a beneficiary in an October 30 letter to the leaders of these nations:

    I am taking this step because I have determined that the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda do not meet the eligibility requirements of section 104 of the AGOA. Specifically, the Government of the Central African Republic has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and has not established, or is not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, the rule of law, and political pluralism. Niger and the Government of Gabon have not established, or are not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law. Finally, the Government of Uganda has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

    […] Uganda will simply have to decide if killing people or throwing them in prison for being gay is a luxury that they can afford, or if they would prefer to forego that in favor of economic gains for their nation as a whole.

    As an American, I can say that I do happen to prefer it when we do things to curb human rights abuses as opposed to profiting from them or doing nothing at all (or, you know, engaging in them ourselves).

    In fact, I have always felt that not only should we not have special trade deals with countries known to engage in serious human rights and labor rights abuses, but that it should be illegal for American companies or anyone who wants to sell anything in the US to do any manufacturing in them. Frankly, I have never been able to fully wrap my head around the fact that we bar trade with Cuba, because communism, but China, also a communist nation known to engage in horrific human rights and labor rights abuses, including slave labor, is our number one trade partner.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy, but I do think, at the very least, we should draw the line at “actual child slaves.”

    As the largest global importer ($3.4 trillion in 2022), we have the ability to effect change in situations like these, and we should flex that muscle when necessary (instead of the ones that involve, you know, killing people or the kind of “sanctions” that only ever hurt the poor). This is a step in the right direction. […]

  270. birgerjohansson says

    Weird films to watch!
    At the 12.30 mark you have the Australian splatterpunk/horror parody called “Ribspreader”.
    At the six-minute mark you have “Stigmata” with a corrupt Catholic Church (but I am repeating myself) wants to suppress the truth about Jesus, pitting them against the entity possessing a woman – Jesus himself !
    .

    “Australia’s First Splatterpunk Movie! You’re Gonna Love This!”
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=HC5NxBxkXUI&si=zAbdzjUwbtcY4DeS

  271. Reginald Selkirk says

    @397: It would be hilarious if the Supreme Court put a gag order on Trump. I doubt that they will, since no jury is involved and they imagine themselves to be above influence.

  272. says

    Trump, as usual, highlights the fact that he has no human decency whatsoever:

    […] “Did you see him? He [Biden] was stuttering through the whole thing,” Trump said to a chuckling crowd on Friday in Sioux Center, Iowa. “He’s saying I’m a threat to democracy.”

    “’He’s a threat to d-d-democracy,’” he continued, pretending to stutter. “Couldn’t read the word.”

    The remark was not true; Biden said the word “democracy” 29 times in his speech, never stuttering over it. Trump’s comment also marked a particularly crass form of politics that he has exhibited throughout his career […]

    As a high school freshman, Biden was exempted from a public speaking presentation because of his stutter.

    Biden has a practice of clipping sentences into shorter segments, something he has talked about doing as a way to avoid stuttering. [Sounds like a good workaround to me.]

    […] In a 2015 television interview, Trump responded to criticism from conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who used a wheelchair, by calling him “a guy that can’t buy a pair of pants.”

    Long before Trump’s first successful campaign, his 2011 book “Time to Get Tough” called Social Security’s disability insurance program a “racket.”

    Trump’s attacks on Biden’s stutter and intelligence, as opposed to his age alone, reflect Trump’s sensitivity about his own age, 77.

    […] “His speeches last about three minutes, you know why? Because he runs out of fuel,” Trump said during a campaign event in Newton, Iowa, on Saturday. (Biden’s speech on Friday was 32 minutes.). […]

    Washington Post link

  273. says

    Reclaim Idaho:

    Today at a press conference at the Idaho Capitol, Representative Wendy Horman and Senator Lori Den Hartog announced their plan for a universal school-voucher program.

    Their plan is to establish a Voucher Tax Credit scheme. Every family in Idaho, including the wealthy, would be eligible for $5,000 per child for private-school tuition and other expenses.

    The proposal is modeled after an Oklahoma program that voucher advocates have hailed as “the most expansive in the nation.”

    Let’s be clear: This plan would siphon millions of tax dollars out of public schools and give a massive government handout to affluent private-school families.

    Voucher Tax Credits are just like traditional vouchers in all respects but one: Instead of directly transferring public dollars to private schools, Voucher Tax Credits provide tax giveaways to private-school families.

    The fact that Voucher Tax Credits shovel out public money with little oversight to thousands of families makes these programs even less accountable to the public than traditional vouchers.

    If we want to protect our public schools, we must fight this proposal at every step of the way.

    […] Voucher Tax Credits will hurt rural schools. The vast majority of Idaho’s private-school students live in just four urban counties and most rural counties have no private schools at all. Erika Wright, founder of the Oklahoma Rural Schools Coalition, described the impact of Oklahoma’s Voucher Tax Credit scheme: “Wealthier families are asking lower income rural Oklahomans to foot the bill to send their kids to private schools.”

    During last year’s session of the Idaho Legislature, voucher legislation died because enough Idahoans stood up to defend public schools. It’s time to stand up once again.

  274. John Morales says

    @402:

    They say it is warmer outside than in their flats.

    And people believe that?

    (Ah well, thermodynamics probably works different in Russia, though propaganda is much the same)

  275. John Morales says

    Actually, outdoor fires are a thing:
    The Global Warmer | Firepits R Us
    [https:]//www.firepitsrus.com › shop › global-warmer
    [usa outdoor fire drum warmth homeless from http://www.firepitsrus.com]
    One of our most popular products, built to provide heat when socialising and entertaining outdoors by leaving the firebox doors open, like an open fire.
    $3,800.00 to $9,170.00 · ‎ In stock

    (Presumably, fuel not included)

  276. John Morales says

    birgerjohansson, that makes no sense.
    If everyone supposedly forgot about it, whence the trial?

    So, at least one lie, and that’s just the headline.

    (Not the best start)

  277. John Morales says

    And, of course, it’s clickbait.

    Were I to wish to know to what this supposed forgotten fraud trial refers, I’d have to click on it, no?

  278. Reginald Selkirk says

    Michigan Republicans vote to remove chair Kristina Karamo as she promises not to accept result

    Michigan Republicans have voted to remove state GOP Chair Kristina Karamo during a meeting Saturday after many of the party’s leaders called for her resignation following a year of leadership plagued by debt and infighting.

    A large majority of those present voted to oust Karamo, said Bree Moeggenberg, District 2 state committee member.

    Karamo did not attend the meeting and has made it clear she will not recognize the vote if removed, claiming the meeting was not official and had been illegally organized. The unfolding situation could set the stage for a court fight to determine control of the highest position within the Michigan GOP…

  279. Reginald Selkirk says

    Former NRA executive pleads guilty to fraud, agrees to testify in New York AG trial

    Former National Rifle Association operations director Joshua Powell has settled civil claims of fraud and abuse brought by the New York Attorney General’s office.

    The admission comes hours after Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA, announced his resignation ahead of a trial scheduled to begin Monday. LaPierre cited health reasons, according to the NRA. The resignation will be effective Jan. 31.

    Powell was employed by the NRA from 2016 through January 2020 and in that time “Powell breached his fiduciary duties and failed to administer the charitable assets entrusted to his care by using his powers as an officer and senior executive of the NRA to convert charitable assets for his own benefit and for the benefit of his family members,” the settlement agreement said…

  280. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump Says Civil War Could Have Been ‘Negotiated’ in Bizarre Iowa Speech

    … Meanwhile, Trump also fondly waxed about the Civil War, which he called “fascinating.”

    “I’m so attracted to seeing it,” Trump said. “So many mistakes were made. See, there was something I think could have been negotiated to be honest with you. … I was reading something and I said, ‘This is something that could have been negotiated … that was a that was a tough one for our country… If you negotiated it, you probably wouldn’t even know who Abraham Lincoln was … but that would have been OK.”

    Completely incoherent.

  281. Reginald Selkirk says

    Polish farmers suspend their blockade at the Ukrainian border after a deal with the government

    Polish farmers who had blockaded a border crossing to Ukraine ended their protest after reaching an agreement with the government that met their demands, Poland’s state news agency PAP reported Saturday.

    The frustration of the farmers was one of the challenges facing the new Polish government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, which seeks to support Ukraine while also addressing the demands of Polish farmers and truckers whose livelihoods have been hurt by the war.

    Since November, both farmers and truckers have been blockading border crossings, threatening the flow of some aid going into Ukraine.

    Polish farmers complain that imports of Ukrainian foods have caused prices to fall, hurting their incomes, while truckers say they are being undercut by their Ukrainian counterparts…

  282. Reginald Selkirk says

    US State Department offers up to $10 million for disrupting Hamas’s financial network

    The US State Department is offering up to $10 million for information disrupting Hamas’s financial network. They seek details on financial facilitators Alshawa, Jahleb, Jadallah, and Hamas operatives managing portfolios, including Hamza in Sudan involved in a $20 million transfer to Hamas, and Nasrallah with Iranian ties transferring millions. Contact the Rewards for Justice team via Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp for confidential reporting on donors, facilitators, and institutions linked to Hamas…

  283. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ashli Babbitt’s family sues U.S. government over her Jan. 6 shooting death

    The family of a 35-year-old California woman who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6 insurrection has filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government.

    Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed Jan. 6, 2021, while she tried to climb through a broken door into the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House Chamber, as a mob of dozens of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol while lawmakers were preparing to certify the results of the 2020 election. The shooting was captured on cell phone video. Babbitt later died at a hospital.

    In the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Southern California, Babbitt’s family claimed that she was unarmed and had her hands in the air when she was shot once by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd.

    “Ashli posed no threat to the safety of anyone,” the lawsuit states, going on to claim that she was “ambushed” by the officer…

  284. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rep. Andy Biggs, who helped oust House speaker, complains GOP has ‘nothing’ to campaign on

    Rep. Andy Biggs said this week that he and his fellow House Republicans have little to show for their control of the U.S. House, saying in a TV interview that GOP lawmakers accomplished “nothing to go out there and campaign on.”

    Biggs, R-Ariz., a former chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and frequent critic of his party’s more moderate members, was among the eight Republican House members who voted with Democrats in October to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House speaker. That threw the House into weeks of disarray even as lawmakers faced breakneck deadlines to keep the government open.

    Congress has twice passed stopgap funding bills to stave off a shutdown, but has yet to pass an annual spending package in full. In the Thursday interview, Chris Salcedo, a host on the conservative channel Newsmax, asked Biggs how many of the 12 necessary spending bills Congress had passed.

    “None. None. None have been completed,” Biggs said. “Seven, I think, have been sent to the Senate from the House. The Senate has not taken up a single one of those bills. … How do you campaign on the trust of the American people? … You failed and continue to fund this goofy Ukraine, this outrageous Ukraine debacle that’s going on.

    “In my opinion, we have nothing to go out there and campaign on, Chris. It’s embarrassing,” he said…

    Great headline. Nice job of joining the dots.

  285. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump did not sign Illinois’ loyalty oath that says he won’t advocate for overthrowing the government

    … a WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times report published earlier Saturday that showed Trump did not voluntarily sign the state’s loyalty oath as part of his package of ballot-access paperwork submitted Thursday to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

    That omission, coming just days before the third anniversary of the Jan. 6th insurrection for which Trump has been criminally charged, is a departure from his presidential candidacies of 2016 and 2020, when he affixed his signature to the oath both times…

  286. Pierce R. Butler says

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 420, quoting a news service: … a mob of dozens of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol …

    Dozens?!?